Morning Digest: Trump’s ‘bro’ now frontrunner following Ohio Republican’s unexpected retirement

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

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Leading Off

OH-07: Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs said Wednesday that he was ending his re-election bid for Ohio's 7th Congressional District, a surprising announcement that came well after candidate filing closed and days following the start of early voting for the state's May 3 primary. The six-term congressman's abrupt retirement leaves former Trump aide Max Miller as the frontrunner to claim a seat in the Canton area and Akron suburbs that Trump would have carried 54-45. Gibbs' name will remain on the ballot, but the secretary of state's office says that any votes cast for him will not be counted.

Gibbs used his statement to express his anger at the state Supreme Court, which is not scheduled to rule on the fate of the new GOP-drawn congressional map until well after the primary. "It is irresponsible to effectively confirm the congressional map for this election cycle seven days before voting begins," said the incumbent, "especially in the Seventh Congressional District, where almost 90 percent of the electorate is new and nearly two-thirds is an area primarily from another district, foreign to any expectations or connection to the current Seventh District." To put it another way, a mere 9% of the residents of the new 7th are already Gibbs' constituents, so he would have been campaigning in largely unfamiliar turf.

Miller, by contrast, began the cycle by running against Rep. Anthony Gonzalez in a primary for the old 16th District, which makes up 65% of the new 7th. Miller, who was one of Trump's favorite aides (an unnamed source told Politico that the two "had … kind of a unique 'bro' relationship") received his old boss' backing last year against Gonzalez, who voted for impeachment and later decided to retire.

Miller ended up taking on Gibbs, who was far more loyal to the MAGA movement, after redistricting led them to seek the same seat, and Trump's spokesperson said last month that the endorsement carried over to Miller's new campaign. Miller last year also filed a defamation lawsuit against his ex-girlfriend, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, after she accused him of physically attacking her in 2020.

Gibbs himself got his start in elected office in 2002 when he won a seat in the Ohio state House, and he won a promotion six years later to the state Senate. Gibbs in 2009 set his sights on challenging Democratic Rep. Zack Space in the now-defunct 18th Congressional District, a historically red area in the eastern part of the state that had favored John McCain 52-45, but he had to get past seven fellow Republicans in the following year's primary first.

Gibbs (who happened to share a name with the Obama White House's first press secretary), had the support of the party establishment, including House Minority Leader John Boehner, and he benefited after tea party activists failed to back a single alternative. The state senator ultimately beat 2008 nominee Fred Dailey, who had lost to Space 60-40, in a 20.9-20.7 squeaker, though it took another month to confirm Gibbs' 156-vote victory.

The general election turned out to be a far easier contest for Gibbs in what was rapidly turning into a GOP wave year. Space went on the offensive early by portraying his opponent as a tax hiker and a supporter of free trade agreements, but Gibbs ended up unseating him in a 54-40 landslide. Redistricting two years later left the freshman congressman with a new district, now numbered the 7th, that was largely unfamiliar to him, but unlike in 2022, he faced no serious intra-party opposition in this red constituency. Democrats in 2018 hoped that well-funded Navy veteran Ken Harbaugh could give Gibbs a serious fight, but the incumbent decisively turned him back 59-41.

The Downballot

On this week's episode of The Downballot, we're joined by Ali Lapp, the founder of the House Majority PAC—the largest super PAC devoted to helping Democrats win House races nationwide. Lapp discusses HMP's role in the broader Democratic ecosystem, how the organization decides which districts to target, and promising research showing the positive impacts of a new ad touting Democrats' record on the economy.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also recap elections this week in California and Wisconsin; explain why Republicans are finally turning on Madison Cawthorn (it's not really about cocaine and orgies); pick apart a huge blunder that led to the first attack ad in Pennsylvania's Democratic primary for Senate getting yanked off the air the very day it debuted; and provide updates on international elections in Hungary and France. You can listen to The Downballot on all major podcast platforms, and you'll find a transcript right here by noon Eastern Time.

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Senate

AL-Sen: The first half of Army veteran Mike Durant's ad details his near-death experience during the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" incident in Somalia, with the narrator declaring, "Mike Durant was saved by his brothers. His life spared by the grace of God." The spot then abruptly changes tone as the voice says the GOP primary candidate "believes the unborn deserve the same."

GA-Sen: Banking executive Latham Saddler is using his opening spot to contrast his service in the military with GOP primary frontrunner Herschel Walker's time as a football star. Saddler begins by acknowledging, "Herschel Walker was my childhood sports hero," before continuing, "I also wore a uniform: I ran on the battlefield as a Navy SEAL." He concludes that he's in the race "so that you can choose between a war fighter and a celebrity."

NC-Sen: The Republican firm Cygnal, which did not identify a client, has a new general election survey that finds GOP Rep. Ted Budd leading Democrat Cheri Beasley 45-43 as former Gov. Pat McCrory ties her 41-41.

NH-Sen: The NH Journal's Michael Graham writes that many GOP insiders believe that two-time New York Senate nominee Wendy Long will join the Republican primary to challenge Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan, though there's no word from her. Long earned just over one-quarter of the vote back in the Empire State against Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer in 2012 and 2016, respectively, and she's since moved to New Hampshire. Those showings didn't impress many people except perhaps off-and-on Trump advisor Corey Lewandowski, who has claimed with "100%" certainty that an unnamed woman will join the primary to take on Hassan.

Graham adds that Vikram Mansharamani, who is an author and lecturer at Harvard, "has been making media appearances and is reportedly speaking with potential campaign strategists and advisors," though he also hasn't said anything about his 2022 plans. The filing deadline isn't until June 10.

OH-Sen: Venture capitalist J.D. Vance's allies at Protect Ohio Values PAC have released a new poll from Fabrizio Lee & Associates that shows an 18-18-18 deadlock between Vance, state Treasurer Josh Mandel, and businessman Mike Gibbons in the May 3 GOP primary, with former state party chair Jane Timken at 9%. The firm warned back in January that Vance's numbers were in a "precipitous decline," but they're now crediting the PAC's ad campaign with propelling him forward.

Timken, for her part, has dropped a Moore Information survey that finds Gibbons leading Mandel 20-16, with her just behind at 15%; state Sen. Matt Dolan takes 13%, while Vance brings up the rear with 10%.  

PA-Sen: TV personality Mehmet Oz has publicized a survey from Basswood Research that shows him edging out former hedge fund manager David McCormick 25-22 in the May 17 GOP primary, with former Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands at 13%. Oz released the poll on Trump's disastrous Truth Social platform, which may make him its most prolific user by default.

Governors

MI-Gov: Wealthy businessman Perry Johnson's new spot for the August GOP primary blames Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer, Joe Biden, and the state's former governor, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, for high gas prices. The narrator goes after Whitmer for wanting to close Enbridge Line 5, which The Washington Post explains is "a 69-year old petroleum pipeline that runs under the Great Lakes" that is in danger of spillage.

PA-Gov: The very first negative TV ad of next month's packed GOP primary comes from former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, who manages to fit in attacks on wealthy businessman Dave White, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, and former Rep. Lou Barletta into just 30 seconds. The spot does not mention state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman or any of McSwain's other four opponents.

The narrator begins by declaring that White, who is a former member of the Delaware County Council, "is a career politician who voted to raise property taxes." She then goes after Mastriano for supporting what she calls "the unconstitutional mail-in voting law," which passed in 2019 before Trump and his allies started to wage war on vote-by-mail: The Philadelphia Inquirer explains that a state judge ruled the legislation unconstitutional earlier this year, but that the state Supreme Court has stayed the decision.

Finally, the narrator argues Barletta "supported higher gas taxes and approved Obama's budgets." The rest of the commercial touts McSwain as a "Trump-appointed prosecutor" who has "never run for office and will permanently cut the gas tax."

House

CA-22 (special): Former Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway took first place in Tuesday's special all-party primary to succeed her fellow Republican, former Rep. Devin Nunes, but she may need to wait a while to learn the identity of her opponent in the June 7 general election. (Whether Nunes will still have his gig running Trump's disastrous social media platform by June is a separate question.) With 64,000 votes counted Conway leads with 35%, while Democrat Lourin Hubbard, who is an official at the California Department of Water Resources, is in second with 20%; just behind with 15% each are GOP businessman Matt Stoll and another Democrat, Marine veteran Eric Garcia.

It is not clear how many votes are left to tabulate, but the Los Angeles Times says that any mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday have until April 12 to arrive. Neither Conway nor Hubbard are running for a full term in Congress anywhere, while Stoll and Garcia are challenging Democratic Rep. Jim Costa in the new 21st District.

CO-07: State Sen. Brittany Pettersen, who already had the backing of retiring Rep. Ed Perlmutter and the rest of the state's Democratic delegation, will have the June Democratic primary to herself following her decisive win against minor opposition at Tuesday's party convention.

Colorado, as we've written before, allows candidates to advance to the primary either by turning in the requisite number of signatures or by taking at least 30% of the vote at their party convention, and no other Democratic contenders successfully pursued either route. Republicans, who are the underdogs in a seat that Biden would have carried 56-42, have not yet held their party gathering yet.

CO-08: State Rep. Yadira Caraveo became the sole Democratic contender for this new swing seat on Tuesday, while at least four Republicans will be competing in the June party primary. Caraveo took 71% of the delegate votes at her party's convention (also known as the party assembly), while Adams County Commissioner Chaz Tedesco fell just short of the 30% he needed to appear on the primary ballot. Tedesco, like Caraveo, had originally planned to both collect signatures and take part in the assembly, but because he failed to turn in enough petitions ahead of last month's deadline, his showing Tuesday marked the end of his campaign.  

On the other side, Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine was the only major candidate to compete at Team Red's assembly on Saturday, and her easy victory earned her the top spot on the June ballot. Republican conventions often favor extreme contenders, and Saine offered just that with a video where she declared she "ran to expose, stop, and destroy the anti-family, anti-America, anti-God agenda" the Democrats presented; she also used her message to decry "weak, whiney moderates" in the GOP.

Unlike Caraveo, though, Saine's convention win doesn't ensure her the nomination. That's because state Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer, Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, and retired Army Green Beret Tyler Allcorn previously turned in the requisite 1,500 signatures they needed to make the ballot, so they did not need to take part in the assembly. A fifth Republican, business owner Jewels Gray, is still waiting to hear from election officials if she submitted enough petitions to make the ballot after she failed to win 30% of the vote at the convention. Biden would have carried this new seat, which includes Denver's northern suburbs, 51-46.

FL-22: Commercial airline pilot Curtis Calabrese announced this week that he would join the August Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Ted Deutch. Calabrese, who is a first-time candidate, will take on Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz, who had the field to himself up until now. Calabrese, who would be the state's first openly gay member of Congress, served as a Navy combat aviator before working for the FAA, including as a labor official. Florida Politics writes it was in that capacity that he made several media appearances, including on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," to explain how the 2018-2019 government shutdown was impacting him and his colleagues.

GA-07: Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath has earned the support of the American Federation of Government Employees for next month's primary against fellow incumbent Carolyn Bourdeaux.

IL-15: Politico reports that the anti-tax Club for Growth is spending $400,000 on an ad campaign touting Mary Miller ahead of her June Republican primary showdown against fellow Rep. Rodney Davis. The commercial reminds viewers that Miller is Trump's choice and pledges she'll "never compromise on election integrity."

NJ-02: Monday was the filing deadline for New Jersey's June 7 primary, and the state has a list of contenders for the U.S. House available here.

Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew won a competitive re-election campaign in 2020 the year after he defected from the Democratic Party, and the state's new congressional map extended Trump's margin of victory in this South Jersey shore seat from 51-48 to 52-47. Civil rights attorney Tim Alexander has the backing of the local Democratic establishment and faces no serious intra-party opposition, but he struggled to raise money during 2021.

NJ-03: Redistricting transformed Democratic Rep. Andy Kim's South Jersey seat from a constituency Trump narrowly carried to one that Biden would have won 56-42, though it's possible this district could still be in play in a tough year for Team Blue. The most serious Republican contender appears to be wealthy yacht manufacturer Robert Healey, who is also a former punk rock singer.

NJ-05: Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who is one of the most prominent moderate Democrats in the House, got some welcome news when filing closed and he learned he had no primary opposition in this North Jersey constituency. Five Republicans, though, are competing here even though the new map extended Biden's margin from 52-47 to 56-43.

The most prominent challenger appears to be Marine veteran Nick De Gregorio, who has the influential GOP party endorsement in populous Bergen County. (We explain the importance of county party endorsements in New Jersey here.) Also in the mix are 2020 nominee Frank Pallotta, who lost to Gottheimer 53-46, and businessman Fred Schneiderman, who recently began airing his opening TV ad.

NJ-06: Longtime Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone faces his first notable Republican opposition in some time in the form of Monmouth County Commissioner Sue Kiley, but she's still very much the underdog in a seat that would have backed Biden 59-40. (Redistricting even made this seat, which includes northern Middlesex County and the northern Jersey Shore, slightly bluer.) A few other Republicans are also in including former RNC staffer Tom Toomey and Rik Mehta, who was Team Red's doomed 2020 Senate nominee.

NJ-07: Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski is defending a North Jersey seat where redistricting shrunk Biden's margin of victory from 54-44 to 51-47, and he's likely to face a familiar opponent in the fall. Former state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. is running again after losing to Malinowski just 51-49 in 2020, and he has the influential party endorsement in all six of the district's counties. Kean's most notable intra-party foe is Assemblyman Erik Peterson, but there are five other candidates, including Fredon Mayor John Flora and 2021 gubernatorial candidate Phil Rizzo, who could split whatever anti-Kean vote there is.

NJ-08: Democratic leaders responded to Rep. Albio Sires' retirement announcement in December by immediately consolidating behind Port Authority Commissioner Robert Menendez Jr., who is the son and namesake of New Jersey's senior U.S. senator. Four other Democrats are running in this safely blue seat in the Jersey City area, but there's no indication that any of them are capable of giving Menendez a serious fight.

NJ-11: The state's new congressional map augmented Biden's margin in this North Jersey seat from 53-46 all the way up to 58-41, but five Republicans are still hoping that Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill is vulnerable. The frontrunner looks like Morris County Commissioner Tayfun Selen, who sports important GOP county party endorsements; also in the race are Army veteran Toby Anderson and former prosecutor Paul DeGroot.

OR-06: Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday that she was endorsing state Rep. Andrea Salinas in the crowded May 17 Democratic primary for this new seat.

TX-34 (special): Former Cameron County Commissioner Dan Sanchez announced Wednesday that he was entering the June special all-party primary with endorsements from former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela and 15th District Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who is Team Blue's nominee for a full term in the new version of the 34th.

Attorneys General

MD-AG: Former Judge Katie Curran O'Malley has picked up the support of former Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who served from 1987 until 2017, for the July Democratic primary for this open seat. Rep. Anthony Brown, meanwhile, has received endorsements from 32BJ SEIU, which represents property service workers, and 1199SEIU, which is for health care employees: Maryland Matters writes that these groups represent a total of 30,000 Marylanders.

Legislatures

Special Elections: We have a recap of Tuesday's all-party primary in Georgia followed by a preview of a rare Thursday contest in New York:

GA HD-45: A runoff will take place May 3 between Republican Mitch Kaye and Democrat Dustin McCormick for the final months of former GOP state Rep. Matt Dollar's term. Kaye led McCormick 42-40, while the balance went to two other Republicans. Kaye is not running for a full term, while McCormick faces no intra-party opposition in the regular May primary to take on Republican state Rep. Sharon Cooper in the new version of HD-45.

NY AD-20: We have a special election in Nassau County to succeed Republican Melissa Miller, who resigned in February after she was appointed to the Hempstead Town Board, in a seat Trump carried 52-47 in 2020. The GOP is fielding Cedarhurst Deputy Mayor Eric Ari Brown while the Democratic nominee is David Lobl, a former advisor to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Mayors

Milwaukee, WI Mayor: Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson decisively won Tuesday's special election to succeed his fellow Democrat, Tom Barrett, by beating conservative Bob Donovan 72-28. Johnson, who made history as the first Black person elected to lead Milwaukee, will be up for a full four-year term in 2024. He could also be in office for quite a long time to come, as Johnson is now only the fifth person elected to this post since 1945.

Morning Digest: New York attorney general’s report sparks renewed calls for Cuomo’s resignation

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.

The special primaries for Ohio’s 11th and 15th Congressional Districts took place Tuesday, while Washington also held top-two primaries for mayor of Seattle and King County executive. You can find the Ohio and Washington results at their respective links, and we’ll have a comprehensive rundown of each contest in our next Digest.

Leading Off

NY-Gov: New York Attorney General Tish James on Tuesday released the results of her long-awaited probe of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, where she concluded that he'd violated federal and state law by sexually harassing multiple women, and that he'd retaliated against one of them for speaking out.

The governor responded by once again denying any wrongdoing, but that didn’t stop more prominent state and national figures, including President Joe Biden, from calling for his resignation. Additionally, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie​ announced that his chamber would "move expeditiously and look to conclude our impeachment investigation as quickly as possible​."​

James concluded her investigation without charging Cuomo with anything, saying she found the allegations "civil in nature," though she said that local prosecutors could decide to act on them. Albany County District Attorney David Soares, whose jurisdiction includes the state capitol of Albany, said hours later: "We will be formally requesting investigative materials obtained by the A.G.'s office, and we welcome any victim to contact our office with additional information." James' office is also currently engaged in a separate probe looking into accusations that Cuomo used state government staffers for work on his recent memoir.

A.G. James' 165-page report determined that Cuomo had sexually harassed at least 11 women, including two whose allegations had not been reported, by, "among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women."

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James continued, "Our investigation revealed that the Governor's sexually harassing behavior was not limited to members of his own staff, but extended to other State employees, including a State Trooper on his protective detail and members of the public." At a press conference Tuesday, lead investigator Joon Kim said that Cuomo's office was a place where "you could not say no to the governor," which created an environment "ripe for harassment."

The attorney general also wrote that Cuomo's administration violated federal civil rights laws by retaliating against one of his accusers, former aide Lindsey Boylan, after she'd tweeted in December that the governor had sexually harassed her "for years."

James said that officials had "leak[ed] to the press confidential records relating to an internal investigation into Ms. Boylan on unrelated issues," and that current and former administration officials had considered "a proposed op-ed or letter disparaging Ms. Boylan that the Governor personally participated in drafting." The report quoted a Cuomo staffer who testified to witnessing the governor's inner circle "[t]rying to make her seem like she was crazy and wanting to get her personnel file out" in order to discredit her.

The state Assembly began an impeachment investigation into Cuomo back in March over these and other abuse of power allegations. Speaker Carl Heastie responded to Tuesday's report by saying his chamber would undergo "an in-depth examination of the report and its corresponding exhibits." Later in the day, Heastie promised the Assembly would move “expeditiously” to finish its investigation. State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, meanwhile, reiterated her March call for the governor to resign.

Several other prominent Empire State Democrats, including Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, also once again told Cuomo to step down. They were joined by Reps. Tom Suozzi, Hakeem Jeffries, and Gregory Meeks, who were the only three members of the party's delegation who hadn't previously called for the governor's resignation. Biden also urged Cuomo to resign on Tuesday, reiterating the call he made in March for the governor to step down if the attorney general’s investigation concluded he had engaged in sexual harassment.

Cuomo, though, once again made it clear that he didn't intend to go anywhere willingly. The incumbent declared, "I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances" and insisted, "Trial by newspaper or biased reviews are not the way to find the facts in this matter." Cuomo spoke as a slideshow played of him hugging and kissing others on the cheek, including leaders and constituents, which he said proved his gestures were "meant to convey warmth, nothing more."

Cuomo also mentioned one of his accusers, a former aide and sexual assault survivor named Charlotte Bennet, by name, saying that, while he was "truly and deeply sorry" for trying and failing to help her, she and her lawyer "heard things that I just didn't say." Bennett tweeted later in the day, "I do not want an apology—I want accountability and an end to victim-blaming. NYS Assembly Speaker @CarlHeastie, it's time you do the right thing: impeach him."

Senate

IA-Sen: Retired Vice Adm. Mike Franken said this week that he intended to seek the Democratic nomination for Senate again once he's done "fixing a last-minute medical issue at Walter Reed," though he didn't elaborate. Last year, Franken went up against businesswoman Theresa Greenfield, who had the backing of the national Democratic establishment, in a very difficult primary. Greenfield, who decisively outspent Franken and benefited from close to $7 million in outside spending, beat him 48-25 before losing to Republican Sen. Joni Ernst months later.

MO-Sen, MO-02: Republican Rep. Ann Wagner announced Tuesday that she would seek re-election to the House rather than compete in the crowded primary for Missouri's open Senate race. The current version of her suburban St. Louis seat voted for Donald Trump just 49.18-49.16, which made it the closest of any of the nation's 435 congressional districts, but the GOP legislature has the power to gerrymander it all over again.

WI-Sen: State Sen. Chris Larson said Tuesday that he was dropping out of the Democratic primary and endorsing Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

Governors

CA-Gov: Core Decision Analytics (CDA) is out with its first poll of the Sept. 14 recall election, and it finds the anti-recall no side ahead 49-42 among likely voters. Those numbers are a bit better for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom than a recent poll from UC Berkeley, which showed him fending off the recall in a narrow 50-47 spread.

Meanwhile, CDA finds conservative radio host Larry Elder leading his fellow Republican, 2018 nominee John Cox, 10-4 in the race to succeed Newsom if he's ejected, with a 32% plurality marking themselves as undecided and another 22% of respondents opting for "None of These." CDA, which conducted a few polls earlier this year for New York City's Democratic primary, said it is "independent and not affiliated with any client, candidate campaign, nor any independent expenditure effort for or against the recall."

HI-Gov: Campaign finance reports are out for the first six months of 2021, and Lt. Gov. Josh Green outraised former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who is the only other notable Democrat who has entered the race, by a dramatic $424,000 to $10,000. Green ended June with a considerably smaller $636,000 to $509,000 advantage, though, thanks to money from Caldwell's existing campaign account.

NE-Gov: State Sen. Carol Blood said Monday that she was considering seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed termed-out Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, and that she planned to decide next month.

This office has been in GOP hands since the 1998 elections, and any Democrat would start out as the clear underdog, but Blood does have experience winning on tough turf. In 2016, she prevailed in a race to represent part of the Omaha suburbs in the officially nonpartisan legislature by unseating a Republican incumbent 52-48 even as Donald Trump was beating Hillary Clinton 56-37 in her constituency, and she held on with 50.4-49.6 last year.

House

AZ-02: Juan Ciscomani, who serves as a senior advisor to Gov. Doug Ducey, announced Tuesday that he'd seek the Republican nomination for this open Tucson-based seat. Ciscomani is the first notable Republican to enter the race for a Democratic-held district that, in its current form, has dramatically moved to the left over the last decade.

NY-11: Political observers have been wondering about former Rep. Max Rose's plans ever since the Democrat stepped down from his position on the Defense Department's COVID-19 task force a month ago, and he's not doing anything to tamp down on the speculation. Rose told NY1 last week, "Right now that next chapter is playing with my son, who's just about a year-and-a-half," and he added, "There's plenty of different ways that one can continue to serve. I look forward to exploring those ways."

While Rose didn't mention any office he might be interested in, DCCC chair Sean Patrick Maloney quickly said he'd "100%" like to see his former colleague seek a rematch against Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis. Malliotakis unseated Rose 53-47 last year as Trump was carrying this Staten Island-based seat by a larger 55-44 spread, though this district could become bluer after redistricting.

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: Politico reports that City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George is spending $200,000 on an opening ad buy, which makes her the first current candidate to run TV spots ahead of the Sept. 14 nonpartisan primary. (State Rep. Jon Santiago went on the air before he dropped out last month.) Essaibi George, who describes herself as "a proud daughter of immigrant parents," talks about her local roots before pledging to "build a better Boston."

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

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

Leading Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

Governors

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

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

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mayors

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

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

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

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

Prosecutors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Races

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Digest: Far-right ex-cop wages intraparty bid against pro-impeachment GOP congressman

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

WA-04: Far-right ex-cop Loren Culp announced Thursday that he would challenge Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, who is one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump in January. Culp, who was the GOP’s 2020 nominee for governor, made it very clear he’d be making his campaign all about that vote: After accusing the incumbent of having a “spine made of jelly,” Culp, without offering any evidence, accused Newhouse of making “some kind of deal” with Democrats.

Newhouse was already facing intraparty challenges on his right from state Rep. Brad Klippert and businessman Jerrod Sessler in next year’s top-two primary, and more could still join. It’s possible that a crowded field of opponents could split the anti-Newhouse GOP vote in the 4th District and allow the congressman to advance to a general election with a Democrat, but that’s far from assured. This 58-40 Trump seat is red enough that Newhouse went up against a fellow Republican in both 2014 and 2016, and this eastern Washington seat will almost certainly remain very conservative turf after redistricting.

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Culp may also be prominent enough to emerge as Newhouse’s main foe, especially since Klippert did not report raising any money in the time between his January launch and the end of March. (Sessler entered the race in early April.) Culp himself served as mayor of the small community of Republic, which is located in the neighboring 5th District, in 2018 when he made news by announcing he wouldn't enforce a statewide gun safety ballot measure that had just passed 59-41.

Culp's stance drew a very favorable response from far-right rocker Ted Nugent, who posted a typo-ridden "Chief Loren Culp is an Anerican freedom warrior. Godbless the freedom warriors" message to his Facebook page.

Culp soon decided to challenge Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, and he quickly made it clear he would continue to obsessively cultivate the Trump base rather than appeal to a broader group of voters in this blue state. That tactic helped Culp advance through the top-two primary, an occasion he celebrated by reaffirming his opposition to Inslee's measures to stop the pandemic, including mask mandates.

Inslee ended up winning by a wide 57-43, but Culp responded by saying he’d “never concede.” Instead, he filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a fellow Republican, that made baseless allegations of “intolerable voting anomalies” for a contest “that was at all times fraudulent.”

The state GOP did not welcome Culp’s refusal to leave the stage, though. Some Republicans also openly shared their complaints about Culp’s campaign spending, including what the Seattle Times’ Jim Brunner described as “large, unexplained payments to a Marysville data firm while spending a relatively meager sum on traditional voter contact.”

Culp also gave himself a total of $48,000 for lost wages and mileage reimbursement, a sum that Brunner said “appears to be the largest-ever for a candidate in Washington state.” Republicans also griped that Culp had spent only about a fifth of his $3.3 million budget on advertising, a far smaller amount than what serious candidates normally expend.

Culp’s attorney ultimately withdrew the suit after being threatened with sanction for making “factually baseless” claims. Culp himself responded to the news by saying that, while the cost of continuing the legal battle would have been prohibitive, “It doesn’t mean that the war’s over … It just means that we’re not going to engage in this particular battle through the courts.”

Newhouse, for his part, responded to Culp’s new campaign by reaffirming that he’ll be running for a fifth term next year. Newhouse brought in $288,000 during the first quarter for his campaign, and he ended March with $528,000 to defend himself.

Senate

AK-Sen: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the chamber, endorsed Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski. Manchin previously crossed party lines by backing Maine Sen. Susan Collins last cycle; neither Murkowski nor Collins supported Manchin during his 2018 reelection bid.

FL-Sen, FL-Gov: Democratic Rep. Val Demings on Thursday reiterated her interest in running for Senate or governor, adding, "It's next year, right, and so I'd need to make that decision soon for sure by mid-year. And we're almost there now." Demings did not indicate if she was leaning towards one statewide race over the other.

IA-Sen, IA-Gov: Democratic state Auditor Rob Sand recently told Iowa Press that he was thinking about running for the Senate, governor, or for reelection in 2022, and that he didn't have a timeline to decide. Sand won this post in 2018 by unseating a Republican incumbent 51-46 even as GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds was prevailing 50-48.

MO-Sen: The Kansas City Star recently asked former NASCAR driver Carl Edwards if he was interested in seeking the Republican nomination for this open seat, and he did not rule out the idea. Edwards said, "I don't have an active campaign going on," before he talked about his belief "in the founding principles and individual freedom and liberty and sustainability of our way of life." He added, "There might be a day when I'm able to help with that."

Governors

CA-Gov: Former reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner announced Friday that she would compete as a Republican in this year's likely recall election against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. In addition to Jenner, the GOP field includes former Rep. Doug Ose, 2018 nominee John Cox, and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and it could still expand further.

Jenner, who would be the first transgender person elected statewide anywhere, has not sought office before, though she's not completely new to politics. She was a vocal Donald Trump supporter in 2016, although Politico recently reported that she didn't cast a ballot at all that year; Jenner also did not vote in 2018 when Newsom was elected governor.

Jenner insisted in 2017 that, while Trump has "made some mistakes" on LGBTQ issues, she didn't regret backing him, but she finally acknowledged the following year that she'd been wrong. That public break, however, didn't stop Jenner from hiring multiple high-level Trump campaign personnel for her bid or accepting help from former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale.

NH-Gov: 2020 Democratic nominee Dan Feltes told the Concord Monitor that he had "no intention right now of putting my name on the ballot in 2022," though he didn't rule out a second bid for governor.

Feltes, who was state Senate majority leader at the time, raised a credible $1.7 million last time for his bid against Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, but the popular incumbent defeated him in a 65-33 landslide. Sununu has yet to announce if he'll run for a fourth two-year term or challenge Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan instead.

House

FL-20: Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard said Thursday that he would not compete in the still-unscheduled special election for this safely blue seat.

KS-03: 2020 Republican nominee Amanda Adkins earned an endorsement Friday from 4th District Rep. Ron Estes for her second campaign against Democratic incumbent Sharice Davids.

ME-02: The Bangor Daily News takes a look at the potential Republican field to take on Rep. Jared Golden in this 52-45 Trump seat, a northern Maine constituency that is the reddest Democratic-held House district in America. So far, though, the only notable politician who appears to have publicly expressed interest is state Rep. Mike Perkins, who said Thursday he was forming an exploratory committee.

2020 nominee Dale Crafts, meanwhile, said he wasn't ruling out a second try. Crafts, who is a former state representative, was decisively outraised by Golden last time, and major outside groups on both sides dramatically cut their ad buys in the final weeks of the race in what Politico characterized at the time as "a sign of no confidence" in the Republican. Golden ended up prevailing 53-47, which was far closer than what almost any publicly released poll showed.

State Sen. Lisa Keim and former state Rep. Alex Willette said they wouldn't run, but the Bangor Daily News writes that former Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who lost this seat to Golden in 2018, did not respond to questions about his plans. Poliquin spent much of 2019 talking about seeking a rematch against Golden, but he ultimately announced that, while he was "itching to run again," he had to skip that race to care for his elderly parents.

While Democrats control the governorship and both houses of the legislature, redistricting isn't likely to alter Maine's congressional boundaries all that much. The state requires two-thirds of each chamber to pass a new map, and there are more than enough Republicans to block any districts they view as unfavorable. If the legislature deadlocks, the state Supreme Court would take charge of redistricting.

NV-04: 2020 candidate Sam Peters has announced that he'll once again compete for the Republican nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford. Peters, who is an Air Force veteran and businessman, lost last year's primary 35-28 to former Assemblyman Jim Marchant. Horsford went on to beat Marchant 51-46 as Joe Biden was carrying this northern Las Vegas area seat by a similar 51-47 spread.

OH-01: Franklin Mayor Brent Centers filed FEC paperwork Thursday for a potential campaign for the Cincinnati-area seat currently held by his fellow Republican, Rep. Steve Chabot. Centers previously said he planned to enter the race in early May.

TX-06: The progressive firm Data for Progress has released a survey of the May 1 all-party primary that shows Republican party activist Susan Wright, the wife of the late Rep. Ron Wright, in first with 22%.

2018 Democratic nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez leads Republican state Rep. Jake Ellzey by a small 16-13 margin in the contest for the second spot in an all-but-assured runoff, with a few other candidates from each party also in striking distance. Former Trump administration official Brian Harrison and Democrat Shawn Lassiter, who works as an education advocate, are both at 10%, while 2020 Democratic state House nominee Lydia Bean is at 9%.

The only other poll we've seen all month was a Meeting Street Research survey for the conservative blog the Washington Free Beacon from mid-April that showed a very tight four-way race. Those numbers had Sanchez and Wright at 16% and 15%, respectively, with Ellzey at 14% and Harrison taking 12%.

Data for Progress also polled a hypothetical runoff between Wright and Sanchez and found the Republican up 53-43. This seat, which includes part of Arlington and rural areas south of Dallas, supported Trump only 51-48 in 2020 after backing him 54-42 four years before, but Republicans have done better downballot.

TX-15: 2020 GOP nominee Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez's second campaign picked up an endorsement Friday from Sen. Ted Cruz. De La Cruz-Hernandez, who held Democratic incumbent Vicente Gonzalez to a shockingly close 51-48 win last year, is the only notable Republican currently in the race for this Rio Grande Valley seat, which backed Joe Biden only 50-49 after supporting Hillary Clinton by a wide 57-40.

Mayors

New York City, NY Mayor: The city Campaign Finance Board on Thursday approved former White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan for matching funds.

The board said the previous week that it was "deferring its decision" as it sought "further information" about a super PAC that has received at least $3 million from the candidate's father, but it cleared Donovan for public financing following its review. With this development, all of the notable Democrats competing in the June primary have received matching funds except former Citigroup executive Raymond McGuire, who is not taking part in the program.

Meanwhile, attorney Maya Wiley received an endorsement on Friday from EMILY's List. The field also includes two other pro-choice women, former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and nonprofit executive Dianne Morales.

Prosecutors

Manhattan, NY District Attorney: Former State Chief Deputy Attorney General Alvin Bragg recently picked up endorsements from two prominent labor groups ahead of the crowded June Democratic primary: the healthcare workers union 1199 SEIU and 32BJ, which represents building and airport employees.

Other Races

CA-AG: The state legislature on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to confirm Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta to replace Xavier Becerra, who resigned last month to become U.S. secretary of health and human services, as California attorney general. Bonta, who has made a name for himself as a criminal justice reformer, is also the first Filipino American to hold this post.

Bonta already faces a challenge from Republican Nathan Hochman, a former federal prosecutor, in his 2022 campaign for a full four-year term. The bigger threat in this very blue state, though, could come from Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, a Republican-turned-independent who is publicly considering a bid.

Politico writes that Schubert, who attracted plenty of attention in 2016 after the Golden State Killer was apprehended, has also "hammered California's unemployment fraud failures and has excoriated [criminal justice] reformers." Schubert, though, would need to get through the top-two primary before she could focus on Bonta, and it's far from guaranteed that she'd be able to advance if Hochman or a different Republican emerges as Team Red's frontrunner.

Morning Digest: GOP primary for open Ohio Senate seat grows larger and could get even more crowded

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

OH-Sen: The Republican field for Ohio's open Senate seat swelled to four on Tuesday when Mike Gibbons, an investment banker who lost the 2018 primary, announced that he would launch a second bid.

Gibbons joins former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, ex-state party chair Jane Timken, and fellow businessman Bernie Moreno in what could be a crowded race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman. Several other Republicans are also talking about running including venture capitalist J.D. Vance and Reps. Bill Johnson, Steve Stivers, and Mike Turner, so this contest will likely become even larger.

Gibbons hoped to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in the 2018 contest for the Buckeye State's other Senate seat, but he spent much of the primary looking like the clear underdog against Mandel. The race took a shocking turn early that year, though, when Mandel, citing his then-wife's health, suddenly dropped out.

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Gibbons briefly had the contest to himself, but if he was hoping he'd emerge as the party's default nominee, he soon got a rude awakening. Rep. Jim Renacci switched from the governor's race to the Senate contest, and he quickly emerged as Team Red's new frontrunner even before he received Donald Trump's endorsement. Gibbons ended up self-funding $2.8 million, which represented more than 80% of his campaign's total haul, but Renacci beat him by a wide 47-32 margin; Renacci ultimately lost to Brown that fall.

Gibbons is hoping that he'll be the one to receive Trump's backing this time, and Politico reported last month that he joined each of his now-rivals in Florida as they each made their case for an endorsement. Gibbons, however, acknowledged to the Cincinnati Enquirer this week that he doesn't "expect" to receive Trump's coveted not-tweet.

That pessimism may at least prevent Gibbons from the kind of embarrassing headlines that Mandel received over the weekend. Axios' Alayna Treene reports that Mandel made another trip to Florida to attend the Republican National Committee's donor retreat, an event that Trump addressed on Saturday. Mandel didn't get the chance to hobnob with his party's leader, though, as he was told to leave the previous day because he hadn't been invited in the first place. Timken, by contrast, was a credentialed attendee on account of her major donor status.

1Q Fundraising

IL-Sen: Tammy Duckworth (D-inc): $3.7 million raised, $1.8 million cash-on-hand

CA-25: Mike Garcia (R-inc): $650,000 raised

MA-04: Jake Auchincloss (D-inc): $460,000 raised, $850,000 cash-on-hand

NY-11: Nicole Malliotakis (R-inc): $358,000 raised, $338,000 cash-on-hand

NY-24: John Katko (R-inc): $436,000 raised, $586,000 cash-on-hand

Senate

IA-Sen, IA-Gov: For the first time since early this year, Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne has spoken about her plans for 2022, saying she'd be "interested in doing a job for Iowa that improves people's lives." That, Axne, said, could mean running for Senate or governor, or seeking re-election to the House. The Storm Lake Times, which reported Axne's remarks, incorrectly concluded that the congresswoman had listed those offices in order of preference; her communications team, however, clarified she'd done no such thing, saying that "all three options are on the table." In an interview in January, Axne declined to rule out bids for either statewide office.

Governors

IL-Gov: Republican Rep. Rodney Davis, who previously hadn't ruled out a run for governor, now says that his preference is to seek re-election but, depending on the upcoming round of redistricting, he could opt for a gubernatorial bid instead. Illinois is one of the few states where Democrats will have unfettered control of the mapmaking process this decade, and they could make Davis' 13th Congressional District considerably bluer.

MD-Gov: Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski, who was reported to be weighing a bid for governor, publicly confirmed for the first time on Sunday that he's "considering" entering the Democratic primary. John Olszewski didn't offer a timetable for making a decision, but he noted that he'd be introducing a budget on Thursday and said he would "take the time necessary to ensure its passage." In recent years, county budgets have passed sometime in May.

VA-Gov: Term-limited Gov. Ralph Northam, who just endorsed former Gov. Terry McAuliffe last week, now stars in his predecessor's newest TV ad. Northam praises McAuliffe for having "the experience and vision to lead Virginia into a stronger and more equitable future."

House

CA-39: Former Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros, who had expressed some interest in a rematch after losing his first bid for re-election last fall, has been nominated by Joe Biden to run the Defense Department's personnel office. If Cisneros, a veteran who served in the Navy at the rank of lieutenant commander, is confirmed by the Senate, that presumably would take him out of the running for another congressional campaign.

Following the Cisneros news, Rep. Ted Lieu endorsed the lone notable Democrat running against freshman Republican Rep. Young Kim, community college trustee Jay Chen. Lieu, who was one of the House managers of Donald Trump's second impeachment, represents a Los Angeles-area district not far from California's 39th, which is based in Orange County.

FL-20: Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness kicked off a campaign for Florida's vacant 20th Congressional District on Monday with the backing of Alcee Hastings II, who'd been mentioned as a possible candidate for the seat that had been held by his late father. Holness joins state Sen. Perry Thurston and Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief among the notable Democrats running in the as-yet unscheduled special election to replace the elder Hastings, who died earlier this month at the age of 84.

Sharief had in fact filed paperwork to run in the 20th District back in December, months before Hastings died, but she hasn't used that extra time to build up much of a donor base: In her first quarterly fundraising report, she brought in just $13,000 from individuals during the first three months of the year, though she also loaned her campaign another $100,000 on top of that.

GA-06, GA-07: Army veteran Harold Earls, who recently became the first notable Republican to launch a challenge to Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath in Georgia's 6th Congressional District, says he might change races depending on how redistricting turns out. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Earls says he might switch to the neighboring 7th District, represented by freshman Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, "if her district was made more friendly to the GOP."

LA-02: State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson earned an endorsement Tuesday from the progressive group End Citizens United ahead of the April 24 all-Democratic runoff.

Meanwhile, campaign finance reports covering the time between March 1 and April 4 are out (the March 24 all-party primary fell in the middle of this period), and they show that fellow state Sen. Troy Carter maintains a financial advantage. Carter outraised Peterson about $610,000 to $363,000 (Peterson self-funded an additional $10,000) and outspent her $676,000 to $444,000. Carter held a $223,000 to $138,000 edge in cash-on-hand for the final weeks of the campaign.

NY-24: Public policy professor Dana Balter, who lost two straight campaigns to Republican Rep. John Katko in 2018 and 2020, says she won't be back for a third try next year. However, Navy veteran Francis Conole, who lost last year's Democratic nomination to Balter by a 63-37 margin, says he's considering another campaign. Meanwhile, Roger Misso, another Navy veteran who also ran last cycle but dropped out a few months before the primary, says he "has no plans to seek office," according to syracuse.com.

Mayors

New York City, NY Mayor: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams picked up an endorsement Tuesday from the city firefighters’ union, the Uniformed Firefighters Officers Association, for the June Democratic primary.

Morning Digest: Is Charlie Baker vulnerable if he runs again? Don’t bank on this one poll to tell us

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

MA-Gov: YouGov's new poll for UMass Amherst finds Republican Gov. Charlie Baker leading five different Democrats in hypothetical 2022 general election matchups, but not by the massive spreads he's accustomed to. What's more, a huge portion of respondents are undecided in each trial heat, which makes it especially difficult to tell how much danger Baker might actually be in if he were to run for a third term.

First, the numbers, with Baker's share first in each case:

31-28 vs. Attorney General Maura Healey

37-27 vs. former Rep. Joe Kennedy

31-12 vs. former state Sen. Ben Downing

31-17 vs. state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz

31-14 vs. professor Danielle Allen

The only one of these candidates who has announced a bid is Downing, though Allen has formed an exploratory committee. Healey, meanwhile, has been talked about quite a bit as a potential candidate but hasn't said if she's interested, while Kennedy sounds very unlikely to go for it. This is also the first time we've heard Chang-Díaz mentioned as a possible contender. Baker, for his part, has been keeping everyone guessing about his re-election plans.

Campaign Action

However, while YouGov finds Baker leading Healey by just three points and well under 50% against the other four Democrats, there's a big reason to be cautious. In that matchup a plurality of 34% of respondents are undecided (the remaining 7% say they would not vote), a proportion that's even higher in three of the other trial heats, and even in the Baker-Kennedy scenario, 28% still mark themselves as not sure.

All of that makes this poll hard to interpret and therefore not particularly helpful to understanding what the future might hold. Assuming the sample accurately reflects next year's electorate—no easy feat—it's still possible that, this far from Election Day, a huge number of voters really are on the fence and could go either way. However, it's just as possible that YouGov, for whatever reason, isn't doing enough to push respondents to express their preferences.

A considerably larger portion of YouGov's panel, though, did give its opinion of Baker's performance in office, with a 52-39 majority saying they approve. That's a positive number, especially for a Republican in a very blue state, but it's a massive drop from the 68-29 score Baker chalked up in October, the last time YouGov polled him for the school. It's also far lower than what almost every other poll has found since Baker took office in 2015: Last month, for instance, MassInc showed Baker with a 74-20 score.

Events since those two polls were conducted, including Massachusetts' widely panned coronavirus vaccine rollout, may have hurt the governor, but the two pollsters' methodologies may simply be leading them to measure public opinion differently. No matter what, though, we should never let one survey determine our view of a contest. Hopefully, more firms will survey the Bay State in the near future to give us a better idea as to whether Baker remains strong at home or if he really could be in for a tough race if he runs again.

Senate

GA-Sen: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein reports that Republican Rep. Drew Ferguson is considering a bid against Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock.

Ferguson, who was elected in 2016 to represent a safely red seat in the southwestern Atlanta exurbs, has not said anything publicly, though unnamed allies tell Bluestein he’s “being pressured by some state and national GOP figures” to run. Bluestein also notes that Ferguson is an ally of former Rep. Doug Collins, who is openly mulling another bid here, though it remains to be seen how that might impact either man’s calculations.

Several other Republicans are thinking about getting in. Bluestein relays that one of those “said to be considering” is businessman Kelvin King, though there’s no other word on King’s interest.

IA-Sen: Retired Vice Adm. Mike Franken, a Democrat who lost last year's primary for Iowa's other Senate seat, told The Gazette on Monday that he's not ruling out a campaign against Republican incumbent Chuck Grassley. Franken said of Grassley, who has not yet said if he'll seek an eighth term, "A lot can happen in six months, but I think the prudent person would expect that he would run again. Betting otherwise would be a fool's pursuit."

Last year, Franken went up against businesswoman Theresa Greenfield, who had the backing of the national Democratic establishment, in a very difficult primary. Greenfield, who decisively outspent Franken and benefited from close to $7 million in outside spending, beat him 48-25 before losing to Republican Sen. Joni Ernst months later.

Governors

AZ-Gov: Former homeland security official Marco López, a Democrat who previously served as mayor of Nogales, on Tuesday became the first notable candidate from either party to announce a bid to succeed termed-out Republican Gov. Doug Ducey. López, whose parents emigrated to the United States from Mexico, would be the state's second-ever Latino governor following fellow Democrat Raul Castro, who was elected in 1974 and resigned in 1977 to become Jimmy Carter's ambassador to Argentina.

López himself won elected office in 2000 when he was elected mayor of Nogales, which shares a name with its far larger neighbor on the other side of the international border, at the age of 22. After serving in several state posts under Arizona's last Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano, López also worked under her at the Department of Homeland Security as chief of staff for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

López, who has spent the last decade as an international business consultant, has also acted as an advisor to billionaire Carlos Slim, who is the richest man in Mexico and one of the wealthiest people in the world. The Arizona Republic, though, writes that López is pushing back on "rumors" that he'd fund his bid with his own money. López instead said he'd be asking for donations, though he doesn't appear to have addressed if he's open to self-funding some of his campaign.

López will likely have company in next year's primary as Team Blue looks to score another win in a state that Joe Biden narrowly carried in 2020. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said about a year ago that she was considering and would likely decide in early 2021, though she doesn't appear to have given any other details about her deliberations since then. A few other Democrats have also been mentioned, though no one else seems to have said anything publicly about their interest.

House

AZ-02: State Rep. Randy Friese confirmed Tuesday that he was considering running to succeed his fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, in this Tucson-area seat.

TX-06: This week, 22nd District Rep. Troy Nehls became the state’s fifth Republican House member to back party activist Susan Wright in the May 1 all-party primary to succeed her late husband, Rep. Ron Wright. Another GOP candidate, former Trump HHS official Brian Harrison, also used his second TV ad to talk about what a “big government” hater he is.

Mayors

Los Angeles, CA Mayor: On Monday, City Councilman Joe Buscaino announced that he would compete in next year's race to succeed termed-out incumbent Eric Garcetti as mayor of America's second-most populous city. Buscaino joins City Attorney Mike Feuer, a fellow Democrat who kicked off his campaign a year ago, in the June 2022 nonpartisan primary, and there are plenty of other politicians in this very blue city who could get in.

Before we take a look at the current and potential fields, though, we'll address why this contest is taking place in an even-numbered year for the first time in living memory. Mayoral races in The City of Angels have been low-turnout affairs for a long time, with only just over 20% voters turning out for the very competitive 2013 contest that Garcetti ultimately won.

But in 2015, voters, albeit on another ultra-low turnout citywide Election Day, overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to require city elections to coincide with federal and statewide races starting with the mayoral race in 2022. In order to align future races to the new calendar, Garcetti successfully competed for a special five-and-a-half-year term in 2017 rather than the standard four-year term his successor will be elected to.

The contest to succeed Garcetti has been underway for some time, as demonstrated by Feuer's announcement in March of 2020. Feuer, a longtime officeholder who was elected city attorney in 2013, used his head start to raise $418,000 through December.

Feuer earned headlines for suing the Trump administration several times during his tenure, but he's also attracted unfavorable attention at home. In October of last year, a state judge ordered the city to pay a $2.5 million fine after ruling in favor of what the Los Angeles Times's Dakota Smith described as a "consulting firm that accused City Atty. Mike Feuer's office of concealing evidence" in a long running scandal involving over-billing by the Department of Power and Water.

Buscaino, by contrast, is a Los Angeles Police Department veteran whom the paper says is "well known to many in San Pedro but is probably less familiar to residents in other parts of the city." Buscaino, who last year was one of just two members on the 15-member City Council to vote against cutting $150 million from the police budget, defended the LAPD this week as the "largest reformed police department in the country." Buscaino also said that he spent his time as a cop "focused on problem solving, on creating partnerships to improve the quality of life here," and that he was in favor of directing more money to social services.

There are plenty of others who may run as well. Smith reports that two influential business figures, Central City Association head Jessica Lall and mall developer Rick Caruso, are both thinking about getting in. City Councilman Kevin de León, who waged an unsuccessful 2018 intra-party bid against Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and fellow City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas also have not ruled out running.

Seattle, WA Mayor: Former City Councilman Bruce Harrell announced Tuesday that he would run in this year's race to succeed retiring Mayor Jenny Durkan. Harrell is a relative moderate by the standards of this very blue city, and The Stranger's Nathalie Graham characterizes him as the type of "pro-business candidate the Seattle business community could get behind."

Harrell previously ran for this post in 2013 and took fourth in the top-two primary. In 2015, after the city began electing its councilmembers in district-level races instead of entirely citywide, Harrell competed for a South Seattle seat and won by a tight 51-49 margin. He then went on to serve as interim mayor for a week after incumbent Ed Murray resigned in disgrace in 2017, which made Harrell Seattle's first Asian American mayor and second Black leader.

In 2018, Harrell served as president of the City Council when it unanimously passed a new tax on large employers. Harrell, though, voted along with most of his colleagues to repeal the law just a month later in the face of business pressure, and analysts attributed the entire matter to the City Council's poor ratings in polls. Harrell, who retired in 2019, kicked off his new campaign by arguing that local leadership was failing and it was time to "change the way we do things, radically."

Harrell joins a field that includes Council President Lorena González and Chief Seattle Club Executive Director Colleen Echohawk, either of whom would be the first woman of color to serve as mayor. The filing deadline is in late May for the August nonpartisan top-two primary.

Other Races

Nassau County, NY Executive: On Monday, Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman launched his bid against Democratic incumbent Laura Curran with the support of the Nassau County Republican Party. No other notable Republicans have shown any obvious interest in competing here ahead of the April 1 filing deadline, so it would be a big surprise if Blakeman faces any serious opposition in the June party primary. The general election to lead this suburban Long Island county of 1.4 million people will take place in November.

Nassau County backed Joe Biden 54-45 last year, but Republicans are hoping that Blakeman will help them return to power down the ballot. As Steve Kornacki described in an excellent 2011 piece in Politico that remains one of our favorite articles about local politics anywhere, the local GOP spent decades in complete control over the county until it was brought down by corruption, infighting, and the electorate’s gradual shift to the left. Democrat Tom Suozzi finally broke the GOP's long stranglehold on the county executive's office in 2001, and he won re-election four years later.

But in 2009, with the Great Recession hurting Democrats nationwide, the GOP unexpectedly regained control over Nassau County when Ed Mangano unseated Suozzi by 386 votes. Suozzi sought a comeback in 2013, but Mangano defeated him 59-41 in another contest that foreshadowed the national Democratic Party's problems for the following year. (Suozzi would resurrect his political career in 2016 when he won a seat in Congress.)

However, scandal would again plague the Nassau County GOP. Mangano was indicted on federal corruption charges in 2016, and local Republicans successfully pressured him not to seek a third term in 2017. (Mangano was found guilty after leaving office, but his team is trying to overturn the verdict.) Curran went on to retake the executive office for Team Blue by beating the Republican nominee, former state Sen. Jack Martins, in a close 51-48 contest, but the GOP still controls the gerrymandered county legislature 11-8.

That brings us to 2021, where Team Red is turning to Blakeman to beat Curran. Blakeman is a longtime figure in New York politics, where he’s had some decidedly mixed success at the ballot box. Blakeman most notably was the 2014 GOP nominee for the open 4th Congressional District, a Nassau County-based seat that Barack Obama had carried 56-43 two years before. Major outside groups on both sides largely bypassed the contest, but the GOP wave helped Blakeman hold Democrat Kathleen Rice to a 53-47 win. In 2015, Blakeman bounced back by winning a seat on the governing body of Hempstead, a massive town with a population of about 765,000.

Data

Presidential Elections: Daily Kos Elections' Stephen Wolf has compiled a spreadsheet with the results of every presidential election by state from 1828 through 2020. The spreadsheet additionally includes calculations of the results for each of the country's four major geographic regions, and it also includes a "partisanship score" metric for comparing the result in a state with the national result for a given year. For instance, Georgia had an R+4 partisanship score in 2020 because Joe Biden's 0.2-point margin of victory there was roughly four points more Republican than his national victory margin, and it had a W+5 score in 1840 because Whig President William Henry Harrison carried the state by five points more than his national victory margin.

Grab Bag

Podcasts: Daily Kos political director David Nir just appeared on pollster Zac McCrary's brand-new podcast, Pro Politics, to discuss his own journey into politics and the rise of the progressive netroots, which (as Zac puts it) morphed over the course of two decades from "a ramshackle group of political junkies" running small-time blogs into "one of the pillars of the Democratic political universe."

Among the many topics they covered: How being the child of a Holocaust survivor has informed who David is … why seeing a Geraldine Ferraro rally in 1984 was an ill omen for the ticket’s chances … the candidate who taught David to avoid getting too attached to any individual politician … how David made the decision to forego a legal career to plunge full-time into politics… and the story of Daily Kos and the rise of Jon Ossoff—and the death of the IDC.

You can find the recording here for all formats, and if you enjoy this kind of shop-talk with political professionals, you can also follow Pro Politics on Twitter.

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.

Campaign Action

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: What if the GOP held a convention but no one remembered to rent the parking lot?

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

VA-Gov: On Tuesday, the Virginia Republican Central Committee held another contentious meeting during which its members voted to nominate their 2021 candidates for statewide office at a May 8 convention in the parking lot of Liberty University … but they seem to have failed to tell their would-be hosts. The evangelical school put out a statement the following day saying it had yet to agree to hold the event at all and that GOP leaders had not even informed it about the date of the gathering.

The institution instead said that it had notified GOP leaders that it would "consider" hosting the event, "provided that full rental cost for the use was paid." That could be a real concern, since the state party had all of $1,514 in the bank at the end of 2020. (Democrats, who will pick their nominees in a traditional June primary―an event that will be paid for by the state and open to any eligible voter―were flush.) It's too late for Republicans to reverse themselves, though, because Tuesday was the deadline for parties to notify Virginia election authorities that they'd like to hold a primary.

Old Dominion Republicans were already dealing with serious agita even before Liberty raised a stink on Wednesday, since many prominent officials were very unhappy that a small group of delegates would choose the party's nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.

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Earlier this week, in fact, the GOP's last three governors―Bob McDonnell, Jim Gilmore, and George Allen―unsuccessfully tried to persuade party leaders to instead hold a "firehouse primary." Under such an arrangement, the party would have set up a single polling place in each county—vastly fewer than the number of voting locations in a regular primary, but more than the single statewide site that the GOP settled on. A firehouse primary also would have allowed all voters to participate.

Instead, officials announced that party-approved delegates would gather on May 8 in the parking lot of Liberty University, the school that was led by Jerry Falwell Jr. until he resigned in disgrace in August. Because of the pandemic, the delegates will fill out a ranked-choice ballot from their cars―if Liberty actually lets them camp out there, that is.

Even before Liberty's statement, GOP leaders admitted that they hadn't figured out all the logistics for this year's convention yet, with the Virginia Mercury's Ned Oliver writing, "There were also questions about whether spreading convention delegates out through multiple parking garages and surface lots across a college campus would meet the party's definition of an assembled convention."

Other Republicans also worried that the event will exclude anyone who can't make it to Lynchburg, a city that has lovely views of the Blue Ridge Mountains but is far from most of Virginia's major population centers. Another Mercury reporter, Graham Moomaw, tweeted that one official asked if delegates from Tangier Island, a small and heavily Republican community in the Chesapeake Bay that isn't connected to the rest of the state by land, were "supposed to float to Lynchburg for this big convention."

Roanoke Times reporter Amy Friedenberger responded, "The James River will get them there. Might have to leave a week or so early." However, if party leaders can't reach a deal with Liberty, they may not need to put on their swim trunks after all.

Senate

AL-Sen: Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell told The 19th News this week that she'd decide "very soon" whether she would run for Alabama's open U.S. Senate seat.

IA-Sen: Apparently, Chuck Grassley is just going to mess with us for as long as he feels like. The seven-term Republican said on Wednesday that he'd make a decision about whether to seek re-election "sometime in September, October or November," even though earlier this month he said an announcement was "several weeks off," which followed a January statement that he'd make up his mind in "several months," which in turn superseded remarks from last year in which a reporter said he'd decide "eight months to a year before the 2022 election."

GA-Sen: With David Perdue now safely out of the way, a variety of Republicans are popping their heads up to express interest in challenging Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock next year. In addition to the two big names already on the list, former Sen. Kelly Loeffler and former Rep. Doug Collins, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Greg Bluestein catalogs a whole host of alternatives:

  • Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan: A close Loeffler ally and former minor-league pitcher for the Florida Marlins, Duncan said he might run for Senate, seek re-election to his current job, or simply retire from politics altogether
  • Attorney General Chris Carr: Bluestein calls him a "mainstream conservative" and says he "hasn't ruled it out"
  • Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black: No word on his interest, but he's a longtime Collins supporter so likely wouldn't run if Collins does
  • Attorney Randy Evans: A former ambassador to Luxembourg under Trump who is reportedly considering
  • Businessman Kelvin King: Hasn't commented but is "one of Trump's most prominent Black supporters in Georgia"
  • Justice Harold Melton: Stepping down as chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court on July 1, but Bluestein says "he's not likely to run" and a backer says "he's had no serious conversations" about the race
  • Former NFL star Herschel Walker: A favorite of pundits, there's no indication that the one-time University of Georgia standout has any desire to run for office—and he lives in Texas

PA-Sen: A spokesperson for former Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands confirmed to The Hill this week that Sands is indeed considering seeking the Republican nomination for this open Senate seat. Sands, whom Politico described as "a former socialite, B-list movie star and chiropractor," was a major Trump donor who managed to draw the wrong type of attention both during and after her time as ambassador.

In 2019, Sands banned a NATO expert named Stanley Sloan from an event celebrating the alliance's 70th anniversary for what Sloan characterized as his "critical evaluation of Trump's impact on transatlantic relations." This month, the Office of Special Counsel also concluded that Sands had broken federal law for using her official Twitter account to solicit donations for Trump's 2020 campaign, spread racist conspiracy theories about Kamala Harris' eligibility to serve as vice president, and attack Joe Biden.

Governors

FL-Gov: The Orlando Sentinel reports that state Sen. Randolph Bracy is considering seeking the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022. Bracy, who would be the Sunshine State's first Black governor, has used his time in the legislature to champion criminal justice reforms that have mostly failed to advance in the GOP-dominated body. Bracy was also in the news in early 2017 when he expressed interest in a primary challenge against then-Sen. Bill Nelson, though he didn't end up going for it.

MA-Gov: Democrats have speculated for years that Attorney General Maura Healey could run for governor in 2022 whether or not Republican Gov. Charlie Baker seeks re-election, and the talk only intensified this week after Healey made a pair of high-profile visits to vaccination sites. Healey, unsurprisingly, has denied that these stops were, in the words of the conservative Boston Herald, a "precursor to a potential gubernatorial bid," but she doesn't appear to have publicly addressed if she's thinking about running for the state's top job.

Healey, like Baker, is eligible to seek a third term next year, and there's little question she'd win re-election. If she instead ran for governor, though, Healey would almost certainly start the primary as the most-high profile contender in the race: Healey won re-election in 2018 by a 70-30 margin, and she has nearly $3 million on-hand in her state account. Healey would be both the first woman elected to lead Massachusetts (Republican Jane Swift ascended to this office in 2001 but never sought election in her own right), as well as the Bay State's first LGBTQ governor.

MD-Gov: Nonprofit head Wes Moore, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, told Maryland Matters this week that he was considering seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed termed-out Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Moore, who would be the state's first Black governor, did not give a timeline for when he'd decide, though Maryland Matters' Josh Kurtz writes that he's told it would likely be in "mid-to late spring."

Moore is also a nonfiction author whose work includes Five Daysa well-received 2020 book about the 2015 "uprising that overtook Baltimore after the police killing of Freddie Gray." Moore himself has not run for office before, though Kurtz notes that his wife served as a top aide to then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

A number of other Democrats are considering entering the race including Brown, who lost the 2014 contest to Hogan but was elected to the U.S. House two years later. For now, though, the only two announced candidates are Comptroller Peter Franchot, who recently received an endorsement from the Laborers' International Union of North America, and former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain.

NY-Gov: This week, Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin confirmed that he was considering a bid for governor.

House

CT-02: Republican state Rep. Mike France announced Tuesday that he would take on Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney. France is Courtney's most prominent opponent since 2006, when the Democrat first won his seat by ousting Republican Rep. Rob Simmons by 83 votes, but he'll still have a very tough time prevailing in an area that almost always favors Democrats: While this eastern Connecticut seat backed Hillary Clinton only 49-46, it returned to form last year and supported Joe Biden 54-44.

France, whom the CT Post's Emilie Munson notes was one of only eight lawmakers to vote no on a 2017 law to ban gay conversion "therapy," also doesn't seem at all interested in moderating himself. He opposed a 2019 bill that would have removed the state's religious exemption to mandatory immunizations for public school students―legislation that, unfortunately and ironically, failed to advance after the coronavirus pandemic overshadowed everything else.

France used the crisis to try to further undermine public health by challenging Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont's emergency powers in court, arguing the state wasn't facing a "major disaster." A judge dismissed France's lawsuit a few months later.

IL-16: Former Trump administration official Catalina Lauf announced Tuesday that she would challenge Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who infuriated conservatives nationwide by voting to impeach Donald Trump, for the Republican nomination. This seat, which is based in north-central Illinois, supported Trump 57-41 last year, but no one knows what this turf will look like after redistricting.

Lauf campaigned against Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood last year in the neighboring 14th District, but Lauf's bid came to an end after she took a close third place in the crowded primary. The self-proclaimed "anti-AOC" remained popular with national Republicans, though, and Lauf appeared in a convention video months later with her sister and proclaimed, "We come from Spanish descent and we're millennial women and that's not what the media wants."

TX-06: Republican activist Susan Wright announced Wednesday that she would compete in the May 1 all-party primary to succeed her late husband, Rep. Ron Wright. Susan Wright served as a district director for two state representatives, and she also holds a post on the State Republican Executive Committee.

Wright is the first notable Republican to enter the race ahead of the March 3 filing deadline, but she's likely to have company. State Rep. Jake Ellzey, who lost the 2018 open seat runoff to Ron Wright, filed paperwork with the FEC this week.

Katrina Pierson, who was a prominent spokesperson for Trump in 2016 and 2020 and has spent the last few months spreading conspiracy theories about Joe Biden's win, also said over the weekend that she was thinking about running. Before she entered Trump's orbit, Pierson ran in the 2014 primary against incumbent Pete Sessions in the 32nd District, another seat in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and lost 64-36. (Sessions now represents a third seat, the 17th District.)

The Dallas Morning News' Gromer Jeffers also mentions state Rep. Tony Tinderholt as a possible Republican candidate as well as Dan Rodimer, who was Team Red's 2020 nominee for Nevada's 3rd District. This is the very first we've heard of Rodimer, whose active Twitter account continues to list his location as Las Vegas, campaigning in another state.

On the Democratic side, 2020 nominee Stephen Daniel said Tuesday that he would not run. Jeffers, meanwhile, mentions former Homeland Security official Patrick Moses, who works as a minister, as a potential candidate.

WA-03: Three Republicans recently announced campaigns against Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who is one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump in January, though it remains to be seen if any of them are capable of running a serious campaign. The field consists of Navy veteran Wadi Yakhour, who worked on the Trump campaign; evangelical author Heidi St. John; and Army veteran Joe Kent.

Legislatures

Special Elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's special runoff election in Texas.

TX-HD-68: Republican David Spiller defeated fellow party member Craig Carter 63-37 to win this North Texas seat. Spiller's victory puts this chamber at full strength for the current legislative session, with Republicans in control 83-67.

Other Races

SD-AG: A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the South Dakota legislature have advanced articles of impeachment against Republican Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg after he was charged with three misdemeanors following a deadly car crash in which he struck and killed a man walking on the side of a highway last September.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has also called on Ravnsborg to resign and amped up the pressure on Tuesday by releasing two videos of interviews law enforcement officials conducted with him. In one, an investigator questioned Ravnsborg's claim that he was unaware he'd hit a person—he said he thought he'd run into a deer—by noting that the state Highway Patrol had found the victim's glasses inside Ravnsborg's vehicle. "His face was in your windshield, Jason. Think about that," said one detective.

A spokesperson for Ravnsborg has said the attorney general will not resign. A simple majority in the state House would be necessary to impeach him, and two-thirds of the state Senate would have to vote to convict him in order to remove him from office. In the event of a vacancy, Noem would name a replacement.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: On Tuesday, federal Judge Marcia Cooke ordered former Rep. David Rivera, a Florida Republican who has been accused of being part of a mind-boggling number of scandals, to pay a $456,000 fine to the FEC for illegally funneling $76,000 to prop up a straw candidate named Justin Lamar Sternad in the 2012 Democratic primary. Sternad and Rivera consultant Ana Alliegro were previously convicted for their role in the scheme, but the Miami Herald notes that this is the first time the ex-congressman has been penalized for this matter.

Cooke wrote, "Perhaps by virtue of the Court barring Rivera from engaging in similar unlawful conduct in the future, 'that will do the trick' in convincing Rivera — a former U.S. Congressman — to stop violating the law." Rivera is currently under FBI investigation as part of an unrelated scandal involving Venezuela's socialist government.

Morning Digest: Our new data shows the Trumpiest district in the nation is also the most evangelical

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

Leading Off

Pres-by-CD: Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 House seats nationwide heads down to Alabama, which is home to the Trumpiest congressional district in America. You can find our detailed calculations here, a large-size map of the results here, and our permanent, bookmarkable link for all 435 districts here.

The constituency that gave Donald Trump both his highest percentage of the vote and widest margin of victory in the nation is Alabama's 4th Congressional District, which has been represented by Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt since 1997. Trump defeated Joe Biden in this seat, which is located in the north-central part of the state, 81-18, which was almost identical to his 80-17 performance against Hillary Clinton four years before.

The 4th gave Trump his best showing in any of the 411 congressional districts we've released 2020 data for so far, and we're confident there's no chance that it'll get displaced when we finish calculating results for our two remaining states, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. And the result is no surprise: In 2016, Trump also earned his biggest share of the vote nationwide in the 4th, though his net margin was just a touch higher in Texas' 13th.

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There are a few reasons why Alabama's 4th is so deeply conservative. The district is both extremely rural and heavily white, but what makes it singular is that it has the highest percentage of evangelical residents in America, with approximately 54% of residents identifying as such. It's also in the bottom quintile in the nation both in terms of diversity and its level of educational attainment, a category exclusively occupied by deeply Republican districts.

However, while it's now impossible to imagine Aderholt being threatened by a Democrat, he only barely won his first election for a previous version of the 4th nearly a quarter century ago. In 1996, Aderholt ran to succeed retiring Rep. Tom Bevill, who was a prominent member of a powerful bloc of conservative Democrats nicknamed the "boll weevils." Bevill himself had won his final term two years before without any opposition even as Republicans were flipping numerous Southern districts en route to taking their first House majority in 40 years, and local Democrats still demonstrated strength further down the ballot.

The Democrats nominated former state Sen. Bob Wilson, who had narrowly lost re-election in 1994 but was still capable of putting up a strong fight. Wilson argued he'd secure needed appropriations for his seat "in the Tom Bevill tradition," but he also focused on his opposition to abortion and his membership in the NRA.

Aderholt, who was a local judge at the time, tied Wilson to the national Democratic leadership and argued that he'd be no substitute for Bevill. Both parties saw the race as a priority, and Speaker Newt Gingrich stumped for Aderholt in a cycle where his newly minted majority seemed to be on the line. Ultimately, Aderholt pulled off a 50-48 victory as Bob Dole was defeating Bill Clinton 48-43 in the district.

Wilson sought a rematch in 1998 but lost his primary to Donald Bevill, the son of the former congressman. The general election wasn't so competitive this time, though, as Aderholt won 56-44. That didn't quite bring an end to Democratic attempts to win back their old turf, but the next cycle did: Former Alabama First Lady Marsha Folsom lost the 2000 election to Aderholt by a punishing 61-37 spread as George W. Bush was pulling off a 59-39 victory. Team Blue didn't field a challenger two years later, and Aderholt has been completely safe ever since.

Trump didn't come close to matching his high-water mark elsewhere in Alabama, but he still won at least 63% of the vote in the state's five remaining GOP-held districts. Biden, meanwhile, scored a 71-28 victory in Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell's 7th District, a constituency that Republican map makers drew to take in as many African American voters as possible.

Finally, there's one methodological issue we want to address in Alabama, which, like many other states, does not assign every vote to a precinct. This is not a new issue, and we have techniques that estimate how to divvy up unassigned votes like these between districts.

However, the coronavirus pandemic led to a major expansion in the number of votes cast before Election Day, and in Alabama, that meant that a much larger than usual proportion were not assigned to a congressional district: In 2016, these unassigned votes only made up 4% of the total vote in the seven counties that are split between multiple districts, but that figure swelled to 14% in 2020.

Even with this issue, there's no question which presidential candidate won each of the state's House seats; still, we strive to make our estimates as precise as possible. Luckily, Alabama does include the total number of unassigned votes cast in each district in each county (though not their breakdowns by candidate), which is important information that is rarely available.

For example, in Jefferson County, which is the largest in the state, approximately 327,000 ballots were cast, with about 50,000 not assigned to any precinct. However, thanks to the state's data, we do know that 26,000 of these unassigned ballots were cast in the 6th Congressional District and the balance cast in the 7th.

We use this information to more accurately assign these votes by congressional district. We start by assuming that how a candidate's supporters choose to cast their ballots is similar no matter where they live. For example, if 30% of Biden voters choose to vote absentee in District A, we assume somewhere around 30% of Biden voters will also choose to vote absentee in District B. (We've validated this assumption by testing it in other states that make more detailed vote breakdowns available.) This assumption is then used to calculate an initial estimate of votes for each candidate in each district in a county.

We then use the total number of unassigned votes cast in each district in each county to adjust our initial estimates so the totals match. Finally, we adjust the number of votes again so the number of unassigned votes for each candidate in the whole county matches the official results.

These estimates are not perfect, and they do introduce some error into our final numbers; we suspect the error for Alabama districts is about one percentage point or less for a candidate's vote share district-wide, based on calculations in other states where vote count by type of ballot is known. However, we believe this method allows us to assign these previously unassigned votes as precisely as possible to their proper congressional district.

Senate

GA-Sen: Former Republican Sen. David Perdue confirmed on Tuesday that he's exploring a comeback bid against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who captured Georgia's other Senate seat in last month's legendary special election. Perdue filed paperwork with the FEC on Monday ahead of a possible run, which an unnamed advisor said he’s “leaning heavily toward.” Another aide said Perdue would make a decision in March followed by a formal kickoff in April if the answer is yes.

Whatever unfolds, Perdue certainly hasn't gotten over his stunning loss to Democrat Jon Ossoff, whose name he's still incapable of uttering. In a statement, he took loser-speaker to new heights (depths?) in declaring that the only poll that counts is the one on Election Day—i.e., the Nov. 3 election he failed to win. "Five million Georgians, the most ever, voted in that General election and it is the best poll of where Georgia is right now," claimed Perdue, despite the fact he lost the only election that actually mattered: the one on Jan. 6, when a rather impressive 4.5 million voters cast ballots.

He also argued that "[m]ore than 52% of Georgians rejected my opponent and the liberal Democrat agenda" in November, but the problem there is that 50.3% of Georgians also rejected Perdue and his far-right Trumpist agenda (oh, plus, did we mention that he lost the one race that actually mattered?). Perdue even went so far as to suggest that the runoff itself was unfair, carping that Ossoff and Warnock "do not fairly represent most Georgians."

Perdue's complaints about the runoff process are particularly rich coming from a Republican, since it was Republican lawmakers themselves who reinstituted general election runoffs in 2005 after Democrats had repealed them a decade earlier, knowing that Black voters—who disproportionately favor Democrats—tend to turn out at lower rates whenever there's a second round of voting. That pattern of low Black turnout hurting Democrats held true in every statewide runoff from 2006 to 2018, but of course now that the first and only runoff has happened that favored Democrats, Perdue has suddenly found flaws in the process.

As the New York Times' Alex Burns put it, Perdue is undoubtedly "among the best-known candidates Republicans could plausibly field and money wouldn't be a problem." But, added Burns, he's also "one of very few living republicans who has proven capable of losing a senate race in [G]eorgia." The other, of course, is Kelly Loeffler, who, along with former Rep. Doug Collins, is reportedly waiting to see what Perdue does before deciding whether to run.

IA-Sen: Far-right state Sen. Jim Carlin, who just launched a Senate bid even though fellow Republican Chuck Grassley hasn't yet announced his re-election plans, says he'll stay in the race no matter what the incumbent decides. "I appreciate [Grassley's] service, as anybody does," Carlin told Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register. "But I didn't get in the race to drop out."

OH-Sen: Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty, who'd reportedly been considering a bid for Ohio's open Senate seat, announced on Tuesday that she would not join the race.

PA-Sen: Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb, who'd long been mentioned as a possible candidate for either Senate or governor, says he "will look at" a possible bid to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. Lamb didn't offer any sort of timeline for a decision but did tell MSNBC's Kasie Hunt that he had not spoken to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Meanwhile, Republican businessman Jeff Bartos, who was the GOP's nominee for lieutenant governor in 2018, has filed paperwork with the FEC and also just stepped down as board chair of a new nonprofit founded last year to help small businesses during the pandemic. Bartos previously promised an announcement would come in mid-March.

Governors

IL-Gov: Politico's Shia Kapos reports that Republican Reps. Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood both have not ruled out bids against Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, depending on how redistricting shapes up for them, though neither man is directly quoted. Kapos also says that another Republican, state Sen. Darren Bailey, "is expected to announce his candidacy next week." Meanwhile, attorney Richard Porter, an RNC member who's previously been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate, says he'll decide this summer whether to run.

PA-Gov, PA-Sen: Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, a Trump die-hard who was censured last year by his fellow commissioners for calling Black Live Matters "a radical left-wing hate group," announced a campaign for governor on Tuesday. Gale, however, seems to be more interested in running for governor of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, since he declared that his first priority would be to "hold bad Republicans accountable not just by naming names, but by supporting primary challenges against those who undermine a common-sense conservative agenda."

Gale previously had not ruled out a bid for Republican Sen. Pat Toomey's open seat, but his brother, attorney Sean Gale, said on Tuesday that he would run for Senate instead. The siblings previously ran together for spots on the Montgomery board in 2019, but Sean Gale failed to make it out of the primary while Joe secured re-election only because one of its three slots is always reserved for the minority party. Joe Gale also tried to run for lieutenant governor in 2018 but was booted off the ballot for being under the required minimum age of 30.

House

LA-02: In her special election bid for Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District, State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson has been endorsed by the state Democratic Party, which she chaired for many years before stepping down last September. The all-party primary for this dark blue seat in New Orleans is on March 20, with a possible runoff on April 24.

MA-04: The Boston Globe reports that progressive activists are trying to recruit former Brookline Selectwoman Jesse Mermell for a rematch with freshman Rep. Jake Auchincloss, who beat her just 22-21 in last year's jam-packed Democratic primary. Mermell notably declined to provide any sort of comment to the paper.

NC-09: Democratic state Rep. Charles Graham announced a challenge to Republican Rep. Dan Bishop over the weekend, though redistricting's impact on North Carolina's 9th Congressional District won't be known for some time. The Associated Press describes Graham, who is the lone Native American member of the legislature, as "among the more conservative Democrats" in the state House, with a history of voting for Republican bills.

NV-03: Republican attorney April Becker, who lost a close race for Nevada's 6th State Senate District last year, has filed paperwork with the FEC for a possible bid against Democratic Rep. Susie Lee in the 3rd Congressional District. However, just 4% of the Senate seat she sought in 2020 overlaps with Lee's district.

TX-06: Communications consultant Jana Lynne Sanchez announced her entry into the special election for Texas' 6th Congressional District on Tuesday, making her the first notable Democrat to do so. Sanchez ran here in 2018 and lost 53-45 to Republican Ron Wright, whose death due to COVID-19 earlier this month left this seat vacant. Sanchez's campaign says she's already raised $100,000, putting her on a much faster pace compared with her prior campaign, when she brought in $730,000 all told.

According to new calculations from Daily Kos Elections, Donald Trump carried this district by a fairly slender 51-48 margin, potentially making for a competitive special election (whose date has yet to be set).

WI-03: Republican Derrick Van Orden declined to rule out a rematch with Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, telling the Badger Project, "Nothing is off the table." Kind held off Van Orden by a narrow 51-49 margin last year.

Mayors

Fort Worth, Arlington, & Plano, TX Mayor: Candidate filing closed over the weekend for the May 1 nonpartisan primaries in several large Texas cities; a runoff would take place on a later date in any election where no one takes a majority of the vote. We recently ran down the race for mayor of San Antonio, and we'll now take a look at three open seat contests in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

We'll start with Fort Worth, which is the largest of the three cities. Republican Mayor Betsy Price is not seeking a sixth two-year term, and Democrats are hoping to score a pickup. Eleven candidates have filed here, and there appear to be two serious contenders from each party.

On the Democratic side, the contenders to watch are City Councilwoman Ann Zadeh and Tarrant County Democratic Party Chairwoman Deborah Peoples, who ran against Price in 2019 and lost 56-42. The two main Republicans are nonprofit head Mattie Parker, who served as chief of staff for the mayor and council under Price, and City Councilman Brian Byrd, who has the support of local Rep. Kay Granger.

There's also a crowded race for a two-year term next door in Arlington, where eight candidates are running to succeed termed-out Republican incumbent Jeff Williams. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes that most of the contenders are people of color, and one longtime observer called this the most diverse local race he's ever seen here.

Jim Ross, who is a business owner and former police officer, has the support of Williams and former Mayor Richard Greene. The field also includes City Councilman Marvin Sutton; former City Councilman Michael Glaspie; and five others.

Finally in Plano, three Republicans make up the field running for a four-year term to replace another-termed out incumbent, Harry LaRosiliere. (LaRosiliere is also a Republican, though he's been an ardent supporter of LGBTQ rights.)

City Council member Lily Bao lost to LaRosiliere 52-42 in 2017 but was elected to her current post two years later with Gov. Greg Abbott's endorsement. We also have John Muns, who unsuccessfully challenged Collin County Judge Keith Self in the 2010 GOP primary and recently finished a stint as chair of the Plano Planning & Zoning Commission, and former economics professor Lydia Ortega, who ran for lieutenant governor of California in 2018 and took 6% in the all-party primary.

New York City, NY Mayor: 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang's campaign announced that he'd collected enough small donations to qualify for the city's matching-funds program. The city Campaign Finance Board still needs to verify that Yang has raised at least $250,000 from city residents who contributed between $10 and $250 before he can receive any public financing, though, and one of Yang's intra-party opponents learned the hard way on Tuesday just how complicated this process can be.

Attorney Maya Wiley said a month ago that she'd raised enough to unlock matching funds, which would have allowed her to collect at least $2 million at Tuesday's meeting. The Board, though, announced this week that it could not confirm that she'd hit the necessary threshold.

The New York Daily News notes that it's possible that the denial is due to "technical issues in data her campaign submitted to the Campaign Finance Board" that Wiley could correct. However, even if Wiley did raise the requisite $250,000 from small donors and fixed any issues, she would not be able to receive any public money until March 15. The only two contenders who have officially qualified for public financing so far are City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

Meanwhile, Republican billionaire John Catsimatidis made a slight concession to reality this week when he announced that he would not switch parties to seek the Democratic nomination for mayor. We say slight because Catsimatidis, who is an ardent Trump supporter, did not rule out running for Team Red as a "Republican-Liberal." That "Liberal" refers to the Liberal Party, which infamously endorsed Rudy Giuliani in 1993 and went on to lose its automatic spot on the ballot nearly a decade later.

Morning Digest: Conspiracist GOP lawmaker joins Iowa Senate race without waiting on Grassley

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

IA-Sen: While Sen. Chuck Grassley has yet to make a decision about seeking an eighth term, one fellow Republican has already announced a bid for his seat: state Sen. Jim Carlin, a pro-Trump die-hard who has baselessly claimed the 2020 election was stolen and spouted antisemitic conspiracy theories blaming wealthy Jews like Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros for the outcome.

Carlin didn't appear to address the incumbent in recent remarks discussing his run, though earlier this month, Grassley said he'd finalize his plans within "several weeks." Carlin may be hoping to push Grassley to the exits, but he doesn't seem like a particularly imposing presence: Iowa Starting Line notes he "doesn't start with much of a political infrastructure in the state."

Just last week, Carlin introduced legislation requiring that all employees of Iowa's public universities be interrogated about their political beliefs, part of a long-running conservative crusade against higher education. He's also pushing a "bathroom bill" that would target transgender people and has proposed a measure requiring that schoolchildren be taught cursive handwriting.

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Senate

AL-Sen: Wealthy businesswoman Lynda Blanchard, who served as Donald Trump's ambassador to Slovenia until earlier this year, says she's considering a bid for Alabama's open Senate seat. "I am deeply interested in promoting President Trump's MAGA agenda," she said in a statement, "while fighting the socialist policies of the Biden/Pelosi/Sanders/Schumer crowd."

NH-Sen: Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who previously hadn't ruled out a bid for Senate, now says he'll "take a look" at the possibility but suggested he wouldn't have an answer until he "get[s] through the legislative session maybe six, seven months from now." The current session is not scheduled to conclude until the very end of June. Sununu's indecision is therefore likely to freeze the field of other potential GOP candidates, robbing whoever does ultimately run of precious time to campaign against Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan.

OH-Sen: Republican Rep. Steve Stivers, who has reportedly been considering a bid for Ohio's newly open Senate seat, now confirms that he's looking at the race in a new interview. Stivers insisted he would not "rush into a decision" and said he'd likely wait "months" to decide. When asked about the possibility that Donald Trump could endorse another candidate in the primary, the congressman ever-so-slightly edged away from Trump, saying he's "not putting my faith in any one individual that could deliver this race for anybody.

Stivers' 15th District is conservative turf in the southern Columbus area. He served as chair of the NRCC during the 2017-18 election cycle, when Republicans lost control of the House.

Governors

CA-Gov: Politico reports that former Trump apparatchik Richard Grenell is interviewing staff for a possible run for governor in the event a recall of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom makes the ballot. Grenell himself says the report "isn't true" but did not dispute that he's considering a bid.

IL-Gov: Former state Sen. Paul Schimpf kicked off a bid for governor on Monday, making him the first notable Republican to challenge Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Schimpf served a single term in the legislature but declined to seek re-election last year without explaining why. In 2014, he ran for state attorney general but got crushed 59-38 by Democratic incumbent Lisa Madigan.

House

CT-02: Republican state Rep. Mike France has filed paperwork for a possible challenge to veteran Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney, but he hasn't yet announced a campaign and did not respond to press inquiries. After ousting Republican Rep. Rob Simmons by just 83 votes in the 2006 Democratic wave, Courtney's never faced a difficult re-election, winning with at least 59% of the vote every time.

The 2nd District, which occupies the entirety of eastern Connecticut, normally is reliably blue turf, but in 2016, Hillary Clinton carried it just 49-46. However, according to new calculations from Daily Kos Elections, it returned to form last year, supporting Joe Biden 54-44. Simmons described himself as "excited" about France's potential candidacy, though the former congressman, who had a relatively moderate reputation during his time in office, recently went full tinfoil and blamed the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection on "antifa."

LA-02: Democratic state Sen. Troy Carter is spending at least $100,000 on a TV buy ahead of the March 20 all-party primary to succeed former Rep. Cedric Richmond. "Throughout my career I've remained laser focused on the simple ways to improve people's day to day lives," Carter says, "like guaranteeing access to COVID-19 vaccine, equal pay for women, criminal justice reform, and fighting for a living wage."

Carter continues by pledging, "In Congress, I'll have your back and I'll get things done." The candidate does not mention Richmond, though on-screen text informs the viewer that Carter has the former congressman's endorsement.

TX-06: Republican Brian Harrison, who served as chief of staff to former Trump HHS chief Alex Azar during his disastrous handling of the COVID pandemic, is reportedly considering a campaign for the late Rep. Ron Wright's vacant 6th Congressional District. Notes Politico, "In the West Wing, a handful of his detractors derisively referred to Harrison as 'the dog breeder'—a reference to the labradoodle-breeding family business that he helped run prior to joining the Trump administration." More on that here.

Judges

PA Supreme Court: Both of Pennsylvania's major parties have endorsed candidates in the May 18 primary for a key open seat on the state Supreme Court, with Democrats backing Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin and Republicans giving their support to Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson.

Judicial candidates in Pennsylvania who don't earn their party's official seal of approval often drop out, and we may yet see that happen. While PoliticsPA says that Superior Court Judge Carolyn Nichols, who is hoping to become the first Black woman to sit on the high court, intends to continue her bid for the Democratic nod, she said in a statement that she will "consider the next steps in this election," which could presage a departure.

The situation for the GOP is even more uncertain, since the party's two other hopefuls, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Paula Patrick and Commonwealth Court Judge Patty McCullough, both declined to comment when asked about their plans. Any questions will be resolved soon, though, since the filing deadline is March 9. Democrats currently hold a 5-2 majority on the Supreme Court but could expand it in November since this year's race is for the seat held by Republican Chief Justice Thomas Saylor, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 75.

Mayors

St. Louis, MO Mayor: The Missouri Scout has released a survey from the GOP firm Remington Research of the March 2 nonpartisan primary, which will be the city's first experience using the "approval voting" system.

Approval voting allows voters to cast as many votes in the primary as there are candidates, and Remington finds that 59% of the sample plans to back Aldermanic President Lewis Reed. City Treasurer Tishaura Jones has the support of 51% of respondents, while a third Democrat, Alderman Cara Spencer, is in third with 40%. Just 19%, however, intend to vote for the final contender, Republican Andrew Jones. The two candidates with the most votes will face off in the April 6 general.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reports that the pro-Spencer group Gateway to Progress is spending at least $45,000 on a TV ad praising her for "cracking down on predatory lenders, slum landlords, and City Hall insiders."