Republicans suddenly claim to be the biggest allies of the nation they once denounced as corrupt

It’s taken Republicans a little while to figure out their approach to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but—for now at least—they’ve settled on pretending to be the best friends Ukraine ever had. It falls apart immediately if you look at the Republican record over the past few years, but it’s what they’re going with.

Most notoriously, of course, there are these 10 words: “I would like you to do us a favor, though.” That’s what Donald Trump said as he withheld military aid in an attempt to extort Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy into manufacturing dirt on now-President Joe Biden for Trump’s personal political gain. And every single Republican other than Sen. Mitt Romney thought this was just fine. Great, really. Many actively defended Trump’s actions, which often meant trashing Ukraine. But that’s not all.

In the midst of trying to defend Trump, Rep. Jim Jordan called Ukraine “one of the three most corrupt countries on the planet.” He also condemned efforts to fight corruption in Ukraine as themselves corrupt because Biden was involved.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise has pointed to the same ouster of a corrupt prosecutor in Ukraine as problematic because it involved then-Vice President Biden threatening to withhold aid if the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, wasn’t fired. “If you go back to when Joe Biden was vice president, he bragged about how he withheld a billion dollars in aid to Ukraine, when Joe Biden was vice president, because he said he wanted a prosecutor to get fired, who ultimately from reports we saw was fired,” Scalise said Tuesday. The difference here is that Biden was, as a public matter of administration policy, talking about aid that would be withheld as part of an international anti-corruption effort, with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund also calling for Shokin’s firing. It’s kind of different from a secret phone call and an ask seeking personal benefit.

According to Scalise, “President Zelenskyy had called President Trump to thank him for the leadership that he provided.” In reality, it was part of Zelenskyy’s desperate efforts to get some kind of public show of support from the United States that might help ease the threat Ukraine faced from Russia, and the call came as Trump’s informal emissaries, led by Rudy Giuliani, were pressuring him to announce the very same corrupt investigation that Trump then asked for as “a favor” when Zelenskyy asked to buy Javelin missiles.

In their effort to rewrite how Trump’s first impeachment speaks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the Republican view of Ukraine more generally, Republicans like Scalise are returning to an old talking point. “When President Zelenskyy was asking for things like Javelin missiles that the Biden and Obama administration said no to, President Trump said yes and actually helped Ukraine get those tank-busting missiles that they needed and frankly, they’ve been using,” Scalise said. In that, he echoed Trump's February statement claiming, “it was me that got Ukraine the very effective anti-tank busters (Javelins) when the previous Administration was sending blankets.” 

The Obama administration didn’t send lethal aid like Javelins in part because officials were concerned that the Ukrainian army didn’t have the capability to use them. But that changed over time—as we’re seeing, the Ukrainian military has dramatically improved since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. What the Obama administration did send was not blankets but UAVs, armored Humvees, counter-mortar radars, night vision devices, and more. And when Trump did send Javelins, it was only after his advisers convinced him that it would be good for U.S. defense contractors.

Now that Republicans have figured out that supporting Ukraine is their best bet, politically speaking, they are all in—to the point where you have to worry they’re going to do their best to provoke a nuclear war. Immediately after the invasion, Republicans were blaming Biden for not having stopped it. They’ve since moved on to blaming him for not doing enough to end it. “If Joe Biden won’t make him pay, the Republican Party must,” Sen. Tom Cotton said in a speech on Monday. But what does that look like when a no-fly zone would mean a world war? That’s the kind of question that needs to take precedence above making a president from the opposite party look bad. But putting anything above partisan concerns is not how Republicans operate.

Trump White House call record omissions raise eyebrows

As a congressional watchdog calls for a new probe into allegations that former President Donald Trump regularly destroyed presidential records, the Jan. 6 committee has simultaneously discovered on Thursday that a series of critical gaps exist in White House call logs secured from the National Archives. 

First reported by The New York Times, the gaps in the official White House telephone logs from Jan. 6, 2021, are not a complete surprise—Trump was well known to use his private cell phone or his staff’s cell phones when conducting affairs or speaking to aides, legislators, and others.

The Jan. 6 committee has not yet suggested that the omissions in the call logs are the result of any tampering on behalf of the former president. A committee spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment to confirm whether the logs it has received are all of the logs requested are just a portion of those records. 

White House call logs itemize who has telephoned the White House or who called out and will also include, generally, the date, time, and length of a call.

The Jan. 6 committee has received a plethora of documents and testimony already confirming that Trump spoke to several key officials throughout Jan. 6, including one call made to then-Vice President Mike Pence and legislators like Sen. Mike Lee of Utah. 

The call to Lee was meant for Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. Lee passed his mobile phone to Tuberville and the Alabama lawmaker spoke to Trump for just under 10 minutes. Their discussion unfolded as the president’s supporters were storming the Capitol. 

That entire exchange, however, did not occur on an official White House telephone, making the committee’s findings on Thursday all the more concerning. 

CNN reported that sources who have reviewed a presidential diary from Jan. 6—also obtained by the Archives and shared with the committee—noted that it has “scant information and no record of phone calls for several hours” after Trump returned to the Oval Office up until he recorded a national address in the Rose Garden. 

In addition to calls to Pence and Senator Lee, Trump also had a tense phone call with House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy on Jan. 6.

During Trump’s second impeachment, McCarthy told a fellow Republican lawmaker that when he finally reached Trump by phone during the assault, Trump was insistent that “antifa” had breached the complex.

McCarthy told Trump it was his supporters and Trump hung up in a huff.

Since then, McCarthy has aligned himself completely with the former president, refusing to cooperate with a voluntary request from Jan. 6 investigators issued weeks ago. The probe is now weighing whether to officially subpoena the House leader.

Doing so would be a historic move and an outcome the California Republican has arguably long courted. McCarthy was opposed to the formation of a Jan. 6 commission from the outset unless it promised to review other, unrelated external security threats posed to lawmakers and focused on intelligence failures of the U.S. Capitol Police.

He later refused to negotiate with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi over the committee’s membership. After his proposal to seat two staunch Trump allies on the committee, including Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio—who was, even then, considered to be a potential material witness to the overall probe—McCarthy took his ball and went home.

With negotiations killed, the House went forward and the committee was formed. The House Republican has since regularly opposed the committee’s work and has taken up keen alliances with the uber-conservative, pro-Trump, anti-Jan. 6 investigation House Freedom Caucus.  

Though the gaps in the White House call logs obtained so far may correlate to Trump’s prolific use of unofficial cell phones, sources who reviewed the logs did say Thursday that at least one entry positively confirms Trump attempted to call Pence on the morning of Jan. 6 before the siege.

The official record does not reportedly show Pence answering, and the source said, according to CNN, that there is also no record showing Pence returned Trump’s call. 

Interestingly, Keith Kellogg, Pence’s national security adviser at the time, informed the committee during recent closed-door testimony that Pence and Trump spoke on the phone on Jan. 6 and further, that the president’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, witnessed the call. 

This was the call in which Trump pressured Pence to stop or delay the certification. If the White House call records obtained Thursday show that a call was made to Pence but Pence did not pick up, then Kellogg’s testimony would seem to suggest that the pressure call to the vice president happened on another phone, and not an official White House telephone. 

Like the select committee, the Archives did not immediately return request for comment Thursday about whether all of the White House call logs have been remitted to the panel in full or if others are still on the way. 

The Jan. 6 committee has issued sweeping orders to telecommunications companies, including Verizon and T-Mobile, for the phone records of other Trump White House officials, family members, and orbiters. More than 100 people have been part of those requests; the companies have largely cooperated thus far, according to court records. 

Select committee chairman Bennie Thompson has aired his concerns about Trump’s prolific unofficial cell phone use in the past. 

Norm Eisen, a legal analyst for CNN, said Thursday that the gap of records in the White House call logs and related diaries “raises a set of very serious concerns, including questions of whether there was an intentional effort to circumvent the usual system and, if so, who directed it and for what purpose.” 

Jim Jordan isn’t happy about being called before the Jan. 6 Select Committee, but it could be worse

On Wednesday, Rep. Jim Jordan received a letter from the House Select Committee on Jan. 6, inviting him to voluntarily appear before the committee and discuss “in detail” his communications with Donald Trump on Jan. 6. And Jan. 5. And every other date. The committee would also like to hear about Jordan’s communications with Trump’s campaign staff and legal team involved in planning the multi-stage coup.

This letter was phrased in a way that acknowledges the extraordinary nature of a House committee call for a member of the House to testify. It’s also phrased in a way that makes it clear the committee already knows Jordan was deeply involved in planning the attempted overthrow of the legitimate government. Mostly because Jordan can’t stop running his mouth when talking to right-wing media. It’s not so much that the letter is couched in a subtle threat that failure to cooperate will net Jordan a subpoena, even if the evidence comes out anyway. Because it’s really not that subtle.

On Wednesday evening, Jordan did what any Republican called to tell the truth before the nation does: He went on Fox News to whine and complain that the committee isn’t playing fair. But if Jordan thinks that he can just join the long queue of Trump advisers who are doing their best to delay until an expected Republican victory in 2022 can bail them out, he may be surprised. Jim Jordan could find himself arrested.

As The Hill reports, Jordan went on Fox to speak with Brian Kilmeade—who happens to have also sent texts to the White House on Jan. 6, and might be facing his own request to testify—and explain that he has “concerns” about the select committee. In particular, he alleged that the committee has been “altering documents.”

“We're going to review the letter, but I gotta be honest with you. I got real concerns about any committee that will take a document and alter it and present it to the American people, completely mislead the American people like they did last week,” said Jordan.

That reference to “altering documents” apparently refers to how Adam Schiff read part of a Jordan text earlier in the week, rather than giving the whole thing. The portion that Schiff read was repeating a portion of the coup plot indicating that Mike Pence "should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all." Because Schiff didn’t read the full text, Jordan is accusing him of altering documents.

The full text doesn’t make this better. If anything, it shows how serious Jordan was about backing the planned coup.

“On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all—in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence. ‘No legislative act,’  wrote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 78, ‘contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.’ The court in Hubbard v. Lowe reinforced this truth: ‘That an unconstitutional statute is not a law at all is a proposition no longer open to discussion.’ 226 F. 135, 137 (SDNY 1915), appeal dismissed, 242 U.S. 654 (1916).  Following this rationale, an unconstitutionally appointed elector, like an unconstitutionally enacted statute, is no elector at all.”

Nothing that Schiff omitted lessens the impact of what Jordan wrote in any way. In fact, the full text is much worse. The talk about “altering documents” is simply Jordan mulling an excuse not to appear—in this case, an excuse that was also regularly aired on Fox during Trump’s impeachment hearings.

But as MSNBC reports, Jordan might want to think twice about simply refusing to show up before the select committee. As one of six Republican representatives known to have worked directly with Trump and his campaign to overturn the outcome of the election, Jordan is of keen interest to the committee, and a key participant in events leading up to Jan. 6.

Rep. Scott Perry—who brought would-be attorney-general Jeffery Clark to the White House—has already refused to appear before the committee, If Jordan joins Perry in refusing to provide vital documents and testimony, the House could be entering unknown territory.

So what happens if Perry—or, for example, his fellow schemers Jordan and Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas—gets a subpoena? The short answer is that we don’t really know — there’s never been a situation like this before. “There is no established historical or legal precedent regarding congressional power to enforce subpoenas against members of Congress,” law professor Kimberly Wehle wrote in The Atlantic in August. “But if the bipartisan committee has to defend the subpoenas in federal court, it could make a strong argument that the Constitution allows a court to order compliance.”

Of course, Jordan, Perry, Gohmert, et. al, would be happy to join the long line of Republicans now facing court cases over subpoenas from the select committee. Stonewalling until the GOP rides in to save them on the back of an angry midterm is the bet they are all making. However, there is one thing that keeps getting mentioned, then carefully packed away again—the power of inherent contempt.

Congress’ ability to simply arrest someone directly, without going through a request to the DOJ and a long parade through the ladder of courts, hasn’t been trotted out in a long time. But a special case … could be a special case.

While the discussion is on on shakier ground with private citizens, the fact is that each house of Congress is explicitly allowed to make its own rules under the Constitution. It is also then allowed to enforce those rules as it sees fit, granting it the power of censure and expulsion. And courts have yet to rule on how long, say, a member of Congress could be held while defying a lawful subpoena.

The prospect that Jim Jordan will actually be locked up in some repurposed storeroom beneath the House chambers remains slim. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to start very visibly clearing out some space and testing some padlocks, just to make sure that Jordan, along with the other five Republicans at the top of the list, knows the possibility is still there.

If the Senate can be harangued for failing to end the filibuster even for the purpose of saving democracy, then the same pressure should be applied to the House when it comes to inherent contempt. No one likes the idea. That doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary. 

Pelosi vetoes Republican appointments of Banks, Jordan to House insurrection probe

After House Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy chose Reps. Jim Banks and Jim Jordan as two of his five selections for the congressional committee being created to investigate the events of the Jan. 6 insurrection that rocked the nation, Banks himself now rejecting the appointments of both Banks and Jordan. In a statement, she says she has spoken with McCarthy and "requested" that he recommend two other Republicans to fill those spots. Republican Reps. Rodney Davis, Kelly Armstrong, and Troy Nehls were not objected to—even though Nehls, like Banks and Jordan, was one of the House Republicans who voted to object to the election's certification in the hours immediately after the Capitol had been cleared of violent Trump rioters.

While Pelosi did not explicitly specify the reasons for rejecting Banks and Jordan, the reasons are self-evident. Banks' statement upon being nominated to the committee rejected the very purpose of the committee and vowed to unilaterally expand its scope by demanding the committee review Black Lives Matters-inspired protests while declaring that "Nancy Pelosi created this committee solely to malign conservatives and to justify the Left's authoritarian agenda."

Having made it clear that he believed his primary task on the committee was to weaken its focus and discredit its results, it's little wonder that Pelosi deemed him an unacceptably irresponsible choice.

The case against Jordan is also clear. After surviving revelations of complicity in the sexual assault of college athletes, largely through his own belligerence, Trump ally Jim Jordan became a go-to provocateur for disrupting Trump impeachment investigations, congressional oversight investigations, and any other probes of Trump administration malfeasance. He would be a natural Republican pick to attack and deflect any portion of the probe that touched upon the connections between the Trump White House, the organizers of the "March" to the Capitol, and the militia members who most engaged in violence during the attempt to block the transfer of presidential power. He has a history of rank dishonesty, intentional disruption, belligerent nonsense production, and general shitbaggery in past efforts to sabotage congressional probes, and his presence on this new, vital committee would immediately render it unserious. So he's out.

In what was likely a pre-planned response, Rep. Kevin McCarthy immediately announced that he would be pulling all five Republican-recommended committee members in response to Pelosi's rejection of the two saboteurs. This is consistent with all previous Republican strategies of blocking all congressionally backed probes of the Republican-backed insurrection.

The Pelosi response will likely be either to allow the committee to begin its business with no Republican-backed members or to appoint, as with her appointment of Rep. Liz Cheney, Republican members willing to buck their party's attempted sabotage of the probe. That doesn't mean she will be able to find such people; House Republicans have been thorough in retaliating against members who have gone against their fascist push to claim that the insurrection was not an insurrection, that it was not done by the Trump supporters who have now been arrested for doing it, and that the U.S. presidential election ought to have been overturned to begin with.

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

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

Leading Off

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

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

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

Campaign Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

Governors

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mayors

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

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

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

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

Other Races

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

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

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

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

Data

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

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

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

Morning Digest: Trumpworld’s favorite pollster is pushing unhinged election conspiracy theories

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

WY-AL: Donald Trump's "Save America" PAC is trying to put the hurt on Republican Rep. Liz Cheney by publicizing a poll of next year's primary purporting to show the congresswoman in dire straits, but there are some serious problems we’re obligated to address.

We’ll spare a quick look at the numbers first, though as we’ll show in just a moment, there’s good reason to question their veracity because they’re from the notorious firm McLaughlin & Associates—and not just for the usual reasons.

The survey shows Cheney trailing both state Sen. Anthony Bouchard (who's already announced a bid) and state Rep. Chuck Gray (whose name hasn't come up previously) by the same 50-23 margin, and it even has her losing a three-way matchup, with Bouchard taking 28, Cheney 21, and Gray 17. McLaughlin’s track record for sheer wrongness is so well-known we don't even need to get into it, but there’s something else we do want to get into.

Campaign Action

In particular, we need to shine a spotlight on recent comments made by the firm's principal, John McLaughlin, who's veered deep into the land of election conspiracy theories. In promoting a poll his firm conducted last month, McLaughlin tried to buttress support for a number of long-debunked lies:

  • "It is concerning that in this poll where a majority of voted for Biden, they still can't say it was an honest election."
  • "Since Election Day, and despite media spin the election fraud story is a big nothing, belief among voters of serious vote fraud has grown."
  • "Weeks have passed since the presidential election, but in spite of Big Media and Big Tech's promotion of Joe Biden, more American voters believe the election was marred with fraud — and it's growing."

The Washington Post, meanwhile, reported that McLaughlin happily obliged a rage-filled Trump with similarly unhinged polling after the election, including numbers that—impossibly—showed him with a positive job approval score. (The article memorably featured one White House adviser comparing Trump to "Mad King George, muttering, 'I won. I won. I won.'" It listed McLaughlin first among aides “happy to scratch [Trump’s] itch” for validation.)

Most extreme of all, on the night of the Georgia Senate runoffs, McLaughlin approvingly retweeted a Trump tweet that read, "Looks like they are setting up a big 'voter dump' against the Republican candidates. Waiting to see how many votes they need?" Pointing to heavily Democratic DeKalb County, McLaughlin wondered aloud, "Are they deciding how many votes the Democrats need to win?" and later that night grimaced, "The big dump came." Needless to say, no such thing happened.

As we said when we recently surveyed similar statements by the head of another Republican polling outfit, Trafalgar Group:

We take a heterodox approach to polling—there are many ways to get it right, and no one has a monopoly on the truth. But the truth is what we all must seek. Excluding polls is not something we do lightly, but when a pollster espouses beliefs about elections that are demonstrably false, we are unable to conclude that such a person does in fact believe in seeking the truth.

So too with McLaughlin. While he's long been an object of ridicule, he's now demonstrated that it's not just incompetence that lies behind his many errors but a fundamental disregard for the truth—and we’ll treat him accordingly.

Senate

FL-Sen: Politico reports that the DSCC and Joe Biden are working to recruit either Rep. Val Demings or Rep. Stephanie Murphy to run against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio next year, though both have been "noncommittal." Demings said last month she was considering a bid while Murphy declined to rule out the race in December.

IN-Sen: In a new interview, former Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly didn't rule out a possible challenge to Republican Sen. Todd Young next year, saying that "we'll see what the future holds." However, Donnelly cautioned that he has "not made any kind of decisions on those types of things" and declined to specify any sort of timetable. Donnelly, who won a remarkable upset in 2012, lost his bid for a second term to Republican Mike Braun by a 51-45 margin in 2018.

NH-Sen, NH-Gov: WMUR's John DiStaso reports that Republican operatives believe that former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, whose name has more frequently come up as a possible gubernatorial candidate if Gov. Chris Sununu decides to run for Senate, will herself "take a hard look" at a bid against Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. DiStaso notes, though, that Ayotte and Sununu are "very unlikely" to run against one another, so presumably Ayotte would be more inclined to consider the governorship if Sununu goes for the Senate but would have greater interest in the Senate race if Sununu seeks re-election.

OH-Sen, OH-Gov: Far-right Rep. Jim Jordan’s team said Thursday that he would not run to succeed his fellow Republican, retiring Sen. Rob Portman. Buckeye State Republicans had speculated that if Jordan, who has long been a key Donald Trump ally, had run, he would have been able to deter many of his would-be primary opponents. That won’t be happening now, though, and Jordan’s decision could encourage the many Republicans eyeing this race to make the jump.

Jordan’s spokesperson did not mention a Cleveland.com report from November that the congressman was considering challenging Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who fell out with Trumpworld after he recognized Joe Biden's victory. However, we haven’t heard anything new about a potential Jordan gubernatorial campaign in the ensuing two months, and it’s not clear if the congressman is even still considering the idea.

DSCC: Democrats have chosen Michigan Sen. Gary Peters to lead the DSCC for the coming cycle. Peters has experience winning difficult elections, holding off Republican John James by a close 50-48 margin last year.

Governors

FL-Gov: Politico reports that Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist is "maneuvering with the governor's mansion in mind," which is the first time we've seen reporting that the former governor might actually be considering a bid. The only other hint we've seen from Crist came in November, when he ran some unusual post-election ads thanking voters for re-electing him. That prompted observers to wonder if he was laying some early groundwork for another statewide bid, a possibility that he appeared not to rule out.

Crist won the governorship in 2006 as a Republican but waged an unsuccessful bid for the Senate in 2010 (during which he left the GOP to become an independent) rather than seek re-election. Crist became a Democrat two years later, and, after falling just short in a gubernatorial comeback bid in 2014, won the St. Petersburg-area 13th Congressional District in 2016.

IL-Gov: Wealthy businessman and Trump megadonor Gary Rabine, the founder of a paving company, is "expected" to launch a bid for governor next month, according to Politico. It's not clear just how much Rabine is worth, but a 2016 report described his business operations as "a $210 million dollar conglomerate of 11 companies," so if he still owns a large chunk of that enterprise, it's likely he could at least partly self-fund a campaign.

MD-Gov: Ashwani Jain, a 31-year-old former Obama administration official and son of Indian immigrants, just became the second Democrat to enter next year's primary for governor, joining state Comptroller Peter Franchot. In 2018, Jain ran for an at-large seat on the Montgomery County Council and finished eighth in a 33-candidate field (the top four vote-getters won seats). Maryland Matters described the showing as "relatively strong" and said Jain "impress[ed] political professionals" during his bid.

OH-Gov, OH-Sen: Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley says he'll report raising $350,000 in the second half of 2020 and has $500,000 on-hand ahead of a likely gubernatorial bid against Republican Gov. Mike DeWine next year. Cranley is the only Democrat who's filed paperwork so far, and while he hasn't announced a campaign, he says he's "extremely serious about running." He also just ruled out a run for Ohio's newly open Senate seat.

House

MD-01: Former Del. Heather Mizeur formally announced a challenge to Republican Rep. Andy Harris on Thursday, a few weeks after saying she might do so in response to Harris' role in inciting the Jan. 6 assault on Congress. Maryland's 1st Congressional District, which voted for Donald Trump 59-39 in November, is safely red, but because Democrats control the redistricting process, they could adjust the lines to make it competitive.

MI-08: Real estate agent Mike Detmer has announced he'll once again seek the Republican nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin in Michigan's 8th Congressional District. Detmer lost last year's primary to former ICE official Paul Junge just 35-29 despite raising almost no money. He did, however, gain attention for a Facebook post defending the far-right white supremacist group the Proud Boys.

NM-01: Democratic state Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero, who filed paperwork the other day, officially joined the likely special election for New Mexico's 1st Congressional District on Wednesday.

WA-04: Republican state Rep. Brad Klippert has launched a challenge to Rep. Dan Newhouse, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, though in a lengthy statement announcing his bid, he didn't actually use the word "impeachment" once.

Morning Digest: Expected delay in census data release could wreak havoc with redistricting timelines

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

2020 Census, Redistricting: On Wednesday, the Census Bureau revealed that the state-level population data from the 2020 census that is needed to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state receives is not expected to be released until April 30, four months after the original deadline. This delay is the result of pandemic-related disruption to census operations last year and Donald Trump's so far unsuccessful attempt to manipulate census data for his own partisan ends.

Additionally, the census also announced that the more granular population data needed for states to actually draw new districts won't be released until at least after July 30, which is also a delay of at least four months from the original March 31 deadline. Consequently, these delays will create major disruptions for the upcoming 2020 round of congressional and legislative redistricting.

New York University Law School's Brennan Center for Justice released an in-depth report in 2020 looking at which states have deadlines that are in conflict with a potentially delayed data release schedule and what the impact of a delay may be. The most directly affected states are New Jersey and Virginia, which are the only two states that are set to hold legislative elections statewide in 2021 and would normally redraw all of their legislative districts this year.

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However, New Jersey Democrats passed a constitutional amendment in 2020 that will require legislative redistricting be delayed until the 2023 state elections if the census doesn't provide the necessary data by Feb. 15, 2021, which is now virtually guaranteed. In Virginia, primary elections are currently planned for June 8, but if redistricting data isn't released until August, it would be practically impossible to conduct redistricting, hold delayed candidate filing, and hold a delayed primary with enough time before November, meaning that the current legislative districts drawn in 2011 would likely remain in place for November's elections.

The situation isn't much better for several other states that have constitutionally mandated redistricting deadlines set to kick in this summer before they could feasibly draw new districts if data isn't released until late summer. Every state constitution requires a lengthy process for amendments that includes a required voter referendum, passage in multiple years, or both, and it's thus too late to amend these constitutions to alter those deadlines this year, increasing the likelihood of litigation over failure to meet key deadlines.

One major state in particular that could be thrown into turmoil due to a delayed release of census data is Illinois, whose constitution sets a deadline of June 30 for passing new legislative districts following a census year. If legislators fail to adopt new districts by the June 30 deadline, legislators would cede control over legislative redistricting to a bipartisan backup commission where the tiebreaking member is chosen in a 50-50 game of chance between the two parties. Democrats currently hold the legislature and have been expected to have total control over redistricting, but if the process reverts to the backup commission, Republicans would have even odds of controlling legislative redistricting in this blue state.

However in the case of Illinois, the situation pivotally would depend on which year would be categorized as the census year. Normally, that would be a year ending in zero—i.e. 2020—but the Brennan Center details how Illinois leaves open the possibility for 2021 to instead be considered the census year, which would give lawmakers until June 30, 2022 to draw new legislative districts (congressional redistricting does not use the same timeline or process as legislative redistricting). It's unclear how such a determination of the census year is made, and litigation over it is a strong possibility.

Meanwhile, nearly every state has different procedures and timelines for congressional redistricting than they do for legislative redistricting, and the delayed release of census data will be less disruptive nationally at the congressional level than it may be for state legislatures.

Senate

FL-Sen: Oh, vom. Politico reports that former Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson is making calls about a possible challenge to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, and when asked about it, Grayson's only response was, "Repeal Rubio. That's all I have to say." Anyone but Grayson—that's all we have to say.

KS-Sen: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who last month did not rule out a bid for governor next year, just accepted a position at a conservative think tank in D.C., which is not the kind of gig you usually take if you're planning to run for office in your home state. It's certainly not impossible, though—we've seen politicians do brief stints as Washington lobbyists before staging comebacks—so don't count Pompeo out just yet.

OH-Sen: Team Blue is hoping that Republican Sen. Rob Portman's surprise retirement will give them a better shot at prevailing in a state that has been trending the wrong way, and more Democrats are publicly and privately discussing running. One familiar name who told CNN he was considering the contest is Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor, who lost two close 2018 races in the conservative 12th Congressional District against Republican Troy Balderson.

State House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, who would be the state's first Black senator, also said she was thinking about entering the Senate race. Sykes previously expressed interest last month in campaigning to succeed cabinet nominee Rep. Marcia Fudge, if there's a special election for the safely blue 11th District, and it's not clear if she's also considering running there.

Cleveland.com's Seth Richardson also relays that former state health director Amy Acton is considering running as a Democrat, though she hasn't said anything publicly. Acton attracted state and national attention during the opening months of the coronavirus crisis through her prominent place at Republican Gov. Mike DeWine's afternoon briefings, and Richardson writes that she impressed many through her "her frank discussion of the dangers of coronavirus and the need for mitigation." Acton, who was also the target of conservative attempts to undermine her, as well as antisemitic attacks, stepped down in June.

On the GOP side, 2018 nominee Jim Renacci said Tuesday he was interested in another Senate bid and would "be exploring my options to reenter public office over the next 60 days." Renacci, who previously served four terms in Congress, has spent the last several months talking about challenging DeWine for renomination in part over the governor's efforts to limit the spread of the pandemic. Republicans who remember his 53-47 loss to Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, though, probably won't want him as their standard bearer for either race.

State GOP chair Jane Timken also confirmed Wednesday that she was "seriously considering" a Senate run. Timken, who won her post in early 2017 by unseating an incumbent with the Trump campaign's support, is also part of a prominent donor family in state party politics.

Two other Republicans who had shown some interest in getting in, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and former Rep. Pat Tiberi, each said Wednesday that they wouldn't enter the race. Several unnamed Republicans also suggested to Cleveland.com's Andrew Tobias that others could stay out should Rep. Jim Jordan, a key Trump sycophant, get in, including 2012 nominee Josh Mandel. However, some unnamed observers pointed out that Jordan has talked about running statewide but never done it, and they predict that 2022 will be no different.

VT-Sen: Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who was hospitalized for a few hours on Tuesday after suffering what he described as muscle spasms, said on Wednesday that "of course" he'll continue to serve out the rest of his term but said he wouldn't make a decision about whether to seek a ninth term until the end of the year.

"You all know this, I never make up my mind until November or December the year before and I'm not going to now," said the 80-year-old Leahy. "Usually when we start skiing and snowshoeing then we talk about it." Leahy, who is currently the longest-serving member of the Senate, sounded ready to run again, saying "the latest polls show me winning easily."

Retirement Watch: With Ohio Sen. Rob Portman's surprise announcement on Monday making him the third GOP senator to retire so far in this young election cycle, Republicans are nervously waiting to see how many more of their brethren might also call it quits. Among those on the watch list:

AL-Sen: Richard Shelby is 86 and has been in office since 1987. After last year's elections, Shelby promised a decision by January, but now he tells Roll Call's Bridget Bowman that he won't say anything more until after Donald Trump's second impeachment trial, which will not begin until Feb. 8. When asked about his plans this week by CNN, Shelby would only say, "I'll let you know." Bowman says the senator "is not expected to run for reelection."

AR-Sen: John Boozman, 70, said a year ago that he’s planning to run for a third term, and he repeated that intention this week to CNN. However, the senator has experienced some health problems that required heart surgery in 2014 and again in 2017, and he hasn’t yet announced a re-election bid.

IA-Sen: 87-year-old Chuck Grassley, who was first elected in 1980, said in February of last year that he'd come to a decision eight to 12 months before Election Day 2022, though now he seems to have moved his timetable up. In new remarks, he says he'll make an announcement in "several months." If Grassley were to run and win again, he'd be 95 years old at the end of what would be his eighth term.

ID-Sen: Mike Crapo, 69, also told CNN he plans to run for a fifth term but likewise hasn’t actually kicked off a campaign. He was treated for prostate cancer in 2000 and 2005.

MO-Sen: A spokesperson for Roy Blunt, 71, said in November that the senator would seek a third term, but now he's sounding less definitive. Blunt told Roll Call's Bowman that he's "planning on reelection, but I haven't made a final statement on that yet." In separate remarks about his plans to Politico, Blunt said, "I really have not been thinking much about it to tell you the truth. ... I keep thinking there will be a little breathing space, so far it’s not happening."

SD-Sen: John Thune, whose 60 years of age put him just below the senatorial average of 63, would only tell CNN that he'll make an announcement about a fourth term "at some point in the future." Trump exhorted Republicans to primary Thune late last year after the senator said that efforts to overturn the Electoral College "would go down like a shot dog."

WI-Sen: Ron Johnson, 65, pledged prior to his last election in 2016 that he would only serve one more term if he won, but now he's contemplating going back on his word. However, he still hasn't made up his mind about whether to break his promise and run for a third term, saying, "I don't think I have to for a while."

CNN also notes that Kansas’ Jerry Moran and South Dakota’s John Hoeven have not launched re-election bids yet, but both are in their mid-60s—relatively young by Senate standards—and joined the Senate in 2011.

Governors

CA-Gov: Tech billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya has announced that he'll run to replace Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in the event a recall election moves forward, though he didn't specify which party banner, if any, he'd fly. Palihapitiya has given $1.3 million to Democratic candidates and causes over the last decade, along with one $5,000 donation to Ted Cruz in 2011.

MD-Gov: Unnamed advisers to Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski, who previously did not rule out a run for governor, say Olszewski is now considering a bid for the Democratic nomination. Another Democrat, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, is also not ruling out the race, according to Maryland Matters. Meanwhile, 2018 Democratic nominee Ben Jealous, who last year said he had not "closed the door on running for governor again," is staying involved in Maryland politics by taking the helm of a new marijuana reform initiative.

SC-Gov: 2018 candidate John Warren recently refused to rule out a second GOP primary bid against incumbent Henry McMaster, and The State’s Maayan Schechter reports that he might not be the only Republican looking at this race.

Schechter writes that there’s “buzz” that state Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey could challenge the governor, and that he would not comment for her story. Massey has been a loud critic of McMaster’s response to the pandemic: Last month, Massey was one of several Republicans to prepare bills that would give legislators the final say over emergency orders.

Catherine Templeton, who also ran in 2018, said back in August that she was likely to run, though we haven’t heard anything from her since then. A runoff would take place if no one wins a majority in the first round of the primary, so McMaster couldn’t slip by with a plurality.

South Carolina has been a very tough state for Democrats especially in recent years, but a few local politicians have shown some interest in running. Former Rep. Joe Cunningham told Schechter he would consider his future "[o]ver the next few months.” Cunningham also expressed interest last year in seeking a rematch with Republican Nancy Mace, who narrowly unseated him in November, though redistricting could make that contest less attractive.

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, who would be the state’s first Black governor, has also been mentioned as a prospective candidate for years, and he once again did not rule it out when asked. Benjamin and McMaster faced off in the open 2002 race for attorney general, a race McMaster won 55-44. Benjamin is up for re-election this year, and he hasn’t said if he’ll seek a fourth term.

State Sens. Marlon Kimpson and Mia McLeod also said they were thinking about a gubernatorial bid as did 2018 contender Marguerite Willis, an attorney who lost that year’s primary to James Smith 62-28. Schechter also lists former state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, who was Smith’s candidate for lieutenant governor, as considering, though there’s no quote from her.

VA-Gov: A second rich dude, former private equity executive Glenn Youngkin, has entered Virginia's Republican primary for governor, just days after another finance guy, Pete Snyder, did the same. Snyder, by the way, has already released a TV ad, which the National Journal says is backed by a $250,000 buy, complaining about the slow pace of reopening schools and calling himself a "disruptor." It's not clear who he's trying to reach with this sort of advertisement, though, given that the GOP nomination will be decided by, at most, just a few thousand delegates at the party's May 1 convention.

House

CA-21: Former Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys, who was last seen taking a distant third in the GOP primary for New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District last year, has announced a challenge to Rep. David Valadao, one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump earlier this month. Fresno isn't located in California's 21st Congressional District either, though it is closer than New Mexico.

CA-39: Democrat Jay Chen, a Navy Reserve officer and local community college trustee, has announced a bid against freshman Republican Rep. Young Kim. Chen previously ran for California's 39th Congressional District in 2012, losing 58-42 to Republican Rep. Ed Royce, though the area was considerably redder back then: That same year, Mitt Romney carried the district 51-47, while in 2020, Joe Biden won it 54-44.

Chen also briefly ran here in 2018 after Royce retired, but to help avoid a disaster in the top-two primary, he took one for the team and dropped out in order to reduce the number of Democratic candidates and, thereby, the chance that a fractured voted would allow two Republicans to advance to the general election.

PA-07: Republican Lisa Scheller, who lost to Democratic Rep. Susan Wild 52-48 last year in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District, has filed paperwork with the FEC in anticipation of another congressional bid, though it's not clear exactly where she might run. Redistricting is set to scramble Pennsylvania's map, and mindful of that, Scheller changed the name of her campaign committee from "Scheller for PA-07" to "Scheller for Congress, Inc." (no, we don't know why she thinks she's running a corporation). She's promised "a more formal announcement" about her plans over the summer.

PA-10: Politico reports that, according to an unnamed source, the DCCC is trying to recruit 2020 nominee Eugene DePasquale for another go at Republican Rep. Scott Perry in Pennsylvania's 10th District. DePasquale, whose press list has understandably been largely dormant since November, recently put out a statement calling on his former opponent to resign after the New York Times reported that he played a central role in trying to overturn last year's presidential election.

Perry, the Times said, introduced Donald Trump to a Justice Department attorney who proposed ousting acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and directing the DOJ to pressure Georgia officials into altering their state's results. The congressman later confirmed the report. DePasquale wound up losing to Perry by a 53-47 margin last year but he insisted to Politico that the surge in Republican enthusiasm generated by Trump's presence on the ballot "will not be in play in 2022."

Legislatures

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

IA-SD-41: Republican Adrian Dickey defeated Democrat Mary Stewart 55-45 to hold this seat for the GOP. An unusual complicating factor arose on Election Day when a major snowstorm hit southeastern Iowa, and Democrats were reportedly leading in mail ballots heading into Tuesday. This was enough to make Dickey himself nervous about the final outcome, but the red tilt of this district was enough for him to prevail.

While Stewart did worse than in her first bid for this seat, a 52-48 loss to Mariannette Miller-Meeks in 2018, she was able to once again improve upon Hillary Clinton's 57-38 loss here in 2016.  

This chamber moves to a 32-18 advantage for Republicans with no other vacancies.

Mayors

Detroit, MI Mayor: Incumbent Mike Duggan got his first notable opponent for the August nonpartisan primary on Tuesday when Anthony Adams, who served as deputy mayor in former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's administration, launched his campaign.

Adams, who is also a former school board president, argued that “there is a dramatic need for mayoral change in the city of Detroit." Adams also played down his ties to Kilpatrick, who resigned in disgrace in 2008, saying, "I am my own man and I'm running on my own record." Kilpatrick, who was later sentenced to 28 years in prison for corruption, was in the news last week after Donald Trump commuted his punishment, a decision that Duggan praised.    

Meanwhile, school board member Sherry Gay-Dagnogo said this week that she planned to sit the contest out. The former state representative didn't quite rule out a bid, though, saying instead that she wouldn't run "[u]nless there is a massive cry for me to reconsider." The candidate filing deadline is April 20.

New York City, NY Mayor: Businessman and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang has released a survey of the June Democratic primary from Slingshot Strategies that gives him a 25-17 lead over Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, with City Comptroller Scott Stringer in third with 12%, though a hefty 32% of respondents are initially undecided. The survey then simulates the instant runoff process and shows Yang defeating Adams 61-39 on the 11th and final round of voting. This poll, which was in the field Jan. 15-19 and sampled 800 people, is the first survey we've seen since Yang joined the race earlier this month.

Meanwhile, Marine veteran Zach Iscol announced this week that he was dropping out of the race and would instead run to succeed Stringer as controller. Around that same time, though, businesswoman Barbara Kavovit, who was a regular on the "Real Housewives of New York City," kicked off her own campaign for the Democratic mayoral nomination.

Seattle, WA Mayor: Colleen Echohawk, who leads the nonprofit Chief Seattle Club, announced Monday that she would run to succeed retiring Mayor Jenny Durkin this year. Echohawk, who is a member of both the Kithehaki Band of the Pawnee Nation and the Upper Athabascan people of Mentasta Lake, would be the first woman of color to lead Washington's largest city.

Echohawk has not run for office before, but she has been prominent in local government. In addition to serving on the Community Police Commission, she also founded the Coalition to End Urban Indigenous Homelessness and previously served on the Downtown Seattle Association's board.

Echohawk joins Lance Randall, the director of economic development of the nonprofit SEED, and architect Andrew Grant Houston in the August nonpartisan primary, though it remains to be seen if either of them have the connections to run a serious bid. The candidate filing deadline is in May.

Other Races

New York City, NY Comptroller: The City's Rachel Holliday Smith takes a look at the June Democratic primary to succeed Scott Stringer, who is running for mayor, as New York City comptroller, a post that has plenty of influence over the nation's largest city. Democrats have controlled this office since 1946, and Team Blue's nominee should have no trouble holding it.

First, though, Smith discusses what the comptroller actually does. 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, a streak Stringer will try to break this year.

Six notable Democrats are competing in the June primary, which will be decided through instant runoff voting. The two with the most cash by far are City Councilman Brad Lander and state Sen. Brian Benjamin, who have both brought in enough to qualify for matching funds (a system we explain here).

Benjamin, though, earned some unwelcome headlines earlier this month when The City reported that multiple donors said that they had not actually contributed any money to his campaign, and some even volunteered that they had never even heard of Benjamin. One of his unwilling donors said that he didn't blame Benjamin for what happened and instead said the problem rested with his former employer. Benjamin's team soon announced that they would give the New York City Election Campaign Finance Fund $5,750, which represented 23 donations of $250 each.

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, and state Sen. Kevin Parker have also been campaigning for a while. Neither of them have the resources that Lander or Benjamin do at the moment, though they could receive a big boost if they qualify for matching funds: The New York Times reports that Weprin has likely brought in enough, though the campaign finance board needs to confirm this before it dispenses any public money.

Two other Democrats also joined the race this week. Marine veteran Zach Iscol, a moderate who is close to Hillary Clinton, abandoned his mayoral bid to run here. Iscol will be able to transfer the cash he raised for his previous campaign to his new race, which could matter quite a bit: While he fell about $20,000 short of the minimum needed to qualify for public money for mayor, the Times reports that he's likely already hit the lower threshold needed for the comptroller contest.

The other new contender is Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former CNBC anchor who challenged Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in last year's Democratic primary. Caruso-Cabrera, who ran well to the congresswoman's right, raised millions from AOC haters nationwide and self-funded over $1 million, but she lost by a lopsided 74-18 margin.

Data

Pres-by-CD: Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide hits Kentucky. 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.

Donald Trump won the Bluegrass State 62-36, which was pretty similar to his 63-33 performance in 2016, and he once again carried five of Kentucky's six congressional districts. The one exception was, as before, Rep. John Yarmuth's 3rd District in Louisville, which is also the only Democratic-held seat in the commonwealth: Joe Biden took the seat 60-38, compared to 55-40 for Hillary Clinton four years earlier, a shift due in part to the decline in third-party voting.

The closest constituency was again the 6th District in the Lexington area, where Trump's margin shrunk a bit from 55-39 in 2016 to 54-44 in 2020. Republican Rep. Andy Barr won re-election in 2018 by beating Democrat Amy McGrath just 51-48 in a very expensive race, but Barr had a much easier time last year and prevailed 57-41.

Trump took at least 65% of the vote in the remaining four GOP-held seats. His strongest performance in the state was his 80-19 romp in veteran Rep. Hal Rogers' 5th District in rural eastern Kentucky, which makes this the Trumpiest of the 345 seats we've released numbers for so far. (The seat that got displaced for that title, though only just, was Texas' 13th District, which backed the top of the ticket 79-19.) Believe it or not, though, Trump's 2016 margin in this coal country constituency was slightly larger at 80-17.

The 83-year-old Rogers has decisively won re-election 20 times, but this area was extremely divided when he was first elected in 1980. The current version of the 5th District contains several ancestrally Democratic areas that favored Team Blue even in tough years, including Elliott County, which famously never supported a Republican presidential nominee from the time of its formation in 1869 through 2012—the longest streak of Democratic support in any county in the country. Those days are long gone, however, as Trump carried Elliott County with 70% in 2016 and 75% last year.

The 5th is also home to areas that were deep red even when Democrats were the dominant party statewide, as they were at the time Rogers was first elected. This includes Jackson and Leslie Counties, which have not once backed a Democrat for president since they were created in the 19th century. They're not likely to start anytime soon, either, as Trump won close to 90% in both.

Kentucky Democrats, thanks in large part to their downballot dominance in parts of the eastern part of the state, ran the state House nonstop from the early 1920s through the 2016 elections, which always gave them at least a seat at the table for redistricting. The GOP took firm control of the legislature for the first time ever when Trump first won the state, though, and they have more than enough votes to override any possible veto by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and pass their own maps for the first time.

Morning Digest: Jim Jordan, bellicose Trump defender, eyes a Senate bid in Ohio

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: Several Ohio Republicans publicly expressed interest on Monday in running to succeed GOP Sen. Rob Portman in the hours following his surprise retirement announcement, and a few more are now making noises about getting in. The most prominent among them is the far-right extremist Rep. Jim Jordan, who infamously delivered a speech on the floor of the House just before the Jan. 6 terrorist riot where he repeated Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 presidential race and questioned how "somehow the guy who never left his house wins the election?"

Jordan did not rule out the idea of a Senate bid when asked this week, saying, "We'll see. I'm focused on my work on the Judiciary Committee ... and this crazy impeachment trial." Back in November, Cleveland.com reported that Jordan was considering a primary bid against Gov. Mike DeWine, who infuriated Trump by recognizing Joe Biden's victory. However, at least one consultant was very skeptical Jordan would run to lead the state, and we haven't heard anything new about a potential gubernatorial campaign in the ensuing two months.

Several more of Jordan's current or former House colleagues are also talking about seeking the GOP nod for Senate. Rep. Bill Johnson said, "I am seriously considering this opportunity and over the next few weeks, I will talk to my family, friends and supporters to determine if this is the right time and the right opportunity." Fellow Rep. Brad Wenstrup also said he would talk to people about his future, though he didn't lay out a timeline for when he'd decide

Campaign Action

Former Rep. Pat Tiberi, for his part, said Monday that "there will be a time and place to discuss his successor, but that day is not today." Tiberi considered running for the state's other Senate seat in 2017 against Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown, but he not only passed, he decided later that year to resign from Congress altogether to lead a business group. Tiberi, though, retains a $5 million war chest that he could use on another bid for federal office.

Another Republican who has expressed interest is state Sen. Matt Dolan, who is a co-owner of the Cleveland Indians team and whom Cleveland.com's Andrew Tobias describes as "a more-moderate, business friendly Republican." Tobias also says of the potential electoral effects of Dolan's status as a team owner, “[W]hether or not that's an advantage depends on what the front office is doing, so that's open to debate right now."

Two Republicans, though, have said no to a Senate campaign: Rep. Troy Balderson and Youngstown State President Jim Tressel. Tressel, who is widely known as the championship-winning former head football coach at the Ohio State University, has been mentioned as a potential statewide candidate for years but has never gone for it, and the 68-year-old university head seemed to definitively rule out running for office this week when he said, "Too busy here at YSU to run for the Senate … it is time for the young guys to step up."

On the Democratic side, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley acknowledged to the New York Times that she was considering both a Senate run or a campaign against DeWine for governor. Whaley didn't indicate which office she'd prefer but seemed especially motivated to stop Jordan from representing Ohio in the Senate, saying, "If Jim Jordan decides to run [for Senate], it is highly likely he will win that primary. We recognize that the soul of our state is at stake, and that's a motivation to all of us."

Senate

AZ-Sen: Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich was reportedly likely to run for Arizona's governorship, but with Gov. Doug Ducey's recent announcement that he won't try to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly next year, Brnovich isn't ruling out that race, either. "I'm too busy watching the Packers game, enjoying a beer and a brat with my wife's family, to think about the Senate or anything else political," said Brnovich, whose high-profile clashes with Ducey have led some Arizona politicos to speculate that the term-limited governor is backing state Treasurer Kimberly Yee as a way to block Brnovich from succeeding him.

But Yee hasn't committed to a gubernatorial bid, and in fact she's now also surfaced as a possible Senate candidate. So has Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, another would-be Republican contender for governor who promised an announcement last month but didn't follow through. Rep. David Schweikert, however, sounds unlikely. In his first public remarks on a potential promotion, the Republican congressman said he was likely to stay put, explaining, "I'm probably an election cycle away from getting at least a subcommittee in Ways and Means," the powerful House committee he currently sits on.

GA-Sen, GA-Gov: An aide to Doug Collins confirms the former congressman is considering either a primary challenge against Gov. Brian Kemp, a fellow Republican, or a second bid for the seat now held by Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that former state Rep. Vernon Jones, a Trump-supporting former Democrat who joined the Republican Party this month, could also run for Senate. Jones made a bid for Senate once before when he was still a Democrat, losing the 2008 primary in a runoff to former state Rep. Jim Martin.

NC-Sen: State Sen. Jeff Jackson announced his entry into the race for North Carolina's open Senate seat on Monday, making him the most prominent Democrat to join the contest to date. Jackson, an attorney and Afghanistan war veteran with the Army Reserve, considered a Senate bid last cycle but declined, claiming Chuck Schumer derided his plan to kick off his campaign with "100 town halls in 100 days." Undeterred, Jackson pledged to visit all 100 North Carolina counties in his launch video "just as soon as it's safe."

Jackson, who is white, will face off against a one-time colleague, former state Sen. Erica Smith, with whom he has some unpleasant history. Smith unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Senate last cycle and subsequently appeared to endorse Jackson's Republican challenger, Sonja Nichols, in September. Smith, who is Black, later claimed she never backed Nichols, but when asked at the time on Facebook whether she'd requested that Nichols stop touting her as an endorser, she declined to answer and retorted, "you cannot see beyond your sexist male privilege."

NC-Sen, FL-Sen: The New York Times reports that the possibility that Lara Trump could run for Senate in North Carolina is looking "less clear" following the loss of her father-in-law, Donald Trump, in last year's election. The same piece also reports that rumors about a Senate campaign in Florida by Ivanka Trump, whose potential candidacy was based on the most gossamer of whispers, are "unlikely to develop further."

PA-Sen, PA-Gov: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has declined to rule out a bid for either Senate or governor next year, saying of his possible interest in running for higher office, "The plan right now is to do my job. Things happen." Recently, a spokesperson did not deny reports that Kenney, a Democrat, was considering both races.

Governors

AR-Gov: To no one's surprise, Donald Trump has endorsed his former press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in her newly launched bid for governor of Arkansas. Trump's statement of support reads just like the cookie-cutter endorsements he'd issue from his former Twitter account, only this one came in the form of a press release from his "Save America PAC" and went on for the length of about 1.5 tweets.

Meanwhile, Republican state Sen. Jim Hendren, a nephew of term-limited Gov. Asa Hutchinson, says he'll announce whether he'll enter the GOP primary "in the coming weeks."

FL-Gov: The South Florida Sun-Sentinel adds one more name to the mix of possible Democratic contenders for governor next year, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. The aside comes amid a longer interview with former Republican Rep. David Jolly, who's talked about running statewide as an independent but now sounds more inclined to seek the governorship rather than launch a bid for Senate.

MD-Gov: Former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez, who last month declined to rule out a bid for governor, has now confirmed he's considering the race. Perez was recently replaced at the DNC by former South Carolina Senate candidate Jaime Harrison, Joe Biden's pick to run the committee.

MN-Gov: MyPillow guy Mike Lindell, who was just kicked off Twitter for promoting lunatic election conspiracy theories, is now suggesting that he won't announce a bid for governor until he gets to the bottom of his investigation, telling Axios' Torey Van Oot, "Why would anybody want to run if they had the same machines with the election fraud?" As Van Oot notes, though, this might just be Lindell's way of clearing an escape path if in fact he's not interested in running after all.

Or maybe not! In an NPR interview later the same day that Axios published its report, Lindell tried to claim that (LOL) Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had taken control of his account to post "fake" information, "acting like they were me, putting out a narrative that was completely not me." In other words, Lindell has now found the real killer, thus rehabbing his sullied reputation and once more opening the door to a gubernatorial campaign, right? Right.

TX-Gov: Former Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke said in a recent radio interview that a bid for governor next year is "something I'm gonna think about," though he added, "[W]hether I'm a candidate for governor or I support someone who's a candidate for governor, I want to make sure we have excellence in leadership." Last year, O'Rourke declined to rule out a run when asked.

VA-Gov: Wealthy investor Pete Snyder announced he would enter the race for governor on the GOP side on Tuesday, joining several other notable candidates who are seeking the Republican nomination this year. The Washington Post also reports that the GOP's convention will take place on May 1, though Republicans still have no idea how they'll host one amid the pandemic.

House

CA-22: 2020 Democratic nominee Phil Arballo launched a TV commercial Tuesday to announce a second campaign against Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, who remains one of Donald Trump's most prominent toadies in Congress. Last year, Nunes won a very expensive campaign against Arballo 54-46 as Trump was carrying his Central Valley seat by a slightly smaller 52-46 margin.

This district, which is located near Fresno and Tulare, has long been reliably red turf, and any Democrat would have a very tough time unseating even a Republican as odious as Nunes. Arballo, though, told the Sacramento Bee that, while he didn't expect the state's independent redistricting commission to "dramatically change" the district lines, "we think they might be improved upon in terms of competitiveness." No one knows what the new map will look like, however, and Arballo acknowledged that he was starting his campaign now "to make sure we have the resources to roll out when the time comes."

Other Democrats might be interested in running if Nunes does become more vulnerable, but one familiar name has said no. 2018 nominee Andrew Janz, who lost to Nunes 53-47 and unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Fresno last year, told the paper that he was endorsing Arballo again.

NM-01: Democratic state Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero has filed paperwork with the FEC for a possible bid in New Mexico's 1st Congressional District, though she doesn't appear to have said anything publicly about her interest yet. Leaders from both parties will pick their nominees in the likely special election to succeed Rep. Deb Haaland, whom Joe Biden has nominated to serve as his secretary of the interior.

OH-16, OH-13: Former Republican state Rep. Christina Hagan, who'd come up as a possible primary challenger to pro-impeachment Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, now says she'll wait until the redistricting process concludes before deciding whether she'll run. Depending on how the new map turns out, it also sounds like she might consider a rematch with Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who held her off 52-45 last fall in the 13th District.

SC-07: Republican state Rep. William Bailey says he's formed an exploratory committee to weigh a possible primary challenge to Rep. Tom Rice, one of 10 Republicans who recently voted to impeach Donald Trump. Bailey did not offer a specific deadline for when he might make a decision. Meanwhile, another possible GOP candidate, Horry County Schools Board chair Ken Richardson, says he'll wait until his school system is "through the pandemic" before making up his mind.

Mayors

Cincinnati, OH Mayor: Former Mayor Mark Mallory announced Tuesday that he would not run to regain his old post this year. Unnamed sources also tell the Cincinnati Business Courier that another Democrat, former state party chair David Pepper, also will sit the race out.

Data

Pres-by-CD: Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide goes to Tennessee, which once again was one of Donald Trump's strongest states. 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.

Trump carried the Volunteer State last year 61-38, which wasn't much different from his 61-35 performance in 2016, and as before, he won seven of the state's nine congressional districts. Trump scored at least 64% of the vote in each of these seats, all of which have been in Republican hands since the 2010 GOP wave. Biden, meanwhile, won both Democratic-held districts, carrying Rep. Jim Cooper's Nashville-area 5th District 60-37 and Rep. Steve Cohen's Memphis-based 9th District 79-20.

Interestingly, the GOP-controlled seat that gave Trump his smallest margin was the one that hasn't elected a Democrat since 1852, before the Republican Party was even founded, though it was still far from close: Rep. Tim Burchett's 2nd District around Knoxville supported Trump 64-34, which was just a tick down from his 65-30 performance against Hillary Clinton.

At the heart of the 2nd District is Knox County, which has in fact been represented by a member of the nativist Know Nothing Party more recently than a Democrat, with William Henry Sneed taking it during President Franklin Pierce's 1854 midterm. Sneed was replaced two years later by fellow Know Nothing Horace Maynard, who, like many anti-secession politicians in the years before and during the Civil War, identified with a number of different political labels.

Sneed's East Tennessee base remained loyal to the Union during the conflict, though he temporarily left Congress in 1863 when he was appointed state attorney general by military governor Andrew Johnson. Sneed returned in 1866 when Tennessee was readmitted to the Union after Johnson was elevated to the presidency following Abraham Lincoln's assassination, this time as a full-fledged member of the Republican Party.

After the federal government abandoned Reconstruction, however, Republicans throughout the South quickly found themselves with little influence. Knox County, though, remained a durable exception: The GOP continued to represent the area in Congress during the entire era of Democratic dominance known as the "Solid South," and it remained in power as the rest of Tennessee and neighboring states began their broader migration toward the Republican Party in the wake of Richard Nixon's "Southern strategy."

Democrats hung on in Tennessee longer than in other corners of the South, but those days are long gone. Republicans gained control of redistricting in 2010 for the first time since Reconstruction, and they'll once again decide the new congressional map.

Morning Digest: Scramble is on after unexpected retirement opens up Ohio Senate seat

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: In a big surprise, Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced Monday that he would not seek a third term next year in Ohio. Portman, who is 65, had not shown any obvious interest in retirement, and he had a large $4.6 million war chest at the end of September of 2020. The senator, though, explained his decision by saying, "I don't think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision."

Portman's departure will likely give Democrats a better shot at his Senate seat, but Ohio's rightward drift over the last few years will still make it difficult for Team Blue to score a win in this traditional swing state. Joe Biden targeted the Buckeye State hard in 2020, but Donald Trump still defeated him 53-45. However, Ohio isn't a place that Republicans can take victory for granted: Portman's Democratic colleague, Sen. Sherrod Brown, earned re-election 53-47 in 2018, and last year, Democrats won an officially nonpartisan race for the state Supreme Court.

Republicans, though, have the far larger bench in this state, and a number of them have publicly or privately expressed interest already. The following politicians have confirmed that they're looking at running to succeed Portman:

The only one of these politicians who laid out a timeline for when he expected to decide was Obhof, who said that "one who is considering it ought to take a deep breath and consider it over the course of days or a week or two."

A few other Republicans are also reportedly thinking about getting in, though we haven't heard anything directly from them yet:

Several more Republicans declined to rule out a bid when asked:

Several media outlets have mentioned a few others as possibilities:

One person who quickly took his name out of contention, though, was former Gov. John Kasich.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Tim Ryan quickly said he was thinking about a Senate run. Ryan is infamous for flirting with campaigns for higher office in Ohio but always running for re-election, though his calculations could change if Republicans leave him with a hostile House seat in the upcoming round of redistricting.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley hadn't ruled out a Senate bid before Portman retired, and she reiterated Monday that she wasn't closing the door. Whaley, who also has been eyeing bids for governor or the U.S. House, said after Portman's announcement that she'd be keeping an open mind about her future plans and would be "making a decision in the coming weeks."

Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor, who lost two tight races in the conservative 12th Congressional District in 2018, also didn't reject the idea of a Senate campaign when asked.

Other Democrats mentioned include:

In the no column are former state Sen. Nina Turner, who is running in the anticipated special election for the 11th Congressional District, and Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval, who is campaigning for mayor of Cincinnati.

Campaign Action

Portman's retirement also ends a long career in state and national politics. Portman got his start interning for his local GOP congressman, Cincinnati-area Rep. Bill Gradison, and working on George H.W. Bush's unsuccessful 1980 presidential campaign, and he went on to serve as a White House associate legal counsel in 1989 after Bush won on his second try. Portman, who became close to the president, quickly rose to become head of the Office of Legislative Affairs, and he returned home in 1991 a year ahead of Bush's defeat.

Portman soon got his own chance to run for office in 1993 when Gradison resigned to lead the Health Insurance Association of America and asked his former intern to run in the special election to succeed him. Portman also benefited from support from former First Lady Barbara Bush, who, as Politico would recount in 2012, "recorded a radio ad name-dropping Cincinnati's Skyline Chili and Portman in the same sentence." Portman won the primary by beating former Rep. Bob McEwen, who had lost re-election in 1992 largely due to redistricting, 36-30, and he had no trouble in the general election for the conservative 2nd District.

Portman quickly became entrenched in the House, but he resigned in 2005 to become United States Trade Representative under George W. Bush. (Portman's departure set off an unexpectedly competitive special election between Republican Jean Schmidt and Democrat Paul Hackett that Schmidt ended up winning just 52-48.) Portman later served as head of the White House's powerful Office of Management and Budget from 2006 to 2007, and he played Barack Obama in 2008 during John McCain's debate practice sessions.

Portman got another chance to run for office in early 2009 when Republican Sen. George Voinovich announced his retirement. Portman quickly launched his campaign and proved to be a very strong fundraiser from the jump, something that helped the political insider avoid any primary opposition even as the emerging tea party declared war on other party establishment figures.

Ohio had backed Obama 51-47 in 2008 and this looked like it would be a top tier Senate target for much of the cycle, but that's not how things turned out. Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher won the Democratic nomination after a costly primary campaign, and he never was able to come close to matching Portman's financial resources. The Republican took a lead during the summer as the political climate got worse and worse nationally for Team Blue, and Democratic outside groups ended up concentrating on other races. Ultimately, Portman beat Fisher 57-39.

Portman's wide win in this battleground state made him an attractive vice presidential prospect in 2012, and Mitt Romney seriously considered him before opting instead for Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan; while the senator wasn't on the ticket, he did reprise his role as Obama as Romney prepared to debate the real president. Portman later considered his own White House bid, but he announced in late 2014 that he'd instead seek re-election to the Senate.

National Democrats soon recruited former Gov. Ted Strickland, who had narrowly lost re-election during the 2010 wave, to take on Portman, and this again looked like it would be one of the most competitive races of the cycle. Unfortunately for Strickland, though, he suffered a similar fate in 2016 as Fisher had six years ago.

Portman and his allies spent heavily during the summer on ads blaming Strickland for job losses that took place during the Great Recession, when every state experienced painful job losses that had nothing to do with who was governor, and Strickland didn't have the resources to fight back in time. Portman once again built up a clear lead in the polls months before Election Day, and national Democrats pulled out of the state in mid-October. Portman ended up winning his final term 58-37 as Trump was carrying the state 51-43.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Term-limited Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who was NRSC chair Rick Scott's top choice to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly next year, unambiguously told the New York Times that he will not run. Ducey visited Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week and even tweeted a photo of their meeting, but over the weekend, the Arizona Republican Party censured him over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, vividly demonstrating the kind of primary he'd have been in for had he decided to make a bid for the Senate.

CO-Sen: Former state Rep. Joe Salazar says he's weighing a primary challenge to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, complaining that Bennet is "so wishy-washy and so middle-of-the-road that we don't know which road he walks on." Salazar, a prominent Bernie Sanders surrogate in Colorado, specifically criticized Bennet for what he views as insufficiently progressive stances on healthcare and the environment.

Salazar served three terms in the state House before running for attorney general in 2018, losing the primary 50.4 to 49.6 to Phil Weiser, who went on to win the general election. He does not appear to be related to former Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar, Bennet's immediate predecessor in the Senate.

GA-Sen: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests that both former Sen. Kelly Loeffler and former Rep. Doug Collins could run against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock next year, though so far, the evidence for any sort of rematch is sketchy. The paper reports that backers of the two Republicans, who both ran in Georgia's recent special election, have "rumbled about a 2022 campaign," but mostly the rumbling seems confined to dueling statements issued by prominent supporters, each trying to blame the other side for the GOP's humiliating loss of a crucial Senate seat.

PA-Sen, PA-Gov: The Philadelphia Inquirer says that Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who'd previously been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor, is also considering a bid for Senate, according to an unnamed source "with direct knowledge" of the mayor's thinking. A spokesman for Kenney wouldn't directly confirm the report but did acknowledge that a campaign for governor or the Senate "may be future considerations." One difficulty for Kenney, however, is that his city's charter would require him to give up his current post, to which he was just re-elected for another four years in 2019, if he were to seek another office.

The same article also reports that State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who'd also been mentioned before, is "said to be eyeing" the Senate race. Meanwhile, the paper suggests that former Republican Rep. Lou Barletta, who previously said he was considering a Senate bid, may instead be more interested in a bid for governor.

Governors

AR-Gov: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Donald Trump's second press secretary and the daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, kicked off a long-anticipated bid for governor on Monday. She joins a heavyweight Republican primary that, with Gov. Asa Hutchinson term-limited, has been underway for quite some time: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge entered the race in the middle of last year while Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin has been running since 2019.

Sanders' bid will be a test of just how Trump-loving the Arkansas GOP remains, though Griffin also suggested that his new opponent's time spent out of state might be an issue as well. In her announcement video, Sanders said she would "prohibit" so-called "sanctuary cities"—something state lawmakers already did two years ago. "Her pledge to ban sanctuary cities would have been a great line in a speech back in 2019, but not in 2021," snarked Griffin. "It sounds like she needs to catch up on what's been going on in Arkansas."

NJ-Gov: Ocean County Commissioner Joseph Vicari, who just last week announced a weird "favorite son" bid for governor, has already yanked the plug on his effort. It appeared that Vicari, who said he wouldn't campaign elsewhere in the state, was hoping to secure Ocean County's powerful "organization line" in the June GOP primary, then trade his endorsement (likely to Republican frontrunner Jack Ciattarelli) in exchange for some sort of promise to focus on Vicari's pet issues. Evidently, Vicari quickly thought better of trying to press forward with his old-school brand of transactional politics in 2021.

NY-Gov: The New York Times reports that former Rep. Pete King "floated the idea" of Rep. John Katko running for governor in a recent interview on the GOP infighting that's crescendoed after Katko and nine other House Republicans voted to impeach Donald Trump. There's no word, however, about Katko's interest. One Republican who is looking at a possible bid against Gov. Andrew Cuomo is Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. If Molinaro, who passed on what turned out to be a potentially winnable House race last year, were to go for it, that could set up a rematch of New York's contest for governor three years ago, which Cuomo won 60-36.

SC-Gov: Wealthy businessman John Warren, who last year wouldn't rule out a second primary challenge to Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, is once again saying the same thing. "I'm clearly not ruling it out," he said recently, though he declined to provide any sort of timetable except to note that he waited until just four months before the primary before launching his 2018 bid.

VA-Gov: A meeting of the Virginia GOP's governing body descended into acrimony for the second week in a row, with Republicans leaving in place a December decision to select nominees for statewide races through a party convention but failing to actually come up with a plan for conducting one during the pandemic.

Convention backers, per the Virginia Mercury, want to host "a remote event in which ballots would be collected at polling sites around the state" for the sake of safety, rather than the large, single convocation that a convention normally would involve. But such a move would require a 75% supermajority on the GOP's central committee, and it appears that supporters of a traditional state-run primary voted down the proposal for a distributed convention in the hopes of pushing party leaders toward their preferred option—to no avail.

Republicans have therefore put themselves in an impossible position: They're on track to hold a classic convention, but gatherings of such a size are forbidden by state rules aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus. One option could be a drive-through convention, but when Republicans in the 5th Congressional District used exactly that method last year, vote-counting lasted deep into the night after an all-day convention, and the whole affair ended in bitter accusations that the vote had been rigged.

House

CO-03: State Rep. Donald Valdez is reportedly considering a bid against freshman Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, one of several Democrats who've surfaced as possible challengers. Last year, Valdez briefly sought the 3rd Congressional District (at the time represented by Republican Scott Tipton, whom Boebert upset in the GOP primary), but he dropped out after raising little money.

GA-01: In a recent interview, former Chatham County Commissioner Al Scott hinted he might challenge Republican Rep. Buddy Carter, a possibility that would give Democrats their most prominent candidate in southeastern Georgia's 1st District in quite some time. Scott launched his political career in the 1970s, serving 16 years in the state legislature, but after a long layoff following a couple of unsuccessful bids for statewide office, he was elected to the commission in Chatham County in 2012 and became known as a "political giant" in Savannah.

Facing term limits last year, Scott ran for county tax commissioner but lost the Democratic primary in an upset. At 73, most observers concluded that the defeat signaled the end of Scott's time in office, but on a local podcast earlier this month, he said, "The only thing I haven't done in my political life that I used to daydream about is go to Congress."

It's a dream that would be difficult to realize, though. Though the blue outpost of Savannah is by far the largest population center in the 1st District, it's surrounded by a sea of red: According to Daily Kos Elections' new calculations, it went 56-43 for Donald Trump in November, not much different from Trump's 56-41 showing four years earlier. While redistricting will scramble Georgia's map, Republican mapmakers will likely ensure Carter remains in a friendly district.

Louisiana: Candidate filing closed Friday for the March 20 special elections for Louisiana's 2nd and 5th Congressional Districts, and the secretary of state has a list of contenders for each contest available here. Under state law, all the candidates will face off in the all-party primary. If no one wins a majority of the vote, an April 24 runoff would take place between the top-two vote-getters, regardless of party.

LA-02: A total of eight Democrats, four Republicans, and three others are competing to succeed former Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat who resigned earlier this month to take a post as head of the Biden White House's Office of Public Engagement.

GOP legislators gerrymandered this seat, which stretches from the New Orleans area west to Baton Rouge, to be safely blue turf in order to protect Republicans elsewhere, and there's little question that Richmond's replacement will take his place as the state's only Democratic member of Congress. It's also almost a certainty that the district's new representative will be only the fourth African American to represent Louisiana in D.C. since the end of Reconstruction.

The two frontrunners appear to be a pair of Democratic state senators from New Orleans, Karen Carter Peterson and Troy Carter. Peterson, who would be the first Black woman to represent the state, served as state party chair from 2012 through 2020, and she has the support of EMILY's List. Carter, for his part, has Richmond's backing.

Another Democratic candidate worth watching is activist Gary Chambers, who said last week that he'd already raised $250,000. Chambers ran for the state Senate in 2019 in a Baton Rouge-area seat but lost 74-26 to Democratic incumbent Regina Ashford Barrow.

Chambers attracted national attention the following year, though, when he gave a speech at an East Baton Rouge Parish School Board meeting where he advocated for a school named for the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to be renamed. (It was shortly afterwards.) Chambers then used his address to decry a school board member he said had been shopping online instead of listening to "Black folks speaking up passionately about what they feel."

However, as we've mentioned before, it will be difficult for a Baton Rouge-area candidate like Chambers to have an opening here. Orleans Parish, which is coterminous with the city of New Orleans, makes up 40% of the district, while another 26% lives in neighboring Jefferson Parish. East Baton Rouge Parish, by contrast, makes up only 14% of the seat, with the balance coming from the seven smaller parishes, which are known collectively as the River Parishes.

P.S. This will be the second time that Peterson and Carter have run against each other for this post. Back in 2006 under the previous version of the map, both Crescent City politicos challenged Democratic incumbent Bill Jefferson, who was under federal investigation for corruption: Jefferson led Peterson 30-22, while Carter finished in fifth place with 12%. Peterson looked like the favorite for the runoff, but Jefferson prevailed 57-43 after he tapped into voter resentment with the federal government that had failed them during and after Hurricane Katrina struck the previous year.

Louisiana briefly switched to a partisan primary system for the 2008 and 2010 cycles, and Carter sought a rematch with Jefferson. Richmond also competed in the Democratic primary and took third place with 17%, while Carter took sixth with 8%. Jefferson would go on to lose the general election to Republican Joe Cao, whom Richmond defeated two years later.

LA-05: Nine Republicans, two Democrats, and two others are running to succeed Luke Letlow, a Republican who was elected in December but died weeks later from complications of COVID-19 before he could take office. This northeast Louisiana seat, which includes Monroe and Alexandria in the central part of the state, is heavily Republican turf, and it's likely to remain red without much trouble.

The clear frontrunner appears to be the congressman-elect's widow, University of Louisiana Monroe official Julia Letlow. Letlow has the backing of Rep. Steve Scalise, the no. 2 House Republican and one of the most powerful GOP officials in Louisiana, and a number of other Republicans decided to defer to her rather than run themselves. None of Letlow's intra-party foes appears to have the name recognition or connections needed to put up a strong fight, but it's always possible one of them will turn out to be a surprisingly strong contender.

The Democratic field consists of Candy Christophe, who took third in last year's contest with 17%, and Jessica Honsinger Hollister.

TX-15: Republican Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez, who held Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez to a shockingly close 51-48 win last year, launched a rematch late last month just before Christmas, which might explain why her kickoff did not earn much in the way of local media attention at the time. Though Gonzales outspent his little-known opponent two-to-one, De La Cruz-Hernandez's strong performance came as a result of a dramatic Democratic collapse at the top of the ticket in southern Texas: According to new calculations from Daily Kos Elections, Joe Biden carried the heavily Latino 15th District just 50-49, a steep drop from Hillary Clinton's 57-40 win four years earlier.

The picture for 2022, however, is quite muddled. While Texas Republicans were ecstatic about their gains with Latino voters, they saw an even broader disintegration in their former suburban strongholds across the state that’s left many of their incumbents on the brink. While the GOP will have full control over redistricting for the coming decade once again, Republicans in the legislature will have to make many hard choices about which districts to prop up and which to cut loose. As a result, a Democrat like Gonzalez might find himself inheriting some favorable turf that a Republican colleague would rather not have to represent.

Alternately, however, Politico’s Ally Mutnick notes that GOP lawmakers could re-use a tactic they effectively deployed in the 23rd District a decade ago. There, Republicans maintained the district’s overall majority-Latino character to avoid running afoul of the Voting Rights Act but replaced higher-propensity Latino voters with those less likely (or even unable) to vote. Democrats sought to litigate this maneuver but met with no success, so if Republicans try it again, they could gerrymander another winnable South Texas district for themselves.

WA-03, WA-04: The Seattle Times' Jim Brunner mentions former state Rep. Liz Pike as a potential primary challenger to 3rd District Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who made Republicans hopping mad as a result of her vote to impeach Donald Trump. He also caught up with Franklin County Commissioner Clint Didier, who lost in both 2014 and 2016 to another pro-impeachment Republican, 4th District Rep. Dan Newhouse, and called his vote a "betrayal" while not saying anything that would rule out another bid.

Legislatures

Special Elections: We take a look at a special election happening Tuesday in Iowa, and recap a special election from Saturday in Texas:

IA-SD-41: Southeastern Iowa will be the site of one of the first big legislative special elections of the Biden era, where Democrat Mary Stewart will take on Republican Adrian Dickey. We had a preview of this race earlier this month, which you can find here.

TX-HD-68: The race to replace former Rep. Drew Springer is heading to a runoff after no candidate captured a majority of the vote. Republican David Spiller was far and away the leading vote-getter, taking 44%. Fellow Republican Craig Carter led a close race for second place, taking 18%, just ahead of John Berry and Jason Brinkley, who took 17% and 16%, respectively. Charles Gregory, the lone Democrat in the running, finished with 4%. Overall, Republican candidates outpaced Democrats 96-4, an astounding margin even for one of the reddest districts in Texas.

A date for the runoff between Spiller and Carter has not been selected yet, but Gov. Greg Abbott will make that decision in February. The all-GOP runoff assures that this chamber will return to 83-67 GOP control after the election.

Mayors

Atlanta, GA Mayor: On Monday, Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore filed paperwork for a possible bid this November against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Moore did not comment on her plans, much less say why the incumbent should be fired. However, local political observer Maria Saporta wrote that Bottoms could be vulnerable because of the city's "recent uptick in crime."

It will be difficult for anyone to oust Bottoms, who is one of the more prominent Democrats in Georgia, in the November nonpartisan primary. An Atlanta mayor hasn't lost re-election since 1973, when Maynard Jackson's victory over Sam Massell made him the city's first Black leader.

Moore herself was first elected to the City Council in 1997, and she was elected citywide in 2017 by beating an establishment-backed candidate by a 55-45 margin. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Bill Torpy wrote early this month that, while five Council presidents have unsuccessfully run for mayor over the last 25 years, Moore herself is "liked on both sides of town." He also noted that Moore did considerably better at the ballot box that year than Bottoms, who won an open seat race by beating former City Councilwoman Mary Norwood 50.4-49.6.

The filing deadline for the Nov. 2 nonpartisan primary does not appear to have been set yet, and it's quite possible that other candidates will get in. A runoff would take place the following month if no one won a majority in the first round.

One of the prospective contenders may be Norwood herself, who told Torpy, "Stay tuned" when he asked about her plans a few weeks ago. Norwood, who identifies as an independent, would be the city's first white or non-Democratic mayor in decades; she previously ran for this office in 2009 only to lose to Democrat Kasim Reed by that same 50.4-49.6 margin.

Despite those two very close defeats, though, Torpy points out that Norwood may have utterly torpedoed her future prospects in this heavily Democratic city by signing an affidavit for the Trump campaign's attempt to overturn Joe Biden's win in Georgia. Norwood herself didn't allege that she'd seen any fraud last year, but instead insisted that her own supporters had found evidence of wrongdoing in her 2017 race. Norwood previously accused Reed and his allies of using fraud to beat her in 2009 without offering a shred of proof.

Republicans helped Trump inspire a violent insurrection. They have done nothing to disavow it

In the wake of a deadly attack many of them helped incite, Republicans are only continuing their descent into ignominy. The only way out is for them to take responsibility for their actions and actually admit that they helped their mentally unhinged leader—Donald Trump—sic a mob of his foaming-at-the-mouth cultists on U.S. lawmakers at the Capitol last week. 

Instead, they have dug in their heels and unleashed a Gatling gun round of finger-pointing at Democrats, who are moving swiftly to hold Trump to account through impeachment charges. Democrats, they claim, are being divisive by trying to protect the country from further abuses by a madman.

The Washington Post writes:

Shortly before convening a conference call of House Republicans on Monday, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sent a missive asserting that “an impeachment at this time would have the opposite effect of bringing our country together when we need to get America back on a path towards unity and civility.” ...

“After the abhorrent violence we saw last week, our country desperately needs to heal and unify,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said. “I have concerns that impeachment proceedings will only divide us further.”

McCarthy's empty rhetoric about "unity and civility" is particularly precious given his role in perpetrating Trump’s lie that the election was stolen. Not only did he sign on to the GOP legal challenge to the election results and vote to oppose congressional certification after the siege, he also used his platform to push Trump's baseless claims into the ecosphere.

.@GOPLeader Kevin McCarthy was laying the groundwork for the attack on the Capitol for months. 11/5/2020: “President Trump won this election, so everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet. We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes... join together and let’s stop this.” pic.twitter.com/9Ys6elhUln

— Jesse Lee (@JesseCharlesLee) January 12, 2021

Immediately following the election, McCarthy started pumping Trump's crap to the GOP base. “President Trump won this election, so everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet," McCarthy told Fox News viewers on Nov. 5. "We cannot allow this to happen before our very eyes ... join together and let’s stop this.”

Other GOP lawmakers also bear unique responsibility for helping to foment the deadly violence:

  • Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama speaking at the MAGA rally last week: “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass. ... Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America?"
  • First-term Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado called the day Republicans’ “1776 moment.”
  • Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona repeatedly called Joe Biden an "illegitimate usurper" while promoting numerous "Stop the Steal" events. “Be ready to defend the Constitution and the White House,” Gosar counseled in an op-ed titled “Are We Witnessing a Coup d’État?” 

There's much much more, and The New York Times has a nice roundup of it

But the GOP, and particularly its leadership, is continuing to prove that there's no end to how morally bankrupt the party is—not even after they helped inspire a violent coup attempt that cost lives. Just like with Trump, there’s no bottom.