Michigan Republican sends horrid anti-trans solicitation after fundraising shortfall

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

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Leading Off

MI-07: Republican state Sen. Tom Barrett, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin in Michigan's new and competitive 7th Congressional District, recently sent out a fundraising appeal by text message falsely telling recipients that "your child's gender reassignment surgery has been booked," complete with a phony time for the appointment. Barrett, a far-right politician who has worn a "naturally immunized" wrist band and refused to say if he's vaccinated, deployed this tactic after David Drucker of the conservative Washington Examiner reported that he'd badly missed his own team's fundraising goals.

We know about Barrett's underperformance because a Democratic operative provided Drucker with a vivid recording of one of his top aides. "We announced just before Thanksgiving, you know, really, you know, we chained him to a desk and had him on the phones," said the staffer in February, "and he raised, you know, 310 grand. He's raising more money now—our goal is a million by the end of March." However, the senator hauled in only $456,000 during the first three months of 2022, which left him with $396,000 on hand. Slotkin, by contrast, took in $1.32 million during the first quarter and had a gigantic $5.5 million on hand.

One thing Barrett doesn't need to worry about, though, is the Aug. 2 primary. Candidate filing closed Tuesday, and the only other Republican to turn in paperwork was insurance agency owner Jacob Hagg, who hasn't reported raising any cash at all. This constituency in the Lansing area would have supported Joe Biden by a 50-49 margin, a small improvement for Slotkin from Trump's 50-49 edge in the old 8th District. But even an underfunded extremist like Barrett has an opening in a district this close.

Now that filing has passed in the Wolverine State, we'll be taking a look at Michigan's other big competitive races, starting with our MI-Gov item below. It's possible that some candidates who submitted signatures won't appear on the ballot, though, because election authorities in Michigan have disqualified contenders in past years for not meeting the state's requirements. In 2018, for instance, seven House hopefuls—including a few notable names—were thrown off the ballot after the secretary of state ruled that they'd failed to turn in the requisite number of acceptable petitions.

Redistricting

FL Redistricting: Gov. Ron DeSantis signed his state's new congressional map—which he himself proposed—on Friday, following party-line votes that advanced the map in both chambers of the Republican-run legislature. (We previously detailed the map's impacts in this post.) The same day, several advocacy groups and Florida voters filed a lawsuit in state court alleging that the map violates the state constitution's prohibitions on partisan gerrymandering and diluting minority representation.

NY Redistricting: A five-judge panel on New York's Appellate Division, the state's intermediate appellate court, upheld a recent lower court ruling that the new congressional map drawn by Democrats violates the state constitution as an illegal partisan gerrymander and gave lawmakers until April 30 to craft a replacement. However, Democrats have already said they'll appeal to the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, with oral arguments scheduled for Tuesday.

In its ruling, the Appellate Division also overturned the trial court's finding that the legislature lacked the power to draw new maps for the state Senate and Assembly, allowing those maps to be used. It's not yet clear whether Republicans plan to pursue their own appeal regarding this issue.

Senate

AR-Sen: We have yet to see any polls indicating whether former NFL player Jake Bequette poses a serious threat to Sen. John Boozman in the May 24 Republican primary, but the incumbent did recently air an ad taking a swipe at his foe. Most of Boozman's spot, which praises him as a "workhorse, not a show pony" is positive, though it employs a photo of Bequette as the narrator hits those last words.

Bequette's allies at Arkansas Patriots Fund, meanwhile, have been going directly at Boozman with a commercial faulting him for having "voted to confirm six in 10 Biden cabinet picks" in the first 40 days of the administration. The ad goes on to accuse the senator of backing "amnesty for illegals, tax dollars for abortions, bailouts for Wall Street, even allowed the feds to confiscate your firearm records." The super PAC received $1 million from conservative megadonor Dick Uihlein last year, which Politico's Alex Isenstadt says makes up most of its budget.

AZ-Sen: The NRSC is commencing what they call a "seven figure" ad buy that starts off with a spot attacking Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly over immigration. This appears to be the first ad of the cycle going directly after a candidate from any of the "big four" party groups (which in addition to the NRSC includes the Senate Leadership Fund super PAC on the GOP side and the DSCC and Senate Majority PAC for Democrats).

CO-Sen: Wealthy construction company owner Joe O'Dea has announced he's spending $250,000 over three weeks to air an ad that touts his business record and portrays him as a conservative outsider. O'Dea faces state Rep. Ron Hanks in the June Republican primary.

NC-Sen: Former Gov. Pat McCrory has debuted a new commercial ahead of the May 17 GOP primary where he calls Rep. Ted Budd weak on Vladimir Putin before claiming that Budd is backed by billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Soros is a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor whom the far-right both here and abroad has frequently used as a target of and a stand-in for age-old conspiracy theories about wealthy Jews using their power to exert a nefarious influence over the world.

However, McCrory's accusation that Soros, who is well known for openly funding progressive causes, would secretly support Budd, who has compiled a hard-right voting record in his three terms in office, relies on very dubious facts. The Charlotte Observer reports that a Soros-affiliated investment firm once owned a 7.6% stake in a company led by Budd's father that filed for bankruptcy in 2000, and there's no indication the congressman even had any role in the company's day-to-day operations, which is a very far cry from Soros actually supporting his contemporary political activities.

Budd himself has launched a new ad that features footage of a rally where Trump effusively endorses Budd and McCrory goes unmentioned. While the two Republican front runners dominate the airwaves, the pro-Budd Club for Growth is notably training its focus on former GOP Rep. Mark Walker with an ad that criticizes him for frequently missing votes, including one involving Trump's impeachment. The polls have shown Walker in a distant third place, but the Club likely views his hard-right support base as overlapping with potential Budd supporters.

OH-Sen: Undeterred by Trump's recent endorsement of venture capitalist J.D. Vance in the May 3 Republican primary, the Club for Growth is once again running an ad that uses Vance's lengthy past history of anti-Trump statements against him. The ad campaign reportedly angered Trump so greatly that he had an aide text Club president David McIntosh, "Go f*^% yourself" (which presumably wasn't censored). A spokesperson for the Club, which is supporting former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, tersely responded to the news about Trump's message by saying, "We are increasing our ad buy."

Meanwhile, former state GOP chair Jane Timken has been struggling to gain traction in the polls, and she has reportedly been off of broadcast TV in much of the state for weeks and is only continuing to run limited cable ads on Fox News.

Governors

AL-Gov: Republican Gov. Kay Ivey has commissioned a poll from the Tarrance Group that shows her holding a dominant 57-14 lead over former Ambassador to Slovenia Lindy Blanchard ahead of the May 24 Republican primary, with businessman Tim James taking just 12%. There have only been a few polls here from reliable firms, but every one of them this year has found Ivey far ahead of her rivals and in good shape to surpass the simple-majority threshold needed to avoid a June runoff.

GA-Gov: A group called Take Back Georgia with ties to pro-Trump state Sen. Brandon Beach has unveiled a $2 million ad buy for a spot that goes all-in on 2020 election denial to highlight Trump's endorsement of former Sen. David Perdue ahead of the May 24 GOP primary against Gov. Brian Kemp. Perdue has only been running a modestly sized ad buy recently after struggling to keep up in fundraising with Kemp, whose allies at the RGA have also spent millions airing their first-ever ads backing an incumbent against a primary challenger.

It's unclear whether Trump himself, whose super PAC recently reported it had over $120 million on hand, will increase its support for Perdue beyond the meager $500,000 it allocated a few weeks ago toward backing his endorsee. However, with the polls showing Kemp in striking distance of the outright majority needed to avoid a June runoff, time is quickly running short for Perdue.

IL-Gov: Far-right billionaire Dick Uihlein has given another $2.5 million to the June primary campaign of Republican state Sen. Darren Bailey, bringing his total contributions to $3.5 million in addition to another $1 million that Uihlein gave to a third-party group opposing Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin. In yet another election that has turned into a battle of rival billionaires thanks to Illinois being one of just a few states without any limits on direct contributions to candidates, Uihlein's involvement so far still trails far behind the $20 million that fellow billionaire Ken Griffin, a hedge fund manager who is Illinois' wealthiest resident, has given to Irvin's campaign.

MI-Gov: A total of 10 Republicans are competing to take on Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer, which would make this the largest gubernatorial primary field in state history. The few polls that have been released show former Detroit Police Chief James Craig as Team Red's frontrunner, but he's had to deal with several major campaign shakeups: Craig, most notably, parted ways with his first campaign manager in December, and his second left last month.  

The August primary also includes two wealthy businessmen, Kevin Rinke and Perry Johnson. Conservative radio host Tudor Dixon doesn't have the same resources as her intra-party foes, but she sports endorsements from Reps. Bill Huizenga and Lisa McClain. Also in the running are chiropractor Garrett Soldano, Michigan State Police Captain Mike Brown, and five others.

OR-Gov: The May 17 primary is rapidly approaching, and the Portland Monthly's Julia Silverman has collected several TV spots from the candidates. On the Democratic side, former state House Speaker Tina Kotek talks about the progressive policies she helped pass, while state Treasurer Tobias Read's narrator argues that "Oregon has lost its way. It's time for a new approach." Silverman notes that this messaging is "all in keeping with Read's efforts to portray himself as a change agent, though he has been in state government about as long as Kotek."

For the Republicans, former state House Minority Leader Christine Drazan declares that she's "led the fight against [Democratic Gov.] Kate Brown's radical agenda." Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, meanwhile, goes all-in with courting right-wing outrage with spots where he calls for getting "critical race theory out of our schools" and "not allow[ing] transgender athletes to compete in girls' sports." Former state Rep. Bob Tiernan uses his messaging to attack Brown and Kotek, saying that their approach is "bull****." (A different Republican, consultant Bridget Barton, also tried to stand out with some censored potty mouth.) Finally, 2016 nominee Bud Pierce alludes to the Big Lie with the mention of "broken elections."

House

AK-AL: The Alaska Republican Party has endorsed businessman Nick Begich III ahead of the top-four special election primary this June, where Begich has emerged as one of the leading Republicans in the crowded all-party contest alongside former Gov. Sarah Palin.

MI-03: Rep. Peter Meijer, who was one of the 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump, faces primary opposition from conservative commentator John Gibbs, who is Trump's endorsed candidate. (We recently took a closer look at this primary.) Little-known attorney Gabi Manolache is also running, though "MAGA bride" Audra Johnson did not end up filing. The winner will take on 2020 nominee Hillary Scholten, who faces no intra-party opposition for her second bid, in a Grand Rapids-based seat that redistricting transformed from a 51-47 Trump seat to one Joe Biden would have carried 53-45.

MI-04: Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga, who represents the existing 2nd District, has no primary opposition following fellow Rep. Fred Upton's retirement announcement earlier this month. This seat in southwestern Michigan would have favored Trump 51-47, and the one Democrat to file, Joseph Alfonso, has not reported raising any money.

MI-08: Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee is defending a seat in the Flint and Saginaw areas that would have favored Joe Biden only 50-48, a small but potentially important shift from Biden's 51-47 showing in Kildee's existing 5th District. The Republican frontrunner is former Trump administration official Paul Junge, who lost to Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin 51-47 in the old 8th District in 2020. (The old and new 8th Districts do not overlap.) Former Grosse Pointe Shores Councilman Matthew Seely and businesswoman Candice Miller (not to be confused with the former congresswoman with the same name) are also in, but neither opened fundraising committees until recently.

MI-10: Five Democrats are competing to take on John James, who was Team Red's Senate nominee in 2018 and 2020, in an open seat in Detroit's northeastern suburbs that would have gone for Trump 50-49. James, who only has a little-known primary foe, had $1.25 million stockpiled at the end of March, which was considerably more than the Democrats had combined.

Warren Council member Angela Rogensues finished the quarter with $160,000 on hand, while attorney Huwaida Arraf and former Macomb County Judge Carl Marlinga were similarly situated with $145,000 and $135,000 to spend, respectively. Sterling Heights City Council member Henry Yanez, though, was far back with only $22,000 in the bank, while former Macomb County Health Department head Rhonda Powell had less than $5,000.

MI-11: The Democratic primary is a duel between Reps. Haley Stevens and Andy Levin for a constituency in the Detroit northern suburbs that Biden would have won 59-39. Stevens' existing 11th District makes up 45% of the new seat, while Levin represents only 25%. (Several Democrats grumbled to Politico recently that Levin should have instead run for the new 10th, where he already serves most of the residents.)

Stevens has the support of retiring Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who represents the balance of this district, and EMILY's List, while the SEIU is in Levin's corner. The two have largely voted the same way in Congress, though while Levin has emphasized his support for Medicare for all and the Green New Deal, Stevens has portrayed herself as more pragmatic. Stevens ended March with a $2.79 million to $1.47 million cash-on-hand edge over her fellow incumbent.

MI-12: Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is one of the most prominent progressives in the House, faces three Democratic primary opponents in this safely blue Detroit-based seat. Tlaib, whose existing 13th District makes up 53% of the new 12th, ended March with a $1.62 million to $221,000 cash-on-hand lead over her nearest foe, Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey; Winfrey, for her part, has faulted Tlaib for casting a vote from the left against the Biden administration's infrastructure bill. Also in the race are former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson and Lathrup Village Mayor Kelly Garrett, neither of whom reported raising any money during the last quarter.

MI-13: A total of 11 Democrats have filed to run to succeed retiring Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who is Michigan's only Black member of Congress, in this safely blue seat, which includes part of Detroit and its southern suburbs. Lawrence, who supports Michigan Civil Rights Commissioner Portia Roberson, has argued that it's vital to keep a "qualified, committed" African American representing the state, something that several other Black candidates have also emphasized.

However, the candidate who ended March with the most money by far is self-funding state Rep. Shri Thanedar, who is originally from India. (Thanedar, who lived in Ann Arbor when he unsuccessfully ran for governor, moved to Detroit ahead of his victorious bid for a state House seat in the city two years later.) Thanedar had over $5 million on hand, which was more than ten times as much as the $453,000 that his nearest foe, state Sen. Adam Hollier, had available.

Other candidates to watch include hedge fund manager John Conyers III, who is the son and namesake of the late longtime congressman; Detroit School Board member Sherry Gay-Dagnogo; Teach for America official Michael Griffie; former Detroit General Counsel Sharon McPhail; and Detroit city official Adrian Tonon, who is one of the few other non-Black contenders in the primary.

MN-01: In what appears to be the first TV ad from anyone ahead of the special May 24 Republican primary, former Freeborn County party chair Matt Benda plays up his farming background and pledges to "protect our children from indoctrination in the classroom [and] ensure election integrity."

NC-11: Axios reports that Results for North Carolina, a super PAC close to Sen. Thom Tillis, is spending $310,000 on an ad campaign against Rep. Madison Cawthorn, which makes this the first major outside spending of the May 17 Republican primary. The commercial focuses on reports that the incumbent "lied about being accepted to the Naval Academy" and declares he's "been caught lying about conservatives." The narrator, who brands the congressman "an attention-seeking embarrassment," does not mention Tillis' endorsed candidate, state Sen. Chuck Edwards.

TN-05: Tennessee has finalized its list of candidates for the Aug. 4 primary ballot now that each party has had the chance to eject contenders who did not meet their "bona fide" standards, an option the GOP utilized in the 5th District in order to bounce three notable candidates. The 5th will also likely be home to the only seriously contested House race, and we'll be taking a look at the field now that we know who's on the ballot.

There are nine Republicans remaining in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper in the 5th, which GOP mapmakers transmuted from a 60-37 Biden district to a 54-43 Trump constituency by cracking the city of Nashville. The only three who appear to be serious contenders are former state House Speaker Beth Harwell, who took a disappointing fourth place in the 2018 primary for governor; Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles; and retired Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead, who has the largest war chest by far, though it's possible another candidate will catch fire. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Heidi Campbell has the field to herself.

Ad Roundup

It's that time of the election cycle again when campaign ads have grown too numerous for us to detail every one, so we're bringing back a feature from past cycles where we'll round up any remaining ads that we don't have space to cover in greater depth. Today's list only has a few entries, but the roundup will be sure to grow longer as the year progresses:

Morning Digest: New House fundraising reports shed light on incumbent-vs.-incumbent races

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

Leading Off

Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present our comprehensive roundups of fundraising data for the final three months of 2021 for both the House and the Senate.

With redistricting underway—and complete in many states—many sitting representatives have now found themselves paired with colleagues in redrawn House districts. These new reports are the first to give us insight into these incumbent-vs.-incumbent matchups, which at the moment number seven in total.

The first to come online was the contest in the deeply conservative 2nd District in West Virginia, which completed the remapping process in October. Thanks to the loss of a seat in reapportionment, two Republicans, Alex Mooney and David McKinley, got thrown together in the northern half of the state. McKinley swamped Mooney in the fourth quarter, outraising him $599,000 to $199,000 and self-funding another half-million for good measure. But because Mooney had stockpiled much more money prior to the start of most recent fundraising period, he still finished with a cash lead of $2.4 million to $1.6 million.

Campaign Action

McKinley, however, has an important advantage: He currently represents two-thirds of the new district, with Mooney representing the remaining third. Mooney, conversely, won Donald Trump's seal of approval in November … but he's under investigation for allegedly misusing campaign funds. How these factors will all balance out is hard to say, though, as the two sides have released competing polls showing them each with fairly modest leads. It'll all get settled soon enough, though, as the primary is on May 10.

Here's how things stack up in the other half-dozen similarly situated races:

  • GA-07: Lucy McBath beat out Carolyn Bourdeaux $736,000 to $400,000 and had $3.2 million on-hand versus $2.4 million in this safely blue seat in the Atlanta suburbs. A third candidate in the Democratic primary, state Rep. Donna McLeod, raised just $22,0000. Bourdeaux represents 57% of the district and McBath just 12%. The primary is May 24, with a June 21 runoff if no one takes a majority. Polling for McBath and her allies has found her leading by about 10 to 20 points.
  • IL-06: Sean Casten more than doubled up fellow Democrat Marie Newman, taking in $699,000 to her $337,000. He also has almost twice the bankroll: $1.9 million to $1 million for Newman. But Newman represents 41% of this solidly blue seat in the Chicago area while Casten represents 23%. However, she also faces an ethics investigation into charges she sought to keep a potential primary opponent out of the race when she ran in 2020 by offering him a job as a top aide if she won. The two will face off on June 28.
  • IL-15: Rodney Davis, the more moderate of the two Republicans running in this deep red district in central Illinois, raised $410,000 compared to $164,000 for Mary Miller, who has Trump's endorsement. Davis also has $1.8 million saved up while Miller had just $783,000 at her disposal. Both are encountering a lot of new turf, though: Miller represents 31% of the new district and Davis 28%.
  • MI-04: This matchup hasn't yet firmed up: Bill Huizenga, a Trump loyalist, has said he'll seek re-election in this red-tilting district in southwestern Michigan, but Fred Upton, who voted for impeachment, has yet to announce his plans. Upton certainly keeps bringing in the bucks like he expects to run again, though: He raised $719,000 to Huizenga's $396,000 and has a $1.6 million to $1.2 million cash edge. A third candidate, state Rep. Steve Carra, recently switched districts to run here but raised just $129,000. However, Trump did endorse him when he was running one-on-one against Upton, who represents 64% of this seat; Huizenga represents 25%. The primary is not until Aug. 2.
  • MI-11: Haley Stevens outraised Andy Levin $627,000 to $335,000 in this blue district in the Detroit suburbs, and also has much more money to spend: $2.6 million versus $1.3 million. In addition, Stevens represents 45% of the district while Levin represents 25%. Levin could still change course and run in the open 10th—a much swingier seat, but one he already represents two-thirds of. A recent Stevens internal showed her up 7 points.
  • NC-11: This solidly red district in the Greensboro region is the only one that's lumped together members of opposite parties: Democrat Kathy Manning, who raised $280,000 and had $1.1 million left over, and Republican Virginia Foxx, who took in $231,000 and finished with $957,000 in her war chest. Manning represents 42% of the redrawn 11th and Foxx 30%, but it would have voted 57-42 for Trump, making Foxx the overwhelming favorite. Manning, however, hasn't yet said whether she'll seek re-election, likely because a lawsuit challenging the GOP's new map is pending before the state Supreme Court.

The number of intramural battles could grow or shrink in the coming months as the remapping process continues to unfold and various members settle on their plans or alter them. In the meantime, you can dig deeper into all of these numbers and many, many more for both the House and the Senate by checking out our new charts.

Redistricting

FL Redistricting: Both chambers of Florida's Republican-run legislature have passed new legislative maps, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis does not have the power to either sign or veto. However, the state constitution requires the new maps to first be reviewed by the state's conservative Supreme Court to determine their "validity" before they can become law. Whatever the justices decide, litigation is likely, as critics have charged that the maps fail to adequately increase representation for communities of color even though most of the state's growth has come from Black and Latino residents.

Meanwhile, congressional redistricting is now paused as DeSantis has asked the Supreme Court for an advisory opinion as to whether a new map can legally dismantle the plurality-Black 5th District, held by Democrat Al Lawson. A map that ignored DeSantis' wishes and left the 5th largely intact passed the state Senate last month, but the House says it will wait until the justices rule before proceeding further.

NY Redistricting: Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed new congressional and legislative maps on Thursday evening, just hours after lawmakers in the Democratic-run legislature completed work on new districts for their own chambers. The congressional plan, if it works as Democrats intend, could bump their advantage in the state’s delegation from 19-8 to 22-4.

WA Redistricting: Washington's Democratic-run state House approved congressional and legislative maps drawn by the state's bipartisan redistricting commission with minor tweaks in a wide bipartisan vote on Wednesday. The plans now head to the state Senate, which must act by Feb. 8.

Senate

AZ-Sen: The radical anti-tax Club for Growth has endorsed Blake Masters, a top aide to conservative megadonor Peter Thiel who also has the support of a super PAC funded by his boss, in the crowded August Republican primary to face Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.

Ohio: Candidate filing closed on Wednesday for most of the offices that will be on Ohio's May 3 primary ballot, but the legislature previously moved the deadline for U.S. House races to March 4. That delay came about because the state Supreme Court struck down the Republican-drawn congressional map as an illegal partisan gerrymander in mid-January, and new boundaries have yet to be approved.

But the situation is also unclear for candidates for the state legislature, who still had to file Wednesday. The state's highest court likewise threw out the GOP's legislative maps last month, and Republicans on Ohio's bipartisan redistricting commission approved new ones on Jan. 22―just eight days before the filing deadline. The court has said it would "retain jurisdiction for the purpose of reviewing the new plan adopted by the commission," so no one knows yet if these new districts will be final.

Some legislative candidates responded to the uncertainty by simply ending their campaigns, though one congressional contender tried something different. Attorney Shay Hawkins, a Republican who last year announced a bid for the 13th District, filed Tuesday for a seat in the legislature and said he'd make an ultimate decision about which office to seek once congressional districts are in place. (Based on state deadlines, that might not be until March or later.)

A list of statewide candidates can be found at the secretary of state's site, but anyone looking for a list of legislative candidates won't be able to find them all from a single official source. That's because candidates for district-level office file with the county that makes up the largest proportion of their district rather than with the state, so lists of contenders can only be found on county election sites. Below we'll run down the fields in the Buckeye State's marquee statewide races for Senate and governor.

OH-Sen: On Thursday evening, one day after candidate filing closed, wealthy businessman Bernie Moreno announced that he was dropping out of what’s now an eight-person Republican primary to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman. Moreno, who kicked off a $4 million TV ad campaign in December, said, “After talking to President Trump we both agreed this race has too many Trump candidates and could cost the MAGA movement a conservative seat.” 

The development came one day after another Republican contender, former state Treasurer, Josh Mandel, released a WPA Intelligence poll arguing that he has the lead in this extremely expensive primary. The toplines are below, with the numbers from an early January WPA survey for Mandel's allies at the Club for Growth in parenthesis:

former state Treasurer Josh Mandel: 28 (26)

Businessman Mike Gibbons: 17 (14)

Venture capitalist J.D. Vance: 13 (10)

former state party chair Jane Timken: 9 (15)

Businessman Bernie Moreno: 6 (7)

State Sen. Matt Dolan: 5 (4)

Three other Republicans are also in, but none of them have been making a serious effort.

Timken, Moreno, and Gibbons have themselves released polls this year, each arguing that neither Mandel nor anyone else has a decisive lead. (Though Moreno’s subsequent departure indicates that he didn’t feel good about his own path to victory.) What every survey we've seen agrees on, however, is that Dolan is in last place. That's not a surprise, though: In September, Donald Trump blasted the state senator, who co-owns Cleveland's Major League Baseball team, over its plans to change its name, snarling, "I know of at least one person in the race who I won't be endorsing."

Dolan is trying to better his fortunes by using personal wealth to go on TV, but he's far from alone: The Republican firm Medium Buying reports that close to $24 million has already been spent or reserved to air ads. The GOP primary will likely get far more expensive still, as all six of these contenders ended 2021 with at least $1 million in the bank. Their fourth quarter fundraising numbers are below:

  • Timken: $595,000 raised, additional $1.5 million self-funded, $3.6 million cash-on-hand
  • Vance: $530,000 raised, $1.1 million cash-on-hand
  • Mandel: $370,000 raised, $6 million cash-on-hand
  • Dolan: $360,000 raised, additional $10.5 million self-funded, $10.4 million cash-on-hand
  • Gibbons: $70,000 raised, additional $3.5 million self-funded, $6.4 million cash-on-hand

Things are far less chaotic on the Democratic side, where Rep. Tim Ryan is the likely nominee. He faces Morgan Harper, a former advisor to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Joyce Beatty for renomination in 2020, as well as two little-known candidates. Ryan outraised Harper $2.9 million to $335,000 in the most recent quarter, and he held a $5 million to $435,000 cash-on-hand edge.

Team Blue's eventual nominee will face a tough task in November in a longtime swing state that lurched hard to the right in the Trump era, but Democrats are hoping that a bloody GOP primary will give them a larger opening.

Governors

FL-Gov: Rep. Charlie Crist has released a GBAO Strategies survey giving him a 54-28 lead over state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in the August Democratic primary, with state Sen. Annette Taddeo at 7%. We haven't seen any other surveys of the contest to face Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis since well before Taddeo entered the race last October.

GA-Gov: Democrat Stacey Abrams announced she raised a massive $9.2 million in the month since she kicked off her second bid for governor and says she ended January with $7.2 million in the bank. Her red-hot pace outstripped Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who brought in $7.4 million in the second half of 2021, though he has a considerably larger $12.7 million war chest. Kemp, however, will have to spend much of that money in his already bitter primary feud with former Sen. David Perdue, who has yet to say how much he's raised and "has tried to downplay expectations," according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Greg Bluestein.

HI-Gov: Hawaii News Now has gathered the fundraising reports for the second half of 2021, and the numbers for the three major Democrats are below:

  • Lt. Gov. Josh Green: $775,000 raised, $1.1 million cash-on-hand
  • Businesswoman Vicky Cayetano: $475,000 raised, additional $350,000 self-funded, $655,000 cash-on-hand
  • former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell: $345,000 raised, $720,000 cash-on-hand

None of the Republicans currently in the race have reported raising a notable amount.

IA-Gov: The Des Moines Register's Brianne Pfannenstiel relays that some Iowa Democrats are seeking an alternative to Deidre DeJear, the 2018 secretary of state nominee who ended last year with less than $10,000 on-hand, though there's no sign anyone else is looking to take on Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. Pfannenstiel writes that some of "the names being floated" are 2018 nominee Fred Hubbell, state Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, and state Reps. Chris Hall and Todd Prichard, but none of them have shown any obvious interest in getting in ahead of the March 18 filing deadline.

ME-Gov: Former state Sen. Tom Saviello said this week that he would not run as an independent. That's probably welcome news for Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, whom Saviello backed in 2018.

MD-Gov: The Democratic Governors Association is out with new numbers from Public Policy Polling arguing that Del. Dan Cox, a Trump-endorsed candidate who played a role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by organizing a busload of people to attend the rally that preceded it, is well-positioned in the June Republican primary in this dark blue state.

Cox leads former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who has termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan's backing, 20-12, with a huge 68% majority undecided. (The poll did not include Robin Ficker, a perennial candidate who has self-funded $1.1 million.) But after respondents are told that Trump is supporting Cox while Schulz is backed by termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan, the delegate's margin balloons to 52-18. This is the very first poll we've seen of this primary.

MN-Gov: SurveyUSA, polling on behalf of a trio of Minnesota TV stations, tests Democratic Gov. Tim Walz against six different Republican foes, and it finds things considerably closer than when it went into the field in December. The results are below, with the firm's earlier numbers in parentheses:

  • 43-40 vs. former state Sen. Scott Jensen (48-36)
  • 42-37 vs. state Sen. Paul Gazelka (47-34)
  • 45-37 vs. state Sen. Michelle Benson (47-35)
  • 43-35 vs. healthcare executive Kendall Qualls
  • 44-35 vs. Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy (47-36)
  • 45-34 vs. physician Neil Shah (48-31)

The earlier numbers did not include Qualls, who launched his bid last month. Former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, who announced this week, was also not asked about in either poll.

Even though SurveyUSA shows Walz losing ground since December, he still posts a 45-37 favorable rating, which is the same margin as his 47-39 score from last time. His many opponents, by contrast, remain pretty anonymous: Even Jensen, who comes the closest in the head-to-heads, only sports a 18-12 favorable image.

NE-Gov: The Nebraska Examiner has collected all the 2021 fundraising numbers for the Republicans competing in the May primary to succeed termed-out Gov. Pete Ricketts:

  • University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen: $4.4 million raised, additional $1 million self-funded, $4.2 million cash-on-hand
  • State Sen. Brett Lindstrom: $1.6 million raised, $1.4 million cash-on-hand
  • Agribusinessman Charles Herbster: $200,000 raised, additional $4.7 million self-funded, $637,000 cash-on-hand
  • former state Sen. Theresa Thibodeau: $106,000 raised, additional $7,000 self-funded, $87,000 cash-on-hand

Amusingly, Ricketts, who poured $12 million of his money into his unsuccessful 2006 campaign against Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, pooh-poohed Herbster's personal investment to the Examiner, saying that self-funding looks like "you're trying to buy the race." Ricketts, who is backing Pillen, added, "You want to engage Nebraskans across the state to invest in your campaign. And clearly Charles Herbster is not getting Nebraskans to invest in his campaign."

The only notable Democrat in the race, state Sen. Carol Blood, took in $76,000 and had $37,000 to spend.

NY-Gov: Rep. Lee Zeldin's first TV spot ahead of the June Republican primary features several photos of Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul with her disgraced predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, as the narrator argues that the state is in poor shape. The ad goes on to exalt Zeldin as a veteran who has "won seven tough elections" and a "tax-fighting, trusted conservative." There is no word on the size of the buy.

OH-Gov: Republican Gov. Mike DeWine faces three intra-party foes, but only former Rep. Jim Renacci appears to have the resources to make trouble for him. Renacci has filled his coffers with millions from his own wallet, though skeptical Republicans remember that he barely used any of the money he loaned himself for his 2018 Senate campaign, which ended in a 53-47 loss to Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown. Also in the running are farmer Joe Blystone and former state Rep. Ron Hood, who badly lost last year's special election primary for the 15th Congressional District.

Renacci, who has spent his time trashing DeWine's handling of the pandemic, last week dropped a poll showing him leading the incumbent 46-38 in a two-way race. A Renacci win would represent a major upset, but no one else has responded with contradictory numbers.

The Democratic primary is a duel between two former mayors who each left office at the start of the year: Cincinnati's John Cranley and Dayton's Nan Whaley. The only poll we've seen was a Whaley internal she publicized last week giving her a 33-20 edge, but with a 48% plurality undecided. The former mayors both ended 2021 with close to $2 million to spend apiece.

OK-Gov: Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt outraised Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, a Republican-turned-Democrat, $1.2 million to $540,000 during the fourth quarter, and he ended 2021 with a $2.3 million to $435,000 cash-on-hand lead.

House

IL-03: State Rep. Delia Ramirez has picked up the support of the Illinois Federation of Teachers in the June Democratic primary for this safely blue open seat. Ramirez's main intra-party opponent is Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas, who outraised her $385,000 to $115,000 during the fourth quarter of 2021 (the first in the race for both candidates) and ended December with a $375,000 to $110,000 cash-on-hand.

MI-10: Eric Esshaki, who was the 2020 Republican nominee in the old 11th District, announced Thursday that he was dropping out of the August primary for the new (and open) 10th District and would instead endorse two-time Senate nominee John James. James, who launched his House bid on Monday, currently is the only notable Republican seeking this suburban Detroit seat, which Donald Trump would have carried 50-49.

OR-06: Carrick Flynn, who has worked as a University of Oxford associate researcher, announced Tuesday that he was entering the Democratic primary for Oregon’s brand-new 6th District. Flynn filed FEC paperwork on Jan. 21 and said he had $430,000 banked after 10 days.

RI-02: State Rep. Teresa Tanzi said Thursday that she would not compete in the September Democratic primary for this open seat.

TX-08: The March 1 Republican primary to succeed retiring Rep. Kevin Brady has turned into what the Texas Tribune's Patrick Svitek characterizes as an expensive "proxy war" between retired Navy SEAL Morgan Luttrell, who has the House GOP leadership in his corner, and Christian Collins, a former Brady campaign manager backed by Sen. Ted Cruz and his allies in the nihilistic House Freedom Caucus.

Luttrell far outraised Collins during the fourth quarter, $1.2 million to $335,000, and ended 2021 with a $1.6 million to $290,000 cash-on-hand lead. Collins, however, is getting some serious reinforcements: Svitek reports that three super PACs almost entirely funded by a Cruz ally, banker Robert Marling, have spent $800,000 for Collins while Luttrell has yet to benefit from any outside money.

The story notes that the two leading candidates for this safely red suburban Houston district don't seem to actually disagree on anything substantive, but Collins has been trying hard to frame the race as a battle between D.C. power players and "those who are the tip of the spear." He's also been seeking to use Luttrell's connections against him, including the $5,000 donation the SEAL veteran received from the PAC of Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who voted to impeach Donald Trump. Luttrell distanced himself from the congressman in January, saying he "didn't know the check was cashed," but a Kinzinger spokesperson told the Tribune that the donation was made "because it was solicited."

Luttrell, who is a close ally of former Gov. Rick Perry, has been focusing far more on his own military background, with his first ad talking about his recovery after a devastating helicopter crash. Luttrell also enjoys the backing of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is one of the most powerful far-right politicians in Texas, as well as 13th District Rep. Ronny Jackson, who was Trump's failed nominee for secretary of veteran's affairs in 2018. Nine other candidates are on the ballot, and while none of them have attracted much attention, they could keep Luttrell or Collins from winning the majority of the vote needed to avert a runoff.

TX-15: Insurance agent Monica De La Cruz's newest TV ad for the March 1 Republican primary features her flying over the border with Mexico as she bemoans how "socialists are ruining our border security, our values, and our economy." She concludes by pledging to "finish what Trump started."

VA-07: Spotsylvania County Supervisor David Ross said this week that he was joining the June Republican primary to take on Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger.

Mayors

Los Angeles, CA Mayor: Los Angeles Magazine has summarized fundraising reports spanning the second half of 2021, which show Rep. Karen Bass went into the new year with a sizable financial edge over her many opponents in the June nonpartisan primary to lead this very blue city:

  • Rep. Karen Bass: $1.9 million raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand
  • City Councilmember Kevin de León: $1.2 million raised, $1.2 million cash-on-hand
  • Central City Association head Jessica Lall: $405,000 raised, $265,000 cash-on-hand
  • City Councilmember Joe Buscaino: $375,000 raised, $575,000 cash-on-hand
  • City Attorney Mike Feuer: $245,000 raised, $525,000 cash-on-hand
  • Businessman Ramit Varma: $180,000 raised, additional $1.5 million self-funded, $1.7 million cash-on-hand
  • Real estate broker Mel Wilson: $141,000 raised, $37,000 cash-on-hand

Perhaps the biggest question looming over the race ahead of the Feb. 12 filing deadline is whether real estate developer Rick Caruso, who has flirted with running before, gets in this time. Caruso recently changed his voter registration from unaffiliated to Democratic, a move that came almost a decade after he left the GOP. The developer now describes himself as a "pro-centrist, pro-jobs, pro-public safety Democrat."

Morning Digest: Trump backs longtime coal operative in Ohio special election for red House 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-15: Donald Trump waded into the crowded August Republican primary to succeed former Rep. Steve Stivers by endorsing coal company lobbyist Mike Carey on Tuesday.

Trump's decision came days after Stivers, who officially resigned from this very red suburban Columbus seat last month, backed state Rep. Jeff LaRe. That move, as well as Stivers' decision to use his old campaign committee to air ads for the state representative, briefly made LaRe the primary frontrunner; another candidate, state Rep. Brian Stewart, subsequently dropped out and acknowledged he didn't think he could compete against his Stivers-supported colleague. Trump's support for Carey, though, likely upends this contest.

Carey himself doesn't appear to have run for office since his 1998 defeat in an eastern Ohio state House seat against the late Charlie Wilson, a Democrat who went on to represent that area in Congress from 2007 to 2011, but he's long been influential in state politics.

Campaign Action

Back in 2011, Politico described Carey, who worked as an operative for the state coal industry, as "a one-man wrecking ball for Democrats who have strayed too far green for voters' liking." It noted that Carey's political organization ran TV ads in Ohio in 2004 savaging the Democratic presidential nominee as "John Kerry, Environmental Extremist," and he also targeted Barack Obama four years later.

Carey went on to work as a lobbyist for the coal giant Murray Energy, which was renamed American Consolidated Natural Resources Inc. last year after it emerged from bankruptcy protection. The company and its leadership has long been a major foe of environmentalists in Ohio and nationally, with former chief executive Robert Murray, a close Trump ally, lavishly funding global warming deniers.

Senate

AK-Sen: A new poll from Change Research for the progressive group 314 Action finds Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski faring poorly under Alaska's new top-four primary. In a hypothetical matchup against fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka (who is running) and independent Al Gross (who unsuccessfully ran for Senate last year with Democratic support and is considering another bid), Tshibaka leads with 39%, while Gross takes 25 and Murkowski just 19. John Wayne Howe of the far-right Alaska Independence Party would get 4%, and 12% are undecided.

Murkowski would still advance to the general election in this scenario, since, as the name implies, the four highest vote-getters in the primary move on, but she'd do no better then. To reduce the risk of spoilers, November elections will be decided via ranked-choice voting, but in a simulated instant runoff, Tshibaka would beat Gross 54-46. 314 Action, which endorsed Gross last cycle, is arguing that the poll suggests that Murkowski's weakness offers Democrats an opening, but Tshibaka's performance—and recent history—show just how tough it is for Democrats to win statewide in Alaska.

AL-Sen: The Club for Growth has dusted off a late April poll from WPA Intelligence showing Rep. Mo Brooks leading businesswoman Lynda Blanchard by a wide 59-13 margin in next year's GOP Senate primary, with Business Council of Alabama head Katie Boyd Britt at 9 and 19% of voters undecided. (The survey was conducted well before Britt, who just kicked off her campaign the other day, entered the race.) The Club hasn't endorsed Brooks yet, but sharing this poll is a signal that it may do so.

FL-Sen: On Wednesday, several weeks after a consultant said Rep. Val Demings would run for Senate, Demings herself made her campaign against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio official. Demings, who was a manager during Donald Trump's first impeachment trial and reportedly was under consideration as Joe Biden's running-mate last year, is by far the highest-profile Democrat to enter the race, though she faces Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell and (apparently?) former Rep. Alan Grayson for the nomination.

OH-Sen: A new poll of next year's GOP Senate primary in Ohio from former state Treasurer Josh Mandel unsurprisingly finds Mandel leading former state party chair Jane Timken 35-16, with all other candidates (actual and hypothetical) in the mid-to-low single digits and 34% of voters undecided. The survey, from Remington Research, is likely intended as pushback to a recent set of Timken internals from Moore Information that showed her gaining on Mandel, the newest of which had Mandel up just 24-19.

Governors

MI-Gov: A new poll from the Michigan Republican Party from Competitive Edge finds former Detroit police Chief James Craig (who hasn't actually kicked off a campaign yet) leading Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer 45-38 in a hypothetical test of next year's race for governor. Somewhat strangely, the survey also finds Whitmer beating Army veteran John James, who lost back-to-back Senate bids in 2018 and 2020 (and also hasn't announced a gubernatorial run), by a 50-45 margin.

These numbers are peculiar for two reasons: First, why would the state GOP want to make a prominent potential recruit like James look less electable—unless party leaders actually would prefer he stay out of the race, that is? The second oddity is the data itself. The 12-point difference in Whitmer's share as between the two matchups suggests that Craig, who's never run for office before, has an ability to win over Democratic voters so strong as to be almost unique in American politics today.

This extremely bifurcated take also stands in contrast to an independent poll last month from Target Insyght for the local tipsheet MIRS News, which found Whitmer up 48-42 on Craig and 49-39 on James. We'll need more polling before we can get a better sense of where things stand, but in today's extremely polarized political environment, the results from Target Insyght make much more sense than those from Competitive Edge.

NJ-Gov: Just hours before polls closed in the Garden State for Tuesday's primary, Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics released a poll of a matchup between Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and former Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli that showed Murphy comfortably ahead 52-26. The survey found 10% of respondents undecided and an additional 11% who declined to choose either candidate.

The poll only pitted Murphy against Ciattarelli, a matchup that's no longer hypothetical since Ciattarelli secured the GOP nod with 49% of the vote on Tuesday and Murphy faced no intra-party opposition.

OR-Gov: Businesswoman Jessica Gomez has joined next year's race for governor, making her the second notable candidate to seek the Republican nod after 2016 nominee Bud Pierce. Gomez has run for office once before, losing an open-seat race for the state Senate to Democrat Jeff Golden 55-45 in 2018.

PA-Gov: The Associated Press reports that Republican strategist Charlie Gerow is considering a bid for governor, though there's no quote from Gerow himself. Gerow's run for office twice before, losing bids in the GOP primary for Pennsylvania's old 19th Congressional District in both 1996 and 2000. (The closest successor to the 19th is the present-day 10th District, as both are centered around York and Cumberland counties.)

VA-Gov: With the general election matchup between former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin now set, Youngkin immediately began attacking his opponent, releasing two ads the day after McAuliffe clinched his party's nod.

The first commercial prominently features former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, who finished second in the Democratic primary, and shows several clips of her criticizing McAuliffe. Youngkin appears at the end to call himself "a new kind of leader to bring a new day to Virginia". However, before the ad even had a chance to air, Carroll Foy had already unambiguously endorsed McAuliffe's bid for a second term as governor.  

The second spot follows a similar theme of a "new day". It begins showing a legion of grey-haired white men in suits while Youngkin's voiceover decries "the same politicians taking us in the wrong direction". Youngkin, a younger, less-grey white man wearing a vest, then appears amid the crowd to describe the policies he would pursue as governor.

House

TX-08: Republican state Sen. Brandon Creighton, who previously hadn't ruled out a bid for Texas' open 8th Congressional District, says he won't run for the seat held by retiring GOP Rep. Kevin Brady.

Legislatures

NJ State Senate, Where Are They Now?: Michael Pappas, a Republican who represented New Jersey in the U.S. House for a single term from 1997 to 1999, won Tuesday's state Senate primary for the open 16th Legislative District by a 65-35 margin. Pappas will take on Democratic Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker for an open GOP-held seat in the west-central part of the state that Hillary Clinton carried 55-41.

Pappas earned his brief moment in the political spotlight in 1998 when he took to the House floor to deliver an ode to the special prosecutor probing the Clinton White House that began, "Twinkle, twinkle, Kenneth Starr/ Now we see how brave you are." Politicos would later blame that bit of awful poetry for Pappas' 50-47 defeat against Democrat Rush Holt that fall. Pappas tried to return to Congress in 2000, but he lost the primary to former Rep. Dick Zimmer, who in turn lost to Holt.

Special elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's special election in New Hampshire:

NH-HD-Merrimack 23: Democrat Muriel Hall defeated Republican Christopher Lins 58-42 to hold this seat for her party. Hall improved on Joe Biden's 55-44 win in this suburban Concord district last year, which was the best showing of any of the last three Democratic presidential nominees.

Republicans control this chamber 213-186, with one other seat vacant.

Mayors

Atlanta, GA Mayor: Former Mayor Kasim Reed filed paperwork Wednesday to set up a campaign to regain his old office, and while he has yet to make an announcement, there's little question he'll be on this year's ballot.

Local NBC reporter Shiba Russell tweeted that Reed "could officially announce he plans to enter the race" at a Thursday birthday fundraiser, a message the ex-mayor retweeted. If Reed wins this fall, he would be the first Atlanta mayor to secure a third term since the city's first-ever Black leader, Maynard Jackson, won back this office in 1989.

Reed himself had no trouble winning re-election the last time he was on the ballot in 2013 (term limits prevented him from seeking a third consecutive term in 2017), but a federal corruption investigation that ultimately resulted in bribery convictions for two senior city officials generated plenty of bad headlines during the end of his tenure. The matter isn't over, as Reed's former chief financial administration officer and director of human services are currently under indictment but unlikely to go on trial before this year's election.

Last month, Channel 2's Dave Huddleston asked Reed whether he was under investigation, to which the former mayor replied, "The Justice Department under [former Attorney General] Bill Barr has looked into every aspect of my life for more than three years and took no action." The former mayor also said of the scandals involving his old staffers, "Anything on my watch, I take responsibility for," adding, "I'm sorry I didn't see it faster."

Reed himself used that interview to argue that he could tackle Atlanta's rising crime rate if he returned to office, declaring, "I do know how to fix crime, and I do know I could turn our crime environment around in 180 days, and I know that I've done it before."

A number of fellow Democrats are already campaigning in this November's nonpartisan primary to succeed incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms, who shocked the city last month when she decided not to seek a second term, and others could still get in ahead of the August filing deadline. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Tharon Johnson, whom the paper identifies as a "veteran Democratic strategist and businessman," is one of the prospective contenders thinking about running.

Boston, MA Mayor: This week, state Rep. Jon Santiago became the first candidate to air TV commercials ahead of the September nonpartisan primary; Politico's Lisa Kashinsky says his "six-figure ad buy is for two 30-second spots that will air on the city's cable systems and Spanish-language broadcast."

Both Santiago's English and Spanish spots focus on his work as an emergency room physician and military service, with the narrator in the former ad asking, "You want a mayor who's got a pulse on Boston and its problems, literally?"

New York City, NY Mayor: Attorney Maya Wiley picked up an endorsement Wednesday from Public Advocate Jumaane Williams ahead of the June 22 Democratic primary. Williams, who was elected in 2019 as an ardent progressive, is one of just three citywide elected officials: The others are termed-out Mayor Bill de Blasio and one of Wiley's rivals, city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Morning Digest: Our new Minnesota data shows a divergent election for Biden and Senate Democrats

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

Leading Off

Pres-by-LD: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present new data from Minnesota breaking down the 2020 presidential results for every district in the state House and Senate—which, unusually, are held by opposite parties.

Democrats went into last year's election hoping to net the two seats they'd need to retake the upper chamber after four years in the minority, but despite winning more Senate votes statewide, Team Blue only flipped a single seat. More painfully still, Joe Biden carried 37 of the Senate's 67 seats, a comfortable majority similar in proportion to his share of the statewide vote, which he won 53-45.

Compounding the Democrats' poor showing, two of the party's sitting senators, Tom Bakk and David Tomassoni, announced weeks after the election that they would become independents, which earned the duo committee chairmanships from the GOP majority. This state of affairs has given Republicans and their new allies a 36-31 edge in the chamber.

Altogether, six Republicans sit in Biden seats. The bluest of this bunch is SD-26 in the Rochester area in the southern part of the state, where GOP state Sen. Carla Nelson hung on by a 51-49 maring even as Biden was carrying her constituency 54-44. By contrast, Kent Eken is the one Democratic member of the Senate who represents Trump turf: Eken won SD-04 in the northwest part of the state 55-45 while Trump took it 50-48. Tomassoni, for his part, holds a Trump seat, while Bakk's district went for Biden.

Campaign Action

It's also possible that, but for the presence of a third-party candidate on the ballot in the 27th District in the southern part of the state, Democrats would have won back the Senate. Veteran Democratic Sen. Dan Sparks lost to Republican Gene Dornink 49-44, but Tyler Becvar of the Legal Marijuana Now Party captured 7% of the vote, greater than the margin between the two leaders.

While the cannabis legalization movement is generally associated with the political left, many candidates who ostensibly ran under a pro-weed banner in Minnesota last year received Republican help or espoused right-wing views—including Becvar. But Sparks' seat would have been a very difficult hold regardless: Trump won it 55-43, so it's very possible some of those votes for Becvar would have gone to Dornink instead.

Democrats were able to maintain their majority in the Minnesota House, but their edge slipped from 75-59 to 70-64. Biden took 72 districts to Trump's 62, and though crossover voting benefited Republicans overall, the GOP's advantage wasn't as large as it was in the Senate on a proportional basis: Six House Republicans won Biden seats, while four Democrats took Trump districts.

The Democrat with the reddest turf is Paul Marquart, who earned his 10th term 53-47 even as Trump was romping to a 58-39 victory in his HD-04B. (In Minnesota, two state House districts are nested within one Senate district, and Marquart represents half of Eken's aforementioned 4th Senate District.) Marquart's Republican counterpart is Keith Franke, who had lost re-election in 2018 but reclaimed HD-54A by a 51-48 margin despite Biden's 54-43 victory in his suburban Twin Cities constituency.

Minnesota is one of just two states where the same party doesn't hold both houses of the legislature; the other is Alaska, where Republicans have nominal majorities in each chamber but the House is run by a coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

This state of affairs makes it extremely unlikely that the Minnesota legislature and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz will agree on new congressional and legislative maps. This deadlock would mean that the courts would take over redistricting, which is exactly what happened a decade ago—and each of the last several decades.

Once new maps are implemented, each party will immediately have another chance to try to win both chambers. The entire House is on the ballot every two years, while the Senate is up in years ending in 0, 2, and 6, meaning that senators who won election in 2020 are currently serving two-year terms but will run for four-year terms next year. (This system, known as "2-4-4," is used in eight states.)

P.S. You can find all of our district-level data at this bookmarkable permalink.

Senate

GA-Sen: Rep. Buddy Carter appears to have gotten his hands on a cellphone number that his fellow Republicans have had a hard time getting ahold of: The southwest Georgia congressman says he's had "a number of conversations" with former NFL star Herschel Walker, who's been encouraged by Donald Trump to run for Senate but hasn't been in communication with top GOP operatives about his intentions.

Carter, however, says that Walker, who lives in Texas, told him that he'll make some sort of decision "around the first of the summer." (Since "summer" isn't a month, we'll mark that down as June 20, the summer solstice.) Like all Peach State Republicans, Carter is eagerly awaiting a final announcement from Walker, who's largely frozen the Senate field. Carter himself says he's already prepped a campaign team for his own Senate bid but that he's "waiting on Herschel" before entering the race.

PA-Sen: Republican Reps. Guy Reschenthaler and Mike Kelly have published a joint op-ed endorsing Army veteran Sean Parnell in his bid for the Senate, making them the first members of Congress from Pennsylvania to take sides in next year's GOP primary.

Governors

IL-Gov: Republican state Sen. Jason Barickman says he's considering a bid against Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker next year and says a decision will come "later this summer" after the conclusion of the current legislative session. Barickman also suggested that the outcome of redistricting, which Democrats will control in Illinois, could affect his thinking.

MI-Gov: A new poll from Target Insyght for MIRS News finds Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer up 48-42 on outgoing Detroit police Chief James Craig, who is considering seeking the Republican nomination. The same survey (which is our first of the race) also finds Whitmer beating Army veteran John James by a wider 49-39 margin. James was the GOP's Senate nominee in both 2018 and 2020, though he hasn't yet publicly expressed any interest in a possible gubernatorial bid.

NY-Gov: Rep. Elise Stefanik easily won election as House GOP conference chair on Friday to replace the ousted Liz Cheney, defeating Texas Rep. Chip Roy 134-46 in a secret ballot. If Stefanik sticks to her word, we can cross her off the list of potential Republican gubernatorial candidates for next year since she said she wouldn't run for governor if she won the race for chair.

VA-Gov: Former Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman, who'd been threatening to run for governor as an independent, says he's less likely to do so now that the GOP has tapped finance executive Glenn Youngkin as its nominee. "If Amanda Chase or Pete Snyder won," he told CBS's Aaron Navarro, "I would have more heavily considered it." Riggleman has until the June 8 filing deadline for independents to decide.

House

FL-13: Democratic state Rep. Michele Rayner, who'd reportedly been considering a bid for Florida's open 13th District, now confirms that she is in fact looking at the race. Another Democrat, term-limited St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, has also made it clear that he's weighing a campaign; his earlier comments had us slotting him into the "hasn't ruled it out" category, which we regard as a notch below on the level-of-interest scale.

GA-10: State Rep. Timothy Barr has entered the race for Georgia's open 10th Congressional District, making him the second notable Republican to join after former Rep. Paul Broun.

Mayors

Atlanta, GA Mayor: Two more members of the Atlanta City Council, Andre Dickens and Antonio Brown, have announced that they're running in the November nonpartisan primary to succeed retiring incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Dickens is the co-founder of City Living Home Furnishings, which the Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes as "a multi-million dollar retail business with two locations." Dickens sold the business two years before he was elected to the City Council in 2013 by unseating an incumbent.

Brown, for his part, has been a prominent progressive critic of Bottoms since he was elected in a 2019 special election, an accomplishment that made him the body's first Black LGBTQ member. Brown, though, has been under federal indictment since July on fraud charges, allegations he denies.

Two other contenders, City Council President Felicia Moore and attorney Sharon Gay, have been running since before Bottoms announced her departure earlier this month, and a big name is publicly expressing interest for the first time. Former Mayor Kasim Reed recently told Channel 2's Dave Huddleston that he is thinking about running for his old job again, though political insiders have been chattering about a potential comeback for a while.

Reed had no trouble winning re-election the last time he was on the ballot in 2013, but a corruption investigation that resulted in indictments for six members of his staff generated plenty of bad headlines during the end of his tenure. (Term limits prohibited Reed from seeking a third consecutive term in 2017, but he's free to run again now that he's not the incumbent.) Huddleston asked Reed whether he was under investigation, to which the former mayor replied, "The Justice Department under [former Attorney General] Bill Barr has looked into every aspect of my life for more than three years and took no action."

Finally, former Rep. Kwanza Hall confirmed his interest on Thursday and said he would "make my decision soon." Hall, who was a city councilman at the time, took seventh place in the last mayoral contest, but he went on to win a 2020 all-Democratic runoff for the final month of the late Rep. John Lewis' term in the 116th Congress.

New York City, NY Mayor: The Democratic firm Change Research's new survey of the June 22 Democratic primary finds Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leading 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang 19-16, with city Comptroller Scott Stringer at 9%. After the poll simulates the instant runoff process, Adams is left with a 53-47 edge over Yang. Change tells us that, while this was conducted as part of a larger survey for a client, the pollster paid for the horserace portion itself.

St. Petersburg, FL Mayor: St. Pete Polls' new survey of the August nonpartisan primary for Florida Politics finds City Councilwoman Darden Rice and former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch deadlocked 16-16, with former state Rep. Wengay Newton at 12%. All three leading contenders are Democrats, though Newton worked with Republicans on some issues in the legislature and backed former GOP Mayor Rick Baker's unsuccessful 2017 comeback campaign.

St. Pete Polls also finds Welch outpacing Rice 31-24 in a hypothetical November general.

Prosecutors

Manhattan, NY District Attorney: Former State Chief Deputy Attorney General Alvin Bragg has earned the backing of the United Federation of Teachers, which is one of the major unions in New York City politics, in the eight-way June 22 Democratic primary. Bragg already had the support of two other influential labor groups: the healthcare workers union 1199 SEIU and 32BJ, which represents building and airport employees.

Redistricting

Redistricting: Our friends at the Princeton Gerrymandering Project are hosting a new contest that will be of interest to many Digest readers:

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project at the Electoral Innovation Lab is proud to announce the launch of its Great American Map Off, a contest challenging the public to draw redistricting plans for seven crucial states—Wisconsin, Colorado, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, North Carolina, and New York—in anticipation of the 2021 redistricting cycle. Maps will be judged in the contest's four unique categories: partisan fairness, stealth gerrymander, competitiveness, and communities of interest. Participants can enter any or all categories, which are fully detailed within the contest rules on the group's website. The site also includes links for mapping tools and resources, including Representable, Dave's Redistricting, and All About Redistricting. The competition will formally open on May 15, 2021. All competitors should submit their prospective maps by the deadline of 11:59 PM ET on June 15, 2021. Prizes will be awarded.

Full details here. Let us know if you submit!

Morning Digest: Eric Greitens, the GOP’s worst nightmare in Missouri, already has a major opponent

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

MO-Sen: Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Wednesday that he would seek the Republican nomination for the state's open Senate seat, a decision that came two days after disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens also entered the primary.

An unnamed source close to the attorney general told the Kansas City Star's Bryan Lowry that Greitens' kickoff had no impact on the timing of Schmitt's own launch. Lowry, though, notes that, by getting in early, Schmitt may be trying to establish himself as the main intra-party adversary for Greitens, whom national Republicans reportedly fear could endanger their hold over this seat should he win the nomination.

However, while Schmitt may be hoping that his entrance could deter other Republicans from running, a former Greitens adversary is also making it clear he's thinking about diving in. On Tuesday, wealthy businessman John Brunner posted a photo of himself with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul captioned, "Does Rand Paul need another freedom fighter in the US Senate?" Brunner lost the 2012 primary for Missouri's other Senate seat to the infamous Todd Akin before he campaigned for governor in 2016. Greitens, though, defeated Brunner 35-25 after a truly ugly contest.

Campaign Action

Schmitt, for his part, was first elected statewide that year when he decisively won the race for state treasurer, a contest that coincided with Greitens' victory in the gubernatorial contest. However, while Greitens resigned in 2018 in the face of multiple scandals, including allegations that he'd sexually assaulted a woman he was having an affair with and blackmailed her into silence, Schmitt secured a more powerful post months later following that year's elections. That promotion came about when the state's new governor, Mike Parson, appointed Schmitt attorney general to succeed Josh Hawley, who had just been elected to the Senate

Schmitt before long used his new job to sue the government of China over its response to the pandemic, a move that got him plenty of press but unsurprisingly went nowhere after China refused to be served. (Chuck Hatfield, who served as chief of staff to Democrat Jay Nixon when he held that office, snarked, "You're suing the Chinese Communist party in Cape Girardeau, Missouri? What do they have a field office down there?") Schmitt also continued the state's lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act even after Missouri voters approved a referendum last August to expand Medicaid.

Schmitt had no trouble winning a full term last year, and he quickly became one of the main figures behind a lawsuit by multiple Republican attorneys general to overturn Joe Biden's victory. The U.S. Supreme Court quickly dismissed the attempt, but that hardly stopped Schmitt from using his Wednesday campaign appearance on Fox to brag, "I fought alongside President Trump in defending election integrity." At no point did Schmitt ever refer to Joe Biden as president.

P.S. One of Schmitt's allies in that suit was fellow Republican Derek Schmidt, the attorney general of neighboring Kansas. Schmidt is currently competing in the primary for governor of his state, so both Attorneys General Schmitt and Schmidt will be on the ballot around the same time next year. That could make for a confusing experience for TV viewers in media markets that cover both states, especially Kansas City, though Kansas will be the only one of those two states to host a gubernatorial race in 2022.

Senate

AL-Sen: Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell said Wednesday that she would remain in the House rather than run for the Senate in this very red state.

AZ-Sen: Extremist Rep. Andy Biggs recently told the Wall Street Journal that he would decide by the end of the month whether to seek the Republican nomination to take on Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly.

NC-Sen: State House Speaker Tim Moore has reportedly been considering seeking the Republican nomination for next year's Senate race, but he said this week that he planned on re-election to the legislature. That declaration seems unlikely to silence chatter about Moore's 2022 plans, though, as it came in the midst of a strange story that only led to more questions about whether the speaker would be sticking around state government.

The News & Observer reports that Tom Fetzer, a powerful lobbyist who previously served as mayor of Raleigh and as state GOP chair, sent out a text over the weekend for, in his words, "putting together a fundraiser" to benefit House Majority Leader John Bell. Fetzer tried to entice would-be attendees by writing, "As Tim Moore has stated he is not seeking another term in the House, John is the odds on favorite to be Speaker in 2023."

State law, though, forbids lobbyists from hosting fundraisers or soliciting contributions while the legislature is in session, as it is scheduled to be through July. Bell said that Fetzer wasn't involved with the event, which has since been canceled, and that he hadn't heard that Moore planned to leave the legislature. "It's way too early for me to be talking about that," said Bell about his boss' future.

The paper writes that Moore, for his part, "texted an N&O reporter Tuesday to say he plans to seek a fifth term, which would be a record." However, while Fetzer says he wasn't actually involved in holding that ill-fated fundraiser ("I dictated the text into my phone and just sent," he said), the lobbyist insisted that he'd made no mistake when he said Moore was on his way out. "I do think the speaker has informed people that he does not intend to seek another term," Fetzer said, adding, "I don't know that that's a real surprise."

The story did not mention the Senate race, but N&O reporter Brian Murphy tweeted it out saying, "Lots of news in this story, but one takeaway that will lead to lots of speculation: Is NC House Speaker Moore planning a run for U.S. House or U.S. Senate?" This is the first we've heard of the possibility that Moore, who is in place to play a major role during the upcoming round of redistricting, could run for the House.

NV-Sen: The National Journal's Madelaine Pisani takes a look at Nevada's surprisingly quiet Senate race, where no major Republicans have publicly expressed interest yet in taking on Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto, and she mentions a few possible contenders for Team Red

Pisani name-drops former Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, and state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, though she adds that "none have made public indications they are preparing bids." Ex-Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who was the party's 2018 gubernatorial nominee, reportedly has been eyeing this contest, though he's said nothing about his deliberations.

Governors

CA-Gov: Probolsky Research, a firm that has worked for Republicans in the past but says it has no client in this year's recall campaign, has released a poll that finds likely voters saying they'd vote against ousting Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom by a 53-35 margin.

The recall has not yet been officially scheduled, much less declared, though, which makes it especially tricky to determine who is likely to turn out. Probolsky asks the same question among all voters and also finds a plurality opposed to recalling Newsom, but by a much-smaller 46-40 spread.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that billionaire Tom Steyer, an environmentalist who unsuccessfully ran for president in 2020, recently commissioned a poll of his own testing his prospects in a hypothetical race to succeed Newsom. A spokesperson for Steyer only said to check back in "late April," which is around the time that county clerks have to validate signatures for the recall petition. However, an unnamed source close to Steyer said he'd be "very, very surprised if he is looking at the recall ballot."

IL-Gov: Chicago Now writes that wealthy businessman Gary Rabine will announce "next Tuesday" that he'll seek the Republican nomination to take on Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

MI-Gov: Craig Mauger of the Detroit News reports that officials from the Republican Governors Association have met with three possible candidates in next year's race to take on Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: 2020 Senate nominee John James, conservative radio host Tudor Dixon, and businessman Kevin Rinke. Of this trio, Dixon has said she's looking at the race, while Rinke has very much not ruled it out; James, meanwhile, has been quiet about his intentions.

We'll start with James, who is the best known of the trio. James ran in 2018 against Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow and lost 52-46 while Whitmer was beating Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette 53-44. That showing impressed national Republicans, who recruited James to take on Michigan's other Democratic senator, Gary Peters: After a very expensive contest, Peters won 50-48 as Joe Biden was carrying the state by a slightly-larger 51-48 spread

James has spent the last several weeks attacking Whitmer in media appearances, but he hasn't said if he's thinking about challenging her. Mauger writes that some Republicans would prefer he run for the House after redistricting because they believe it would be easier than a third statewide campaign, and that James' 2022 "decision could still be months away."

Dixon was much more forthright, saying, "Michigan needs to mount a comeback with a new governor, and that might just be me." Mauger says that she recently spoke at a protest against the arrest of a restaurant owner who had defied Whitmer's COVID-19 restrictions and a court-order.

Finally, there's businessman Kevin Rinke, who also argued Tuesday that the state needed a new governor. "Who the candidate will be?" Rinke asked, before answering, "To be determined." Mauger writes that the family has owned car dealerships in the Detroit area, which gives them a recognizable name in this large section of the state.

Mauger also mentions Schuette, former Rep. Mike Bishop, and former state House Speaker Tom Leonard as possible contenders. Leonard, he writes, is "expected" to instead seek a rematch with Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel, who beat him 49-46 in 2018, though Mauger says he is still "viewed as a potential gubernatorial candidate."

NE-Gov: Republican Sen. Deb Fischer confirmed Wednesday that she was considering running in next year's open seat race for governor, though she said she was "in no hurry" to decide. That could be very unwelcome news for other Republicans looking at this race, as Fischer would be a very prominent contender who could deter others from running.

NY-Gov: Democrat Charles Lavine, who chairs the New York Assembly's Judiciary Committee, said on Tuesday that he expects the committee's impeachment investigation into Gov. Andrew Cuomo will take "months, rather than weeks." Two women who have accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, Ana Liss and Lindsey Boylan, have said they won't participate in the investigation, citing both its slow pace and criticisms about its independence. A third, Charlotte Bennett, has said she will take part, but her attorney said "questions remain" about the probe.

House

GA-10: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that businessman Ames Barnett, the former mayor of the small community of Washington (pop. 4,000) is considering seeking the Republican nomination to succeed incumbent Jody Hice and "hopes to make a decision within the next week."

NJ-02: Hector Tavarez, a former member of the Egg Harbor Township Board of Education, said this week that he'd seek the Democratic nod to take on Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew. Tavarez joins civil rights attorney Tim Alexander in the primary for this South Jersey seat.

The New Jersey Globe notes that Tavarez, who is also a retired police captain, has a more conservative pitch than most Democrats. Tavarez notably said in his kickoff, "Welfare and other social programs were designed to assist American families in need for a short period of time while they got themselves up on their feet. Over the years, these programs have evolved into a way of life, generation after generation."

NY-23: Several Republicans are showing at least some interest in running to succeed retiring Rep. Tom Reed, though many acknowledged that they'd want to wait and see what the new congressional map looks like. New York, as we've noted before, is likely to lose at least one House seat, and Reed's departure could make it easier for map makers to eliminate this upstate constituency.

Former state Sen. Cathy Young told WIVB reporter Chris Horvatits that she was thinking about it, while Assemblyman Joe Giglio said it was something he "might consider." In a separate interview with the Olean Times Herald, Giglio said he'd be interested if the 23rd District "still existed" after the remap.

State Sen. George Borrello, who was elected to succeed Young in a 2019 special election, also told Horvatits he wasn't ruling it out. Chautauqua County Executive P.J. Wendel also said he was focused on his re-election bid and didn't appear to directly address a congressional bid. Assemblyman Andy Goodell, though, said he wouldn't be running himself.

On the Democratic side, 2020 state Senate candidate Leslie Danks-Burke said she was open to a House race. Meanwhile, Tracy Mitrano, who lost to Reed in 2018 and 2020, said she wouldn't wage a third congressional campaign.

Legislative

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

VA-SD-38: Republican Travis Hackworth defeated Democrat Laurie Buchwald 76-24 to hold this seat for his party. Hackworth's win was similar to Donald Trump's 75-22 victory here in 2016.

This chamber is now at full strength, with Democrats maintaining their narrow 21-19 majority.

Mayors

New York City, NY Mayor: Core Decision Analytics has released its second poll of the instant-runoff Democratic primary for Fontas Advisors, a lobbying group that is not working for any candidates, and it shows 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang leading Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams 16-10.

The firm has changed one important part of its methodology since its February survey, which had Yang beating Adams 28-17. The earlier poll included a brief description of each candidate while this one just lists their names, which helps explain why the proportion of undecideds skyrocketed from 19% to 50%.

Yang's campaign, meanwhile, has released another poll from Slingshot Strategies that shows him outpacing Adams 25-15, with City Comptroller Scott Stringer at 12%. This survey, which the pollster tells us was in the field March 12-18, is very similar to its January survey finding Yang up 25-17.

The crowded primary field also got a little smaller Wednesday when City Councilman Carlos Menchaca exited the contest.

Morning Digest: Darrell Issa thought he had an easy path to a comeback. A new poll says guess again

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

CA-50: While California Republican Darrell Issa looked like a sure bet to return to the House after he narrowly prevailed in the March top-two primary, a new SurveyUSA poll finds him locked in an unexpectedly close open seat contest with Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar. The poll, which was done for KGTV-TV San Diego and the San Diego Union-Tribune, shows Issa up just 46-45. Perhaps even more surprisingly, the sample finds Joe Biden ahead 48-45 in California's 50th Congressional District, an ancestrally Republican seat in inland San Diego County that backed Donald Trump 55-40 in 2016.

This is the first independent poll we've seen since the top-two six months ago. Last month, Campa-Najjar released numbers from Strategies 360 that found him down 47-43, but his campaign did not mention any presidential results. So far, though, no major outside groups on either side have booked air time here, though that could always change over the next two months.

Campaign Action

Issa infamously decided to run here the cycle after he retired as the congressman from the neighboring and more Democratic 49th District just ahead of the 2018 blue wave, and it's possible that his weak connections to this area are hurting him. SurveyUSA finds Issa with an even 32-32 favorable rating, while Campa-Najjar sports a 37-26 score.

If SurveyUSA is right, though, then there's also been a big shift to the left in this seat over just the last two years. Back in 2018, then-Rep. Duncan Hunter managed to fend off Campa-Najjar 52-48 even though the Republican incumbent was under indictment at the time for misusing campaign money. That was a much better performance than Democrats usually pull off in this area, but the fact that this district still decided to return Hunter to Congress even in a terrible year for Republicans didn't seem to bode well for Campa-Najjar's second campaign, especially after Hunter took a plea deal in late 2019 and resigned.

We'll need to see if more polls find a close race, and we'll also be keeping an eye out to see if major outside groups spend here. However, if this contest is tight, Campa-Najjar will have the resources to run a serious campaign. The Democrat ended June with a $890,000 to $516,000 cash-on-hand, though Issa is more than capable of self-funding if he needs to.

Senate

AK-Sen: A newly formed PAC called Independent Alaska has launched an ad campaign supporting Al Gross, an independent who won the Democratic nomination last month. The commercial touts Gross' time as a fisherman and a doctor and informs the audience, "Dr. Al's father was Alaska's AG [attorney general], and his neighbor and fishing partner growing up was Republican Gov. Jay Hammond." The narrator concludes, "We're in a pandemic. It's time to send a doctor to D.C." There is no word on the size of the buy.

GA-Sen-B: Republican Rep. Doug Collins is running his first ad on broadcast TV, and he begins by saying of the appointed GOP incumbent, "Kelly Loeffler spent $30 million on slick ads telling lies—now it's my turn to tell the truth."

Collins continues, "I'm not a billionaire. I'm a state trooper's kid, a husband, a father, an Air Force chaplain and Iraq War veteran." He adds, "I'm President Trump's top defender against the sham impeachment, and yes, his preferred pick for the Senate." Trump reportedly did very much want Collins to be appointed to this seat, but he hasn't taken sides in the Nov. 3 all-party primary between the congressman and Loeffler.

On the Democratic side, pastor Raphael Warnock, who would be the state's first Black senator, is using his newest commercial to talk about his experiences with systemic racism. The narrator begins, "1982. A 12-year-old is accused of stealing and dragged out a store, told he looks suspicious because his hands are in his pockets." The audience then sees it's the candidate speaking as he continues, "I'm Raphael Warnock and that boy was me."

Warnock goes on, "Back then I didn't understand how much the system works against those without power and money, that the rules were different for some of us. Too often that's still true today, especially in Washington." Warnock ends by saying that it's time for this to change.

MI-Sen: The Glengariff Group's new poll for WDIV and the Detroit News finds Democratic Sen. Gary Peters leading Republican John James 44-41, while Joe Biden is ahead 47-42. Glengariff's last poll was all the way back in January, and it showed Peters up by a similar 44-40 spread.

MN-Sen: Citizens United (yes, the Citizens United) has launched what the National Journal's Dylan Wells reports is a six-figure buy supporting Republican Jason Lewis. The commercial, like Lewis' own ads, promotes Lewis as a supporter of the police and an opponent of violent mobs; both Lewis and Citizens United's spots also ignore racism and police brutality.

NC-Sen: Democrat Cal Cunningham has the first commercial we've seen anywhere focusing on allegations that the Russian government put out a bounty on American troops in Afghanistan. Cunningham says that his fellow veterans are the first ones to answer the call and continues, "So when [Republican Sen.] Thom Tillis fails to act while the Russians pay bounties for dead Americans, something is deeply wrong in Washington."

TX-Sen: Democrat MJ Hegar is airing her first TV ad of the general election as part of what her campaign says is a $1.5 million buy in six media markets that are home to 80% of the state's voters. As faint sounds of explosions are heard, the candidate tells the audience, "It was my third tour in Afghanistan. I was flying a medevac mission when I was shot through the windshield and we went down."

The camera gradually pans out to reveal a smoking helicopter in the canyon behind Hegar as she continues, "So I strapped myself to the skids of the helicopter that rescued us and returned fire on the Taliban as we flew to safety. For that I was awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor." The candidate goes on, "I'm MJ Hegar, and we fought like hell to get everyone home safe that day. And I approved this message because my mission isn't over while Texas families are still in danger."

Gubernatorial

WV-Gov: Democrat Ben Salango is airing his first TV spot since he won the primary three months ago. As old photos from his childhood fill the screen, the candidate says, "I grew up in a two-bedroom trailer in Raleigh County. It was a big deal when we got our first washer and dryer."

Salango then goes after Republican Gov. Jim Justice, declaring, "My family worked hard to build a business and even harder to pay the bills. Jim Justice is a billionaire who's been sued over 600 times for not paying his bills. And who made a secret deal with the government he controls to give himself tax breaks." Salango concludes, "I mean c'mon. I'll never betray West Virginia like that. I was raised better."

House

CA-25: Democrat Christy Smith is running her first commercial since her defeat in the May special election. Smith talks about how her mother survived domestic violence and "rebuilt our lives" with a nursing degree from the local community college. The candidate says she went on to work three jobs to pay for her education at that same institution and went on to found an education nonprofit.

CA-48: In its opening TV spot for this race, the DCCC declares that Republican Michelle Steel's allies were at the center of a major corruption scandal, but she "voted to defund the anti-corruption unit in Orange County."

The ad is also running in Vietnamese, which makes this one of the very rare examples of an American political commercial that's aired on TV all or mostly in a language other than English or Spanish. Back in 2018, Democrat John Chiang ran a spot entirely in Mandarin in his unsuccessful bid for governor of California, while Republican Ed Gillespie added Korean subtitles to a commercial during his 2017 primary for governor of Virginia.

There have been a few instances of American political ads airing on the radio in a language other than English or Spanish (and obviously, without subtitles.) In 2016, Arizona Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick recorded some ads in Navajo, which she speaks, for her unsuccessful Senate bid. That same year, Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman's campaign did a Ukrainian radio ad for his re-election campaign.

IA-01: Back in July, Republican Ashley Hinson blamed her campaign staff after the New York Times reported that several op-eds credited to her, as well as material on her campaign site, were full of passages plagiarized from other sources, and the DCCC is using its first TV spot to go after Hinson over this.

The narrator begins, "In tough times, we need leaders we can trust. But Ashley Hinson was caught plagiarizing—word for word—from the Des Moines Register, the New York Times, even her opponent's own policy positions." He then focuses on Hinson's record, declaring, "And Hinson took thousands from the nursing home industry. When the Coronavirus struck—Hinson voted to protect them with special legal immunity. Instead of protecting seniors and workers."

OH-01: House Majority PAC has released a survey from the Democratic firm Normington Petts that shows Democrat Kate Schroder leading Republican Rep. Steve Chabot 50-46, while Joe Biden has a tiny 48-47 edge in this Cincinnati-based seat. We've seen a few other polls this year from Schroder and her allies that have found a tight race, while Republicans have yet to drop their own numbers.

HMP is also running a commercial that targets Chabot over the truly strange scandal that engulfed Chabot's campaign last year, a story that Schroder has also focused on in her ads. The spot begins by reminding viewers that Chabot became a member of Congress in 1995 when "[b]aseball was on strike" and "Toy Story debuted. The first one." The narrator continues, "But now, a confirmed FBI investigation into $123,000 missing from Chabot's campaign. And Chabot's campaign paid his son-in-law's company nearly $200,000." The narrator concludes, "Twenty-four years in Congress has taken its toll on Steve Chabot."

PA-01: Democrat Christina Finello's first general election ad focuses on her own struggles with college loans and healthcare. She says that, while she "understands the struggles of the middle class," Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick "votes with Trump. Giving tax cuts to the rich and ending protections for people with pre-existing conditions."

Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, uses his own ad to tout his endorsements from groups that usually pull for Democrats like the AFL-CIO, the League of Conservation Voters, and Everytown for Gun Safety, as well as the local police and firefighter unions. The congressman's mom also makes it clear she's backing Fitzpatrick.

SC-02: EMILY's List has endorsed Adair Ford Boroughs' campaign against Republican Rep. Joe Wilson.

TX-21: While freshman Republican Rep. Chip Roy has shown absolutely no desire to actually vote or behave like anything other than the far-right Freedom Caucus member that he is, the former Ted Cruz chief of staff is using his opening ad to portray himself as a bipartisan figure. Roy declares he'll "hold my party accountable if they're wrong, and work across party lines when it's right for Texas."

TX-23: Republican Tony Gonzales uses his first general election commercial to talk about how he went from growing up in an abusive home where he was abandoned by his father to the Navy.

Meanwhile, VoteVets has launched a $533,000 ad campaign against Gonzales. The ad stars an injured veteran who tells the audience that Gonzales "supports taking away health coverage from half a million veterans."

UT-04: The Congressional Leadership Fund is running a very rare positive TV commercial promoting Republican Burgess Owens, whom House Majority PAC recently began attacking.

CLF promotes Owens as a "pro-football star, political outsider, conservative, successful businessman, and mentor to troubled kids." As the ad shows footage of a football game, the narrator declares Owens will "heal our nation, tackling a virus and protecting the vulnerable." Those feel good themes are not, shall we say, the type of things that CLF likes to fill its ads with.

VA-02: This week, a third staffer from Republican Scott Taylor's 2018 campaign was indicted for allegedly submitting fraudulent signatures in order to get a former Democrat on the ballot as an independent that year. Special prosecutor John Beamer predicted that he would seek at least one additional indictment, and he said of Taylor, "He's part of the campaign and the whole campaign is under investigation."

Taylor is seeking a comeback against freshman Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, who narrowly unseated him in 2018. Last month, Taylor sent a cease-and-desist letter to Luria demanding that she stop making statements claiming that he is under investigation for ballot access fraud only for Beamer to publicly contradict him. Luria soon began running commercials focused on the ongoing scandal.

VA-05: Democrat Cameron Webb is up with two commercials that decry the "lies and dirty tricks" being waged by Republican Bob Good, who recently ran a truly racist spot against Webb.

In Webb's first ad, the narrator declares that the candidate "is not for defunding the police," and adds that "a senior Trump official is praising Webb." The commercial highlights the law enforcement officials backing Webb before the candidate himself appears and talks about his work in the Obama and Trump administrations and support for "free market solutions to bring healthcare costs down."

The second Webb spot stars several former sheriffs as well as Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Hingeley, who praise Webb and implore the audience not to let "Bob Good scare you from electing a good man."

Ballot Measures

CA Ballot: Probolsky Research has released the first poll we've seen of Prop. 15, the so-called "split roll" initiative that would scale back a significant part of the law passed by anti-tax crusaders in 1978, and finds it down 49-41. Probolsky has worked for Republicans in the past, but it says this survey was not done for a client.

The poll was taken just before the pro-Prop. 15 group Schools & Communities First launched its opening TV commercials. One ad declares that wealthy corporate tycoons "think they're entitled to tax handouts. Prop. 15 closes the loopholes." The narrator continues, "The richest 10% of corporate properties provide 92% of the revenue, while homeowners, renters, and small businesses are protected." The second spot argues, "Prop. 15 would raise billions of dollars that our communities and schools need" and would make "wealthy large corporations pay their fair share, while small businesses get a tax break."

As David Jarman has written, Prop. 15 would dramatically alter California's property tax landscape and lead to a massive increase in tax revenue by repealing a portion of 1978's Prop. 13. That measure limits the annual property tax on a particular property to no more than 1% of its assessed value and, most importantly, limits the increase in a property's assessed value to no more than 2% per year—even if its actual market value has soared. This has resulted in municipalities and school districts taking in revenues far smaller than they ought to be.

However, voters finally have their chance this fall to modify the system Prop. 13 set up decades ago. This year's Prop. 15 would essentially split the "roll" of properties every municipality maintains by requiring commercial and industrial properties to be reassessed at actual market value while keeping residential and agricultural properties under Prop. 13's rules.

Mayoral

Miami-Dade County, FL Mayor: On behalf of the Miami Herald, the Democratic pollster Bendixen & Amandi International is out with a survey that finds Democrat Daniella Levine Cava leading Republican Steve Bovo 39-32 in this November's officially nonpartisan contest. This sample also found Joe Biden ahead 55-38 in a county that supported Hillary Clinton 63-34.

Primary Result Recaps

NH-Sen: Corky Messner, a wealthy attorney endorsed by Donald Trump, beat retired Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc 51-42 in the Republican primary. Bolduc responded to his defeat by declaring that he wouldn't back Messner in the general election against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. "I will not support a man who is being investigated for fraud by the attorney general," Bolduc said, "No. I will not support him. I will not disgrace my name to support a man like that."

Last month, Mary Mullarkey, a former chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, asked that state's attorney general and secretary of state to investigate the charitable foundation run by Messner, who lived in Colorado until last year. Mullarkey's request came after the Washington Post reported that the Messner Foundation, whose stated purpose is to provide college scholarships to low-income students, had only awarded a grant to one student in its first 10 years of existence. However, despite what Bolduc said, there are no reports that a legal investigation is underway.

No matter what happens with this story, Messner will be in for a difficult race against Shaheen, a longtime figure in New Hampshire politics. A recent poll from the University of New Hampshire found Shaheen beating Messner 54-36, and no major groups have booked ad time here. Messner's ability to self-fund could still give him an opening if Donald Trump performs well in this swing state, though, so Daily Kos Elections is keeping it on the big board at Likely Democratic.

NH-Gov: State Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes won the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Gov. Chris Sununu by defeating Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky 52-48. On the GOP side, Nobody lost.  

Sununu has polled well during his tenure, and a recent survey from the University of New Hampshire found him beating Feltes 57-33. However, Sununu's allies at the RGA don't seem to think the governor is a lock in this swing state, since they reserved $3.6 million in television time for the general election earlier this year. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as Likely Republican.

NH-01: Former Trump aide Matt Mowers, who had his old boss' endorsement in the Republican primary, beat former state party vice chair Matt Mayberry 60-26. Mowers will face freshman Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas in the fall.

The 1st District, which includes eastern New Hampshire, has been very competitive turf for a long time, and both Barack Obama and Donald Trump only narrowly won it. Pappas, however, prevailed 54-45 during the 2018 blue wave, and he holds a huge financial edge over Mowers with less than two months to go before voting concludes. A recent poll from the University of New Hampshire also showed Pappas up 52-34, though we haven't seen any other numbers here.

Still, Team Blue isn't leaving anything to chance in this swing seat, and House Majority PAC has reserved $2 million for this race; Republicans have not yet booked any air time. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as Lean Democratic.

NH State Senate, Where Are They Now?: Former Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes lost Tuesday's Democratic primary for New Hampshire's 15th State Senate District to Becky Whitley, a disability rights attorney, 41-33. This seat backed Hillary Clinton 58-37, and Whitley will be the clear favorite to succeed state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, who is the Democratic nominee for governor.

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: How a brazen campaign finance scandal led to this Florida Republican’s downfall

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.

Alaska, Florida, and Wyoming held their primaries on Tuesday. You can find current results at the links for each state; we’ll have a comprehensive rundown in our next Digest.

Leading Off

FL-15: Republican primary voters in Florida’s 15th Congressional District on Tuesday denied renomination to freshman Rep. Ross Spano, who has been under investigation by the Justice Department since last year due to a campaign finance scandal, and instead gave the GOP nod to Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin.

With all votes apparently counted, Franklin defeated Spano 51-49. Franklin’s next opponent will  be former local TV news anchor Alan Cohn, who beat state Rep. Adam Hattersley 41-33 for the Democratic nomination.

Campaign Action

This central Florida seat, which includes the mid-sized city of Lakeland and the exurbs of Tampa and Orlando, moved from 52-47 Romney to 53-43 Trump, and Franklin is favored to keep it in Republican hands. Still, the general election could be worth watching: In 2018, before news of Spano’s campaign finance scandal broke, he won by a modest 53-47 margin.

Spano’s defeat ends a short, but unfortunately for him quite eventful, congressional career. Spano, who was elected to the state House in 2012, had been waging a campaign for state attorney general in 2018 until Republican Rep. Dennis Ross surprised everyone by announcing his retirement. Spano switched over to the contest to succeed Ross, which looked like an easier lift, but he nonetheless faced serious intra-party opposition from former state Rep. Neil Combee.

Spano beat Combee 44-34 and went on to prevail in the general election, but he found himself in trouble before he was even sworn into Congress. That December, Spano admitted he might have broken federal election law by accepting personal loans worth $180,000 from two friends and then turning around and loaning his own campaign $170,000. That's a serious problem, because anyone who loans money to a congressional candidate with the intent of helping their campaign still has to adhere to the same laws that limit direct contributions, which in 2018 capped donations at just $2,700 per person.

The House Ethics Committee initially took up the matter but announced in late 2019 that the Justice Department was investigating Spano. The congressman variously argued that he'd misunderstood the law governing campaign loans but also insisted his campaign had disclosed the loan "before it became public knowledge" in the financial disclosure forms all federal candidates are obligated to file.

That latter claim, however, was flat-out false: As the Tampa Bay Times' Steve Contorno explained, Spano had failed to file those disclosures by the July 2018 deadline, only submitting them just before Election Day—after the paper had asked about them. Only once those reports were public did the paper learn that the money for Spano's questionable loans came from his friends.

Despite his scandal, most of the party establishment, including Sen. Marco Rubio and most of the neighboring Republican congressmen, stood by Spano. However, he had trouble bringing in more money, and Franklin used his personal wealth to decisively outspend the incumbent. The anti-tax Club for Growth dumped $575,000 into advertising attacking Franklin, but it wasn’t enough to save Spano from defeat on Tuesday.

P.S. Spano is the fifth House Republican to lose renomination this cycle, compared to three Democrats. The good news for the rest of the GOP caucus, though, is that none of them can lose their primaries … because the remaining states don’t have any Republican members. (Louisiana does host its all-party primaries in November, but none of the state’s House members are in any danger.)

Senate

AL-Sen: In what appears to be the first major outside spending here on the Democratic side, Duty and Honor has deployed $500,000 on an ad buy praising Sen. Doug Jones. The commercial extols the incumbent for working across party lines to protect Alabamians during the pandemic and "fighting to expand Medicaid to cover Alabama families who need it." The conservative organization One Nation, meanwhile, is running a spot hitting Jones for supporting abortion rights.

GA-Sen-A: The Democratic group Senate Majority PAC is running an ad going after a Georgia Republican senator's stock transactions … just not the senator you might expect. The commercial begins, "Jan. 24, the U.S. Senate gets a private briefing on the coronavirus. Georgia Sen. David Perdue gets busy." The narrator continues, "That same day, he buys stock in a company that sells masks and gloves. Then sells casino stocks and winds up buying and dumping up to $14.1 million dollars in stock."

Perdue, like homestate colleague Kelly Loeffler, has argued that these trades were made by advisers who acted independently. Perdue has also said that he was not part of that Jan. 24 briefing.

Meanwhile, SMP's affiliated nonprofit, Duty and Honor, is airing a spot that uses Perdue's own words to attack his handling of the pandemic. "Very, very few people have been exposed to it," the audience hears Perdue say, "The risk of this virus still remains low." The narrator continues, "No wonder Perdue voted against funding for more masks, gloves, and ventilators. And voted to cut funding at the CDC to combat pandemics."

GA-Sen-B: Georgia United Victory, which supports Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, is airing another commercial attacking Republican Rep. Doug Collins, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that its total buy now stands at $6 million.

As pigs fill the screen, a truly bored-sounding narrator begins, "Another talking pig commercial? Good grief. We all know pigs are wasteful." She goes on to ask, "Is that the best comparison to Doug Collins? Oh sure. Collins loves pork for things like wine tasting and the opera." She goes on to say the congressman is too close to lobbyists and concludes, "He's laid quite a few eggs. Ever seen a pig lay an egg? Didn't think so." We really don't understand why this spot decided to go into the details of pig reproduction for no apparent reason, but ok.

IA-Sen, NC-Sen: Politico reports that Everytown for Gun Safety is launching an ad campaign this week against two Republican senators: The group will spend $2.2 million against Iowa's Joni Ernst (here and here), and $3.2 million opposing North Carolina's Thom Tillis (here and here).

Both ads argue the incumbents are too close to special interests, including the "gun lobby" and the insurance industry. The Iowa commercials also reference Ernst's infamous 2014 "make 'em squeal" spot by arguing, "She said she'd go to Washington and make them squeal. Joni Ernst broke that promise to Iowa and made the special interests her top priority." The narrator concludes that Ernst has actually left Iowans to squeal.

MA-Sen: Priorities for Progress, a group that the Boston Globe says is affiliated with the pro-charter school and anti-teachers union organization Democrats for Education Reform, has released a SurveyUSA poll that shows Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey narrowly leading Rep. Joe Kennedy 44-42 in the Democratic primary. Neither group appears to have taken sides in the Sept. 1 contest.

This is the third poll we've seen in the last month, and the others have also shown Markey in the lead. However, while the Republican firm JMC Analytics gave the incumbent a similar 44-41 edge in an early August crowdfunded survey, a YouGov poll for UMass Amherst and WCVB had Markey ahead 51-36 last week.

MI-Sen: Republican John James has publicized a poll from the Tarrance Group that shows him trailing Democratic Sen. Gary Peters "just" 49-44; the survey, like most Republican polls this cycle, did not include presidential numbers.

There isn't any ambiguity about why James' team is releasing this survey, though. The memo noted that, while the Democratic group Duty and Honor has been airing commercials for Peters, there has been "no corresponding conservative ally on the air against Gary Peters," and it goes on to claim the Republican can win "[w]ith the proper resources." Indeed, as Politico recently reported, major Republican outside groups have largely bypassed this contest, and neither the NRSC or Senate Leadership Fund currently has any money reserved for the final three months of the campaign.

James is getting some air support soon, though. Roll Call reports that One Nation, a nonprofit affiliated with SLF, will launch a $4.5 million TV and radio ad campaign against Peters on Wednesday.

NC-Sen: While most Republican downballot candidates have largely avoided tying their Democratic opponents to Joe Biden, Sen. Thom Tillis tries linking Democrat Cal Cunningham to Biden in a new spot.

Polls: The progressive group MoveOn has unveiled a trio of new Senate polls from Public Policy Polling:

  • GA-Sen-A: Jon Ossoff (D): 44, David Perdue (R-inc): 44 (June: 45-44 Ossoff)
  • IA-Sen: Theresa Greenfield (D): 48, Joni Ernst (R-inc): 45 (June: 45-43 Greenfield)
  • ME-Sen: Sara Gideon (D): 49, Susan Collins (R-inc): 44 (July: 47-42 Gideon)

The releases did not include presidential numbers.

House

OH-01: Democrat Kate Schroder is running a TV commercial about the truly strange scandal that engulfed Republican Rep. Steve Chabot's campaign last year. The narrator accuses the incumbent of lying about Schroder to draw attention away from his own problems, declaring, "Chabot is facing a grand jury investigation for $123,000 in missing campaign money."

The ad continues, "After getting caught, Chabot blamed others. And his campaign manager went missing." The narrator concludes, "We may never learn the truth about Shady Chabot's missing money, but we do know that 24 years is enough. (Chabot was elected to represent the Cincinnati area in Congress in 1994, lost a previous version of this seat in 2008, and won it back two years later.)

As we've written before, Chabot's campaign was thrown into turmoil last summer when the FEC sent a letter asking why the congressman's first-quarter fundraising report was belatedly amended to show $124,000 in receipts that hadn't previously been accounted for. From there, a bizarre series of events unfolded.

First, Chabot's longtime consultant, Jamie Schwartz, allegedly disappeared after he shuttered his firm, called the Fountain Square Group. Then Schwartz's father, Jim Schwartz, told reporters that despite appearing as Chabot's treasurer on his FEC filings for many years, he had in fact never served in that capacity. Chabot's team was certainly bewildered, because it issued a statement saying, "As far as the campaign was aware, James Schwartz, Sr. has been the treasurer since 2011." Evidently there's a whole lot the campaign wasn't aware of.

The elder Schwartz also claimed of his son, "I couldn't tell you where he's at" because "he's doing a lot of running around right now." Well, apparently, he'd run right into the arms of the feds. In December, local news station Fox19 reported that Jamie Schwartz had turned himself in to the U.S. Attorney's office, which, Fox19 said, has been investigating the matter "for a while."

Adding to the weirdness, it turned out that Chabot had paid Schwartz's now-defunct consultancy $57,000 in July and August of 2019 for "unknown" purposes. Yes, that's literally the word Chabot's third-quarter FEC report used to describe payments to the Fountain Square Group no fewer than five times. (Remember how we were saying the campaign seems to miss quite a bit?)

We still don't know what those payments were for, or what the deal was with the original $124,000 in mystery money that triggered this whole saga. Chabot himself has refused to offer any details, insisting only that he's been the victim of an unspecified "financial crime."

There haven't been any public developments since December, though. The Cincinnati Inquirer's Jason Williams contacted Schwartz's attorney last week to ask if Schwartz had been informed of any updates, and the reporter was only told, "No, not yet." Unless something big changes in the next few months, though, expect Democrats to keep pounding Chabot over this story.

OK-05: State Sen. Stephanie Bice is going up with a negative commercial against businesswoman Terry Neese just ahead of next week's Republican primary runoff. The winner will face Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn in what will be a competitive contest for this Oklahoma City seat.

Bice accuses Neese of running "the same fake news smears she always sinks to." Bice continues by alluding to Neese's unsuccessful 1990 and 1994 campaigns for lieutenant governor by declaring that in her 30 years of running for office Neese has been "mastering the art of dirty politics but never beating a single Democrat." (Neese badly lost the general election in 1990 but fell short in the primary runoff four years later, so she's only had one opportunity up until now to beat a Democrat.) Bice then sums up Neese by saying, "Appointed by Clinton. Terrible on gun rights. Neese won't take on the Squad, because she can't beat Kendra Horn."

Neese outpaced Bice 36-25 in the first round of voting back in late June, and Neese' allies have a big financial advantage going into the runoff. While Bice did outspend Neese $290,000 to $210,000 from July 1 to Aug. 5 (the time the FEC designates as the pre-runoff period), the Club for Growth has deployed $535,000 on anti-Bice ads this month. So far, no major outside groups have spent to aid Bice.

SC-01: The NRCC has started airing its first independent expenditure ad of the November general election, a spot that seeks to attack freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham on the issue that powered his upset victory in 2018: offshore drilling. The ad tries to question Cunningham's commitment to opposing such drilling in a move straight from Karl Rove’s dusty playbook, but given how closely his image is tied to the cause—he defeated his Republican opponent two years ago, Katie Arrington, in large part because of her support for offshore oil extraction—it's a tough sell.

And while Nancy Mace, his Republican challenger this year, might welcome the committee's involvement, the move doesn't come from a position of strength. In fact, the NRCC's own ad seems to acknowledge this at the outset, with a narrator saying, "Your TV is full of Joe Cunningham" as three images from prior Cunningham spots pop up on the screen. It's not wrong: The congressman has been advertising on television since the first week in July, and he recently released his fifth ad.

Cunningham's been able to blanket the airwaves because of the huge financial advantage he's locked in. Mace raised a prodigious $733,000 in the second quarter of the year, but Cunningham managed to beat even that take with an $845,000 haul of his own. It's the campaigns' respective bank accounts that differ dramatically, though: Cunningham had $3.1 million in cash-on-hand as of June 30 while Mace, after a costly primary, had just $743,000.

As a result, she hasn't gone on the air yet herself, which explains why the NRCC has moved in early to fill in the gap. Interestingly, the committee didn't bother to mention that this is its first independent expenditure foray of the 2020 elections in its own press release, whereas the DCCC loudly trumpeted the opening of its own independent expenditure campaign in New York's 24th Congressional District a month ago.

TX-21: Both Democrat Wendy Davis and the far-right Club for Growth are running their first commercials here.

Davis talks about her life story, telling the audience, "[M]y parents divorced when I was 13. I got a job at 14 to help mom. And at 19, I became a mom." Davis continues by describing her experience living in a trailer park and working two jobs before community college led her to Texas Christian University and Harvard Law. She then says, "As a state senator, I put Texas over party because everyone deserves a fair shot."

The Club, which backs Republican Rep. Chip Roy, meanwhile tells the Texas Tribune's Patrick Svitek that it is spending $482,000 on its first ad against Davis. The group has $2.5 million reserved here to aid Roy, who ended June badly trailing the Democrat in cash-on-hand, and it says it will throw down more.

The Club's spot declares that Davis is a career politician who got "busted for using campaign funds for personal expenses," including an apartment in Austin. However, while the narrator makes it sound like Davis was caught breaking the rules, Svitek writes, "Members are allowed to use donors' dollars to pay for such accommodations—and it is not uncommon."

This topic also came up during Davis' 2014 campaign for governor. The campaign said at the time that legislative staffers also stayed at the apartment, and that Davis followed all the state's disclosure laws.

Polls:

  • AZ-06: GQR (D) for Hiral Tipirneni: Hiral Tipirneni (D): 48, David Schweikert (R-inc): 45 (50-48 Biden)
  • MT-AL: WPA Intelligence (R) for Club for Growth (pro-Rosendale): Matt Rosendale (R): 51, Kathleen Williams (D): 45
  • NJ-02: RMG Research for U.S. Term Limits: Jeff Van Drew (R-inc): 42, Amy Kennedy (D): 39
  • NY-01: Global Strategy Group (D) for Nancy Goroff: Lee Zeldin (R-inc): 47, Nancy Goroff (D): 42 (46-42 Trump)
  • WA-03: RMG Research for U.S. Term Limits: Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-inc): 44, Carolyn Long (D): 40

The only other numbers we've seen from Arizona's 6th District was an early August poll from the DCCC that had Republican Rep. David Schweikert up 46-44 but found Joe Biden ahead 48-44 in this Scottsdale and North Phoenix constituency; Donald Trump carried this seat 52-42 four years ago, but like many other well-educated suburban districts, it's been moving to the left in recent years.

The Club for Growth's new Montana survey comes a few weeks after two Democratic pollsters found a closer race: In mid-July, Public Policy Polling's survey for election enthusiasts on Twitter showed a 44-44 tie, while a Civiqs poll for Daily Kos had Republican Matt Rosendale ahead 49-47 a few days later. PPP and Civiqs found Donald Trump ahead 51-42 and 49-45, respectively, while the Club once again did not include presidential numbers.

U.S. Term Limits has been releasing House polls at a rapid pace over the last few weeks, and once again, they argue that Democrats would easily win if they would just highlight the Republican incumbents' opposition to term limits; as far as we know, no Democratic candidates have tested this theory out yet. These surveys also did not include presidential numbers.

The only other poll we've seen out of New York's 1st District on eastern Long Island was a July PPP internal for Democrat Nancy Goroff's allies at 314 Action Fund. That survey gave Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin a 47-40 lead, which is slightly larger than what her poll finds now, though it showed the presidential race tied 47-47. This seat has long been swing territory, though it backed Trump by a 55-42 margin in 2016.

Mayoral

Honolulu, HI Mayor: Former Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who finished a close third in the Aug. 8 nonpartisan primary, announced Monday that she was endorsing independent Rick Blangiardi over fellow Democrat Keith Amemiya. Blangiardi took 26% in the first round of voting, while Amemiya beat Hanabusa 20-18 for second.

ELECTION CHANGES

Minnesota: Republicans have dropped their challenge to an agreement between Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon and voting rights advocates under which Minnesota will waive its requirement that mail voters have their ballots witnessed and will also require that officials count any ballots postmarked by Election Day and received within a week.

In dismissing their own claims, Republicans said they would "waive the right to challenge [the agreement] in any other judicial forum." That likely moots a separate federal case in which Republicans were challenging a similar agreement that a judge had refused to sign off on.

North Dakota: An organization representing county election officials in North Dakota says that local administrators are moving forward with plans to conduct the November general election in-person, rather than once again moving to an all-mail format, as they did for the state's June primary.

South Carolina: Republican Harvey Peeler, the president of South Carolina's state Senate, has called his chamber in for a special session so that lawmakers can consider measures to expand mail voting. Legislators passed a bill waiving the state's excuse requirement to vote absentee ahead of South Carolina's June primary, and Peeler says, "I am hopeful we can do it again."

However, Republican House Speaker Jay Lucas is refusing to convene a special session for his members, who are not due to return to the capitol until Sept. 15. That would give the state significantly less time to prepare for a likely influx of absentee ballot requests should the legislature once again relax the excuse requirement.

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Flipping the Senate is within reach as three key race ratings shift toward Democrats

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

Race Ratings: As the battle for control of the Senate grows more competitive, Daily Kos Elections is moving a trio of contests in the Democrats’ direction, though all three Republican incumbents very much remain in the fight. Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst’s race moves from Likely to Lean Republican, while Maine Sen. Susan Collins' and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis’ seats have gone from Lean Republican to Tossup.

With these changes, we now rate three Republican-held seats as Tossups (the two above plus Arizona) and one as Lean Democratic (Colorado). If Democrats can sweep these races and retake the White House, they'll win back control of the Senate even in the likely event that Alabama Sen. Doug Jones loses his bid for re-election.

Campaign Action

Iowa (Likely Republican to Lean Republican). At the start of the cycle, it wasn’t clear whether Joni Ernst would be a serious target, but of late, both parties have begun treating the Hawkeye State as a major battleground. Ernst’s allies at the NRSC and the Senate Leadership Fund have reserved a total of $15.2 million in ad time, while the DSCC and the Senate Majority PAC have booked $20.4 million to unseat her. Businesswoman Theresa Greenfield, who has the support of national Democrats in the June 2 primary, has also proven to be a strong fundraiser, though Ernst still had considerably more money to spend at the end of March.

Still, while Ernst is in for a tougher race than she may have anticipated even a few months ago, she remains the favorite thanks to Iowa’s swing to the right over the last few years. Though the Hawkeye State had been competitive turf for generations, Ernst won by a surprisingly lopsided 52-44 margin in 2014, and Donald Trump did even better there two years later. Iowa did shift back towards Democrats last cycle when Democrats unseated two Republican House incumbents, but Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds still won a full term 50-48 in a bad year for her party.

Maine (Lean Republican to Tossup): Susan Collins has pulled off lopsided wins during all three of her re-election contests, and she remained very popular in her home state of Maine as recently as a couple of years ago. However, the incumbent’s numbers took a dive after she provided the decisive vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, something that she seemed to acknowledge last summer.

We’ve only seen two polls this year, but they both showed Collins narrowly losing to state House Speaker Sara Gideon, who has the backing of national Democrats in the July primary and swamped Collins on the money front in the most recent quarter. Maine only narrowly backed Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Collins has a strong shot of winning a fifth term if Trump can come close again. But Collins, whose once-moderate veneer helped her win many Democratic votes in years past, is unused to having her fate tied to the top of the ticket and can no longer count on crossover support now that her extremism has been exposed.

North Carolina (Lean Republican to Tossup): Thom Tillis is another GOP incumbent who seemed to have the edge just a few months ago, but things have improved for Democrats since Cal Cunningham won his primary in early March. Cunningham decisively outraised Tillis over the following weeks, and multiple polls have shown Tillis trailing. North Carolina did back Trump 50-46, but if this swing state ends up in Joe Biden’s column this fall, Tillis will have a tough time hanging on.

Election Changes

Please bookmark our statewide 2020 primary calendar and our calendar of key downballot races, both of which we're updating continually as changes are finalized.

California: Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued an order directing that all California voters be sent a mail-in ballot for the November general election, though in-person voting will still remain an option. Leaders in the Democratic-run legislature plan to pass a bill that would do the same thing, but they had asked Newsom to issue this order so that election officials could begin making the necessary preparations immediately.

Delaware: Democratic Gov. John Carney has postponed Delaware's presidential primary a second time, from June 2 to July 7. The delay will give the state more time to send absentee ballots applications to all registered Democrats and Republicans who have not yet requested one, a move that Carney also just announced. Carney's order also postpones all school board elections, which previously were moved from May 12 to June 16, until July 21.

Louisiana: Voting rights advocates, including the NAACP, have filed a federal lawsuit asking that Louisiana's requirement that voters present an excuse in order to vote absentee be waived for all elections that take place during the coronavirus pandemic. The suit also seeks to waive the requirement that absentee voters obtain a witness' signature for their ballots. In addition, plaintiffs want the early voting period extended from seven days to 14.

Michigan: Michigan officials have accepted a federal judge's original plan for easing ballot access requirements for congressional and judicial candidates despite an appeals court ruling that overturned that plan. As a result, the filing deadline for such candidates was extended from April 21 to May 8, the number of signatures required was halved, and candidates were allowed to collect and file signatures electronically.

Minnesota: Democrats in the Minnesota House have given up on a plan to conduct the state's elections by mail after the Republican-run state Senate refused to consider it. Instead, both chambers passed a compromise bill that appropriates federal funds to promote absentee voting, help process an expected surge of mail ballots, and open more polling places to reduce crowding.

Senate

MI-Sen: Advertising Analytics reports that Republican John James has launched a new $800,000 buy that will last for two weeks. The commercial touts James' time in the Army and in business and does not mention Democratic incumbent Gary Peters.

House

IN-01: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus' BOLD PAC has spent about $150,000 on mailers supporting state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon in the June 2 Democratic primary.

Candelaria Reardon is one of several candidates competing to succeed retiring Rep. Pete Visclosky in this reliably blue seat in the northwestern corner of the state, and there's no clear frontrunner at this point. Attorney and environmental advocate Sabrina Haake, who has self-funded most of her campaign, ended March with a $237,000 to $161,000 cash-on-hand lead over Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, who considered challenging the incumbent before Visclosky decided not to seek re-election.

Candelaria Reardon wasn't far behind with $146,000 available, while 2018 Secretary of State nominee Jim Harper had $81,000 to spend. North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan, who has Visclosky's endorsement, had just $43,000 on-hand, while businesswoman Melissa Borom did not report raising anything.

NJ-03: Defending Main Street, a super PAC that backs establishment Republicans in primaries, has spent $100,000 on mailers boosting former Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs and opposing wealthy businessman David Richter in the July GOP primary.

While Republicans reportedly recruited Gibbs to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, her fundraising has been very disappointing in this very expensive district. Gibbs outraised Richter $71,000 to $19,000 during the first quarter of 2020, but Richter self-funded another $100,000 and ended March with a large $462,000 to $112,000 cash-on-hand lead.

Kim hauled in $760,000 during this time and had a hefty $2.7 million available. However, despite the GOP's fundraising woes, this is still tough turf for Democrats: This seat, which includes the Philadelphia suburbs and central Jersey Shore, swung from 52-47 Obama to 51-45 Trump.

TX-03: Attorney Lulu Seikaly picked up an endorsement on Friday from Rep. Marc Veasey, who serves as a regional DCCC vice chair, in the July Democratic runoff to take on freshman GOP Rep. Van Taylor.

Conservative courts order Wisconsin election to proceed—risks to health and democracy be damned

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

Wisconsin: A day of maximal chaos in Wisconsin ended with two conservative courts insisting Tuesday's election go forward and limiting absentee voting, moves that threaten to prevent countless voters from participating and render the results illegitimate.

On Monday afternoon, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order postponing the election—which includes a presidential primary and races for state and local office—to June 9. Republicans, however, have bitterly opposed such a delay and immediately challenged the order before the state Supreme Court. Hours later, the court's four conservatives who heard the case blocked Evers' order, with both liberal justices dissenting. As a result, the state was left with no choice but to proceed with in-person voting Tuesday, despite the serious risks to public health and a crippled elections infrastructure.

Not long thereafter, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an order made last Thursday by a lower court, which said that voters could cast absentee ballots so long as election officials received them by April 13, regardless of when they were postmarked. In a 5-4 ruling—which, like the Wisconsin high court's decision, fell along strictly ideological lines—the court's conservatives ruled that all ballots must be postmarked by April 7.

This means that those who have the misfortune to receive their ballots late—a distinct possibility for many, given the huge surge in requests—now face an impossible choice, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in a dissent: They must either risk their health by voting in person on Tuesday, or disenfranchise themselves by not voting at all. The same holds true for anyone who was unable to request a ballot, as well as the many groups of voters who cannot vote by mail, such as those who are without housing.

Campaign Action

And for those who do choose to head to the polls, they face an elections infrastructure in shambles. Due to a shortage of poll workers, Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin, was set to open just five polling sites, down from its usual 180. The same problem has plagued jurisdictions across the state. Many voters will therefore be deprived of their right to vote, and efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus will be undermined.

But a deep cynicism motivates the right-wing hostility to letting voters participate in the election safely: With progressives mounting a competitive campaign to unseat an arch-conservative appointee of former Gov. Scott Walker on the state Supreme Court, Republicans appear to be counting on the pandemic to disproportionately suppress votes on the left.

In part that's because social distancing is more difficult in denser urban areas, which make up the bulk of the Democratic vote; voters in more sparsely populated rural areas are likely to be less deterred from voting in person, since they're apt to encounter fewer people at the polls or on their way there. In addition, polling shows Republicans are simply less concerned about the coronavirus in general, meaning they're more willing to ignore the danger to public health (and their own) that in-person voting poses.

And now, after decades of concerted effort, Republicans have succeeded in installing partisan ideologues on the bench—both federally and at the state level—who are only too happy to cloak the GOP's malevolent political goals in the language of legalese and bless them with the authority of the bench. In a searing irony, a message atop the Wisconsin Supreme Court's website explains that the courts are closed due to COVID-19—just above a link to the court's order saying Tuesday's election must take place despite COVID-19.

In his ruling last week delaying the deadline for absentee ballots to be received, Judge William Conley included a pregnant footnote. "The court will reserve," he wrote, "on the question as to whether the actual voter turnout, ability to vote on election day or overall conduct of the election and counting votes timely has undermined citizens' right to vote."

In other words, Conley suggested that he might entertain further challenges after the election if the all-important right to vote has been abridged in some way based on how the election is carried out. As things stand, it's impossible to see how those rights won't be sabotaged, but with the partisans in robes sitting above Conley, it's just as hard to see them permitting any remedy he might fashion to stand.

Election Changes

Please bookmark our statewide 2020 primary calendar and our calendar of key downballot races, both of which we're updating continually as changes are finalized.

Iowa: Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate says that he's considering the option of conducting November's general election entirely by mail. Previously, Pate said he'd mail absentee ballot applications to every active registered voter ahead of Iowa's June 2 downballot primaries. Pate says he considered making the primary all-mail but opted not to after talking to officials in Washington and Oregon, who described the long timeframes that had been needed to convert their states to mail voting.

Montana: Republican Secretary of State Corey Stapleton says that all 56 Montana counties plan to conduct the state's June 2 presidential and downballot primaries by mail, an option that Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock recently made available.

New Jersey: Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy says he'll be "stunned" if the state doesn't postpone its June 2 presidential and downballot primaries, promising a decision "pretty soon."

Virginia: Republicans in Virginia's 7th Congressional District have indefinitely postponed their April 25 convention and have voted to sue the Board of Elections to seek an exemption from Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's ban on gatherings of more than 10 people. Officials are also considering alternate methods of conducting their convention, such as online or by mail. The committee must pick a nominee by June 9. Republicans in the 5th District, who face the same situation, are meeting on Sunday to discuss their plans.

1Q Fundraising

TN-Sen: Bill Hagerty (R): $1.2 million raised, $5.6 million cash-on-hand (note: Hagerty's campaign would not tell the Associated Press how much of his haul came from self-funding)

IA-03: David Young (R): $400,000 raised

MA-04: Jake Auchincloss (D): $474,000 raised, $947,000 cash-on-hand; Alan Khazei (D): $278,000, $783,000 cash-on-hand raised

NH-01: Matt Mowers (R): $354,000 raised, $315,000 cash-on-hand

TX-07: Wesley Hunt (R): $920,000 raised

TX-24: Kim Olson (D): $370,000 raised; Candace Valenzuela (D): $305,000 raised

Senate

KY-Sen: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently went up with a commercial that praised him for the coronavirus economic bill, and Marine veteran Amy McGrath is now out with a response ad. The narrator declares that McConnell is "already taking a victory lap against the coronavirus in TV ads, even though medical experts say hundreds of thousands of Americans could die." The Democrat's ad also takes McConnell to task for blocking "emergency research until drug companies could overcharge for vaccines."

MI-Sen: The conservative think tank American Principles Project is out with a poll from the GOP firm Spry Strategies that gives Democratic Sen. Gary Peters a 42-40 edge over Republican John James.

South Dakota: Candidate filing closed last week for South Dakota's June 2 primary, and the state has a list of contenders available here. A primary runoff will take place on Aug. 11 in races where no candidate took more than 35% of the vote.

However, both the primary and the general election should be quiet this year in this very red state. GOP Sen. Mike Rounds faces an intra-party challenge from state Rep. Scyller Borglum, who raised very little cash in 2019. Rep. Dusty Johnson also drew a challenge from former state Rep. Liz Marty May, who narrowly lost re-election last cycle.

Gubernatorial

MT-Gov: On Monday, the Montana Federation of Public Employees endorsed Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney in the June Democratic primary. Cooney's campaign says that this is the state's largest union.

WV-Gov: Democratic state Sen. Ron Stollings is out with a spot ahead of the June primary focused on the coronavirus. Stollings, who works as a physician, appears in his lab coat and tells the audience, "Regarding the coronavirus, I'm so glad we were able to get $2 million in the budget to help fight that. That was my amendment."

Stollings spends the rest of the ad telling the audience to use "good common sense" during the pandemic. He says to "assume everyone has the coronavirus. They don't, but that way, you will socially distance yourself and you'll use hand washing techniques." He also urges the viewer, "Do not go around your loved ones, your older loved ones, if you're sick."

House

CA-25: The DCCC has launched a $1 million ad campaign against Republican Mike Garcia that the Los Angeles Times reports will run until the May 12 special election. Politico reports that $930,000 of this is going to cable TV and another $42,000 will be for Spanish-language commercials, while the balance will be for digital advertising.

The DCCC's opening spot alludes to the coronavirus without mentioning it directly: The narrator says, "More than ever we need a leader who will put our health and safety first." The commercial goes on to say, "But Mike Garcia would let insurance companies deny coverage for pre-existing conditions … and hike up costs for life-saving drugs." The commercial then praises Democrat Christy Smith for refusing to "take a dime from pharmaceutical companies."

The ad comes shortly after the NRCC also began spending here. Politico reports that the committee is deploying $330,000 for broadcast TV in addition to the $690,000 cable buy we noted last week.

FL-19: Physician William Figlesthaler uses his first ad ahead of the August GOP primary to tell the audience that "career politicians from both parties have failed" to handle the coronavirus. The candidate uses an image of Bernie Sanders to represent Democrats who "want socialized medicine," while the late John McCain stands in for the establishment Republicans Figlesthaler says "failed to implement President Trump's aggressive free market health care solutions."

KY-04: GOP Rep. Thomas Massie is up with an ad portraying him as a loyal Donald Trump ally while ignoring that Trump called him "a disaster for America, and for the Great State of Kentucky" less than two weeks ago. Massie also doesn't mention Todd McMurtry, who is his opponent in the June primary.

MI-13: Target-Insyght is out with a survey of the August Democratic primary conducted from March 31 to April 2 that gives Rep. Rashida Tlaib a 43-34 advantage in her rematch against Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones. Back in July, well before Jones kicked off her campaign, the same firm found Tlaib with a far larger 56-19 lead. Jones, who entered the race on March 25, announced on Thursday that she had tested positive for COVID-19 but added she was "not experiencing any of the horrific symptoms associated with the coronavirus."

NM-02: A recently formed super PAC called Citizens United for NM is spending at least $47,000 on a commercial attacking 2018 nominee Yvette Herrell ahead of the June GOP primary to take on Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. This group was created by Butch Mathews, who owns a trucking company that works in the state's oil and gas industry, and it donated to Herrell's main intra-party foe, oil businesswoman Claire Chase.

The commercial says that in 2016, Herrell sent out emails "to undermine Trump's campaign for president" and also "used taxpayer funds to attend an anti-Trump soiree at a San Diego hotel where they hung a Trump piñata from the ceiling." The commercial comes several months after Chase ran into problems when her old 2016 social media posts attacking Trump surfaced.

Virginia: Candidate filing closed last month for Virginia's June 9 primary, and the state now has a list of contenders.

Virginia allows parties to nominate candidates through party conventions or through a party-run firehouse primary, so not every November matchup will be decided in June. Both parties are holding primaries for Senate, but the situation varies in House seats: The GOP is hosting primaries in only five of the 11 congressional districts, while Democrats are doing primaries everywhere except for the safely red 9th Congressional District.

VA-02: Democrat Elaine Luria unseated Republican incumbent Scott Taylor 51-49 last cycle, and Republicans are hoping to take back this 49-45 Trump seat in the Virginia Beach area.

Taylor initially decided to launch a longshot challenge to Sen. Mark Warner, but he announced in January that he would instead seek a rematch against Luria. Navy veteran and 2010 candidate Ben Loyola was already running, though, and he decided to remain in the contest. Loyola has the support of former Rep. Scott Rigell, who defeated him 40-27 in the primary for an open seat in 2010 and retired in 2016. Navy veteran Jarome Bell is also running, but he didn’t report raising any money during the final months of 2019.

Taylor is the frontrunner to win the GOP nod, but Team Red may still benefit from a different nominee. Taylor’s staff was exposed during the 2018 campaign for forging signatures on behalf of Democrat-turned-independent Shaun Brown (who was booted off the ballot by a judge), and Democrats ran ads slamming Taylor's campaign for its skullduggery.

The story has not gone away since Taylor's defeat. Last month, a former Taylor staffer pleaded guilty for her part in the scheme, and the local prosecutor said the "investigation is still ongoing" and that we're "likely to see more" indictments to come. Taylor himself has consistently denied any knowledge of the scheme, but his staff had previously claimed the congressman was indeed aware of their plans.

VA-05: While the GOP opted to select its nominee through a convention, Democrats decided to hold a primary here instead. This seat, which includes Charlottesville and the south-central part of the state, moved from 53-46 Romney to 53-42 Trump, but Democrats are hoping that the ugly GOP nomination battle between freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman and Campbell County Supervisor Bob Good will give them an opening.

Four Democrats filed to compete in the primary. EMILY’s List is backing Claire Russo, while VoteVets is supporting fellow Marine veteran Roger Dean Huffstetler, who unsuccessfully ran here in 2018. Physician Cameron Webb and Rappahannock County Supervisor John Lesinski are also running.

House: House Majority PAC, which is the second-largest spender on House races among outside groups on the Democratic side, has announced that it's reserved a total of $51 million in fall TV time in 29 different media markets. We've assembled this new data into a spreadsheet, but as you'll see, it's organized by market rather than district, so we've also included our best guesses as to which House seats HMP is specifically targeting or defending.

The reason these buys are organized this way is because advertising can only be booked market by market. The geographic regions served by particular TV stations rarely correspond with political boundaries, and the reverse is true as well.

About half of the nation's 435 congressional districts are contained within a single media market, while the other half cross two or more (sprawling Montana's lone House district reaches into nine different markets, the most in the country). Conversely, all but a couple dozen of the 900-plus media markets in the U.S. overlap with two or more congressional districts; jumbo-sized New York City, for instance, covers all or part of 34 different House seats in four different states. Inevitably, this mismatch means that many TV watchers will wind up seeing ads for districts they don't live in.

Most importantly, these reservations give us an early window into which races HMP expects to be competitive, but they don't tell us everything. As Politico notes, most of these media markets will likely attract hordes of ad money from presidential and Senate campaigns, so HMP is reserving now to lock in cheaper rates before high demand for TV time brings prices up. HMP can afford to wait, though, to book ads in competitive House seats located in markets like Los Angeles and Salt Lake City since there won't be nearly as much competition for airtime there.

As we alluded to just above, HMP included several markets in this first wave of reservations that contain at least a portion of several different competitive House seats, most notably Philadelphia. If you're interested in knowing exactly which media markets cover which congressional districts across the country, naturally we've got all that data for you. It's what we used, in fact, to hone our guesses as to which seats HMP cares about.

However, it's still too early to know how much money the PAC will direct towards each race. Often, major outside groups will change their planning based on how individual contests seem to be shaping up.

In 2018, for instance, the NRCC reserved a large chunk of TV time in the pricey Miami media market but, initially, it only used those bookings to air ads defending Rep. Carlos Curbelo in Florida's 26th District. Late in the cycle, though, the NRCC put some of that reserved airtime to work in an effort to save the open 27th District, which it had previously appeared to give up on.

Around that same time, the committee made the opposite move in the Las Vegas market. The NRCC reserved millions there well before Election Day, and it initially seemed that it would spend to try to flip both Nevada's 3rd and 4th Districts. In October, though, the NRCC decided to direct all its money towards helping former Rep. Cresent Hardy in the 4th District, and it didn't end up spending in the 3rd District at all.

None of these deck chair rearrangements wound up mattering, though: Republicans ultimately lost all four of these races in what was a terrible year for the GOP. But they're a good reminder that TV reservations often do not reveal the entire House battlefield.

Other Races

WA-LG: Retiring Rep. Denny Heck recently filed paperwork with the state to run for lieutenant governor, though the Democrat has not said he’s in yet. The filing deadline for Washington’s August top-two primary is May 15.

Heck surprised political observers in December when he announced that he would not seek a fifth term in his reliably blue seat. In an unusually candid letter, Heck described both the many things he'd loved about serving in Congress but also admitted he'd grown "discouraged," explaining that "countless hours I have spent in the investigation of Russian election interference and the impeachment inquiry have rendered my soul weary." Last month, Democratic Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib made an unexpected decision of his own when he revealed that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election and would instead leave politics to become a Jesuit.

If Heck goes forward with a campaign to succeed Habib, he’ll be the second retiring House member this cycle to run for a lieutenant governor’s post. Utah Rep. Rob Bishop confirmed back in July that he’d leave the House, and the Republican later announced in January that he’d serve as former state party chair Thomas Wright’s running mate.

However, both Heck and Bishop would be running for office under very different rules. In Utah, Wright and Bishop will either win or lose the June primary together as a ticket; if they clear the primary, they’d also both be elected or defeated together in the general election. In Washington, though, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor compete separately in both the top-two primary and the general election.

Morning Digest: Coronavirus leaves Virginia GOP unsure how to hold House nominating conventions

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.

Public Service Announcement: If you haven't yet filled out the 2020 census, please do so by clicking here to do it online, by mail, or by phone. This way, census workers won't have to come to your door. The Census Bureau advises completing the census now even if you haven't received your 12-digit census ID by mail.

Leading Off

VA-05, VA-07: Republicans in Virginia’s 5th and 7th Congressional Districts had planned to pick their nominees at April 25 party conventions, rather than in June's primary, but Republicans leaders are still deciding how to proceed in light of the coronavirus.

All of this uncertainty is causing plenty of angst in the 5th District, where freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman faces a challenge from the right from Campbell County Supervisor Bob Good. Riggleman even speculated to Roll Call that, if the process gets out of hand, Team Red won’t even have a nominee in this 53-42 Trump seat. National Republicans will also be keeping a close eye on the 7th District, where plenty of candidates are competing for the right to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger.

Campaign Action

For now, the only things that anyone knows are that the April 25 conventions won’t be happening as planned, but that Republican voters in these two seats still won’t be selecting their candidates through a primary. The 5th District GOP recently posted a memo saying that it's not permissible at this point to switch from nominating candidates at a convention to the state-run primary, which is on June 9.

Ben Slone, who runs the 7th District GOP, told Roll Call’s Stephanie Akin that his group would discuss what to do on Thursday. All he would say about alternatives to the convention, though, was, “We have a set of contingency plans that will be invoked depending on guidance and government health dictates.”

Melvin Adams, who runs the 5th District GOP committee, also told Akin that they would be talking next week about moving the convention date, and he was more forthcoming with his plans. Adams said that he’d hoped to move the event to June 6, which is the weekend before the statewide primary.

However, Riggleman and his supporters say that Adams has been promoting another option if it’s still not safe to hold a convention by then, and it’s not one they like at all. Riggleman said the 5th District Republican Committee, which has fewer than 40 members, could end up picking the party’s nominee, and Adams didn’t deny that this was a possibility. Indeed, this is how Riggleman got chosen as Team Red’s candidate two years ago after Rep. Tom Garrett ended his campaign after winning renomination. That was a very different set of circumstances, though, and an unnamed Riggleman ally on the committee said that, if this ends up happening this year, “I think it would be unfair. It’s a very undemocratic process.”

There’s another huge potential drawback to using this method. Riggleman said that party rules require a candidate to earn the support of at least two-thirds of the district committee, which raises the possibility that no one could end up with the GOP nod. And even if someone claims a supermajority, the congressman argued, it’s possible that the state Republican Party won’t recognize this person as the rightful nominee. Indeed, an unnamed former state party official told Roll Call that the committee only picked the candidate last cycle because their nominee had dropped out, and that “[c]hanging to a process where Republican voters don’t have a voice would be against the party plan and potentially against state law.”

Riggleman himself sounds quite unhappy with this whole state of affairs, saying that he wanted a primary instead of “a convoluted convention process that is collapsing under the weight of this crisis.” Riggleman already had reasons to be wary about party leaders, rather than voters, choosing the nominee here. The congressman infuriated plenty of social conservatives at home in July when he officiated a same-sex wedding between two of his former campaign volunteers. This quickly resulted in a homophobic backlash against him, and local Republican Parties in three small 5th District counties each passed anti-Riggleman motions. It also didn’t escape notice that the convention was supposed to be held at Good’s church.

Riggleman’s path to a second term could be even more perilous if the 5th District Committee ends up choosing the nominee, especially since its chairman sounds very frustrated with him. “I know the congressman and some of his staff and other people have been putting out false information, or at least implying this committee is trying to rig things,” Adams said. “This committee is not trying to rig things.”

Democrats, by contrast, opted to hold a traditional primary in June, and so Team Blue doesn’t have anything like the mess that’s haunting the 5th District GOP. Democrats have several notable contenders running here, and while it will still be tough to flip a seat that Trump won by double digits, GOP infighting could give the eventual nominee more of an opening.

Election Changes

Alaska: Alaska's Republican-run state Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would allow Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer to order that the state's Aug. 18 downballot primaries be conducted entirely by mail. (The lieutenant governor is Alaska's chief election official.) However, Republicans blocked an attempt by Democrats to require that the state provide dropboxes where voters can return their ballots, an option that is very popular in states that have adopted universal voting by mail, in part because it obviates the need for a postage stamp and avoids the risk of delayed mail return service.

The bill now goes to the state House, which is controlled by a Democratic-led coalition that includes Republicans and independents. The Alaska Daily News says that Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy is "expected" to sign the measure "speedily" if both chambers pass it.

Indiana: Indiana's bipartisan Election Commission has unanimously waived the state's requirement that voters who wish to vote absentee in June's presidential and downballot primaries provide an excuse in order to do so.

Nebraska: Election officials in Nebraska say there are no plans to delay the state's May 12 presidential and downballot primaries, but at least half a dozen counties—including the three largest—will send absentee ballot applications to all voters, while a number of other small counties had previously moved to all-mail elections prior to the coronavirus outbreak. In all, more than half the state will either receive absentee applications or mail-in ballots, including all voters in the state's 2nd Congressional District, a competitive district that features a multi-way Democratic primary.

Nevada: Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and local election officials from all 17 Nevada counties have announced plans to conduct the state's June 9 downballot primaries almost entirely by mail. Every active registered voter will be sent a postage-paid absentee ballot that they can return by mail or at an in-person polling site, of which each county will have at least one. Importantly, these voters will not have to request an a ballot. At least one in-person polling place will also be available in each county.

Ballots must be postmarked or turned in by Election Day, though they will still count as long as they are received up to seven days later. Officials will also contact any voter whose ballot has an issue (such as a missing signature), and voters will have until the seventh day after the election to correct any problems. Cegavske's press release wisely cautions that, under this system, final election results will not be known until well after election night, though this is a point that officials across the country will have to emphasize loudly and repeatedly as mail voting becomes more widespread.

One potential issue with Cegavske's plan, though, is that registered voters who are listed as "inactive" on the voter rolls will not be sent ballots. However, as voting expert Michael McDonald notes, these voters are still eligible to vote, and every election, many do. While they can still request absentee ballots on their own, they now face an obstacle that active voters will not. Approximately 14% of Nevada's 1.8 million registered voters are on inactive status.

Ohio: Lawmakers in Ohio's Republican-run legislature unanimously passed a bill extending the time to vote by mail in the state's presidential and downballot primaries until April 28, and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has said he will sign it "soon." There would be limited in-person voting only for people with disabilities or special needs, and voters would also be able to drop off absentee ballots in person on that day, but ballots would have to be mailed by April 27 and be received by May 8 in order to count. However, voting rights groups have expressed serious reservations about the plan and say they may sue.

Under the bill, the state would send postcards to voters explaining how to request an absentee ballot application. Voters would then have to print out applications on their own, or request one be mailed to them, and then mail them in—they cannot be submitted online. They would then have to mail in their absentee ballots (though these at least would come with a postage-paid envelope).

Voting rights advocate Mike Brickner notes that there is very little time left to carry out this multi-step process, particularly because each piece of mail would be in transit for several days. In addition, printing all of these materials, including the postcards that are designed to kick off this effort, will take considerable time, especially since government offices, the postal service, and print shops "may not be operating optimally," as Brickner observes.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania's Republican-run legislature has unanimously passed a bill to move the state's presidential and downballot primaries from April 28 to June 2. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has said he will sign the measure.

Wisconsin: The city of Green Bay has filed a lawsuit asking that a federal judge order Wisconsin officials to delay the state's April 7 elections until June 2 and to extend its voter registration deadline to May 1. (The deadline for registering by mail has already passed, but voters can still register online through March 30 thanks to an earlier order by a different judge.) Green Bay has also asked that it be allowed to cancel in-person voting and mail ballots to all registered voters.

Senate

MI-Sen: The GOP firm Marketing Resource Group is out with a new survey giving Democratic Sen. Gary Peters a 42-35 lead over Republican John James, which is an improvement from the incumbent's 43-40 edge in October. The only other poll we've seen this month was an early March survey from the GOP firms 0ptimus and Firehouse Strategies that gave James a 41-40 advantage.

ME-Sen: The Democratic group Majority Forward has announced that it's launched a new six-figure ad campaign supporting state House Speaker Sara Gideon. The spot praises Gideon's work securing millions for coronavirus testing, as well as workers and small businesses.

SC-Sen: Democrat Jaime Harrison is out with a poll from Brilliant Corners that shows GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham leading him by a small 47-43 margin. The only other survey we've seen in the last few weeks was a late February Marist poll that showed Graham up 54-37.

Gubernatorial

WV-Gov: The GOP firm Medium Buying reports that GOP Gov. Jim Justice launched his first ad of 2020 last week, and we now have a copy of his commercial. The ad begins with a clip of Donald Trump at a rally saying, "My good friend, and your governor, Jim Justice," before the narrator jumps in and praises the incumbent as a conservative Trump ally.

Former state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, by contrast, has been running commercials since June of last year, and he's out with another one ahead of the May GOP primary. Thrasher tells the audience that the coronavirus is creating hardships for West Virginia, and that the state "needs to be proactive in terms of its reaction to this crisis, not reactive the way we have been so many other times." Thrasher then lays out his plan for helping the state economically during the pandemic.

Thrasher doesn't mention, much less directly criticize, Justice's handling of the situation, but he still argues that the state isn't doing enough. "Our president is being very proactive in terms of dealing with those issues," Thrasher says, "We need to follow suit and be proactive as well." He concludes, "It's time for the state of West Virginia to get something done."

House

IN-05: In an unusual move, retiring Rep. Susan Brooks' office publicly told businesswoman Beth Henderson to stop saying that Brooks had recruited her or even given her any special encouragement to run at all. "Susan talked with all Republican candidates who called her and expressed an interest in running in the 5th District to share her insights about representing this district," a Brooks aide said. "Some candidates did not call her." Brooks has not taken sides in the crowded June GOP primary to succeed her.

However, Henderson made it sound like the congresswoman was pulling for her back in February when she declared, "Susan Brooks encouraged me to run." The candidate put out a statement this week insisting that she and Brooks "have had a couple conversations regarding the Fifth district. She has been encouraging throughout my campaign, as I imagine she has been with other candidates as well."

The Indianapolis Star also obtained a voicemail from an unidentified person raising money for the Henderson campaign who said, "Susan actually recruited Beth to run for her, and we are working hard to raise funds to ensure that that happened." Henderson's team acknowledged that this person was affiliated with the campaign but insisted that none of that was included in the script that caller was given.

MI-13: Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones announced Wednesday that she would seek a primary rematch against Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is one of the most high-profile members of the House freshman class. Jones, who briefly held this seat for a few weeks in the lame-duck session of the last Congress (more on that later), kicked off her campaign with a video declaring that she was “running for re-election” to this safely blue seat.

While Jones didn’t mention Tlaib in that message, she argued in a new interview with the Detroit News that her opponent has “spent a lot of her energy in places other than the 13th District.” Jones said that, unlike the congresswoman, “I will be totally focused on the 13th District, being the third-poorest district in the United States.”

Jones and Tlaib have a lot of history. Thanks to some very unusual circumstances, they even faced off three separate times in 2018. That August, Michigan held two different Democratic primaries on the same day for this seat: one for a special election for the final months of former Rep. John Conyers' term, and one for the regular two-year term. Jones had the support of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and some unions, but she had trouble raising money. Tlaib, by contrast, didn’t have as many prominent local endorsements, but she decisively outraised each of her many opponents.

Tlaib narrowly beat Jones 31-30 in the six-way primary for the full term. However, there were only four candidates on the ballot in the special election primary, and in that race, it was Jones who edged Tlaib 38-36.

The two candidates who were only on the ballot for the regular term, state Sen. Coleman Young II and former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson, took a combined 18% of the vote, so their absence in the special primary likely had an impact. Jones, Young, and Jackson, along with more than half the district's residents, are black, while Tlaib is of Palestinian descent (only 4% of residents identify as Arab American). It's therefore probable that the presence of two additional African American candidates in the regular primary but not in the special primary made the difference between the two close outcomes.

Jones, however, didn't relish the idea of serving just a few weeks in the House and wound up launching a last-minute write-in campaign against Tlaib for the general election. It was a misguided move, though, as she took just 0.32% of the vote. Jones and then-Speaker Paul Ryan ended up working out an apparently unprecedented agreement that allowed Jones to serve a few weeks in the House without resigning as head of the Detroit City Council, letting her take a hiatus from that post until Tlaib was sworn in in January of 2019.

Tlaib immediately earned national attention on her first day in office when she said of Donald Trump, "[W]e're going to impeach the motherfucker," and she’s been in the headlines plenty since then. Most notably, Trump targeted Tlaib and the three other women of color who make up “The Squad” with a racist tweet in July. Thanks to her celebrity, Tlaib has done well in raising money from progressives across the country, ending last year with a hefty $1.2 million on-hand.

Tlaib, who has been a prominent Bernie Sanders surrogate, has her share of intra-party critics and recently inflamed some of them when she booed Hillary Clinton at a Sanders campaign event in January in Iowa. Jones, however, has her own issues, particularly as a longtime supporter of Louis Farrakhan, the anti-Semitic head of the Nation of Islam, even sharing the stage with him at a 2017 event in Detroit.

If Jones has any reservations about Farrakhan—whose lowlight reel includes gems like, “The Jewish media has normalized sexual degeneracy, profanity, and all kinds of sin,” and, “In Washington right next to the Holocaust Museum is the Federal Reserve where they print the money. Is that an accident?"—she hasn't put them on display. Rather, just last month, her chief of staff said that Jones was sponsoring a resolution commending Farrakhan’s newspaper, which ran a piece Farrakhan wrote in 2016 saying that the Sept. 11 attacks were “a false flag operation,” for its “truthful articles.” For his part, Farrakhan himself singled Jones out for praise in a speech in Detroit two years ago.

TN-01: State Rep. Timothy Hill announced on Tuesday that he was joining the August GOP primary for this safely red open seat. Hill has served in the state legislature for four terms, and he's risen to become chair of the Commerce Committee.