Morning Digest: Democrats launch first stage of plan to flip Wisconsin Senate

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

WI State Senate: The Wisconsin Democratic Party announced on Wednesday that it plans to spend a hefty $7 million on TV ads in five state Senate districts, a sum the Associated Press' Todd Richmond says represents "the biggest ad buy of its kind Democrats in the state have ever made in legislative races."

The offensive comes after the state approved new legislative maps to replace Republican gerrymanders that the state Supreme Court struck down late last year. Energized by the new districts, which much more closely reflect Wisconsin's swingy nature, Democrats are fielding candidates in every Senate seat on the ballot for the first time in more than two decades.

Reclaiming their first majority since 2012, however, will likely take two election cycles because only 16 of the upper chamber's 33 seats are up this year. But making gains this fall is critical for Democrats to have a shot at flipping the chamber in 2026, when the other half of the Senate will go before voters.

Republicans won a 22-11 advantage in 2022, a two-thirds supermajority that would allow them to remove impeached state officials—a power they've threatened to wield but have yet to do so. They also hold a lopsided edge in the Assembly, which has the power to start impeachment proceedings with just a simple majority, though they're just short of the two-thirds threshold in the lower chamber.

But the new maps, which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed in February after it was passed by the legislature, will make it all but impossible for the GOP to retain those skewed margins.

That's because Joe Biden would have carried 18 Senate districts under the new boundaries compared to 15 for Donald Trump, according to VEST data from Dave's Redistricting App. That's a stark difference from the old map, which gave Trump a 22-11 edge—figures that mirror the Republicans' current numbers there.

In total, six Democratic-held seats will be on the ballot in 2024 compared with 10 for Republicans. Four of those 10 GOP seats went for Biden, giving Democrats the chance to win them all. Every Democratic seat, by contrast, was also won by Biden.

The AP's Richmond reports Wisconsin Democrats are targeting these four Biden-Republican seats, as well as one swingy Democratic constituency that could be vulnerable, with ads set to begin after the state's Aug. 13 primaries. In each case, the president's margin was in single digits, so all will be competitive affairs.

The Democrats' best pickup target may be the 18th District, an open seat that stretches from Appleton south to Oshkosh and favored Biden 53-45. Republicans will choose between physician Anthony Phillips and businessman Blong Yang. The Democratic frontrunner, meanwhile, is Appleton Alderperson Kristin Alfheim. (Wisconsin's filing deadline isn't until June 3, so the roster of candidates in each of these races may not be set.)

The GOP also doesn't have an incumbent defending the 30th District in the Green Bay area, which backed Biden by a smaller 51-47 spread. Business consultant Jamie Wall announced in March that he'd seek the Democratic nod to take on Republican Sen. Eric Wimberger, but the incumbent later opted to relocate to the dark red 2nd District next door. The GOP doesn't lack a candidate here, though, as Allouez Village President Jim Rafter launched a bid soon after Wimberger switched races.

Two Republican senators, meanwhile, are seeking reelection in competitive constituencies. Sen. Joan Ballweg is defending the 14th District to the north of Madison against Democrat Sarah Keyeski, who works as a mental health counselor. Biden also prevailed 51-47 here.

GOP Sen. Duey Stroebel, meanwhile, is trying to hold the 8th District, a seat in Milwaukee's northern suburbs that went for Biden by just half a percentage point. Environmental attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin, who rose to prominence in a competitive special election last year, has the Democratic nod to herself.

Habush Sinykin campaigned in 2023 for the previous version of the 8th, which favored Trump 52-47, in a contest that took place following former GOP Sen. Alberta Darling's resignation. Habush Sinykin outperformed those presidential baselines but narrowly lost to state Rep. Dan Knodl by a 51-49 margin.

But while Knodl's victory returned the GOP to supermajority status, he didn't have long to enjoy his promotion. The new maps placed Knodl and Stroebel in the same Senate district, prompting Knodl to run for his old seat in the Assembly rather than oppose his new colleague. (Knodl will instead take on Rep. Janel Brandtjen, an election denier he beat in last year's special election primary.)

Meanwhile, the only vulnerable Democratic-held seat up this year belongs to Sen. Brad Pfaff, whose 32nd District around La Crosse favored Biden 52-46. Pfaff lost a close contest in 2022 for the 3rd Congressional District to Republican Derrick Van Orden, but he opted to seek reelection rather than try for a rematch.

Pfaff's only announced Republican opponent is Trempealeau County Board member Stacey Klein, who abandoned her hopeless campaign to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin last month to instead run for the legislature.

Should Democrats run the table by holding all their current seats and flipping the four Biden-Republican districts, the GOP would still hold a small 18-15 advantage overall. It's unlikely Democrats can hope for much more this year because the remaining six Republican seats all went for Trump by double-digit margins, though three more winnable Biden districts held by Republicans will be up in 2026.

These Senate races won't be the only closely watched legislative contests in the state, though, as Democrats are also working to flip the Assembly. And unlike in the Senate, Democrats have a chance to secure a majority this year: While the GOP holds an imposing 64-35 majority, all 99 representatives are up for new two-year terms. (Members of the assembly, somewhat confusingly, hold the title of representative rather than assemblymember or something similar.)

Trump carried 64 districts under the old boundaries, which, like the Senate, matches the number of constituencies his party holds. However, Trump took just 50 seats under the new map, which gives Democrats the chance to take their first majority since the 2010 red wave.

Senate

MD-Sen: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin reports that EMILYs List has now spent a total of $2.5 million on ads to help Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks beat Rep. David Trone in Tuesday's Democratic primary. EMILYs previously reported spending $1.6 million on television and digital platforms in FEC documents filed May 3.

NV-Sen: A billionaire-backed super PAC supporting Army veteran Sam Brown is now running ads attacking former diplomat Jeff Gunter despite a poll last month that showed Brown with a monster lead in Nevada's June 11 GOP primary.

The new spot for Duty First Nevada, which is chiefly funded by software company mogul David Duffield, hammers Gunter, a dermatologist appointed by Donald Trump as ambassador to Iceland in 2018, as an "infomercial doctor" and "longtime California Democrat" who "cashed in telling seniors he could reverse their age."

The ad features clips of those late-night infomercials, in which Gunter hawked a purported wrinkle-removing "serum" under the auspices of an outfit he created called the "Youthology Research Institute."

The commercial goes on to claim Gunter has never voted in Nevada and didn't vote for Trump's reelection in 2020. The Daily Beast's Sam Brodey reported last year that Gunter registered to vote as a Democrat in 2000 in California, where he grew up and started his medical practice and that he last cast a ballot in the Golden State in 2018.

Brodey also wrote that there's no record of Gunter voting anywhere in 2020. The longtime Nevada property owner registered to vote in the Silver State the following year, but he does not appear to have returned the 2022 absentee ballot he requested. (Gunter made that request from California.)

Duty First Nevada has yet to file reports detailing its spending on this new ad campaign, but it previously spent $1.2 million to boost Brown's campaign. That the PAC feels it necessary to get involved to this degree is something of a surprise, though, as an early April survey for the NRSC, which is backing Brown, showed him with a 58-3 lead on Gunter.

House

MD-03: Retiring Sen. Ben Cardin expressed his support for state Sen. Sarah Elfreth's bid for the Democratic nomination in Maryland's open 3rd Congressional District, both appearing with her at a campaign event and telling the Baltimore Sun in a statement that "she is ready for the job." Cardin himself represented previous versions of the safely blue 3rd District for the 20 years preceding his successful Senate bid in 2006.

According to the Sun's Dana Munro, Cardin's team claims his involvement in the race for his old seat did not constitute "a formal endorsement," but of course, there's no such thing as a formal endorsement. And as we always note when politicians insist on playing games like this, actions speak far louder than words.

It's particularly unclear why Cardin would even want to hedge in this case, since he offered effusive praise for Elfreth, calling her "one of our great leaders" on climate change and saying she "knows how to get things accomplished." Regardless of what Cardin might call it, we call that an endorsement.

Elfreth is an apparent frontrunner in the massive 21-candidate primary that will take place next week, along with former Capitol police officer Harry Dunn. Dunn has raised more than $4.5 million for his campaign while Elfreth has benefited from almost $4.2 million in spending from the United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC.

But while UDP had previously stuck to airing positive ads for most of the campaign, it just deployed a new commercial that argues Dunn should be "ashamed of himself" for running negative spots against Elfreth. (Those Dunn ads went after the state senator for benefiting from spending from AIPAC, which his narrator characterized as a "right-wing SuperPAC funded by Trump donors.")

UDP's new spot doesn't say anything more about Dunn, though. Instead, it moves on to praise Elfreth as a loyal Democrat who is "as anti-Trump as they come." Another ad focuses entirely on reproductive rights and doesn't mention Dunn.

MD-06: Former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney has released an internal poll from Garin-Hart-Yang that shows her leading Del. Joe Vogel 37-24 in Tuesday's Democratic primary, with 22% undecided and the balance split between the rest of the field. (A total of 16 names are listed on the ballot, though some candidates have dropped out.)

Delaney publicized her survey days after Vogel's allies at Equality PAC released a late April poll from Public Policy Polling that showed the two deadlocked 24-24 in the contest to replace Senate candidate David Trone, a fellow Democrat. We have not seen any other recent polls.

NH-02: Maggie Goodlander, a former official in the Biden administration who had reportedly been considering a bid for New Hampshire's open 2nd District, joined the September primary for the Democratic nomination on Thursday.

Goodlander, who was once an aide to the late Sens. Joe Lieberman and John McCain, has deep connections to the White House. The Boston Globe's James Pindell last month characterized her as part of an "elite circle of aides to President Biden," which includes her husband, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Goodlander grew up in the 2nd District (her mother, Betty Tamposi, lost a close GOP primary for a previous version of the seat in 1988), and she touted her local roots in her kickoff. However, Pindell notes that she and Sullivan purchased a home in 2018 in Portsmouth, which is located in the 1st District. Goodlander says she recently signed a lease for a residence in her hometown of Nashua in the 2nd.

Goodlander is the third notable Democrat to enter the race, following state Sen. Becky Whitley and former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, who has the endorsement of retiring Rep. Annie Kuster.

NJ-10: Hudson County Commission Jerry Walker has joined the July 16 Democratic primary for the special election to replace Rep. Donald Payne Jr., who died last month. Candidate filing for the race for this safely blue seat in the Newark area closes at 4 PM ET today.

SC-04: Rep. William Timmons is now airing negative ads against state Rep. Adam Morgan ahead of their June 11 Republican primary showdown for South Carolina's 4th District, a safely red constituency in the Greenville area. The narrator accuses Morgan of missing "over 400 votes" in the legislature before reminding viewers that Timmons has Donald Trump's endorsement.

Morgan, who chairs his chamber's far-right Freedom Caucus, received an endorsement this week from the eponymous congressional group. Republicans in Congress who resent the antics of the nihilistic caucus, though, got a new reason this week to dread what might happen if Morgan were to join the House.

The final days of South Carolina's legislative session were defined by a chaotic battle between Morgan's Freedom Caucus and the rest of the GOP-led state House. Morgan upset most of his fellow Republicans when he unsuccessfully attempted to bar state agencies from sending voter registration forms to non-citizens.

"These are stunts … circus antics, people," said one exasperated Republican, state Rep. Gil Gatch. Micah Caskey, another Republican lawmaker who is no fan of Morgan's crew, went even further by addressing the lower chamber while donning a tinfoil hat labeled "South Carolina Freedom Caucus."

Obituaries

Pete McCloskey: Former California Rep. Pete McCloskey, a liberal Republican who rose to national prominence in 1972 by challenging President Richard Nixon for renomination as an anti-Vietnam War candidate, died Wednesday at age 96. McCloskey, as Margaret O'Mara wrote in her book "The Code," also played a role in Silicon Valley's rise as a technological powerhouse.

McCloskey first made his mark in politics in 1967 by beating another well-known Republican, former child star Shirley Temple Black, 34-22 in the first round of an all-party special election for a House seat in the Bay Area. (McCloskey's surprise win was the basis of a 1968 nonfiction book, "The Sinking of the Lollipop.")

McCloskey easily won the general election and served in the House for many years. In 1982, however, he sought a promotion to the Senate but ended with a 38-25 loss in the primary to the eventual winner, San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson. You can find much more about McCloskey's eventful career, including a quixotic 2006 primary bid against a conservative congressman that helped Democrats flip the Bay Area's last GOP-held seat, in the San Jose Mercury News' obituary.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now? Federal prosecutors have re-indicted former Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry for lying to federal agents in connection with an effort to funnel $30,000 to Fortenberry's campaign via straw donors.

While Fortenberry was convicted by a jury in Los Angeles in 2022, a federal appeals court overturned his conviction late last year, saying prosecutors had tried him in the wrong jurisdiction.

The Department of Justice had brought charges against Fortenberry in Los Angeles, where the straw-donor scheme was originally put in motion by a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire. However, the false statements for which the jury convicted the then-congressman were made in Washington, D.C., and at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska. To resolve the problem, prosecutors have brought their renewed charges in D.C.

Fortenberry announced his resignation from Nebraska's conservative 1st District two days after his conviction in 2022. He was sentenced later that year to two years' probation, 320 hours of community service, and a $25,000 fine. In a statement responding to the new charges, an attorney for Fortenberry did not appear to address his client's culpability but rather accused the Justice Department of "overzealous prosecution."

Poll Pile

  • NC-Gov: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Josh Stein (D): 39, Mark Robinson (R): 39, Mike Ross (L): 4, Wayne Turner (G): 1 (43-38 Trump) (April: 40-38 Robinson)
  • NC Supreme Court: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Jefferson Griffin (R): 40, Allison Riggs (D-inc): 39

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Democrats launch first stage of plan to flip Wisconsin Senate

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

WI State Senate: The Wisconsin Democratic Party announced on Wednesday that it plans to spend a hefty $7 million on TV ads in five state Senate districts, a sum the Associated Press' Todd Richmond says represents "the biggest ad buy of its kind Democrats in the state have ever made in legislative races."

The offensive comes after the state approved new legislative maps to replace Republican gerrymanders that the state Supreme Court struck down late last year. Energized by the new districts, which much more closely reflect Wisconsin's swingy nature, Democrats are fielding candidates in every Senate seat on the ballot for the first time in more than two decades.

Reclaiming their first majority since 2012, however, will likely take two election cycles because only 16 of the upper chamber's 33 seats are up this year. But making gains this fall is critical for Democrats to have a shot at flipping the chamber in 2026, when the other half of the Senate will go before voters.

Republicans won a 22-11 advantage in 2022, a two-thirds supermajority that would allow them to remove impeached state officials—a power they've threatened to wield but have yet to do so. They also hold a lopsided edge in the Assembly, which has the power to start impeachment proceedings with just a simple majority, though they're just short of the two-thirds threshold in the lower chamber.

But the new maps, which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed in February after it was passed by the legislature, will make it all but impossible for the GOP to retain those skewed margins.

That's because Joe Biden would have carried 18 Senate districts under the new boundaries compared to 15 for Donald Trump, according to VEST data from Dave's Redistricting App. That's a stark difference from the old map, which gave Trump a 22-11 edge—figures that mirror the Republicans' current numbers there.

In total, six Democratic-held seats will be on the ballot in 2024 compared with 10 for Republicans. Four of those 10 GOP seats went for Biden, giving Democrats the chance to win them all. Every Democratic seat, by contrast, was also won by Biden.

The AP's Richmond reports Wisconsin Democrats are targeting these four Biden-Republican seats, as well as one swingy Democratic constituency that could be vulnerable, with ads set to begin after the state's Aug. 13 primaries. In each case, the president's margin was in single digits, so all will be competitive affairs.

The Democrats' best pickup target may be the 18th District, an open seat that stretches from Appleton south to Oshkosh and favored Biden 53-45. Republicans will choose between physician Anthony Phillips and businessman Blong Yang. The Democratic frontrunner, meanwhile, is Appleton Alderperson Kristin Alfheim. (Wisconsin's filing deadline isn't until June 3, so the roster of candidates in each of these races may not be set.)

The GOP also doesn't have an incumbent defending the 30th District in the Green Bay area, which backed Biden by a smaller 51-47 spread. Business consultant Jamie Wall announced in March that he'd seek the Democratic nod to take on Republican Sen. Eric Wimberger, but the incumbent later opted to relocate to the dark red 2nd District next door. The GOP doesn't lack a candidate here, though, as Allouez Village President Jim Rafter launched a bid soon after Wimberger switched races.

Two Republican senators, meanwhile, are seeking reelection in competitive constituencies. Sen. Joan Ballweg is defending the 14th District to the north of Madison against Democrat Sarah Keyeski, who works as a mental health counselor. Biden also prevailed 51-47 here.

GOP Sen. Duey Stroebel, meanwhile, is trying to hold the 8th District, a seat in Milwaukee's northern suburbs that went for Biden by just half a percentage point. Environmental attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin, who rose to prominence in a competitive special election last year, has the Democratic nod to herself.

Habush Sinykin campaigned in 2023 for the previous version of the 8th, which favored Trump 52-47, in a contest that took place following former GOP Sen. Alberta Darling's resignation. Habush Sinykin outperformed those presidential baselines but narrowly lost to state Rep. Dan Knodl by a 51-49 margin.

But while Knodl's victory returned the GOP to supermajority status, he didn't have long to enjoy his promotion. The new maps placed Knodl and Stroebel in the same Senate district, prompting Knodl to run for his old seat in the Assembly rather than oppose his new colleague. (Knodl will instead take on Rep. Janel Brandtjen, an election denier he beat in last year's special election primary.)

Meanwhile, the only vulnerable Democratic-held seat up this year belongs to Sen. Brad Pfaff, whose 32nd District around La Crosse favored Biden 52-46. Pfaff lost a close contest in 2022 for the 3rd Congressional District to Republican Derrick Van Orden, but he opted to seek reelection rather than try for a rematch.

Pfaff's only announced Republican opponent is Trempealeau County Board member Stacey Klein, who abandoned her hopeless campaign to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin last month to instead run for the legislature.

Should Democrats run the table by holding all their current seats and flipping the four Biden-Republican districts, the GOP would still hold a small 18-15 advantage overall. It's unlikely Democrats can hope for much more this year because the remaining six Republican seats all went for Trump by double-digit margins, though three more winnable Biden districts held by Republicans will be up in 2026.

These Senate races won't be the only closely watched legislative contests in the state, though, as Democrats are also working to flip the Assembly. And unlike in the Senate, Democrats have a chance to secure a majority this year: While the GOP holds an imposing 64-35 majority, all 99 representatives are up for new two-year terms. (Members of the assembly, somewhat confusingly, hold the title of representative rather than assemblymember or something similar.)

Trump carried 64 districts under the old boundaries, which, like the Senate, matches the number of constituencies his party holds. However, Trump took just 50 seats under the new map, which gives Democrats the chance to take their first majority since the 2010 red wave.

Senate

MD-Sen: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin reports that EMILYs List has now spent a total of $2.5 million on ads to help Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks beat Rep. David Trone in Tuesday's Democratic primary. EMILYs previously reported spending $1.6 million on television and digital platforms in FEC documents filed May 3.

NV-Sen: A billionaire-backed super PAC supporting Army veteran Sam Brown is now running ads attacking former diplomat Jeff Gunter despite a poll last month that showed Brown with a monster lead in Nevada's June 11 GOP primary.

The new spot for Duty First Nevada, which is chiefly funded by software company mogul David Duffield, hammers Gunter, a dermatologist appointed by Donald Trump as ambassador to Iceland in 2018, as an "infomercial doctor" and "longtime California Democrat" who "cashed in telling seniors he could reverse their age."

The ad features clips of those late-night infomercials, in which Gunter hawked a purported wrinkle-removing "serum" under the auspices of an outfit he created called the "Youthology Research Institute."

The commercial goes on to claim Gunter has never voted in Nevada and didn't vote for Trump's reelection in 2020. The Daily Beast's Sam Brodey reported last year that Gunter registered to vote as a Democrat in 2000 in California, where he grew up and started his medical practice and that he last cast a ballot in the Golden State in 2018.

Brodey also wrote that there's no record of Gunter voting anywhere in 2020. The longtime Nevada property owner registered to vote in the Silver State the following year, but he does not appear to have returned the 2022 absentee ballot he requested. (Gunter made that request from California.)

Duty First Nevada has yet to file reports detailing its spending on this new ad campaign, but it previously spent $1.2 million to boost Brown's campaign. That the PAC feels it necessary to get involved to this degree is something of a surprise, though, as an early April survey for the NRSC, which is backing Brown, showed him with a 58-3 lead on Gunter.

House

MD-03: Retiring Sen. Ben Cardin expressed his support for state Sen. Sarah Elfreth's bid for the Democratic nomination in Maryland's open 3rd Congressional District, both appearing with her at a campaign event and telling the Baltimore Sun in a statement that "she is ready for the job." Cardin himself represented previous versions of the safely blue 3rd District for the 20 years preceding his successful Senate bid in 2006.

According to the Sun's Dana Munro, Cardin's team claims his involvement in the race for his old seat did not constitute "a formal endorsement," but of course, there's no such thing as a formal endorsement. And as we always note when politicians insist on playing games like this, actions speak far louder than words.

It's particularly unclear why Cardin would even want to hedge in this case, since he offered effusive praise for Elfreth, calling her "one of our great leaders" on climate change and saying she "knows how to get things accomplished." Regardless of what Cardin might call it, we call that an endorsement.

Elfreth is an apparent frontrunner in the massive 21-candidate primary that will take place next week, along with former Capitol police officer Harry Dunn. Dunn has raised more than $4.5 million for his campaign while Elfreth has benefited from almost $4.2 million in spending from the United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC.

But while UDP had previously stuck to airing positive ads for most of the campaign, it just deployed a new commercial that argues Dunn should be "ashamed of himself" for running negative spots against Elfreth. (Those Dunn ads went after the state senator for benefiting from spending from AIPAC, which his narrator characterized as a "right-wing SuperPAC funded by Trump donors.")

UDP's new spot doesn't say anything more about Dunn, though. Instead, it moves on to praise Elfreth as a loyal Democrat who is "as anti-Trump as they come." Another ad focuses entirely on reproductive rights and doesn't mention Dunn.

MD-06: Former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney has released an internal poll from Garin-Hart-Yang that shows her leading Del. Joe Vogel 37-24 in Tuesday's Democratic primary, with 22% undecided and the balance split between the rest of the field. (A total of 16 names are listed on the ballot, though some candidates have dropped out.)

Delaney publicized her survey days after Vogel's allies at Equality PAC released a late April poll from Public Policy Polling that showed the two deadlocked 24-24 in the contest to replace Senate candidate David Trone, a fellow Democrat. We have not seen any other recent polls.

NH-02: Maggie Goodlander, a former official in the Biden administration who had reportedly been considering a bid for New Hampshire's open 2nd District, joined the September primary for the Democratic nomination on Thursday.

Goodlander, who was once an aide to the late Sens. Joe Lieberman and John McCain, has deep connections to the White House. The Boston Globe's James Pindell last month characterized her as part of an "elite circle of aides to President Biden," which includes her husband, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Goodlander grew up in the 2nd District (her mother, Betty Tamposi, lost a close GOP primary for a previous version of the seat in 1988), and she touted her local roots in her kickoff. However, Pindell notes that she and Sullivan purchased a home in 2018 in Portsmouth, which is located in the 1st District. Goodlander says she recently signed a lease for a residence in her hometown of Nashua in the 2nd.

Goodlander is the third notable Democrat to enter the race, following state Sen. Becky Whitley and former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, who has the endorsement of retiring Rep. Annie Kuster.

NJ-10: Hudson County Commission Jerry Walker has joined the July 16 Democratic primary for the special election to replace Rep. Donald Payne Jr., who died last month. Candidate filing for the race for this safely blue seat in the Newark area closes at 4 PM ET today.

SC-04: Rep. William Timmons is now airing negative ads against state Rep. Adam Morgan ahead of their June 11 Republican primary showdown for South Carolina's 4th District, a safely red constituency in the Greenville area. The narrator accuses Morgan of missing "over 400 votes" in the legislature before reminding viewers that Timmons has Donald Trump's endorsement.

Morgan, who chairs his chamber's far-right Freedom Caucus, received an endorsement this week from the eponymous congressional group. Republicans in Congress who resent the antics of the nihilistic caucus, though, got a new reason this week to dread what might happen if Morgan were to join the House.

The final days of South Carolina's legislative session were defined by a chaotic battle between Morgan's Freedom Caucus and the rest of the GOP-led state House. Morgan upset most of his fellow Republicans when he unsuccessfully attempted to bar state agencies from sending voter registration forms to non-citizens.

"These are stunts … circus antics, people," said one exasperated Republican, state Rep. Gil Gatch. Micah Caskey, another Republican lawmaker who is no fan of Morgan's crew, went even further by addressing the lower chamber while donning a tinfoil hat labeled "South Carolina Freedom Caucus."

Obituaries

Pete McCloskey: Former California Rep. Pete McCloskey, a liberal Republican who rose to national prominence in 1972 by challenging President Richard Nixon for renomination as an anti-Vietnam War candidate, died Wednesday at age 96. McCloskey, as Margaret O'Mara wrote in her book "The Code," also played a role in Silicon Valley's rise as a technological powerhouse.

McCloskey first made his mark in politics in 1967 by beating another well-known Republican, former child star Shirley Temple Black, 34-22 in the first round of an all-party special election for a House seat in the Bay Area. (McCloskey's surprise win was the basis of a 1968 nonfiction book, "The Sinking of the Lollipop.")

McCloskey easily won the general election and served in the House for many years. In 1982, however, he sought a promotion to the Senate but ended with a 38-25 loss in the primary to the eventual winner, San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson. You can find much more about McCloskey's eventful career, including a quixotic 2006 primary bid against a conservative congressman that helped Democrats flip the Bay Area's last GOP-held seat, in the San Jose Mercury News' obituary.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now? Federal prosecutors have re-indicted former Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry for lying to federal agents in connection with an effort to funnel $30,000 to Fortenberry's campaign via straw donors.

While Fortenberry was convicted by a jury in Los Angeles in 2022, a federal appeals court overturned his conviction late last year, saying prosecutors had tried him in the wrong jurisdiction.

The Department of Justice had brought charges against Fortenberry in Los Angeles, where the straw-donor scheme was originally put in motion by a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire. However, the false statements for which the jury convicted the then-congressman were made in Washington, D.C., and at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska. To resolve the problem, prosecutors have brought their renewed charges in D.C.

Fortenberry announced his resignation from Nebraska's conservative 1st District two days after his conviction in 2022. He was sentenced later that year to two years' probation, 320 hours of community service, and a $25,000 fine. In a statement responding to the new charges, an attorney for Fortenberry did not appear to address his client's culpability but rather accused the Justice Department of "overzealous prosecution."

Poll Pile

  • NC-Gov: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Josh Stein (D): 39, Mark Robinson (R): 39, Mike Ross (L): 4, Wayne Turner (G): 1 (43-38 Trump) (April: 40-38 Robinson)
  • NC Supreme Court: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Jefferson Griffin (R): 40, Allison Riggs (D-inc): 39

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Why two conservative Arizona justices could lose this fall

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

 AZ Supreme Court: Arizona voters will likely have the chance to overturn their state Supreme Court's new ruling banning nearly all abortions when they head to the polls this fall, but they'll also have the opportunity to reshape the court itself.

As Bolt's Daniel Nichanian points out, two of the justices who voted with the majority will be up for election to new six-year terms in November, Clint Bolick and Kathryn Hackett King. They won't have actual opponents, though, but rather will face what are known as "retention" elections. Under this system, which is used for members of the judiciary in many states, voters are presented with a simple "yes/no" question asking whether a particular judge should "be retained in office."

It's rare for judges to lose retention elections, but it's also rare for a state supreme court to thrust itself into the national limelight the way that Arizona's just did. And abortion will be a top—if not the top—issue this year in Arizona, particularly because reproductive rights supporters say they've already collected enough signatures to place a measure on the November ballot that would enshrine the right to an abortion into the state constitution.

Should Bolick or Hackett King lose, Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs would be able to appoint replacements, drawn from a list created by the state's Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. But while that commission is, under the state constitution, supposed to be politically diverse, Hobbs' Republican predecessor, Doug Ducey, stacked the board with nominal independents who have ties to the GOP.

Hobbs could reshape the commission with her own appointments, which implicates yet another set of important Arizona elections. Commission members must be approved by the state Senate, which Republicans control by a narrow 16-14 majority. Every member of the Senate, though, will be up for election this year. With abortion so salient—GOP leaders have refused to consider legislation—reversing the court's ban—Democrats have a strong chance of flipping the chamber.

It would, however, be some time before the court could see a majority of Democratic appointees, though such a shift is by no means impossible. The two dissenters in the abortion case, Chief Justice Robert Brutinel and Vice Chief Justice Ann Timmer, will hit the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2028 and 2030, respectively. Should Hobbs win reelection in 2026, she'd get to fill those vacancies as well. (Bolick, should he survive retention, would face mandatory retirement in 2027, while Hackett King would not do so until 2050.)

The Downballot

It's only April, but the Washington Post's new report on GOP golden boy Tim Sheehy is a strong contender for the craziest political story of the year. On this week's episode of "The Downballot," co-hosts David Nir and David Beard dissect the countless contradictions in Sheehy's tales about a bullet wound that he either received in Afghanistan or in a national park three years later. The Davids also explain why the Arizona Supreme Court's appalling new ruling banning nearly all abortions could lead to two conservative justices losing their seats this fall.

Our guest this week is Sondra Goldschein, who runs the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, an organization dedicated to improving America's badly lagging "care infrastructure." Goldschein explains how issues like paid medical leave laws and greater access to childcare affect an enormous swath of the electorate—and why they're closely tied to voters' perceptions of their economic fortunes. She also highlights candidates her group is working to elect to make these policies a reality.

Subscribe to "The Downballot" wherever you listen to podcasts to make sure you never miss a show. You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by Thursday afternoon. New episodes every Thursday morning!

1Q Fundraising

  • DE-Sen: Lisa Blunt Rochester (D): $1 million raised

  • MA-Sen: Elizabeth Warren (D-inc): $1.1 million raised, $4.4 million in cash on hand 

  • MD-Sen: Larry Hogan (R): $3.1 million raised (in 51 days)

  • AZ-06: Kirsten Engel (D): $1.2 million raised, $1.8 million cash on hand

  • CA-40: Young Kim (R-inc): $1.3 million raised, $3 million cash on hand 

  • CO-05: Jeff Crank (R): $300,000 raised, $225,000 cash on hand 

  • IL-17: Eric Sorensen (D-inc): $745,000 raised, $2.1 million cash on hand 

  • MD-06: Joe Vogel (D): $231,000 raised, $235,000 cash on hand 

  • NE-02: Tony Vargas (D): $777,000 raised, $1.6 million cash on hand

  • PA-17: Chris Deluzio (D-inc): $750,000 raised, $1.45 million cash on hand 

  • VA-10: Eileen Filler-Corn (D): $370,000 raised, $430,000 cash on hand 

  • WA-05: Michael Baumgartner (R): $400,000 raised (in one month) 

Senate

 MD-Sen: Attorney General Anthony Brown announced Wednesday that he was supporting Rep. David Trone in the May 14 Democratic primary, a declaration that Trone made public in a campaign ad. Brown is arguably the most prominent Black politician who has opted to support Trone, who is white, over Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who would be Maryland's first Black senator.

But while most of the state's political establishment is backing Alsobrooks, Brown and Trone are longtime allies. As a member of the House in 2018, Brown endorsed Trone in the primary for a nearby seat, and as Time's Eric Cortellessa reminds us, the wealthy Trone financed ads to help his colleague's successful 2022 bid for attorney general.

MT-Sen: VoteVets has already launched what Politico reports is a $200,000 ad buy focused on a truly bizarre Washington Post story about former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy and a gunshot injury.

The Republican is shown saying, "I have a bullet stuck in this arm still from Afghanistan," before a narrator says Sheehy may have actually been wounded in a parking lot at Glacier National Park. "Sheehy told investigators the bullet in his arm is from a gun falling and firing on a family hiking trip," the voiceover continues. "Come on, Tim, it's one more shady story that doesn't add up."

Governors

 NC-Gov: Quinnipiac University's first look at the race for governor shows Democrat Josh Stein leading Republican Mark Robinson 48-41, with Libertarian Mike Ross and Green Wayne Turner at 4% and 2%, respectively. The omission of those two third-party candidates doesn't make much of a difference, though, as the school shows Stein ahead by a similar 52-44 margin in a head-to-head contest. Respondents favor Donald Trump over Joe Biden 41-38 in a five-person field and 48-46 when only major candidates are included.

This is the largest lead for Stein that we've seen in any poll, and it's also considerably different from what other surveys have shown over the last month. An early March poll from the conservative firm Cygnal showed Robinson up 44-39, while SurveyUSA and Marist College found Stein ahead only 44-42 and 49-47, respectively.

 WV-Gov: Campaign finance reports for the first quarter of the year are now in, and MetroNews has rounded up the numbers for all the major Republicans competing in the May 14 primary for West Virginia's open governorship:

  • Attorney General Patrick Morrisey: $876,000 raised, $1.7 million cash on hand

  • Former Del. Moore Capito: $337,000 raised, $1.1 million cash on hand

  • Businessman Chris Miller: $216,000 raised, additional $50,000 self-funded, $1.2 million cash on hand

  • Secretary of State Mac Warner: $73,000 raised, $193,000 cash on hand

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, who has the Democratic side to himself, raised $18,000 and ended March with $21,000 in the bank.

House

 CA-16: A pair of voters unexpectedly requested a recount on Tuesday, just days after election authorities certified that both Assemblymember Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian would advance to an all-Democratic general election with former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. However, it remains to be seen if any recount will actually take place.

Politico explains that California requires anyone who asks for a recount to pay for it before the April 15 deadline. If payment isn't submitted by then, the current results of the March 5 top-two primary that have Low and Simitian tied for second place would stand. (California, unlike many states, does not have automatic recounts no matter how close a race is.)

Election officials in Santa Clara County, which forms 84% of the 16th District by population, say that a 10-day manual recount would cost a total of $320,000. A five-day machine recount would have a considerably smaller $84,200 price tag, but the Mercury News' Grace Hase writes that such a process is less likely to catch any tabulation errors.

San Jose Spotlight's Jana Kadah adds that a manual recount would cost another $85,000 in San Mateo County, which forms the balance of the district. (It's not clear how much a machine recount in San Mateo would be.)

One of the two requesters, former San Mateo County Board of Supervisors candidate Dan Stegink, told Hase he was willing to pay for a recount. Santa Clara County officials also say they don't know if Stegink could split the cost with the other requester, 2020 Biden Delegate Jonathan Padilla.

Low's campaign was quick to highlight that Padilla worked on Liccardo's 2014 bid to lead San Jose to argue that the former mayor was behind the recount request. Low's team also invoked a very different politician in slamming the request. "This is a page right out of Trump’s political playbook using dirty tricks to attack democracy and subvert the will of the voters," the campaign said in a statement.

Liccardo's campaign denied it had asked Padilla to do anything, but a spokesperson didn't sound upset about the development. "We understand why, under these extraordinary circumstances, there would be an effort to make sure these votes are fully considered," said a Liccardo consultant.

Simitian, by contrast, didn't express a preference either for or against a recount. "Eventually, this process will work itself out," he said in a statement.

Hase also obtained an early April Liccardo internal poll from Lake Research Partners that shows him leading Low 26-21, with Simitian at 20%. The story did not include results testing Liccardo in one-on-one matchups.

Kadah previously reported on Monday that another firm, McGuire Research, has been testing Liccardo in various scenarios. There's no word on the results or the client, but the existence of the poll led to speculation that the former mayor or his allies were trying to determine whether he'd benefit if only one of his opponents were to advance―speculation that only intensified when Stegink and Padilla filed their recount requests a day later.

 MD-06: Del. Joe Vogel is airing what appears to be the first negative TV ad of the May 14 Democratic primary for Maryland's open 6th District, and the Washington Post's Katie Shepherd reports he's spending $35,000 to link former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney to hardline Republicans.

The ad, which Maryland Matters says is Vogel's first television commercial, opens with the candidate declaring that "every Democrat for Congress" has a similar agenda, which is an unusual line for any campaign ad. However, he continues, "The difference is our approach. McClain Delaney donates to extreme Republicans and is friends with Tucker Carlson and Paul Ryan."

The 27-year-old lawmaker goes on, "I come from the school shooting generation, where we know you can’t hope politicians do the right thing. You have to make them." Vogel does not mention any of the other 12 Democratic candidates seeking to replace David Trone, who is running for Senate.

Vogel, writes Shepherd, previously deployed some of these arguments against McClain Delaney at debates. McClain Delaney has countered that her bipartisan friendship with the Ryan family began when her husband, former Rep. John Delaney, and the Wisconsin Republican served together in the House.

Vogel has also faulted McClain Delaney for making a contribution to Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican who was once one of the most prominent ultra-conservatives in the Senate, in 2005. (DeMint resigned in 2013 to lead the Heritage Foundation.) Shepherd says that Delaney responded by shaking her head and "at one point throwing her hands into the air" during the debate, though she did not dispute the donation.

As for Carlson, Vogel's ad cites a 2018 piece from MOCO 360 about John Delaney's longshot White House bid that identified the far-right media personality as a friend of the then-congressman. The story did not touch on McClain Delaney's connection to the former Fox News commentator.

Vogel launched this spot around the same time that he released a mid-March GBAO internal that showed Delaney leading him 17-10, with a 48% plurality undecided. We haven't seen any other polls here all year.

Delaney, for her part, began airing ads a month ago, and she uses her most recent spot to tout herself as someone who will protect children from "Big Tech." Shepard says the only other Democratic candidate who has taken to the airwaves is Ashwani Jain, a former Obama administration official who won just 2% in the 2022 primary for governor.

 MI-03: A super PAC called West Michigan For Change announced Wednesday that it had taken in $1 million to promote attorney Paul Hudson, who is the leading Republican running to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Hillary Scholten. The group, which did not bring in any money last year, did not say where the influx of cash came from.

Joe Biden carried this constituency 53-45 in 2020, and Scholten's 55-42 victory two years later made her the first Democrat to represent a Grand Rapids-based seat in the House since the mid-1970s. Scholten's allies at House Majority PAC don't seem convinced that those decisive wins mean this seat is out of reach for the GOP, however, as the group recently booked $1.3 million in ad time for the Grand Rapids media market.

 NH-02: Businessman Vikram Mansharamani became the first notable Republican to launch a bid to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster on Wednesday, though his last campaign for office was anything but impressive. Mansharamani self-funded about $300,000 last cycle in his bid to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, but he ended up taking a distant fourth place in the primary with less than 8% of the vote.

Mansharamani is also unlikely to be the last Republican to join the September primary. The Union Leader reports that state Rep. Joe Sweeney and 2014 nominee Marilinda Garcia are considering, though there are no quotes from either would-be candidate.

On the Democratic side, Concord Mayor Byron Champlin and businessman Gary Hirshberg this week joined Kuster in endorsing former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern rather than running themselves.

 NJ-10: Democratic Rep. Donald Payne's office said Tuesday evening that he'd "suffered a cardiac episode based on complications from his diabetes during the weekend," but that his "prognosis is good and he is expected to make a full recovery." Payne is seeking reelection this year in New Jersey's safely Democratic 10th District.

 Filing: Candidate filing closed in five more states over the last week: April 4 was the deadline in New York, Tennessee, and Virginia, while the respective deadlines for Oklahoma and North Dakota were April 5 and April 8. We'll have more on each state below.

 New York: While the state publishes a list of candidates who filed to run for Congress in the June 25 primary, it doesn't include all House seats. That's because candidates running for a district contained entirely within either a single county or New York City file with their local election authorities, while everyone else files with the state.

Under the new congressional map, 11 districts (the 5th through the 15th) are located wholly within the city, while the only two single-county seats anywhere else in the state are the 1st District in Suffolk County and the 4th District in Nassau County. Election authorities in those jurisdictions have not released candidate lists yet, though Politics1 has compiled an unofficial roster for each seat.

There are no reports of any big names launching last-second campaigns, which isn't a surprise in a state where getting on the ballot can be a challenge. Most major party congressional candidates were required to hand in 1,250 valid signatures to compete in the primary, though Republicans running in the dark blue 13th and 15th Districts had a smaller target to hit because their party has so few registered voters in those constituencies.

Not everyone who submitted petitions by Thursday will necessarily make the primary ballot, however, because campaigns have long been aggressive about going to court to challenge the validity of their opponent's signatures. One former leader of the Brooklyn Democratic Party expressed a common view of this age-old practice in a 2022 interview with City & State. 

"Fuck them!" Frank Seddio said of anyone who might get knocked off the ballot for a lack of signatures. "Breathing shouldn't be the only qualification for running for office."

 North Dakota: Former Miss America Cara Mund filed to run for North Dakota's only House seat as a Republican about half an hour before the deadline, telling the North Dakota Monitor that there weren't any moderates competing in the June 11 primary. 

Mund, a supporter of abortion rights, ran against GOP Rep. Kelly Armstrong in the 2022 general election as an independent candidate and wound up as his only opponent after the Democratic nominee dropped out. Mund's effort attracted national attention, but Armstrong went on to fend her off by a 62-38 margin in this dark red state. That performance was significantly better than Joe Biden's landslide 65-32 loss two years earlier, but it still fell far short of victory.

The GOP field to succeed Armstrong, who is running for governor, consists of former State Department official Alex Balazs, former state Rep. Rick Becker, Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, and one minor candidate. Democrats are running Marine Corps veteran Trygve Hammer and perennial candidate Roland Clifford Riemers.

The GOP primary to replace retiring Gov. Doug Burgum, meanwhile, remains a duel between Armstrong and Burgum's choice, Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, while state Sen. Merrill Piepkorn has the Democratic side to himself.

 Oklahoma: Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin and each of the five members of Oklahoma's all-Republican House delegation are seeking reelection, and there's no indication any of them have anything to worry about in either the June 18 primary or the November general election. An Aug. 27 runoff would take place in any primary where no one earns a majority of the vote.

 Tennessee: The biggest news in the Volunteer State was Davidson County Metro Councilmember Courtney Johnston's decision to challenge freshman Rep. Andy Ogles in the Aug. 1 Republican primary for the 5th District, a development we covered in a recent Digest. She's not Ogles' only intra-party challenger, though, as cybersecurity executive Tom Guarente is also in

Guarente has attracted relatively little attention, but his presence on the ballot could cost Johnston enough support to allow the incumbent to win with a plurality. (Unlike many Southern states, Tennessee does not use primary runoffs.) The eventual winner will be favored in the general election for a seat that Donald Trump carried 55-43 in 2020.

Over in the dark red 8th District in West Tennessee, GOP Rep. David Kustoff learned last week that he'd once again face a primary battle against radiologist George Flinn, a self-funding perennial candidate who owns a network of radio and TV stations. Flinn, who served on the Shelby County Commission in the 2000s, had already waged several well-funded but doomed campaigns when he entered the 2016 primary to replace retiring Rep. Stephen Fincher in the prior version of the seat.

Flinn's resources were almost enough to propel him to victory in what was a packed race, but Kustoff edged him out 27-23. Flinn tried again two years later, but Trump's support helped Kustoff win an expensive rematch 56-40. Flinn went on to take just 3% in the 2020 Senate primary, secure 2.5% as an independent in the 9th District against Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen, and wage an abortive 2023 bid for mayor of Memphis.

Republican Rep. Tim Burchett, by contrast, found out he'd have no primary opposition in the 2nd District, an East Tennessee constituency that hasn't elected a Democratic representative since 1852. There was talk earlier this year that Kevin McCarthy and his allies would target Burchett, who was one of the eight Republicans who voted to end McCarthy's speakership in October. However, they never found a backup candidate after former state Rep. Jimmy Matlock announced in February that he wouldn't run.

 Virginia: The Virginia Department of Elections says that it will post its list of candidates "on, or shortly after April 15." Primaries will take place on June 18. For the first time in many years, Republicans will rely on state-run primaries to pick all of their candidates, eschewing conventions or party-run "firehouse" primaries. (Democrats, who have almost always preferred traditional primaries, will also use them exclusively.)

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Leading Off

TX-Sen: In one of Super Tuesday's biggest races, Rep. Colin Allred secured the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who holds one of just two Senate seats that Democrats have a realistic shot at flipping this cycle. The news is especially welcome for Democrats because it means Allred can start campaigning against Cruz immediately, since he avoided a May 28 runoff by easily securing a majority of the vote with his 59-17 victory over state Sen. Roland Gutierrez.

No Democrat has won statewide in Texas since 1994, but the congressman, who has already proven himself a formidable fundraiser, could finally achieve the breakthrough Lone Star State Democrats have long dreamed of. Allred, who first won office in 2018 by flipping a longtime GOP stronghold in the Dallas area, would also be the state's first Black senator.

Allred's win was far from the only notable result, though, on a Super Tuesday that more than lived up to its name—at least downballot. Below is a state-by-state summary of where things stood as of 8 AM ET in all of the major contests. You can also check out our cheat-sheet that summarizes the outcomes in every key race.

Election results

 Alabama: A runoff will be held on April 16 in contests where no candidate earned a majority of the vote.

 AL-01 (R): Rep. Barry Moore defeated colleague Jerry Carl 51-49, an outcome that makes Carl the first member of Congress to lose renomination in 2024. This race, which is likely to be the only incumbent vs. incumbent primary in the entire cycle, took place because Moore decided to run here after the state's new court-drawn map turned his 2nd District into a Democratic-leaning constituency. This revamped seat in southern Alabama would have favored Donald Trump 75-24 in 2020.

Moore's win was an upset, as Carl represented considerably more of this territory and enjoyed a large fundraising advantage throughout the race. Both incumbents are ardent conservatives who voted against recognizing Joe Biden's 2020 win, though they still represented different factions of the party: Moore is a member of the nihilistic House Freedom Caucus, while Carl is closer to the party leadership.

 AL-02 (D & R): Former Justice Department official Shomari Figures and state House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels will compete in the Democratic runoff for a redrawn seat that now takes in Mobile, Montgomery, and the eastern Black Belt. Figures, who benefited from heavy spending from a super PAC with ties to the cryptocurrency industry, took first with 43%, while Daniels outpaced ​​state Reps. Napoleon Bracy 22-16 for second.

Republicans also have a runoff between former state Sen. Dick Brewbaker, who took 40%, and attorney Caroleene Dobson, who beat out state Sen. Greg Albritton 26-25. The GOP nominee, though, will have a difficult time in the general election for what's now a plurality Black district that would have backed Joe Biden 56-43.

 Arkansas: A runoff will be held on April 2 in contests where no candidate earned a majority of the vote.

 AR-03 (R): Rep. Steve Womack held off a far-right challenge from state Sen. Clint Penzo 54-46 in this dark red northwest Arkansas seat. Penzo's ideological allies did little to help the underfunded legislator overcome his huge cash deficit against Womack, a decision they may not regret following the relatively weak victory for the self-described "institution guy."

 California: All candidates running for Congress and for state office compete on one ballot rather than in separate party primaries; the two contenders with the most votes, regardless of party, advance to the Nov. 5 general election. Candidates cannot win outright in the primary by taking a majority of the vote, except in some officially nonpartisan elections.

Note, though, that it will be a while before all votes are tabulated. Because the state permanently adopted universal mail voting in 2021, vote-counting takes some time thanks to the security measures needed to verify the large number of mail ballots officials receive. 

 CA-Sen: Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff got the general election opponent he wants in this dark blue state, as Republican Steve Garvey defeated Democratic Rep. Katie Porter for the crucial second spot in November. The Associated Press estimates that only 47% of the vote is tabulated, so the candidates' margins will likely shift even though the AP has called both slots: Schiff currently leads with 33% as Garvey, who is a former Major League Baseball player, is outpacing Porter 32-14. Another 7% goes to the third Democratic House member on the ballot, Rep. Barbara Lee.

The lineup will be the same in the November special election to fill the final two months of the late Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's term. Garvey this time leads with 35% as Schiff outpaces Porter 31-16 for second.

 CA-12: Only 23% of the estimated vote is in, but BART board member Lateefah Simon leads with 43% in the race to succeed her fellow Democrat, Senate candidate Barbara Lee. Another Democrat will almost certainly be on the November ballot for this dark blue Easy Bay seat, though it's less clear which one: Cal State professor Jennifer Tran holds a 17-15 edge over Alameda Vice Mayor Tony Daysog.

 CA-16: Two Democrats will likely be competing in the general election to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo in Silicon Valley, though the AP has not called either spot yet with only 51% of the estimated vote in. Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo leads with 22%, while Eshoo's choice, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, holds an 18-16 edge over Assemblyman Evan Low. Republican Peter Ohtaki is just behind with 14%.

 CA-20: Two Republicans, Assemblyman Vince Fong and Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux, lead with 52% of the estimated vote in, but the AP has not called either general election spot. Fong, who has the support of Trump and former Rep. Kevin McCarthy, is far out ahead with 39%, while Boudreaux is outpacing Democrat Marisa Wood 24-22.

Note that the first round of the special election for the remaining months of McCarthy's term will take place March 19. Trump carried this Central Valley seat 61-36.

 CA-22: Democrats are hoping they've avoided being locked out of the general election in this competitive Central Valley seat, though the AP also hasn't called either spot with only 30% of the estimated vote in. GOP incumbent David Valadao is in first with 34%, while 2022 Democratic nominee Rudy Salas leads self-funding Republican Chris Mathys 28-22. The final candidate on the ballot, Democratic state Sen. Melissa Hurtado, is taking 15%.

 CA-25: Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz appears likely to face yet another little-known Republican rather than a local Democratic elected official in this 57-41 Biden seat, which is almost certainly an outcome he's happy with. 

Ian Weeks leads fellow Republican Ceci Truman 19-17 for second with 46% of the estimated vote in, but it likely doesn't matter which of them advances against Ruiz. Indio City Council member Oscar Ortiz, who launched an intra-party bid against Ruiz in December, is in a distant fourth place with 9%. The incumbent, for his part, is taking 49% in this constituency, which is based in eastern Riverside County and Imperial County.

 CA-26: Agoura Hills City Council member Chris Anstead's intra-party bid against Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley appears to be over, as he's taking a mere 4% of the vote with 52% of the estimated vote in. The incumbent leads with 51%, while Michael Koslow is leading fellow Republican Bruce Boyer 34-11. 

The AP has not yet called the second spot, though neither Republican has reported raising the type of money they'd need to put this Ventura County constituency into play.  Joe Biden carried this seat to the northwest of Los Angeles 59-39, while Brownley went on to win 55-45 during a tough 2022 cycle for California Democrats.

 CA-29: Assemblywoman Luz Rivas unsurprisingly looks well-situated to succeed her fellow Democrat and top ally, retiring Rep. Tony Cárdenas, though the AP hasn't called either general election spot with only 40% of the estimated vote in. Rivas leads with 48%, while Republican Benny Bernal is outpacing perennial Democratic candidate Angelica Duenas 31-21. This eastern San Fernando Valley seat is safely blue at 75-23 Biden.

 CA-30: The AP estimates that 60% of the vote is in, and Democratic Assemblywoman Laura Friedman is in front with 27% as Republican Alex Balekian leads Democratic state Sen. Anthony Portantino 21-14 for second; neither spot has been called as of Wednesday morning. This Los Angeles-based seat, which Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff is leaving behind to run for the Senate, favored Biden 72-26.

 CA-31: With just half of the estimated vote in, former Democratic Rep. Gil Cisneros is taking first place with 21%, while Daniel Martinez leads fellow Republican Pedro Casas 21-19 for second. A pair of Democratic state senators are further behind: Susan Rubio is taking 15%, while another 11% goes to Bob Archuleta, who has the endorsement of retiring Democratic Rep. Grace Napolitano. Biden took this seat in the eastern San Gabriel Valley 64-33.

 CA-34: It looks like there could be a third all-Democratic general election between Rep. Jimmy Gomez and former prosecutor David Kim in this dark blue Los Angeles seat, though the AP hasn't called either spot with only 41% of the estimated vote in. Gomez leads with 51% as Kim is outpacing Republican Calvin Lee 24-18. 

 CA-40: Retired Orange County Fire Capt. Joe Kerr appears poised to take on GOP Rep. Young Kim in this 50-48 Biden seat in eastern Orange County, though the AP has not made a call with 60% of the estimated vote in. Kerr leads his fellow Democrat, Tustin Unified School District Board of Education president Allyson Muñiz Damikolas, 26-16, while Kim is at 58%. 

 CA-45: There's a close contest to determine which Democrat will go up against Republican Rep. Michelle Steel in a western Orange County constituency that Biden carried 52-46. Attorney Derek Tran is edging out Garden Grove City Councilwoman Kim Nguyen-Penaloza 16-14 with 47% of the estimated vote in, while Steel is in front with 57%.

 CA-47: Former Orange County GOP chair Scott Baugh and Democratic state Sen. Dave Min are the leaders in the top-two primary to replace Democratic Senate candidate Katie Porter, but the AP has not made any calls with 60% of the estimated vote in. Baugh is in front with 33%, while Min leads fellow Democrat Joanna Weiss 25-19. Biden took this seat based in coastal Orange County and Irvine 54-43, while Porter fended off Baugh 52-48 two years later.

 CA-49: Businessman Matt Gunderson holds a 26-11 lead over his fellow Republican self-funder, media executive Margarita Wilkinson, but we're still awaiting a call with 59% of the estimated vote in. The winner will be the underdog against Democratic incumbent Mike Levin, who is sitting at 51%, in a coastal San Diego County seat that Biden carried 55-43.

 North Carolina: A runoff will be held on May 14 in contests where no candidate earned at least 30% of the vote, though the second-place finisher must formally request a runoff for one to occur.

 NC-Gov (R & D): Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein will face off in a long-anticipated showdown to replace termed-out Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. 

The far-right Robinson won his primary 65-19 against state Treasurer Dale Folwell, with wealthy businessman Bill Graham securing the balance. Graham declared on election night, "Mark Robinson is an unelectable candidate in the general election in North Carolina, and he puts a conservative future at risk for everyone, from the courthouse to the White House." Stein, for his part, defeated former state Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan 70-14.

 NC-01 (R): National Republicans got the nominee they want against Democratic Rep. Don Davis, as Army veteran Laurie Buckhout beat scandal-ridden two-time nominee Sandy Smith 53-47. Republican mapmakers transformed this seat in the inland, northeastern corner of the state from a constituency Biden carried 53-46 into one he barely won 50-49.

 NC-06 (R): Lobbyist Addison McDowell will face former Rep. Mark Walker in the runoff to replace Rep. Kathy Manning, who is one of three Democratic House members who is not seeking reelection in a seat that Republicans made all but unwinnable for her party. The Trump-endorsed McDowell took 26%, while Walker beat out 2022 nominee Christian Castelli 24-21 for the second spot in this seat in the central Piedmont region.

 NC-08 (R): Pastor Mark Walker appears to have won the GOP nomination outright over half a decade after his campaign was responsible for one the most ignominious election-fraud scandals in recent memory, though the AP has not yet made a call with 97% of the estimated vote in. Walker is sitting at 30.4%, while former Union County Commissioner Allan Baucom is at 27%. The GOP nominee will be favored to replace attorney general nominee Dan Bishop in this 58-41 Trump seat based in the eastern Charlotte suburbs and rural areas further east.

 NC-10 (R): Firearms manufacturer Pat Harrigan has narrowly secured the nomination to replace his fellow Republican, retiring Rep. Patrick McHenry, in this 57-41 Trump seat centered in Winston-Salem and the western Piedmont region. Harrigan, who was the 2022 nominee against Democrat Jeff Jackson in the old 14th District, beat out state Rep. Grey Mills 41-39 following an expensive contest

 NC-13 (R): Attorney Kelly Daughtry has taken one of the two runoff spots in the race to succeed Democratic Rep. Wiley Nickel, who is leaving Congress because Republicans gerrymandered his Raleigh-area seat, but the AP hasn't called the other slot. Daughtry is at 27%, while former federal prosecutor Brad Knott leads businessman Fred Von Canon 19-17 with 85% of the estimated vote in.

 NC-AG (D): Democratic Rep. Jeff Jackson beat Durham County District Attorney Satana Deberry 55-33 despite an expensive attempt by the Republican Attorneys General Association to meddle in the primary. Jackson will go up against far-right Rep. Dan Bishop, an election denier who had no opposition in the GOP primary. 

Texas: A runoff will be held on May 28 in contests where no candidate earned a majority of the vote.

TX-02 (R): Rep. Dan Crenshaw outpaced underfunded primary foe Jameson Ellis only 59-41 just two years after beating him 74-17. Crenshaw has little to worry about in the general election for a suburban Houston seat that Trump took 61-38, but his diminished showing could inspire a stronger intra-party foe next cycle.

TX-07 (D): Rep. Lizzie Fletcher scored a 73-27 victory against Pervez Agwan, a renewable energy developer whose campaign was overshadowed by sexual misconduct allegations leveled by former staffers, in this safely blue Houston seat.

TX-12 (R): State Rep. Craig Goldman and businessman John O'Shea will compete in the runoff to replace their fellow Republican, retiring Rep. Kay Granger, in this conservative constituency in the Fort Worth area. Goldman, who has the backing of Gov. Greg Abbott, took 44%, while O'Shea led a little-known opponent 26-15. O'Shea has the support of Attorney General Ken Paxton, whom Goldman voted to impeach last year.

TX-18 (D): Longtime Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee turned back a well-funded challenge from former Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards 60-37 in this reliably blue seat. Jackson Lee appeared vulnerable after badly losing December's runoff for mayor of Houston to fellow Democrat John Whitmire, but Edwards largely avoided attacking the incumbent.

TX-23 (R): Rep. Tony Gonzales has been forced into a runoff against a far-right opponent, gunmaker Brandon Herrera. Gonzales secured 45% of the vote a year after he was censured by the state party, while Herrera outpaced former Medina County GOP Chair Julie Clark 25-14. The winner will be favored in a sprawling West Texas seat that favored Trump 53-46.

TX-26 (R): Far-right media figure Brandon Gill secured the nomination to replace retiring GOP Rep. Michael Burgess in this conservative seat in the northern Fort Worth suburbs and exurbs. The Trump-backed Gill, who is the son-in-law of MAGA toady Dinesh D'Souza, took 58% despite an expensive campaign to stop him. The now-meaningless runner-up title goes to Scott Armey, a former Denton County judge who lost the 2002 runoff to Burgess and grabbed just 15% this time.

TX-32 (D): State Rep. Julie Johnson is currently sitting on 50.1% in the primary to replace Senate candidate Colin Allred, but the AP has not made a call with 98% of the estimated vote in. Trauma surgeon Brian Williams, who would be her runoff opponent should she fail to take a majority, is a distant second with 19%. 

TX-34 (R): Former Rep. Mayra Flores easily beat unheralded opponent Laura Cisneros 81-9 ahead of her long-anticipated rematch against Democratic incumbent Vicente Gonzalez. Gonzalez appears to have meddled in the primary by sending out mailers boosting Greg Kunkle, but Kunkle clocked in at just 4%. Gonzalez beat Flores 53-44 in 2022 in a campaign that took place two years after Biden carried this seat in the eastern Rio Grande Valley 57-42. 

Senate

AZ-Sen: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema finally confirmed Tuesday that she will not seek reelection in Arizona this year. Sinema's departure almost certainly guarantees that the November general election will be a two-way race between each party's respective frontrunner, Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego and Republican conspiracy theorist Kari Lake. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who had not taken sides while Sinema was still publicly deliberating, quickly endorsed Gallego, as did the DSCC.

Pollsters disagreed as to which major party Sinema—who during her career has been a member of the Green Party, a Democrat, and an independent—would have hurt more had she sought a second term. However, essentially every survey showed Sinema in a distant third place and with little hope of securing the plurality she would have needed to win.

P.S. Sinema is now the second straight occupant of this seat to quit after just one term, following Republican Jeff Flake's departure ahead of the 2018 elections.

FL-Sen: Former Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell's allies at EMILYs List have released an internal poll from Public Policy Polling that shows her trailing Republican Sen. Rick Scott by a narrow 44-41 margin. This survey, which is the first we've seen here all year, did not include presidential numbers. The pollster's memo also did not mention self-funding businessman Stanley Campbell, who is taking on Mucarsel-Powell in the August primary.

OH-Sen: SurveyUSA's new poll of the March 19 GOP primary for the Center for Election Science finds wealthy businessman Bernie Moreno edging out state Sen. Matt Dolan 29-27, with Secretary of State Frank LaRose at 21% and another 23% undecided. The numbers are considerably different from a recent Moreno internal from Fabrizio Lee that showed him with a wide 31-21 advantage over LaRose, while Dolan was in third place with 19%.

The results are also a sharp contrast with data that CES, which promotes approval voting, previously released in December. That earlier poll (also conducted by SurveyUSA) found LaRose beating Dolan 33-18 as Moreno grabbed just 12%. However, Donald Trump endorsed Moreno almost immediately after that poll was publicized, which helps account for the dramatic shift in the race to take on Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

It's not clear what interest CES has in this race, though, especially since SurveyUSA doesn't appear to have asked respondents about approval voting or any other alternative voting method.

WI-Sen: WinSenate, which is affiliated with the Democratic-aligned Senate Majority PAC, has deployed at least $2 million for a March 5-25 ad buy targeting wealthy businessman Eric Hovde, who last month became the first notable Republican to enter the race against Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

WinSenate's spot attacks Hovde over his weak ties to the state he's seeking to represent. The ad notes that he is the "CEO of a billion-dollar bank" and owns a $7 million hillside mansion overlooking Laguna Beach in Orange County, California, where a local outlet named him one of the county's "most influential" residents for three years running.

Hovde launched a $700,000 ad buy of his own the very same day that WinSenate's campaign began, and his new spot unsurprisingly tries to establish his Wisconsin bona fides. The minute-long commercial features his wife, Sharon Hovde, speaking to the camera as she notes that her husband grew up in Wisconsin and became a successful businessman.

Last year while he was still considering a campaign, Hovde wouldn't give a straight answer when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice asked him how much time he spends in the state. However, after joining the race last month, Hovde recently claimed to conservative radio host Jay Weber that he spends roughly nine months each year living in Wisconsin.

House

GA-13: Atlanta City Councilmember Keisha Waites, who last year declined to rule out a primary challenge to Democratic Rep. David Scott, has instead announced that she's resigning her current post and will run for Fulton County Superior Court clerk. Scott currently faces one notable opponent, Army veteran Marcus Flowers, though anyone else interested in running this year only has until Friday's candidate filing deadline to decide.

LA-06: Republican Rep. Garret Graves says he'll seek reelection in his current district, explaining that he believes Louisiana's new congressional map will get struck down by the courts, according to WBRZ.

That map was enacted by the state after a federal court ordered the creation of a second district where Black voters could elect their preferred candidates. To comply, lawmakers redrew Graves' 6th District, transforming it from a 65% white seat that Donald Trump would have won by a 64-34 margin to one with a 54% Black majority that Joe Biden would have carried 59-39.

Under those new lines, Graves would have virtually no chance of winning another term, but a group of voters recently filed a separate lawsuit challenging the new map as an unlawful racial gerrymander. If they're successful, Louisiana could be sent back to the drawing board, which in turn could restore Graves to a district he'd be able to win.

MI-10: Former Macomb County Judge Carl Marlinga has released a late January internal poll from Public Policy Polling showing him with a wide lead in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary to take on the Republican who beat him in 2022, first-term Rep. John James. The survey finds Marlinga taking 30% of the vote while none of his opponents break 4%, though 55% are still undecided. That's very similar to polling Marlinga shared last August, when PPP likewise had him up 31-5 on his nearest rival.

ND-AL: Wade Webb, a judge on the Cass County District Court, has opted against joining the June GOP primary for North Dakota's lone House seat. However, several other notable Republicans are running for this seat, which is open because GOP Rep. Kelly Armstrong is seeking the governorship, and more could get in. The state's filing deadline is April 8.

NJ-09: Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah, who is reportedly planning to launch a challenge to Rep. Bill Pascrell in this year's Democratic primary this week, has confirmed to Politico's Daniel Han that he will run. However, said Han, Khairullah "declined to discuss it further, saying he was waiting until his official announcement."

PA-12: Facing challenges to her ballot petitions, nonprofit head Laurie McDonald abandoned her campaign against first-term Rep. Summer Lee in the April 23 Democratic primary on Monday and said she would instead seek the Republican nod as a write-in. That effort is likely just as doomed, though, since manufacturing executive James Hayes is already on the GOP primary ballot.

Lee, meanwhile, must still contend with a challenge from businesswoman Bhavini Patel for the Democratic nod. Joe Biden carried the Pittsburgh-based 12th District 59-40, so whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee should be favored in November.

Mayors & County Leaders

Baltimore, MD Mayor: Former Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon has publicized an internal poll from Garin-Hart-Yang that gives her a small 40-37 advantage over incumbent Brandon Scott in the May 14 Democratic primary. This survey, which is the first we've seen here all year, also finds former federal prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah and wealthy businessman Bob Wallace at 10% and 6%, respectively, with 8% undecided. It only takes a simple plurality to secure the Democratic nomination to lead this loyally blue city.

Ad Roundup

Correction: The results for the Texas Senate Democratic primary inadvertently left out Colin Allred’s margin of victory; he won 59-17.

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Ohio Republicans who collaborated with Democrats try to ward off primary challengers

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

Our two big stories at Daily Kos Elections on this Monday morning:

Ohio Republicans have been feuding for more than a year now, but with primaries just weeks away, hostilities between the warring factions have crescendoed to explosive levels. The official campaign arm of the state House GOP is spending heavily to protect a group of lawmakers loyal to Speaker Jason Stephens—who won his post thanks to the votes of Democrats. As you can imagine, the rest of the GOP is still furious and aims to take revenge. Get all the gory details on this major meltdown and how it could impact the next race for speaker.

A party's official endorsement can be a valuable seal of approval, but sometimes it's better not to seek it at all rather than lose badly. That, at least, seems to be the thinking of Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, who is running for North Dakota's open governorship. She's decided to skip the GOP convention and head straight to the primary. Read more about Miller's conundrum—and some informative recent history that suggests she might be making the right choice.

Senate

CA-Sen: A group called Standing Strong PAC, which recently began running ads designed to help Republican Steve Garvey advance to the general election, has now spent at least $5.2 million, per analyst Rob Pyers. The super PAC, which is run by allies of Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, has followed the congressman's lead by ostensibly attacking Garvey as a Donald Trump backer who is "too conservative for California."

IN-Sen: Wealthy egg farmer John Rust's Senate campaign got some ominous news Thursday when the Indiana Supreme Court placed a stay on a December ruling by a lower court that gave him the chance to appear on the May 7 GOP primary ballot.

While the state's highest court hasn't issued an opinion on the merits of Rust's case, his attorney predicted that when it comes, it will be bad for the candidate. Rust's team, though, says it might appeal an unfavorable decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rust, who is waging a longshot primary challenge against Rep. Jim Banks, is in this situation because of a state law that only allows candidates to run with the party they belong to. Because there's no party registration in Indiana, the easiest way for Hoosiers to establish their affiliation is if by casting their last two voters in their party's primaries. But while Rust most recently participated in the 2016 GOP primary, his prior vote was in the 2012 Democratic race.

Rust sued to block this law, and a lower court judge sided with him in December. The state Supreme Court heard the state's appeal on Feb. 12, days after candidate filing closed. No other Republicans challenged Banks.

MI-Sen: Former GOP Rep. Mike Rogers on Friday publicized a list of 110 "financial supporters" that featured multiple members of the wealthy and influential DeVos family, including former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Also on the list is former Gov. John Engler, who served from 1991 to 2003 and later had a turbulent stint as interim president of Michigan State University that lasted just a year.

MT-Sen: In the first poll we've seen out of Montana this year, SurveyUSA finds Democratic Sen. Jon Tester with a 49-40 lead over his likely Republican foe, wealthy businessman Tim Sheehy. The survey, conducted for KULR-TV, was finished the day that Rep. Matt Rosendale abruptly ended his week-long Senate bid and shows the congressman losing by an identical 49-40 spread.

Nebraska: Thursday was the deadline for sitting elected officials in Nebraska to file for the May 14 primary, even if they're seeking a different post than the one they currently hold. The filing deadline for candidates not currently in office is March 1, though some non-incumbents have already submitted their names to election officials.

WI-Sen: Former GOP Gov. Scott Walker has endorsed wealthy businessman Eric Hovde ahead of his planned Senate launch this coming week.

Governors

NC-Gov: East Carolina University's newest general election poll shows a 41-41 deadlock between Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein and Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a small shift from Robinson's 44-40 advantage in December. The sample favors Donald Trump 47-44 over Joe Biden.

ECU also looks at both sides' March 5 primaries and finds Stein and Robinson far ahead of their respective intraparty rivals. The attorney general outpaces former state Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan 57-7, while Robinson beats wealthy businessman Bill Graham 53-13.

WA-Gov: The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling shows Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson leading former Republican Rep. Dave Reichert 46-42 in its new survey for the Northwest Progressive Institute. That's a turnaround from PPP's last poll, which put Reichert ahead 46-44 in November.

What hasn't changed, though, is that Ferguson and Reichert appear poised to easily advance out of the Aug. 6 top-two primary. PPP places Ferguson in first with 35% as Reichert leads his fellow Republican, former Richland school board member Semi Bird, 27-9 for the second general election spot. Another 4% opt for Democratic state Sen. Mark Mullet, while the remaining 25% are undecided.

House

CA-20: Republican businessman David Giglio announced Friday that he was ending his campaign and endorsing Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux in the March 5 top-two primary, though Giglio's name will remain on the ballot. Giglio made national news in October when he launched an intraparty challenge to then-Rep. Kevin McCarthy, but he finished the year with just $3,000 in the bank. Giglio also did not file to compete in the March 19 special election for the remainder of McCarthy's term.

CA-47: Jewish Insider's Matthew Kassel flags that AIPAC's United Democracy Project has spent an additional $700,000 in its bid to stop Democratic state Sen. Dave Min from advancing out of the March 5 top-two primary, which brings its total investment to $1.5 million.

NC-13: A woman named Angela McLeod Barbour has accused one of the Republicans competing in the busy March 5 primary for North Carolina's 13th Congressional District, businessman DeVan Barbour, of repeatedly propositioning her for sex through phone calls and text messages, according to a new report from journalist Bryan Anderson.

"He wanted me to drive to his house and have sex with him," she said of the married candidate, whom she also claims was "fully unclothed" and intoxicated in his communications with her on the night in question in 2021. (The two are not related.)

DeVan Barbour, who has promoted himself as a proud husband, told Anderson in response that "[t]hese accusations are 100% false." Last month, Anderson described Barbour as one of the four main Republicans running to succeed Democratic Rep. Wiley Nickel, who did not seek reelection after the GOP legislature gerrymandered his seat. The other three are attorney Kelly Daughtry, former federal prosecutor Brad Knott, and businessman Fred Von Canon.

TN-07: Two Republicans tell the Tennessee Lookout's Sam Stockard that they're interested in running to succeed GOP Rep. Mark Green, who unexpectedly announced his retirement on Wednesday. One prospective candidate for the August primary is former state Rep. Brandon Ogles, whose cousin, Andy Ogles, represents the neighboring 5th District. The other is state Sen. Bill Powers, whom Stockard identifies as a car dealer.

Other GOP candidates Stockard mentions are physician Manny Sethi, who lost the 2020 Senate primary to eventual winner Bill Hagerty, and former Williamson County GOP chairman Omar Hamada. Political scientist Michael Bednarczuk separately name-drops state Sen. Kerry Roberts in a piece for The Tennessean.

Stockard also runs down a further list of Republicans he says were "mentioned on a conservative radio talk show," though some of these options seem completely unrealistic:

  • 2023 Franklin mayoral candidate Gabrielle Hanson
  • Former State Department official Morgan Ortagus
  • Conservative TV host Candace Owens
  • Singer John Rich
  • Singer Kid Rock
  • 2023 Nashville mayoral candidate Alice Rolli
  • Music video producer Robby Starbuck

Kid Rock (real name Robert James Ritchie) spent much of 2017 flirting with a Senate bid in Michigan against Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow, but he never went for it. He later told Howard Stern he wasn't ever serious about the idea either, recounting that he'd informed Eminem's manager, "I've got motherfuckers thinking I'm running for Senate.' People who are in on it are like, 'Are you really doing it?' I'm like: 'Dude, you're fucking in on the joke! Why you asking me if I'm doing it?'"

Meanwhile, both Ortagus and Starbuck tried to run against Andy Ogles in the 5th District last year, only to be denied a place on the ballot by party leaders for failing to meet the GOP's criteria for running in a primary. Starbuck unsuccessfully sued, which is a big problem for his future hopes for office: The state GOP last month passed new by-laws stating that any person who's sued the party cannot appear on a primary ballot for the ensuing decade.

At least one Republican is demurring, though: Stockard writes that state Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson has conveyed to sources that he's not at all interested.

On the Democratic side, former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry began running for this 56-41 Trump seat back in December. Stockard also writes that state Rep. Bo Mitchell is "rumored to be considering." The filing deadline is April 4.

VA-07: Green Beret veteran Derrick Anderson publicized an endorsement on Friday from 2nd District Rep. Jen Kiggans ahead of the GOP nomination contest. Anderson already had the support of Speaker Mike Johnson in his quest to flip the competitive 7th, which Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger is giving up to concentrate on her 2025 bid for governor.

WA-05: Former Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich tells The Inlander's Nate Sanford he'll decide over the next two weeks whether he'll compete in the August top-two primary to succeed retiring Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a fellow Republican. Sanford notes that Knezovich, who did not seek reelection in 2022, relocated to Wyoming after leaving office.

On the Democratic side, both state Rep. Marcus Riccelli and state Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig tell Sanford they won't run for this 54-44 Trump seat.

Ballot Measures

NV Ballot: A Nevada state court has ruled that two proposed constitutional amendments that would establish a bipartisan redistricting commission cannot appear on the ballot because they would fail to raise the needed revenue. One of the proposals would take effect in 2027 and replace Nevada's current Democratic-drawn maps ahead of the 2028 elections, while the other would not come into force until 2031, following the next census.

Supporters have not yet indicated whether they will appeal or revise their proposals. However, they would have only until June 26 to submit the 102,362 voter signatures needed to qualify for November's ballot. Initiated amendments in Nevada must be approved by voters in two consecutive elections to become law.

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: New North Dakota initiative would bar octogenarians from Congress

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

ND Ballot: North Dakota officials on Friday gave the green light to advocates for term limits to start collecting signatures for a proposed amendment to the state constitution to bar anyone older than 80 from representing the state in Congress. The measure could, however, have a tough time surviving a court challenge, though it joins a long history of conservatives testing the limits of a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that states cannot add further qualifications to candidates for Congress beyond those outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

That 1995 ruling, known as U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton, struck down an Arkansas ballot initiative that tried to impose term limits on members of the state's congressional delegation. The court's 5-4 decision, which saw swing Justice Anthony Kennedy join the four liberal justices, explained that the only restrictions states could impose on congressional candidates were the ones spelled out in the nation's governing document: namely, a minimum (but not maximum) age, a minimum period of U.S. citizenship, and residency in the state they're seeking to represent at the time of election. Clarence Thomas, however, wrote a dissent that three fellow conservatives joined, saying he would have allowed Arkansas' law to stand.

Last year, Republicans in Tennessee decided to test whether Thomas' views might now hold sway on the Supreme Court, whose membership is now considerably further to the right than it was three decades ago. The GOP-dominated state legislature imposed a requirement that U.S. House candidates must have voted in the previous three statewide general elections to be eligible to run, a move that seemed to be aimed at blocking Morgan Ortagus, a former State Department spokesperson, from seeking the open 5th Congressional District. (Ortagus had only relocated from D.C. in 2021.)

The bill didn't apply last cycle because Gov. Bill Lee only allowed it to become law after the candidate filing deadline had passed. However, the state GOP's executive committee later used a different state law to eject Ortagus and two others from the ballot for not meeting the party's definition of a "bona fide" Republican. At least two of the plan's proponents, though, had much more than 2022 in mind, as they explicitly said they hoped the Supreme Court would overturn U.S. Term Limits. First, though, a candidate impacted by the law would have to file suit, which has not yet happened.

In North Dakota, meanwhile, organizers are seeking to collect signatures to impose a different requirement that, like Tennessee's, also isn't found in the Constitution. The proposed amendment would forbid anyone who would turn 81 before the end of their term from being elected or appointed to Congress. The measure also includes a section saying that, in the event that the courts block this maximum age limit, a "ballot advisory" would appear next to the names of congressional candidates on the ballot informing voters how old they'd be when their term would end.

The effort is being spearheaded by Jared Hendrix, a GOP party official who played a key role in electing and defending members of the legislature's far-right "Bastiat Caucus" (named after the 19th century French economist who championed free markets) and last year helped pass a term-limits measure applying to the governor and state legislators. Hendrix tells the Associated Press' Jack Dura that his group is aiming to get the measure on the June primary ballot rather than wait for next year's general election, saying, "Our plan is to aggressively and quickly gather signatures before cold weather hits."

Hendrix and his allies have until Feb. 12 to turn in about 31,200 signatures, a figure that represents 4% of the state's population (North Dakota is the only state that doesn't require voter registration) in order to meet his timeline; if they submit in their petitions later, the amendment wouldn't go before voters until November 2024. No matter what, though, it would only take a simple majority to pass the proposal at the ballot box.

Congressional elections could experience some major changes coast to coast if the Supreme Court were to chart a new course, but it wouldn't immediately impact any of the three members of the Peace Garden State's all-GOP delegation. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer are 66 and 62, respectively, while Rep. Kelly Armstrong is 46. Of course, many members of Congress have served (or currently serve) into their 80s and even beyond: Texas Rep. Ralph Hall was 91 when his career came to an end, while South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond remained in office until he was 100.

Senate

MI-Sen: GOP Rep. Lisa McClain told The Detroit News Wednesday that she's decided not to seek Michigan's open Senate seat.

NV-Sen: An unnamed source tells NBC that Jeffrey Ross Gunter, who had a turbulent tenure as Trump's ambassador to Iceland from 2019 to 2021, plans to launch a bid against Democratic Sen. Jackie Rosen sometime early next month. Gunter would join a GOP primary that includes Army veteran Sam Brown, whose kickoff this month came as welcome news to the NRSC, and Jim Marchant, the Big Lie spreader who narrowly lost last year's race for Nevada secretary of state.

Governors

IN-Gov: Howey Politics wrote Thursday that it anticipates outgoing state Commerce Secretary Brad Chambers will join the GOP primary "[s]ometime between now and Labor Day."

NC-Gov: Though term-limited Gov. Roy Cooper had previously declined to endorse Josh Stein to succeed him next year, he told a recent gathering of the Democratic Governors Association that one of his priorities is "getting North Carolina's Attorney General Josh Stein elected," in the words of Punchbowl News. Stein remains the only notable Democrat in the race for governor, but last month, Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan, who is retiring from his current post, said that he's considering a bid. Cooper's comments might therefore be a subtle message that he'd prefer to see Stein avoid any competition in the primary, or that he'd be willing to help him secure the nomination if he does get company.

House

CA-22: Democratic state Sen. Melissa Hurtado on Wednesday filed FEC paperwork for a potential campaign against GOP Rep. David Valadao. Hurtado would join a top-two primary that includes 2022 nominee Rudy Salas, who lost a tight and expensive race last time: Politico notes that Salas enjoys the support of the number-three Democrat in the House, 33rd District Rep. Pete Aguilar, for his second try.

CO-03: Grand Junction Mayor Anna Stout announced Wednesday that she'll seek the Democratic nod to take on far-right Lauren Boebert, a move that comes months after 2022 nominee Adam Frisch launched his second bid after coming shockingly close to victory. Stout was elected in 2019 to the city council for this 68,000-person community where Trump won roughly 56-41 in 2020, and her colleagues chose her to serve a second one-year term as mayor in April. Colorado Public Radio also adds that she has "developed a reputation as a moderate lawmaker."

Stout will be in for an expensive fight against Frisch, who hauled in a massive $2.6 million during the second quarter of the year and finished June with $2.5 million in the bank. Boebert, who fended Frisch off by all of 546 votes last year, took in $810,000 during this time and had $1.4 million on-hand. Donald Trump carried this western Colorado district 53-45, but Democrats are hoping Boebert's tough race last year means she'll be in for another serious fight in 2024.

NH-01: Former Executive Councilor Russell Prescott on Thursday became the first notable Republican to launch a campaign against Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas, an announcement that came less than a year after Prescott badly lost the 2022 primary for this eastern New Hampshire constituency. He's likely to once again face intra-party opposition, though, in a longtime swing seat that favored Joe Biden 52-46.

Prescott is a longtime Granite State politician who won reelection to the state Senate in the 2002 general election by fending off none other than now-Sen. Maggie Hassan; Hassan unseated him in their 2004 rematch, but Prescott reclaimed his seat by riding the 2010 red wave to victory in their third and final bout. (Hassan herself bounced back in 2012 by winning the governorship.) Prescott made the jump to the powerful Executive Council in 2016 and narrowly won re-election two years later before retiring in 2020.

Prescott tried to return to elected office last cycle when he kicked off his campaign to take on Pappas, who had served with him on the Executive Council during his first term, just three-and-a-half months before the primary, but things did not go well. The candidate, whose $350,000 loan accounted for most of his budget, struggled to gain traction in a 10-way contest dominated by 2020 nominee Matt Mowers and election denier Karoline Leavitt: Leavitt beat out Mowers 34-25, with former TV reporter Gail Huff Brown taking 17% and Prescott lagging in fourth place with just 10%. Republicans hoped that another red wave would wash up, but Pappas instead beat Leavitt by a convincing 54-46.

NY-22: GOP Rep. Brandon Williams' office said Wednesday that the congressman was back in the hospital due to a "complication" following the heart bypass surgery he received two weeks ago. Williams' team added that he would be absent from the House "for the remainder of the week."

RI-01: The State Board of Elections put out a statement Wednesday saying it would not review any signatures from Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos' campaign, declaring, "Local boards did their job, verifying signatures, rejecting signatures, identifying a subset of rejected signatures as potentially fraudulent, and referring these to state and local law enforcement for criminal investigation." The state attorney general's office is investigating allegations that Matos' team submitted fraudulent petitions, but the Board of Elections argues she still turned in more than enough valid signatures to appear on the crowded Sept. 6 special Democratic primary ballot.

Meanwhile, former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg has begun what his team tells WPRI's Ted Nesi is a $300,000 TV buy through Election Day, which is the most that anyone has committed to spending on the airwaves. Regunberg's two inaugural spots (here and here) tout him as an effective progressive who "took on the old guard" and touts his support for Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. The latter ad also informs viewers that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is backing Regunberg, an endorsement that became public the same day the spots debuted.

Nesi relays that Matos and former Biden administration official Gabe Amo, who each began their own opening buys, have spent or booked $280,000 and $215,000, respectively. Nesi adds that a fourth candidate, clean energy investor Don Carlson has increased his broadcast TV budget to $240,000 and will start advertising on Tuesday rather than in mid-August as he originally planned. Navy veteran Walter Berbrick has yet to launch any spots, though he did secure an endorsement from VoteVets this week.

Secretaries of State

OR-SoS: State Treasurer Tobias Read, who lost last year's Democratic primary for governor to Tina Kotek 56-32, this week became the first notable candidate to launch a bid for secretary of state. The post is held by LaVonne Griffin-Valade, whom Kotek appointed in late June after Democratic incumbent Shemia Fagan resigned in May following her admission that she'd been doing paid consulting work for a cannabis company at a time when her office was finishing an audit into how the state regulates such businesses. The Oregon Capitol Chronicle writes that Griffin-Valade "has said she doesn't plan to run for a full term," though there's no quote from her.

Because Oregon is one of a few states that lack a lieutenant governor’s office, the secretary of state is normally first in line to succeed the governor if the latter office becomes vacant. However, because that provision only applies to elected secretaries, Read took over the top spot in the line of succession once Fagan resigned, and if he’s elected secretary of state next year, he would remain first in line despite switching offices.

Ballot Measures

ME Ballot: Democratic Gov. Janet Mills unexpectedly announced Wednesday that a referendum to replace Maine's current state flag with one that was in use from 1901 to 1909 will take place in November 2024 rather than this fall. Mills was able to delay the referendum by not signing or vetoing the bill authorizing the vote, a move that ensured it would only take effect when the legislature reconvenes in January. "Rather than sign the bill and rush the question to ballot in little more than three months, she will … allow time for robust public debate and discussion on all sides of the issue," her team explained.

Maine's existing flag features, in the words of the Associated Press, "the state's coat of arms, which includes a pine tree, a moose, a seafarer and a lumberjack, against a blue background." The 1901 design, by contrast, shows just a green pine tree and blue star across a yellow backdrop, which proponents argue makes for a more distinctive image. Critics of the existing flag also argue that the design is far too cluttered.

However, as the Boston Globe recently explained, the fight over what flag to fly goes far beyond aesthetic preferences. "They want to take the farmer and the fisherman off the flag, to disappear them," a supporter of the status quo told the paper, continuing, "and to me that’s like what’s been done to the lobstermen and the fishermen in real life, over-regulating them and making it harder if not impossible to make a living."

Mayors and County Leaders

Houston, TX Mayor: The University of Houston is out with the first poll anyone has released since Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee launched her campaign four months ago, and it finds that, while she's well-positioned to advance to a runoff with state Sen. John Whitmire, she'd be the underdog against her fellow Democrat in a second round.

The school first looks at the Nov. 7 nonpartisan primary to succeed termed-out Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner and has Whitmire and Jackson Lee taking 34% and 32%, respectively, with former METRO board chair Gilbert Garcia a very distant third with just 3%. U of H, though, shows Whitmire defeating the congresswoman 51-33 in a runoff. (The date has not yet been scheduled.)

While both the frontrunners are longtime Democratic officeholders in this blue city, the school shows Whitmer, who has sided with the GOP on multiple votes against bail reform, winning over Republican voters by an astounding 88-2 as independents back him 60-18. Jackson Lee, who reliably votes with her party in D.C., carries Democrats 55-28, but U of H says that's far from enough.

Nashville, TN Mayor: Former city economic development chief Matt Wiltshire and state Sen. Jeff Yarbro each earned a big-name endorsement Wednesday with about a week to go before the Aug. 4 nonpartisan primary to succeed retiring Mayor John Cooper. In Wiltshire's corner is Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, of whom the Nashville Banner writes, "If there is any vestige of a political machine left in the county, it belongs to Hall."

Yarbro, meanwhile, has the support of former Rep. Jim Cooper, who represented the entire city in Congress from 2003 until he left office early this year after Republican mapmakers passed an aggressive new gerrymander. Cooper is the brother of the current mayor, who has not yet taken sides. A GBAO Strategies survey taken July 17-19 for the Tennessee Laborers PAC, which doesn't appear to have taken sides in the crowded contest, also finds both Wiltshire and Yarbro locked in a tight race along with GOP strategist Alice Rolli for the second spot in the all-but-certain Sept. 14 runoff.

Council member Freddie O'Connell, who has emphasized his opposition to John Cooper's successful drive this year to fund a new stadium for the Tennessee Titans, is a clear first with 21%. Rolli, who is the only notable Republican in the running, holds a tiny 13-12 edge over Yarbro for second, with Wiltshire at 10%. State Sen. Heidi Campbell and Council member Sharon Hurt respectively take 8% and 6%, with 4% going to Davidson County Property Assessor Vivian Wilhoite.

We've seen just one other survey this month, a Music City Research survey taken July 5-6 that put O'Connell at 22% as Wiltshire led Rolli 17-13 for second. As we've noted before, that pollster is affiliated with a firm run by one of O'Connell's supporters, fellow Metro Council member Dave Rosenberg: Rosenberg told us earlier this month that this survey was paid for by a "private entity" that, as far as he was aware, was not backing or opposing anyone.

Wichita, KS Mayor: Campaign finance reports are in ahead of Tuesday's nonpartisan primary for mayor, and former TV reporter Lily Wu outpaced Democratic incumbent Brandon Whipple and the other contenders in the period spanning Jan. 1 through July 20. The two candidates who earn the most votes next week will compete in the Nov. 7 general election.

Wu, who switched her party affiliation from Republican to Libertarian last year, hauled in $207,000 thanks in large part to what KMUW's Kylie Cameron says are big donations from "prominent Wichita business leaders," and she finished with $88,000 available for the home stretch. Wu also has the support of Americans for Prosperity, which is part of the Wichita-reared Koch family's conservative political network (Koch Industries remains headquartered here); however, since these reports don't cover outside spending, it's not clear what it's doing to aid her.

GOP City Council member Bryan Frye, meanwhile, outraised Celeste Racette, a Democrat turned independent who leads a group advocating for the historic performance venue Century II, $93,000 to $39,000, and he went into the final weeks with a $26,000 to $4,000 cash-on-hand advantage. Whipple, by contrast, brought in $35,000, while he had $28,000 in the bank.

Prosecutors and Sheriffs

Cook County, IL State's Attorney: Eileen O'Neill Burke, who retired this month as a local appellate court justice, announced this week that she was joining next year's party primary to succeed her fellow Democrat, retiring incumbent Kim Foxx, as the top prosecutor for America's second-most populous county. Burke, who pitched herself as "a steady hand at the wheel," is the second candidate to launch after attorney Clayton Harris, who has the backing of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

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.

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