GOP disarray: Trump blasts Mitch, Bowers calls out GOP ‘fascism,’ Colorado senator switches to Dems

While Joe Biden and fellow Democrats are getting things done, the GOP is increasingly in disarray as it embraces the MAGAverse and the cult of Trump. In fact, so much is going on that it might be time for periodic roundups of the internal fissures within the GOP.

Democrats still face an uphill battle in the November midterms, but the tide is turning in our favor. So let’s start with the dust-up between Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Last week, McConnell conceded that the House has a better chance of flipping than the Senate. During a stop in Kentucky, McConnell told reporters:

“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” McConnell said. “Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” he added, without mentioning any names.

But it was clear that he was referring to Trump-backed candidates in key swing states who are all trailing their Democratic opponents in recent polls—Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, J.D. Vance in Ohio, Herschel Walker in Georgia, and Blake Masters in Arizona. McConnell is backing pro-impeachment incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski, while Trump is supporting her 2020 election denier rival, Kelly Tshibaka, in Alaska’s Senate race.  

That didn’t sit well with the master of the MAGAverse. Over the weekend, Trump posted this on his Truth Social platform:

Why do Republican Senators allow a broken down hack politician, Mitch McConnell, to openly disparage hard working Republican candidates for the United States Senate. This is such an affront to honor and to leadership. He should spend more time (and money!) helping them get elected, and less time helping his crazy wife and family get rich on China!

Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife, served as secretary of Transportation during Trump’s four-year term, but resigned shortly after the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. 

Immediately after the insurrection, McConnell took to the Senate floor to say that Tump is “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events” of Jan. 6. However, he spinelessly voted to acquit Trump at his second impeachment trial a few weeks later.

As for Chao, whose family emigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan when she was a child, there have been questions raised as to whether she aided her father’s shipping company through her government positions. The U.S. Transportation Department's Inspector General's office investigated Chao for potential violations of ethics rules and misuse of her position, and published its findings in March. Chao's father, James S.C. Chao, founded a shipping company, now called the Foremost Group, which her sister Angela now heads. The firm does significant business in China.

McConnell’s criticism of Trump was relatively mild compared with what Arizona’s ousted House Speaker Rusty Bowers had to say about Trump and his party in an extraordinary interview with The Guardian. Bowers, a staunch conservative, testified in a public hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection about the pressure he faced to overturn Arizona’s presidential election result that gave Joe Biden a narrow win.

Earlier this month, Trump got his revenge when Bowers lost a Republican primary race to challenger David Farnsworth, who claimed that the 2020 election had been satanically snatched from Trump by the “devil himself.”

Bowers detailed to The Guardian how Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and John Eastman pressured him to have the state legislature use an arcane Arizona law to switch the election outcome to Trump. He resisted the bullying. ”The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves—that to me is fascism,” Bowers said.

With the primary loss behind him, Bowers, who is a Mormon, felt unhindered in letting loose on Trump and the GOP. “The constitution is hanging by a thread,” he told The Guardian. “The funny thing is, I always thought it would be the other guys. And it’s my side. That just rips at my heart: that we would be the people who would surrender the constitution in order to win an election. That just blows my mind.”

Bowers said he remains optimistic that the GOP will one day find its way back on to the rails, but said that things are likely to get much worse before they get better. He said the Arizona GOP seems to be lost at the moment. “They’ve invented a new way. It’s a party that doesn’t have any thought. It’s all emotional, it’s all revenge. It’s all anger. That’s all it is,” Bowers said.

And in Colorado, one GOP state senator went even further when he announced Monday that he couldn’t remain a Republican any longer and was defecting to the Democrats. State Sen. Kevin Priola wrote in a two-page letter that there is “too much at stake right now for Republicans to be in charge.” He added: “Simply put, we need Democrats in charge.”

Priola cited two main reasons for switching parties: Many Republicans peddling false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, and the party’s efforts to block legislation that would fight climate change even as Coloradans endure worsening wildfires and drought.

Priola has served in the Colorado legislature as a Republican since 2009, first as a representative and then, starting in 2017, as a senator. Term limits bar him from seeking reelection in 2024. His defection increases the Democratic state Senate majority ahead of the November elections.

“I haven’t changed much in 30 years; but my party has,” Priola wrote. “Coloradans cannot afford for their leaders to give credence to election conspiracies and climate denialism,” he wrote, adding: “Our planet and our democracy depend on it.”

Gubernatorial hopeful who failed Breonna Taylor as prosecutor awfully quiet amid word of plea deal

It's a shame Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron didn’t come to the same conclusion about a former Louisville police detective that she did about herself. That conclusion seems to be that Kelly Goodlett is guilty of helping falsify a no-knock search warrant for Breonna Taylor's home and filing a false report to cover it up. Goodlett will plead to one count of conspiring to violate Taylor's civil rights, ABC News reported on Friday. Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, was killed on Mar. 13, 2020, in Louisville, Kentucky although she wasn't the subject of the warrant Goodlett allegedly helped falsify. The Black medical worker was sleeping when officers rammed through her door.

Still, Cameron didn’t even pretend to seek Goodlett’s prosecution or that of any other officer for Taylor’s death. It’s a fact that hopefully voters won’t soon forget amid his gubernatorial run.

RELATED STORY: 'Cannot tolerate this type of conduct': Finally, cops involved in Breonna Taylor's death are fired

Cameron attempted to make his case for why he should be the state’s next governor on Aug. 6 at the 142nd Fancy Farm Picnic. But demonstrators refused to let him have an unearned moment in the sun at the picnic in the unincorporated community in Graves County, Kentucky. They’ve watched him avoid holding officers involved in Taylor’s death accountable for more than two years now, and they refused to be silent while Cameron attempted to profit politically from his inaction.

“Breonna Taylor,” protesters shouted while Cameron raised his voice to compete with them.

He didn’t mention her name once in his speech, but he voiced support for law enforcement, telling them: “Know that we will always have your back, and we will always support the blue.”

Earlier in the day, Cameron told reporters two of the cops who shot Taylor, retired Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and former Detective Myles Cosgrove, didn't use excessive force the night of Taylor's death.

“I know folks have very strong feelings about this case ... but we have a responsibility to not give into any preferred narrative,” he said, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. “We have a responsibility to do right by the laws of Kentucky and that’s what we did.”

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What was right to Cameron, who served as special prosecutor after Jefferson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine recused himself, was to allow the officers involved with Taylor’s death to rest easy knowing they wouldn’t be held accountable by the state’s top prosecutor.

Cameron only sought charges against one cop, former Detective Brett Hankison, not for killing Taylor but for allegedly endangering her neighbors in the process.

It took the Department of Justice stepping in to charge former Louisville police Detective Joshua Jaynes, former Sgt. Kyle Meany, and Goodlett allegedly for violating Taylor’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. The officers sought the warrant to search Taylor's home "knowing that the officers lacked probable cause for the search," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in remarks announcing the federal charges. Goodlett is set to appear in court to enter her plea on Aug. 22, ABC News reported.

The Department of Justice also charged Hankison "with two civil rights offenses alleging that he willfully used unconstitutionally excessive force” when he fired 10 shots through a window and a sliding glass door, “both of which were covered with blinds and curtains,” according to the Department of Justice. 

Cameron attempted to excuse his lack of action in a seven-part Twitter thread responding to the federal charges.

He said:

“As in every prosecution, our office supports the impartial administration of justice, but it is important that people not conflate what happened today with the state law investigation undertaken by our office. Our primary task was to investigate whether the officers who executed the search warrant were criminally responsible for Ms. Taylor’s death under state law.

"At the conclusion of our investigation, our prosecutors submitted the information to a state grand jury, which ultimately resulted in criminal charges being brought against Mr. Brett Hankison for wanton endangerment.

"I’m proud of the work of our investigators & prosecutors. This case and the loss of Ms. Taylor’s life have generated national attention. People across the country have grieved, and there isn’t a person I’ve spoken to across our 120 counties that isn’t saddened by her loss. There are those, however, who want to use this moment to divide Kentuckians, misrepresent the facts of the state investigation, and broadly impugn the character of our law enforcement community.

"I won’t participate in that sort of rancor. It’s not productive. Instead, I’ll continue to speak with the love and respect that is consistent with our values as Kentuckians."

Three grand jurors in the Taylor case filed a petition with the Kentucky House of Representatives calling for Cameron's impeachment for what they described as manipulation in his presentation to jurors. Kevin Glogower, the lawyer who represented the jurors, told the Courier-Journal: “Mr. Cameron continues to blatantly disregard the truth,” which was that he never even mentioned a homicide charge in his presentation to jurors.

RELATED STORY: Jurors take stand against Daniel Cameron for lying to protect cops who shot, killed Breonna Taylor

GOP panic over two major Pennsylvania races headlines huge primary night nationwide

Tuesday brings us the biggest primary night of the 2022 cycle so far―in fact, one of the biggest we can expect all year―as voters in five different states across the country head to the polls. We have tons of must-watch and extremely expensive elections in store as each side selects its nominees in crucial contests for Senate and governor, as well as in numerous House races.

Below you'll find our guide to all of the top primaries, arranged chronologically by each state’s poll closing times. When it’s available, we'll tell you about any reliable polling that exists for each race, but if we don't mention any numbers, it means no recent surveys have been made public.

And of course, because this is a redistricting year, every state on the docket has a brand-new congressional map. To help you follow along, you can find interactive maps from Dave's Redistricting App for Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania. Note that the presidential results we include after each district reflect how the 2020 race would have gone under the new lines in place for this fall. And if you'd like to know how much of the population in each new district comes from each old district, please check out our redistribution tables.

The Daily Kos Elections Team talks about how the MAGA civil war might be hurting the GOP in races across the country on The Downballot podcast

Our live coverage will begin at 7:30 PM ET at Daily Kos Elections when polls close in North Carolina. You can also follow us on Twitter for blow-by-blow updates, and you’ll want to bookmark our primary calendar, which includes the dates for primaries in all 50 states.

KENTUCKY

Polls close in the portion of the state located in the Eastern Time Zone, which includes the entire 3rd Congressional District, at 6 PM ET. They close in the rest of the state an hour later.

KY-03 (D) (60-38 Biden): Rep. John Yarmuth, who's spent a decade as Kentucky’s only Democratic member of Congress, is retiring from a Louisville seat that only underwent minor changes in redistricting, and two candidates are running for the nod to replace him: state Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, who has Yarmuth’s endorsement, and state Rep. Attica Scott, who would be the state’s first Black member of Congress.

McGarvey, who has enjoyed a massive fundraising lead over Scott, has also received $1 million in support from Protect Our Future PAC, a group funded by cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried. Scott, who kicked off a campaign for this seat before Yarmuth announced his departure, has not benefited from any serious outside spending.

NORTH CAROLINA

Polls close statewide at 7:30 PM ET. Candidates must take at least 30% of the vote to avert a July 26 runoff, though the second-place finisher must officially request a runoff for one to occur. 

NC-Sen (R) (50-49 Trump): A total of 14 Republicans are competing to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr, but most of the attention has centered around Rep. Ted Budd and former Gov. Pat McCrory. Budd has the backing of Donald Trump and the well-funded Club for Growth, which along with its allies has spent $14.3 million on the congressman's behalf. 

While Budd's campaign appeared to be in rough shape as recently as late January, every recent survey has shown him far ahead and well above the threshold for avoiding a runoff. Former Rep. Mark Walker and businesswoman Marjorie Eastman are also running, but they’re unlikely to matter unless the polls are wrong and Budd struggles to win outright. The winner will face former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who doesn’t have any serious opposition in the Democratic primary. 

NC-01 (D & R) (53-45 Biden): Rep. G.K. Butterfield is retiring from this northeastern North Carolina seat that became slightly redder under the new congressional map imposed by the state courts after finding the GOP's districts were illegal partisan gerrymanders. Four fellow Democrats are running to replace the departing congressman. The two main contenders are state Sen. Don Davis, a prominent moderate whom Butterfield is supporting, and former state Sen. Erica Smith, who badly lost the 2020 primary for the U.S. Senate.  

Smith has gone after her opponent for supporting anti-abortion legislation, but she’s been heavily outspent by Davis and his allies. The senator has benefited from $2.9 million in spending from United Democracy Project, a super PAC funded by the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, while the Working Families Party has deployed a considerably smaller $600,000 to promote Smith. A recent Davis internal, to which Smith did not respond, showed him up 44-31

Things got unexpectedly nasty in the final week of the GOP's eight-way primary when the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC close to party leadership, launched an ad campaign aiming to torpedo accountant Sandy Smith, who is running again after losing to Butterfield 54-46 in 2020. Smith’s most prominent intra-party foe appears to be Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson, who is the only elected official in the contest and has self-funded most of his bid. Other contenders to watch are attorney Billy Strickland, who failed to beat an incumbent state senator in a 2020 primary, and another self-funder, businessman Brad Murphy.

NC-04 (D) (67-32 Biden): Veteran Rep. David Price is retiring from a safely blue seat that remains anchored by the college towns of Durham and Chapel Hill, and eight fellow Democrats are competing to take his place. The contest includes two elected officials: Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, who in 2020 became the first Muslim woman to win elective office in North Carolina, and state Sen. Valerie Foushee, who would be the first Black woman to represent this area in Congress. Also in the running is Clay Aiken, the former "American Idol" star who unsuccessfully ran against Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers several maps ago in 2014 and would be the state’s first gay representative.

Outside spending has very much favored Foushee, with AIPAC and Protect Our Future, the crypto-aligned PAC, representing most of the $3.5 million that has been deployed on her behalf; by contrast, Allam has received about $330,000 in support from the Working Families Party and other groups, while there have been no independent expenditures for Aiken. A late April internal from Foushee’s allies at EMILY’s List showed her defeating Allam 35-16.  

NC-11 (R) (54-44 Trump): Far-right freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn pissed off lots of folks in western North Carolina when he tried to leave them behind to run for an even more conservative district in the Charlotte area that he had almost no ties to—a self-serving plan to boost his own profile that got derailed when the state's new court-drawn map replaced that Charlotte seat with a solidly blue district. 

Cawthorn now faces seven challengers in a constituency that’s virtually the same as the one he wanted to abandon, several of whom launched campaigns during the brief period that the congressman was trying to hop districts. Sen. Thom Tillis has thrown his support behind state Sen. Chuck Edwards, who has pitched himself as an ardent conservative alternative to the shameless, attention-seeking incumbent. A super PAC close to Tillis has spent $1.6 million on ads attacking Cawthorn and his litany of embarrassing behaviors while also promoting Edwards. 

The incumbent, though, retains Trump’s endorsement, and he could benefit if the other six candidates, including local GOP official Michele Woodhouse, split the anti-Cawthorn vote. Indeed, a late April survey from GOPAC, which isn’t backing anyone, showed that Cawthorn still led Edwards 38-21. The eventual winner will likely go up against Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, who is the Democratic frontrunner. 

NC-13 (D & R) (50-48 Biden): Redistricting created a new swing seat in Raleigh's southern suburbs, and both parties have competitive primaries here. The Democratic side includes five candidates, with state Sen. Wiley Nickel and former state Sen. Sam Searcy the frontrunners. Nickel has enjoyed a spending advantage over Searcy in a contest where major outside groups haven’t gotten involved. 

Things are far busier on the Republican side, where eight contenders are squaring off. Both Donald Trump and the Club for Growth are supporting Bo Hines, a 26-year-old former North Carolina State University football player who has minimal ties to the area and. The Club, the nihilistic House Freedom Caucus, and assorted other groups have together spent over $2.3 million promoting Hines and attacking one of his many opponents, wealthy attorney Kelly Daughtry, while a PAC called Old North has dropped over $1 million to boost Daughtry and bash Hines. 

The other six candidates haven’t attracted as much attention. The field includes former Rep. Renee Ellmers, who represented part of the greater Raleigh area in the House from 2011 to 2017 in a brief career that was defined by some very wild swings of fortune; party activist DeVan Barbour; Army veteran Kent Keirsey; and pastor Chad Slotta. 

PENNSYLVANIA

Polls close statewide at 8 PM ET

PA-Sen (R & D) (50-49 Biden): Both parties have hosted expensive primaries to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in this key swing state, though the GOP contest has been a far more volatile affair. Until the final week, the main contenders were TV personality Mehmet Oz, who has Trump’s backing, and wealthy former hedge fund manager David McCormick. The two candidates and their allies have dumped millions on attack ads for months, which appears to have provided an unexpected opening for author Kathy Barnette, an election denier who badly lost to Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean last cycle in the 4th District. 

A survey taken for Fox News late in the race showed Oz with a 22-20 edge over McCormick, with Barnette just behind at 19%. The Club for Growth soon followed up with a $2 million infusion for Barnette, who has scarcely aired any ads on her own. Many GOP insiders are worried that she’d jeopardize the party’s general election prospects, and even Trump tried to knock her down Thursday. Also in the running are Jeff Bartos, who was Team Red's nominee for lieutenant governor; former Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands; and attorney George Bochetto, but they haven’t demonstrated any Barnette-like late surge. 

On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has from day one enjoyed huge polling leads over his two main intra-party rivals, Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta. The race never descended into anything like the bloody affair on the Republican side, though it did turn negative last month. A pro-Lamb super PAC tried to weaken Fetterman using an erroneous and since-corrected news report to falsely claim Fetterman is a "self-described socialist” (the spot was pulled off the air and an edited version had to be substituted), but there’s no indication this attack had its desired effect. Fetterman announced Sunday that he’d suffered a stroke two days before but was “well on my way to a full recovery” and would continue his campaign.  

PA-Gov (R) (50-49 Biden): Republicans have to sort out a crowded, bitter primary before they can focus on trying to replace termed-out Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, a contest Team Blue has taken a deep interest in. State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a QAnon ally and Big Lie proponent whom many Republicans fret would be a toxic nominee, posted a 29-17 advantage over former Rep. Lou Barletta in a mid-May Fox News poll despite spending little money. Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who has no intra-party opposition, even ran commercials ostensibly attacking Mastriano that are actually designed to help him appeal to Trump fans; Trump himself also delivered a late endorsement to Mastriano on Saturday.  

GOP leaders who aren’t Trump have hoped that they could consolidate behind one non-Mastriano candidate, prompting state Senate leader Jake Corman and former Rep. Melissa Hart to drop out just days before the primary and endorse Barletta, an anti-immigration zealot who is anything but a moderate. However, former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, self-funding businessman Dave White, and several contenders even further behind in the polls have stayed put. McSwain himself has spent heavily, but he got the worst news possible last month when Trump attacked him for not doing enough to advance the Big Lie and urged Republicans not to vote for him. 

PA-12 (D) (59-39 Biden): Five Democrats are campaigning to succeed retiring Rep. Mike Doyle in a Pittsburgh-based seat that looks very much like the 18th District he currently serves.  

Doyle and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald are both backing Steve Irwin, a former chief of the Pennsylvania Securities Commission. The other major contender is state Rep. Summer Lee, a progressive who would be the first Black woman to represent the Keystone State in Congress. In Lee’s corner are Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and the influential SEIU Pennsylvania State Council. There's also law professor Jerry Dickinson, who challenged Doyle in the 2020 primary and lost 67-33. Dickinson, like Lee, is a Black progressive, and it's possible the two will be competing for the same sorts of voters. 

A late March poll for Lee’s supporters at EMILY’s List showed her beating Irwin 38-13, but Irwin’s allies have ramped up their spending since then. A total of $3.1 million in outside spending has gone towards promoting Irwin or attacking Lee, with the bulk of it coming from AIPAC. The Working Families Party and Justice Democrats, meanwhile, are responsible for most of the $1.7 million that’s aided Lee. 

PA-17 (D & R) (52-46 Biden): Two Democrats and three Republicans are campaigning to succeed Senate candidate Conor Lamb in a suburban Pittsburgh seat that’s very similar to the old 17th District. On the Democratic side, Navy veteran Chris Deluzio has outspent party operative Sean Meloy in a race where outside groups haven’t gotten involved. Deluzio has the Allegheny-Fayette Central Labor Council on his side, while Meloy, who would be the state’s first LGBTQ member, has the support of neighboring Rep. Mike Doyle. 

The GOP race is a battle between former Ross Township Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer and Jason Killmeyer, a national security analyst who often appears in conservative media. Shaffer has spent the most money, though Killmeyer has made sure to highlight the fact that Shaffer unseated an incumbent state senator in the 2018 primary only to narrowly lose the general election and cost the GOP a crucial seat. The third Republican, business owner Kathleen Coder, has little money. 

IDAHO

Polls close in the portion of the state located in the Mountain Time Zone at 10 PM ET/8 PM local time. Polls close in the rest of the state an hour later.

ID-Gov (R) (64-33 Trump): Gov. Brad Little faces seven fellow Republicans in this overwhelmingly red state, but the most prominent of the bunch is Trump-endorsed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is also an ally of far-right conspiracist groups. Little, however, has enjoyed a massive financial lead, and he posted a huge 60-29 lead over McGeachin in an independent poll conducted in mid-April. 

ID-02 (R) (60-37 Trump): Longtime Republican Rep. Mike Simpson faces a primary rematch against attorney Bryan Smith, whom he beat 62-38 in 2014, in an eastern Idaho constituency that barely changed following redistricting; three little-known contenders are also on the ballot. 

Just as he did eight years ago, Smith is arguing that the congressman is insufficiently conservative, though this time he’s also attacking Simpson for the doubts he expressed about Trump in 2016. The incumbent, for his part, is once again portraying the challenger as a greedy lawyer. Pro-Simpson groups have spent $1.7 million here, while Smith’s allies have dropped $680,000. 

ID-AG (R) (64-33 Trump): Five-term Attorney General Lawrence Wasden faces an intra-party challenge from former Rep. Raúl Labrador, who spent his four terms in the House as one of the most prominent tea party shit-talkers before losing his 2018 bid for governor in the GOP primary. Conservative activist Art Macomber is also in the mix. The Club for Growth has run commercials attacking Wasden for refusing to join other GOP attorneys general in suing to overturn Biden’s win, and Labrador has also taken him to task for not working with hardline conservatives in the legislature. A trio of polls, including a Club internal, have found Labrador in the lead

OREGON

Polls close in most of Oregon at 11 PM ET/8 PM local time; they close an hour earlier in the small portion of the state in the Mountain Time Zone, but few if any votes will be reported before 11 ET.

OR-Gov (D & R) (56-40 Biden): Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is termed-out of an office her party has held since the 1986 elections, and both sides have competitive races to succeed her. The two candidates who emerge Tuesday will be in for an expensive general election that will also feature former state Sen. Betsy Johnson, a conservative Democrat-turned-independent who's been a strong fundraiser.

There are 15 different Democrats in the running, but the only two serious contenders are state Treasurer Tobias Read and former state House Speaker Tina Kotek, who would be the first lesbian elected governor anywhere in the country. Kotek’s ads have emphasized her role in passing progressive policies, while the more moderate Read has argued that he represents a “new approach” for the state. A mid-April Reed internal had Kotek ahead 25-20.

The 19-person GOP field is similarly crowded but more in flux. The only recent poll we’ve seen was an independent survey from early May that showed former state House Minority Leader Christine Drazan leading former state Rep. Bob Tiernan, who has been self-funding, 19-14, with 2016 nominee Bud Pierce at 10%. The field also includes 1998 nominee Bill Sizemore; consultant Bridget Barton; businesswoman Jessica Gomez; Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten; and Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam. 

OR-04 (D) (55-42 Biden): Veteran Rep. Peter DeFazio is retiring from a district along the state’s south coast that Democrats in the legislature made several points bluer, and eight fellow Democrats are running to replace him. 

The top fundraiser is state Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle, who has endorsements from DeFazio and Sen. Jeff Merkley. Around $580,000 in outside spending has gone to supporting Hoyle, with most of that coming from the crypto-aligned Web3 Forward. Also in the race are former Airbnb executive Andrew Kalloch; Corvallis school board chair Sami Al-Abdrabbuh; and Doyle Canning, who badly lost the 2020 primary to DeFazio. The winner will go up against 2020 GOP nominee Alek Skarlatos, a National Guard veteran whose 52-46 loss last cycle represented the closest re-election contest of DeFazio's career.

OR-05 (D & R) (53-44 Biden): Rep. Kurt Schrader, who has long been one of the most visible moderates in the Democratic caucus, faces a challenge from the left in a central Oregon seat that he currently represents just under half of. Schrader’s sole intra-party foe is Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who would be Oregon's first LGBTQ member of Congress and has attacked the incumbent for his ties to special interests. 

McLeod-Skinner has raised a serious amount of money, but Schrader has still massively outspent her. The congressman has also received $2.1 million in outside support, with most of it coming from super PACs dedicated to electing centrist Democrats, while the Working Families Party has deployed about $340,000 for the challenger. Biden has also endorsed Schrader.

Five Republicans are facing off as well. The two serious contenders are former Happy Valley Mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who lost two competitive races for the state House in 2016 and 2018, and businessman Jimmy Crumpacker, who took fourth place in the 2020 primary for the old 2nd District.

OR-06 (D & R) (55-42 Biden): Democrats have experienced a massively expensive nine-way race for this brand-new seat in the mid-Willamette Valley that the state earned in reapportionment, though the bulk of the outside spending has benefited just one of them. That candidate is economic development adviser Carrick Flynn, who's been backed by a staggering $11.4 million from cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried's super PAC, Protect Our Future. House Majority PAC, a decade-old group that exists to help Democrats in general elections, has also spent $940,000 to support Flynn, an unprecedented departure condemned by Sen. Jeff Merkley. A third super PAC called Justice Unites Us is running ads for Flynn as well.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a heavy donor to HMP that was furious about the PAC's intervention, has spent around $1.5 million to support state Rep. Andrea Salinas, who would be Oregon’s first Latina member of Congress. The field also includes state Rep. Teresa Alonso León; self-funding perennial candidate Cody Reynolds; Oregon Medical Board member Kathleen Harder; former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith; and cryptocurrency developer Matt West, though none of them have received any outside support. An early May Salinas internal poll showed her edging out Flynn 18-14, with everyone else in single digits.

The seven-person Republican primary is similarly crowded but far cheaper. The field includes three candidates who have histories in older versions of the 5th District, from which the new 6th draws the bulk of its DNA: former Rep. Jim Bunn, who was elected to his only term in the 1994 Gingrich revolution; Mike Erickson, who was the GOP's unsuccessful 2006 and 2008 nominee for the next incarnation of the 5th; and former Keizer city councilor Amy Ryan Courser, who lost to Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader in 2020. Also in the running are Army veteran Nate Sandvig, state Rep. Ron Noble, Dundee Mayor David Russ, and Air Force veteran Angela Plowhead.

Kentucky Democrat makes impassioned plea in defense of reproductive rights. You need to see this

Let’s see: In the past few years, Republicans have hitched themselves to Vladimir Putin, violent insurrectionists who tried to overthrow the legitimate government of the United States, a sore-loser campaign to undermine democracy, a former president who stole boxes of classified information from the White House and called a murderous tyrant a savvy genius, and a cruel campaign to gut  (particularly poor and vulnerable) people’s reproductive freedoms.

Seems like that’s a fuckuvalot for Democratic hopefuls to campaign on! Tell me again why so many of us are so pessimistic about the midterms?

Every time I see Republicans attempt to establish a tough-on-Putin narrative after spending four years suckling the scurfy teats of the Moscow murderer’s mucilaginous manservant, I want to effing scream. Where’s the pushback on these ghouls? Come on, now! Let’s get fired up, hey! Let’s get fired up!

In other words, we need more fire like this: Kentucky state Sen. Karen Berg has some choice words for her GOP colleagues when it comes to their support of cruel and benighted anti-choice legislation. In the following clip, she responds to a vote on Kentucky’s SB 321, which would ban abortions after 15 weeks. The bill is designed to mirror a similarly restrictive Mississippi law that’s currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. If SCOTUS upholds that law, Kentucky’s own back-alley clinic bill will be ready to go on Day One. This is straight fire, y’all. 

if you watch one thing today make it this pic.twitter.com/RN2wiq61rr

— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) March 19, 2022

BERG: “You know, I’m a diagnostic radiologist, and diagnostic radiologists, historically, and in many places in this state still do all of the first trimester OB ultrasound. So I am extraordinarily, personally familiar with the development of a fetus in the womb. And for you to sit here and say that at 15 weeks a fetus has a functional heart, a four-chamber heart, that can survive on its own is fallacious. That is not true. There is no viability. You know, I look around at my colleagues on this committee. I am the only woman on this podium right now. I am the only physician sitting on this podium. This bill is a medical sham. It does not follow medicine. It does not even purport to listen to medicine. And for each and every one of my colleagues to be so willing to cast an aye vote, when what you are doing is putting your finger, putting your knee, putting a gun to women’s heads. You are killing women, because abortion will continue. Women will continue to have efficacy over their own body, whether or not you make it legal. I vote no and I really, really apologize to the people of Kentucky that we are spending this much time and this much energy when we have families in poverty. We have single women heading households in poverty at a higher rate than any other group in the state. And you all are not addressing that. You are making it worse. Thank you.”

Democrats! This is how you do it! Interjection! Show excitement! Or emotion! Alleluia! 

Republicans’ war on women’s reproductive rights has now come dangerously close to victory. By a wide margin, most Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade—but the GOP clearly doesn’t care about most Americans’ opinions.

Not to mention the fact that the vast majority of Republicans opposed Volodymyr Zelenskyy before they supported him. And their longtime standard-bearer, Grampa Rage Diapers, is best buds with the butcher of Mariupol and still refuses to directly criticize him

Of course, if you want to support Democrats across the country in November, tossing a few ha’pennies Berg’s way might be a good start. 

Thank you to those asking where you can support my re-election. Here is the link: https://t.co/oQfaCkggft

— Karen Berg (@karenforky) March 19, 2022

Thanks, Karen. We need more Democrats like you. Hell, we need more Karens like you. Republicans are counting on a wave election in November. Let’s show them we have enough fight and grit left in us to withstand their tsunami of everlasting bullshit.

It made comedian Sarah Silverman say, “THIS IS FUCKING BRILLIANT,” and prompted author Stephen King to shout “Pulitzer Prize!!!” (on Twitter, that is). What is it? The viral letter that launched four hilarious Trump-trolling books. Get them all, including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, at this link. Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE

Republican screwups on infrastructure hurt people from Kentucky to Michigan to Mississippi to NYC

The running joke of the Trump presidency—okay, one of the running jokes—was the constant pronouncements of an upcoming “infrastructure week” or that some kind of infrastructure deal was in the offing. Nothing. Ever. Happened. Meanwhile, ask the people of Jackson, Mississippi—who watched as the government at every level failed for decades to invest in keeping their city’s water system up to date, with some residents unable to access water for weeks—to find humor in Trump’s failure to deliver. We’ll come back to that story below.

Once again, infrastructure is the word flying around Washington, D.C., and it’s no longer a joke. There are ongoing conversations in the House and the Senate. We’ve seen a bipartisan deal announced laying out the framework on funding what’s called physical infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.), the urgent need for which will be our focus here. However, let me add that our government—with or without support from Republicans—absolutely must fund equally vital human infrastructure needs such as child and elder care, job training, and education, elements that are just as important in making our economy stronger. As President Biden pointed out in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on June 29, “the human infrastructure is intertwined with our physical infrastructure.”

Finally, the grownups are in charge.

For anyone who still needs convincing, the consulting firm McKinsey laid out the data on the benefits of serving the common good by investing in our country’s physical infrastructure: there is little doubt about the value of investing in good infrastructure. In 2015, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that every dollar spent on infrastructure brought an economic benefit of up to $2.20. The U.S. Council of Economic Advisers has calculated that $1 billion of transportation-infrastructure investment supports 13,000 jobs for a year. Beyond the numbers, infrastructure is critical to the health and well-being of the country: the United States could not function without the roads, bridges, sewers, clean water, and airports previous generations paid for.

As you can see below, after a nice bump early in the Obama-Biden years thanks to the 2009 stimulus package, infrastructure spending dropped off and fell to generational lows under the guy who followed them.

It would be impossible to provide even a partial list of the necessary infrastructure projects across the U.S., although this article does a nice job presenting a number of the highest priorities. The Biden White House has produced fact sheets that sum up each state’s physical infrastructure needs, demonstrating what it hopes to accomplish for Americans all across the country.

Images of the horrific water crisis in Flint, Michigan, are burned into all of our minds, but another city’s water-related tragedy may be less familiar. In Jackson, Mississippi, a city of 160,000 inhabitants, over 80% of whom are Black, the majority went without running water for weeks after a brutal mid-February storm. How brutal? An engineer at the state Department of Transportation expressed the following: “I sincerely hope that in 25 plus years from now, we are still talking about this event as the ‘worst one ever.” Even a month after the storm had passed, over 70% of people were still being told to boil their water before using it.

Why did the storm wreak such havoc in Jackson specifically? Because of a century-plus old municipal water system whose vulnerabilities were laid bare by the storm—which also pummeled Texas, killing hundreds and perhaps as many as a thousand people while knocking out that state’s power grid. Jackson residents reflected on the crisis in interviews with Good Morning America.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba specifically blamed Mississippi Republicans, who have dominated the state’s politics for decades, for failing to fund the necessary infrastructure repairs that would have mitigated damage from the storm: “I think that you find less willingness from the state to support a city like Jackson, because they don't necessarily feel that the demographics of Jackson, or even the politics of Jackson resemble the majority opinion.” In other words, they didn’t care one iota about a city full of Black Democrats.

The governor of Mississippi recently murmured something about assisting the city in looking around for low-interest loans. Yip-frickin-ee. The mayor estimated the cost of truly solving the problems faced by the city’s water system—Jackson’s water also has a lead problem rivaling that of the aforementioned Flint—at $2 billion. The Biden plan proposed to send what will hopefully be enough money to make things right for the people of Jackson.

Beyond Flint’s problems, there are dams all over Michigan that are simply falling apart. In May 2020, the Sanford and Edenville dams burst after heavy rains, flooding surrounding areas. Regarding the Edenville dam—aged 96 years—federal regulators revoked its license to generate hydropower in 2018, but the state regulators apparently dropped the ball in subsequent years. Overall, the dams failed because of “years of underfunding and neglect.”

Like in Mississippi, Michigan Republicans have controlled the purse strings for quite some time. They’ve maintained a state Senate majority since 1984, and have run the House since 2010—aided significantly by gerrymandering. From 2011 through 2019, the state’s governor was Republican Rick Snyder. While holding this trifecta of power, Michigan Republicans largely ignored the state’s infrastructure needs. In fact, Snyder, along with other members of his administration, were indicted earlier this year on criminal charges for their actions (or lack thereof) relating to Flint’s water fiasco.

On dams, the kind of flooding residents of Midland and Gladwin counties suffered is common in every part of the country. There are about 91,000 dams in the U.S. Of these, approximately 15,000-16,000 are located in spots where, if they broke, significant loss of life and property destruction would result. The Association of State Dam Safety Officials has determined that around one out of every six of those dams are “deficient.” That is a problem we need to address before the next storm.

The most infuriating, most foolish example of active Republican malfeasance originated in the time before President Caligula had made the transition from reality show buffoon to destructive demagogue. It took place at the center of the region with the largest economy of any in the U.S., and concerned its most important ground transportation hub—the one that connects the island of Manhattan to the mainland by train.

We’re also talking about a problem that Democratic President Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress, with the support of local officials, had actually begun fixing over a decade ago. That was before New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie, doctrinaire conservative that he is, metaphorically stood athwart the train tracks yelling “STOP!” It’s a very long story, but it’s one that demonstrates how Republican ideology, Republican lies, and plain-old Republican shortsightedness put the kibosh on a project that remains just as necessary today.

There is only one train tunnel—which happens to be 110 years old—running beneath the Hudson River. For many years, we’ve known that that’s at least one tunnel too few. What was then called the ARC (Access to the Region’s Core) project would have built a second one, enabling twice as many trains to cross into the Big Apple. Roughly 200,000 people and 450 trains traveled through that sole, aging tunnel on a typical pre-COVID weekday. Other positive effects of the ARC project would have included: “alleviat[ing] congestion on local roads, reduc[ing] pollution, help[ing] the growth of the region’s economy and rais[ing] property values for suburban homeowners.” Oh, and it would have created 6,000 construction jobs right at the point during the Great Recession when unemployment was at its peak, at just about 10%.

The work was already underway when, in October of 2010, Gov. Christie suddenly reversed himself and cancelled the project. As late as that April, shortly after his inauguration, he had reiterated his long-standing support. Why, pray tell, did he take an action that “stunned other government officials and advocates of public transportation”? Even though the federal government, along with the states of New York and New Jersey, and the Port Authority, were all contributing to the bill, Christie claimed that New Jersey would end up bearing the burden of cost overruns, and so he pulled out.

It turned out that, as per a 2012 investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Christie was, to put it charitably, incorrect in just about everything he claimed as justification for cancelling the project. Looking back, it’s clear why he did what he did, based on where the money that had been dedicated to building the ARC tunnel ended up—namely in NJ’s “near-bankrupt transportation trust fund, traditionally financed by the gasoline tax.” In other words, he took the money so he wouldn’t have to raise gas taxes, and thereby earn the ill-will of the people who put him in office. What a bozo.

As bad as that decision was at the time, it was rendered even more foolish by a little thing called Hurricane Sandy, which slammed the region in 2012. A year earlier, what had been the ARC project had been tweaked somewhat and re-proposed as the Gateway project, again centering on the building of a new Hudson River tunnel. After Sandy resulted in severe flooding, an Empire State Building-sized amount of dirty, salty water ended up in the tunnels. Repairing the damage with only one tunnel in operation would cause a nightmare for commuters.

But, after initial steps were taken during Obama’s second term that culminated in a cost-sharing agreement between the states—who together would pick up half the tab, with the federal government paying the other half—a new president took office in 2017. And he was a New Yorker, born and bred, so certainly he’d make sure the Gateway project happened. Unfortunately, The Man Who Lost An Election And Tried To Steal It not only physically abandoned his Fifth Avenue penthouse—he now makes Florida his primary home—he 100% abandoned the city that made him a household name. Progress on the Gateway tunnel ground to a halt, and the funding dried up, as Trump took an “obstructionist stance.”

That brings us back to the Biden-Harris administration, which formally approved the Gateway project just over a month ago. In the last days of June, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg toured the tunnel himself. He made clear that his boss was 100% on board, and fully understood the necessity for the whole of the American economy of the project. Shutting down even one of the two tubes in the existing tunnel for repairs without having first built the additional Gateway tunnel would mean, as the one-time Mayor Pete noted: “you would be feeling the economic impact all the way back in Indiana, where I come from.” To be more specific, a study by the non-profit Regional Plan Association found the impact could run as high as $16 billion, and cost 33,000 jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York gave thanks to the White House on behalf of the region, and took a dig at the twice impeached former Gotham-dweller: “Now we can announce that the hostage that was the Gateway tunnel under the previous administration has been freed,” and added: “We are full speed ahead to get Gateway done.” The project could begin as early as next year, or else in 2023, according to the senator. Still, Christie and Trump set the region back years—perhaps a decade. All of us are still crossing our fingers that not only will the project happen, but also that the new tunnel is completed before the old one gives out.

But of course it’s not only urban centers that have dire infrastructure needs. Martin County is in eastern Kentucky, with a population that is, incredibly, over 99% white. Since 1999, both U.S. Senate seats from Kentucky have been held by Republicans, one of them by Mitch McConnell, who has led the Republican Party in that body since 2007. In the House, Martin County has been represented by Republican Hal Rogers since 1981.

In a video produced by the Biden White House, Barbi Ann Maynard detailed what she and her neighbors don’t have, because their infrastructure is so lacking: “People talk about Eastern Kentucky is poor, and they don't really have anything. Well, how are we ever going to have anything if our government won’t invest in our infrastructure? We’re people too. We’re American citizens. And we deserve access to clean, affordable drinking water.” Running the tap at her kitchen sink, she pointed at the not at all clear liquid flowing out of it and stated simply: “this water disgusts me. I’m afraid of this water.”

Maynard described the language that has appeared “for decades” as a warning on the back of the water bills Martin County residents receive: “If you are pregnant, infant, elderly, have a compromised immune system, consult a physician before consuming this water. If consumed over many years, it causes liver damage, kidney damage, central nervous system damage, and twice it says increased risk of cancer.” I drink New York City tap water every day, multiple glasses of it, without thinking twice. So while my region has its infrastructure deficiencies, folks in Eastern Kentucky have it even worse in their daily lives, right now.

Maynard continued by talking about the need for roads and bridges, which are either in disrepair or nonexistent across the county, as well as other priorities. The Nolan Toll Bridge was the only way for people in the area to get to the interstate. After being damaged badly, it was closed off rather than repaired. She lamented: “When you lose bridges, roads, you lose opportunities to grow. Businesses can’t come if they can’t get their product out,” and added “because we have [a] lack of infrastructure, that causes companies to not want to come and invest in Martin County.” Maynard has been fighting for increased infrastructure spending in her county for more than twenty years, and summarized the situation thusly: “I know what we could have. I know what it could be like. And I want that for my people.”

The Orange Julius Caesar took up shop in the Oval Office in January 2017, and his party controlled the House and the Senate. Using the reconciliation process, they could easily have passed a massive infrastructure package, or even a medium-sized one, with or without Democrats. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico’s infrastructure on Trump’s watch in 2017, he came up with little more than some paper towels to toss the island’s way. Puerto Ricans continue to suffer from Maria’s damage as well as, for just one example among many, earthquakes that revealed serious vulnerabilities in the design of hundreds of schools across the island—another major infrastructure need.

Even after Democrats won the House in the 2018 midterms, Trump still could have accomplished something major on infrastructure. Trump blew off Speaker Nancy Pelosi, fuming about impeachment. Republicans can bleat about how they believe in infrastructure, how they support infrastructure. When the rubber met the (in dire need of repair) road, they failed to deliver.

The Biden-Harris team, along with congressional Democrats, are going to do the work of funding our country’s infrastructure needs in every region, just as they’ve done the work on so many issues—ranging from carrying out a nationwide vaccination program, to rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, to passing the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, among other accomplishments. This White House knows that strengthening our physical as well as human infrastructure is good politics as well as the right thing to do for the American economy, and for the American people.

Ian Reifowitz is the author of  The Tribalization of Politics: How Rush Limbaugh's Race-Baiting Rhetoric on the Obama Presidency Paved the Way for Trump (Foreword by Markos Moulitsas)

A year after Breonna Taylor’s death at the hands of Louisville police, the world still says her name

Breonna Taylor most likely never dreamt that she’d become a household name, but here we are.  In the darkness of March 13, 2020, three plainclothes Louisville Metro Police officers forced their way into the home of Taylor, an emergency room technician and former EMT. They were there on a “no-knock” warrant, searching for a man who was already in custody. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, let off a warning shot from his own legally-possessed firearm. The plainclothes police fired off 32 shots in response, and six hit Taylor. The 26-year-old died in her apartment; not one of the police officers attempted to provide medical assistance. Taylor was Black; predictably, the Louisville officers were white.

The horror story is still not resolved, though Louisville did settle with Taylor’s family in September, and Walker finally got all charges permanently dropped less than a week before this heartbreaking anniversary. No police officers—including Myles Cosgrove, who fired the fatal shot—faced any charges for her death. Grand jurors blame Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who served as special prosecutor, for “terribly misus(ing)” them as he sought that outcome, and (unsuccessfully) attempted to  impeach and remove him from office.

A year after Breonna Taylor’s death, there remain more questions than answers as the world comes together to say her name.

Say her name. Remember her face. 

One year ago, on this date: Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by Louisville police officers in her apartment. pic.twitter.com/1BzDzxU4XG

— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) March 13, 2021

Remember: It’s not just what “was” that was taken away. Taylor never got to find out “what could be.”

On this night last year, Breonna still had a world of dreams ahead of her.

— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) March 13, 2021

That her killers walk free while Taylor died for committing no crime is no accident. It’s just the system working.

Today, Breonna Taylor should be enjoying her Saturday with family and friends. Instead, it’s the anniversary of her murder and her killers - Brett Hankison, Myles Cosgrove and Jonathan Mattingly - walk free. The system was built to allow this. Don’t ignore that. Get involved. pic.twitter.com/2XBqlQ0FhF

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 13, 2021

Louisville Police may have turned Taylor into a statistic, but she was a person.

Breonna Taylor: who she was, how she died, and why justice is long overdue. pic.twitter.com/wp4IMybN8W

— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) March 13, 2021

Women of color—particularly Black women—rarely attract much attention when they’re victims of police brutality. Taylor’s mom, Tamika Palmer, is thankful she, with the help of attorney Ben Crump, was able to garner wide concern for Taylor’s killing even as she continues to seek justice and police accountability. “I couldn’t imagine something like this happening to her and that nobody was paying attention,” Palmer told The 19th.

The #SayHerName movement didn’t start with Taylor, and it does not end with her.

It’s been one year since we lost Breonna Taylor.    We cannot forget her—or the countless other Black lives that have been so needlessly taken from us. We must continue to #SayHerName, demand accountability & take action against these tragic injustices. #BlackLivesMatter

— Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (@SenatorWarnock) March 13, 2021

No justice. No peace. 

Today marks 365 days of injustice. Breonna Taylor’s murder was an injustice. The ensuing cover-up was an injustice. Daniel Cameron’s mockery of a grand jury hearing was an injustice.

— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) March 13, 2021

This powerful video from LeBron James’ More than a Vote shows how Breonna Taylor’s death changed us.

Breonna Taylor was killed one year ago today. We #SayHerName because her life mattered. We #SayHerName because she deserves justice. We #SayHerName because our work must continue until Black lives are treated with equal value. pic.twitter.com/EyxAtMPzjw

— More Than A Vote (@morethanavote) March 13, 2021

Say. Her. Name.

One year. We will never forget you, Breonna Taylor. We will never stop saying your name. pic.twitter.com/HOEU6e4fok

— Meena Harris (@meenaharris) March 13, 2021

Again: The battle for police reform is far from over. 

It’s been one year, 365 days, since Breonna Taylor has not gotten justice...and we can’t rest until she gets it. #SayHerName #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor pic.twitter.com/Srinuw8umm

— Wanda Sykes (@iamwandasykes) March 13, 2021

Missouri Rep. Cori Bush says it better than I could.

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s murder. To Breonna’s mother, Tamika Palmer: We won’t stop making them say her name. pic.twitter.com/C8xL9VQFXh

— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) March 13, 2021

Please feel free to share tributes to Breonna yourself, both on social media and in the comments.

Voting Rights Roundup: The House’s new voting rights bill now curtails gerrymandering right away

Programming Note: The Voting Rights Roundup will be taking a break the week of March 13 but will return the following week.

Leading Off

Congress: On Wednesday, House Democrats voted 220-210 to once again pass H.R. 1, the “For the People Act,” the most important set of voting and election reforms since the historic Voting Rights Act was adopted in 1965. It also includes a major modification to provisions that would curtail gerrymandering, ensuring that they'll take effect right away. All Democrats except Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson voted for the bill, while all Republicans voted against it.

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

These reforms, which House Democrats previously passed in 2019, face a challenging path in the Senate given Democrats’ narrow majority and uncertainty over whether they can overcome a GOP filibuster, but their adoption is critical for preserving American democracy amid unprecedented attack by Republican extremists both in and outside Congress. Senate Democrats have announced that they plan to hold hearings on the bill on March 24, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has committed to holding an eventual floor vote.

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

  • Require states to establish nonpartisan redistricting commissions for congressional redistricting;
  • Establish nonpartisan redistricting criteria such as a partisan fairness provision that courts can enforce starting immediately no matter what institution draws the maps;
  • Establish automatic voter registration at an array of state agencies;
  • Establish same-day voter registration;
  • Allow online voter registration;
  • Allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register so they'll be on the rolls when they turn 18;
  • Allow state colleges and universities to serve as registration agencies;
  • Ban states from purging eligible voters' registration simply for infrequent voting;
  • Establish two weeks of in-person early voting, including availability on Sundays and outside of normal business hours;
  • Standardize hours within states for opening and closing polling places on Election Day, with exceptions to let cities set longer hours in municipal races;
  • Require paper ballots filled by hand or machines that use them as official records and let voters verify their choices;
  • Grant funds to states to upgrade their election security infrastructure;
  • Provide prepaid postage on mail ballots;
  • Allow voters to turn in their mail ballot in person if they choose;
  • Allow voters to track their absentee mail ballots;
  • End prison gerrymandering by counting prisoners at their last address (rather than where they're incarcerated) for the purposes of redistricting;
  • End felony disenfranchisement for those on parole, probation, or post-sentence, and require such citizens to be supplied with registration forms and informed their voting rights have been restored;
  • Provide public financing for House campaigns in the form of matching small donations at a six-for-one rate;
  • Expand campaign finance disclosure requirements to mitigate Citizens United;
  • Ban corporations from spending for campaign purposes unless the corporation has established a process for determining the political will of its shareholders; and
  • Make it a crime to mislead voters with the intention of preventing them from voting.

Importantly, the bill that won approval on the full floor on Wednesday contained critical amendments strengthening its anti-gerrymandering provisions. While the original version would not have required states to use independent commissions and nonpartisan redistricting criteria until 2030, the revised bill would implement them right away. And even if states don't have enough time to set up new commissions ahead of the 2022 elections, they would still be banned from drawing maps that unduly favor a party, which a court could then enforce.​

Campaign Action

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

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

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

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

Redistricting

Minnesota: A group of Minnesota citizens, including a veteran redistricting expert and a former state supreme court justice, filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to prevent Minnesota's current congressional and legislative districts from being used next year if state lawmakers are unable to pass new districts by Feb. 15. That outcome is likely given that Democrats hold the state House and governorship while Republicans hold the state Senate. Similarly divided governments have led the courts to intervene to draw new maps in each of the last five decades.

New Mexico: A committee in New Mexico's Democratic-run state Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would establish a bipartisan advisory redistricting commission to handle redistricting for Congress, the state legislature, the state Public Regulation Commission, and the state Public Education Commission. Democratic state House Speaker Brian Egolf endorsed the proposal after previously opposing a competing reform measure that passed unanimously in state House committee in early February.

The Senate bill would create a commission with seven members, with four chosen by the leadership of both parties in each of the state's two legislative chambers, two unaffiliated members selected by the state Ethics Commission, and a final seventh member named by the Ethics Commission who would be a retired appellate judge and would serve as commission chair. No more than three commissioners could be members of the same party, and anyone who is or has served as an officeholder, candidate, or lobbyist (or whose close family members have) in the two years prior to redistricting could not participate.

Commissioners would devise three proposals for each type of office and hold public hearings to discuss them. Districts would have to be drawn according to the following criteria: equal population; legislative districts cannot split precincts; adherence to the federal Voting Rights Act and its protections of voters of color; compactness; preservation of communities of interest and local government jurisdictions; and preservation of the cores of existing districts. The criteria apparently do not prohibit mapmakers from considering partisanship or incumbency.

Once commissioners have come up with three different proposals for each office and held public hearings, they would submit the maps to the legislature for approval by lawmakers. The bill doesn't mention any prohibition on lawmakers amending the proposed districts, meaning this reform measure could nevertheless result in legislators adopting gerrymandered districts.

South Dakota: Last month, the League of Women Voters and other good-government organizations announced a plan to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year that would establish an independent redistricting commission. Supporters would need to file just under 34,000 signatures, roughly 10% of the total vote for governor in the most recent election, by this November in order to get onto the ballot.

Since South Dakota only has a single statewide congressional district, the proposal would only affect legislative redistricting. The measure would create a nine-member commission chosen by the state Board of Elections with no more than three members belonging to the same party, though the proposal is vague on the specifics of the selection process.

Mapmakers would have to adhere to several criteria, which prioritize compactness, followed by preserving communities of interest and keeping counties and cities undivided to the extent practicable. Commissioners would be barred from considering partisanship or incumbency. While Republican lawmakers would still have the opportunity to draw new districts for the 2022 elections even if the amendment passes, the commission would sweep into action immediately, crafting new maps in 2023 for the 2024 elections and then in years ending in "1" every 10 years afterward.

Voting Access Expansions

Congress: House members are set to introduce a bill with bipartisan support that would make Puerto Rico a state following a referendum last November in which voters backed statehood by a 52-48 margin. The bill's 48 sponsors in the House are mostly Democrats but also include around a dozen Republicans, several of whom are from Florida, which is home to a large Puerto Rican population. However, even if the House passes the bill, it will face a challenging path to overcoming a likely filibuster by Senate Republicans, as only Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are reportedly supporting the bill on the GOP side.

Delaware: Democratic state Rep. Bryan Shupe has announced he plans to introduce a bill later this month that would end Delaware's unusual system that requires voters to register twice: once for state and federal elections and separately for local races. This system regularly leads to situations where voters who are registered in state elections try to vote in their local elections only to find out on Election Day that they can't vote. Democrats hold both legislative chambers and the governor's office in Delaware.

Idaho: Idaho's Republican-run state Senate has unanimously passed a bill to set up a standardized process for requiring local election officials to contact voters and give them a chance to fix any errors with their absentee ballots such as a voter signature supposedly not matching the one on file.

Maryland: Maryland's Democratic-run state House has passed a bill to create a semi-permanent list that will automatically mail absentee ballots in all future elections to voters who opt in. A handful of other states have similar systems, though this proposal differs in that voters who don't vote in two consecutive election cycles would be removed from the list and have to reapply.

Meanwhile, state House Democrats passed a bill with some bipartisan support to strengthen voting access on college campuses, military bases, retirement homes, and other "large residential communities." Sites like these would be able to request an in-person voting location, and colleges would be required to establish voter registration efforts on campus and give students an excused absence to vote if needed. The bill would also let military service members register online using their identification smart cards issued by the Defense Department.

New Mexico: New Mexico's Democratic-run state House has unanimously passed a bill that aims to protect Native American voting access in a variety of ways. Among other provisions, the bill requires that every reservation or other Native community have an in-person polling place, which fills an important gap since many Native communities lack reliable postal service for mail voting and also have a large proportion of residents who lack a driver's license or access to other transportation options.

New York: Following its recent passage in the state Senate, a bill has been approved in committee by Assembly Democrats that would automatically restore voting rights to everyone who is not currently incarcerated, which would permanently end the disenfranchisement of parolees. Currently, many parolees are only able to vote because Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order two years ago to restore the rights of people on parole who were convicted of certain crimes, meaning their right to vote could be rescinded by a future governor unless this bill passes.

New Jersey: New Jersey's Democratic-run Assembly has passed a bill with bipartisan support to create an in-person early voting period after their counterparts in the state Senate passed similar legislation last week. The Assembly's bill would adopt 10 days of early voting for general elections starting in November, five days for presidential primaries, and three days for all other primaries and any municipal elections taking place in May. The measure would require each of New Jersey's 21 counties to establish between five and 10 early voting locations.

Utah: Utah's GOP-run legislature has unanimously passed a bill creating a system where voters can track the status of their mail ballots via email or text message. Utah is one of a handful of states that mails ballots to all active registered voters by default.

Virginia: Both chambers of Virginia's Democratic-run legislature have passed a constitutional amendment that would abolish felony disenfranchisement for everyone who is not currently incarcerated. Currently, state law imposes a lifetime ban on voting by anyone convicted of a felony, but that system has been curtailed because Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and his Democratic predecessor issued executive orders to automatically restore voting rights upon completion of any prison, parole, or probation sentences. Those orders, however, could be rescinded by any future Republican governor.

To become law, legislators would have to pass this same amendment again after the 2021 elections before it would have to win approval in a November 2022 voter referendum. A separate amendment that would have abolished felony disenfranchisement entirely, including for people currently in prison, failed to advance before a key deadline.

Voter Suppression

Supreme Court: On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case over two Arizona voting restrictions that could deal a crippling blow to what remains of the Voting Rights Act after the high court's conservatives gutted a key part of the law in 2013. Observers widely agreed that the court's conservative majority was leaning toward upholding the Republican-backed voting restrictions, but it was unclear from oral arguments just how gravely the court could undermine the standards used to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

This case involves two Arizona laws that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found had both the effect and intent of discriminating against Black, Latino, and Native American voters. If both findings are overturned, it may become impossible to challenge similar laws in the future.

Last year, the 9th Circuit blocked both measures: one that bars counting votes cast in the wrong precinct but in the right county, and another that limits who can turn in another person's absentee mail ballot on a voter's behalf.

Arizona had largely transitioned to mail voting even before the pandemic, but the 9th Circuit observed that only 18% of Native American voters receive mail service, and many living on remote reservations lack reliable transportation options. That led some voters to ask others in their community to turn their completed ballots in, which Republicans have sought to deride as "ballot harvesting" in an attempt to delegitimize the practice. The invalidated law had limited who could handle another person's mail ballot to just close relatives, caregivers, or postal service workers.

The 9th Circuit's ruling also invalidated a separate provision prohibiting out-of-precinct voting, in which a voter shows up and casts a ballot at the wrong polling place but in the right county on Election Day. Under the invalidated law, voters in such circumstances could only cast a provisional ballot, which were automatically rejected if it was later confirmed that the voter had indeed showed up at the wrong polling place.

This decision relied on Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits laws that have a discriminatory effect against racial minorities regardless of whether there was an intent to discriminate. The finding of a discriminatory effect is critical because it's often much more difficult if not impossible to prove that lawmakers acted with illicit intent, whereas statistical analysis can more readily prove that a law has a disparate negative impact on protected racial groups.

Consequently, it's this so-called "effects test" that is the key remaining plank of the Voting Rights Act following the Supreme Court's notorious 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Some legal observers remained optimistic that the worst may not come to pass, since Arizona Republicans' oral arguments did not touch on the constitutionality of the VRA's effects test. However, others have noted that even if the effects test isn't formally struck down, the Supreme Court could make it so difficult to comply with the requirements to prove discrimination that the VRA would nevertheless become meaningless.

In one revealing exchange, conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Republican attorney Michael Carvin why the state GOP was even party to this case. Carvin responded with an admission that the 9th Circuit decision striking down the two voting restrictions "puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats" because "every extra vote they get ... hurts us."

Arizona: Republicans in the Arizona Senate have passed a bill that could purge roughly 200,000 voters from the state's "permanent" mail voting list, which is supposed to automatically mail a ballot in all future elections to participating voters and has proven very popular since its implementation. The bill would remove anyone who doesn't vote in two consecutive election cycles, even if they still remain eligible to vote. Republicans only hold a two-seat majority in both the state House and Senate, so they would need every member on board to overcome Democratic opposition.

In the state House, meanwhile, Republicans have passed a bill that would require people and groups who register more than 25 voters in a given year to themselves register with the state, mandating that they put unique identifying numbers on every registration form they submit. Voter advocacy groups have condemned this bill and warn that it could lead to registration forms being rejected.

Alabama: Alabama House Republicans have passed a bill that would ban local election officials from establishing curbside voting or setting up voting machines outside of polling places, which would make it harder for people with disabilities and limited mobility to cast their ballots.

Arkansas: Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed a bill into law that makes Arkansas' voter ID law much stricter, making it one of the first of many Republican-backed voting restrictions under consideration nationwide to become law following the 2020 elections. The bill removes the option for voters who lack an ID to vote by signing a sworn statement under penalty of perjury, instead mandating an ID in order to have one's vote counted.

Georgia: On Monday, state House Republicans passed a far-reaching bill to enact several new voting restrictions that would:

  • Require that voters provide the number on their driver's license, state ID, or a photocopy of their ID when requesting an absentee ballot and a photocopy of their ID when returning an absentee ballot;
  • Limit weekend early voting;
  • Restrict absentee ballot drop boxes to only the inside of early voting locations or county election offices, making them unavailable outside of regular business hours;
  • Set a minimum of one drop box per 200,000 registered voters (other states such as California require one drop box per 15,000 voters);
  • Shorten the runoff period in federal elections from nine weeks to four weeks, with the apparent intent of giving campaigns less time to mobilize voters (instant runoffs would be used for overseas civilian and military voters to avoid running afoul of federal law mandating that their ballots be sent out 45 days before an election);
  • Ban state officials from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot request forms to all voters after Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger did so in the 2020 primary;
  • Disqualify ballots that were cast in the wrong precinct but in the right county, which currently may be counted as provisional ballots;
  • Limit mobile early voting buses to only emergency situations;
  • Bar counties from receiving private funding to help administer elections; and
  • Block officials from distributing food and drinks to voters waiting in line to vote.

Meanwhile, in the state Senate, Republicans passed a bill in committee to end no-excuse absentee voting for voters under age 65, who typically lean more Democratic than older voters. Late last month, Republicans in the full Senate also passed a bill that would give the state the power to take over local election boards that supposedly fail to meet certain standards, which Democrats condemned as a way to let Republicans usurp control over election boards in Democratic-leaning counties.

Montana: State House Republicans have passed a bill over Democratic objections that would bar anyone who isn't a family or household member, caregiver, or an "acquaintance" who is a registered voter in the same county from turning in another person's ballot, thereby preventing voter advocacy groups or political campaigns from organizing ballot collection efforts.

A previous Republican-backed law imposing similar restrictions was blocked in court last year for discriminating against Native American voters, who often live on remote rural reservations where mail service and transportation access are limited. This latest bill may therefore also face difficulty surviving a likely lawsuit.

New Hampshire: New Hampshire's Republican-run state Senate has passed a bill along party lines to add a voter ID requirement for requesting and casting absentee ballots, sending it to the state House, which is also controlled by the GOP. New Hampshire is one of several states where Republicans are considering extending voter ID requirements to absentee ballots after Democrats disproportionately voted by mail in the 2020 elections.

Wyoming: State House Republicans have passed a bill establishing a voter ID requirement, sending it to the state Senate, where Republicans are also likely to pass it.

Ballot Measures

Idaho: Idaho's Republican-run state Senate has passed a bill that would make it all but impossible for progressive initiatives to get on the ballot by requiring proponents to submit voter signatures equivalent to 6% of registered voters in each of the state's 35 legislative districts instead of 18, the current requirement.

The bill, which would take effect immediately, would disproportionately impact progressives because left-leaning voters are heavily concentrated in a handful of denser urban districts. Liberal organizers would therefore have to canvas in rural districts where receptive voters are few and far between. Conservatives, by contrast, would have an easier time canvassing for signatures in cities because, even if right-leaning voters represent a relatively small proportion of voters, they live in closer proximity to one another.

Republicans in Idaho have advanced similar restrictions on initiatives in recent years as a reaction to successful efforts by progressives to expand Medicaid and increase public education funding at the ballot box during the last decade. Fearing a lawsuit, GOP Gov. Brad Little vetoed a similar bill in 2019 but the Senate passed this most recent bill with a veto-proof majority.

South Dakota: South Dakota's Republican-run legislature voted this week to put a constitutional amendment on the June 2022 primary ballot that would institute a 60% supermajority requirement for ballot initiatives that raise taxes or spend more than $10 million in public funds within a five-year period. The amendment would not, however, require a supermajority to cut taxes or spending. Democratic legislators blasted Republicans for trying to manipulate the election to their advantage by placing the amendment on the primary ballot instead of sending it before voters in the general election, noting that turnout in the 2020 primary was just one-third as high as it was last November.

Republicans have repeatedly tried to enact restrictions on ballot initiatives in recent years after voters approved an initiative in 2016 that would have placed strict limits on lobbying, created an independent ethics commission, and implemented a public campaign finance system that would have given each voter a voucher to donate to their preferred candidates.

In 2017, Republicans resorted to declaring an actual state of emergency to enable the legislature to immediately repeal the voter-approved ethics law and make it immune to a veto referendum, meaning supporters of the reform needed double the signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to restore the measure. Although they did just that in 2018, then-Republican Attorney General Marty Jackley gave the new amendment a ballot summary that said it would "likely be challenged on constitutional grounds," and voters rejected the second ethics commission amendment 55-45.

Electoral System Reform

Burlington, VT: Voters in Vermont's largest city of Burlington voted by 64-36 margin to approve a ballot measure that will adopt instant-runoff voting in City Council elections starting next year. This vote comes just over a decade after Burlington voters narrowly repealed instant-runoff voting for mayoral elections after it had been used to elect the mayor in 2006 and 2009. Before it can take effect, though, it must be approved by the Democratic-run legislature and Republican Gov. Phil Scott.

Senate Elections

Kentucky: Republican state senators have passed a bill that would require the governor to fill any future U.S. Senate vacancies with an appointee from the same party as the departing senator.

Currently, Kentucky's governor is Democrat Andy Beshear while both of its senators are Republicans, meaning this bill would prevent Beshear from replacing either McConnell or fellow Sen. Rand Paul with a Democrat if either were to leave office. Republicans easily hold enough seats to override a potential veto by Beshear. The bill would allow the party committee of the departing lawmaker to send a list of three names to the governor, who would be required to pick a replacement from that list.

Ever since Beshear's narrow 2019 win, Kentucky Republicans have advanced a series of moves to strip him of his executive power, and this proposal is part of the same partisan effort to constrain Beshear's authority. However, despite the GOP's self-interested motives, the proposed system is already used in many states for legislative vacancies and a handful of states for Senate vacancies and better ensures the will of voters is respected.

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

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

Leading Off

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

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

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

Campaign Action

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

Mayors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Races

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

First, though, Smith discusses what the comptroller actually does. Among other things, the office is responsible for reviewing contracts, auditing and overseeing city agencies, and "[e]nsuring transparency and accountability in setting prevailing wage and vigorously enforcing prevailing wage and living wage laws." The comptroller is also one of only a trio of citywide elected offices: The other is public advocate, where Democratic incumbent Jumaane Williams doesn't face any serious opposition for re-election this year.

What the comptroller's post hasn't been, though, is a good springboard to the mayor's office. The last person to successfully make the jump was Democrat Abe Beame, who was elected mayor in 1973 on his second try and lost renomination four years later. Since then four other comptrollers have unsuccessfully campaigned for the city's top job, a streak Stringer will try to break this year.

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

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

Assemblyman David Weprin, who unsuccessfully ran to succeed the disgraced Anthony Weiner in the 2011 special election for what was numbered the 9th Congressional District at the time, and state Sen. Kevin Parker have also been campaigning for a while. Neither of them have the resources that Lander or Benjamin do at the moment, though they could receive a big boost if they qualify for matching funds: The New York Times reports that Weprin has likely brought in enough, though the campaign finance board needs to confirm this before it dispenses any public money.

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

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

Data

Pres-by-CD: Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide hits Kentucky. You can find our detailed calculations here, a large-size map of the results here, and our permanent, bookmarkable link for all 435 districts here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jurors want Attorney General Daniel Cameron impeached for shameless lies in Breonna Taylor case

Three grand jurors in the Breonna Taylor case have had enough of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s lies and manipulation, and on Friday they decided to do something about it. They filed a petition with the Kentucky House of Representatives calling for Cameron's impeachment after he failed to even mention a homicide charge in his presentation to the jury last September, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, died on March 13 after officers smashed through her door while she was sleeping and fired 32 times into her apartment, hitting her six times. But Cameron only presented to the jury three wanton endangerment charges, regarding shots fired into a neighboring apartment. Kevin Glogower, the lawyer representing the three grand jurors, said in the petition: “The Grand Jurors did not choose this battle. This battle chose them."

Glogower told the Courier-Journal that the jurors were “randomly selected” and “terribly misused by the most powerful law enforcement official in Kentucky,” adding that “Mr. Cameron continues to blatantly disregard the truth.”

Officers have said they were responding to a shot fired by Taylor's boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who has maintained that he thought intruders were breaking into his girlfriend's home instead of police. Officers used a no-knock drug warrant for Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover to justify their presence in Taylor’s home, but Glover didn’t live at Taylor’s house and was already in police custody at the time of the shooting. Det. Joshua Jaynes, who secured the drug warrant, and Det. Myles Cosgrove, who fired the shot the FBI determined killed Taylor, were officially fired this month for their roles in the deadly shooting, the Louisville Metro Police Department confirmed to media on Jan. 6.

Brett Hankison, who is accused of blindly firing 10 shots into Taylor’s home during the raid, was also fired, but Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, who shot Taylor five times, was only reassigned to administrative work. Mattingly was injured in the incident when Walker shot the cop, Cameron said during a news conference on Sept. 23.

Cameron used the press event to allege that the grand jury “agreed” that Mattingly and Cosgrove were “justified in their return of deadly fire after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker.” While dodging a question about whether homicide charges were presented to the jury, the prosecutor instead claimed that his office presented “all the information” and jurors “were walked through all the homicide offenses.”

Jurors maintain that simply is not true. “Neither Cameron nor anyone from his office mentioned any homicide offense to the grand jury,” they said in their petition, obtained by the Courier-Journal. “Not only were no homicide offenses presented as alleged, no charges of any kind were presented to the Grand Jury other than the three wanton endangerment charges against Detective Hankinson."

RELATED: In bombshell interview, grand jurors in Breonna Taylor case call out Kentucky AG’s lies

RELATED: Six months after killing Breonna Taylor, Kentucky grand jury indicts 1 officer for 'endangerment'

RELATED: NYTimes video reconstructs Breonna Taylor's murder

Morning Digest: In primary delayed by chaos, Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood party dumps governor

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

Leading Off

PR-Gov: Puerto Rico's gubernatorial primaries finally came to an end on Sunday, and former Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi ousted Gov. Wanda Vázquez 58-42 to win the nomination of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party. Vázquez did not endorse Pierluisi, declaring instead, "I say to Pedro Pierluisi, that it is the thousands and thousands of people who supported me, and gave me their vote ... it is those people whose endorsement he should be seeking." Pierluisi, for his part, said that statehood would be one of his top goals if elected.

Meanwhile, Isabela Mayor Carlos Delgado decisively won the contest to lead the pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party by defeating Puerto Rico Sen. Eduardo Bhatia 63-24. Pierluisi and Delgado will face off in the November general election for a four-year term along with Alexandra Lúgaro of the Citizens' Victory Movement, a party that NPR describes as "promoting anti-colonialism and a constitutional assembly to make a final decision on Puerto Rico's political relationship with the United States."

Campaign Action

The primary was originally set for June, but Vázquez signed legislation postponing it to Aug. 9 because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, ballots arrived late, or did not arrive at all, at a majority of voting centers that day, and the commonwealth's major political parties postponed voting a week. On Thursday, the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled that voting would take place on Sunday in any precinct that was not open for the legally required eight hours last week.

The second round of voting mostly proceeded as planned, but not everyone who wanted to vote ended up being able to cast a ballot. Many people left closed polling places on Aug. 9 only to eventually learn that their precinct had opened later in the day for the prescribed eight hours, but that it was now too late for them to vote.

Pierluisi, who represented Puerto Rico in the U.S. House as a non-voting member from 2009 to 2017, briefly served as governor last year under some very unusual circumstances. Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who had narrowly defeated Pierluisi in the 2016 primary, was badly damaged after a series of online chats between the governor and his allies leaked in which participants lobbed violent, misogynist, and homophobic insults at their enemies and joked about Puerto Ricans who died during Hurricane Maria. Mass protests soon broke out calling for Rosselló to quit, and the legislature began laying the groundwork to impeach him.

After two weeks of protests, Rosselló announced on July 24 that he would resign nine days hence, but it was unclear who would succeed him. Normally the commonwealth's secretary of state would take over, but Luis Rivera Marin had previously resigned from that very post because of his own role in the chat scandal. Vázquez, who was justice minister, was next in the line of succession, but she said on July 28―less than a week before Rosselló's Aug. 2 departure―that she hoped that Rosselló would pick a new secretary of state, and that this new person would be governor instead of her.

Rosselló tried to do just that, and he announced on July 31 that he was appointing his old rival Pierluisi. However, the commonwealth's constitution requires the secretary of state to be confirmed by both Puerto Rico's House and Senate, but Pierluisi was sworn into that job that very evening before any legislators had a chance to vote.

The House gave Pierluisi an affirmative vote on Aug. 2 about an hour before Rosselló's departure took effect, but the Senate postponed their own hearings until the following week. However, that didn't stop Pierluisi from being sworn in as governor right after Rosselló left office. Pierluisi cited a 2005 law that said that the secretary of state didn't need to have received legislative confirmation from both chambers if they need to take over as governor to make his case that he was indeed Puerto Rico's legitimate leader.

However, the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico ruled that this provision was unconstitutional days later in the decision that ousted Pierluisi from the governor's office and put Vázquez in charge. While Vázquez said she hadn't wanted to be governor, she soon quashed speculation that she would only stay long enough to appoint a new secretary of state who would then take over as the commonwealth's leader, and she announced in December that she'd seek a full term.

Pierluisi argued during his campaign that Vázquez wasn't fixing mistakes made by her administration during the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, the special independent prosecutor's office announced that it had launched a criminal investigation into allegations that Vázquez and her administration had mismanaged emergency supplies after Puerto Rico was struck by earthquakes in January.

Primary Preview

Primary Night: The One Where Ross Tries Not To Get Fired: Primaries are concluding on Tuesday in Alaska, Florida, and Wyoming for congressional and state offices, and as always, we've put together our preview of what to watch.

We'll be keeping a close eye on the GOP primary for Florida's 15th District, where freshman Republican Rep. Ross Spano, who is under federal investigation for allegedly violating campaign finance laws during his successful 2018 bid, faces a serious intra-party threat from Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin. We'll also be watching the GOP primaries for the open 3rd and 19th Districts, as well as the contest to face Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist in the 13th District.

And the action isn't confined to the Lower 48. In Alaska, national Republicans are spending to deny renomination to members of the Democratic-led cross-partisan coalition that runs the state House. Check out our preview for more on these contests.

Our live coverage will begin at 7 PM ET Tuesday night at Daily Kos Elections when the polls close in most of Florida. You can also follow us on Twitter for blow-by-blow updates. And you'll want to bookmark our primary calendar, which includes the dates of the cycle's remaining down-ballot primaries, as well as our separate calendar tracking key contests further down the ballot taking place nationwide this year.

Senate

CO-Sen: Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who has long had a dismal record on climate issues, is continuing to pitch himself as a supporter of the environment in his advertising campaign. Gardner's newest commercial features two conservationists praising him for securing "permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund."

GA-Sen-A, IA-Sen, MT-Sen: The Democratic group Duty and Honor is out with ads against three Republican incumbents:  Georgia's David Perdue, Iowa's Joni Ernst, and Montana's Steve Daines.

While Perdue has been running spots claiming he wants to cover pre-existing conditions, Duty and Honor takes him to task for trying to take those protections away. The Iowa commercial, meanwhile, goes after Ernst for "calling for Iowa schools to reopen, trying to score political points instead of prioritizing our kids' health and safety."

Finally, the Montana ad argues that Daines voted to give drug companies huge tax breaks when they're causing the opioid crisis and "raised their prices so high that nearly two-in-five Montanans can't afford their prescriptions."

GA-Sen-B: Sen. Kelly Loeffler uses her newest commercial to accuse Rep. Doug Collins, a fellow Republican, of working with Democrats to undermine her. The narrator begins, "The Trump Justice Department says Kelly Loeffler did nothing wrong," a reference to how the DOJ dropped its investigation into her sale of millions in stock just before the markets tanked due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ad then goes on to say that Collins "voted with Stacey Abrams in the legislature and Nancy Pelosi in Congress," though it doesn't actually mention anything that Collins saw eye-to-eye with either Democrat on. The spot later features a clip of Donald Trump praising Loeffler for being "so supportive of me and the agenda." Trump hasn't taken sides in the November all-party primary, and he's also talked up Collins.

IA-Sen: The conservative group One Nation's newest commercial declares, "As an assault survivor and military veteran herself, Sen. Joni Ernst is standing up to sexual assault in the military." It goes on to show a clip of Ernst saying, "Abuse is not something you can simply forget."

NC-Sen, NC-Gov: East Carolina University has released a new survey of its home state:

  • NC-Sen: Cal Cunningham (D): 44, Thom Tillis (R-inc): 40 (June: 41-41 tie)
  • NC-Gov: Roy Cooper (D-inc): 52, Dan Forest (R): 38 (June: 49-38 Cooper)

The sample finds a 47-47 tie in the presidential race, which is a very small shift from Joe Biden's 45-44 edge in June.

TX-Sen: YouGov has released a new survey for the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and Rice University that finds Republican Sen. John Cornyn leading Democrat MJ Hegar 44-37, while Donald Trump holds a 48-41 edge in Texas. YouGov's July survey for CBS, which was taken just before Hegar won the Democratic primary runoff, had Cornyn up by a similar 44-36 margin, though Trump was ahead only 45-44.

WY-Sen: Last week, Donald Trump backed former Rep. Cynthia Lummis in Tuesday's GOP primary for this open seat. The former congresswoman has a few intra-party opponents in the contest to succeed retiring Sen. Mike Enzi in this extremely red state, but none of them appear to be very strong.

Lummis' most notable foe is Converse County Commissioner Robert Short, a self-described "centrist Republican." Lummis outspent Short, who has self-funded almost his entire campaign, $725,000 to $255,000 from July 1 to July 29, which is the time the FEC defines as the pre-primary period.

Gubernatorial

MO-Gov: The Republican firm Remington Research's newest poll for the Missouri Scout newsletter finds Republican incumbent Mike Parson leading Democrat Nichole Galloway 50-43, which is a small shift from Parson's 50-41 edge in June. The release did not include presidential numbers.

VT-Gov: Attorney John Klar announced Friday that he was endorsing Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who defeated him 73-22 in last week's primary, and would not run as a conservative independent in the general election.

House

MA-01: Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse has released a new survey from Beacon Research that finds Rep. Richie Neal, his opponent in the Sept. 1 Democratic primary, ahead by just a 46-41 margin. The poll was conducted over the weekend, after Morse accepted an apology from the Massachusetts College Democrats for the harm that followed the release of the organization's letter accusing Morse of inappropriate conduct toward students.

Meanwhile, the Justice Democrats, which said late last week that it was resuming its support for Morse, is spending another $150,000 on TV ads attacking Neal. Their newest spot says that "last year, Neal took more money from corporations than any other member of Congress—almost $2 million" while at the same time he "hasn't held a town hall in years."

MA-04: Former Alliance for Business Leadership head Jesse Mermell is airing her first TV spot ahead of the Sept. 1 Democratic primary. Mermell, who appears to be recording the ad using her smartphone, says that voters struggling to pick between the many candidates could opt for "the one who protected abortion and birth control coverage at Planned Parenthood."

To underscore just how crowded the race is, the audience sees several other copies of Mermell gradually appear in the shot to talk about her support for Medicare for all and the Green New Deal and her endorsements from "[Rep.] Ayanna Pressley, [state Attorney General] Maura Healey, Planned Parenthood, Mass Teachers, Mass Nurses, SEIU." Mermell, who by this time has three other images of herself behind her, concludes, "We approve this message because you got some good options, but one clear choice."

Meanwhile, businessman Chris Zannetos is trying to distinguish himself from his rivals by running to the center. In his new commercial, the narrator touts Zannetos as the one candidate opposed to "eliminat[ing] private health insurance." Zannetos goes on to say he backs Joe Biden's plan and says, "Let's expand Obamacare and lower the cost of prescription drugs."

MO-02: House Majority PAC has released a survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling that shows Democrat Jill Schupp leading Republican Rep. Ann Wagner 48-45. The sample also finds Joe Biden ahead 48-46 in a suburban St. Louis seat that supported Donald Trump 53-42 but has been moving to the left in recent years. This is the first survey we've seen here since February, when the GOP firm Remington Research's poll for the Missouri Scout newsletter had Wagner up 50-40.

NH-01: On Monday, former state GOP vice chair Matt Mayberry earned an endorsement in the Sept. 8 Republican primary from former Sen. John Sununu, who represented a previous version of this seat before he was elected to his one term in the Senate in 2002.

Mayberry faces a challenging battle against former White House aide Matt Mowers, who has Donald Trump's backing, for the right to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas in this swing seat. Mowers ended June with a wide $440,000 to $73,000 cash-on-hand lead over his intra-party rival, while Pappas had a far-larger $1.5 million campaign account.

NJ-07: In his opening commercial, freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski decries, "Some people just want to divide us, even over wearing a mask. It's exhausting." Malinowski goes on to call for "getting things done" instead, and continues, "I passed a bill to fix America's stockpile of critical medical equipment."

Other Races

Broward County, FL State's Attorney: Eight Democrats are competing in Tuesday's primary to succeed Mike Satz, who is retiring after 44 years as Broward County's top prosecutor, and most of the outside money has favored one candidate.

George Soros, the billionaire progressive donor who has poured millions into backing criminal justice reformers in many recent key races around the country in recent years, has been funding a group called the Florida Justice & Public Safety PAC that has raised $750,000 to support defense attorney Joe Kimok. Kimok, who had planned to challenge Satz before the incumbent decided not to seek re-election, is the one candidate who has pledged not to seek the death penalty if elected.

Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that a group known as Victims Have Rights has raised a considerably smaller $110,000 to help veteran prosecutor Sarahnell Murphy, who has Satz's endorsement. The PAC has run mailers against Kimok and another contender, Coconut Creek City Commissioner Joshua Rydell.

Orange/Osceola Counties, FL State's Attorney: State Attorney Aramis Ayala is retiring as state's attorney for the Ninth Circuit, which covers both Orlando's Orange County and neighboring Osceola County, and four fellow Democrats are competing in Tuesday's party primary to succeed her. No Republicans are running in the November election, and the winner will be the heavy favorite to defeat independent Jose Torroella.

The Appeal's Samantha Schuyler writes that the one candidate who has pledged to keep Ayala's criminal justice reforms in place is former defense attorney Monique Worrell, and she's getting some major late support from like-minded allies.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Our Vote Our Voice, a group funded in part by a group founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, launched a $1.5 million ad campaign in the last two weeks in the contest to help Worrell. Some of the group's commercials have gone towards promoting Worrell while others have gone after attorney Belvin Perry, who served as the judge during the high-profile Casey Anthony murder trial that took place here in 2011.

The other two Democratic candidates are Deb Barra, who serves as chief assistant state attorney, and former prosecutor Ryan Williams. Ayala initially backed Barra, but the incumbent later threw her support to Worrell after she launched her own campaign.

Barra, Perry, and Williams are all arguing that Ayala's decision never to seek the death penalty has harmed the office; Williams even resigned in 2017 over this policy. This trio has pointed to Ayala's struggles against the GOP-led state government to make their case. After Ayala announced that her office would not seek the death penalty, then-Gov. Rick Scott transferred 23 first-degree murder cases to a considerably more conservative state's attorney in another jurisdiction. The Florida Supreme Court sided with Scott after Ayala sued over this, and Gov. Ron DeSantis has continued to remove first-degree murder cases from her jurisdiction.

Worrell herself has said of the Republican governors' actions, "It put me on notice that the rules of the game have changed significantly … And those opposed [to criminal justice reform] will use any means necessary." However, Schuyler writes that even Worrell "is running on a platform that is significantly less assertive than Ayala's and has backed away from Ayala's death penalty position."

Election Changes

 Indiana: Republicans on the Indiana Election Commission have blocked a proposal by Democrats that would have allowed all voters to request an absentee ballot for the November general election without needing an excuse. The measure failed after the bipartisan panel deadlocked, with both Republican members voting against the plan and both Democrats voting for it. The Commission had unanimously waived the excuse requirement for the state's June primary.

Voting rights advocates filed a federal lawsuit challenging the requirement in late April, and briefing on their request concluded at the end of last month, so a ruling may be imminent.

 Kentucky: Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams have reached an agreement that will permit Kentucky voters to cite concerns about the coronavirus to request an absentee ballot for the November general election.

Beshear had wanted to waive the excuse requirement altogether, as the state had done for its June primary. However, a law passed earlier this year by Kentucky's Republican-run legislature required the governor to obtain approval for such a change from Adams, who had resisted a wider expansion of mail voting. The difference may nonetheless be minimal, as many other states have relaxed their own excuse requirements by allowing concerns about COVID to qualify and seen a surge in mail ballots.

 Louisiana: Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has proposed a plan to Louisiana's Republican-run legislature that would keep in place the state's requirement that voters present an excuse to request an absentee ballot and would expand eligibility only to those who have tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier this year, lawmakers approved a plan put forth by Ardoin that offered a limited expansion of absentee voting for the state's July primary for those at heightened risk from the coronavirus after Republicans rejected a broader proposal.

Legislators are slated to take up Ardoin's latest plan this week, and Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards says he is reviewing it. Before it was released, Edwards said he hoped it "would look substantially similar to the one" put in place for the primaries. However, that earlier plan did not require the governor's approval, nor does the new one. Voting rights advocates, including the NAACP, filed a suit challenging Louisiana's excuse requirement in federal court earlier this month.

 New York: Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he will sign a measure passed by New York's Democratic-run legislature to allow all voters to cite concerns about the coronavirus in order to request an absentee ballot. Cuomo had signed an executive order earlier this year making the same allowance ahead of the state's June primary.

Last month, lawmakers passed several other bills to improve voting access, which the governor must sign or veto soon. Another measure that would allow county election officials to deploy ballot drop boxes has yet to come up for a vote, but Cuomo says he supports the idea.

grab bag

 Deaths: Former Illinois Gov. James Thompson, a moderate Republican whose tenure from 1977 to 1991 was the longest in state history, died Friday at the age of 84. We take a look at his lengthy and eventful career in our obituary, which features appearances by Spiro Agnew, Lyndon LaRouche, the founder of Weight Watchers, and Lenny Bruce.

Thompson successfully won four terms as governor, but his last two campaigns were quite eventful. In 1982, Thompson defeated former Democratic Sen. Adlai Stevenson III by just over 5,000 votes in a contest that wasn’t resolved until days before he was inaugurated for a third term.

Thompson and Stevenson faced off again four years later in a rematch that became infamous for reasons that had nothing to do with either man. While Stevenson easily earned the nomination, a candidate affiliated with the fringe political activist Lyndon LaRouche won the primary to become his running mate. Stevenson opted to run as an independent rather than “run on a ticket with candidates who espouse the hate-filled folly of Lyndon LaRouche.” You can find out more about this campaign, as well as the rest of Thompson’s career, in our obituary.

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