The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.
● Virginia: It's on in the Old Dominion: With Virginia's primaries now in the rearview, Daily Kos Elections is previewing the key races that will determine control of the 100-member House of Delegates in November.
- Just three seats to flip it: Republicans currently hold a 52-48 advantage after netting seven seats in 2021, which followed two straight cycles that saw Democrats collectively add a whopping 21 members to their caucus. Set against that, three seats seems small, but Democrats only flipped a single seat in both 2011 and 2013.
- Going by Biden or going by Youngkin? Joe Biden carried 59 districts under Virginia's new map, but Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin won 52, including 11 that had gone for the president. Was Biden's performance a high-water mark, or is a similar showing once again possible for Democrats with abortion still a major albatross for the GOP?
- The make-or-break districts: Seven of those Biden/Youngkin seats are hotly contested battlegrounds all across the state that will likely decide who ends up with the majority. Many look very different than they once did, though, thanks to redistricting, and four are open seats.
● KY-Gov: Medium Buying reports that the RGA, via its Kentucky Values/State Solutions affiliate, has increased its total spending on ads opposing Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear to $1.55 million, an increase of more than $1 million compared to 10 days earlier.
● WA-Gov: Republican state Sen. Drew MacEwen tweeted Wednesday that he spoke with former GOP Rep. Dave Reichert, whom he reports is "actively exploring a run" for governor next year, and MacEwen said he would support Reichert rather than run himself. Reichert had previously refused to rule out running last month, but he has had a long history of flirting with running for statewide office yet never actually doing it.
Reichert's political career began when he was appointed sheriff of heavily Democratic King County in 1997, a post that he easily held in that year's elections and again in 2001. He gained further prominence when notorious serial killer Gary Ridgway, better known as the Green River Killer, was brought to justice during his tenure in the early 2000s. Reichert benefitted from this fame in 2004 when he ran for and won an open congressional district in the eastern Seattle suburbs that had historically favored Republicans downballot but had become Democratic-leaning at the federal level.
Gaining a reputation as a pragmatic conservative, Reichert had repeatedly survived difficult reelection battles until post-2010 redistricting made his seat redder and insulated him from a tough challenge until the 2018 elections. But Reichert finally opted not to seek reelection ahead of that year's blue wave, and Democrat Kim Schrier flipped his 8th District that year and still holds it to this day.
● TX-32: Former Dallas City Council member Kevin Felder has filed to run in the Democratic primary to succeed Senate candidate Colin Allred in this heavily Democratic seat, though he has yet to comment on his interest in the race.
Felder previously led the NAACP's Dallas chapter and won election to the City Council in 2017, but he lost his reelection campaign in 2019 after he had been charged with a felony over an alleged hit-and-run incident, and he lost a comeback attempt for the seat in 2021. However, the case was dismissed last year on the condition that Felder complete a defensive driving course.
● TX-AG: Texas' Republican-controlled state Senate has voted to establish a package of rules for the upcoming trial of state Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican who was impeached and suspended from office last month. The trial will commence on Sept. 5, and senators voted with wide bipartisan support to bar Paxton's wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, from voting in the trial, though she will still be able to attend the trial. However, despite his wife’s recusal, it will still take 21 votes in the 31-member chamber to permanently remove the attorney general from office.
Meanwhile, earlier this month the FBI arrested Ken Paxton ally Nate Paul, a wealthy real estate investor who is at the center of the scandal that led to Paxton's impeachment. Paul was charged with several counts of defrauding financial institutions, for which the government is seeking $172 million in restitution. Most of the impeachment charges against Paxton accused him of illegally using his powers to help Paul, whom the attorney general also allegedly convinced to hire the woman Paxton was having an affair with.