Trump’s Republican Party aims its election disaster finger-pointing at … Trump

There’s plenty of blame to go around among Republicans following their election flop, and Donald Trump is coming in for his share. As we know, he usually takes that well.

“It was a Trump problem,” an unnamed Republican operative told NBC News. “Independents didn’t vote for candidates they viewed as extreme and too closely linked with Donald J. Trump.”

Rep. Jim Banks, who over the summer said he would support a 2024 Trump presidential run, said this weekend, “I’ll save my endorsement for another place and time for the 2024 race.”

RELATED STORY: Trump melts down bigly on Truth Social as Republican vultures circle the wreckage

“Those who are most closely aligned with the former president under-performed,” Sen. Bill Cassidy said on Meet the Press Sunday, going on to describe the under-performers as those “closely aligned with the past.” Cassidy voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment, but he also cheered the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision, so he’s not at all exempt from embracing extremely unpopular Republican positions.

“It’s basically the third election in a row that Donald Trump has cost us the race,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said on CNN. “And it’s like, three strikes, you’re out.”

Explaining why Republicans shouldn’t nominate Trump in 2024, Hogan, a moderate Republican who won election twice in a blue state, said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Donald Trump kept saying we’re gonna be winning so much we’re gonna get tired of winning. I’m tired of losing. That’s all he’s done.” So Hogan’s problem is less with the ugliness and hate and more with the losing. Got it.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu got it weirdly close to right in his attempts to avoid overtly blaming Trump. “And the, obviously, you have all this other national stuff happening that, I think, scared a lot of folks, this extremism that's out there. And that's what this was. This was just a rejection of that extremism,” he said on ABC’s This Week.

Pressed by George Stephanopoulos on whether he was blaming Trump, Sununu responded, “You know, I know the media likes to do the pro- and anti-Trump stuff. It's not just about Donald Trump, right? There's a whole stream of things out there that can be deemed extreme, on one side and the other.” Sununu went on to briefly mention abortion and talk that “scared people.”

In other words, sure, it’s Trump, but it’s not just Trump. Republicans more broadly are scaring voters with their extremism, says this Republican governor just reelected in a state that simultaneously reelected a Democratic senator and two Democratic House members.

Sununu still wants some noxious stuff, but he got it right that Republicans can’t just blame Trump for their own extremism turning voters off. Trump may have made it popular to say the ugliest things out loud, he may have helped create the Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade, he may have set the stage for a large number of Republicans to reject the results of the 2020 election, but Republican lawmakers and candidates are adults. They took that stuff and ran with it, and they did so in large part because they thought it would help them win power. Now that it didn’t, suddenly, Trump is—at least temporarily—getting some blame. But we’ve also seen this before, so we know that most prominent Republicans will be back on board with Trump before too long.

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Morning Digest: Termed-out Maryland governor dumps on new GOP nominee seeking to replace him

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

Leading Off

MD-Gov: Termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday responded to Trump-backed Del. Dan Cox's victory in the previous evening's Republican primary by tweeting that Trump has "selfishly colluded with national Democrats to cost us a Governor's seat in Maryland," a fatalistic take that came even though it remained unclear who Cox's Democratic foe would be. Hogan's spokesperson also confirmed that the outgoing incumbent would not cast a general election vote for the man he'd labeled a "conspiracy-theory-believing QAnon whack-job."

Cox was outpacing Hogan's candidate, former state cabinet official Kelly Schulz, 56-40 as of Wednesday; the state will not begin tabulating mail-in ballots until Thursday so this margin may shift, but the Associated Press called the contest for Cox on election night. The AP, however, has not yet made a projection in the Democratic primary, where former nonprofit head Wes Moore leads former DNC chair Tom Perez 37-27 with 358,000 votes counted—a margin of 35,000 ballots.

It's not clear exactly how many votes still remain to be counted. Maryland Matters writes that election officials had received 168,000 mail-in ballots from Democratic voters through Monday, while "[m]any additional mail ballots were likely returned on Tuesday." Moore, who is also a nonfiction author, himself held off on declaring victory in his election night speech, while Perez expressed optimism he'd do significantly better with the remaining votes. Moore would be the Old Line State's first Black governor, while Perez would be Maryland's first Latino chief executive.

Hogan pulled off a 2014 general election upset against then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in this very blue state by arguing that Democrats badly ran and overtaxed Maryland, but Cox has made it clear he'll be a very different candidate. The new nominee played a role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by organizing a busload of people to attend the rally that preceded it, and he tweeted later in the day that Mike Pence was a "traitor" for recognizing Biden's win.

The delegate has continued to emphasize his fealty to the Big Lie since then. In April, Cox attended a QAnon-aligned conference in Pennsylvania where he delivered an address alleging he'd seen election fraud in that state and questioning Biden's heavy 65-32 win in Maryland. Afterwards, the candidate came back on stage for a prayer led by a self-proclaimed prophet who had just told the audience that "the real president" was "coming back." Cox has no love for Hogan either, and he introduced a hopeless impeachment resolution against him this year that accused the governor of "malfeasance in office."

National Democrats, eager to avoid a repeat of the 2014 debacle, took action to ensure that the far-right Cox, rather than Schulz, would be the GOP nominee. The Democratic Governors Association spent $2 million on an ad campaign that, while nominally attacking the delegate, tried to make him more appealing to conservatives by emphasizing his Trump connections; Cox, by contrast, deployed only about $20,000 on ads for himself. Schulz tried to warn primary voters that Cox was a "nut" and a "pathological liar" who would cost the party the governorship, but it wasn't enough to overcome Trump's pitch that Republicans "don't want Hogan's anointed successor."

Cox, for his part, responded to his win by making it clear he'd continue to run as a proud Trumpian in the fall in a state that, despite his conspiracy theories, Trump lost in a landslide. The new nominee repeatedly thanked Trump in his victory speech, and he said the next day, "The freedom movement is strong and the MAGA movement is here in Maryland."

The Downballot

Our guest on this week's episode of The Downballot is former Missouri state Sen. Jeff Smith, who spent a year in federal prison stemming from a campaign finance violation and devoted himself to criminal justice reform upon his release. Smith tells us about the grave problems his experience behind bars showed him are in desperate need of redress and why reformers have zero margin for error. He also dives into Missouri's midterm elections to explain why Eric Greitens—whom he's known since childhood—is such a dangerous candidate, and why he can win despite his staggering flaws.

Co-host David Beard recaps Maryland's primaries, some of which still haven't been called, and dissects the House vote recognizing same-sex marriage as a fundamental right, which saw a number of telling Republican votes both for and against. David Nir, meanwhile, examines the huge second-quarter fundraising gap that still favors Democrats despite the pro-GOP political environment and also looks at the first poll of a key abortion rights ballot measure in Kansas that will go before voters on Aug. 2.

Please subscribe to The Downballot on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by noon Eastern Time.

Senate

OH-Sen: Democrat Tim Ryan's new commercial declares that, while Republican J.D. Vance set up a nonprofit ostensibly to combat the state's opioid crisis, it "failed to fund a single addiction program." Instead, the narrator charges, the money went towards Vance's political advisor and toward polling.

Last year, Insider reported that, according to the group's first year of tax filings, Vance's group "spent more on 'management services' provided by its executive director — who also serves as Vance's top political advisor — than it did on programs to fight opioid abuse." Why only look at one year of filings, though? Insider explains, "The nonprofit raised so little in each of the last three years — less than $50,000 a year — that it wasn't even required by the IRS to disclose its activities and finances."

Governors

AK-Gov: The Alaska Beacon has collected the fundraising reports from the period from Feb. 2 to July 15 for all the leading candidates competing in the Aug. 19 top-four primary.

  • Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R-inc): $925,000 raised, $768,000 cash-on-hand
  • Former Gov. Bill Walker (I): $832,000 raised, $751,000 cash-on-hand
  • Former state Rep. Les Gara (D): $575,000 raised, $656,000 cash-on-hand
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce (R): $64,000 raised, $22,000 cash-on-hand
  • State Rep. Christopher Kurka (R): $12,000 raised, $3,000 cash-on-hand

The RGA previously donated another $3 million to aid Dunleavy, money the Beacon says has not yet been spent.

Unlike in past cycles, the candidates are allowed to accept unlimited donations. That's because a federal court last year struck down a 2006 ballot measure that capped donations at $500 a year, and the legislature adjourned this spring without adopting a new law.  

NV-Gov: Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak outraised Republican Joe Lombardo $1.7 million to $822,000 during the second quarter, which ended two weeks after Lombardo won his primary. Sisolak finished June with a huge $10.7 million to $1.2 million cash-on-hand lead.

OR-Gov: Rep. Kurt Schrader announced Tuesday that he was endorsing independent Betsy Johnson for governor, a declaration that came about two months after the Blue Dog Democrat decisively lost renomination to Jamie McLeod-Skinner. 

House

AZ-04, WA-03: Winning For Women Action Fund, a Republican group funded in part by the Congressional Leadership Fund, is getting involved in two very different Aug. 2 contests.

The PAC has deployed $450,000 in Arizona's 4th District to support Republican Tanya Wheeless, a onetime aide to former Sen. Martha McSally, in her bid to take on Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton in a seat Biden would have taken 54-44. Wheeless faces an expensive intra-party battle against restaurant owner Kelly Cooper, a self-funder who ended June with a wide $1.2 million to $500,000 lead. CLF endorsed Wheeless back in April before it was clear that Cooper, a first-time candidate who only registered to vote as a Republican last year, would have the resources to run a serious campaign.

Over in the top-two primary for Washington's 3rd, meanwhile, Winning For Women is dropping $800,000 against Trump-endorsed Army veteran Joe Kent. The super PAC does not appear to have endorsed incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler, who is one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump.

WA-08: The Washington Observer reports that a new group called Lead The Way PAC is spending $250,000 to boost 2020 Republican nominee Jesse Jensen while attacking one of his intra-party rivals, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, ahead of next month's top-two primary to face Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier. The TV commercial declares that Dunn "voted to cut law enforcement by nearly $100 million" and touts Jensen's time as an Army Ranger.

The PAC's mailers go much further and sum up Dunn with the words, "DUI. Binge Drinking. Relapses. Empty Promises." The mail pieces also say, "The Dunn's marriage councilor also reported Dunn had acknowledged grabbing his wife by the shoulders and pushing her against a wall multiple times." The candidate was the subject of a detailed March profile in the Seattle Times about his struggles with alcoholism, including his relapse after swearing off drinking following a 2014 DUI. Dunn told the paper that he's been sober for over four years, and he produced regular lab reports to confirm he's stayed away from alcohol.

Ballot Measures

KS Ballot: With two weeks to go before the Aug. 2 vote, the Republican pollster co/efficient finds a small 47-43 plurality in support of the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the GOP-dominated legislature to ban abortion in Kansas. This survey, which the firm says it paid for itself, is the first we've seen of what's become a closely watched and very expensive referendum campaign.

FiveThirtyEight, in its detailed look at the contest, lays out the messaging strategies both sides are using in this conservative state. Value Them Both, which is the group supporting the anti-abortion "yes" side, has highlighted how abortions have increased in Kansas since 2019, when the state Supreme Court ruled that the procedure is protected by the state constitution. (FiveThirtyEight notes that this is "due largely to Texas and Oklahoma residents who can no longer get abortions in their home states.")

The campaign has also tried to frame the vote as something other than a straight up question about whether to ban abortion. Instead, Value Them Both says a "yes" win would just let the legislature impose "common-sense abortion limits" like parental notification―something that is already state law. The group, though, has also seized on partisan talking points about "unelected liberal judges" and told voters that under the status quo, Kansas has abortion laws similar to blue states like California.

Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, which is the vehicle of the "no" side, has tried to appeal to conservatives in a different way. As we wrote earlier this month, the campaign recently ran a spot in the very red Wichita media market that didn't mention abortion at all; instead, it framed the ballot measure as "a strict government mandate designed to interfere with private medical decisions," a statement followed by images reminding viewers of pandemic face mask requirements and the cancellation of in-person religious services.

In the Democratic-leaning Kansas City media market, by contrast, one ad featured a mother describing how she needed an abortion in order to remain alive for her husband and three-year-old son, and that the ballot measure "could ban any abortion with no exceptions, even in cases like mine." Kansans for Constitutional Freedom has also aired commercials informing viewers that "abortion is highly regulated" already, but the amendment "could lead to a full ban of any abortion in Kansas, with no exceptions for rape, incest or a mother's life."

The "yes" side decisively outraised its opponents last year, but there's been a big shift since 2022 began. Kansans for Constitutional Freedom outpaced Value Them Both $6.5 million to $4.7 million from January 1 to July 18, and it enjoyed a smaller $5.8 million to $5.4 million spending advantage.

San Francisco, CA Ballot: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to place a referendum on the November ballot that would move the city's next set of local elections from 2023 to 2024 and keep them in presidential cycles going forward. Mayor London Breed, who would be up for re-election next year under the current law, has ardently opposed such a shift, arguing that "a group of democratic socialists" are seeking to "have more control and power of being able to get more of their people elected."

Election Recaps

Maryland: What follows is a look at where the state's major races stood as of Wednesday. The state will not begin to tabulate mail-in ballots until Thursday, so the margins may shift after all the votes are counted.

MD-04: Glenn Ivey, who is the former state's attorney for Prince George's County, beat former Rep. Donna Edwards 51-35 to win the Democratic nomination to succeed outgoing Rep. Anthony Brown in one of the bluest House districts in America.

The race was defined by a massive $6 million campaign by the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC―its largest investment in any contest to date―that argued Edwards did a poor job serving her constituents during her time in office from 2008 to 2017. (Edwards left to wage an unsuccessful campaign for the Senate, and Brown beat Ivey in the 2016 race to replace her.) J Street, a progressive pro-Israel organization that often finds itself at odds with AIPAC, responded with a considerably smaller $730,000 offensive portraying Ivey as a lobbyist for "big business," but it wasn't enough.

MD-06: Del. Neil Parrott earned his rematch against Democratic Rep. David Trone by defeating Matthew Foldi, a 25-year-old former writer for the conservative Washington Free Beacon, 64-15 in the Republican primary. Foldi sported endorsements from both Gov. Larry Hogan and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, but Parrott's supporters castigated him as "a wealthy elitist" and a "kid."

Trone beat Parrott 59-39 last cycle as Biden was carrying the old version of the seat by a similar 61-38 spread, but this contest will be fought on very different turf. Parrott sued after Democrats passed another map to protect Trone, and his efforts were rewarded after a judge threw out those boundaries earlier this year. Legislative Democrats and Hogan agreed on new lines soon after that created a 6th based in western Maryland and the D.C. exurbs that Biden would have won only 54-44, and the incumbent quickly emerged as a major GOP target. The wealthy Trone has been preparing for a tough fight, though, and he recently loaned his campaign $10 million.

MD-AG: Rep. Anthony Brown beat former Judge Katie O'Malley 60-40 in the primary to succeed their fellow Democrat, retiring incumbent Brian Frosh, a win that puts him on course to become the state's first Black attorney general. Brown lost the 2014 race for governor to Republican Larry Hogan, but he should have no trouble in the fall against Republican nominee Michael Peroutka, a former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South who prevailed 58-42.

Peroutka, among many other things, has called the separation of church and state a "great lie;" dismissed public education as "the 10th plank in the Communist Manifesto;" and insisted that abortion and same-sex marriage both defy "God's law." And while Peroutka left the League of the South before it helped organize the infamous 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, he's still refused to denounce the group. The GOP last won the attorney general's office in 1918.

Baltimore, MD State's Attorney: Defense attorney Ivan Bates holds a 41-32 lead over incumbent Marilyn Mosby with 48,000 votes counted in the Democratic primary, but the AP has not called the race. Prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah, who sported a cross-party endorsement from GOP Gov. Larry Hogan, has the remaining 27%. The winner will have no trouble in the fall in this reliably blue city.

Mosby, who rose to national prominence in 2015 just months into her first term when she charged six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, was indicted in January for allegedly filing false mortgage applications and lying to federal prosecutors. Bates lost to Mosby 49-28 in 2018, but this time, he benefited from heavy spending from a super PAC funded by 2020 mayoral candidate Mary Miller.

Baltimore County, MD State's Attorney: Attorney Robbie Leonard holds a tiny 51-49 edge against four-term incumbent Scott Shellenberger with 49,000 ballots tabulated in the Democratic primary, but it will likely take a while to determine the winner here. The eventual nominee will be favored in a county that supported Biden 62-35.

Shellenberger, whose jurisdiction includes many of Baltimore's suburbs (the city of Baltimore and Baltimore County have been separate jurisdictions since 1851), was on the receiving end of heavy spending by a super PAC affiliated with philanthropist George Soros. Leonard, for his part, positioned himself as a criminal justice reformer while also arguing that Shellenberger has done a poor job dealing with the local murder rate.

Montgomery County, MD Executive: Wealthy businessman David Blair has a 40-38 lead against incumbent Marc Elrich with 73,000 ballots counted in the Democratic primary to lead this populous and dark blue suburban D.C. community, but this is another contest that will likely take a while to settle. Four years ago, it was Elrich who beat Blair in a 77-vote cliffhanger.

Blair, who spent around $5 million on his second campaign, argued that Elrich had done a poor job making the county more affordable or dealing with crime; the challenger also benefited from $900,000 in spending by a super PAC funded in part by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz as well as developers and business groups. Bethesda Magazine writes that Elrich, whose "political base among civic and neighborhood groups often made him an outlier in three terms on the County Council on planning and development issues," has also clashed repeatedly with business groups.

The incumbent, for his part, focused on his work during the pandemic while also accusing Blair and County Council Member Hans Riemer, who is in third with 21%, of supporting policies that were "very Koch brothers [and] Reaganesque—like let the private sector solve everything."

Ad Roundup

Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.

Morning Digest: Termed-out Maryland governor dumps on new GOP nominee seeking to replace him

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

Leading Off

MD-Gov: Termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday responded to Trump-backed Del. Dan Cox's victory in the previous evening's Republican primary by tweeting that Trump has "selfishly colluded with national Democrats to cost us a Governor's seat in Maryland," a fatalistic take that came even though it remained unclear who Cox's Democratic foe would be. Hogan's spokesperson also confirmed that the outgoing incumbent would not cast a general election vote for the man he'd labeled a "conspiracy-theory-believing QAnon whack-job."

Cox was outpacing Hogan's candidate, former state cabinet official Kelly Schulz, 56-40 as of Wednesday; the state will not begin tabulating mail-in ballots until Thursday so this margin may shift, but the Associated Press called the contest for Cox on election night. The AP, however, has not yet made a projection in the Democratic primary, where former nonprofit head Wes Moore leads former DNC chair Tom Perez 37-27 with 358,000 votes counted—a margin of 35,000 ballots.

It's not clear exactly how many votes still remain to be counted. Maryland Matters writes that election officials had received 168,000 mail-in ballots from Democratic voters through Monday, while "[m]any additional mail ballots were likely returned on Tuesday." Moore, who is also a nonfiction author, himself held off on declaring victory in his election night speech, while Perez expressed optimism he'd do significantly better with the remaining votes. Moore would be the Old Line State's first Black governor, while Perez would be Maryland's first Latino chief executive.

Hogan pulled off a 2014 general election upset against then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in this very blue state by arguing that Democrats badly ran and overtaxed Maryland, but Cox has made it clear he'll be a very different candidate. The new nominee played a role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by organizing a busload of people to attend the rally that preceded it, and he tweeted later in the day that Mike Pence was a "traitor" for recognizing Biden's win.

The delegate has continued to emphasize his fealty to the Big Lie since then. In April, Cox attended a QAnon-aligned conference in Pennsylvania where he delivered an address alleging he'd seen election fraud in that state and questioning Biden's heavy 65-32 win in Maryland. Afterwards, the candidate came back on stage for a prayer led by a self-proclaimed prophet who had just told the audience that "the real president" was "coming back." Cox has no love for Hogan either, and he introduced a hopeless impeachment resolution against him this year that accused the governor of "malfeasance in office."

National Democrats, eager to avoid a repeat of the 2014 debacle, took action to ensure that the far-right Cox, rather than Schulz, would be the GOP nominee. The Democratic Governors Association spent $2 million on an ad campaign that, while nominally attacking the delegate, tried to make him more appealing to conservatives by emphasizing his Trump connections; Cox, by contrast, deployed only about $20,000 on ads for himself. Schulz tried to warn primary voters that Cox was a "nut" and a "pathological liar" who would cost the party the governorship, but it wasn't enough to overcome Trump's pitch that Republicans "don't want Hogan's anointed successor."

Cox, for his part, responded to his win by making it clear he'd continue to run as a proud Trumpian in the fall in a state that, despite his conspiracy theories, Trump lost in a landslide. The new nominee repeatedly thanked Trump in his victory speech, and he said the next day, "The freedom movement is strong and the MAGA movement is here in Maryland."

The Downballot

Our guest on this week's episode of The Downballot is former Missouri state Sen. Jeff Smith, who spent a year in federal prison stemming from a campaign finance violation and devoted himself to criminal justice reform upon his release. Smith tells us about the grave problems his experience behind bars showed him are in desperate need of redress and why reformers have zero margin for error. He also dives into Missouri's midterm elections to explain why Eric Greitens—whom he's known since childhood—is such a dangerous candidate, and why he can win despite his staggering flaws.

Co-host David Beard recaps Maryland's primaries, some of which still haven't been called, and dissects the House vote recognizing same-sex marriage as a fundamental right, which saw a number of telling Republican votes both for and against. David Nir, meanwhile, examines the huge second-quarter fundraising gap that still favors Democrats despite the pro-GOP political environment and also looks at the first poll of a key abortion rights ballot measure in Kansas that will go before voters on Aug. 2.

Please subscribe to The Downballot on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by noon Eastern Time.

Senate

OH-Sen: Democrat Tim Ryan's new commercial declares that, while Republican J.D. Vance set up a nonprofit ostensibly to combat the state's opioid crisis, it "failed to fund a single addiction program." Instead, the narrator charges, the money went towards Vance's political advisor and toward polling.

Last year, Insider reported that, according to the group's first year of tax filings, Vance's group "spent more on 'management services' provided by its executive director — who also serves as Vance's top political advisor — than it did on programs to fight opioid abuse." Why only look at one year of filings, though? Insider explains, "The nonprofit raised so little in each of the last three years — less than $50,000 a year — that it wasn't even required by the IRS to disclose its activities and finances."

Governors

AK-Gov: The Alaska Beacon has collected the fundraising reports from the period from Feb. 2 to July 15 for all the leading candidates competing in the Aug. 19 top-four primary.

  • Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R-inc): $925,000 raised, $768,000 cash-on-hand
  • Former Gov. Bill Walker (I): $832,000 raised, $751,000 cash-on-hand
  • Former state Rep. Les Gara (D): $575,000 raised, $656,000 cash-on-hand
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce (R): $64,000 raised, $22,000 cash-on-hand
  • State Rep. Christopher Kurka (R): $12,000 raised, $3,000 cash-on-hand

The RGA previously donated another $3 million to aid Dunleavy, money the Beacon says has not yet been spent.

Unlike in past cycles, the candidates are allowed to accept unlimited donations. That's because a federal court last year struck down a 2006 ballot measure that capped donations at $500 a year, and the legislature adjourned this spring without adopting a new law.  

NV-Gov: Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak outraised Republican Joe Lombardo $1.7 million to $822,000 during the second quarter, which ended two weeks after Lombardo won his primary. Sisolak finished June with a huge $10.7 million to $1.2 million cash-on-hand lead.

OR-Gov: Rep. Kurt Schrader announced Tuesday that he was endorsing independent Betsy Johnson for governor, a declaration that came about two months after the Blue Dog Democrat decisively lost renomination to Jamie McLeod-Skinner. 

House

AZ-04, WA-03: Winning For Women Action Fund, a Republican group funded in part by the Congressional Leadership Fund, is getting involved in two very different Aug. 2 contests.

The PAC has deployed $450,000 in Arizona's 4th District to support Republican Tanya Wheeless, a onetime aide to former Sen. Martha McSally, in her bid to take on Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton in a seat Biden would have taken 54-44. Wheeless faces an expensive intra-party battle against restaurant owner Kelly Cooper, a self-funder who ended June with a wide $1.2 million to $500,000 lead. CLF endorsed Wheeless back in April before it was clear that Cooper, a first-time candidate who only registered to vote as a Republican last year, would have the resources to run a serious campaign.

Over in the top-two primary for Washington's 3rd, meanwhile, Winning For Women is dropping $800,000 against Trump-endorsed Army veteran Joe Kent. The super PAC does not appear to have endorsed incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler, who is one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump.

WA-08: The Washington Observer reports that a new group called Lead The Way PAC is spending $250,000 to boost 2020 Republican nominee Jesse Jensen while attacking one of his intra-party rivals, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, ahead of next month's top-two primary to face Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier. The TV commercial declares that Dunn "voted to cut law enforcement by nearly $100 million" and touts Jensen's time as an Army Ranger.

The PAC's mailers go much further and sum up Dunn with the words, "DUI. Binge Drinking. Relapses. Empty Promises." The mail pieces also say, "The Dunn's marriage councilor also reported Dunn had acknowledged grabbing his wife by the shoulders and pushing her against a wall multiple times." The candidate was the subject of a detailed March profile in the Seattle Times about his struggles with alcoholism, including his relapse after swearing off drinking following a 2014 DUI. Dunn told the paper that he's been sober for over four years, and he produced regular lab reports to confirm he's stayed away from alcohol.

Ballot Measures

KS Ballot: With two weeks to go before the Aug. 2 vote, the Republican pollster co/efficient finds a small 47-43 plurality in support of the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the GOP-dominated legislature to ban abortion in Kansas. This survey, which the firm says it paid for itself, is the first we've seen of what's become a closely watched and very expensive referendum campaign.

FiveThirtyEight, in its detailed look at the contest, lays out the messaging strategies both sides are using in this conservative state. Value Them Both, which is the group supporting the anti-abortion "yes" side, has highlighted how abortions have increased in Kansas since 2019, when the state Supreme Court ruled that the procedure is protected by the state constitution. (FiveThirtyEight notes that this is "due largely to Texas and Oklahoma residents who can no longer get abortions in their home states.")

The campaign has also tried to frame the vote as something other than a straight up question about whether to ban abortion. Instead, Value Them Both says a "yes" win would just let the legislature impose "common-sense abortion limits" like parental notification―something that is already state law. The group, though, has also seized on partisan talking points about "unelected liberal judges" and told voters that under the status quo, Kansas has abortion laws similar to blue states like California.

Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, which is the vehicle of the "no" side, has tried to appeal to conservatives in a different way. As we wrote earlier this month, the campaign recently ran a spot in the very red Wichita media market that didn't mention abortion at all; instead, it framed the ballot measure as "a strict government mandate designed to interfere with private medical decisions," a statement followed by images reminding viewers of pandemic face mask requirements and the cancellation of in-person religious services.

In the Democratic-leaning Kansas City media market, by contrast, one ad featured a mother describing how she needed an abortion in order to remain alive for her husband and three-year-old son, and that the ballot measure "could ban any abortion with no exceptions, even in cases like mine." Kansans for Constitutional Freedom has also aired commercials informing viewers that "abortion is highly regulated" already, but the amendment "could lead to a full ban of any abortion in Kansas, with no exceptions for rape, incest or a mother's life."

The "yes" side decisively outraised its opponents last year, but there's been a big shift since 2022 began. Kansans for Constitutional Freedom outpaced Value Them Both $6.5 million to $4.7 million from January 1 to July 18, and it enjoyed a smaller $5.8 million to $5.4 million spending advantage.

San Francisco, CA Ballot: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to place a referendum on the November ballot that would move the city's next set of local elections from 2023 to 2024 and keep them in presidential cycles going forward. Mayor London Breed, who would be up for re-election next year under the current law, has ardently opposed such a shift, arguing that "a group of democratic socialists" are seeking to "have more control and power of being able to get more of their people elected."

Election Recaps

Maryland: What follows is a look at where the state's major races stood as of Wednesday. The state will not begin to tabulate mail-in ballots until Thursday, so the margins may shift after all the votes are counted.

MD-04: Glenn Ivey, who is the former state's attorney for Prince George's County, beat former Rep. Donna Edwards 51-35 to win the Democratic nomination to succeed outgoing Rep. Anthony Brown in one of the bluest House districts in America.

The race was defined by a massive $6 million campaign by the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC―its largest investment in any contest to date―that argued Edwards did a poor job serving her constituents during her time in office from 2008 to 2017. (Edwards left to wage an unsuccessful campaign for the Senate, and Brown beat Ivey in the 2016 race to replace her.) J Street, a progressive pro-Israel organization that often finds itself at odds with AIPAC, responded with a considerably smaller $730,000 offensive portraying Ivey as a lobbyist for "big business," but it wasn't enough.

MD-06: Del. Neil Parrott earned his rematch against Democratic Rep. David Trone by defeating Matthew Foldi, a 25-year-old former writer for the conservative Washington Free Beacon, 64-15 in the Republican primary. Foldi sported endorsements from both Gov. Larry Hogan and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, but Parrott's supporters castigated him as "a wealthy elitist" and a "kid."

Trone beat Parrott 59-39 last cycle as Biden was carrying the old version of the seat by a similar 61-38 spread, but this contest will be fought on very different turf. Parrott sued after Democrats passed another map to protect Trone, and his efforts were rewarded after a judge threw out those boundaries earlier this year. Legislative Democrats and Hogan agreed on new lines soon after that created a 6th based in western Maryland and the D.C. exurbs that Biden would have won only 54-44, and the incumbent quickly emerged as a major GOP target. The wealthy Trone has been preparing for a tough fight, though, and he recently loaned his campaign $10 million.

MD-AG: Rep. Anthony Brown beat former Judge Katie O'Malley 60-40 in the primary to succeed their fellow Democrat, retiring incumbent Brian Frosh, a win that puts him on course to become the state's first Black attorney general. Brown lost the 2014 race for governor to Republican Larry Hogan, but he should have no trouble in the fall against Republican nominee Michael Peroutka, a former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South who prevailed 58-42.

Peroutka, among many other things, has called the separation of church and state a "great lie;" dismissed public education as "the 10th plank in the Communist Manifesto;" and insisted that abortion and same-sex marriage both defy "God's law." And while Peroutka left the League of the South before it helped organize the infamous 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, he's still refused to denounce the group. The GOP last won the attorney general's office in 1918.

Baltimore, MD State's Attorney: Defense attorney Ivan Bates holds a 41-32 lead over incumbent Marilyn Mosby with 48,000 votes counted in the Democratic primary, but the AP has not called the race. Prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah, who sported a cross-party endorsement from GOP Gov. Larry Hogan, has the remaining 27%. The winner will have no trouble in the fall in this reliably blue city.

Mosby, who rose to national prominence in 2015 just months into her first term when she charged six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, was indicted in January for allegedly filing false mortgage applications and lying to federal prosecutors. Bates lost to Mosby 49-28 in 2018, but this time, he benefited from heavy spending from a super PAC funded by 2020 mayoral candidate Mary Miller.

Baltimore County, MD State's Attorney: Attorney Robbie Leonard holds a tiny 51-49 edge against four-term incumbent Scott Shellenberger with 49,000 ballots tabulated in the Democratic primary, but it will likely take a while to determine the winner here. The eventual nominee will be favored in a county that supported Biden 62-35.

Shellenberger, whose jurisdiction includes many of Baltimore's suburbs (the city of Baltimore and Baltimore County have been separate jurisdictions since 1851), was on the receiving end of heavy spending by a super PAC affiliated with philanthropist George Soros. Leonard, for his part, positioned himself as a criminal justice reformer while also arguing that Shellenberger has done a poor job dealing with the local murder rate.

Montgomery County, MD Executive: Wealthy businessman David Blair has a 40-38 lead against incumbent Marc Elrich with 73,000 ballots counted in the Democratic primary to lead this populous and dark blue suburban D.C. community, but this is another contest that will likely take a while to settle. Four years ago, it was Elrich who beat Blair in a 77-vote cliffhanger.

Blair, who spent around $5 million on his second campaign, argued that Elrich had done a poor job making the county more affordable or dealing with crime; the challenger also benefited from $900,000 in spending by a super PAC funded in part by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz as well as developers and business groups. Bethesda Magazine writes that Elrich, whose "political base among civic and neighborhood groups often made him an outlier in three terms on the County Council on planning and development issues," has also clashed repeatedly with business groups.

The incumbent, for his part, focused on his work during the pandemic while also accusing Blair and County Council Member Hans Riemer, who is in third with 21%, of supporting policies that were "very Koch brothers [and] Reaganesque—like let the private sector solve everything."

Ad Roundup

Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.

Morning Digest: Michigan activists are close to putting an abortion rights amendment on the ballot

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

Programming Update: Daily Kos Elections will be taking a break for the Fourth of July weekend. The Live Digest will return Tuesday, while Morning Digest will be back on Wednesday. Have a great holiday!

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Leading Off

MI Ballot: Activists working to enshrine the right to an abortion into the Michigan state constitution announced Thursday that they'd collected a sufficient number of signatures to place the proposed amendment on the ballot for the November general election. A victory for the Reproductive Freedom for All amendment, which needs a majority of the vote to pass, would represent a huge win for abortion rights in a large swing state where the courts have yet to resolve whether a 91-year-old abortion ban remains in effect today.

In 1931, Michigan passed a law that made the procedure a felony in almost all cases, very similar to an earlier ban implemented all the way back in 1846. Pro-choice activists put an initiative on the ballot in 1972 to legalize abortion called Proposal B, and it appeared so likely to pass that an abortion clinic was set up even before the November vote. The Catholic Church, though, funded an effort to derail Proposal B, and voters ultimately rejected it in a 61-39 landslide that represented an early electoral win for the emerging anti-abortion movement.

The 1931 statute became moot just a few months later after the U.S Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade, but no one's sure what will happen now following the far-right majority's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health. A state court issued a temporary injunction to block the law from being enforced, but two Republican county prosecutors have said they'll still consider prosecuting doctors for violating the nine-decade-old law. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has urged the Michigan Supreme Court―where Democrats won a 4-3 majority last cycle―to issue a ruling to clarify the situation.

A victory for the Reproductive Freedom for All amendment this fall, though, would go even further in securing abortion rights for the long term, especially if anti-choice Republicans succeed in unseating Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, or state Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein in November. There hasn't been any polling on this measure, but Civiqs has found that Michigan voters agree that abortion should be legal in all or most cases by a wide 57-39 margin.

Redistricting

NC Redistricting: On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear North Carolina Republicans' appeal in a redistricting case that could have catastrophic consequences for voting rights and fair elections across the country next year in advance of the pivotal 2024 elections.

The case in question involves a Republican appeal of a state court ruling that struck down their congressional gerrymander earlier this year and replaced it with a much fairer map in a groundbreaking ruling that held that the state constitution prohibits partisan gerrymandering. Republicans are now asking the Supreme Court to rule that the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures near-absolute power to set all manner of federal election laws, including district maps—regardless of whether state constitutions place limits on abuses such as gerrymandering.

For a more in-depth explanation of just how dangerous and far-reaching this case could be, an article by Daily Kos Elections' Stephen Wolf has laid out the stakes and likely implications should the justices rule in favor of Republicans.

Senate

AZ-Sen: The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling has conducted a poll, which it says wasn't on behalf of a client, looking at the August GOP primary. The survey finds former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters jumping out to a 29-15 lead over state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, with businessman Jim Lamon at 10 and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Mick McGuire at just 5.

This poll, which is PPP's first publicly available look at Arizona this cycle, is also the first survey from a reputable firm since Trump endorsed Masters in early June. Previous polls from mainly GOP-affiliated outfits had typically found Lamon and Brnovich competing for the lead with Masters still competitive, and it's plausible that Trump's endorsement has shifted a significant chunk of voters toward Masters in a race where many Republicans are still undecided.

GA-Sen: Just hours after a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday showed Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock leading by a hefty 54-44 over Republican Herschel Walker, Walker's campaign released an internal poll from Moore Information Group that shows the two candidates tied 47-47. We previously cautioned that Quinnipiac's numbers were by far the best for Democrats all cycle and that confirmation from other polls and firms was necessary to determine whether the race has indeed shifted in Warnock's direction, but it's notable that the best numbers Walker's own team could come up with still couldn't give him a lead.

MO-Sen: Former Republican Sen. John Danforth’s Missouri Stands United PAC has announced that it’s spending $3 million on an opening TV, radio, digital, and mail campaign to support independent John Wood. The effort began earlier this week just before Wood launched his campaign when Danforth, who retired in 1995, starred in a commercial calling for voters to back a nonaligned candidate for Senate.

VT-Sen: Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is the chamber's longest-serving member, has announced that he has broken his hip after suffering from a fall on Wednesday evening and would have to have surgery as soon as possible. Leahy says his doctors expect him to "make a full recovery," but he could be absent from the Senate for an unspecified amount of time in the coming weeks. The 82-year-old Leahy had already opted to retire this cycle rather than run for a ninth term this fall.

Governors

MD-Gov: The Baltimore Sun reports that the DGA has booked $1 million in TV time in an effort to get Republicans to nominate Trump's pick, Del. Dan Cox, over former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz on July 19. Democrats believe that Cox, who played a role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by organizing a busload of people to attend the rally that preceded it, would struggle in a general election to succeed Schulz's main ally, termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan.

RI-Gov: Wednesday was the candidate filing deadline for Rhode Island's Sept. 13 primary, but while the state has a list of contenders here, not all of them may make the ballot. That's because, as the Boston Globe notes, candidates still have until July 15 to turn in their signatures to election officials: Anyone running for governor needs 1,000 valid signatures, which is twice the number required to run for the U.S. House.

Democrat Dan McKee was elevated from the office of lieutenant governor to the governorship in March of last year when Gina Raimondo resigned to become U.S. secretary of commerce, but it quickly became clear he'd be in for a tough fight to keep his new job. Five fellow Democrats are campaigning against McKee, and a recent poll from Suffolk University showed him trailing one of them, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, 24-20.

Former CVS executive Helena Foulkes, who ended March with the largest war chest, was close behind with 16%, and her ability to self-fund gives her access to more funds. Former Secretary of State Matt Brown, who lost the 2018 primary to Raimondo 57-34, is once again positioning himself to the left of the rest of the field, but he's struggled to raise money and only earned 5% in the Suffolk poll. The other two Democrats who filed are physician Luis Daniel Muñoz, who earned less than 2% as an independent four years ago, and nurse Kalilu Camara, neither of whom have attracted much notice.

Five Republicans are also in, but businessman Ashley Kalus is the only one who's running a serious campaign. Kalus, who has used her personal wealth to go on TV back in April, has had to deal with questions about her ties to Rhode Island, where she appears to have relocated to just last year.

P.S. Now that the Ocean State's deadline has passed, the only states where major party candidates can still appear on the 2022 ballot are Delaware and Louisiana. Neither state is likely to host any competitive races for Congress this cycle, though Louisiana politicians sometimes wait until the last moment possible to decide whether or not to run.

House

FL-27: State Sen. Annette Taddeo has publicized a late May internal from the Democratic firm SEA Polling and Strategic Design that finds Republican Rep. María Elvira Salazar leading her by a narrow 47-45. The survey was conducted May 23-26, which about two weeks before Taddeo ended her campaign for governor to run for this Miami-area seat.  

MD-06: Gov. Larry Hogan has backed Matthew Foldi, a former staff writer for the conservative Washington Free Beacon, ahead of the July 19 Republican primary to take on Democratic incumbent David Trone. Foldi received an endorsement earlier in June from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

MI-11: NBC reports that EMILY's List has reserved $860,000 in TV ads to aid Rep. Haley Stevens in her Aug. 2 Democratic primary against fellow incumbent Andy Levin.

MI-13: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan this week endorsed state Sen. Adam Hollier in the busy Democratic primary for a safely blue seat where just over half of residents live in Motor City.

RI-02: Retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin endorsed state Treasurer Seth Magaziner on Thursday, an announcement that came one day after the filing deadline passed for the September primary. Magaziner is one of eight Democrats campaigning to succeed Langevin in a seat, which includes part of Providence and western Rhode Island, that Biden would have carried 56-42.

One of Magaziner's rivals is former state Rep. David Segal, who took third place in the 2010 primary for the neighboring 1st District and went on to found a national progressive group. Another well-funded rival is Sarah Morgenthau, a former U.S. Department of Commerce official who hails from a prominent national Democratic family; Morgenthau, though, has spent most of her career outside the state and only registered to vote in Rhode Island shortly before launching her campaign.

Also in the running is communications firm head Joy Fox, who is a former Langevin staffer. Four other candidates are in including nonprofit head Omar Bah, but none of them posted a serious amount of money when campaign finance reports were last released in March. (New quarterly reports are due by the end of July 15.)

On the GOP side, former Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who was the party's nominee for governor in 2014 and 2018, has just one unheralded primary foe following 2020 nominee Bob Lancia's decision to drop out just before filing closed. A recent Suffolk University poll showed Fung leading Magaziner 45-39 and doing even better against the other Democrats, though the undecideds should favor Team Blue here.

Ad Roundup

Democrats are notably running ads on abortion in New Hampshire and Illinois.

Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.

Morning Digest: Mo Brooks just found out Trump’s Complete and Total endorsements are anything but

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

Subscribe to our podcast, The Downballot!

LEADING OFF

AL-Sen: Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he was "withdrawing my endorsement" of Rep. Mo Brooks ahead of the May Republican primary to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, a move that came after months of stories detailing the GOP master's unhappiness with the congressman' campaign. Trump concluded his not-tweet by saying, "I will be making a new Endorsement in the near future!"

There are two remaining available candidates in the GOP primary that Trump could back: Army veteran Mike Durant and Shelby's choice, former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Boyd Britt. Trump had disparaged Britt as "not in any way qualified" for the Senate back in July, but he's warmed up to her in recent months and, per a CNN report last month, even told her that "he would speak positively of her in private and public appearances."

That same story relayed that Trump saw Durant, whom he derided as "a McCain guy" because he functioned as a surrogate for John McCain's 2008 campaign, as unacceptable. That seems to also be changing, though, as Politico reports that Durant met with Trump on Monday. As for Brooks, who helped foment the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, the Club for Growth responded to Trump's Wednesday announcement by saying it was still sticking with him.

Trump argued he was abandoning the "woke" Brooks because the candidate told an August rally, "There are some people who are despondent about the voter fraud and election theft in 2020. Folks, put that behind you." However, while CNN said last year that Brooks' performance at this event, as well as Trump's brief but friendly conversation with Britt backstage, were what "first sowed frustration" with the congressman inside Trumpworld, few observers believe that those seven-month-old comments from Brooks are the reason Trump is now leaving him for dead.

Instead, almost everyone agreed that Trump decided that Brooks was running a doomed bid and wanted to avoid being embarrassed by his primary defeat. Indeed, CNN reported all the way back in December that Trump, GOP insiders, and even Brooks' allies were unhappy with his weak fundraising and other aspects of his campaign: The candidate responded that month by "reassessing his campaign strategy" and replacing several members of his team, but CNN said last week that this shakeup only granted him a temporary reprieve from Trump's gripes. "He feels he has been more than patient and that Mo hasn't risen to the occasion despite many opportunities to do so," said one unnamed person close to Trump.  

But things intensified last week when Trump began to publicly discuss yanking his "Complete and Total" endorsement over the August comments. Brooks responded by saying that Trump had been told "that there are mechanisms by which he could have been returned to the White House in 2021 or in 2022, and it's just not legal." An unnamed Trump advisor told CNN afterwards that a Republican saying that the 2020 election couldn't be overturned represented a "cardinal sin," and that Brooks had just said "the quiet part out loud and it might cost him (Trump's) support." Brooks himself last week used his very first ad of the race to proudly showcase the Jan. 6 speech he delivered to the pro-Trump rally that preceded the day’s violence, but that messaging wasn't enough to keep Trump on his side.

Things got even worse for Brooks on Tuesday when the Republican firm Cygnal released a survey for the Alabama Daily News and Gray Television that showed the former frontrunner in a distant third place. Durant led with 35%, while Britt led Brooks 28-16 for the second spot in an all-but-assured June runoff; last August, before Durant joined the race, the firm showed Brooks crushing Britt 41-17.

There's no word if those ugly numbers influenced Trump, but he announced just a day later that he was finally done backing Brooks. The congressman himself responded with a statement saying, "President Trump asked me to rescind the 2020 elections, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately put President Trump back in the White House, and hold a new special election for the presidency." He continued, "As a lawyer, I've repeatedly advised President Trump that January 6 was the final election contest verdict and neither the U.S. Constitution nor the U.S. Code permit(s) what President Trump asks. Period." Brooks also declared that Trump has allowed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to "manipulate" him.

The Downballot

Joining us on The Downballot for this week’s episode is Jessica Post, the president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee—the official arm of the Democratic Party dedicated to winning state legislatures nationwide. Jessica talks with us about how the DLCC picks its targets and helps candidates, the impact of freshly un-gerrymandered maps in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and how Democrats are protecting vulnerable seats in a challenging midterm environment.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also discuss yet another shameful redistricting ruling from the Supreme Court, Donald Trump pulling the plug on Mo Brooks' Senate campaign in Alabama, and a brand-new special election for the top prosecutor's post in America's fourth-largest county. You can listen to The Downballot on all major podcast platforms, and you can find a transcript right here.

Redistricting

WI Redistricting: The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Wisconsin's new legislative maps in an unsigned "shadow docket" opinion on Wednesday, ruling that the state Supreme Court had violated the Voting Rights Act when it selected a map for the state Assembly earlier this month that would increase the number of Black-majority districts in the Milwaukee area from six to seven. However, the high court rejected a separate challenge on different grounds to the state's new congressional map.

As a result, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will now have to either pick new legislative maps or provide further evidence in support of the plans it originally selected, which were submitted by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. But as election law expert Rick Hasen noted, in a piece calling Wednesday's ruling "bizarre on many levels," the U.S. Supreme Court is using the Wisconsin case to "chip away at the Voting Rights Act." That suggests the justices would be hostile to the Evers maps no matter what additional arguments the Wisconsin court might adduce.

The decision also showcases the high court's stark hypocrisy: Six weeks ago, the Supreme Court blocked a lower federal court ruling ordering Alabama to redraw its congressional map in order to create a second Black congressional district, as mandated by the Voting Rights Act—the same law the Wisconsin Supreme Court cited as motivating its choice of maps. At the time, Justice Brett Kavanaugh explained in a concurring opinion that the lower court's order in the Alabama case had come too close to the election for the state to revise its existing map, which included only a single district with a Black majority.

Now it's late March, yet the Supreme Court has nevertheless seen fit to send Wisconsin back to the drawing board. There's simply no legitimate reason for the differing outcomes: The original lower court ruling in Alabama came down four months before the state's primary, while the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision was issued just five months ahead of the primary there. In both cases, however, Republican interests benefit, and the cause of Black representation suffers.

Senate

NC-Sen: Rep. Ted Budd, aka the far-right congressman running for Senate that Trump still backs, is running a spot for the May primary based around his support for finishing Trump's border wall.

NH-Sen: Bitcoin millionaire Bruce Fenton tells Politico that he's considering entering the September Republican primary to face Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan and would self-fund $5 million if he gets in. Felton adds that he'll decide early next month after, naturally, the Bitcoin 2022 gathering.

NV-Sen, NV-Gov: The Club for Growth has released a WPA Intelligence survey of the June Republican primary that gives its endorsed Senate candidate, former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a wide 57-19 lead over Army veteran Sam Brown.

The Club also takes a look at the race for governor, where it has yet to take sides: WPA shows Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo leading former Sen. Dean Heller 28-22, with North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee at 13%. A recent PPP survey for the Democratic Governors Association had Lombardo ahead with a similar 26%, while Heller and Lee tied with 13% each.

Governors

GA-Gov: Newt Gingrich has waded into his home state's May Republican primary for governor by backing former Sen. David Perdue's intra-party bid against incumbent Brian Kemp.

MD-Gov: Former Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker has publicized a GQR internal of the twice-delayed Democratic primary, which is now set for July, that shows him trailing state Comptroller Peter Franchot 23-15; former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez and former nonprofit head Wes Moore aren't far behind with 11% and 10%, respectively. Baker, who was the runner up in the 2018 primary, has released these numbers to argue that he's the strongest alternative to Franchot.

On the Republican side, termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan has endorsed former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, whom the Washington Post called his "handpicked candidate" last year.

PA-Gov: State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman's newest spot for the May Republican primary consists of him calling for the impeachment of Larry Krasner, Philadelphia's reform-minded district attorney.

House

CO-08: While Adams County Commissioner Chaz Tedesco initially sought to collect signatures to qualify for the June Democratic primary ballot for this new seat, he didn't end up turning in enough petitions before last week's deadline. Tedesco will instead seek to advance by competing at the April 5 party convention, where he'll need to win the support of at least 30% of the delegates in order to keep his candidacy alive.

The other major Democratic candidate is state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, who did turn in the requisite number of petitions. She's also competing for the party endorsement next month, but she'll make it to the primary ballot as long as she wins at least 10% of the delegates.

FL-07: Longtime congressional aide Rusty Roberts announced this week that he was entering the Republican primary to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy. Roberts previously served as chief of staff for John Mica, the Styrofoam-obsessed Republican whom Murphy unseated in 2016. (Politico wrote during that campaign that Mica "obsessively hordes throwaway coffee cups in his office and home, insisting that his companions reuse the same paper or Styrofoam carries because 'it's recyclable!'")

MO-01: Republican state Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch earlier this month that Democratic state Sen. Steven Roberts wants lawmakers to modify the boundaries of the safely blue 1st District to strengthen his chances for a potential primary campaign against Rep. Cori Bush. Roberts rejected Schatz's claim about his interest in shaping redistricting, though he did not deny he was considering a campaign against the high-profile freshman. "Is this on the record or off the record?" he asked a reporter, and when he was informed he was on the record, Roberts simply said he was focused "on my legislative duties."

Roberts appeared in the news again on Monday when The Intercept reported that someone with an IP address in the Missouri Office of Administration edited Roberts' Wikipedia page to delete a section describing how he'd been accused of sexual assault by two different women in 2015 and 2017, though he was never charged. A spokesperson for Roberts denied any knowledge of the edits and also deflected a question about a possible campaign against Bush. Missouri's candidate filing deadline is still set for March 29 even though the GOP-run legislature hasn't yet passed a new congressional map.

NC-13: Law student Bo Hines uses his first spot for the May Republican primary to talk about his time as a college football player and to inform the viewer that he's Donald Trump's endorsed candidate. The spot features a montage of Hines jumping rope, lifting weights, and, in one weird moment at the 12-second mark, apparently talking to himself in the mirror.

NJ-11: For the second cycle in a row, former Kinnelon Council President Larry Casha has dropped out of the Republican primary to face Democratic incumbent Mikie Sherrill.

TN-05: Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles has announced that he's joining the August Republican primary for the open 5th District, which Republicans recently transformed from blue to red by cracking apart the city of Nashville. Ogles is a former state director for the Koch network's Americans for Prosperity, and he launched a primary bid in 2017 against Sen. Bob Corker days before the incumbent decided to retire. Ogles, though, attracted little attention in the new open seat race from the Kochs or anyone else, and he soon dropped out and launched a successful bid for Maury County mayor.

Ogles, who established himself as a loud opponent of Gov. Bill Lee's pandemic measures, responded to Lee's summer declaration that school districts could decide for themselves if a mask mandate would be required in elementary schools by calling for the legislature to hold a special session to address his "continued abuses of power." Ogles also didn't rule out a primary campaign against Lee before the new congressional maps were unveiled, but he soon shifted his focus to the 5th District.

Ogles joins a contest that includes former state House Speaker Beth Harwell; businessman Baxter Lee; retired Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead; music video producer Robby Starbuck; and Trump's choice, former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus. Ortagus' campaign, though, has attracted scorn from plenty of loud conservatives who have cast the recent Tennessee arrival as an outsider.

Ortagus gave her critics some fresh material last month when, during an appearance on Michael Patrick Leahy's conservative radio show, she bombed the host's quiz about the new district and state. Among other things, Ortagus couldn't answer when asked which "three interstate highways" are in the 5th, the names of the four living former Republican governors (she only got Lee's predecessor, Bill Haslam), and the identity of "[o]ne of the most famous NASCAR drivers living today [who] lives in the 5th District and has a large auto dealership in Franklin." (The answer is Darrell Waltrip.)

Each chamber of the state's GOP-dominated legislature has also passed a bill that would impose a three-year residency requirement on congressional candidates, and while its state House sponsor denied it had anything to do with any specific contender, observers were quick to note that it would keep Ortagus off the ballot. However, while the Senate version would take effect this cycle, the House bill wouldn't come into force this year. It likely wouldn't matter what the legislature ends up agreeing to, though, because of a 1995 Supreme Court decision that ruled that states cannot add further qualifications to candidates for Congress that aren't in the U.S. Constitution.

VT-AL: Sianay Chase Clifford, who is a former aide to Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, announced last week that she was joining the August Democratic primary for Vermont's open House seat and campaigning as "a real progressive option." Chase Clifford, who is 27, moved to the Bay State for college, and she returned to Vermont during the pandemic. The candidate, whose mother is from Liberia, would be the first Black person to represent the state in Congress.

Attorneys General

GA-AG: Donald Trump has endorsed Big Lie proponent John Gordon, who renewed his law license last year to try to help Trump overturn his Georgia defeat, against Attorney General Chris Carr in the May Republican primary. Carr warned his counterparts in other states against joining Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's lawsuit to throw out the results in Georgia and other states Biden won, and Trump lashed out Tuesday by saying the incumbent did "absolutely nothing" to aid him.

Gordon, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "has little statewide profile," though he does have a close connection to another Trump ally. The paper reports that former Sen. David Perdue, who is trying to deny renomination to Gov. Brian Kemp, lives on property owned by Gordon because his own place is undergoing construction, though Perdue denied he had anything to do with this endorsement.

Carr and Gordon are the only Republican candidates, so this contest will be decided without a runoff. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Jen Jordan is the undisputed frontrunner against attorney Christian Wise Smith.

ID-AG: The Club for Growth has dropped a survey from WPA Intelligence that shows former Rep. Raúl Labrador, who was one of the far-right's most prominent members during the tea party era, lapping five-term Attorney General Lawrence Wasden 35-14 in the May Republican primary. The Club hasn't made an endorsement, though it supported Labrador in his unsuccessful 2018 bid for governor.

Prosecutors

Maricopa County, AZ Attorney: Three more GOP candidates have announced that they'll run in this year's special election to succeed their fellow Republican, soon-to-be-former County Attorney Allister Adel: City of Goodyear Prosecutor Gina Godbehere, attorney James Austin Woods, and prosecutor Rachel Mitchell. Republicans need to turn in just over 4,500 valid signatures by April 4 in order to make the primary ballot; Anni Foster, who is Gov. Doug Ducey's general counsel, launched her own bid earlier this week.

Godbehere on Tuesday earned a supportive tweet from former TV anchor Kari Lake, the far-right conspiracy theorist that Donald Trump is supporting for governor. Woods, for his part, is the son of the late Grant Woods, who served as state attorney general from 1991 to 1999. That link may not be helpful with GOP primary voters, though, as the elder Woods was a vocal Trump critic who became a Democrat in 2018.

Finally, Mitchell is a longtime sex crimes prosecutor who attracted national attention during Brett Kavanaugh's 2018 Supreme Court hearings when the all-male Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee brought her in as a "female assistant" to question him and accuser Christine Blasey Ford. She went on to tell the GOP senators that no "reasonable prosecutor" would prosecute Kavanaugh for sexual assault.

The next year Mitchell temporarily served as Maricopa County attorney after Bill Montgomery resigned to join the state Supreme Court: Both she and Godbehere were named as finalists for the appointment for the final year of his term, but Adel was ultimately selected. Mitchell made news again last month when she was one of the five division chiefs to tell their boss to resign due to serious questions about her sobriety and ability to serve as the county's top prosecutor.

On the Democratic side, 2020 nominee Julie Gunnigle said Tuesday that she'd already collected the requisite petitions in less than 24 hours.

Morning Digest: Ohio Supreme Court strikes down GOP’s legislative gerrymander

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

Leading Off

OH Redistricting: The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the new Republican-drawn state House and Senate maps as an unconstitutional gerrymander and ordered the state's Ohio Redistricting Commission to adopt new lines within 10 days. This decision does not apply to the Republican-drafted new congressional map, which is the subject of a separate case that the justices have yet to issue a decision in.

Republican Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor joined the three Democrats in Wednesday's 4-3 ruling, which blasted just how much the lines drawn by the GOP majority on the bipartisan Redistricting Commission benefited Republican candidates. As we've written before, a voter-approved constitutional amendment requires maps to not unfairly benefit one party or the other compared to their statewide support, which Republicans acknowledged was roughly 54% Republican and 46% Democratic according to an average of the last decade's statewide elections.

The justices, though, noted that the state House map favored GOP candidates in 67 of the 99 seats―which would give Team Red the edge in 68% of the districts―while Republicans likewise enjoyed an advantage in 23 of the 33 state Senate constituencies.

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The Redistricting Commission, which has a 5-2 GOP majority, will now need to redraw the lines, and the justices said they retained jurisdiction "to review the plan that the commission adopts for compliance with our order." Ohio's candidate filing deadline is currently set for Feb. 2, though lawmakers can alter that date.

Redistricting

MO Redistricting: The state House's redistricting committee voted Wednesday to advance a congressional map aimed at preserving the Republicans' current 6-2 majority in the delegation.

MS Redistricting: The state Senate on Wednesday approved a new GOP-drawn congressional map, which now goes to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves for his signature.

NC Redistricting: The Wake County Superior Court on Tuesday upheld the new Republican-drawn congressional and legislative maps. Plaintiffs immediately made it clear that they'd appeal the decision to the North Carolina Supreme Court, where Democrats have a 4-3 majority.  

PA Redistricting: The Republican-controlled state House has passed a new congressional map that would almost certainly be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf should it reach his desk.

SC Redistricting: The GOP-run state House Judiciary Committee has advanced a new congressional map aimed at shoring up Republican Rep. Nancy Mace in the 1st District. Last month, the chamber introduced a different map that would have actually made the 1st more competitive, but Republicans seem to have reversed course since then. State Senate Republicans previously proposed boundaries that also would have strengthened Team Red in the 1st District.

TN Redistricting: The state House's redistricting committee on Wednesday advanced a congressional map that, as Democrats have long feared, aims to turn the 5th District red. The blue bastion of Nashville, which is coterminous with Davidson County, is currently entirely located in longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper's 5th District, but these proposed boundaries would split the city between the 5th, 6th, and 7th Districts. This map would leave the Memphis-based 9th District as the only Democratic-friendly seat in Tennessee.

4Q Fundraising

  • CO-SenMichael Bennet (D-inc): $2.1 million raised, $4.7 million cash-on-hand; Gino Campana (R): $450,000 raised, additional $500,000 self-funded, $760,000 cash-on-hand
  • NE-GovJim Pillen (R): $5.4 million raised (since April), $4.1 million cash-on-hand
  • FL-10Maxwell Frost (D): $407,000 raised
  • IL-14Michael Koolidge (R): $100,000 raised (in six weeks)
  • MN-02Angie Craig (D-inc): $875,000 raised, $2.9 million cash-on-hand
  • NH-01Matt Mowers (R): $400,000 raised, $600,000 cash-on-hand
  • NJ-05Nick De Gregorio (D): $403,000 raised, $375,000 cash-on-hand
  • NV-04Steven Horsford (D-inc): $478,000 raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand
  • OR-06Matt West (D): $600,000 raised, $480,000 cash-on-hand

Senate

MD-Sen: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan once again declined to rule out a bid against Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen on Wednesday one day after the Associated Press detailed national Republicans' ongoing efforts to convince him to run. Hogan downplayed his interest when asked but didn't do anything to take his name out of contention, saying, "I don't have much desire to be in the US Senate." The filing deadline is Feb. 22.

OH-Sen: The radical anti-tax Club for Growth has launched what NBC's Henry Gomez reports is a $750,000 TV and digital buy attacking former state Republican Party chair Jane Timken ahead of the May primary. The Club, which backs ex-state Treasurer Josh Mandel, had been training its fire on venture capitalist J.D. Vance, but it recently released a poll finding that Timken is now Mandel's main threat.

The narrator declares, "Timken claimed she didn't know how she would have voted on Trump's impeachment while passionately defending her RINO congressman after he voted to impeach Trump." That last bit is a reference to retiring Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who was one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump last year. Timken initially said that the congressman had a "rational reason why he voted that way. I think he's an effective legislator, and he's a very good person." While she soon backtracked and called for Gonzalez's resignation, she didn't do it fast enough to insulate her from attacks like this one.

VT-Sen: Former U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan last week filed paperwork with the FEC for a potential run for the Republican nod, and she now tells VTDigger, "I am definitely exploring the possibility, but I am not yet ready to announce a formal decision or make a formal announcement."

The last time Green Mountain Republicans won a federal election was 2000, when moderate Sen. Jim Jeffords easily secured another term; Jeffords famously abandoned the GOP (and his all-Republican barbershop quartet, the Singing Senators) the following year to caucus with the Democrats as an independent, a move that handed Team Blue control of the upper chamber.

PA-Sen: Ad Impact tells Politico that American Leadership Action, a super PAC set up to aid TV personality Mehmet Oz in the Republican primary, has booked $550,000 in TV time for a negative campaign aimed at former hedge fund manager David McCormick that will begin this month. McCormick is still officially in exploratory mode, but there's little question that he's planning to run especially now that he's resigned from the hedge fund giant Bridgewater Associates.

House

CA-15: While Redwood City Mayor Giselle Hale had mulled campaigning for this safely blue open seat last year, the Democrat announced this week that she would run for the state Assembly instead.

CA-37: Former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry has filed FEC paperwork for a potential campaign to succeed Rep. Karen Bass, a fellow Democrat who is leaving to run for mayor of L.A., in the June top-two primary for this safely blue seat. Perry would be the first member of Congress who is both Black and Jewish.

Perry ran for the city's top job in 2013 and ultimately placed fourth in the nonpartisan primary with 16%. She went on to endorse Eric Garcetti in the second round, who named her head of his administration’s Economic Development Department following his victory. Perry stepped down in 2018 and ran for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors two years later, but she took a distant third with just 12%.

The only notable Democrat who has announced a campaign for the 37th District, which includes Central Los Angeles, is Culver City Vice Mayor Daniel Lee. State Sen. Sydney Kamlager, who decisively won her current post last year by beating Lee in a special election, also filed FEC paperwork in late November, but she still hasn't said if she's running.

FL-07: Businessman Scott Sturgill, who lost the 2018 Republican primary for the old version of this seat, has announced a bid to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy in a state where redistricting is still underway. Sturgill self-funded $150,000 for his last campaign but still lost the primary 54-30 to state Rep. Mike Miller, whom Murphy beat months later.

FL-20: Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick pulled off a 79-20 victory over Republican Jason Mariner in this 77-22 Biden seat in a contest that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis infamously scheduled to take place a whole nine months after the death of longtime Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings. Cherfilus-McCormick, who beat now-former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness by five votes in the very crowded November primary, will be the first-ever Haitian American member of Congress.

The new congresswoman, though, will likely need to prepare for another serious nomination fight. Holness, who never conceded defeat, filed paperwork for another bid last month, and The Sun Sentinel reported at the time that he planned to seek a rematch. Former Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief, who earned third place, also told the paper for that article that she was "more than likely" to run again but was "waiting to see what the districts look like."

IN-09: Republican Rep. Trey Hollingsworth announced Thursday that he would not seek a fourth term in Indiana's safely red 9th District in a very unexpected move that bookends what has been a short but surprising congressional career. The revised version of this southeastern Indiana seat, which includes Bloomington, backed Donald Trump 63-35, and Republicans should have no trouble holding onto it.

Hollingsworth had given no obvious indication that he was looking to hit the eject button, especially since he had no serious primary or general election opponent on the horizon. The congressman, though, used an op-ed for IndyStar to remind readers that he'd pledged to only serve four terms total, continuing, "I want to be the change I want to see in this world, so, as I contemplate how I can work for you in new and better ways in the future, I won't run for reelection this year." Hollingsworth added, "I ran for Congress to return this government to the people from the career politicians who had broken it, and I will be damned if I become one in the process."

Hollingsworth began running for Congress in the 2016 cycle very soon after the Tennessee businessman, who had ties to several other states that weren't named Indiana, moved to the Hoosier State. He initially seemed like an afterthought in the Republican primary to succeed now-Sen. Todd Young, but he attracted attention after he used his personal fortune to finance a huge early ad campaign at a time when his more established but cash-poor rivals couldn't get on TV. He also got help from his wealthy father, who financed a super PAC that aired commercials praising the younger Hollingsworth and attacking the presumed frontrunner, Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Another candidate, state Sen. Erin Houchin, saw where things were going and eventually went up with her own spot warning viewers that Hollingsworth was "a Tennessee millionaire who just moved here to try and buy our seat in Congress," but she lacked the resources to sufficiently blast her opponent. Republicans said just before the primary that Hollingsworth had little ground game and few, if any, local allies, but that didn't stop him from defeating Houchin by a convincing 34-25.

Republican gerrymandering and southern Indiana's continued shift to the right made Hollingsworth the clear favorite in a district that had supported Mitt Romney 57-41 in 2012, but Democrats hoped that a weak GOP nominee would give Monroe County Councilor Shelli Yoder an opening. And for a long time, it seemed like it was possible that Hollingsworth's flaws could indeed sink him, especially after the DCCC released an October poll giving him just a 44-42 edge.

National Democrats backed up their talk with action in the final weeks, and they ultimately spent $1.8 million compared to $1.3 million from their GOP counterparts. Hollingsworth also earned some ugly headlines in the final days when the Associated Press reported that legal papers he filed to serve as a "registered agent" for his real estate business obligate him to simultaneously reside in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Ohio. The Republican blamed it all on a clerical error, though he didn't help things when, after acknowledging he'd lived in South Carolina, he refused to say where else he'd resided.

All of this, though, was far from enough in a seat as red as the 9th District. Donald Trump carried the seat 61-34, and while Hollingsworth badly trailed the top of the ticket, his 54-40 victory was still far from close. Democrats still hoped that the new congressman could be vulnerable in a very different political climate, but he won by a similar 56-44 spread in 2018 and had no trouble taking what would ultimately be his final term.

MO-04: Retired Navy SEAL Bill Irwin announced this week that he was joining the crowded Republican primary for this safely red open seat.

NE-01: The Omaha World-Herald's Don Walton recently asked state Sen. Mike Flood if he had anything to do with a reported poll testing him in a hypothetical May Republican primary against indicted Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, to which Flood notably responded, "No comment."

Flood previously served as speaker of Nebraska's unicameral state legislature from 2007 until he was termed out in 2013, and he returned to the chamber last year. (Nebraska forbids legislators from serving more than two consecutive terms, but they can come back after a break.) The senator is also the owner of News Channel Nebraska, which Walton describes as "a network of radio and television stations that combine into a statewide media network."

Fortenberry, whom federal prosecutors have charged with lying to investigators as part of a probe into a foreign billionaire who used straw donors to illegally funnel $180,000 to four different GOP candidates, has a trial date tentatively set for Feb. 15, which coincidentally is the day that Flood would need to make a final decision by. That's because Nebraska has a unique law that sets up two filing deadlines, one for current elected officials and one for everyone else. All office-holders who want to be on the 2022 ballot need to file by Feb. 15, even if they're seeking a different post than the one they currently have, while the deadline for everyone else comes two weeks later on March 1.

Whoever emerges with the GOP nod will likely go up against state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, a Democrat who currently faces no serious intra-party opposition. The new version of the 1st District, which includes Lincoln and rural areas in the eastern part of the state, supported Donald Trump 54-43.

NJ-07, NJ-11: Phil Rizzo, a Republican who took a distant second in last year's gubernatorial primary, announced Wednesday that he was switching from the 11th to 7th Districts following redistricting and would now take on Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski. Rizzo will have a very tough task ahead of him, though, if he's to defeat the local and national establishment favorite, former state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., in a June nomination contest that also includes Assemblyman Erik Peterson.

VA-07: The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Del. Elizabeth Guzman and Prince William School Board Chair Babur Lateef are each considering challenging Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger for renomination now that redistricting has relocated a majority of populous Prince William County to the new 7th District. However, two other Northern Virginia Democrats, state Sen. Jeremy McPike and Del. Luke Torian, say they won't campaign here, while county party chair Tonya James relays that former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy has also told her she won't run.

On the Republican side, 2020 candidate Tina Ramirez announced this week that she was ending her campaign now that redistricting has moved her out of the 7th. Ramirez will instead challenge state Sen. Amanda Chase, who also dropped out of the congressional race this month, for renomination in 2023.

Ballot Measures

San Jose, CA Ballot: The San Jose City Council on Tuesday voted to place a measure on the June ballot that would move mayoral contests from midterm to presidential years. This year's open seat mayor race would only be for a two-year term if voters approved this measure, but the winner would be allowed to seek two additional four-year terms.

The City Council is also reviewing other ideas, such as adopting instant-runoff voting, that could go on the November ballot. However, an earlier proposal to greatly enhance the mayor's power appears to be off the table for now.

Legislatures

Special Elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's contest in Maine:

ME-HD-27: Former state Sen. James Boyle held this seat for the Democrats by beating Republican Timothy Thorsen 57-38. Hillary Clinton won 53-40 here, and preliminary numbers from Daily Kos Elections have Joe Biden prevailing by a larger 60-37 spread in 2020.

Democrats are back to a enjoy an 81-64 majority in a 151-person chamber that also includes three independents, one Libertarian, and one member of the Independent for Maine Party; one Republican-held district, the very red HD-145, is open.

Mayors

Austin, TX Mayor: Democratic state Rep. Celia Israel announced Tuesday that she would compete in this year's race to succeed termed-out Mayor Steve Adler as the head of Texas' famously liberal capital city; Israel would be Austin's first gay or Latina mayor.

Milwaukee, WI Mayor: Candidate filing closed Tuesday for the special election to succeed Tom Barrett, who resigned last month to become ambassador to Luxembourg. All the candidates will face off on one nonpartisan ballot on Feb. 15, and the top-two vote-getters will advance to the April 5 general; the winner will be up for a regular four-year term in 2024.

The only surprise on filing day came when Milwaukee City Attorney Tearman Spencer, who had previously announced a campaign, did not submit any signatures. The candidates who turned in the required amount of petitions are:

  • Alderman Marina Dimitrijevic
  • Former Alderman Bob Donovan
  • Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson
  • Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas
  • Businessman Michael Sampson
  • State Sen. Lena Taylor

Most of the field to lead this very blue city identify as Democrats, though Donovan, who badly lost to Barrett in 2016, is active in conservative groups.

Morning Digest: Cuomo impeachment vote might not happen until September at the soonest

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

Leading Off

NY-Gov: The New York Times, citing an unnamed source, reports that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie believes "he has the support from most, if not all, of the Democratic majority" to impeach Gov. Andrew Cuomo, though at a Monday news conference, he was hazy about the timeline for proceeding. Heastie told reporters he thinks that lawmakers' impeachment investigation will be "dealt with in weeks, and not months," though it would then be some time before articles of impeachment could be drafted and voted on.

To get a sense of just how vague Heastie's guidance was, North Country Public Radio suggested that articles "could come as early as this month," while the Times said they "might not be considered until early September," and the Albany Times Union went with "mid-September." If and when the Assembly does impeach Cuomo (and for what it's worth, every Republican in the chamber is in favor), a trial could not take place in the Senate any sooner than 30 days later. All told, a vote on whether to convict Cuomo and remove him from office—assuming he doesn't resign first—may therefore not happen until October at the earliest.

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Cuomo has also been trying to convince legislative leaders not to impeach him in exchange for him not running for a fourth term, The City reported, but Heastie shot down the idea at Monday's press event. In the now-likely event of a Cuomo-less Democratic primary next year (or one featuring a deranged and mortally wounded ex-governor), our old friend the Great Mentioner is warming up for a very busy season of would-be candidacies. Politico starts us off with an extremely long and detailed list of potential successors, including a number of names we haven't previously cited, though there's pretty much no word yet as to whether any are interested. Don't worry, though: There will be, soon.

Senate

CA-Sen: Rep. Ro Khanna, who'd been the lone holdout among California House Democrats in not yet backing Sen. Alex Padilla for re-election, has at last endorsed the incumbent for a full six-year term. Khanna had previously declined to rule out a challenge to Padilla, who was appointed to replace Vice President Kamala Harris in January, but with no major opponents in sight, the senator should be a lock next year.

MD-Sen: If Republican Gov. Larry Hogan wanted to put to rest any speculation that he might run against Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen next year, he could simply crib from ol' William Tecumseh Sherman, whose famous Statement™ they teach on the first day of politician school. Instead, he's continued to keep the door open just a crack, most recently telling Maryland Matters, "I've said like a million times I haven't really expressed any interest whatsoever in that." Added Hogan, "Van Hollen should not lay awake at night, every night, worrying about me." Precisely what Hogan would like—a complacent opponent! Seriously, though, this is getting silly, but it can end if Hogan wishes it to.

NY-Sen: When asked by CNN's Dana Bash whether she might challenge Sen. Chuck Schumer in next year's Democratic primary, sophomore Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez didn't rule out the possibility but also did not sound particularly interested in the prospect. The congresswoman insisted that she hasn't seriously considered the race, saying, "I can't operate the way that I operate and do the things that I do in politics while trying to be aspiring to other things or calculating to other things." She also added that she and Schumer "have been working very closely on a lot of legislation and that, to me, is important."

Ocasio-Cortez did not offer any sort of timetable for making a decision, however, and her comments were made in late June as part of a taping for a CNN special, so it's possible her stance has shifted since then.

Governors

CA-Gov: California Republicans aren't endorsing anyone in next month's gubernatorial recall election … and neither are California Democrats. Well, sort of, for the latter: Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday encouraged supporters to leave the second question on the recall ballot blank rather than choose a replacement candidate, saying his team is "just focusing on 'no' " on the first question, which asks voters whether they want to recall Newsom from office.

That's in keeping with Newsom's strategy all along, which was to discourage any high-profile Democrats from entering the race and unite the party behind him and him alone. Whether that'll work, though, is the number one question facing Democrats, especially since at least one pollster has suggested that the variety of options open to Republican voters on question two has generated enthusiasm on the GOP side that Team Blue lacks.

But that wide-open field has created its own problem for Republicans, who voted not to back any candidate at a state party gathering over the weekend. With several welterweights running, that could lead to a split vote among the various GOP choices and possibly allow a little-known Democrat like Kevin Paffrath to prevail on the second question—an outcome that a recent independent poll suggested could indeed come to pass.

That survey—which was the first to show the recall succeeding, by a 51-40 margin—also found Paffrath with a 27-23 edge on conservative radio host Larry Elder, though Paffrath was the only Democrat named along with six Republicans. Elder has emerged as the top Republican fundraiser in the race after he reported raising $4.5 million since kicking off his campaign last month, though Newsom has amassed 10 times as much, bringing in $46 million through the end of July, and has been spending heavily on ads.

CO-Gov: Jason Salzman of the Colorado Times Recorder writes that Republican state Sen. John Cooke, who is also the assistant minority leader of the chamber, did a radio interview last Thursday and shared some unflattering thoughts on his own party's outlook in next year's governor's race.

Cooke said he did not think Democratic Gov. Jared Polis could be beaten and even praised the governor as "smart and popular." He did name-check businessman Greg Lopez, the only officially announced candidate so far for the GOP but bemoaned his lack of money and name recognition.

Cooke also mentioned former state Sen. Ellen Roberts as someone who could give his party a chance in the race, but he said she told him she's not interested in running. Roberts thought about a statewide bid in 2016 for Senate but decided against it after receiving backlash from some Republicans for not being sufficiently conservative.

House

AR-01: State Rep. Brandt Smith kicked off a Republican primary bid against Rep. Rick Crawford, who's represented eastern Arkansas' 1st Congressional District since 2011. Smith claimed Crawford's lack of accessibility and responsiveness to his constituents, rather than any specific policy disagreements, as his reasons for taking on the incumbent, a lower-profile Trumpnik who voted to overturn the results of last year's election.

MO-04: Former Republican state Sen. Ed Emery died last Friday at age 71, just a few days after collapsing at a campaign event. Emery had launched a bid for Missouri's open 4th Congressional District in June.

Lieutenant Governors

GA-LG, GA-Gov, GA-Sen: As expected, Republican state Sen. Burt Jones will seek Georgia's lieutenant governorship, rather than run for Senate or governor. Jones is a wealthy businessman who was booted as chair of a key legislative committee by fellow Republicans for leading an effort to overturn last year's election, a demotion he refashioned as a badge of honor in his campaign kickoff.

Another state senator, Butch Miller, is already running for the GOP nod, but Donald Trump dumped on him last month, saying he "will not be supporting or endorsing" Miller "because of his refusal to work with other Republican Senators on voter fraud and irregularities in the State." Two notable Democrats, state Reps. Erick Allen and Derrick Jackson, are in the race, which is open because Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan chose not to seek re-election after disputing Trump's false claims that the election was stolen.

Trump’s cult of personality is like nothing else in our country’s history

Donald Trump really likes Andrew Jackson. “I'm a fan. I'm a big fan,” he declared about the seventh president at a 2017 event commemorating Jackson’s 250th birthday. Trump added that Jackson’s portrait “hangs proudly” up on the wall in the Oval Office—a place it had not been seen for quite some time until he put it there. Two weeks after Election Day in 2016, Trump’s campaign manager and out-and-out white nationalist Steve Bannon likened his boss’s politics to “Jackson’s populism.” After President Obama had set in motion a plan to have Jackson replaced by Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, The Man Who Lost An Election And Tried To Steal It nixed the effort, although President Biden has since revived it.

The tumultuous events surrounding Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney’s recent removal from the House Republican leadership provide an opportunity to compare and contrast Trump and Jackson in a very specific way—namely their influence on our system of political parties.

For better or worse—okay, in Trump’s case, there’s no question which one—both have had an overall impact on American politics exceeded by a very small number of presidents. Jackson cleaved his party in two on the basis of both ideology and support for his candidacy, while his latter-day counterpart turned his into a body defined by little other than personal loyalty to the leader—in other words, just another Trump Organization.

There are certainly strong parallels between the two—and that’s without even going into each one’s racism. (In addition to Jackson’s well-known and despicable anti-American Indian policies, he was also a virulent supporter of slavery who, as per historian Daniel Walker Howe, “expressed his loathing for the abolitionists vehemently, both in public and in private.”) In big picture terms, both were incredibly divisive personalities who defined an era—Jackson starting with his unsuccessful campaign of 1824 through 1837 when he left the White House after two terms, and Trump certainly since 2016—and who fundamentally transformed the party through which he became a national political figure.

In the 1824 presidential election, Jackson came in first in the Electoral College (and won the popular vote by about 10%), but could not garner an electoral majority as four different candidates won states. John Quincy Adams came in second, but won the support of the fourth place candidate, Henry Clay, and ultimately triumphed in the contingent election held in the House of Representatives. Adams, after being inaugurated, appointed Clay as his secretary of state—each of the last four presidents, including Adams, had served in that position. Jackson accused Adams and Clay of having conspired in a “corrupt bargain,” and slammed Clay in biblical terms: “The Judas of the West has closed the contract and will receive the thirty pieces of silver. His end will be the same.”

Trump, on the other hand, claimed even before the 2016 election that put him in the White House despite losing the popular vote that it would be “rigged.” More recently, he has been promulgating The Big Lie about the 2020 election ever since last November. However, although both men challenged their defeats, Trump’s claims differ from those of Jackson, in that the former and his supporters literally made up wild and crazy events relating to a supposedly fraudulent voting process. One other difference: only one of them incited an insurrection to prevent the actual winner from becoming president.

The election of 1824, and Jackson’s reaction afterward, led to a fundamental shift in our country’s partisan alignment. By 1820, the so-called First Party System—in which the Democratic-Republicans and Federalists competed for power—had basically come to an end with the demise of the latter. President James Monroe ran unopposed in 1820, as the Federalists failed to put up a candidate, and these years were known as The Era of Good Feelings. All four of the major candidates in 1824 were Democratic-Republicans. After that year’s controversial election, Andrew Jackson led his followers into a new organization, which became known as the Democratic Party.

Although Jackson’s personality mattered greatly in this endeavor, there were also ideological grounds on which the old Democratic-Republicans split. He embraced the basic approach held by traditionalists within the older party, namely the Jeffersonian concept of small government that favored agrarian interests. Given the whole Liz Cheney debacle—which we’ll get to, don’t you worry—a real ideological difference seems sort of quaint, no?

The Adams-Clay alliance organized itself not just in opposition to Jackson as a person, but around their shared vision of a more active government—especially at the federal level—that aided the growth of industry and trade. They supported federal tariffs to protect domestic industries, as well as the aggressive building of canals and roads along with the continuation of the National Bank and other measures to promote economic growth—all of which Jacksonian Democrats opposed. The opponents of Jackson were briefly known as the National Republicans and then, after 1832, the Whigs, and their plan was embodied in Clay’s “American System.”

The point here is that the pro-Jackson and anti-Jackson factions developed into different parties built around real policy differences—separate from Old Hickory himself—that defined the Second Party System. Likewise, the next major realignment in the U.S. occurred when the Whigs broke apart in the years after 1850, which created the Third Party System. That shift was motivated by ideology and policy as well. It occurred largely because anti-slavery Whigs refused to stay together with pro-slavery Southern Whigs in a single party, and left in large numbers after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. The anti-slavery forces came together in the new Republican Party.

We don’t yet know what the long-term impact of Donald Trump will be on our political parties and our democracy. Right now, however, there is clearly a divide—as seen in what happened with Liz Cheney. Whatever the final results of that divide turn out to be, recent events bear little resemblance to the divides either of the 1820s or the 1850s.

Rep. Cheney was drummed out of the Republican leadership for one reason, and one reason only: she continued to publicly rebuke Trump’s Big Lie—a lie that has now become a purity test for members of what can realistically be called the Trump Republican Party. There are no ideological or policy grounds that define or separate the pro- and anti-Trump factions among Republicans.

The fact that Cheney has been replaced as the House Republican Conference Chair by New York Rep. Elise Stefanik—whose voting record is significantly less supportive of Trump’s legislative agenda than Cheney’s—makes clear that this is in no way about policy. Cheney remains a hard-right conservative, as her remarks just before the vote on May 12 to remove her make clear: “After today, I will be leading the fight to restore our party and our nation to conservative principles, to defeating socialism.” Cheney may be toeing the fictitious party line about Joe Biden and socialism, but what matters here is that Stefanik supports The Big Lie, and that’s all that matters to the Party of Trump.

Elise Stefanik had a chance to avoid Four Pinocchios. All she had to do was admit she was wrong. instead she doubled down, even after we showed her false claim -- 140,000 suspect votes in Fulton County -- was based on a misreading of a Trump lawsuit. https://t.co/Ghu1XTBN7U

— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) May 7, 2021

Even when, at the last minute, Texas Rep. Chip Roy threw his ten-gallon hat into the ring to challenge Stefanik, it didn’t matter that he had voted for all the right conservative legislation and she hadn’t. Stefanik trounced him anyway: 134 votes to 46. Again, policy and ideology mattered not one iota. Only one issue did.

Key: Chip Roy, with a wildly conservative voting record, can't beat Elise Stefanik, with her comparatively moderate voting record because of one wrong vote. He didn't vote to overturn the 2020 election. IOW, core GOP ideology is The Big Lie. https://t.co/LvsDKsQ61W via @TPM

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) May 14, 2021

The twice-impeached former president made clear after Jan. 6 that he was going to demand absolute obedience not to any particular set of policies but instead to him as an individual. Republicans made their choice. They could either give it to him or he was going to take his ball and go home. Their decision was purely about what conservatives thought would help them win, nothing else.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham—one of the most notorious flip-floppers on Trump’s fitness to serve—did tell the truth when he admitted why his party continues to bend the knee to the Orange Julius Caesar: “If you tried to run him out of the party, you'd take half the party with him." Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, one of the most prominent anti-Trump Republicans, summed up his feelings by comparing Trump to a North Korean dictator: "It just bothers me that you have to swear fealty to the Dear Leader or you get kicked out of the party."

To demonstrate the ideological hypocrisy of Cheney’s replacing even further, we now know that the House Republicans—whose conservatism supposedly requires them to reject such concepts as representation—mandated that a woman replace Cheney. As Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post commented, they are doing so “because the party—though it supposedly abhors identity politics—needs a skirt to hide behind as it jettisons a strong, independent-minded female colleague.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put out a satirical ad from the House GOP leadership under the heading: “Help Wanted – Non-Threatening Female”

A few right-wing ideologues raised objections regarding this many-layered hypocrisy, but to no avail.

Word is, congressional Republicans are pushing amnesty-shill Elise Stefanik because they want a WOMAN in leadership. Sh!t-for-brains Republicans: NO GOP WOMAN CARES ABOUT IDENTITY POLITICS!

— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 12, 2021

Although Cheney has by far received the harshest punishment, the other nine House Republicans who voted to impeach the Insurrectionist-in-Chief for his crimes against our Constitution relating to the attempted coup of Jan. 6 have also been targeted by Trump partisans. They have faced censure votes and, in some cases, will likely draw primary opponents specifically running as more loyal to Trump.

Is the Republican Party going to split in two the way the Democratic-Republicans did after 1824 or the Whigs did after 1854? That’s not happening right now, although in the wake of the Cheney vote 150 prominent Republicans signed on to a “manifesto” titled “A call for American renewal.” The signatories include four former governors—ranging in ideology from tea party favorite Mark Sanford of South Carolina to centrist Bill Weld of Massachusetts—along with a former senator, 27 former House members, a former chair of the Republican National Committee, as well as some relatively high-ranking members of the Trump administration. Daily Kos’ Kerry Eleveld analyzed the statement in some depth here.

This group does not plan to form a new party yet, but rather, in the words of prominent Never Trumper George Conway, sees itself as “a coalition. …There is a need for people who have a conservative to moderate point-of-view and want to believe in the rule of law and … need a place to go and a place where they can organize and support candidates that are consistent with that." In other words, they are looking to create an organized anti-Trump faction within the Republican Party that can, eventually, take control of it. Good luck with that.

On a related note, a very recent study found that learning that Republicans were fighting amongst themselves over the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 victory had a significant impact among those who identify with the Republican Party, but not strongly. The favorability rating of the party expressed by such so-called “weak Republicans” fell by approximately 6% compared to that of a control group who were not given information about intra-Republican squabbling, as well as compared to another group that had been told of strife between Republicans and Democrats. Those weak Republicans’ impression of the Democratic Party improved by about the same amount. That’s even better than if they had become interested in a third party, in terms of improving Democrats’ chances of winning elections.

Republican President Ulysses S. Grant, after the disputed 1876 election that would elect his successor, proclaimed: “No man worthy of the office of President should be willing to hold it … placed there by fraud. Either party can afford to be disappointed by the result, but the country cannot afford to have the result tainted by suspicion of illegal or false returns.” Today’s head of the Republican Party clearly disagrees.

Trump is creating more of a naked cult of personality even than Jackson did. This is not to suggest that Jackson is "better" in some way than Trump. Rather, the contrast is that Jackson's cult of personality was connected to policy differences and a substantive disagreement over a vision for the country, while Trump's is essentially divorced from ideology, and based at this point on little other than fealty to The Big Lie. Likewise, Anti-Trumpists range from true moderates like Hogan and Weld to archconservatives like Cheney and Sanford, and harbor significant political disagreements. 

What Trump has wrought since the election, and especially since Jan. 6, bears little resemblance to previous political realignments or really anything that’s happened before. This kind of purely personality-driven divide is unprecedented in our country’s history.

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)