Morning Digest: Democrats will soon have the chance to undo Wisconsin GOP’s new Senate supermajority

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.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

WI State Senate: Though Wisconsin Republicans just captured a supermajority in the state Senate earlier this month, they could soon give it back: Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, longtime GOP state Sen. Alberta Darling announced she'd resign effective Dec. 1, a move that will require Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to call a special election.

Republicans made Darling's 8th District a few points redder under the tilted map they convinced the conservative-dominated state Supreme Court to adopt in April: Under the old lines, Donald Trump carried the 8th by a hair, 49.4 to 49.3, but the current iteration would have backed Trump 52-47, according to Dave's Redistricting App. In the just-concluded midterms, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson won the district 54-46, according to our calculations, while GOP gubernatorial nominee Tim Michels prevailed by a smaller 52-48 spread.

Darling won re-election for a four-year term in 2020 in the old district, but since the new map is now in effect, state constitutional law expert Quinn Yeargain concludes that the new lines will likely be used. But despite the seat's GOP lean, Democrats will contest this seat to the utmost.

Republicans were able to take a two-thirds majority this year by flipping the open 25th District in the northwestern part of the state—another seat they gerrymandered—giving them 22 seats in the 33-member Senate. As a result, if Republicans in the Assembly impeach any state officials, their counterparts in the upper chamber can now remove them from office without a single Democratic vote. And if they were to impeach Evers, he'd be suspended from office until the end of a trial in the Senate, which Republicans could try to drag out even if they lack the votes to convict.

Rolling back this supermajority will therefore be critical for Democrats. One thing working in the party's favor is the fact that the suburbs and exurbs north of Milwaukee where Darling's district is based have been moving to the left in recent years—a key reason Republicans tried to gerrymander this seat further. One potentially strong option, however, has already said no: state Rep. Deb Andraca, who represents a third of the district, took herself out of the running on Monday.

Since Wisconsin "nests" three Assembly districts in each Senate district, there are two other seats that make up the 8th, both held by Republicans. One, Dan Knodl, says he's "seriously considering" a campaign; the other, Janel Brandtjen, doesn't appear to have said anything yet. (Brandtjen, an election denier, was recently barred from private meetings of the Assembly GOP caucus after supporting a primary challenge to Speaker Robin Vos.)

It's not clear when exactly the special will be held, but in her statement declining a bid, Andraca suggested it would take place "this spring." Wisconsin is set to hold its annual "spring election" for state and local offices on April 4, so this race could potentially be consolidated with those contests.

Election Recaps

AK-Sen, AK-AL, AK-Gov: Alaska conducted instant-runoff tabulations one day before Thanksgiving, and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola each won re-election after their respective opponents failed to consolidate enough support to pull ahead. Hardline GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy, meanwhile, claimed a bare majority of the first-choice preferences, so election officials did not do the ranked choice process for his race.

Murkowski held a tiny 43.4-42.6 edge over intra-party rival Kelly Tshibaka, a former state cabinet official backed by Donald Trump, with Democrat Pat Chesbro and Republican Buzz Kelley taking 10% and 3%, respectively. But Murkowski, who has crossed party lines on some high-profile votes, always looked likely to take the bulk of Chesbro's support, and she emerged with a clear 54-46 win when tabulations were complete.

Tshibaka responded to her defeat by blasting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's allies at the Senate Leadership Fund for deploying "millions of dollars in this race on deceptive ads to secure what he wanted—a Senate minority that he can control, as opposed to a majority he could not." Trump weeks before the election also ranted that "[t]he Old Broken Crow, Mitchell McConnell, is authorizing $9 Million Dollars to be spent in order to beat a great Republican" rather than target Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in Arizona, though SLF itself only ended up spending $6.1 million in Alaska.

Peltola, meanwhile, began Wednesday with 49% of the vote while two Republican rivals, former reality TV star Sarah Palin and businessman Nick Begich III, clocked in at 26% and 23%; the balance went to Libertarian Chris Bye. While Palin had announced her chief of staff the day after the election, reality made his services unnecessary: Peltola ended up beating Palin by a staggering 55-45 after the instant-runoff process was finished, a big shift from her 51.5-48.5 upset win in their August special election contest. Peltola will be one of five House Democrats in a Trump seat in the 118th Congress, and hers will be the reddest of the bunch.

Dunleavy, finally, claimed an outright win with 50.3%. His two main rivals, former Democratic state Rep. Les Gara and former independent Gov. Bill Walker, took 24% and 21%, respectively, while the remainder went to Republican Charlie Pierce, who was challenging the already staunchly conservative Dunleavy from the right. Gara and Walker both said they'd be ranking the other as their second choice, but we don't know how many of their respective supporters followed their lead.

Seattle, WA Ballot: Seattle has narrowly voted to replace its municipal top-two primaries with a ranked choice system by 2027, though voters will still need to go to the polls in two different elections even after the switch takes place.

Candidates for mayor, city attorney, and the City Council will continue to compete on one nonpartisan primary ballot, but voters will be able to rank their preferred choices instead of selecting just one option. The two contenders who emerge with the most support after the ranked choice tabulations are completed will advance to the general election, where voters would select just one choice. This is different from several other American cities like Minneapolis, Oakland, and San Francisco where all the contenders compete in a single election decided through instant-runoff voting.

It's not clear yet if the new ranked choice system will be in place in time for Seattle's next mayoral race in 2025. A spokesperson for King County's elections department explained that software and ballot updates, as well as tests and voter education, will be needed, saying, "It is possible that we may be able to roll it out before 2027, but until we're able to dive into the details with the city and state, we won't know." Officials also will need to decide how many candidates a voter can rank.

Seattleites earlier this month were presented with a two-part ballot measure called Proposition 1. The first asked voters whether they wanted to replace the top-two primary for city offices, and voters answered in the affirmative by a 51-49 margin. They were then asked if they wanted to adopt ranked choice voting or approval voting if voters on part one favor changing the status quo, and ranked choice won 76-24.

This contest took place because backers of approval voting collected enough signatures for a referendum to bring it to the Emerald City: The approval voting system, which is used in St. Louis, allows voters to cast as many votes as there are candidates, with up to one vote per contender and each vote counting equally. The City Council, though, responded by also placing a ranked choice question on the ballot as a rival option.

The group supporting approval voting enjoyed a huge financial edge thanks to enormous contributions from the Center for Election Science, a pro-approval voting organization funded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, as well as now-former cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried: The dramatic failure of Bankman-Fried's preferred option, though, turned out to be far from the worst news he got in mid-November.

Georgia Runoff

GA-Sen: AdImpact tells Politico that Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and his outside group allies have outspent Republican Herschel Walker’s side by a lopsided $31 million to $12 million from Nov. 9 to Nov. 28 on TV, radio, and digital ads. The GOP has a $7 million to $5 million advantage in ad time for the remaining week of the contest, though this number can change if new spots are purchased.

Warnock’s campaign alone has outpaced Walker $15 million to $5 million through Monday, an important advantage since FCC regulations give candidates—but not outside groups—discounted rates on TV and radio. The senator was able to amass this sort of spending lead because he’s also continued to overwhelm Walker in the fundraising department: Warnock outraised his foe $51 million to $20 million from Oct. 20 to Nov. 16 and concluded that period with a $30 million to $10 million cash-on-hand lead.

Warnock’s supporters at the Senate Majority PAC affiliate Georgia Honor also outspent their GOP counterparts at the Senate Leadership Fund $13 million to $5 million, though SLF is hoping one prominent surrogate will help them overcome that disadvantage. Just before Thanksgiving the group debuted a spot starring Gov. Brian Kemp, who won re-election outright 53-46 on Nov. 8 as Walker lagged Warnock 49.4-48.5: While Kemp didn’t campaign with the Senate nominee during the first round, he now pledges to the audience, “Herschel Walker will vote for Georgia, not be another rubber stamp for Joe Biden.”

Walker also has benefited from a $1.5 million ad buy from the NRA that began shortly ahead of Thanksgiving. The candidate additionally is running his own ad attacking Warnock’s character.

Senate

OH-Sen: Axios published a profile of venture capitalist Mark Kvamme last week where it briefly noted the Republican "also acknowledges that he's had informal talks about running for public office, possibly as a challenger to Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2024."

Senate: The Associated Press' Michelle Price takes a very early look at the 2024 Senate battleground map and gives us some new information in several key races:

NV-Sen: Army veteran Sam Brown, who lost this year's Senate primary 56-34 after running an unexpectedly well-funded campaign against frontrunner Adam Laxalt, is being mentioned as a prospective foe against Democratic incumbent Jacky Rosen. A Brown advisor didn't rule anything out, saying, "He has committed to his supporters that he will never stop fighting for their issues, but he has not made any decisions as to whether that involves a future run for office."

PA-Sen: Neither former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick nor Big Lie spreader Kathy Barnette, who both lost this year's Senate primary to Mehmet Oz, would respond to Price's inquiries about a campaign against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. An unnamed person close to McCormick told Politico all the way back in June that he was considering the idea.

UT-Sen: An advisor for Attorney General Sean Reyes said of a possible GOP primary challenge to incumbent Mitt Romney, "He's certainly set up to run, but it does not mean he's considering it." The Deseret News wrote earlier this month that Reyes was "actively pursuing a campaign" against Romney, who has not announced if he'll seek a second term.

WI-Sen: GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher deflected Price's questions about his interest in taking on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, merely saying, "Any talk of the next election, especially since we just had an election, distracts from the serious work we need to do."

Governors

KY-Gov: Republican state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, who just months ago expressed interest in running for governor of Kentucky, has very firmly taken himself out of the running by accepting the post of health commissioner of Tennessee.

LA-Gov: Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser told the Lafayette Daily Advertiser's Greg Hilburn on Sunday that it "will absolutely make a difference in my decision" whether or not his fellow Republican, Sen. John Kennedy, runs in next year's all-party primary. Nungesser, though, seems to think that Kennedy will make his plans known in the next month-and-a-half, because he says his own announcement will come Jan. 10.

Hilburn also relays that another Republican, Rep. Garret Graves, "will also likely wait on Kennedy to make a final decision." However, he notes that Graves may opt to stay put no matter what due to his rising status in the House leadership.

House

NM-02: Outgoing GOP incumbent Yvette Herrell last week filed FEC paperwork for a potential 2024 rematch against Democratic Rep.-elect Gabe Vasquez, who unseated her 50.3-49.7. These super-early filings from defeated candidates, as we recently noted, often have more to do with resolving financial matters from their last campaign than they do about the future, though the Republican hasn't said anything publicly over the last week about her plans.

Herrell may also be hoping for a favorable ruling from the state Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments in January in a case brought by Republicans alleging that the congressional map violates the state constitution as a partisan gerrymander. Herrell lost this month's contest to Vasquez in a constituency that favored Biden 52-46.

VA-04: Democratic Rep. Don McEachin, who has represented Virginia’s 4th Congressional District since 2017, died on Monday night at the age of 61 due to colorectal cancer. We will have a detailed look at his career in the next Digest.

Legislatures

AK State Senate, AK State House: Following Wednesday's tabulation of ranked-choice votes in races where no candidate won a majority on Nov. 8, nine Democrats and eight Republicans in Alaska's state Senate announced the formation of a bipartisan majority coalition, similar to one that held sway in the chamber from 2007 to 2012. The situation in the House, however, remains uncertain.

The alliance ends a decade of Republican control over the Senate, though GOP Sen. Gary Stevens will hold the top role of president, a position he served in during the last bipartisan coalition. That leaves just three far-right Republicans out in the cold; Stevens said they've been "difficult to work with" and specifically cited the fact that they've voted against state budgets their own party had crafted. (Members of the majority are required to vote for the budget, a system known as a "binding caucus" whose enforcement is evidently now being given effect.)

The House has likewise been governed by a shifting consortium of Democrats, independents, and Republicans since 2017, but it's not clear whether such an arrangement will continue. While Republicans lost two seats in the Senate, they retained nominal control of 21 seats in the House—theoretically enough for a bare majority. One of those, however, belongs to House Speaker Louise Stutes, a member of the current coalition, while another is represented by David Eastman, a member of the far-right Oath Keepers who is disliked by many fellow Republicans for his obstructionism.

There are many possible permutations that could result in either side winding up in charge. One big question mark is state Rep. Josiah Patkotak, a conservative independent and coalition member who could potentially join forces with the GOP. Another is the 15th District, where Republican Rep. Tom McKay leads Democrat Denny Wells by just four votes after ranked-choice tabulations; Wells says he will likely seek a recount after results are certified on Tuesday.

Whatever happens, we could be in for a long wait: Following both the 2018 and 2020 elections, alliances in the House weren't finalized until February, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see a similar delay this time.

NH State House: Control of the New Hampshire state House remains up in the air after a wild election night and even wilder post-election period that saw Democrats make big gains and left Republicans with just a 201-198 advantage—plus one tied race that could get resolved in a special election.

Even though the GOP will hold a bare majority no matter what happens, that may not be enough to elect a Republican speaker when the chamber—the largest state legislative body in the nation—is sworn in on Dec. 7. Absences are frequent in this part-time legislature, where lawmakers are paid just $100 a year and receive no per diem. Given that reality, a different majority could show up every time the House convenes, a truly chaotic situation that could result in a new speaker every time unless the parties hammer out a power-sharing agreement.

Members will also have to decide what to do in Strafford District 8 (known locally as Rochester Ward 4), which ended in a tie following a recount after election night results put Republican challenger David Walker up just a single vote on Democratic state Rep. Chuck Grassie. The House could simply vote to seat whichever candidate it likes in a raw display of partisan power, or it could order a special election, as was done on at least three prior occasions. In one bizarre case in 1964, however, legislators opted to seat both candidates in a tied race—and gave them half a vote each.

In the event of a special election, though, expect both sides to go all out, especially given the swingy nature of this district, which would've voted 51-47 for Joe Biden. And expect more specials in the near future either way, as resignations are also a regular occurrence in the New Hampshire House.

VA State House, Where Are They Now?: Former Rep. Tom Garrett, a Republican who dropped out of his 2018 bid for a second term in bizarre fashion after winning renomination, has announced that he'll run in next year's race for a safely red open seat in the state House. Garrett, who previously served in the state Senate, kicked off his campaign at the Virginia Civil Rights Monument on the state Capitol grounds in Richmond rather than in the rural 56th District to what the Richmond Times-Dispatch's Charlotte Rene Woods calls a "crowd of five."

Garrett said he was choosing that monument both because he admires Barbara Johns, one of the Civil Rights heroes depicted, and because this was the very place he ended his 2018 re-election campaign. The Republican back then disclosed he was leaving Congress to focus on his fight with alcoholism, and he now says, "I haven't had to drink in four-and-a-half years. As soon as I start declaring victory over anything, it will come back and tap me on the shoulder."

Garrett, though, doesn't appear to have mentioned how the House Ethics Committee issued a lengthy report on his final day in office determining that he'd violated House rules by directing his staff to run personal errands for him. Staffers also told the committee that the congressman's wife "would berate staff, often using profanity and other harsh language, for failing to prioritize her needs over their regular official duties." The report additionally accused the Garretts of deliberately dragging their feet during the investigation so that they could run out the clock and avoid censure before the congressman's term expired.

Mayors and County Leaders

Allegheny County, PA Executive: Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb announced Monday that he would compete in what could be a busy May 2023 Democratic primary to succeed incumbent Rich Fitzgerald, who cannot seek a fourth term as head of this populous and reliably blue county. Lamb, who is the uncle of outgoing Rep. Conor Lamb, carried Allegheny County 77-12 in his 2020 primary for state auditor general even as he was losing statewide 36-27 to Nina Ahmad. (Ahmad in turn lost to Republican Timothy DeFoor.)

WESA reporter Chris Potter describes the city comptroller as "the rare politician who travels easily in Democratic Party circles while also having been an outspoken government reformer," noting that, while he's "not necessarily a political firebrand," Lamb "seems likely to incorporate some progressive concerns with county government, especially on matters of criminal justice." Lamb previously won renomination in 2015 by beating back a Fitzgerald-endorsed foe, and Potter says the two have a "wary relationship."

Lamb's only announced intra-party opponent is Erin McClelland, who came nowhere close to unseating GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus in her 2014 and 2016 campaigns for the old and dark red 12th Congressional District. McClelland, who has worked as a project manager for the county's social-services department, kicked off her bid in August by saying she expected to face both the "old-boys network" and opponents who "dive into performative propaganda on a social media post."

Potter also relays that observers anticipate that former County Councilor David Fawcett and state Rep. Sara Innamorato will compete in the Democratic primary. Fawcett, whom Potter calls a "celebrated attorney," served on the Council as a Republican from 2000 to 2007 before waging an aborted 2016 bid for the Democratic nomination for attorney general.

Innamorato, for her part, rose to prominence in 2018 when the Democratic Socialists of America member defeated incumbent Dom Costa for renomination; that victory came the same night that her ally Summer Lee, who was also backed by DSA, scored an upset of her own against another Costa brother, state Rep. Paul Costa. Innamorato went on to support now-Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and Lee in her own successful 2022 campaign for the new 12th District.

We unsurprisingly haven't seen any notable Republicans mentioned for the race to lead a county that Biden took 59-39 and where Team Blue did even better in this year's Senate and governor races. Republican James Roddey actually did win the 1999 contest for what was a newly created office, but he badly lost re-election four years later to Democrat Dan Onorato. The GOP hasn't come anywhere close to retaking the post since then, and Fitzgerald won his final term in 2019 in a 68-32 landslide.  

Philadelphia, PA Mayor: Former Municipal Court Judge Jimmy DeLeon, who recently retired after 34 years on the bench, announced shortly before Thanksgiving that he was joining the May 2023 Democratic primary, promising to be a "no-shenanigans-let's-follow-the-law-there-will-be-order-in-the-courtroom" mayor. Billy Penn says that there was little chatter about DeLeon running until he jumped in last week.  

DeLeon, who unsuccessfully ran for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and state Superior Court during the 2000s, was sanctioned by the Court of Judicial Discipline in 2008 for issuing "a bogus 'stay away order' on behalf of a social acquaintance." DeLeon says of that incident, "I made a mistake, and I was given a second chance … That's why I believe in second chances."

Morning Digest: Liz Cheney goes down in defeat, but Sarah Palin’s comeback campaign is unresolved

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.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

WY-AL, AK-AL: Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney lost Tuesday’s Republican primary 66-29 to Trump-backed attorney Harriet Hageman, but we’re going to need to wait another two weeks to learn who prevailed in Alaska’s instant-runoff special election to succeed the late Republican Rep. Don Young.

With 150,000 ballots tabulated early Wednesday, which the Associated Press estimates represents 69% of the total vote, former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola leads with 38% as two Republicans, former reality TV show star Sarah Palin and businessman Nick Begich III, grab 32% and 29%, respectively; the balance is made up of write-in votes.

The Last Frontier allows mail-in ballots postmarked by election day to be counted if they're received through the end of the month, so these margins may shift: State election officials say they plan to have updated results on Aug. 23 and Aug. 26, with final numbers on Aug. 31. After all the votes are tabulated, officials will conduct an instant runoff to reallocate the third-place finisher's votes to the two remaining candidates.

No matter what, though, Peltola, Palin, and Begich will all be on the ballot again in the November instant-runoff election for a full two-year term along with one other competitor. (This special election only had three candidates because independent Al Gross dropped out shortly after taking third in the June special top-four primary.)

Tuesday was also the day that Alaska held its top-four primaries for statewide and legislative offices, and the results of the House race so far closely resemble the special tallies: Peltola is in first with 35%, Palin second with 31%, and Begich third at 27%. Another Republican, former state Interior Department official Tara Sweeney, leads Libertarian Chris Bye 4-1 for fourth, but the AP has not called the final spot in the general.

While it will take some time to know the winner in Alaska, though, there was no suspense about what would happen with Cheney in dark-red Wyoming. The congresswoman just two years ago was the third-ranking member of the House GOP leadership and a strong contender to become the first Republican woman to serve as speaker, but she instantly became a national party pariah when she voted to impeach Trump; Cheney went on to serve on the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack along with just one other Republican, Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

Trump and his allies made defeating Cheney a top priority, and his “Bachelor” style endorsement process eventually resulted in him supporting Hageman, who had placed third in the 2018 primary for governor. (Politico relays that Trump’s team originally considered backing her in a prospective rematch against Gov. Mark Gordon.) House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Club for Growth went on to fall in line behind Hageman, a one-time Trump skeptic who now embraces the Big Lie.

Cheney’s defeat makes her the eighth House Republican to lose renomination this year compared to four Democrats so far. The Wyoming result also means that at least eight of the 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment will not be going back to Congress next year because of primary losses and retirements: Only California Rep. David Valadao and Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse advanced through their respective top-two primaries, though Valadao still has to win his competitive general election against Democrat Rudy Salas.

But Cheney didn’t show any regret about what happened to her once promising career in Republican politics. She proclaimed in her concession speech that “now, the real work begins” and pledged she “will do whatever it takes to ensure Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office.”

election recaps

 AK-Sen: Sen. Lisa Murkowski and her fellow Republican, former state cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka, advanced through the top-four primary as expected, though the AP has not yet called the other two spots for the November instant-runoff general election. Murkowski holds a 44-40 edge over her Trump-backed foe as of Wednesday morning, while Democrat ​​Pat Chesbro, who is a member of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Planning Commission, is well behind with 6%. A pair of little-known Republicans, Buzz Kelley and Pat Nolin, are taking 2% and 1%, respectively.

 AK-Gov: Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy will face former Democratic state Rep. Les Gara and independent former Gov. Bill Walker in the fall, but it remains to be seen who will be the fourth general election candidate. Dunleavy is in first with 42%, while Gara and Walker are grabbing 22% each. Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce holds a 7-4 edge for fourth over state Rep. Christopher Kurka in a race where both Republicans are each positioning themselves to the right of the ardently conservative governor.

 WY-Gov: Gov. Mark Gordon didn’t come close to losing his Republican primary, but he still scored an unimpressive 62-30 victory over Brent Bien, a retired Marine colonel who campaigned against the incumbent’s pandemic health measures. Gordon should have no trouble in the fall against the Democratic nominee, retired U.S. Bureau of Land Management employee Theresa Livingston.

 WY-SoS: State Rep. Chuck Gray, a Trump-endorsed election conspiracy theorist who has insisted the 2020 vote was “clearly rigged,” beat state Sen. Tara Nethercott 50-41 in the Republican primary to serve as secretary of state. Wyoming Democrats did not field a candidate here.

Senate

FL-Sen: The University of North Florida’s newest survey finds Democratic Rep. Val Demings leading Republican Sen. Marco Rubio 48-44, which is actually better for Team Blue than the tie that two different pro-Demings polls recently showed. This is the first independent survey we’ve seen since winter, and quite a departure from the 46-34 Rubio advantage UNF had in February. The New York Times’ Nate Cohn notes that the school obtained its sample by emailing a list of registered voters, which he calls a “​​pretty unusual design.”

NH-Sen, NH-01, NH-02: Saint Anselm College gives us a rare look at the Sept. 13 Republican primary to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, which is the last competitive Senate primary in the nation, as well as Team Red's nomination contests for New Hampshire's two Democratic-held congressional districts. Before we get into the results, though, we need to note that the school asked several issue questions about abortion before it got to the horserace: We always encourage pollsters to ask these sorts of questions after the horserace to avoid "priming" voters to lean one way or the other.

We'll begin with the Senate question, where Donald Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general who lost the 2020 nomination for New Hampshire's other Senate seat, posts a 32-16 advantage against state Senate President Chuck Morse. Bitcoin millionaire Bruce Fenton and former Londonderry town manager Kevin Smith are far back with just 4% each, while author Vikram Mansharamani notches 2%; a 39% plurality remains undecided with less than a month to go.

This is the first poll we've seen here since April, when the University of New Hampshire had Bolduc beating Smith 33-4. Prominent national groups haven't taken sides here, but Bolduc so far has not run a particularly impressive campaign two years after his 50-42 loss. The frontrunner had a mere $70,000 in the bank at the end of June, and he spent last year accusing Gov. GOP Chris Sununu of being a "Chinese communist sympathizer" with a family business that "supports terrorism."

Bolduc also has ardently embraced the Big Lie, saying at a recent debate, "I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying Trump won the election, and damn it, I stand by [it]." He has plenty of company, though, as Morse is the one GOP candidate who acknowledged that Joe Biden is the president when asked Tuesday if the 2020 election was stolen. Bolduc would also prefer this be the last New Hampshire Senate election in history: Both he and Fenton have called for repealing the 17th Amendment, which gave voters the right to elect their senators in 1913.

Bolduc's many rivals, though, have considerably more resources available as they try to get their names out in the final weeks of the campaign. Fenton finished the second quarter with a $1.63 million war chest, though almost all of that was self-funded. Morse and Mansharamani had $980,000 and $790,000, respectively, with Smith holding $350,000.

Turning to the 1st District, Saint Anselm College shows 2020 nominee Matt Mowers edging out former White House staffer Karoline Leavitt 25-21 in his bid for a rematch against Democratic incumbent Chris Pappas. Former TV reporter Gail Huff Brown and state Rep. Tim Baxter are well behind with 9% and 8%, respectively, with former Executive Councilor Russell Prescott clocking in at 2%. The lead still goes to unsure, though, as 33% did not select a candidate.

Mowers has the backing of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and he finished June with a modest $820,000 to $670,000 cash-on-hand edge over Leavitt. Biden carried both the old and new version of this eastern New Hampshire constituency 52-46 (the court-drawn congressional map made only tiny changes to both of the state's districts after Sununu thwarted efforts by his fellow Republicans in the legislature to make the 1st considerably redder), while Pappas defeated Mowers 51-46 last time.

Finally in the 2nd District, the school finds a hefty 65% undecided in the GOP primary to go up against Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster. Former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns leads Keene Mayor George Hansel just 12-10 while another 8% goes to Lily Tang Williams, who was the 2016 Libertarian Party nominee for Senate in Colorado. (She earned 4% against Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet.)

Hansel has the backing of Sununu, and he ended the last quarter with a $300,000 to $130,000 cash-on-hand edge over Williams, with Burns holding $100,000. Biden would have prevailed 54-45 here.

Governors

FL-Gov: The University of North Florida finds Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried beating Rep. Charlie Crist 47-43 in next week's Democratic primary, which makes this the first poll to give her the edge all year. Crist quickly responded by releasing a Change Research survey that gave him a 47-37 advantage, which is only a little larger than the 42-35 Crist lead that Fried's own internal from Public Policy Polling showed just last week. An early August St. Pete Polls survey for Florida Politics had Crist up 56-24.

UNF also takes a look at the general election and has Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis outpacing Crist and Fried 52-40 and 50-43, respectively.

NH-Gov: Saint Anselm College also surveyed the general election for governor, and it finds Republican incumbent Chris Sununu beating Democratic state Sen. Tom Sherman 48-29. An early July Sherman internal from Public Policy Polling put the governor's lead at a smaller, though still wide, 43-33. The school looks at the Sept. 13 GOP primary as well, but it shows Sununu with a huge 68-6 lead over perennial candidate Karen Testerman.

House

NY-10: Rep. Mondaire Jones has launched the first negative TV spot of next week's Democratic primary against attorney Dan Goldman, a self-funder who is the only other candidate with the resources to air television ads; Jones' team tells Politico that he's putting $500,000 into this late effort.

The commercial frames the crowded contest as a straight-up choice between "conservative Dan Goldman" or "progressive Mondaire Jones." The narrator goes on to contrast the two, saying, "Dan Goldman has dangerous views on abortion; Mondaire Jones is 100% pro-choice, the best record in Congress." She goes on to argue that Goldman "profited off gun manufacturers" and "made money off FOX News," while the 17th District congressman stood up to the NRA and Republicans.

The spot doesn't go into detail about its charges against Goldman, but Politico provides some background. The candidate last month sat down for an interview with Hamodia's Reuvain Borchardt and was asked, "Should there be any limitation whatsoever on the right to terminate a pregnancy at any point in the pregnancy?" Goldman responded, "I do think, generally speaking, I agree with the break-point of viability, subject to exceptions."

Goldman later said he "would not object" when Borchardt inquired if he'd be alright with a state law that would ban abortion if "there is a perfectly healthy fetus, and the mother just decides after viability that she wants to terminate the pregnancy." However, the candidate then had a conversation with an aide who was also present at the interview, and Borchardt writes that "from that point forward Goldman's responses switched from a post-viability limitation to no limitations at all."

Jones and Goldman's other rivals were quick to go on the attack after the article was published, while Goldman himself insisted he'd "misspoke" and "unequivocally support[s] a woman's right to choose."

As for this ad's charges that Goldman "profited off gun manufacturers" and "made money off FOX News," the New York Daily News recently explained that he has stock in, among many other companies, Lockheed Martin, Halliburton, and News Corp. A spokesperson said, "Dan does not manage his money … It is handled by a broker, and is designed to mirror the S&P 500."

NY-19 (special): DCCC Analytics has dropped an internal showing Republican Marc Molinaro edging out Democrat Pat Ryan 46-43 in next week's special election. The last poll we saw was a late July Triton Polling & Research survey for Molinaro's allies at the right-wing Freedom Council USA, and it gave their man a larger 50-40 advantage.

PA-08: Democratic incumbent Matt Cartwright is out with an internal from GQR Research that shows him defeating Republican Jim Bognet 52-46 in their rematch for a northeastern Pennsylvania constituency that would have supported Trump 51-48. The only other poll we've seen here was a late June survey for Bognet and the NRCC that put the Republican ahead 46-45.

Cartwright held off Bognet 52-48 last cycle as Trump was prevailing in the old 8th District 52-47, a win that made him one of just seven House Democrats to hold a Trump district. The congressman has taken to the airwaves early for 2022, and Politico's Ally Mutnick relays that he's already spent $415,000 on TV for the general election. Bognet, by contrast, on Tuesday began running his first spot since he won the May primary, a joint ad with the NRCC that ties Cartwright to Scranton native Joe Biden.

Secretaries of State

MA-SoS: MassInc has surveyed the Sept. 6 Democratic statewide primaries for Responsible Development Coalition, and it finds longtime Secretary of State Bill Galvin leading Boston NAACP head Tanisha Sullivan 43-15, which is larger than the 38-25 advantage he posted in a late June poll from YouGov for UMass Amherst. Responsible Development Coalition is funded in part by the Carpenters Union, which backs Galvin.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: The FBI on Tuesday arrested former Rep. TJ Cox, a California Democrat who won his sole term in a huge 2018 upset, for "15 counts of wire fraud, 11 counts of money laundering, one count of financial institution fraud, and one count of campaign contribution fraud." Politico says that these charges carry a combined 20-year maximum prison sentence and $250,000 fine.

Prosecutors allege that from 2013 through 2018 Cox "​​illicitly obtained over $1.7 million in diverted client payments and company loans and investments he solicited and then stole." They also say that he broke campaign finance laws by funneling money to friends and family and having them contribute it to his campaign as "part of a scheme and plan to demonstrate individual campaign donations as preferred over the candidate's personal loans or donations to his campaign."

Cox narrowly unseated Republican Rep. David Valadao in 2018 in the 21st Congressional District in the Central Valley, but he lost their tight rematch two years later. Cox initially announced in December of 2020 that he'd run again, but, in a development that now comes as a massive relief for his party, he ultimately decided not to go for it.

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Morning Digest: Landslide wins close out Hawaii’s biggest weekend primaries

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

Hawaii: The Aloha State held its primary Saturday, and we have a summary of each of the big contests below.

 HI-Gov: Lt. Gov. Josh Green defeated businesswoman Vicky Cayetano 63-21 in the primary to succeed their fellow Democrat, termed-out Gov. David Ige, while freshman Rep. Kai Kahele notched third with 15%. Green, who continued to work as a physician after going into politics, had a large media presence throughout the worst months of the pandemic, and he was the frontrunner from the start.

Green remains the favorite in November against former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, a two-time Republican nominee who scored a 50-26 victory over Ultimate Fighting Championship champion B.J. Penn. Aiona was defeated by former Rep. Neil Abercrombie 58-41 in the 2010 general election, and Aiona lost his chance for a rematch four years later when Ige beat the unpopular Abercrombie in the primary. Both parties believed that Aiona still had a real shot with another GOP wave looming and with conservative Democrat-turned-independent Mufi Hannemann threatening to siphon off votes from the Democratic ticket, but Ige turned back Aiona 49-37.

Joe Biden carried Hawaii 64-34 (he took each of the state’s two congressional districts by that same margin), and national Republicans haven’t shown any obvious sign of interest in targeting this seat again. Indeed, the RGA didn’t even respond for a Washington Post article that ran just before the primary.

 HI-01: Blue Dog Democrat Rep. Ed Case held off attorney Sergio Alcubilla by a lopsided 83-17 margin in this Honolulu-based seat. Alcubilla, who ran to Case’s left, had the backing of a few big unions, but he raised little himself and never attracted any serious outside spending.

 HI-02: Former state Sen. Jill Tokuda beat state Rep. Patrick Branco 58-25 in the Democratic primary to replace Kai Kahele in a constituency that includes northern Oahu and all of the state’s other islands.

Tokuda, who lost a tight 2018 primary to lieutenant governor to Josh Green, entered the race as the frontrunner, but a quartet of major outside groups—VoteVets, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Web3 Forward, and Mainstream Democrats PAC— spent a total of $1.2 million to elevate Branco or attack her. While this ad barrage represented a truly massive amount for a Hawaii congressional race, it turned out to be far from enough to stop Tokuda.

Senate

FL-Sen: Democratic Rep. Val Demings' allies at EMILY's List have publicized a poll from Change Research that shows her deadlocked 46-46 against Republican incumbent Marco Rubio, a release that came days after two progressive groups unveiled their own survey from Clarity Campaigns that found a 45-45 tie. We have not seen any independent polls of this contest since winter.  

 NC-Sen: NBC reports that Republican Ted Budd and the NRSC will launch a joint ad campaign for $750,000, which will make this Budd's first TV commercial since he won the primary all the way back in May. Democrat Cheri Beasley, by contrast, has deployed $4.7 million since she won the nomination, though the NRSC has spent $6.3 million against her.

House

AK-AL: Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson, a Republican whose city is home to about 40% of the state's population, has endorsed businessman Nick Begich III ahead of Tuesday's instant-runoff special.

Meanwhile another Republican, former state Interior Department official Tara Sweeney, announced Friday that she'd registered with the state as an official write-in candidate for the special "after repeated requests from supporters," though she said her main focus would be to advance out of the top-four primary for a full two-year term.

FL-01: Self-funding businessman Mark Lombardo's latest commercial against Republican incumbent Matt Gaetz opens with the primary challenger declaring, "As a member of Congress, Matt Gaetz took an oath to protect America's secrets. He broke that oath when he engaged in illicit behavior on foreign soil, leaving himself vulnerable to blackmail and putting our nation's secrets at risk." Lombardo doesn't let up as the ad goes on, continuing, "To cover up, he paid pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's attorney with donors' cash and pressured Trump for a pardon for any or all crimes."

FL-13: While 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna has always looked like the frontrunner to claim the Republican nomination again on Aug. 23 in this newly gerrymandered seat, attorney Kevin Hayslett's outside group allies are deploying a serious amount to stop her. Florida Politics reports that Stand for Florida, a PAC that was set up in February, has spent $860,000 in recent days, which takes its total investment here all the way up to $1.5 million.

Luna, though, has gotten plenty of outside help herself, as the Club for Growth has dropped over $1.8 million to promote her. Conservative Outsider PAC, which is funded in part by Club donor Dick Uihlein, is also using about $110,000 for a commercial that responds to a recent Hayslett commercial that featured a clip of Luna appearing to praise Obama. The audience sees Luna warning that undocumented immigrants will cost conservatives "this country," before the narrator notes that she's Trump's endorsed candidate.

The only recent poll we've seen here was a late July Hayslett internal that showed him trailing Luna 36-34 for this constituency in the St. Petersburg area.

FL-23: Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz has earned endorsements from the National Education Association, the Florida Education Association, and the American Federation of Teachers ahead of this month's Democratic primary.  

NY-01: While Nick LaLota once appeared to have a smooth path through the Aug. 23 GOP primary for this competitive open seat, the chief of staff of the Suffolk County Legislature went up with a commercial against his main intra-party rival, cryptocurrency trader Michelle Bond, earlier this month.

The narrator insists that Bond is a "liberal D.C. lobbyist" with a history of "working for Obama and Biden as a registered Democrat." The spot also declares that Bond "bankrolled a Trump-hating senator [and] lives in a mansion in the Swamp." (That last bit is a reference to Bond's newly purchased estate in Maryland, which she said is one of the "multiple residences" she has.) The rest of the ad promotes LaLota as a loyal Long Island conservative and "Trump conservative."

Bond is airing her own ads (here and here) that tout her as a conservative businesswoman, though they do not mention LaLota. Bond has used her personal wealth to decisively outpace LaLota in the money race, and the outside spending has also very much benefited her. Stand for New York, a group that hasn't gotten involved in any other races, has dropped $580,000 to attack LaLota. Another committee called Crypto Innovation PAC has also spent another $160,000 to promote Bond: The group is funded by crypto notable Ryan Salame, who just happens to be her boyfriend. (Salame has also bankrolled American Dream Federal Action, another super PAC that's gotten involved in other GOP primaries.)

LaLota has not received any super PAC aid, though he does sport endorsements from the local Republican and Conservative parties. The contest to succeed GOP gubernatorial nominee Lee Zeldin also includes government relations firm executive Anthony Figliola, though he's attracted little money or attention. The winner will go up against Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, who has no Democratic primary opposition, in an eastern Long Island constituency that Biden would have carried by a tiny 49.4-49.2.

NY-10: Attorney Dan Goldman on Saturday earned the backing of the New York Times, which is arguably one of the few newspaper endorsements still capable of moving voters in a local Democratic primary, ahead of the packed Aug. 23 contest for this safely blue seat based in Lower Manhattan and northwestern Brooklyn. The Times’ nod was especially coveted here: City & State wrote earlier this month, “One campaign said they’ve probably had 20 supporters email or call members of the board to make their case,” while an unnamed operative added, “Everybody lobbies … The question is to what degree.”

Those candidates may have had good reason to lobby. City & State notes that the NYT’s endorsement last year provided a huge lift to then-Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia in the primary for mayor of New York City and helped establish her as a frontrunner. Garcia still narrowly lost the instant-runoff contest to Eric Adams, but she performed well in areas that overlap with the 10th District as well as the 12th, which is home to another big Democratic primary.

Politico's Joe Anuta also reports that Goldman has so far spent $2.8 million on TV ads, which is a truly massive sum for a campaign taking place in America's priciest media market. Goldman, though, is an heir to the Levi Strauss & Co. fortune, and he has plenty of personal wealth and connections: The candidate, who would be one of the wealthiest members of Congress, has self-funded $4 million so far and raised another $1.5 million from donors through Aug. 3.  

Anuta relays that only one Goldman opponent, 17th District Rep. Mondaire Jones, has joined him on television, and he's deployed a considerably smaller $784,000. The other contenders have stayed off the airwaves, which is a common strategy for candidates running in the massive New York City media market. (Over 20 million people live in this market, and relatively few can vote in the 10th District's primary.)

"You're wasting your spending on 90% of the people who see your ad," explained Matthew Rey, a strategist who isn't involved in this race. He added, "So is it a powerful way to persuasively and effectively reach that other 10%? Yes. But dollar-for-dollar, it's a luxury." Another unaligned consultant, Basil Smikle Jr., was even more skeptical, saying, "In a congressional race where you are expecting turnout to be low, there are much more efficient ways to spend your money than doing a large broadcast buy in the last couple of weeks."

Goldman, though, is betting that voters will indeed react well to his TV spots, including a new piece touting his work in civil rights law and "leading the impeachment of Donald Trump." The commercial also displays Trump's message on his Truth Social platform (which, yes, still exists) reading, "Dan Goldman puts in his ad used in running for Congress that he 'impeached Donald Trump'" to argue, "Donald Trump doesn't want Dan Goldman in Congress, but we do."

 NY-12: The New York Times on Saturday endorsed incumbent Jerry Nadler in his Democratic primary against fellow Rep. Carolyn Maloney and attorney Suraj Patel. 

NY-17: The New York City Police Benevolent Association, which endorsed Trump in 2020, has spent $310,000 to oppose state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi in her Democratic primary against Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. The spot labels Biaggi an “anti-police extremist,” which is the type of rhetoric Republicans usually love to throw at Democrats in general elections.

 NY-19 (special): VoteVets has launched what Politico reports is a $450,000 ad buy to aid Democrat Pat Ryan, which makes this Team Blue's first major independent expenditure ahead of an Aug. 23 special election. The narrator echoes Ryan in framing the contest as a choice between a pro-choice candidate and "a Congress that'll pass a nationwide ban on abortion first chance they get." She adds that Ryan, who served with the Army in Iraq "sure didn't fight for our freedom abroad to see it taken away from women here at home."

The NRCC, for its part, is continuing to try to frame Ryan as weak on public safety in its new spot.

 OH-09: Democratic incumbent Marcy Kaptur's latest commercial argues that, while she's fighting to lower drug prices, Republican J.R. Majewski "made a rap video." Yes, you read that right: The QAnon-aligned candidate did indeed star in a piece called "Let's Go Brandon Save America," and Kaptur's spot treats viewers to a mercifully small piece of it. "Not to poke fun at dementia, it's a serious disease," raps Majewski, "But come on, man, squeeze your cheeks when you sneeze." Kaptur's narrator concludes, "We don't need celebrity wannabes, we need serious leaders tackling serious challenges."

 OK-02: The newest commercial in what's turned into a very expensive Aug. 23 Republican runoff is a spot from the Club for Growth affiliate School Freedom Fund starring Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who extols former state Sen. Josh Brecheen as an ardent "Trump conservative."

This group has deployed $1.8 million during the second round to promote Brecheen, who is a former Club fellow, or rip his opponent, state Rep. Avery Fix, in the contest for this safely red eastern Oklahoma constituency. Two other organizations, Fund for a Working Congress and American Jobs and Growth PAC, have dropped a similar amount to help Frix, who outpaced Brecheen just 15-14 in late June.

Other Races

 GA Public Service Commission: On Friday, an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel stayed a recent lower court ruling that had blocked Georgia from holding elections this fall for two seats on its Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, on the grounds that the statewide election method violated the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against Black voters. The district court ruling had postponed the elections until Georgia lawmakers adopted a district-based election method next year, but the appellate judges ruled that it was too close to November to implement any election changes to ongoing 2022 elections and stayed the lower court's decision while Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's appeal is pending.

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