Morning Digest: Shock Democratic win in New York special is latest data point suggesting no red wave

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.

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Leading Off

NY-19 (special): Democrat Pat Ryan scored a huge special election upset for his party by defeating Republican Marc Molinaro 52-48 in New York’s 19th District, a swing seat in the Hudson Valley that Molinaro appeared poised to flip until polls closed on Tuesday. The win for Ryan, an Army veteran who serves as Ulster County executive and made abortion rights the centerpiece of his campaign, is the latest―and most dramatic― sign that the political landscape has shifted since the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade at the end of June.

Joe Biden carried this constituency 50-48 (the special was fought under the old congressional map), but until results started rolling in, both parties had behaved as though Molinaro was the strong favorite. Molinaro, who leads Dutchess County, defeated then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo by a wide 53-42 in the 19th in 2018 even as Cuomo was prevailing statewide in a 60-36 landslide. That strong local performance motivated national Republicans to try to recruit Molinaro to take on Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado in 2020, and while he declined that cycle, he eventually bit on a campaign last year.

But that anticipated Delgado-Molinaro bout was averted in the spring when the congressman resigned after Gov. Kathy Hochul appointed him as lieutenant governor―a career switch Republicans argued was motivated by Delgado’s wariness about his re-election prospects. The unexpected special election seemed to be good news indeed for Molinaro, who began with a months-long head start over his eventual Democratic rival at a time when a GOP wave looked imminent.

Ryan, who had lost the 2018 primary to Delgado, quickly closed much of the financial gap he faced by the end of June, but he still looked like the decided underdog. Even a late June internal poll for Ryan taken days after Roe was repealed showed him down 43-40. However, the same survey found that the Democrat could turn things around by hammering home Molinaro’s opposition to abortion rights. Ryan did just that in ad after ad, while Molinaro and the GOP continued to emphasize inflation and crime while ignoring reproductive rights.

Still, Democrats remained pessimistic about Ryan’s chances. While the NRCC and the Congressional Leadership Fund spent a combined $1.8 million here, the DCCC limited its involvement to running some joint buys with their nominee. (We won’t know how much the committee spent until new fundraising reports are out in late September.) The progressive veterans group VoteVets, however, dropped $500,000 to help Ryan with an ad campaign declaring that the candidate, who served in Iraq, "sure didn't fight for our freedom abroad to see it taken away from women here at home.”

But it still didn’t seem to be enough: An early August DCCC poll found Molinaro leading 46-43—that same stubborn 3-point margin—while the Democratic firm Data for Progress released its own poll on Election Day giving him an even larger 53-45 edge. Tuesday’s upset, though, validated Ryan’s tight focus on abortion rights―a strategy fellow Democrats have deployed in other races across the country.

Both Ryan and Molinaro will be on the ballot again in November under the new court-drawn congressional map, but they won’t be facing each other this time. The new congressman is Team Blue’s nominee for the redrawn 18th District in the Lower Hudson Valley, turf that, at 53-45 Biden, is several points to the left of the constituency he just won. Ryan, who will represent just under 30% of the new district, will go up against Republican Assemblyman Colin Schmitt this time.

Molinaro himself will be competing in the new 19th District, a seat in the southeastern part of upstate New York that also would have gone for Biden by a larger spread, in this case 51-47. About 42% of the new 19th’s residents live in the district Molinaro just lost, but importantly, none of his home county of Dutchess is contained in the district. Molinaro’s opponent will be attorney Josh Riley, who claimed Team Blue’s nomination on Tuesday and will have the chance to deal the county executive his second straight defeat of the year in just a few months. 

election recaps

 Election Night: Below is a state-by-state look at where Tuesday’s other major contests stood as of early Wednesday, and you can also find our cheat-sheet here. Note that New York allows absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted if they’re received through Aug. 30, so some of the margins in the Empire State may change.

 FL-Gov (D): Rep. Charlie Crist defeated state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried 60-35 in the Democratic primary to take on GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis. Crist, who was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican and narrowly lost the 2014 general election to reclaim his prior post following his party switch, will be in for a tough fight against DeSantis, who begins the general election with a massive $132 million war chest.

 FL-01 (R): Rep. Matt Gaetz prevailed 70-24 against Mark Lombardo, a self-funder who ran ads reminding viewers that the incumbent remains under federal investigation for sex trafficking of a minor and other alleged offenses. Gaetz will likely be secure in November no matter what happens next in a Pensacola area constituency that Trump would have taken 65-33.

 FL-04 (R & D): State Senate President Pro Tempore Aaron Bean defeated Navy veteran Erick Aguilar 68-26 in the GOP primary for an open Jacksonville area seat that Trump would have carried 53-46.

On the Democratic side, businesswoman LaShonda Holloway leads former state Sen. Tony Hill 50.2-49.8 with 58,000 votes counted, which the AP, which has not yet called the race, estimates is 99% of the total. Both of Team Blue’s candidates have struggled to bring in cash here, and neither national party has shown an obvious interest in it.  

 FL-07 (R): Army veteran Cory Mills beat state Rep. Anthony Sabatini 34-21 in the GOP primary to succeed Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat who decided to retire just before the GOP transfigured her suburban Orlando district from a 55-44 Biden seat to one Trump would have carried 52-47.

Mills notably ran commercials where he bragged that his company’s tear gas was used on what the on-screen text labeled as "Hillary Clinton protesters," "left wing protesters," "antifa rioters," "Black Lives Matter protesters," and "radical left protesters." The Republican nominee will face Karen Green, a state Democratic official who hasn’t raised much money so far.  

 FL-10 (D): Gun safety activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost won the 10-way primary to replace Democratic Senate nominee Val Demings by defeating state Sen. Randolph Bracy 35-25; two former House members, Alan Grayson and Corrine Brown, took 15% and 9%, respectively. Biden would have won this Orlando-based seat 65-33.

Frost, who is 25, will almost certainly be the youngest member of Congress come January. His primary win also represents a victory for the crypto-aligned Protect Our Future PAC, which spent about $1 million to aid him.

 FL-11 (R): Rep. Dan Webster held off far-right troll Laura Loomer only 51-44 in one of the biggest surprises of the night.

Loomer, a self-described "proud Islamophobe" who is banned on numerous social media, rideshare, and payment services, characteristically reacted to her near-miss by refusing to concede and spreading conspiracy theories about the primary. Trump would have carried this constituency in the western Orlando suburbs, which includes the gargantuan retirement community of The Villages, 55-44.

 FL-13 (R): 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna, who has the backing of Donald Trump and the Club for Growth, earned the GOP nod again by beating attorney Kevin Hayslett 44-34 after an expensive and nasty contest. The Democratic pick to succeed Rep. Charlie Crist is former Department of Defense official Eric Lynn, who is defending a St. Petersburg-based district that the Republicans transformed from a 52-47 Biden seat to one Trump would have taken 53-46.

 FL-14 (R): Public relations firm owner James Judge trounced self-funding businessman Jerry Torres 53-30 just days after a court rejected a lawsuit that tried to keep Torres off the ballot. Judge will be the underdog against Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor in this 59-40 Biden seat in Tampa and St. Petersburg.

 FL-15 (R & D): Former Secretary of State Laurel Lee outpaced state Sen. Kelli Stargel 41-28 in the Republican primary for a new district in the Tampa suburbs that was created because Florida won a new seat in reapportionment. This constituency would have backed Trump 51-48.

The Democratic nominee will be former local TV anchor Alan Cohn, who routed political consultant Gavin Brown 33-22. Cohn lost the 2020 contest for the previous version of the 15th to Republican Scott Franklin 55-45 as Trump was taking that seat by a similar 54-45 margin; Franklin is now seeking the new 18th.

 FL-20 (D): Freshman Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick decisively won her rematch with former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, whom she defeated by all of five votes in last year's crowded special election, 66-29. This constituency, which is located in the inland Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach areas, is safely blue at 76-23 Biden.

 FL-23 (D): Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz turned back Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Ben Sorensen 61-21. Moskowitz should have no trouble succeeding retiring Rep. Ted Deutch in a Fort Lauderdale-based seat that Biden would have carried 56-43.

 FL-27 (D): State Sen. Annette Taddeo, who had the support of the DCCC and other national Democrats, beat Miami Commissioner Ken Russell 68-26 for the nod to take on freshman Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar. The GOP sought to protect the new incumbent by shifting her Miami-area seat to the right: While Biden carried the old 27th 51-48, Trump would have taken the new version 50-49.

 OK-Sen-B (R): Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who had Donald Trump’s endorsement for the runoff, bested former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon in a 65-35 runoff landslide.

Mullin will be the frontrunner against former Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn in the general election to succeed Sen. Jim Inhofe, whose resignation takes effect at the end of this Congress, in one of the reddest states in the nation. (That’s not entirely welcome news to Inhofe, who recently told Read Frontier, “Markwayne and I, we have problems.”) Mullin, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation, would be the first Native American to serve in the Senate since Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a Colorado Democrat turned Republican, retired in 2005.

 OK-02 (R): Former state Sen. Josh Brecheen edged out state Rep. Avery Frix 52-48 after a very expensive GOP runoff to succeed Markwayne Mullin in this dark red Eastern Oklahoma seat. A PAC affiliated with the Club for Growth spent over $3.4 million to promote Brecheen, who is a former Club fellow, while Frix had extensive support from his own outside group allies.

 NY-01 (R): Nick LaLota, who serves as chief of staff of the Suffolk County Legislature, beat cryptocurrency trader Michelle Bond 47-28 in the primary to replace Rep. Lee Zeldin, the GOP nominee for governor. The wealthy Bond and her allies (including a PAC that just happens to be funded by her boyfriend, crypto notable Ryan Salame), far outspent LaLota, but he had the support of the county’s Republican and Conservative parties.

LaLota will now go up against Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, who had the Democratic primary to herself. While Trump won the old 1st 51-47, Biden would have carried the new version of this eastern Long Island constituency by a narrow 49.4-49.2.

 NY-02 (R): Freshman Rep. Andrew Garbarino turned in an unexpectedly weak 54-38 victory over an unheralded Army and Navy veteran named Robert Cornicelli. The challenger eagerly embraced the Big Lie, and he used his limited resources to remind voters that Garbarino voted for a Jan. 6 commission. Garbarino also supported the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill as well as legislation protecting same-sex and interracial marriage, which may have further damaged his standing with the base.

Garbarino will now face a rematch against Democrat Jackie Gordon, an Army veteran he defeated 53-46 in 2020 as Trump was taking the old 2nd 51-47. The redrawn version of this seat, which is based in the south shore of Suffolk County, would have gone for Trump by a smaller 50-49 margin.

 NY-03 (D): DNC member Robert Zimmerman, a longtime party fundraiser who would be Long Island’s first gay member of Congress, beat Deputy Suffolk County Executive Jon Kaiman 36-26 in the primary to replace Rep. Tom Suozzi, who left to unsuccessfully run for governor in June. Another 20% went to Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, who had Suozzi’s endorsement and benefited from spending by Protect Our Future PAC.

Zimmerman, who lost a race for Congress all the way back in 1982, will go up against 2020 Republican nominee George Santos. Suozzi last time held off Santos 56-43 as Biden was carrying the old 3rd 55-44; the new version of this seat, which is based in northern Nassau County, would have supported the president by a smaller 53-45 spread.

 NY-04 (D): Former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen defeated Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages 63-24 in the primary to replace retiring Rep. Kathleen Rice, who supported Gillen. The GOP is fielding Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D'Esposito for a southern Nassau County district that Biden would have won 57-42.

 NY-10 (D): Daniel Goldman, a self-funder who served as House Democrats' lead counsel during Trump's first impeachment, beat Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou 26-24 in the busy primary for this safely blue seat in Lower Manhattan and northwestern Brooklyn; Rep. Mondaire Jones, who currently represents the 17th District well to the north of the city in the Hudson Valley, took third with 18%.

 NY-11 (D): Former Rep. Max Rose will get his rematch against freshman GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis following his 75-21 primary victory over Army veteran Brittany Debarros. The court-drawn version of this seat, which retains all of Staten Island, would have supported Trump 53-46, while he prevailed 55-44 in the old boundaries; Malliotakis herself unseated Rose 53-47 last cycle.

 NY-12 (D): Rep. Jerry Nadler won the final incumbent vs. incumbent primary of the cycle by convincingly defeating fellow Rep. Carolyn Maloney 55-24 in a revamped safely blue seat that’s home to Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Upper West Side.

 NY-16 (D): Freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman earned renomination in this loyally blue constituency by turning back Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi 57-23.

 NY-17 (D): Incumbent Sean Patrick Maloney, who heads the DCCC, beat state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi 67-33 in this lower Hudson Valley seat. Maloney will go up against Republican Assemblyman Michael Lawler, who won his own primary 76-12, in a constituency Biden would have taken 54-44.

 NY-19 (D): Attorney Josh Riley outpaced businesswoman Jamie Cheney 64-36 in a southeastern upstate New York district. Riley will now go up against Republican Marc Molinaro, who lost Tuesday’s special election for the old 19th, for a redrawn seat that would have favored Biden 51-47.

 NY-22 (R & D): The GOP establishment got some unwelcome news when Navy veteran Brandon Williams defeated businessman Steve Wells 58-42 in the primary to succeed their fellow Republican, retiring Rep. John Katko, for a district located in the Syracuse and Utica areas. The Congressional Leadership Fund evidently believed that Wells was the better bet for this 53-45 Biden seat because the super PAC spent close to $1 million on an unsuccessful effort to get him across the finish line.

On the Democratic side, Navy veteran Francis Conole beat Air Force veteran Sarah Klee Hood 39-36. Conole far outspent the entire field, and he benefited from over $500,000 in aid from Protect Our Future PAC.

 NY-23 (special): Steuben County Republican Party Chair Joe Sempolinski held off Air Force veteran Max Della Pia only 53-47 in a special election to succeed GOP Rep. Tom Reed in a 55-43 Trump seat. Sempolinski isn’t running for a full term anywhere, while Della is competing for a full term in the revamped 23rd.

 NY-23 (R): State GOP chair Nick Langworthy scored a 52-48 upset over developer Carl Paladino, the proto-Trump who served as the 2010 Republican nominee for governor, in the contest to succeed departing GOP Rep. Chris Jacobs. Langworthy will take on Air Force veteran Max Della Pia in a seat in the Buffalo suburbs and southwestern upstate New York that would have gone for Trump 58-40.

Paladino, who used his vast wealth to far outspend Langworthy, has a long and ongoing history of bigoted outbursts. But that didn’t stop Rep. Elise Stefanik, who represents the neighboring 21st District and serves as the number-three Republican in the House, from backing Paladino, a move that one unnamed House Republican griped was “baffling” and “off-putting.” The gamble, though, very much didn’t pay off for Stefanik or Paladino.

 NY-24 (R): Rep. Claudia Tenney beat back attorney Mario Fratto by an underwhelming 54-40, though she should have no trouble in the general for a 57-40 Trump seat in the Finger Lakes region. Tenney had the support of Trump as well as a huge financial lead over Fratto, but she currently represents a mere 6% of this revamped district.

Senate

MO-Sen: Independent John Wood announced Tuesday he was dropping out of the general election, a move that came after a super PAC affiliated with former GOP Sen. John Danforth spent $3.6 million on his behalf.

Wood sent out an email to his supporters saying he'd decided to run at a time when disgraced Gov. Eric Greitens was a serious contender for the Republican nomination, saying, "That would have been unacceptable, embarrassing, and dangerous for my party, my state, and my Country." Greitens, though, lost the Aug. 2 GOP primary to Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and Wood acknowledged, "It has become evident that there is not a realistic path to victory for me as an independent candidate."

NH-Sen: State Senate President Chuck Morse has earned the backing of the NRA ahead of the Sept. 13 Republican primary to take on Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan. The organization, as we've written before, has dramatically diminished in recent years and it rarely spends much in primaries, but its stamp of approval can still give Republican office seekers a boost with conservatives.

NV-Sen: Adam Laxalt is using his coordinated buy with the NRSC to air his very first TV spot since the mid-June primary, and he's far from the only Senate Republican candidate to only return to the airwaves months after winning the nomination. Pennsylvania's Mehmet Oz began running commercials in late July, while North Carolina's Ted Budd and Ohio's J.D. Vance, who also cleared their primaries in May, went up with general election spots this month; all three of these inaugural ads were also joint buys with the NRSC.

This Laxalt spot, reports NBC, has only $95,000 behind it, though that's still more than than the $65,000 he'd spent through Monday on general election digital and radio ads. Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, by contrast, has dropped $6.5 million on advertising, while Democratic outside groups have outspent their GOP counterparts by a smaller $12.1 million to $10.9 million margin here.

Laxalt's commercial comes days after Cortez Masto portrayed the Republican as a spoiled outsider in a spot of her own that emulated the TV show "Succession." Laxalt tries to get his own narrative about his life across by telling the audience, "I was raised by a single mom with no college education. And as a kid, I didn't know who my father was." (His late father was New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, who was married to another woman when Laxalt was conceived and had little presence in his life.) The candidate's wife also declares, "Everything he had to overcome helped make him a good man."  

Governors

CA-Gov: UC Berkeley for the Los Angeles Times: Gavin Newsom (D-inc): 55, Brian Dahle (R): 31

MS-Gov: Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, who is one of the most prominent Democrats in this dark red state, didn't rule anything out when Mississippi Today asked about his interest in challenging Republican Gov. Tate Reeves next year. Presley, who is also up for re-election in 2023, instead talked about his current role, saying, "I am concentrating on trying to get internet to every household in the state, trying to keep utility rates affordable during this time of high inflation."

NY-Gov: SurveyUSA for WNYT: Kathy Hochul (D-inc): 55, Lee Zeldin (R): 31 (June: 52-28 Hochul)

House

MI-08: It begins: The independent expenditure arm of the DCCC has released its first TV ad of the November general election, beating their counterparts at the NRCC to the airwaves.

The DCCC's spot attacks former Homeland Security official Paul Junge, the Republican nominee in Michigan's 8th Congressional District, on the number one issue of the midterms: abortion. The commercial, however, avoids the word. Instead, a series of female narrators castigates Junge: "I thought I'd always have the right to make my own health care decisions," the voiceover says. "But if Paul Junge gets his way … I won't." Saying that Junge opposes abortion even in the case of rape or incest, the narration continues, "I couldn't imagine a pregnancy forced on me after something horrible like that. But thanks to Paul Junge, I have to."

Junge is challenging five-term Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee, who saw his district in the Flint and Tri-Cities areas take on some new turf and grow a bit redder in redistricting. It also changed numbers: Biden won Kildee's old 5th by a 51-47 margin, but the redrawn 8th would have backed the president just 50-48. This part of the state has also moved sharply to the right on the presidential level over the last decade—in 2012, Barack Obama won the 5th District by more than 20 points—which is why it's a prime target for Republicans this year.

Democrats know this as well, which is why they're stepping in to aid Kildee. We don't yet know how much the DCCC is spending in this initial foray, but we will soon: Any group that makes an independent expenditure on behalf of a federal candidate must file a report with the FEC detailing its spending within 48 hours—and from Oct. 20 onward, within 24 hours. Those filings are all made available on the FEC's website.

That site will get plenty of clicks, because from here on out, we can expect hundreds of millions of dollars more in independent expenditures on House races, from official party organizations like the DCCC and NRCC, massive super PACs like the Democrats' House Majority PAC and the GOP's Congressional Leadership Fund, and a whole bevy of groups large and small. But with the parties themselves now going up on TV, we can consider this the beginning of the end of the midterms.

TN-05: Democratic state Sen. Heidi Campbell has publicized an internal from FrederickPolls that gives her a 51-48 lead over her Republican rival, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, in a newly-gerrymandered constituency that Democrats are very pessimistic about holding. Democratic incumbent Jim Cooper decided to retire here after the GOP legislature transmuted his seat from a 60-37 Biden district to a 54-43 Trump constituency by cracking the city of Nashville, and no major outside groups on either side have reserved any ad time here.  

Other races

Los Angeles County, CA Sheriff: UC Berkeley, polling for the Los Angeles Times, finds former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna leading conservative Sheriff Alex Villanueva 31-27 in the November nonpartisan primary to serve as the top lawman for America's most populous county. This is the first survey we've seen since early June, when Villanueva outpaced Luna 31-26.

Villanueva made history in 2018 when he became the first Democrat to hold this office in 138 years, but while he still identifies as "​​a Democrat of the party of JFK and FDR," he's established a very different image in office. Villanueva instead has become a Fox News regular who, among many other things, has raged against the "woke left." The sheriff's department also has been at the center of numerous scandals, including allegations that deputies have organized themselves into violent gangs.  

Luna, for his part, changed his voter registration from Republican to no party preference in 2018 before becoming a Democrat two years later. The county Democratic Party has endorsed the former Long Beach police chief for the general election after declining to back anyone for the first round, and all five members of the Board of Supervisors are also in his corner; Luna also has the endorsement of Eric Strong, a progressive who took third with 16%. The challenger has faulted the incumbent for having "mismanaged" the department and argued that he'll "modernize" it.

Despite his second-place showing, however, UC Berkeley finds that Luna is a blank slate to most voters. Respondents give Luna a 31-11 favorable rating, but a 59% majority says they don't have an opinion of the challenger. Villanueva, by contrast, is underwater with a 30-39 score, though 31% still weren't sure how they feel about him.

Ad Roundup

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.

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Alabama Republicans air each other’s dirty laundry ahead of nasty Senate primary

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

Leading Off

AL-Sen: Two Republican firms are out with new polls from Alabama of the March 3 GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, and they both show former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville advancing to a runoff.

WT&S Consulting, which tells us that their poll was not done for any client, gives Sessions the lead with 32% as Tuberville leads Rep. Bradley Byrne 30-22 for the second spot in a likely March 31 runoff. Roy Moore, who lost this seat to Jones in 2017, is a distant fourth with 7%, while state Rep. Arnold Mooney takes 3%. This is the first poll that WT&S, which is run by state party official John Wahl, has released of this contest.

Campaign Action

The anti-tax Club for Growth, which has been running ads against Byrne, is also out with another survey from WPA Intelligence that shows the congressman failing to advance to a second round. WPA gives Tuberville the lead with 32%, which makes this the first time we've seen him in first place since Sessions entered the race for his old seat in November. Sessions outpaces Byrne 29-17 for second, while Moore barely registers with 5% and no one else breaks 1%.

These results show some small improvements for Tuberville at Sessions' expense from the poll the Club released one week ago. That WPA survey found Sessions edging Tuberville 34-29, while Byrne was in third place with the same 17% he takes in the new poll.

The new numbers come as Sessions, Tuberville, and Byrne and their allies have been launching negative ad after negative ad at one another while ignoring the other contenders. Sessions' new spot declares that Tuberville and Byrne "are desperate, telling lies about Jeff Sessions." The narrator then reminds the audience that Sessions was the one senator to back Donald Trump in the 2016 primaries, which is true.

The ad glosses over Sessions' miserable tenure as Trump's attorney general, which ended with Trump unceremoniously firing him, and instead continues to rehash the 2016 election. The narrator argues, "Byrne stood with the liberals, said Trump was 'not fit' to be president and stabbed Trump in the back right before the election."

Byrne did indeed say after the Access Hollywood tape was released a month before Election Day that Trump, who was recorded bragging about sexually assaulting women, was "not fit to be president of the United States and cannot defeat Hillary Clinton." The congressman also called for Trump to "step aside" and allow Mike Pence to lead the GOP ticket.

Byrne, like almost everyone in the Republican Party, fell in line right after Trump won a month later, though, and like all of his primary opponents, he's been emphasizing his unquestioning loyalty to the White House. Byrne recently addressed his 2016 remarks in an interview with the New York Times Magazine's Jason Zengerle by saying that Trump has never mentioned them because, "He just doesn't care. He's more interested in what we're doing now." Sessions cares, though, and he's betting that GOP primary voters do too.

Sessions is also hoping that his party will care about some of Tuberville's non-Trump issues. His ad continues by calling the former Auburn coach "a tourist in Alabama. He lives, votes, and pays taxes in Florida." Tuberville is originally from Arkansas, and he coached at the University of Mississippi until he arrived at Auburn in 1998. Tuberville had a mostly successful tenure, but he resigned in 2008 after a bad season and went on to coach out of state at Texas Tech and Cincinnati. During those years he unsuccessfully tried to sell his home near Auburn multiple times.

Tuberville later moved to Florida as Sessions' ad alleges. The former coach did say that he'd relocated to Alabama in August 2018 as he considered a Senate run, though he remained registered to vote in the Sunshine State that year and cast his ballot in Florida's elections.

Sessions also released a new TV ad on Wednesday that targets just Tuberville. After declaring that the former coach is "shameful" for lying about Sessions, the narrator says, "Tuberville is trying to trick you, hiding his support for immigration amnesty." An audio clip then plays where Tuberville is heard saying, "There are people coming across the border that need jobs … And we want them to come over here." He continues, "And we let 'em come in and become citizens like we all became citizens." The rest of the commercial again casts Tuberville as a Floridian who is in Alabama as a tourist.

Tuberville, meanwhile, is out with his own ad attacking both Sessions and Byrne. The commercial begins by going after Byrne for calling Trump "not fit" to serve before the narrator declares that Sessions "deserted President Trump, sticking us with the Russian witch hunt." The spot then throws in a shot at Sen. Mitt Romney, who is … not running for Senate in Alabama, by saying he "voted for the liberal impeachment sham." Tuberville appears and promises he'll be a Trump ally while "weak-kneed career politicians aren't tough enough to stand with President Trump."

Tuberville's allies at GRIT PAC are also running a commercial that casts both of his intra-party adversaries as "two career politicians who are out of touch with Alabama." The narrator also declares that Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation while serving as attorney general was a betrayal of Trump, while Byrne "didn't even want Trump in the White House."

Two cows then appear on screen along with a picture of Romney in the shape of manure as the narrator explains, "In a place where Mitt happens, we need to watch our step." Perhaps fearing that that joke was too subtle, the narrator declares, "No bull," which is followed by a censor's beep, "no weak knees. It's Tommy Tuberville time for U.S. Senate."

Byrne, it will not shock you to learn, is also out with an ad that hits both Sessions and Tuberville. The commercial features a trio of actors interviewing the Senate candidates, and they begin by giving this negative rating: "Tommy Tuberville? Says he wants illegals here. Paid him not to work. He can't keep a job." An actor portraying Tuberville then angrily slams down his clipboard and walks out, and the committee stamps his resume with the word "Fired."

A Sessions look-alike then arrives sporting a red cap without anything written on it. The committee is no more impressed with him than they were with Tuberville and says, "He let the president down and got fired. And Hillary still ain't in jail." The committee, which apparently believes that Sessions' refusal to send political adversaries to prison without a trial is a massive character flaw, also delivers the dreaded failure stamp to his file.

The rest of the ad shows Byrne, whom the committee actually allows to talk, talking about his conservative pro-Trump record. The trio is pleased, though his resume goes unstamped. Byrne is also the only one in any of these commercials to mention Jones, saying that he should be the next one to get fired.

Byrne's allies at Fighting for Alabama Fund also are up on the air with a spot that ignores Sessions and just tears into Tuberville. After showing clips of Trump thanking Byrne, the narrator argues that Tuberville "attacked Trump's agenda. Even attacked Trump's immigration plan." The same audio of Tuberville from the Sessions commercial then plays where Tuberville sounds happy to welcome "people coming from across the border that need jobs."    

Senate

AZ-Sen: Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, who faces no serious Democratic primary opposition, is up with his first TV commercial. The minute-long spot features Kelly working on his motorcycle and talking about his struggles in school and career in the Navy and NASA.

Kelly continues, "My parents didn't have a lot of extra money, but you could comfortably raise a family on a middle-class income, and it doesn't work so well today." He declares, "Now my hope for Arizona is that everybody has the conditions and an environment that allows anybody to accomplish anything they want, if they're just willing to work hard at it." Kelly does not mention appointed GOP Sen. Martha McSally, who recently began airing negative spots against him.

GA-Sen-B: Former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver kicked off his long-awaited campaign on Wednesday, a move that makes him the third noteworthy Democrat to enter the November all-party primary.

Tarver, who pitched himself as a moderate, represented a state Senate seat in the Augusta area until he became the first black U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia in 2009. Tarver remained at his post until early March of 2017, when Donald Trump ordered him and another 45 Obama-appointed U.S. attorneys to resign.

National Democrats have consolidated behind pastor Raphael Warnock, who like Tarver would also be Georgia's first black senator, while businessman Matt Lieberman is also running. Appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins are duking it out on the GOP side, and there's a risk that they could both advance to a January 2021 runoff if the three Democrats split Team Blue's vote enough.  

ME-Sen: GOP Sen. Susan Collins is up with another TV ad against state House Speaker Sara Gideon, who is the favored candidate of national Democrats, and the Bangor Daily News reports that she's putting at least $90,000 behind the buy.

The narrator argues that Gideon is a hypocrite for saying she's rejecting corporate PAC money while "taking tens of thousands from groups funded by corporate PACs." The commercial also tries to stir up some trouble on Gideon's left by featuring photos of two of her June primary foes, attorney Bre Kidman and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Betsy Sweet, and saying that her opponents "criticized Gideon for laundering corporate money into her own campaign. And Maine's Ethics Commission fined Gideon for breaking campaign finance laws."

The paper took a look at the backstory to this ad back in December. Gideon has accepted contributions from groups like Senate Majority PAC that take money from corporations, but only about 2% of her total donations came from PACs as of the end of the third quarter. Collins, by contrast, received 22% of her donations from PACs through late September.

The part about the Maine Ethics Commission is from a completely separate matter. The commission fined Gideon's now-defunct PAC in December all of $500 for reimbursing her that same amount for donations Gideon made to two state-level political committees in 2016.

As we wrote back then, reimbursements like these run afoul of federal and state laws that forbid anyone from making campaign contributions in another person's name. Gideon, however, didn't try to conceal her efforts; rather, they were discovered because her PAC publicly disclosed the reimbursements. For that reason, the commission declined to investigate further, concluding Gideon's disclosure meant it was unlikely she had knowingly sought to violate the law.

MI-Sen: Quinnipiac University is out with a poll giving Democratic Sen. Gary Peters a 45-39 lead over 2018 GOP nominee John James. The margin is very similar to the 44-40 Peters edge that the local Glengariff Group found in early January, though Baldwin Wallace University gave the incumbent a larger 42-32 lead last month.

Gubernatorial

UT-Gov: Salt Lake County Council chair Aimee Winder Newton announced this week that she would try to gain enough support at the April state GOP convention to advance to the June primary rather than continue to gather signatures. One other Republican, former state House Speaker Greg Hughes, is competing at the convention and not collecting petitions to make the primary ballot, but the two candidates made this choice under very different circumstances.

Winder Newton acknowledged that she couldn't afford to hire a firm to collect the 28,000 valid signatures she needed, an undertaking she estimates could cost more than $200,000, and that her volunteer-led effort wouldn't be able to gather enough petitions in time. Hughes, though, has access to plenty of money, but he still decided to focus on the convention in January.

House

CA-16: Democratic Rep. Jim Costa is out with an ad ahead of the March 3 top-two primary that features old footage of his intra-party rival, Fresno City Councilor Esmeralda Soria, praising him.

CA-25, TX-02: The progressive group End Citizens United has endorsed Assemblywoman Christy Smith in California and attorney Sima Ladjevardian in Texas, who each face notable intra-party opposition in their March 3 races.

Progressive political commentator Cenk Uygur, who is Smith's main intra-party rival in California's 25th District, is also out with a new ad where he proclaims he's "new to politics." Uygur continues, "They say it's rude for me to say that other politicians are corrupt. They say it's rude to point out that lobbyists don't give money to politicians for charity, they give it to bribe them." He then implores the audience, "Send me to Washington, so I could be rude to more lobbyists and politicians."

MN-01: Freshman GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn announced on Wednesday that he has been receiving treatment for Stage 4 kidney cancer over the last year, but that this would not prevent him from running for re-election this year.  

NY-02: Suffolk County Board of Elections member Nick LaLota announced this week that he was dropping out of the June GOP primary and would instead challenge Democratic state Sen. John Brooks. LaLota made his decision a few weeks after local party leaders, including retiring Rep. Peter King, threw their support behind Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino's bid for this open seat.

The only other Republican who is still running an active campaign for this competitive Long Island district is fellow Assemblyman Mike LiPetri. Another local elected official, Islip Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, announced she was running back in November but didn't report raising any money through 2019 and still doesn't appear to have a campaign website or social media account. On the Democratic side, Babylon Town Councilor Jackie Gordon doesn't face any serious opposition.

OH-01: Air Force veteran Nikki Foster and former healthcare executive Kate Schroder are each up with new TV spots ahead of the March 17 Democratic primary to face GOP Rep. Steve Chabot.

Foster tells the audience she's not once backed down from a fight from "serving as a combat pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan to fighting for my son's life in the intensive care unit." Foster declares that her next fight is making health care more affordable, and that Donald Trump and Chabot would "slash coverage for people with pre-existing conditions" like her son.

Schroder uses her commercial to talk about solving problems she's told are impossible. She describes how she helped expand dental care while she was on the Cincinnati Board of Health and dramatically reduced drug prices while working abroad. "As a cancer survivor," Schroder continues, "healthcare is personal."  

OH-03: The progressive group End Citizens United is supporting Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty in her March 17 primary against former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advisor Morgan Harper.

Harper has proven to be an unexpectedly strong fundraiser for someone challenging an uncontroversial incumbent, though Beatty still holds a huge financial advantage here. Beatty outraised Harper $315,000 to $221,000 during the fourth quarter, and the incumbent ended 2019 with a $1.7 million to $273,000 cash-on-hand lead. Whoever wins the Democratic nod will have no trouble prevailing in November in this safely blue Columbus seat.

PA-01: Pennsbury school board member Debbie Wachspress announced Thursday that she was dropping out of the April Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a development that could have very bad implications for Team Blue's attempts to put up a serious fight in this 49-47 Clinton seat, one of just two districts nationally that voted for Clinton in 2016 and has a Republican incumbent seeking re-election.

Wachspress made her decision two days after candidate filing closed and one day after LevittownNow.com reported that she'd been accused in a lawsuit against the school district of using racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic language at a meeting. Wachspress responded by saying that she had been recounting when she was subjected to an anti-Semitic slur decades ago, but that “[n]ever in my life have I denigrated anyone with words like that.”

Wachspress put out a statement the following day saying she "now find[s] myself in a situation where my family is going to suffer - with this recent offensive and completely false narrative of who I am - and my candidacy will also. It is clear to me that these lies and distortions will be too big a distraction to overcome."

Wachspress exited the race by endorsing Bucks County housing department official Christina Finello, who faces businessman Skylar Hurwitz in the primary. Unfortunately, though, both Finello and Hurwitz each had less than $12,000 on-hand at the end of December compared to the $355,000 that Wachspress had available. Democrats will need to hope that one of their two remaining candidates can bring in a whole lot more cash now that the apparent frontrunner is out if they want to have a real chance at beating the well-funded Fitzpatrick in this swing seat.

TX-12: Businessman Chris Putnam is up with another TV spot against Rep. Kay Granger ahead of their March 3 GOP primary showdown. Putnam tells the audience, "President Trump, he drives liberals nuts. And I drive Kay Granger nuts." Putnam, though, does not get around to informing the viewer that Trump is actually supporting Granger.

Putnam continues by accusing Granger of lying about him and "even making fun of my cowboy hat—but that's what we wear in Texas, Kay." The challenger mystifyingly never bothers to actually put on a cowboy hat during this commercial (so much for Chekov's Hat), though the ad shows pictures of two of Putnam's most prominent supporters, the sheriffs of Tarrant and Wise Counties, decked in some massive headwear.  

TX-23: Future Leaders Fund, an organization started by retiring GOP Rep. Will Hurd, is up with a TV commercial supporting Navy veteran Tony Gonzales ahead of the March 3 primary. Politico reports that this is a "five-figure buy" on Fox News.

VA-05: EMILY's List has endorsed Marine veteran Claire Russo in the June Democratic primary for this 52-41 Trump seat. The GOP nomination will be decided at an April 25 party convention, where freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman is trying to fend off a challenge from Campbell County Supervisor Bob Good.