Morning Digest: Trump endorses rival to Freedom Caucus chief who schlepped to his trial

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

VA-05: Donald Trump delivered his long-awaited endorsement on Tuesday to state Sen. John McGuire's campaign to unseat Rep. Bob Good, who chairs the nihilistic Freedom Caucus, in the June 18 Republican primary for Virginia's conservative 5th District.

Trump used a post on Truth Social, which included an obligatory and unfunny pun on the incumbent's name, to make it plain he's out to punish Good for supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the presidential primary.

"Bob Good is BAD FOR VIRGINIA, AND BAD FOR THE USA," Trump wrote. "He turned his back on our incredible movement, and was constantly attacking and fighting me until recently, when he gave a warm and 'loving' Endorsement – But really, it was too late. The damage had been done."

Good's recent trek to New York City to attend Trump's hush money trial doesn't seem to have its intended effect of placating the GOP's overlord, though his hopes for a third term already looked to be in dire shape even before Trump publicly took sides. (Awkwardly, McGuire showed up for the trial on the same day.) A McGuire internal poll conducted at the beginning of the month showed him toppling the incumbent 45-31, and Good has yet to release contrary numbers.

While the congressman's decision a year ago to back DeSantis' already shaky White House bid played a key role in putting him in this unenviable position―and in getting him ejected from a "Trump store" (these apparently exist)―Trump isn't the only powerful Republican he's pissed off. 

Good was one of eight House Republicans who voted to end Kevin McCarthy's speakership in October, and McCarthy's well-funded political network is making central Virginia a key stop on its revenge tour. MAGA world and McCarthy's loyalists often don't align behind the same candidates―Trump days ago endorsed the Floridian who led the charge against McCarthy, Rep. Matt Gaetz―but Good managed to give both factions a reason to want him gone.

Antipathy for the sophomore lawmaker runs deeper still: Good, who has endorsed several far-right primary challenges to his own colleagues, has also alienated major donors who are tired of the Freedom Caucus' antics. 

All of this helps explain why, according to data from the FEC, super PACs have spent more than $3 million attacking Good and promoting McGuire. There's likely even more in store as American Patriots PAC, which is funded by megadonors Ken Griffin and Paul Singer, so far has only used two-thirds of the $3 million in ad time that Bloomberg reported that it reserved early this month.

Good, though, still has some well-heeled allies who are opening their wallets to help him, to the tune of more than $2 million so far. Most of that has come from two groups: Conservative Outsider PAC, which is an affiliate of the Club for Growth, and Protect Freedom PAC, a super PAC aligned with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Paul himself has been starring in the latter's ads, urging Virginians to renominate "a true defender of liberty." But as Kentucky's junior senator learned the hard way in 2016, the man who just backed McGuire has far more pull with GOP primary voters than Paul does.

Election Recaps

TX-12 (R): State Rep. Craig Goldman defeated businessman John O'Shea 63-37 in Tuesday's runoff to succeed retiring Rep. Kay Granger. Goldman had the backing of Granger, Gov. Greg Abbott, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, as well as a huge financial advantage over O'Shea. Attorney General Ken Paxton supported his ally O'Shea over Goldman, who voted to impeach Paxton for corruption a year ago, but it wasn't enough.

Donald Trump carried Texas' 12th District, which is based in western Fort Worth and its suburbs, 58-40 in 2020, so Goldman is now on a glide path to Congress. The Republican nominee would be the second Jewish person to represent Texas in Congress after Martin Frost, a Democrat who lost to Republican colleague Pete Sessions in 2004 after the GOP rearranged his Dallas-area seat as part of the infamous "DeLaymander."

TX-23 (R): Rep. Tony Gonzales scraped by far-right challenger Brandon Herrera 50.7-49.3 to secure renomination in the 23rd District. Gonzales will be favored in the fall against Democratic businessman Santos Limon in a sprawling west Texas seat that Trump took 53-46 four years ago.

While Herrera prevented Gonzales from winning outright in March by holding him to a 45-25 edge, the incumbent and his allies used their massive financial advantage to push their preferred narrative about Herrera, whom Gonzales dubbed "a known neo-Nazi." Gonzales' side also highlighted Herrera's mockery of the Holocaust, veteran suicide, and even Barron Trump, and pointed out that he only relocated to Texas from North Carolina a few years ago.

The Freedom Caucus, including chair Bob Good of Virginia, still held out hope that it could rid itself of Gonzales, whom the Texas GOP censured a year ago. Texas Rep. Chip Roy, who represents the neighboring 21st District, also backed Herrera on Tuesday morning, but as tight as the race was, his belated endorsement wasn't enough to change the outcome.

TX-28 (R): Navy veteran Jay Furman defeated businessman Lazaro Garza 65-35 in the GOP runoff to take on Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, who was indicted on corruption charges earlier this month.

Neither Republican has raised much money, but the GOP is hoping that Cuellar's legal problems will give them an opening in the 28th District, which includes Laredo and the eastern San Antonio suburbs. Joe Biden carried this constituency 53-46 in 2020, but the area has been trending to the right.

TX State House (R): State House Speaker Dade Phelan held off former Orange County Republican Party chair David Covey after an exceptionally expensive GOP primary runoff. With all votes counted, Phelan survived by a margin of 50.7 to 49.3—a difference of just 366 votes.

The victory represented an upset win for Phelan, who trailed Covey 46-43 in the first round of voting for his dark red East Texas seat, which is numbered the 21st District. It's unusual for a top legislative leader to be the underdog for renomination, but Phelan had a vast array of far-right forces arrayed against him.

Covey had the support of Paxton and Donald Trump, who were looking to punish Phelan for supporting Paxton's impeachment last year, as well as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who leads the state Senate. Gov. Greg Abbott, however, remained conspicuously neutral even as he targeted other lawmakers who successfully blocked his plan to use taxpayer money to pay for private schools. (We'll have more on those races in the next Digest, though Phelan was one of just two House GOP incumbents to prevail Thursday; six others lost.)

The speaker fought back by raising money with the help of prominent Republicans from yesteryear like former Gov. Rick Perry, former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Karl Rove, who was one of the most powerful GOP operatives in the country during George W. Bush's administration. The Texas Tribune labeled this effort the "last stand for the Republican Party’s business-minded establishment," and it proved just enough to secure a rare major win over the party's current leadership.

Senate

 MI-Sen, MI-08, MI-10: The Michigan Bureau of Elections on Friday recommended that the Board of State Canvassers disqualify nine congressional candidates from the Aug. 6 primary ballot. The bipartisan Board is scheduled to decide the fates of these candidates, most of whom face trouble for failing to file a sufficient number of signatures, on May 31.

The Bureau, though, gave the thumbs up to the three main Republicans running for the state's open Senate seat: former Reps. Mike Rogers and Justin Amash and wealthy businessman Sandy Pensler. Both the DSCC and the state Democratic Party earlier this month asked the Canvassers Board to look into "potential fraud in the nominating petitions," but officials determined that all three filed enough signatures to make the ballot.

Rogers remains the favorite to advance to the general election, but allies of the leading Democratic candidate, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, insist he still needs to watch his back in the primary. A new Public Policy Polling survey for the Voter Protection Project shows Rogers leading Pensler 30-12, with Amash at 11%. The group's release argues that Pensler can close the gap as more voters learn about him.

However, not all Senate hopefuls were quite so lucky. The Bureau concluded that Democrat Nasser Beydoun, a former leader of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce who is waging a longshot bid for Senate, should be disqualified because he listed a post office box on his petition sheets when state law requires a street address.

Beydoun responded, "We're going to fight it because it's suppressing the vote on a technicality." His involuntary departure would leave Slotkin and actor Hill Harper as the only Democrats on the August ballot.

Further down the ballot, the most prominent name on the Bureau's list of candidates it recommended for disqualification belongs to Wayne State University Board of Governors member Anil Kumar, a self-funder who ended March with a massive cash on hand advantage in the Democratic primary for the right to take on GOP Rep. John James in the 10th District.

The Bureau determined that Kumar and another Democrat, social justice activist Rhonda Powell, both fell short of signature requirements, but Kumar says he plans to contest the finding.

Bureau staff made the same determination about state Board of Education member Nikki Snyder, a Republican who is trying to flip the competitive 8th District. Snyder was also booted from the ballot over signature issues in 2020 during a prior bid for the House. This time, Snyder's team alleges that they fell victim to fraud from a consultant.

 NJ-Sen: The New Jersey Globe reports that indicted Sen. Bob Menendez is collecting signatures for a potential bid as an independent, an option Menendez said he was keeping open in March when he announced he wouldn't campaign in the June 4 Democratic primary.

Menendez, whose corruption trial is still underway, has until the day of next month's primary to submit 800 valid signatures. Any independent who makes the ballot has until Aug. 16 to withdraw their name.

 VA-Sen: Navy veteran Hung Cao picked up Donald Trump's endorsement on Monday for the June 18 GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine. Cao faces four intra-party opponents, including former Club for Growth official Scott Parkinson, ahead of what would be a difficult general election to unseat Kaine.

Governors

 ND-Gov, ND-AL: The media outlet North Dakota News Cooperative has commissioned a survey from the GOP firm WPA Intelligence that shows Rep. Kelly Armstrong far ahead in the June 11 GOP primary for governor, but two Republicans are locked in a more competitive race to fill his House seat.

WPA finds Armstrong outpacing Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller 57-19 in the contest to replace retiring Gov. Doug Burgum, who supports Miller. An early May internal from the Democratic firm DFM Research for the labor group North Dakota United showed Armstrong ahead by an almost identical 56-18 spread, while an Armstrong internal from around that same time gave him an even larger advantage. No one has released any other polls of this contest.

But WPA's House portion has Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak leading former state Rep. Rick Becker by a much tighter 32-25 margin, with 28% undecided. Former Miss America Cara Mund and former State Department official Alex Balazs are well behind, though, with 10% and 5%, respectively.

DFM previously placed Becker ahead of Fedorchak 29-26, with Mund at 14%. No one has released any other polls of the contest to represent this dark red seat in the House. Fedorchak sports endorsements from Burgum and other prominent local Republicans like Sen. John Hoeven, while the far-right Freedom Caucus is pulling for Becker.

 WA-Gov: A new Elway Research survey for KCTS-TV finds Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson and former GOP Rep. Dave Reichert both poised to advance out of the Aug. 6 top-two primary, a matchup that almost everyone in Washington politics has expected for some time. 

Ferguson leads with 22% while Reichert outpaces Democratic state Sen. Mark Mullet 20-6 for second. Another 5% opt for a different Republican, far-right Marine veteran Semi Bird, while 47% of respondents are uncommitted. This release did not include general election numbers.

House

 CO-05: The Colorado Sun reports that a Republican super PAC is spending almost $400,000 on an ad campaign to stop state GOP chair Dave Williams in the June 28 primary for Colorado's 5th District. 

The spot, from America Leads Action, argues that, unlike Donald Trump, Williams doesn't "believe in Made in America." The ad goes on to accuse the candidate's business interests of putting China "ahead of you." It does not mention that Trump is supporting Williams in the contest to replace retiring Rep. Doug Lamborn.

ALA, which is funded by North Carolina businessman Jay Faison and Walmart heir Rob Walton, has devoted itself to stopping hardline candidates who could pose a headache for the House GOP leadership. The party Williams leads has been causing exactly the sort of trouble ALA wants to stamp out, recently endorsing former state Rep. Janak Joshi's longshot bid for the competitive 8th District rather than coalescing around the national party favorite, state Rep. Gabe Evans.  

ALA's foray comes after Americans for Prosperity deployed more than $350,000 to promote conservative radio host Jeff Crank, who has the support of Lamborn and Speaker Mike Johnson. There has been no other outside spending here so far.

But AFP, which unsuccessfully tried to help Nikki Haley win the GOP presidential nomination, may do its candidate more harm than good. Trump wrote in March that he was backing Williams because his "opponent is Endorsed, and works closely with, Americans for Chinese Prosperity, a Charles Koch Disaster."

 NH-02: Wealthy investor Bill Hamlen still won't "confirm on the record" whether he's seeking the GOP nod for New Hampshire's open 2nd District, reports the NH Journal's Evan Lips, even though he's appeared at campaign events and filed paperwork with the FEC last month.

But even Hamlen's efforts at campaigning have been odd, to say the least: Lips notes that his most recent appearance was at a Republican town committee event in the wrong congressional district. (New Hampshire has only two.) "Hamlen's entire candidacy has inspired a lot of head scratching inside state GOP circles," says Lips, who notes that Hamlen voted in the state's Democratic primary for president earlier this year.

The one notable Republican who so far is actually willing to say he's seeking the seat that Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster is leaving behind is businessman Vikram Mansharamani, who took a distant fourth place in last cycle's U.S. Senate primary. 

There are, however, several assorted randos who have put their names forward. These include a former Colorado Libertarian Party chair who took third in the 2022 primary for the 2nd District and a convicted Jan. 6 rioter who also tried to run against Kuster two years ago but struggled on account of being in jail.

 NJ-10: Recordings made public in connection with a new lawsuit feature Linden Mayor Derek Armstead making antisemitic comments about Hasidic Jews, claiming that his community was at risk of "being taken over by guys with big hats and curls."

The audio, which was obtained by NJ.com's Ted Sherman, was recorded by Paul Oliveira, a former Linden school official who filed a lawsuit last week alleging that Armstead and other city leaders had sought to "deliberately exclude Jews" from obtaining employment with the local school district.

Armstead, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the upcoming special election for New Jersey's vacant 10th Congressional District, also called Newark "a hellhole over there from top to bottom" and warned that Linden was headed for the same fate if it did not exercise "full and complete control of who gets hired." (Newark makes up a quarter of the 10th District.)

Armstead called Oliveira's accusations "a whole bunch of hogwash" and said of the recordings, "I'm glad he has me on tape. … Nobody respects someone who comes into a room and starts tape-recording people."

 VA-07, VA-10: Protect Progress, a super PAC supported by the cryptocurrency industry, is spending heavily to air ads boosting two Democrats seeking open House seats in Virginia.

The group is putting almost $900,000 behind a spot in the 10th District that praises Del. Dan Helmer for supporting gun safety laws and reproductive rights. It also mentions his recent endorsement from the Washington Post. The PAC is spending a similar sum to elevate former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman in the 7th District, but no copy of the ad appears to be available online.

Poll Pile

  • MI-Sen: Mitchell Research for MIRS: Elissa Slotkin (D): 40, Mike Rogers (R): 36 (49-47 Trump in two-way, 46-45 Trump with third-party candidates) (March: 37-37 Senate tie)

  • NV-Sen: The Tyson Group (R) for Breaking Battlegrounds: Jacky Rosen (D-inc): 47, Sam Brown (R): 33 (47-44 Trump in two-way, 40-37 Trump with third-party candidates)

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: You’ve got to try hard to raise as little as this Republican

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

NY-03: Thanks to a series of signature challenges, Republicans now know that their hopes of avenging their loss in February's special election for New York's 3rd District will rest with former Assemblyman Mike LiPetri. But even though supporters of LiPetri were behind those challenges, there's good reason to wonder whether he can pose a serious threat to Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi.

LiPetri's campaign has denied involvement in the efforts to boot four other candidates, including Air Force veteran Greg Hach and businessman Jim Toes, from the June 25 primary ballot. But Hach and Toes were quick to accuse the Nassau County Republican Party, which has endorsed LiPetri and seldom brooks dissent in nominating contests, of trying to pre-ordain the outcome in comments to the Long Island Herald's Will Sheeline.

Hach and Toes also pointed out the disastrous fates of the Nassau GOP's last two hand-picked choices for this seat: George Santos, who was expelled from Congress last year, and Mazi Pilip, who got crushed by Suozzi in the special to replace Santos.

Republicans should be concerned about LiPetri, too: After announcing his campaign on March 11, he raised all of $52 for the rest of the month—a sum so small that you'd almost have to make an effort not to raise more. Suozzi, by contrast, still had $1.1 million banked at the end of March, despite his heavy spending on the special. (Hach at least had self-funded almost $700,000, and both he and Toes managed to bring in about $100,000 from donors.)

There's still time for LiPetri to turn things around, but since this Long Island-based district is contained entirely inside the ultra-expensive New York City media market, he'll need lots of dough to get his name out, especially given how well-known his Democratic rival is. And LiPetri can't count on outside GOP groups to make up the difference, as Pilip hoped they would, since third parties pay much higher advertising rates than candidates.

Senate

 AZ-Sen: A new report from Politico points out that national Republican groups have yet to make ad reservations for Arizona's Senate race despite the eight-figure sums Democrats have already booked, and it's almost certainly because of their likely nominee's never-ending record of self-sabotage.

Perhaps no incident better sums up the problem posed by Kari Lake, the far-right former TV anchor who narrowly lost her bid for governor in 2022, than her incoherent response to a recent state Supreme Court ruling upholding an 1864 law banning nearly all abortions.

Following that ruling, Lake reportedly urged state lawmakers to repeal the ban, according to multiple media reports. But just days later, on a trip to Idaho—Lake has a penchant for out-of-state travel—she reversed herself completely.

"The Arizona Supreme Court said this is the law of Arizona, but unfortunately, the people running our state have said we're not going to enforce it," she told a conservative outlet called the Idaho Dispatch. "So it's really political theater." (The state did ultimately undo the ban earlier this month.)

Episodes like this have made many Republicans wary of Lake, including Mitch McConnell. As Politico points out, the minority leader recently failed to mention Arizona when listing the GOP's top four targets this year, which he gave as Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

Lake is also getting swamped by her likely Democratic opponent, Rep. Ruben Gallego, who has raised $21 million this cycle compared with just $5.5 million for the Republican. In addition, Gallego has been on TV continuously since March while Lake has barely advertised.

Lake may be getting some help soon, though: Politico reports that the NRSC "is preparing to launch a joint TV ad buy" with the candidate. However, any such coordinated expenditures would be limited to about $720,000 in total, since it's unlikely that hybrid ads would be effective in swingy Arizona.

 NV-Sen, OH-Sen, PA-Sen, WI-Sen: More big ad reservations from both sides are flooding into a quartet of top-tier Senate races.

AdImpact reports that Duty and Honor, a Democratic super PAC affiliated with the Senate Majority PAC, has booked at least $7 million to start running ads in Ohio later this month. Meanwhile, the firm says that the GOP group One Nation has reserved $8.5 million in Pennsylvania, almost $4 million in Wisconsin, and $1.5 million in Nevada. These spots are set to begin sometime this summer.

Governors

 WV-Gov: With just days to go before West Virginia's primaries, the Club for Growth has started airing ads attacking Secretary of State Mac Warner, who has been mired in fourth place in the polls and had been ignored by outside groups until now.

The new spots, from the Club's affiliated Black Bear PAC, slam Warner for failing to endorse Donald Trump's third bid for president (and par for the course for this race, it also manages to throw in a transphobic jab). It's not clear how much the Club is putting into this latest offensive, but the GOP firm Medium Buying points out that Warner's campaign has spent a measly $17,000 on TV and radio so far.

Early on in the contest, the Club, which is hoping to see Attorney General Patrick Morrisey secure the Republican nod for the open governorship, focused its fire on businessman Chris Miller, apparently seeing him as the biggest threat. But several weeks ago, it began hammering former Del. Moore Capito, who recently earned the endorsement of term-limited Gov. Jim Justice.

According to 538's polling average, Morrisey remains the frontrunner with the support of 33% of primary voters with Capito not far behind at 26. Miller is further back at 20 while Warner brings up the year with just 12% of the vote.

House

 NJ-10: New Jersey Redevelopment Authority COO Darryl Godfrey and Shana Melius, who worked as a staffer for the late Democratic Rep. Don Payne, each joined the July 16 special Democratic primary election to succeed Payne before filing closed Friday

Godfrey is a top official at an independent state agency that describes its mission as "transform[ing] urban communities through direct investment and technical support." The New Jersey Globe says that Godfrey, who previously worked in banking, says he's willing to do some self-funding, though it remains to be seen to what extent.

Godfrey grew up in the 10th District in Newark, but he currently lives in Morristown in Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill's neighboring 11th District. The candidate, writes the Globe, intends to move back to this constituency. (Members of Congress do not need to live in the district they represent.) He does not appear to have sought office before. 

Melius, meanwhile, spent three years in Payne's office, and she also co-founded a group to improve "diversity and social equity within the cannabis industry." Melius is a first-time candidate.

Godfrey and Melius are two of the 11 Democrats competing in the special election for this safely blue Newark-area seat. The other main contenders are all current or former elected officials: Newark City Council President LaMonica McIver, who has the backing of several influential figures in populous Essex County; Linden Mayor Derek Armstead; Hudson County Commissioner Jerry Walker; and former East Orange City Councilwoman Brittany Claybrooks, who worked as North Jersey political director for Rep. Andy Kim's Senate campaign.

Kim's Senate campaign was part of a successful lawsuit that barred Democrats from utilizing the county line system in this year's primaries, a ruling that applies to this contest. That's a big difference from the 2012 special election to Payne's father and namesake, where the younger Payne's favorable ballot position, as well as name identification, helped him easily beat several opponents.

Whoever secures a plurality in the July 16 primary should have no trouble beating Carmen Bucco, a perennial candidate who has the Republican side to himself, in the Sept. 18 general election.

Payne's name remains on the ballot for the regularly scheduled June 4 primary, where he's the only candidate listed. Local Democratic leaders will be tasked with selecting a new nominee sometime after results are certified on June 17. The New Jersey Globe previously reported that party officials "are not expected" to act until after the special Democratic primary.

 NY-16: Westchester County Executive George Latimer is airing what appears to be his first negative ad targeting Rep. Jamaal Bowman ahead of next month's Democratic primary, featuring several people who castigate Bowman's record and views.

"One of only six Democrats to oppose the historic infrastructure bill," says one woman. "Just to stick it to President Biden," adds another in disgust.

Bowman said in 2021 that he'd voted against the infrastructure bill because it had been severed from a climate change and healthcare reform measure known as Build Back Better, though many of those priorities became law thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed in 2022. (Bowman voted for the latter bill.)

The spot then shifts to address reports from earlier this year about the congressman's questionable beliefs.

"Bowman even promoted dangerous conspiracy theories about 9/11," says another woman. "That's a disgrace."

In January, the Daily Beast's Will Bredderman revealed that Bowman had written a "free verse" poem embracing conspiracies about the attacks in 2011, which Bowman sought to dismiss as an old attempt at intellectual exploration. Just days, ago, however, Bredderman also reported that Bowman had subscribed to all manner of fringe channels on his YouTube account, including some operated by flat earthers and UFO obsessives.

The ad concludes with various individuals praising Latimer for "modernizing our infrastructure" and "protecting our reproductive rights."

 OR-03: State Rep. Maxine Dexter reported raising more than $218,000 on a single day recently, a haul that OPB's Dirk VanderHart says "appears" to be linked to the prominent pro-Israel group AIPAC.

Federal candidates normally report fundraising data on a quarterly basis, but in the 20 days prior to an election, FEC rules give them just 48 hours to declare any new donations of $1,000 or more. With Oregon's primary looming on May 21, that accelerated reporting period began earlier this month, prompting Dexter's disclosure.

VanderHart says that the "vast majority" of donors who gave to Dexter on May 7 "have a history of giving to AIPAC," though AIPAC itself did not comment. Dexter's campaign also noted that the group has not issued an endorsement in the Democratic primary for Oregon's 3rd District, a safely blue open seat based in Portland.

Dexter faces two notable rivals in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Earl Blumenauer: former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, who is the sister of Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, and Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales.

Jayapal had led the pack in fundraising through the end of March, but a different set of reports that were due at the FEC on Thursday showed Dexter surging during the month of April. (Twelve days before their primaries, candidates must also file a pre-election report that details all fundraising from the end of the previous quarter through the 20th day before the primary. After that point, the 48-hour reporting rule for large donations goes into effect.)

In her pre-primary filing, Dexter reported raising $575,000 while Jayapal took in $160,000 and Morales pulled down $112,000. Dexter also outspent her opponents in April and entered the stretch run with more cash on hand. That advantage has only grown since then, though: While both Jayapal and Morales had each filed one 48-hour report through Friday, their total hauls were a more modest $18,000 and $8,000 respectively.

 TX-13, TX-22, TX-38: It's Texas Week for the House Ethics Committee, which issued announcements concerning inquiries into three different Lone Star Republicans on Thursday and Friday.

The committee revealed in a press release that it's investigating Rep. Ronny Jackson, who two years ago was the subject of a report by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics concerning alleged improper spending.

That earlier report, which the Ethics Committee did not reference in its release, concluded there was "substantial" evidence that Jackson had spent campaign money for membership at a private social club, which is prohibited by federal law.

At the time, an attorney for Jackson, who had refused to cooperate with the OCE's investigation, said the congressman had sought to use the membership for campaign events. In response to the latest developments, a spokesperson called the accusations "baseless," though she claimed that Jackson had "fully complied" with the committee.

Separately, the committee said it would extend a previously announced probe into Rep. Troy Nehls that began in March. It also released a report from the OCE saying there was "probable cause to believe" that Nehls had made personal use of campaign funds and had failed to provide required information on the annual financial disclosure forms that all members of Congress must file.

The OCE's report focuses on payments from Nehls' campaign to a company he owns called Liberty 1776, ostensibly to rent office space to run his campaign. However, Nehls listed a property run by an entity called Z-Bar as his headquarters on his FEC filings, though he never recorded paying any rent to Z-Bar and only made irregular payments to Liberty 1776.

An attorney for Nehls denied the OCE's allegations, and Nehls, like Jackson, has refused to cooperate with the office's investigation. He said, however, that he would cooperate with the Ethics Committee.

Finally, the committee acknowledged it's looking into Rep. Wesley Hunt, though there's been no reporting as to what this investigation might concern. A spokesperson for Hunt told the Dallas Morning News that the congressman was cooperating with the committee and was "extremely confident that the matter will be dismissed shortly."

All three Republicans secured renomination two months ago, and all of them are defending reliably red seats this fall.

 UT-03: Sen. Mitt Romney has endorsed attorney Stewart Peay in the race for Utah's open 3rd District, where he's one of five candidates hoping to succeed Rep. John Curtis, who himself is running to replace Romney. Peay's wife, Misha, is a niece of Romney's wife, Ann.

Ballot Measures

 FL Ballot, FL-Sen: A new survey of Florida from a Republican pollster finds an amendment to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution passing despite strong numbers for Republican candidates at the top of the ticket.

The poll, conducted by Cherry Communications for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, shows Amendment 4 earning the support of 61% of voters while just 29% are opposed; to become law, it needs to win a 60% supermajority. A separate measure known as Amendment 3 that would legalize recreational marijuana is just short of the threshold at 58-37.

In the race for Senate, though, Republican incumbent Rick Scott holds a wide 54-39 lead over his likely Democratic opponent, former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, while Donald Trump is up 51-42 against Joe Biden.

 NV Ballot: The Nevada Supreme Court has upheld a February ruling by a lower court that blocked a pair of amendments that would establish a bipartisan redistricting commission from appearing on the ballot this fall. That earlier ruling disallowed the amendments because they would not raise the revenue needed to operate the commission they sought to create.

Obituaries

 Chris Cannon: Former Utah Rep. Chris Cannon, an ardent conservative who lost renomination to Jason Chaffetz in the 2008 Republican primary, died Wednesday at age 73.

Cannon served six terms in Congress and compiled a very conservative voting record, but he also supported a pathway to citizenship and government benefits for some undocumented immigrants. His decisive defeat foreshadowed the direction his party was heading in a full eight years before the ascendence of Donald Trump was complete.

Cannon first won his seat in 1996 by unseating Democratic Rep. Bill Orton 51-47 in the 3rd District, and he went on to serve as one of 13 House managers in the 1999 impeachment trial of Bill Clinton. However, while Cannon never had trouble turning back Democrats, his views infuriated the GOP's nativist base.

"We love immigrants in Utah. We don’t make distinctions between legal and illegal," he said in 2002—comments that would be unthinkable for a Republican now.

Cannon passed his first major test in the 2004 primary when he held off former state Rep. Matt Throckmorton 58-42. Two years later, his 56-44 triumph over developer John Jacob in the primary was viewed by national observers as a major win for George W. Bush's immigration goals. (Jacob infamously told the Salt Lake Tribune ahead of that race, "There's another force that wants to keep us from going to Washington, D.C. It's the devil is what it is.")

However, Cannon's victories proved misleading. Chaffetz, a former chief of staff to Gov. Jon Huntsman, made a nativist pitch similar to that of Cannon's prior opponents while arguing that the party as a whole had "lost its way." Chaffetz won in a 60-40 landslide that presaged years of turbulence and waning influence for the old GOP establishment.

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Democrats launch first stage of plan to flip Wisconsin Senate

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

WI State Senate: The Wisconsin Democratic Party announced on Wednesday that it plans to spend a hefty $7 million on TV ads in five state Senate districts, a sum the Associated Press' Todd Richmond says represents "the biggest ad buy of its kind Democrats in the state have ever made in legislative races."

The offensive comes after the state approved new legislative maps to replace Republican gerrymanders that the state Supreme Court struck down late last year. Energized by the new districts, which much more closely reflect Wisconsin's swingy nature, Democrats are fielding candidates in every Senate seat on the ballot for the first time in more than two decades.

Reclaiming their first majority since 2012, however, will likely take two election cycles because only 16 of the upper chamber's 33 seats are up this year. But making gains this fall is critical for Democrats to have a shot at flipping the chamber in 2026, when the other half of the Senate will go before voters.

Republicans won a 22-11 advantage in 2022, a two-thirds supermajority that would allow them to remove impeached state officials—a power they've threatened to wield but have yet to do so. They also hold a lopsided edge in the Assembly, which has the power to start impeachment proceedings with just a simple majority, though they're just short of the two-thirds threshold in the lower chamber.

But the new maps, which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed in February after it was passed by the legislature, will make it all but impossible for the GOP to retain those skewed margins.

That's because Joe Biden would have carried 18 Senate districts under the new boundaries compared to 15 for Donald Trump, according to VEST data from Dave's Redistricting App. That's a stark difference from the old map, which gave Trump a 22-11 edge—figures that mirror the Republicans' current numbers there.

In total, six Democratic-held seats will be on the ballot in 2024 compared with 10 for Republicans. Four of those 10 GOP seats went for Biden, giving Democrats the chance to win them all. Every Democratic seat, by contrast, was also won by Biden.

The AP's Richmond reports Wisconsin Democrats are targeting these four Biden-Republican seats, as well as one swingy Democratic constituency that could be vulnerable, with ads set to begin after the state's Aug. 13 primaries. In each case, the president's margin was in single digits, so all will be competitive affairs.

The Democrats' best pickup target may be the 18th District, an open seat that stretches from Appleton south to Oshkosh and favored Biden 53-45. Republicans will choose between physician Anthony Phillips and businessman Blong Yang. The Democratic frontrunner, meanwhile, is Appleton Alderperson Kristin Alfheim. (Wisconsin's filing deadline isn't until June 3, so the roster of candidates in each of these races may not be set.)

The GOP also doesn't have an incumbent defending the 30th District in the Green Bay area, which backed Biden by a smaller 51-47 spread. Business consultant Jamie Wall announced in March that he'd seek the Democratic nod to take on Republican Sen. Eric Wimberger, but the incumbent later opted to relocate to the dark red 2nd District next door. The GOP doesn't lack a candidate here, though, as Allouez Village President Jim Rafter launched a bid soon after Wimberger switched races.

Two Republican senators, meanwhile, are seeking reelection in competitive constituencies. Sen. Joan Ballweg is defending the 14th District to the north of Madison against Democrat Sarah Keyeski, who works as a mental health counselor. Biden also prevailed 51-47 here.

GOP Sen. Duey Stroebel, meanwhile, is trying to hold the 8th District, a seat in Milwaukee's northern suburbs that went for Biden by just half a percentage point. Environmental attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin, who rose to prominence in a competitive special election last year, has the Democratic nod to herself.

Habush Sinykin campaigned in 2023 for the previous version of the 8th, which favored Trump 52-47, in a contest that took place following former GOP Sen. Alberta Darling's resignation. Habush Sinykin outperformed those presidential baselines but narrowly lost to state Rep. Dan Knodl by a 51-49 margin.

But while Knodl's victory returned the GOP to supermajority status, he didn't have long to enjoy his promotion. The new maps placed Knodl and Stroebel in the same Senate district, prompting Knodl to run for his old seat in the Assembly rather than oppose his new colleague. (Knodl will instead take on Rep. Janel Brandtjen, an election denier he beat in last year's special election primary.)

Meanwhile, the only vulnerable Democratic-held seat up this year belongs to Sen. Brad Pfaff, whose 32nd District around La Crosse favored Biden 52-46. Pfaff lost a close contest in 2022 for the 3rd Congressional District to Republican Derrick Van Orden, but he opted to seek reelection rather than try for a rematch.

Pfaff's only announced Republican opponent is Trempealeau County Board member Stacey Klein, who abandoned her hopeless campaign to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin last month to instead run for the legislature.

Should Democrats run the table by holding all their current seats and flipping the four Biden-Republican districts, the GOP would still hold a small 18-15 advantage overall. It's unlikely Democrats can hope for much more this year because the remaining six Republican seats all went for Trump by double-digit margins, though three more winnable Biden districts held by Republicans will be up in 2026.

These Senate races won't be the only closely watched legislative contests in the state, though, as Democrats are also working to flip the Assembly. And unlike in the Senate, Democrats have a chance to secure a majority this year: While the GOP holds an imposing 64-35 majority, all 99 representatives are up for new two-year terms. (Members of the assembly, somewhat confusingly, hold the title of representative rather than assemblymember or something similar.)

Trump carried 64 districts under the old boundaries, which, like the Senate, matches the number of constituencies his party holds. However, Trump took just 50 seats under the new map, which gives Democrats the chance to take their first majority since the 2010 red wave.

Senate

MD-Sen: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin reports that EMILYs List has now spent a total of $2.5 million on ads to help Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks beat Rep. David Trone in Tuesday's Democratic primary. EMILYs previously reported spending $1.6 million on television and digital platforms in FEC documents filed May 3.

NV-Sen: A billionaire-backed super PAC supporting Army veteran Sam Brown is now running ads attacking former diplomat Jeff Gunter despite a poll last month that showed Brown with a monster lead in Nevada's June 11 GOP primary.

The new spot for Duty First Nevada, which is chiefly funded by software company mogul David Duffield, hammers Gunter, a dermatologist appointed by Donald Trump as ambassador to Iceland in 2018, as an "infomercial doctor" and "longtime California Democrat" who "cashed in telling seniors he could reverse their age."

The ad features clips of those late-night infomercials, in which Gunter hawked a purported wrinkle-removing "serum" under the auspices of an outfit he created called the "Youthology Research Institute."

The commercial goes on to claim Gunter has never voted in Nevada and didn't vote for Trump's reelection in 2020. The Daily Beast's Sam Brodey reported last year that Gunter registered to vote as a Democrat in 2000 in California, where he grew up and started his medical practice and that he last cast a ballot in the Golden State in 2018.

Brodey also wrote that there's no record of Gunter voting anywhere in 2020. The longtime Nevada property owner registered to vote in the Silver State the following year, but he does not appear to have returned the 2022 absentee ballot he requested. (Gunter made that request from California.)

Duty First Nevada has yet to file reports detailing its spending on this new ad campaign, but it previously spent $1.2 million to boost Brown's campaign. That the PAC feels it necessary to get involved to this degree is something of a surprise, though, as an early April survey for the NRSC, which is backing Brown, showed him with a 58-3 lead on Gunter.

House

MD-03: Retiring Sen. Ben Cardin expressed his support for state Sen. Sarah Elfreth's bid for the Democratic nomination in Maryland's open 3rd Congressional District, both appearing with her at a campaign event and telling the Baltimore Sun in a statement that "she is ready for the job." Cardin himself represented previous versions of the safely blue 3rd District for the 20 years preceding his successful Senate bid in 2006.

According to the Sun's Dana Munro, Cardin's team claims his involvement in the race for his old seat did not constitute "a formal endorsement," but of course, there's no such thing as a formal endorsement. And as we always note when politicians insist on playing games like this, actions speak far louder than words.

It's particularly unclear why Cardin would even want to hedge in this case, since he offered effusive praise for Elfreth, calling her "one of our great leaders" on climate change and saying she "knows how to get things accomplished." Regardless of what Cardin might call it, we call that an endorsement.

Elfreth is an apparent frontrunner in the massive 21-candidate primary that will take place next week, along with former Capitol police officer Harry Dunn. Dunn has raised more than $4.5 million for his campaign while Elfreth has benefited from almost $4.2 million in spending from the United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC.

But while UDP had previously stuck to airing positive ads for most of the campaign, it just deployed a new commercial that argues Dunn should be "ashamed of himself" for running negative spots against Elfreth. (Those Dunn ads went after the state senator for benefiting from spending from AIPAC, which his narrator characterized as a "right-wing SuperPAC funded by Trump donors.")

UDP's new spot doesn't say anything more about Dunn, though. Instead, it moves on to praise Elfreth as a loyal Democrat who is "as anti-Trump as they come." Another ad focuses entirely on reproductive rights and doesn't mention Dunn.

MD-06: Former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney has released an internal poll from Garin-Hart-Yang that shows her leading Del. Joe Vogel 37-24 in Tuesday's Democratic primary, with 22% undecided and the balance split between the rest of the field. (A total of 16 names are listed on the ballot, though some candidates have dropped out.)

Delaney publicized her survey days after Vogel's allies at Equality PAC released a late April poll from Public Policy Polling that showed the two deadlocked 24-24 in the contest to replace Senate candidate David Trone, a fellow Democrat. We have not seen any other recent polls.

NH-02: Maggie Goodlander, a former official in the Biden administration who had reportedly been considering a bid for New Hampshire's open 2nd District, joined the September primary for the Democratic nomination on Thursday.

Goodlander, who was once an aide to the late Sens. Joe Lieberman and John McCain, has deep connections to the White House. The Boston Globe's James Pindell last month characterized her as part of an "elite circle of aides to President Biden," which includes her husband, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Goodlander grew up in the 2nd District (her mother, Betty Tamposi, lost a close GOP primary for a previous version of the seat in 1988), and she touted her local roots in her kickoff. However, Pindell notes that she and Sullivan purchased a home in 2018 in Portsmouth, which is located in the 1st District. Goodlander says she recently signed a lease for a residence in her hometown of Nashua in the 2nd.

Goodlander is the third notable Democrat to enter the race, following state Sen. Becky Whitley and former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, who has the endorsement of retiring Rep. Annie Kuster.

NJ-10: Hudson County Commission Jerry Walker has joined the July 16 Democratic primary for the special election to replace Rep. Donald Payne Jr., who died last month. Candidate filing for the race for this safely blue seat in the Newark area closes at 4 PM ET today.

SC-04: Rep. William Timmons is now airing negative ads against state Rep. Adam Morgan ahead of their June 11 Republican primary showdown for South Carolina's 4th District, a safely red constituency in the Greenville area. The narrator accuses Morgan of missing "over 400 votes" in the legislature before reminding viewers that Timmons has Donald Trump's endorsement.

Morgan, who chairs his chamber's far-right Freedom Caucus, received an endorsement this week from the eponymous congressional group. Republicans in Congress who resent the antics of the nihilistic caucus, though, got a new reason this week to dread what might happen if Morgan were to join the House.

The final days of South Carolina's legislative session were defined by a chaotic battle between Morgan's Freedom Caucus and the rest of the GOP-led state House. Morgan upset most of his fellow Republicans when he unsuccessfully attempted to bar state agencies from sending voter registration forms to non-citizens.

"These are stunts … circus antics, people," said one exasperated Republican, state Rep. Gil Gatch. Micah Caskey, another Republican lawmaker who is no fan of Morgan's crew, went even further by addressing the lower chamber while donning a tinfoil hat labeled "South Carolina Freedom Caucus."

Obituaries

Pete McCloskey: Former California Rep. Pete McCloskey, a liberal Republican who rose to national prominence in 1972 by challenging President Richard Nixon for renomination as an anti-Vietnam War candidate, died Wednesday at age 96. McCloskey, as Margaret O'Mara wrote in her book "The Code," also played a role in Silicon Valley's rise as a technological powerhouse.

McCloskey first made his mark in politics in 1967 by beating another well-known Republican, former child star Shirley Temple Black, 34-22 in the first round of an all-party special election for a House seat in the Bay Area. (McCloskey's surprise win was the basis of a 1968 nonfiction book, "The Sinking of the Lollipop.")

McCloskey easily won the general election and served in the House for many years. In 1982, however, he sought a promotion to the Senate but ended with a 38-25 loss in the primary to the eventual winner, San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson. You can find much more about McCloskey's eventful career, including a quixotic 2006 primary bid against a conservative congressman that helped Democrats flip the Bay Area's last GOP-held seat, in the San Jose Mercury News' obituary.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now? Federal prosecutors have re-indicted former Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry for lying to federal agents in connection with an effort to funnel $30,000 to Fortenberry's campaign via straw donors.

While Fortenberry was convicted by a jury in Los Angeles in 2022, a federal appeals court overturned his conviction late last year, saying prosecutors had tried him in the wrong jurisdiction.

The Department of Justice had brought charges against Fortenberry in Los Angeles, where the straw-donor scheme was originally put in motion by a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire. However, the false statements for which the jury convicted the then-congressman were made in Washington, D.C., and at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska. To resolve the problem, prosecutors have brought their renewed charges in D.C.

Fortenberry announced his resignation from Nebraska's conservative 1st District two days after his conviction in 2022. He was sentenced later that year to two years' probation, 320 hours of community service, and a $25,000 fine. In a statement responding to the new charges, an attorney for Fortenberry did not appear to address his client's culpability but rather accused the Justice Department of "overzealous prosecution."

Poll Pile

  • NC-Gov: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Josh Stein (D): 39, Mark Robinson (R): 39, Mike Ross (L): 4, Wayne Turner (G): 1 (43-38 Trump) (April: 40-38 Robinson)
  • NC Supreme Court: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Jefferson Griffin (R): 40, Allison Riggs (D-inc): 39

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Democrats launch first stage of plan to flip Wisconsin Senate

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

WI State Senate: The Wisconsin Democratic Party announced on Wednesday that it plans to spend a hefty $7 million on TV ads in five state Senate districts, a sum the Associated Press' Todd Richmond says represents "the biggest ad buy of its kind Democrats in the state have ever made in legislative races."

The offensive comes after the state approved new legislative maps to replace Republican gerrymanders that the state Supreme Court struck down late last year. Energized by the new districts, which much more closely reflect Wisconsin's swingy nature, Democrats are fielding candidates in every Senate seat on the ballot for the first time in more than two decades.

Reclaiming their first majority since 2012, however, will likely take two election cycles because only 16 of the upper chamber's 33 seats are up this year. But making gains this fall is critical for Democrats to have a shot at flipping the chamber in 2026, when the other half of the Senate will go before voters.

Republicans won a 22-11 advantage in 2022, a two-thirds supermajority that would allow them to remove impeached state officials—a power they've threatened to wield but have yet to do so. They also hold a lopsided edge in the Assembly, which has the power to start impeachment proceedings with just a simple majority, though they're just short of the two-thirds threshold in the lower chamber.

But the new maps, which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers signed in February after it was passed by the legislature, will make it all but impossible for the GOP to retain those skewed margins.

That's because Joe Biden would have carried 18 Senate districts under the new boundaries compared to 15 for Donald Trump, according to VEST data from Dave's Redistricting App. That's a stark difference from the old map, which gave Trump a 22-11 edge—figures that mirror the Republicans' current numbers there.

In total, six Democratic-held seats will be on the ballot in 2024 compared with 10 for Republicans. Four of those 10 GOP seats went for Biden, giving Democrats the chance to win them all. Every Democratic seat, by contrast, was also won by Biden.

The AP's Richmond reports Wisconsin Democrats are targeting these four Biden-Republican seats, as well as one swingy Democratic constituency that could be vulnerable, with ads set to begin after the state's Aug. 13 primaries. In each case, the president's margin was in single digits, so all will be competitive affairs.

The Democrats' best pickup target may be the 18th District, an open seat that stretches from Appleton south to Oshkosh and favored Biden 53-45. Republicans will choose between physician Anthony Phillips and businessman Blong Yang. The Democratic frontrunner, meanwhile, is Appleton Alderperson Kristin Alfheim. (Wisconsin's filing deadline isn't until June 3, so the roster of candidates in each of these races may not be set.)

The GOP also doesn't have an incumbent defending the 30th District in the Green Bay area, which backed Biden by a smaller 51-47 spread. Business consultant Jamie Wall announced in March that he'd seek the Democratic nod to take on Republican Sen. Eric Wimberger, but the incumbent later opted to relocate to the dark red 2nd District next door. The GOP doesn't lack a candidate here, though, as Allouez Village President Jim Rafter launched a bid soon after Wimberger switched races.

Two Republican senators, meanwhile, are seeking reelection in competitive constituencies. Sen. Joan Ballweg is defending the 14th District to the north of Madison against Democrat Sarah Keyeski, who works as a mental health counselor. Biden also prevailed 51-47 here.

GOP Sen. Duey Stroebel, meanwhile, is trying to hold the 8th District, a seat in Milwaukee's northern suburbs that went for Biden by just half a percentage point. Environmental attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin, who rose to prominence in a competitive special election last year, has the Democratic nod to herself.

Habush Sinykin campaigned in 2023 for the previous version of the 8th, which favored Trump 52-47, in a contest that took place following former GOP Sen. Alberta Darling's resignation. Habush Sinykin outperformed those presidential baselines but narrowly lost to state Rep. Dan Knodl by a 51-49 margin.

But while Knodl's victory returned the GOP to supermajority status, he didn't have long to enjoy his promotion. The new maps placed Knodl and Stroebel in the same Senate district, prompting Knodl to run for his old seat in the Assembly rather than oppose his new colleague. (Knodl will instead take on Rep. Janel Brandtjen, an election denier he beat in last year's special election primary.)

Meanwhile, the only vulnerable Democratic-held seat up this year belongs to Sen. Brad Pfaff, whose 32nd District around La Crosse favored Biden 52-46. Pfaff lost a close contest in 2022 for the 3rd Congressional District to Republican Derrick Van Orden, but he opted to seek reelection rather than try for a rematch.

Pfaff's only announced Republican opponent is Trempealeau County Board member Stacey Klein, who abandoned her hopeless campaign to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin last month to instead run for the legislature.

Should Democrats run the table by holding all their current seats and flipping the four Biden-Republican districts, the GOP would still hold a small 18-15 advantage overall. It's unlikely Democrats can hope for much more this year because the remaining six Republican seats all went for Trump by double-digit margins, though three more winnable Biden districts held by Republicans will be up in 2026.

These Senate races won't be the only closely watched legislative contests in the state, though, as Democrats are also working to flip the Assembly. And unlike in the Senate, Democrats have a chance to secure a majority this year: While the GOP holds an imposing 64-35 majority, all 99 representatives are up for new two-year terms. (Members of the assembly, somewhat confusingly, hold the title of representative rather than assemblymember or something similar.)

Trump carried 64 districts under the old boundaries, which, like the Senate, matches the number of constituencies his party holds. However, Trump took just 50 seats under the new map, which gives Democrats the chance to take their first majority since the 2010 red wave.

Senate

MD-Sen: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin reports that EMILYs List has now spent a total of $2.5 million on ads to help Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks beat Rep. David Trone in Tuesday's Democratic primary. EMILYs previously reported spending $1.6 million on television and digital platforms in FEC documents filed May 3.

NV-Sen: A billionaire-backed super PAC supporting Army veteran Sam Brown is now running ads attacking former diplomat Jeff Gunter despite a poll last month that showed Brown with a monster lead in Nevada's June 11 GOP primary.

The new spot for Duty First Nevada, which is chiefly funded by software company mogul David Duffield, hammers Gunter, a dermatologist appointed by Donald Trump as ambassador to Iceland in 2018, as an "infomercial doctor" and "longtime California Democrat" who "cashed in telling seniors he could reverse their age."

The ad features clips of those late-night infomercials, in which Gunter hawked a purported wrinkle-removing "serum" under the auspices of an outfit he created called the "Youthology Research Institute."

The commercial goes on to claim Gunter has never voted in Nevada and didn't vote for Trump's reelection in 2020. The Daily Beast's Sam Brodey reported last year that Gunter registered to vote as a Democrat in 2000 in California, where he grew up and started his medical practice and that he last cast a ballot in the Golden State in 2018.

Brodey also wrote that there's no record of Gunter voting anywhere in 2020. The longtime Nevada property owner registered to vote in the Silver State the following year, but he does not appear to have returned the 2022 absentee ballot he requested. (Gunter made that request from California.)

Duty First Nevada has yet to file reports detailing its spending on this new ad campaign, but it previously spent $1.2 million to boost Brown's campaign. That the PAC feels it necessary to get involved to this degree is something of a surprise, though, as an early April survey for the NRSC, which is backing Brown, showed him with a 58-3 lead on Gunter.

House

MD-03: Retiring Sen. Ben Cardin expressed his support for state Sen. Sarah Elfreth's bid for the Democratic nomination in Maryland's open 3rd Congressional District, both appearing with her at a campaign event and telling the Baltimore Sun in a statement that "she is ready for the job." Cardin himself represented previous versions of the safely blue 3rd District for the 20 years preceding his successful Senate bid in 2006.

According to the Sun's Dana Munro, Cardin's team claims his involvement in the race for his old seat did not constitute "a formal endorsement," but of course, there's no such thing as a formal endorsement. And as we always note when politicians insist on playing games like this, actions speak far louder than words.

It's particularly unclear why Cardin would even want to hedge in this case, since he offered effusive praise for Elfreth, calling her "one of our great leaders" on climate change and saying she "knows how to get things accomplished." Regardless of what Cardin might call it, we call that an endorsement.

Elfreth is an apparent frontrunner in the massive 21-candidate primary that will take place next week, along with former Capitol police officer Harry Dunn. Dunn has raised more than $4.5 million for his campaign while Elfreth has benefited from almost $4.2 million in spending from the United Democracy Project, a super PAC affiliated with AIPAC.

But while UDP had previously stuck to airing positive ads for most of the campaign, it just deployed a new commercial that argues Dunn should be "ashamed of himself" for running negative spots against Elfreth. (Those Dunn ads went after the state senator for benefiting from spending from AIPAC, which his narrator characterized as a "right-wing SuperPAC funded by Trump donors.")

UDP's new spot doesn't say anything more about Dunn, though. Instead, it moves on to praise Elfreth as a loyal Democrat who is "as anti-Trump as they come." Another ad focuses entirely on reproductive rights and doesn't mention Dunn.

MD-06: Former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney has released an internal poll from Garin-Hart-Yang that shows her leading Del. Joe Vogel 37-24 in Tuesday's Democratic primary, with 22% undecided and the balance split between the rest of the field. (A total of 16 names are listed on the ballot, though some candidates have dropped out.)

Delaney publicized her survey days after Vogel's allies at Equality PAC released a late April poll from Public Policy Polling that showed the two deadlocked 24-24 in the contest to replace Senate candidate David Trone, a fellow Democrat. We have not seen any other recent polls.

NH-02: Maggie Goodlander, a former official in the Biden administration who had reportedly been considering a bid for New Hampshire's open 2nd District, joined the September primary for the Democratic nomination on Thursday.

Goodlander, who was once an aide to the late Sens. Joe Lieberman and John McCain, has deep connections to the White House. The Boston Globe's James Pindell last month characterized her as part of an "elite circle of aides to President Biden," which includes her husband, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Goodlander grew up in the 2nd District (her mother, Betty Tamposi, lost a close GOP primary for a previous version of the seat in 1988), and she touted her local roots in her kickoff. However, Pindell notes that she and Sullivan purchased a home in 2018 in Portsmouth, which is located in the 1st District. Goodlander says she recently signed a lease for a residence in her hometown of Nashua in the 2nd.

Goodlander is the third notable Democrat to enter the race, following state Sen. Becky Whitley and former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, who has the endorsement of retiring Rep. Annie Kuster.

NJ-10: Hudson County Commission Jerry Walker has joined the July 16 Democratic primary for the special election to replace Rep. Donald Payne Jr., who died last month. Candidate filing for the race for this safely blue seat in the Newark area closes at 4 PM ET today.

SC-04: Rep. William Timmons is now airing negative ads against state Rep. Adam Morgan ahead of their June 11 Republican primary showdown for South Carolina's 4th District, a safely red constituency in the Greenville area. The narrator accuses Morgan of missing "over 400 votes" in the legislature before reminding viewers that Timmons has Donald Trump's endorsement.

Morgan, who chairs his chamber's far-right Freedom Caucus, received an endorsement this week from the eponymous congressional group. Republicans in Congress who resent the antics of the nihilistic caucus, though, got a new reason this week to dread what might happen if Morgan were to join the House.

The final days of South Carolina's legislative session were defined by a chaotic battle between Morgan's Freedom Caucus and the rest of the GOP-led state House. Morgan upset most of his fellow Republicans when he unsuccessfully attempted to bar state agencies from sending voter registration forms to non-citizens.

"These are stunts … circus antics, people," said one exasperated Republican, state Rep. Gil Gatch. Micah Caskey, another Republican lawmaker who is no fan of Morgan's crew, went even further by addressing the lower chamber while donning a tinfoil hat labeled "South Carolina Freedom Caucus."

Obituaries

Pete McCloskey: Former California Rep. Pete McCloskey, a liberal Republican who rose to national prominence in 1972 by challenging President Richard Nixon for renomination as an anti-Vietnam War candidate, died Wednesday at age 96. McCloskey, as Margaret O'Mara wrote in her book "The Code," also played a role in Silicon Valley's rise as a technological powerhouse.

McCloskey first made his mark in politics in 1967 by beating another well-known Republican, former child star Shirley Temple Black, 34-22 in the first round of an all-party special election for a House seat in the Bay Area. (McCloskey's surprise win was the basis of a 1968 nonfiction book, "The Sinking of the Lollipop.")

McCloskey easily won the general election and served in the House for many years. In 1982, however, he sought a promotion to the Senate but ended with a 38-25 loss in the primary to the eventual winner, San Diego Mayor Pete Wilson. You can find much more about McCloskey's eventful career, including a quixotic 2006 primary bid against a conservative congressman that helped Democrats flip the Bay Area's last GOP-held seat, in the San Jose Mercury News' obituary.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now? Federal prosecutors have re-indicted former Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry for lying to federal agents in connection with an effort to funnel $30,000 to Fortenberry's campaign via straw donors.

While Fortenberry was convicted by a jury in Los Angeles in 2022, a federal appeals court overturned his conviction late last year, saying prosecutors had tried him in the wrong jurisdiction.

The Department of Justice had brought charges against Fortenberry in Los Angeles, where the straw-donor scheme was originally put in motion by a Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire. However, the false statements for which the jury convicted the then-congressman were made in Washington, D.C., and at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska. To resolve the problem, prosecutors have brought their renewed charges in D.C.

Fortenberry announced his resignation from Nebraska's conservative 1st District two days after his conviction in 2022. He was sentenced later that year to two years' probation, 320 hours of community service, and a $25,000 fine. In a statement responding to the new charges, an attorney for Fortenberry did not appear to address his client's culpability but rather accused the Justice Department of "overzealous prosecution."

Poll Pile

  • NC-Gov: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Josh Stein (D): 39, Mark Robinson (R): 39, Mike Ross (L): 4, Wayne Turner (G): 1 (43-38 Trump) (April: 40-38 Robinson)
  • NC Supreme Court: Cygnal (R) for Carolina Journal: Jefferson Griffin (R): 40, Allison Riggs (D-inc): 39

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Why the field to replace Mitt Romney may soon get a lot smaller

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

UT-Sen: The Utah GOP's April 27 convention is coming up quickly, and a newly formed super PAC is trying to make sure Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs' campaign to succeed retiring Sen. Mitt Romney comes to an end at the event well before the June 25 primary.

The Deseret News' Brigham Tomco reports that Hometown Freedom Action Network has spent $17,000 on mailers and text messages to delegates portraying Staggs, who has emphasized his hard-right stances, as disloyal to conservatives. One message faults the mayor for initially supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president, declaring, "Betraying Trump is not MAGA." Another blasts Staggs as "woke" for instituting anti-bias training for police officers. It's not clear who is funding the group.

One delegate told Tomco he considers these kinds of attacks from outside groups "frustrating, annoying, and inappropriate." Staggs is hoping others agree because he needs to perform well with delegates if he's to keep his campaign going.

Utah allows candidates to reach the primary ballot by competing at their convention or by collecting signatures, and while candidates can pursue both routes, Staggs is only going with the first option. This means that, should he fail to win the support of at least 40% of the delegates on April 27, his campaign is over. Another hard-right candidate, conservative activist Carolyn Phippen, is also pursuing a convention-only strategy.

It's not clear yet, however, if a third candidate, attorney Brent Orrin Hatch, needs to rely on delegates to get onto the ballot. Hatch, who is the son and namesake of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch, submitted signatures ahead of the April 13 deadline, but election authorities have not yet verified if he turned in the requisite 28,000 valid petitions.

Hatch himself also sounded uncertain if he'd hit this goal at the start of the month. He previously told Tomco the task was "daunting," and that his status was "up in the air."

The convention is far less important for two other Republicans, Rep. John Curtis and former state House Speaker Brad Wilson. Election authorities have verified that each of them turned in enough signatures to make the ballot, though they're each still taking part in the convention.

Hometown Freedom Action Network sent out texts blasting Curtis, who appears to be the least doctrinaire of the candidates, as someone who was "never with President Trump, and never will be." However, it only spent $2,500 on this messaging against the congressman, who will be on the June ballot no matter how well he does at the April 27 gathering.

The Downballot

It's an old story, but it never gets old: Democrats just whooped Republicans in fundraising—again. This week on "The Downballot" podcast, we're running through some of the most eye-popping numbers Democrats hauled in during the first quarter of the year (Sherrod Brown! Jon Tester! Colin Allred!) and the comparatively weak performances we're seeing from Republicans almost across the board. The GOP hopes to make up the gap by relying on self-funders, but a campaign without a strong fundraising network can be dangerously hollow.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also recap the week's electoral action, starting with victories in a pair of special elections in Michigan that allowed Democrats to reclaim their majority in the state House, plus a noteworthy House runoff in Alabama that could lead to a Black Democrat representing Mobile for the first time since Reconstruction.

The Davids also explain why a surprise retirement from the Wisconsin Supreme Court means progressives need to be on guard against a top-two lockout in yet another critical battle for control of the court. And finally, there's the astonishing three-way House race in California that could soon turn into a humdrum two-way affair thanks to an unexpected recount.

1Q Fundraising

Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present brand-new charts rounding up first-quarter fundraising numbers for every incumbent and notable challenger running for the House and the Senate this year. The overarching story is a familiar one: Democrats in key races are outraising their Republican rivals almost across the board, sometimes by astonishing margins.

The lopsided Senate battlefield is particularly noteworthy. Compared to the same quarter six years ago, the two most endangered Democratic senators, Montana's Jon Tester and Ohio's Sherod Brown, raised four times as much as they did for their last campaigns. Meanwhile, in Texas, Rep. Colin Allred managed to exceed the already eye-popping records set by Beto O'Rourle in 2018. Check out our charts for the complete picture in both chambers of Congress.

Senate

MT-Sen: In a follow-up to her absolutely bonkers report about former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy last week, the Washington Post's Liz Goodwin pokes further holes in the Republican's claims about an alleged bullet wound he suffered.

Sheehy claims he lied about getting shot at a national park in 2015 in order to deter a military investigation into what he says was the true source of his injury—a possible incident of friendly fire in Afghanistan three years earlier—but new documents obtained by the Post include a report from an unnamed person visiting the park who reported "an accidental gun discharge" to the National Park Service.

An attorney for Sheehy disputed whether there had in fact been any such report by a park visitor. Sheehy's campaign previously said it was seeking to obtain copies of his hospital records from the 2015 incident, but the same attorney did not directly respond when asked whether those records had been received.

NJ-Sen: A three-judge federal appeals panel has upheld a ruling by a lower court last month that barred the use of New Jersey's "county line" system on the grounds that it violates the Constitution. However, that ruling remains in effect solely for the Democratic primary. Barring further legal action, Republicans will still be able to print ballots that give favorable placement to party-endorsed candidates. That state of affairs is likely temporary, though, as a similar ruling applying to Republican primaries is likely at some point.

Governors

MO-Gov: The Missouri Scout has rounded up campaign fundraising reports covering the first quarter of the year, and the overall story of the Aug. 6 Republican primary for governor remains the same as it's been throughout the entire cycle. Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe continues to dominate financially even though almost every released survey shows him trailing Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft by double digits. State Sen. Bill Eigel also brought in more money during the quarter than Ashcroft even those polls show him with little support.

Kehoe and his joint fundraising committee this time raised a combined $2.5 million and ended March with a total of $6.3 million. Eigel and his committee outraised Ashcroft and his allies $587,000 to $513,000, though it was Ashcroft's side that finished the quarter with a $2.6 million to $1.7 million cash on hand advantage.

On the Democratic side, state House Minority Leader Crystal Quade and her committee together raised $285,000 and had $391,000 available. Businessman Mike Hamra and his allies together brought in $690,000, which includes $250,000 from the candidate, and ended March with $1.1 million banked.  

House

CA-16: NBC Bay Area's Jocelyn Moran reports that a newly formed super PAC called Count the Vote is providing the money to finance the ongoing recount into the March 5 top-two primary. It's not clear who is funding the group, but Moran says that the address on its checks matches that of a law firm that used to work for former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Liccardo, who is assured a place in the Nov. 5 general election, has continued to deny he has anything to do with the recount even though the person who requested it, Jonathan Padilla, worked for his 2014 campaign and served in his administration. Two of Liccardo's fellow Democrats, Assemblyman Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, tied for second place last month, and they'd both advance to the general election unless the recount changes the results.

The recount process began Monday, and it's not clear how long it will take to conclude. While election officials in Santa Clara County, which makes up over 80% of the 16th District, initially told KQED they believed this would be a five-day undertaking, Moran writes that they now think it could last between one and two weeks. Personnel in San Mateo County, which forms the balance of the seat, separately tell ABC 7 they believe their retabulations will be done around April 24.

Officials in Santa Clara and San Mateo tell The Daily Journal that the daily cost in their respective counties is $16,000 and $5,000, though they add it would change depending on exactly what Padilla requests. The process would come to an end if Padilla missed a day's payment, and an incomplete recount would leave the certified results unchanged.

MD-02: AIPAC, the hawkish pro-Israel group, has endorsed Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary, where his main rival for this open seat is Del. Harry Bhandari. Olszewski has been the frontrunner ever since he launched his bid in January, and he previously earned endorsements from retiring Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, longtime Rep. Steny Hoyer, and organized labor.

Olszewski also enjoys a large financial advantage over Bhandari. The executive raised $726,000 in the first quarter and finished March with $499,000 on hand, while Bhandari took in $134,000 during this time and ended the period with only $68,000 left to spend.

MD-03: Retired Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn has publicized an internal poll from Upswing Research and Strategy that shows him leading state Sen. Sarah Elfreth by 22-18, while a 44% plurality of voters undecided ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary for this safely blue open seat. State Sen. Clarence Lam was further back with 8%, while no other candidate in the crowded race exceeded 3%.

Dunn gained national visibility after he helped protect Congress during the Jan. 6 insurrection, and that fame helped him dominate the rest of the field in fundraising. Dunn raised a massive $3.7 million in the first quarter and finished March with $1.7 million on hand. That haul was the third-largest of any House candidate nationwide, and it also was more than the rest of his primary rivals combined.

By contrast, Elfreth raised $502,000 and had $569,000 left to spend. However, Elfreth has also received $1.4 million in outside support from the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, while none of the other candidates have benefited from major outside spending.

Lam, for his part, raised $284,000 and had $505,000 remaining in the bank. Further back, Del. Mike Rogers raised $140,000 and had $171,000 left over, while labor lawyer John Morse raised $116,000 and finished March with $94,000. None of the other candidates took in six-figure sums.

ME-02: State Rep. Austin Theriault has unveiled an internal poll from Public Opinion Strategies that finds him leading fellow state Rep. Mike Soboleski by 30-7 ahead of the June 11 Republican primary, though a large majority of respondents are undecided. The poll's sample size was just 300 respondents, which is the bare minimum that Daily Kos Elections requires for inclusion in the Digest.

Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson are supporting Theriault for the nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, and their preferred candidate raised $655,000 in the first quarter to Soboleski's $43,000. Theriault also had $831,000 on hand compared to $48,000 for his rival. However, Golden's haul was even larger at $1 million raised, and he had $2.2 million on hand at the start of April.

NJ-10: The New Jersey Globe reports that Democratic Rep. Donald Payne has been unconscious and on a ventilator ever since he suffered a heart attack on April 6. The congressman's office on April 9 put out a statement that did not indicate Payne was not conscious, saying instead that his "prognosis is good and he is expected to make a full recovery."

NY-16: Politico's Jeff Coltin has obtained an internal for Rep. Jamaal Bowman that shows him edging out Westchester County Executive George Latimer 44-43 in the June 25 Democratic primary. The pollster, Upswing Research and Strategy, tells us the survey was conducted March 5 through March 10.

The only other numbers we've seen for this contest came from a late March poll for Latimer's allies at Democratic Majority for Israel, and it showed the executive with a wide 52-35 lead. Both DMFI and its pollster, the Mellman Group, are led by Mark Mellman.

SC-01, VA-05, AZ-02, OH-09: American Prosperity Alliance, a dark money group that is close to Kevin McCarthy, has begun running TV ads against three Republican incumbents who voted to oust McCarthy from the speakership last year. The ads, which, are focused on immigration, are also running against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in Ohio's 9th District.

According to AdImpact, the group has spent at least $330,000 against Rep. Nancy Mace, who is trying to fend off former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton in the June 11 primary for South Carolina's 1st District. AdImpact has also tracked another $160,000 that APA is deploying in Virginia's 5th District against Rep. Bob Good, who faces state Sen. John McGuire in the following week's primary.

Meanwhile in Arizona's 2nd District, the group has spent $218,000 so far to weaken incumbent Eli Crane ahead of his July 30 nomination battle against former Yavapai County Supervisor Jack Smith. APA additionally has dropped $150,000 on ads against Kaptur, who she faces a competitive general election against Republican state Rep. Derek Merrin.

Mayors & County Leaders

Raleigh, NC Mayor: Democratic Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin announced Tuesday that she would not seek reelection this year and would instead lead a nonprofit. Baldwin, who was successfully treated for breast cancer last year, added that her husband also had multiple surgeries, and that all this convinced her it was "time to devote my energies to myself and my family and to find other ways to serve."

The nonpartisan general election to succeed Baldwin will take place on Nov. 5, and since there's no runoff, it only takes a plurality to become mayor of North Carolina's capital city. Three notable candidates were already running, and they each identify as Democrats.

City Councilman Corey Branch, who describes himself as a "moderate Democrat," launched his campaign in October. He was joined in January by former state Treasurer Janet Cowell, who was once a rising star in North Carolina Democratic politics.

Terrance Ruth, a North Carolina State University professor who lost to Baldwin 47-41 in 2022, also kicked off a second bid a month before the incumbent announced her departure. Ruth argued last cycle that the mayor's administration hadn't done enough to make housing affordable or to listen to residents.

The field also includes mortgage broker Paul Fitts, who is the only Republican in the contest, and two other candidates. The candidate filing deadline is July 19.

Obituaries

Bob Graham: Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat who rose to prominence during his 26 years as governor and senator, died Tuesday at the age of 87. In our obituary, Jeff Singer recounts the many elections of Graham's long career, including how his famed "Workweeks" helped transform him from relative obscurity into a statewide powerhouse.

Poll Pile

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Why two conservative Arizona justices could lose this fall

The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

 AZ Supreme Court: Arizona voters will likely have the chance to overturn their state Supreme Court's new ruling banning nearly all abortions when they head to the polls this fall, but they'll also have the opportunity to reshape the court itself.

As Bolt's Daniel Nichanian points out, two of the justices who voted with the majority will be up for election to new six-year terms in November, Clint Bolick and Kathryn Hackett King. They won't have actual opponents, though, but rather will face what are known as "retention" elections. Under this system, which is used for members of the judiciary in many states, voters are presented with a simple "yes/no" question asking whether a particular judge should "be retained in office."

It's rare for judges to lose retention elections, but it's also rare for a state supreme court to thrust itself into the national limelight the way that Arizona's just did. And abortion will be a top—if not the top—issue this year in Arizona, particularly because reproductive rights supporters say they've already collected enough signatures to place a measure on the November ballot that would enshrine the right to an abortion into the state constitution.

Should Bolick or Hackett King lose, Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs would be able to appoint replacements, drawn from a list created by the state's Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. But while that commission is, under the state constitution, supposed to be politically diverse, Hobbs' Republican predecessor, Doug Ducey, stacked the board with nominal independents who have ties to the GOP.

Hobbs could reshape the commission with her own appointments, which implicates yet another set of important Arizona elections. Commission members must be approved by the state Senate, which Republicans control by a narrow 16-14 majority. Every member of the Senate, though, will be up for election this year. With abortion so salient—GOP leaders have refused to consider legislation—reversing the court's ban—Democrats have a strong chance of flipping the chamber.

It would, however, be some time before the court could see a majority of Democratic appointees, though such a shift is by no means impossible. The two dissenters in the abortion case, Chief Justice Robert Brutinel and Vice Chief Justice Ann Timmer, will hit the mandatory retirement age of 70 in 2028 and 2030, respectively. Should Hobbs win reelection in 2026, she'd get to fill those vacancies as well. (Bolick, should he survive retention, would face mandatory retirement in 2027, while Hackett King would not do so until 2050.)

The Downballot

It's only April, but the Washington Post's new report on GOP golden boy Tim Sheehy is a strong contender for the craziest political story of the year. On this week's episode of "The Downballot," co-hosts David Nir and David Beard dissect the countless contradictions in Sheehy's tales about a bullet wound that he either received in Afghanistan or in a national park three years later. The Davids also explain why the Arizona Supreme Court's appalling new ruling banning nearly all abortions could lead to two conservative justices losing their seats this fall.

Our guest this week is Sondra Goldschein, who runs the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, an organization dedicated to improving America's badly lagging "care infrastructure." Goldschein explains how issues like paid medical leave laws and greater access to childcare affect an enormous swath of the electorate—and why they're closely tied to voters' perceptions of their economic fortunes. She also highlights candidates her group is working to elect to make these policies a reality.

Subscribe to "The Downballot" wherever you listen to podcasts to make sure you never miss a show. You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by Thursday afternoon. New episodes every Thursday morning!

1Q Fundraising

  • DE-Sen: Lisa Blunt Rochester (D): $1 million raised

  • MA-Sen: Elizabeth Warren (D-inc): $1.1 million raised, $4.4 million in cash on hand 

  • MD-Sen: Larry Hogan (R): $3.1 million raised (in 51 days)

  • AZ-06: Kirsten Engel (D): $1.2 million raised, $1.8 million cash on hand

  • CA-40: Young Kim (R-inc): $1.3 million raised, $3 million cash on hand 

  • CO-05: Jeff Crank (R): $300,000 raised, $225,000 cash on hand 

  • IL-17: Eric Sorensen (D-inc): $745,000 raised, $2.1 million cash on hand 

  • MD-06: Joe Vogel (D): $231,000 raised, $235,000 cash on hand 

  • NE-02: Tony Vargas (D): $777,000 raised, $1.6 million cash on hand

  • PA-17: Chris Deluzio (D-inc): $750,000 raised, $1.45 million cash on hand 

  • VA-10: Eileen Filler-Corn (D): $370,000 raised, $430,000 cash on hand 

  • WA-05: Michael Baumgartner (R): $400,000 raised (in one month) 

Senate

 MD-Sen: Attorney General Anthony Brown announced Wednesday that he was supporting Rep. David Trone in the May 14 Democratic primary, a declaration that Trone made public in a campaign ad. Brown is arguably the most prominent Black politician who has opted to support Trone, who is white, over Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, who would be Maryland's first Black senator.

But while most of the state's political establishment is backing Alsobrooks, Brown and Trone are longtime allies. As a member of the House in 2018, Brown endorsed Trone in the primary for a nearby seat, and as Time's Eric Cortellessa reminds us, the wealthy Trone financed ads to help his colleague's successful 2022 bid for attorney general.

MT-Sen: VoteVets has already launched what Politico reports is a $200,000 ad buy focused on a truly bizarre Washington Post story about former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy and a gunshot injury.

The Republican is shown saying, "I have a bullet stuck in this arm still from Afghanistan," before a narrator says Sheehy may have actually been wounded in a parking lot at Glacier National Park. "Sheehy told investigators the bullet in his arm is from a gun falling and firing on a family hiking trip," the voiceover continues. "Come on, Tim, it's one more shady story that doesn't add up."

Governors

 NC-Gov: Quinnipiac University's first look at the race for governor shows Democrat Josh Stein leading Republican Mark Robinson 48-41, with Libertarian Mike Ross and Green Wayne Turner at 4% and 2%, respectively. The omission of those two third-party candidates doesn't make much of a difference, though, as the school shows Stein ahead by a similar 52-44 margin in a head-to-head contest. Respondents favor Donald Trump over Joe Biden 41-38 in a five-person field and 48-46 when only major candidates are included.

This is the largest lead for Stein that we've seen in any poll, and it's also considerably different from what other surveys have shown over the last month. An early March poll from the conservative firm Cygnal showed Robinson up 44-39, while SurveyUSA and Marist College found Stein ahead only 44-42 and 49-47, respectively.

 WV-Gov: Campaign finance reports for the first quarter of the year are now in, and MetroNews has rounded up the numbers for all the major Republicans competing in the May 14 primary for West Virginia's open governorship:

  • Attorney General Patrick Morrisey: $876,000 raised, $1.7 million cash on hand

  • Former Del. Moore Capito: $337,000 raised, $1.1 million cash on hand

  • Businessman Chris Miller: $216,000 raised, additional $50,000 self-funded, $1.2 million cash on hand

  • Secretary of State Mac Warner: $73,000 raised, $193,000 cash on hand

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, who has the Democratic side to himself, raised $18,000 and ended March with $21,000 in the bank.

House

 CA-16: A pair of voters unexpectedly requested a recount on Tuesday, just days after election authorities certified that both Assemblymember Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian would advance to an all-Democratic general election with former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. However, it remains to be seen if any recount will actually take place.

Politico explains that California requires anyone who asks for a recount to pay for it before the April 15 deadline. If payment isn't submitted by then, the current results of the March 5 top-two primary that have Low and Simitian tied for second place would stand. (California, unlike many states, does not have automatic recounts no matter how close a race is.)

Election officials in Santa Clara County, which forms 84% of the 16th District by population, say that a 10-day manual recount would cost a total of $320,000. A five-day machine recount would have a considerably smaller $84,200 price tag, but the Mercury News' Grace Hase writes that such a process is less likely to catch any tabulation errors.

San Jose Spotlight's Jana Kadah adds that a manual recount would cost another $85,000 in San Mateo County, which forms the balance of the district. (It's not clear how much a machine recount in San Mateo would be.)

One of the two requesters, former San Mateo County Board of Supervisors candidate Dan Stegink, told Hase he was willing to pay for a recount. Santa Clara County officials also say they don't know if Stegink could split the cost with the other requester, 2020 Biden Delegate Jonathan Padilla.

Low's campaign was quick to highlight that Padilla worked on Liccardo's 2014 bid to lead San Jose to argue that the former mayor was behind the recount request. Low's team also invoked a very different politician in slamming the request. "This is a page right out of Trump’s political playbook using dirty tricks to attack democracy and subvert the will of the voters," the campaign said in a statement.

Liccardo's campaign denied it had asked Padilla to do anything, but a spokesperson didn't sound upset about the development. "We understand why, under these extraordinary circumstances, there would be an effort to make sure these votes are fully considered," said a Liccardo consultant.

Simitian, by contrast, didn't express a preference either for or against a recount. "Eventually, this process will work itself out," he said in a statement.

Hase also obtained an early April Liccardo internal poll from Lake Research Partners that shows him leading Low 26-21, with Simitian at 20%. The story did not include results testing Liccardo in one-on-one matchups.

Kadah previously reported on Monday that another firm, McGuire Research, has been testing Liccardo in various scenarios. There's no word on the results or the client, but the existence of the poll led to speculation that the former mayor or his allies were trying to determine whether he'd benefit if only one of his opponents were to advance―speculation that only intensified when Stegink and Padilla filed their recount requests a day later.

 MD-06: Del. Joe Vogel is airing what appears to be the first negative TV ad of the May 14 Democratic primary for Maryland's open 6th District, and the Washington Post's Katie Shepherd reports he's spending $35,000 to link former Commerce Department official April McClain Delaney to hardline Republicans.

The ad, which Maryland Matters says is Vogel's first television commercial, opens with the candidate declaring that "every Democrat for Congress" has a similar agenda, which is an unusual line for any campaign ad. However, he continues, "The difference is our approach. McClain Delaney donates to extreme Republicans and is friends with Tucker Carlson and Paul Ryan."

The 27-year-old lawmaker goes on, "I come from the school shooting generation, where we know you can’t hope politicians do the right thing. You have to make them." Vogel does not mention any of the other 12 Democratic candidates seeking to replace David Trone, who is running for Senate.

Vogel, writes Shepherd, previously deployed some of these arguments against McClain Delaney at debates. McClain Delaney has countered that her bipartisan friendship with the Ryan family began when her husband, former Rep. John Delaney, and the Wisconsin Republican served together in the House.

Vogel has also faulted McClain Delaney for making a contribution to Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican who was once one of the most prominent ultra-conservatives in the Senate, in 2005. (DeMint resigned in 2013 to lead the Heritage Foundation.) Shepherd says that Delaney responded by shaking her head and "at one point throwing her hands into the air" during the debate, though she did not dispute the donation.

As for Carlson, Vogel's ad cites a 2018 piece from MOCO 360 about John Delaney's longshot White House bid that identified the far-right media personality as a friend of the then-congressman. The story did not touch on McClain Delaney's connection to the former Fox News commentator.

Vogel launched this spot around the same time that he released a mid-March GBAO internal that showed Delaney leading him 17-10, with a 48% plurality undecided. We haven't seen any other polls here all year.

Delaney, for her part, began airing ads a month ago, and she uses her most recent spot to tout herself as someone who will protect children from "Big Tech." Shepard says the only other Democratic candidate who has taken to the airwaves is Ashwani Jain, a former Obama administration official who won just 2% in the 2022 primary for governor.

 MI-03: A super PAC called West Michigan For Change announced Wednesday that it had taken in $1 million to promote attorney Paul Hudson, who is the leading Republican running to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Hillary Scholten. The group, which did not bring in any money last year, did not say where the influx of cash came from.

Joe Biden carried this constituency 53-45 in 2020, and Scholten's 55-42 victory two years later made her the first Democrat to represent a Grand Rapids-based seat in the House since the mid-1970s. Scholten's allies at House Majority PAC don't seem convinced that those decisive wins mean this seat is out of reach for the GOP, however, as the group recently booked $1.3 million in ad time for the Grand Rapids media market.

 NH-02: Businessman Vikram Mansharamani became the first notable Republican to launch a bid to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster on Wednesday, though his last campaign for office was anything but impressive. Mansharamani self-funded about $300,000 last cycle in his bid to take on Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, but he ended up taking a distant fourth place in the primary with less than 8% of the vote.

Mansharamani is also unlikely to be the last Republican to join the September primary. The Union Leader reports that state Rep. Joe Sweeney and 2014 nominee Marilinda Garcia are considering, though there are no quotes from either would-be candidate.

On the Democratic side, Concord Mayor Byron Champlin and businessman Gary Hirshberg this week joined Kuster in endorsing former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern rather than running themselves.

 NJ-10: Democratic Rep. Donald Payne's office said Tuesday evening that he'd "suffered a cardiac episode based on complications from his diabetes during the weekend," but that his "prognosis is good and he is expected to make a full recovery." Payne is seeking reelection this year in New Jersey's safely Democratic 10th District.

 Filing: Candidate filing closed in five more states over the last week: April 4 was the deadline in New York, Tennessee, and Virginia, while the respective deadlines for Oklahoma and North Dakota were April 5 and April 8. We'll have more on each state below.

 New York: While the state publishes a list of candidates who filed to run for Congress in the June 25 primary, it doesn't include all House seats. That's because candidates running for a district contained entirely within either a single county or New York City file with their local election authorities, while everyone else files with the state.

Under the new congressional map, 11 districts (the 5th through the 15th) are located wholly within the city, while the only two single-county seats anywhere else in the state are the 1st District in Suffolk County and the 4th District in Nassau County. Election authorities in those jurisdictions have not released candidate lists yet, though Politics1 has compiled an unofficial roster for each seat.

There are no reports of any big names launching last-second campaigns, which isn't a surprise in a state where getting on the ballot can be a challenge. Most major party congressional candidates were required to hand in 1,250 valid signatures to compete in the primary, though Republicans running in the dark blue 13th and 15th Districts had a smaller target to hit because their party has so few registered voters in those constituencies.

Not everyone who submitted petitions by Thursday will necessarily make the primary ballot, however, because campaigns have long been aggressive about going to court to challenge the validity of their opponent's signatures. One former leader of the Brooklyn Democratic Party expressed a common view of this age-old practice in a 2022 interview with City & State. 

"Fuck them!" Frank Seddio said of anyone who might get knocked off the ballot for a lack of signatures. "Breathing shouldn't be the only qualification for running for office."

 North Dakota: Former Miss America Cara Mund filed to run for North Dakota's only House seat as a Republican about half an hour before the deadline, telling the North Dakota Monitor that there weren't any moderates competing in the June 11 primary. 

Mund, a supporter of abortion rights, ran against GOP Rep. Kelly Armstrong in the 2022 general election as an independent candidate and wound up as his only opponent after the Democratic nominee dropped out. Mund's effort attracted national attention, but Armstrong went on to fend her off by a 62-38 margin in this dark red state. That performance was significantly better than Joe Biden's landslide 65-32 loss two years earlier, but it still fell far short of victory.

The GOP field to succeed Armstrong, who is running for governor, consists of former State Department official Alex Balazs, former state Rep. Rick Becker, Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, and one minor candidate. Democrats are running Marine Corps veteran Trygve Hammer and perennial candidate Roland Clifford Riemers.

The GOP primary to replace retiring Gov. Doug Burgum, meanwhile, remains a duel between Armstrong and Burgum's choice, Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, while state Sen. Merrill Piepkorn has the Democratic side to himself.

 Oklahoma: Republican Sen. Markwayne Mullin and each of the five members of Oklahoma's all-Republican House delegation are seeking reelection, and there's no indication any of them have anything to worry about in either the June 18 primary or the November general election. An Aug. 27 runoff would take place in any primary where no one earns a majority of the vote.

 Tennessee: The biggest news in the Volunteer State was Davidson County Metro Councilmember Courtney Johnston's decision to challenge freshman Rep. Andy Ogles in the Aug. 1 Republican primary for the 5th District, a development we covered in a recent Digest. She's not Ogles' only intra-party challenger, though, as cybersecurity executive Tom Guarente is also in

Guarente has attracted relatively little attention, but his presence on the ballot could cost Johnston enough support to allow the incumbent to win with a plurality. (Unlike many Southern states, Tennessee does not use primary runoffs.) The eventual winner will be favored in the general election for a seat that Donald Trump carried 55-43 in 2020.

Over in the dark red 8th District in West Tennessee, GOP Rep. David Kustoff learned last week that he'd once again face a primary battle against radiologist George Flinn, a self-funding perennial candidate who owns a network of radio and TV stations. Flinn, who served on the Shelby County Commission in the 2000s, had already waged several well-funded but doomed campaigns when he entered the 2016 primary to replace retiring Rep. Stephen Fincher in the prior version of the seat.

Flinn's resources were almost enough to propel him to victory in what was a packed race, but Kustoff edged him out 27-23. Flinn tried again two years later, but Trump's support helped Kustoff win an expensive rematch 56-40. Flinn went on to take just 3% in the 2020 Senate primary, secure 2.5% as an independent in the 9th District against Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen, and wage an abortive 2023 bid for mayor of Memphis.

Republican Rep. Tim Burchett, by contrast, found out he'd have no primary opposition in the 2nd District, an East Tennessee constituency that hasn't elected a Democratic representative since 1852. There was talk earlier this year that Kevin McCarthy and his allies would target Burchett, who was one of the eight Republicans who voted to end McCarthy's speakership in October. However, they never found a backup candidate after former state Rep. Jimmy Matlock announced in February that he wouldn't run.

 Virginia: The Virginia Department of Elections says that it will post its list of candidates "on, or shortly after April 15." Primaries will take place on June 18. For the first time in many years, Republicans will rely on state-run primaries to pick all of their candidates, eschewing conventions or party-run "firehouse" primaries. (Democrats, who have almost always preferred traditional primaries, will also use them exclusively.)

Ad Roundup

The presidential race was tight in this New Jersey district, but a freshman Democrat ran well ahead

Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide takes the turnpike through New Jersey, which is home to a number of competitive House seats. You can find our detailed calculations here, a large-size map of the results here, and our permanent, bookmarkable link for all 435 districts here.

Joe Biden’s 57-41 victory in the Garden State was only slightly larger than Hillary Clinton’s 55-41 performance in 2016, an improvement due in part to the decline in third-party voting, but there were plenty of big changes below the surface. Biden captured nine of the state’s 12 House seats, which was two more than Clinton took last time, while Donald Trump held on to the remaining three seats. All of the Biden districts are controlled by Democrats, while Republican representatives prevailed in two of the trio of Trump seats.

We’ll start with a look at the one Democratic-held Trump seat, Rep. Andy Kim’s 3rd District, which was also the state’s closest district in the 2020 presidential race by far. Barack Obama had carried this South Jersey constituency, which is located in the Philadelphia suburbs and central Jersey Shore, 52-47 days after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area in 2012, but it swung hard to the right four years later and backed Trump 51-45. This time, the 3rd settled between those poles and supported Trump 49.4-49.2, a margin of about 800 votes.

Local Republicans in past years have run well ahead of the top of the ticket here, but the opposite happened in 2020. Kim won a second term by beating Republican David Richter 52-45, a result that was considerably wider than his 50-49 victory against Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur in 2018.

GOP outside groups opted not to spend to boost Richter, a decision that may have had to do with the sheer cost of running for office in what may be the most expensive place in the nation to advertise: About 57% of the 3rd is in the pricey Philadelphia media market, while the balance is in the very expensive New York City market. To reach all voters on television, it's necessary to blanket both—an extremely costly proposition. Kim's mammoth fundraising made that heavy lift possible, but Richter's weak finances put such an undertaking out of reach.

Republicans, however, had more success in the 2nd District just to the south. This coastal seat swung from 54-45 Obama to 51-46 Trump in 2016, and it favored Trump again last year, though by a smaller 51-48 margin. National Democrats worked hard last year to deny a second term to Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who had switched from the Democrats to the GOP in late 2019 after opposing Trump’s first impeachment. But Congress' most infamous turncoat ran ahead of the man he’d pledged his “undying support” to and defeated Democrat Amy Kennedy 52-46.

Trump’s best seat by far, unsurprisingly, was once again the 4th District to the north in the Monmouth County area, though he did drop from 56-41 in 2016 to 55-44 last year. This constituency is held by 21-term Rep. Chris Smith, who was the only Republican in the state’s delegation from January 2019 until Van Drew switched parties nearly a year later.

We’ll now move up north and hit the two Trump/Biden seats, both of which began the decade as conservative turf. The 5th District in northern Bergen County and more distant exurban areas had lurched slightly to the left, going from 51-48 Romney to 49-48 Trump in 2016, but Trump’s toxicity in the suburbs helped propel Biden to a 52-47 win. The seat is held by Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a moderate who unseated arch-conservative Scott Garrett in 2016 and secured his third term 53-46 last year.

The swing to the left was even more pronounced in the neighboring 11th District in the Morris County area. This ancestrally red region had gone from 52-47 Romney to 49-48 Trump in 2016, but Biden took it 53-46 this time. Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill flipped this seat in 2018 by winning the race to succeed longtime Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen and successfully defended it 53-47 in 2020.

Trump also bombed in the 7th District just to the south, though the GOP showed signs of life downballot. This seat, which includes Hunterdon County and New York City's western exurbs, had already swung hard from 52-46 Romney to 49-48 Clinton, and Biden’s margin ballooned to 54-44. Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski, though, won his second term by a considerably smaller 51-49 margin in a very expensive race against state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., who is the son and namesake of well-regarded former Gov. Tom Kean Sr.

While Trump’s margin took a nose dive in all of New Jersey’s competitive seats, though, he did make gains in a trio of safely blue constituencies in the northern part of the state. Rep. Albio Sires’ 8th District in Jersey City dropped from 76-21 Clinton to 73-26 Biden, which fits with the pattern we’ve seen in other seats with large Latino electorates. Rep. Donald Payne’s heavily Black 10th District in Newark likewise ticked down from 85-13 Clinton 83-16 Biden. Finally, Rep. Bill Pascrell’s diverse 9th District, which is home to Paterson and some of New York City's closer-in suburbs, shifted from 64-33 Clinton to 62-37 Biden.

Democrats have full control of the New Jersey state government, but that doesn’t guarantee that they’ll get a favorable congressional map for the coming decade. That’s because a 1995 state constitutional amendment created a bipartisan redistricting commission consisting of six Democrats, six Republicans, and a tiebreaking member. Last time, the crucial 13th member favored GOP-drawn boundaries over those proposed by Democrats, though Republican mapmakers didn’t anticipate the leftward swing that would later unfold in the state’s northern suburbs.