Morning Digest: Freedom Caucus chief loses—just barely—after Trump sought his ouster

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

Daily Kos will be off Wednesday in observance of Juneteenth, so there will be no Morning Digest on Thursday. It will return on Friday.

Leading Off

VA-05: State Sen. John McGuire defeated House Freedom Caucus chair Bob Good by the narrowest of margins in Tuesday's Republican primary for Virginia's conservative 5th District, a shockingly close loss—but cold comfort—for an incumbent whose congressional career had looked doomed for quite some time.

The AP had not called the race when we put the Digest to bed, though McGuire declared victory on election night. Good, meanwhile, insisted that he would work to "ensure all the votes are properly counted in the coming days." An unknown number of provisional ballots remain to be tallied, and a recount is possible. However, with McGuire ahead by about 300 votes, a change in the lead would be very unlikely.

McGuire's ultra-tight victory came after Good spent his second and final term infuriating just about every power player in the party, including Donald Trump, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and most of his colleagues. 

The congressman's underdog status seemed cemented when, in early May, McGuire released an internal poll that showed him ahead 45-31. Good's team offered the feeblest of responses: "The only poll that matters is the final count on Election Day," his campaign said in a statement, all but admitting they had no better numbers to counter with.

Trump himself tried to deliver the final blow a short time later by endorsing McGuire. He specifically sought revenge for Good's decision to support Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the presidential primary, a move that had put the Virginian crossways with Trump and his legions of adherents.

Allies of McCarthy also worked to punish Good for joining Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz's successful effort to terminate McCarthy's speakership. Other major donors were eager to simply extricate a troublesome rebel from the House. AdImpact says that, all told, a hefty $9 million was spent on ads that either sought to boost McGuire or tear down Good.

But Good's camp, which included the hardline Club for Growth and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's Protect Freedom PAC, never gave up. Collectively, they spent more than $5 million on the airwaves to try to keep him in office.

The final stretch of the race devolved into warring assertions about internal polling, with both sides claiming to be well ahead. But while Good never produced any data of his own, McGuire's arguments were still based on his original poll, by now six weeks old.

As Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin wryly pointed out, both candidates were "wrong by double digits." But even if his final margin of victory was far skinnier than he anticipated, McGuire got to enjoy the last laugh.

Good's loss, as close as it was, makes him only the second member of Congress from either party to lose renomination anywhere in the country this cycle. But while Alabama Rep. Jerry Carl lost to fellow incumbent Barry Moore in March following a round of court-ordered redistricting, Good is the first representative to lose to a challenger.

Good, who spent the last several months backing unsuccessful primary campaigns against several of his colleagues, will at least feel a pang of recognition at his fate, since he earned his ticket to Capitol Hill four years ago by defeating a Republican congressman. Good decided to take on freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman after the incumbent infuriated hardliners by officiating a same-sex wedding between two of his former campaign volunteers.

The GOP nomination in 2020 was decided not in a primary but at a convention, which just so happened to take place at Good’s own church. Good, an elected official in Campbell County, also benefited from his post as an athletics official at Liberty University, which has long been one of the Christian right's most prominent institutions and is located in the district.

Riggleman fought back with endorsements from Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr. (who would resign in disgrace as Liberty's president two months later), but it wasn't enough. The conclave of some 2,500 delegates favored Good 58-42, though he had a tougher time that fall, managing a surprisingly small 52-47 win over Democrat Cameron Webb in an expensive contest.

(McGuire, who was a member of the state House at the time, lost a convention for the GOP nomination in the old 7th District the following month to fellow Del. Nick Freitas, who in turn lost to Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger.)

Good had no trouble winning renomination at the Republican convention in 2022 and handily prevailed in the general election. But he faced a very different battle this time around. A law passed in 2021 required that all absentee voters have the chance to take part in nomination contests, a policy that made it difficult for political parties in Virginia to hold conventions rather than primaries. That shift may have made all the difference.

But while many of Good's colleagues will be overjoyed to see McGuire replace him in the 5th District, which favored Trump 53-45 in 2020, Riggleman may not be entirely enjoying the schadenfreude.

"McGuire might be more dangerous than Bob Good," Riggleman tweeted in March as he shared a picture of the challenger at the Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol. "McGuire coming at Bob from the RIGHT— a panting sycophant who will do anything to win," Riggleman continued. "A box of hammers with a love of power." The former congressman went on to write last month, "Bob Good could be worst member—McGuire might be worse!"

Election Recaps

GA-03 (R): Brian Jack, a former aide to Donald Trump, outpaced former state Sen. Mike Dugan 63-37 in the Republican runoff to replace retiring GOP Rep. Drew Ferguson. Jack, who benefited from his old boss' endorsement and spending from a group backed by the cryptocurrency industry, should have no trouble in the general election for this dark red constituency in Atlanta's southwestern exurbs.

OK-04 (R): Rep. Tom Cole easily fended off businessman Paul Bondar 65-26 in an unexpectedly expensive primary for this safely red seat in southern Oklahoma. 

Bondar poured over $5 million of his own money into ads attacking Cole, who chairs the powerful appropriations chairman, as an insider who "voted with Democrats for billions in new deficit spending." But the incumbent and his allies spent millions on their own messaging reminding viewers both that Cole had Donald Trump's support and that Bondar had only recently moved to Oklahoma from Texas.

VA-Sen (R): Navy veteran Hung Cao beat Scott Parkinson, a former official at the Club for Growth, 62-11 in the Republican primary to take on Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine. Two years ago, Cao held Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton to a modest 53-47 victory in the 10th District, but he'll face a far tougher battle against Kaine in a race that neither national party is treating as competitive.

VA-02 (D): Navy veteran Missy Cotter Smasal defeated attorney Jake Denton 70-30 for the right to take on freshman GOP Rep. Jen Kiggans in a swing district based in Virginia Beach. Smasal, who lost a competitive race for the state Senate in 2019, had the support of the DCCC and all six members of Virginia's Democratic House delegation for her campaign against Kiggans.

VA-07 (D & R): Former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman and Green Beret veteran Derrick Anderson respectively won the Democratic and Republican primaries for Virginia's competitive 7th District based in the southern exurbs of Washington, D.C. The two will face off this fall to succeed Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who decided not to seek reelection so she could focus on her 2025 bid for governor, in a constituency that Joe Biden carried 53-46.

Vindman decisively outpaced his nearest opponent, former Del. Elizabeth Guzman, by a 49-15 margin in a field that also included three sitting local elected officials. The frontrunner, who was a key figure in Donald Trump's first impeachment in 2019, has proven to be one of the strongest House fundraisers in the nation.

Anderson, for his part, defeated former Navy SEAL Cameron Hamilton 46-37 in an expensive race. Anderson had the backing of House Speaker Mike Johnson and his allies, while Rand Paul's network spent big for Hamilton.

VA-10 (D & R): State Sen. Suhas Subramanyam edged out Del. Dan Helmer 30-27 in the 12-way Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Jennifer Wexton in Northern Virginia 10th District, which favored Joe Biden 58-40 four years ago. Subramanyam's election would make him both Virginia's first Indian American and Hindu member of Congress.

Citing worsening symptoms of a serious neurodegenerative disease, Wexton unexpectedly announced her retirement last year while serving her third term. But the endorsement she gave to Subramanyam was likely a key reason he prevailed over Helmer, who outraised the rest of the field and benefited from over $5 million in outside spending.

Helmer also drew ugly headlines during the final week of the campaign after four current and former officials in the Loudoun County Democratic Committee put out a statement accusing him of engaging in "inappropriate behavior" with an unnamed committee member in 2018. Helmer denied the allegations.

Subramanyam will face attorney Mike Clancy, who defeated 2020 GOP nominee Aliscia Andrews 64-21. However, while Republicans have talked about putting this once competitive seat back in play, it remains to be seen whether they'll devote the hefty resources needed to accomplish this herculean effort.

House

AK-AL, FL-08, UT-02: Donald Trump on Monday evening endorsed three candidates in contested House primaries: Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom for Alaska's at-large seat; former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos in Florida's 8th District; and Rep. Celeste Maloy in Utah's 2nd District.

Dahlstrom faces GOP businessman Nick Begich and Democratic incumbent Mary Peltola in the Aug. 20 top-four primary, and none of them should have trouble securing a spot in the instant-runoff general election. (The fourth spot is all but certain to be claimed by one of the nine minor candidates who are also running.) Begich, however, has promised to drop out if Dahlstrom outpaces him this summer, a move that would delight party leaders who view him as a weak candidate and want to avoid infighting.

Trump is one of them, and he wrote Monday that Begich, who is the rare Republican member of Alaska's most prominent Democratic family, "has Democrat tendencies." Trump continued that "most importantly, he refused to get out of this Race last time, which caused the Republicans to lose this important seat to Mary Peltola."

Haridopolos, meanwhile, already appeared to be on a glide path to replace GOP Rep. Bill Posey, who timed his April retirement announcement so that Haridopolos could avoid serious opposition. The former state Senate leader only faces a pair of unheralded primary foes in this conservative seat in the Cape Canaveral area, and he'll be even harder to beat with Trump's blessing.

Maloy, finally, is fighting for renomination next week against Colby Jenkins, an Army Reserve colonel who has far-right Sen. Mike Lee's endorsement, in a safely red constituency based in southwestern Utah. Maloy, though, has the backing of all three of her colleagues in the state's all-GOP delegation. She also used this week to unveil an ad starring Gov. Spencer Cox, who is one of the party's few remaining Trump critics who still holds a prominent office.

Trump's new endorsements came hours before NOTUS' Reese Gorman published a story detailing the far-right Freedom Caucus' frustration with Trump's picks in contested primaries this cycle, including his drive to oust chair Bob Good in Virginia this week. The acrimony is only likely to intensify because the Freedom Caucus is backing both Begich and Jenkins.

Unsurprisingly, the House GOP leadership is not at all sympathetic. "The real story here is that these guys throw a temper tantrum every time Trump endorses against their preferred candidate," an unnamed senior aide told Gorman, "where most of the time their preferred candidate is a total shitbag."

AZ-01: Businessman Andrei Cherny this week picked up an endorsement from Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, whose city is home to just over 60% of the 1st District's residents, for the July 30 Democratic primary to face GOP Rep. David Schweikert.

CO-03: The Colorado Sun reports that both parties have become heavily involved in next week's GOP primary for Colorado's open 3rd District as Republicans try to counter the Democrats' attempts to pick their preferred opponent. The candidate at the center of all this is former state Rep. Ron Hanks, a far-right election denier whom both sides agree would be a weak GOP nominee for this 53-45 Trump district.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, the main super PAC aligned with House GOP leadership, is spending at least $325,000 on new TV and radio ads attacking Hanks. The TV spot claims Hanks is insufficiently pro-Trump, arguing that Democrats are supporting him to "elect another liberal to Congress" after the Democratic super PAC Rocky Mountain Values has spent $400,000 this month on ads to aid Hanks or attack a rival. (Democrats previously ran ads last cycle to elevate Hanks in his unsuccessful 2022 Senate primary bid.)

Meanwhile, 2022 Democratic nominee Adam Frisch has put at least $100,000 behind a new TV commercial to deter Republicans from nominating a more formidable candidate, attorney Jeff Hurd. Frisch's spot lambastes Hurd for refusing to clarify his positions on abortion, immigration, and whether he supports Trump. The ad continues, "All we really do know about Jeff Hurd is he's financed by out-of-state corporate money."

Hurd is also taking fire from a Republican rival, financial adviser Russ Andrews, who has spent at least $70,000 on ads opposing him. No copy of Andrews' commercial is available yet, but The Sun's description notes it goes after Hurd for inadequate fealty to Trump and being an "Ivy League Lawyer."

Republican chances of holding this district appeared to improve significantly earlier this cycle when far-right Republican incumbent Lauren Boebert switched to run in the redder 4th District after only beating Frisch by a razor-thin margin in the 3rd last cycle. However, Frisch had already taken advantage of his now-former opponent's national notoriety by raising millions of dollars, funding he's now deploying to ensure that Republicans select another deeply flawed nominee.

FL-01: The House Ethics Committee announced Tuesday that it was continuing to review allegations that Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz had engaged in a wide variety of wrongdoing, including "sexual misconduct and illicit drug use," accepting "improper gifts," awarding "special privileges and favors" to associates, and obstructing investigations into his alleged misdeeds.

The Committee, however, said it was no longer probing a variety of other accusations, including claims that Gaetz had shared "inappropriate" videos on the floor of the House, put campaign funds to personal use, and accepted a bribe.

The panel released its statement one day after Gaetz tweeted that the Committee was "now opening new frivolous investigations" into the congressman despite supposedly having "closed four probes into me."

The Committee disputed that characterization, saying that its current investigation is the same one that had already been underway. It also said it experienced "difficulty in obtaining relevant information from Representative Gaetz and others."

The Committee initially deferred its inquiry after the Justice Department began its own investigation into Gaetz in 2021 regarding the alleged sex trafficking of a minor and other accusations, but that probe ended last year without charges. The Ethics Committee says that it later "reauthorized its investigation after DOJ withdrew its deferral request."

IL-17: Politico has obtained a recent 1892 Polling internal conducted for the NRCC and former state Circuit Judge Joe McGraw, which finds McGraw trailing 44-35 against freshman Democratic Rep. Eric Sorensen with 20% undecided. The sample also shows Biden leading Trump just 39-38 in a district Biden carried 53-45 in 2020.

This is the first publicly available survey of the race for Illinois' 17th District, which includes the communities of Rockford and Peoria, since McGraw won the Republican nomination in March.

NY-16: Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman's allies at Justice Democrats and the Working Families Party are spending $900,000 on a TV ad to support the incumbent in next week's primary against Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who has been the beneficiary of most of the outside spending.

First reported by Politico, the commercial takes "Republican megadonors" to task for contributing millions for ads to "smear" Bowman and elevate Latimer, citing news stories to portray the challenger as opposed to key parts of Joe Biden's agenda. The move comes after the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC has spent weeks running spots arguing that Bowman is the one who has undermined Biden, and its newest spot once again criticizes the incumbent for having "voted against President Biden's debt limit deal."

However, data from AdImpact underscores the lopsided advantage that Latimer's side enjoys in blasting out its preferred narrative. AIPAC has deployed $14 million on Latimer's behalf, and the pro-crypto group Fairshake has dropped another $2 million. By contrast, Justice Democrats and the Working Families Party have spent only $1.5 million to aid Bowman.

UT-03: Sen. Mike Lee endorsed state Sen. Mike Kennedy on Monday ahead of next week's five-way Republican primary to replace Rep. John Curtis, who is giving up the 3rd District to campaign to succeed Mitt Romney in Utah's other Senate seat. Kennedy, who briefly attracted national prominence in 2018 by taking on Romney, is a hardliner who has successfully pushed laws like a ban on gender-affirming care for minors.

But while Kennedy won an April party convention dominated by far-right delegates, he's been decisively outspent by a pair of self-funding businessmen who are each hoping to replace Curtis. One of those contenders is Case Lawrence, a former CEO of the trampoline park chain Sky Zone who threw down almost $2.5 million of his own money through June 5. The other is Roosevelt Mayor Rod Bird, who self-funded about $1 million.

The race also includes state Auditor John Dougall, who will be listed on the ballot with his nickname "Frugal." Dougall, who is the only statewide elected official in the contest, has paid for billboards identifying him as "MAINSTREAM NOT MAGA," which is an unusual pitch for today's GOP. The Salt Lake Tribune's Robert Gehrke writes that the auditor is the one contender "to publicly criticize and disavow Trump."

Rounding out the field is attorney Stewart Peay, who has Romney's endorsement. (Peay's wife, Misha, is a niece of Romney's wife, Ann.) Peay, who has dodged questions about whether he backs his party's master, has argued he'd emulate one of his MAGA's prominent GOP critics, Gov. Spencer Cox. "I believe in the civility we’ve seen from Cox, the pragmatism you see from John Curtis, and the bipartisanship you see from Mitt Romney," he told the Deseret News.

There has been no outside spending in this contest, nor have we seen any polls. Whoever wins a plurality in next week's GOP primary should have no trouble in the fall for a safely red constituency based in the Provo area, southeastern Salt Lake City, and rural southeastern Utah.

House: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced its first fall TV ad reservations of the 2024 election cycle on Tuesday, with bookings totaling $16.4 million across 15 different media markets. The committee also said it had reserved $12 million for digital advertising in 21 different states that "represent the majority of the House battlefield."

We've added these new television reservations to our continually updated tracker, which also shows which districts the committee likely plans to target. (As yet, we've seen no surprises.) While the DCCC's initial foray is considerably smaller than the $146 million in TV reservations its allies at the House Majority PAC announced in April, this list will grow as new bookings are announced. (In 2022, the D-Trip spent almost $100 million on 45 different races.)

The committee's move also means that three of the four largest outside groups involved in House races have announced their first round of reservations this year. Early last month, the pro-GOP Congressional Leadership Fund said it had booked $141 million in airtime. The National Republican Congressional Committee, however, has yet to make an appearance.

Poll Pile

  • NC-Gov: Spry Strategies (R): Mark Robinson (R): 43, Josh Stein (D): 39 (48-44 Trump in two-way, 45-37 Trump with third-party candidates)
  • AZ-06: Public Opinion Strategies for Juan Ciscomani: Juan Ciscomani (R-inc): 50, Kirsten Engel (D): 39 (49-45 Trump)

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: New Jersey’s first lady enters Senate race, setting up a major showdown

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

NJ-Sen: Former financier Tammy Murphy, who had reportedly been preparing a Senate bid, kicked off her campaign on Wednesday, and she's already earned some important establishment support. But Murphy, the wife of Gov. Phil Murphy, was also greeted by a new poll that shows her trailing her chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Rep. Andy Kim.

That survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Kim campaign, finds the congressman beating Murphy 40-21 among primary voters, with indicted Sen. Bob Menendez scraping together just 5%. While Menendez has recently sounded as though he wants to run again, his share of the vote is one of the lowest we've ever seen for an incumbent—apart from a similar PPP poll taken last month that also had him at 5%.

Menendez also sports an atrocious favorability rating, with just 10% of respondents saying they have a positive view of the senator, compared to 68% who see him negatively. Murphy and Kim, by contrast, are both well-liked though not universally known, with scores of 50-9 and 45-5, respectively. If Menendez does seek reelection after all, he could plumb new depths at the ballot box, especially since his trial on federal corruption charges is set for May 6—just a month before the primary.

Whatever Menendez decides, the battle for his seat is likely to come down to Murphy and Kim. In a new interview with the New Jersey Globe, Murphy suggested that she doesn't have many ideological differences with Kim ("I suspect that Andy and I stand for a lot of the same policies"), but the two cut very different profiles politically.

Kim, who is the son of Korean immigrants and went on to work at the State Department, first won office in 2018 with the support of Joe Biden and Barack Obama but has portrayed himself as an outsider in this race—and is largely getting treated like one. Murphy, a former banker at Goldman Sachs, is a consummate insider.

And insiders have almost always had the advantage when seeking office in the Garden State, due in large part to its unique approach to ballot design. In 19 of the state's 21 counties, leaders of both parties can award special placement on the ballot to their preferred candidates, known as the "county line." These candidates appear together in a single column of the ballot, often the first one, that has a name on every line (you can see an example in column 1 of this sample ballot). Other hopefuls are relegated to more distant columns amid a sea of blank space.

Research has shown that the county line can confer a major benefit—often an enormous one: One forthcoming study finds that candidates with the line run on average 38 points ahead of those without it. Immediately after launching her bid, Murphy secured the county line in populous Hudson County, which also happens to be Menendez's home base. (Menendez slammed Hudson leaders in response. "At the end of the day, I don't need the party line to win in Hudson," he insisted, while also warning, "I know where all the skeletons in closets are.")

She also won the backing of the party chair in Somerset County, which doesn't guarantee she'll get the line there but is a strong signal that it'll go to her. Other counties are likely to follow suit. (Politico reported last month that "the state party establishment" was "miffed" by Kim's decision to jump into the race prior to the state's legislative elections, which concluded last week.) Kim, though, could potentially earn the line in the South Jersey counties that make up his district, even though he's said he thinks the practice should be abolished.

But the county line might not play as potent a role in this contest as it so often does in others. In many races further down the ballot, candidates tend to be little-known. In those less salient elections, voters have less incentive to go hunting across and down their ballot to find alternatives who lack official party blessing. In this high-profile showdown for the Senate, though, both Kim and Murphy will head into the primary with wide name recognition, and their supporters will know to look for those names wherever they might appear.

The Downballot

We talk about North Carolina non-stop on "The Downballot," so it's only natural that our guest on this week's episode is Anderson Clayton, the new chair of the state Democratic Party. Clayton made headlines when she became the youngest state party chair anywhere in the country at the age of 25, and the story of how she got there is an inspiring one. But what she's doing—and plans to do—is even more compelling. Her focus is on rebuilding the party infrastructure from the county level up, with the aim of reconnecting with rural Black voters who've too often been sidelined and making young voters feel like they have a political home. Plus: her long-term plan to win back the state Supreme Court.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard, meanwhile, turn to the avalanche of political developments that have followed last week's off-year elections, with big new candidate announcements in New Jersey's Senate race and Virginia's 2025 contest for governor. They also finally get to discuss the unusual Democratic primary unfolding in the nation's newest Black-majority House seat in Alabama. And then there are all the retirements to recap! So, so many retirements.

Subscribe to "The Downballot" on Apple Podcasts to make sure you never miss a show—new episodes every Thursday! You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by noon Eastern time.

Governors

NJ-Gov, NJ-05: Politico reports that Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer has launched a "six-figure" digital ad buy that could serve as a prelude to a 2025 campaign for governor, which he's previously said he's considering. Gottheimer has no notable GOP challenger for 2024 in his 56-43 Biden district, but he did have an enormous $15.8 million in his campaign account at the end of September. It's unclear how much of that he could transfer to a state campaign, but spending it on what is nominally his House race is one way he could use those funds to increase his name recognition ahead of 2025.

VA-Gov: Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who launched her campaign for governor earlier this week, just secured an endorsement from the last Democrat who held the post, Ralph Northam.

House

AK-AL: Following Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom's Tuesday announcement that she will challenge Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola next year, national Republican groups have already signaled that they view her favorably. The NRCC's press secretary called Dahlstrom "a top-tier recruit," while the president of the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is the House GOP's main allied super PAC, called her candidacy a "recruiting coup" and a "[g]ame changer in Alaska."

Dahlstrom is competing to be the GOP's standard-bearer with businessman Nick Begich, who unsuccessfully ran for this seat last year. All candidates regardless of party will run on the same primary ballot, and the top four finishers will advance to a general election using ranked-choice voting.

IL-07: The Chicago Tribune reported on Tuesday that the city's Board of Ethics found "probable cause" that city Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin committed ethics violations by firing two aides who had accused her of abusing her powers. The Tribune writes that the board may not make a final decision for months, which could result in a fine, though the matter threatens to derail her challenge to longtime Rep. Danny Davis just four months before the March 19 Democratic primary in this dark blue district.

The allegations against Conyears-Ervin surfaced earlier this year when the city released a 2020 letter where two of her former top aides—Ashley Evans and Tiffany Harper—accused the treasurer of misusing government money and personnel. The pair claimed Conyears-Ervin hired an unqualified employee "for personal services;" used official resources for electoral matters, including sending money to religious organizations that supported her; and threatened to retaliate against any subordinates who wouldn't help her. Evans and Harper later received a total of $100,000 in a 2021 settlement after arguing they were fired in just such an act of illegal retaliation.

While that settlement was public knowledge, then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who was a Conyears-Ervin ally, spent years trying to keep this letter from becoming public. However, new Mayor Brandon Johnson, a fellow Democrat who defeated Lightfoot and other challengers in elections earlier this year, released the letter earlier this month.

ME-02: Mortgage broker Rob Cross, who announced a campaign in April but reported raising just $20,000 in the third quarter of the year, has dropped out of the GOP primary to take on Democratic Rep. Jared Golden. National Republicans won't be displeased, though: Just before the end of the quarter, they landed state Rep. Austin Thierault, who is reportedly their preferred choice.

NJ-03: State Senate Majority Whip Troy Singleton, a Democrat, has announced he won't run here to succeed Democratic Senate candidate Andy Kim next year.

NY-18: In a recent Digest, we incorrectly described a poll commissioned by the Congressional Leadership Fund, the top Republican super PAC involved in House races. That survey, conducted by the Republican pollster Cyngal, did not test Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan against Republican challenger Alison Esposito. Rather, it pitted Ryan against an unnamed Republican candidate. Such matchups do not reflect what voters will see when they cast their ballots and are therefore of limited analytical value.

For that reason, Daily Kos Elections seldom reports such polls, since they do not meet our standard for inclusion. We regret the error.

VA-05: Del. John McGuire, a Republican who just won a solidly red seat in the state Senate last week, has announced that he'll wage a primary challenge against far-right Rep. Bob Good in the 5th District. Although Good is a hard-liner and was one of the eight Republicans who voted to remove Kevin McCarthy from the speakership last month, McGuire appears to be challenging him from the right. In announcing his campaign, McGuire attacked Good for having insufficient fealty to Trump; the incumbent endorsed Ron DeSantis for president earlier this year.

VA-07: Semafor reported Wednesday that former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman, who is a retired Army colonel, will join the Democratic primary to succeed Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger and has already set up a fundraising page, though he had yet to officially declare he was running.

Vindman gained national attention in 2019 when he and his identical twin brother, former National Security Council official Alexander Vindman, helped blow the whistle on Donald Trump's attempt to extort Ukraine's government into undermining Joe Biden's presidential campaign. Alexander Vindman testified before Congress about Trump's abuse of power, which helped lead to his first impeachment by the House that year.

Eugene Vindman and his brother were both born in Ukraine in 1975 when it was under Soviet control, but they immigrated to the United States as young children and later served as career military officers. While the Washington Post described Vindman as a "newcomer to Virginia politics," his role in Trump's impeachment, along with growing hostility from congressional Republicans to providing funding for Ukraine's resistance against Russia's invasion, could give him the prominence needed to run a strong race.

VA-10: Del. Dan Helmer became the latest Democrat to announce he's running in the crowded primary to succeed retiring Rep. Jennifer Wexton next year. Helmer served as the campaign chair for the state House's Democratic caucus this year, which saw his party regain a majority last week.

Helmer ran for the previous version of the 10th District in 2018 but took a distant fourth place in the primary behind Wexton, who went on to oust Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock that fall. However, his political career bounced back the next year when he flipped a GOP-held state House seat, and Helmer won a third term by 59-41 last week.

Meanwhile, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, a Democrat, has announced she won't run for Congress next year following her reelection victory last week. Several other Democrats had previously announced they were running, including former state House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, state Sen. Jennifer Boysko, Del. David Reid, and former state Education Secretary Atif Qarni.

Ballot Measures

NE Ballot: Abortion rights supporters have launched a ballot initiative effort to put a constitutional amendment before voters next year that would protect abortion rights in a state where Republicans this year enacted a ban on the procedure after 12 weeks of pregnancy. To get onto the ballot, supporters will need to gather signatures from 10% of registered voters, which is roughly 125,000 at present. However, the exact requirement won't be known until the July 5, 2024 filing deadline because it's based on the registration numbers at the time.

Importantly, supporters will also need to gather signatures from 5% of registered voters in at least two-fifths of the state's 93 counties. This requirement significantly hinders progressives—but not conservatives—because the “bluest” two-fifths of counties include ones that Donald Trump won by landslide margins of up to 78-19. However, abortion rights advocates were able to overcome a similar requirement this year in Ohio, where voters approved an abortion rights amendment by 57-43 earlier this month.

Legislatures

MI State House: Michigan Democrats, who just won control of the state House last year for the first time in more than a decade, have now lost their majority—and it will likely be some time before they get it back.

That's because two incumbents are about to depart after winning mayoral races in their hometowns in last week's local elections. As a result, the chamber will be tied at 54 seats for each party, and the prospect of quick special elections to fill the two vacancies appears to have faded, according to a new report from Bridge Michigan's Jonathan Oosting.

While Democrats would have liked to hold primaries in January and then general elections on Feb. 27, when the state will conduct its presidential primary, state House Speaker Joe Tate said this week that such a timetable would not be "feasible." It's not clear what the schedule will ultimately look like, though Tate says he's discussing a "spring timeframe" with Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whose responsibility it is to call the elections.

Whenever those specials do finally happen, both Democratic seats should remain blue. According to Dave's Redistricting App, Joe Biden carried Kevin Coleman's 25th District 59-40 and won Lori Stone's 13th District 64-35. One thing that won't happen in the interim, said Tate, is any sort of power-sharing agreement, pointing out that the chamber's rules for addressing ties only apply when there's a 55-55 split and all seats are filled.

NJ State Assembly: The New Jersey Globe reports that Democrat Anna Katz has ousted GOP Assemblyman Brandon Umbra in the 8th Legislative District following the counting of provisional ballots and mail ballots that were postmarked by Election Day but didn't arrive until days later. With Katz's victory, Assembly Democrats have flipped six seats and expanded their majority to 52-28.

VA State House: The race for Virginia's 82nd District in the state House may go to a recount after final tallies cut Republican Rep. Kim Taylor's lead over Democrat Kimberly Pope Adams to 74 votes. Including write-ins, the difference between the two candidates stands at 0.27%, which is below the 0.5% threshold that would allow Adams to request a recount paid for by the state. Adams, however, has not yet decided whether to ask for one, and despite the seemingly small margin, a recount would be unlikely to change the outcome.

In the 41st District, meanwhile, the spread between Republican Chris Obenshain and Democrat Lily Franklin tightened considerably, but the final margin of 0.74% left the race just outside of state-paid recount territory. That prompted Franklin to concede, though the result was much closer than most analysts had expected, particularly given Obenshain's name recognition as the cousin of state Sen. Mark Obenshain.

If the result in the 82nd District holds, Democrats would have a 51-49 majority in the House to go along with their 21-19 advantage in the state Senate when the legislature reconvenes in January.

Prosecutors and Sheriffs

Loudoun County, VA Commonwealth's Attorney: Final results of last week's elections confirm that Democrat Buta Biberaj, the top prosecutor in Virginia's third-largest county, has lost her bid for a second term to Republican Bob Anderson, who reclaimed the post he last held two decades ago. Anderson's 300-vote margin, equal to 0.2% of the vote, would have allowed Biberaj to seek a recount, but she said on Wednesday that she would not.

Biberaj had been attacked by conservatives for her reformist approach to certain criminal prosecutions, as many progressive prosecutors have. However, she had also come under fire for her day-to-day management of her office and had clashed with Loudoun County's Board of Supervisors, which is controlled by Democrats. Those conflicts helped spur a primary challenge from defense attorney Elizabeth Lancaster, who earned an endorsement from the Washington Post (an influential outlet in the area) and held the incumbent to a 55-45 win.

Biberaj was also likely hampered by the timing of her election and the lack of party labels on the ballot. Loudoun, which is home to more than 400,000 people in the highly educated Washington, D.C., suburbs, has been a key driver of Virginia's transformation from a red state to a blue one. Just two decades ago, it twice voted for George W. Bush by double digits. By 2020, however, it was supporting Joe Biden by a 62-37 margin. In off years, though, it's usually been much more favorable to Republicans.

Morning Digest: Why this Nebraska district will host an even bigger barn-burner in ’24

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

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Leading Off

NE-02: Democratic state Sen. Tony Vargas announced Wednesday that he'd seek a rematch against Rep. Don Bacon, the Republican who beat him 51-49 in last year's expensive campaign for Nebraska's 2nd District. Vargas, who is the son of immigrants from Peru, would be the first Latino to represent the Cornhusker State in Congress. He currently faces no serious intra-party opposition as he seeks to avenge his 2022 defeat, and unnamed Democratic sources also the Nebraska Examiner they don't expect that to change.

This constituency, which includes Omaha and several of its suburbs, favored Joe Biden 52-46, but the four-term Republican has been tough to dislodge. Vargas and his allies ran ads last year emphasizing Bacon's supports for a bill banning abortion nationally after 15 weeks, something the congressman tried to pass off as a moderate option. The GOP, meanwhile, hit back with commercials accusing Vargas of voting "to release violent prisoners." Vargas, who favored bipartisan legislation that would have made prisoners eligible for parole after two years instead of halfway through their term, responded by stressing his support for law enforcement, but it wasn't enough.

Bacon's profile has risen nationally since that tight win, and he's emerged as one of Speaker Kevin McCarthy's most outspoken allies. The Nebraskan made news during the speakership vote when he suggested that members of both parties could unite behind one candidate as a "last resort," arguing that such an outcome would be the fault of "six or seven" far-right Republicans. Bacon has continued to denounce his colleagues in the Freedom Caucus, but while he continues to muse, "I'm of the position that at some point we gotta just do coalition government with the Democrats and cut these guys out," he's yet to take any obvious action to actually make that happen.

A few other things will be different for the 2024 cycle. Vargas' Republican colleagues in the officially nonpartisan legislature passed a bill in May banning abortion after 12 weeks. Vargas, who opposed the measure, used his kickoff to emphasize how he'd "work to protect abortion rights" in Congress. But rather than try to downplay the issue, as many other Republicans have, Bacon has responded by claiming that Vargas "wants zero restrictions" on the procedure. (Vargas argued last year that "elected officials like me should be playing absolutely no role" over women's health decisions.)

The presidential election could also complicate things, especially since Nebraska, along with Maine, is one of just two states that awards an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district. Bacon ran well ahead of the top of the ticket in 2020 and prevailed 51-46 even as Donald Trump was losing the 2nd 52-46 (the presidential numbers were the same under both the old and new congressional maps thanks to GOP gerrymandering), but Democrats are hoping that he'll have a much tougher time winning over ticket-splitters next year.

2Q Fundraising

The second fundraising quarter of the year, covering the period of Apr. 1 through June 30, has come to an end, and federal candidates will have to file campaign finance reports with the FEC by July 15. But as per usual, campaigns with hauls they're eager to tout are leaking numbers early, which we've gathered below.

  • CA-Sen: Adam Schiff (D): $8.1 million raised
  • MD-Sen: Angela Alsobrooks (D): $1.6 million raised (in seven weeks), $1.25 million cash on hand
  • MO-Sen: Lucas Kunce (D): $1.2 million raised
  • PA-Sen: Bob Casey (D-inc): $4 million raised
  • TX-Sen: Colin Allred (D): $6.2 million raised (in two months)
  • WI-Sen: Tammy Baldwin (D-inc): $3.2 million raised
  • CA-47: Scott Baugh (R): $545,000 raised, $1 million cash on hand
  • NY-22: Sarah Klee Hood (D): $319,000 raised (in 10 weeks), $221,000 cash on hand
  • RI-01: Don Carlson (D): $312,000 raised, additional $600,000 self-funded, $750,000 cash on hand
  • TX-32: Julie Johnson (D): $410,000 raised (in 11 days), Brian Williams (D): $360,000 raised (in six weeks)

Ballot Measures

OH Redistricting: The U.S. Supreme Court vacated last year's ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court that struck down the state's congressional map in a brief order issued just before the holiday weekend, directing the Ohio court to reconsider the case in light of the federal Supreme Court's recent decision in a related redistricting case out of North Carolina.

In the North Carolina case, known as Moore v. Harper, the Supreme Court rejected a radical argument by Republican legislators that would have allowed them to gerrymander without limits. Republicans claimed that the U.S. Constitution forbids state courts from placing any curbs on state lawmakers with regard to laws that concern federal elections, including the creation of new congressional maps. The supreme courts in both states had struck down GOP maps as illegal partisan gerrymanders, and in both cases, Republicans responded by asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn those rulings.

The Supreme Court declined to do so in Moore, but a majority of justices in the North Carolina matter did embrace a more limited version of the GOP's argument, saying that "state courts may not transgress the ordinary bounds of judicial review" when assessing state laws that affect federal elections. The U.S. Supreme Court now is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to determine whether it did in fact transgress these bounds in its prior ruling.

The written opinion in Moore, however, declined to provide any guidance whatsoever as to what those bounds might be, or what transgressing them might look like. The Ohio Supreme Court, therefore, faces the awkward task of deciding whether to tattle on itself without really knowing what it might have done wrong. Still, it's hard to see how the court might have run afoul of this standard, even if interpreted loosely. But whatever it decides, the outcome likely won't make any difference.

That's because partisan Republicans took firm control of the state Supreme Court in November after moderate Republican Maureen O'Connor, who had sided with the court's three Democrats to block GOP gerrymanders, retired due to age limits. The new hardline majority would likely have overturned the court's previous rulings rejecting Republican maps regardless of the U.S. Supreme Court's new order. As a consequence, Ohio will likely be able to use the same tilted map next year, or possibly even a more egregiously slanted one, since Republicans recently said they might pass a new map this fall.

Senate

IN-Sen: Egg farmer John Rust, who is reportedly wealthy and could self-fund a bid for office, has filed paperwork to run in next year's GOP primary for Indiana's open Senate seat. Rust, however, has not yet commented publicly, so it's not clear what kind of opening he might see for himself, given that Republican leaders have almost universally rallied behind Rep. Jim Banks' campaign to succeed Sen. Mike Braun.

MI-Sen: Former Republican Rep. Mike Rogers, who previously said "never say never" in regard to a possible bid for Michigan's open Senate seat, is now "seriously weighing" a campaign, according to two unnamed sources cited by Politico's Burgess Everett. A consultant for Rogers, who's been weighing a hopeless campaign for president, also declined to rule out the possibility in a statement.

Meanwhile, Time's Mini Racker reports that John Tuttle, an executive with the New York Stock Exchange, "is likely to enter" the GOP primary, per an anonymous source, and could do so by the middle of this month. In May, NRSC chair Steve Daines praised Tuttle as "a strong potential recruit." Racker's source also says that former Rep. Peter Meijer is "seriously looking" at a campaign but "may wait months" to decide; earlier this year, Meijer would only say "no comment" when the New York Times asked about his interest.

The only noteworthy Republican in the race so far is state Board of Education member Nikki Snyder, though her presence hasn't deterred anyone else. Democrats, by contrast, have largely coalesced around Rep. Elissa Slotkin, though she faces a few opponents, most notably state Board of Education President Pamela Pugh.

MT-Sen: Rep. Ryan Zinke took himself out of the running for the right to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester by endorsing former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy for the GOP nomination instead. But while Sheehy is a favorite of D.C. Republicans, he's still likely to have company in the primary in the form of Montana's other congressman, the hard-right Matt Rosendale.

NV-Sen: The Nevada Independent's Gabby Birenbaum flags that Army veteran Sam Brown, who's reportedly a favorite of national Republicans, has a "special announcement" planned for Monday. So far, the only prominent Republican seeking to challenge first-term Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen is notorious election conspiracy theorist Jim Marchant, who came very close to winning last year's race for secretary of state.

OH-Sen: East Carolina University's new poll gives Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown small leads against a trio of Republican foes:

  • 45-44 vs. state Sen. Matt Dolan
  • 44-42 vs. Secretary of State Frank LaRose
  • 46-42 vs. businessman Bernie Moreno

LaRose hasn't announced yet, though he unsubtly tweeted a picture of an FEC statement of organization form dated July 15.

VA-Sen: Navy veteran Hung Cao, who was last year's GOP nominee against Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton, has filed FEC paperwork for what would be a longshot campaign against Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine.

Governors

WA-Gov: Former Rep. Dave Reichert on Friday filed paperwork for a potential campaign for governor, which is the furthest the Republican has ever come to running for statewide office despite flirting with the idea several times during his career. Reichert, a former swing district congressman who is arguably his party's most formidable candidate, has yet to publicly commit to entering the top-two primary.

WV-Gov: 2020 Democratic nominee Ben Salango said Wednesday he's decided not to run to succeed termed-out Gov. Jim Justice, the Republican who beat him 63-30. No serious Democrats have entered the race to lead what has become an inhospitable state for their party especially over the last decade, though Huntington Mayor Steve Williams responded to the news by reaffirming his interest to MetroNews.

"I said at the Juneteenth that I intend to run, but that it won't be official until I intend to file and that wouldn't be until sometime in July or August" said Williams, who runs West Virginia's second-largest state. The mayor didn't commit to anything, adding, "It's never official until it's official."

House

AZ-06: Businessman Jack O'Donnell has quietly ended his month-old campaign for the Democratic nomination, a move the Arizona Republic says he made "without comment." O'Donnell's departure leaves former state Sen. Kirsten Engel without any intra-party opposition as she seeks a rematch against freshman Republican Rep. Juan Ciscomani, who beat her 51-49 last cycle.

CO-08: Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, who took second in last year's GOP primary, says she won't try again this cycle.

FL-11: While far-right troll Laura Loomer declared early this year that she'd be seeking a GOP primary rematch against veteran Rep. Daniel Webster, whom she held to a shockingly close 51-44 last cycle, she now tells Florida Politics she's still making up her mind about another try. "Right now, my entire focus is the re-nomination and reelection of President Donald J. Trump, and exposing Ron DeSantis for the con man that he is," she said, continuing, "I am preserving all of my options regarding a potential candidacy for U.S. Congress in Florida's 11th district."

Loomer also predicted that if she ran she'd "pulverize" both Webster and former state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who is the congressman's only notable declared intra-party foe in this conservative seat in the western Orlando suburbs. Sabatini, a hard-right extremist who lost last year's primary for the neighboring 7th District to now-Rep. Cory Mills, says he's raised $205,000 during the first three months in his campaign to replace Webster as the congressman for the gargantuan retirement community of The Villages.

IL-12: Darren Bailey, the far-right former state senator who was the GOP’s nominee for governor of Illinois last year, used a Fourth of July celebration at his family farm to announce that he’d challenge Rep. Mike Bost for renomination. Bost, who confirmed last month that he’d seek a sixth term in downstate Illinois' dark red 12th District, is himself an ardent Trumpist who voted to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the hours after the Jan. 6 attacks.

Bailey did not mention the incumbent in his kickoff or subsequent launch video, preferring instead to praise Trump and denounce “weak-kneed politicians who refuse to stand up and fight.” The also posted a picture on Facebook reading “Hands off my AR” on Tuesday—the first anniversary of the mass shooting in Highland Park. (The Chicago Tribune reminds us that last year, before the gunman was even caught, Bailey urged his followers to “move on and let’s celebrate — celebrate the independence of this nation.”)

The NRCC wasted no time making it clear that it was firmly in Bost's corner and previewed some of the material it might use. “Darren Bailey moved to a downtown Chicago penthouse to get blown out by JB Pritzker, now he’s back seeking another political promotion,” said in a statement. Bailey, who filed a 2019 bill to kick Chicago out of Illinois, sought to explain why he’d taken up residence in the Windy City last year. “You can’t deny there’s problems here," he argued. "And if we keep denying these problems, the problems are going to get worse.”

Just a day after 55-42 drubbing by Pritzker, the Tribune reported that Bost’s allies were worried the senator would turn around and take on the congressman—and they may have good reason to fret that he could put up a fight. According to an estimate from OurCampaigns, Bailey ran slightly ahead of Trump's 71-28 performance in the 12th District, carrying it 73-25 last year. Bost, though, also bested Trump's showing, winning his own race 75-25.

Trump has lent his support to both men in the past, so there's no telling whether he'll take sides this time. Just ahead of last year's primary, he endorsed Bailey—much to the delight of Democrats, who spent a fortune to help him win the nod in the ultimately correct belief he'd prove a weak opponent for Pritzker. Trump also headlined a rally for Bost in 2018, when the congressman was in the midst of a tough reelection battle. (Democrats later redrew the 12th District to make it much redder by packing in as many Republican voters as possible.)

MD-06: State House Minority Leader Jason Buckel tells Maryland Matters' Josh Kurtz that, while he's still considering a bid for the GOP nod, he's postponing his decision from late July to late August.

Former Del. Dan Cox, the election denier who cost the GOP any chance it had to hold Maryland's governorship last year, also says he remains undecided, but he adds that he had nothing to do with a "Dan Cox for U.S. Congress" FEC committee that was set up Monday. "I'd like to know who did this," Cox said of the committee, which ceased to exist the following day.

MI-07: Former state Sen. Curtis Hertel on Wednesday filed FEC paperwork for his long-anticipated campaign for this competitive open seat, a development that came days after the Democrat stepped down as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's director of legislative affairs.

NJ-07, NJ-Sen: Roselle Park Mayor Joseph Signorello told the New Jersey Globe Monday that he's decided to end his longshot Democratic primary bid against Sen. Robert Menendez and instead challenge freshman GOP Rep. Tom Kean Jr. Signorello's entire 14,000-person community is located in Democratic Rep. Donald Payne's 10th District, but the mayor previously said he lives "five minutes away" from Kean's constituency.

The only other notable Democrat campaigning for the 7th is Working Families Party state director Sue Altman, who says she raised $200,000 during her first month in the primary. Former state Sen. Ray Lesniak has talked about getting in as well, while the Globe reported last week that former State Department official Jason Blazakis is also considering joining the race.

NY-17: Former Rep. Mondaire Jones announced on Wednesday that he'd seek the Democratic nomination to take on freshman Republican Rep. Mike Lawler in New York's 17th District, a lower Hudson Valley constituency that Joe Biden carried 54-44 in 2020. Jones, who unsuccessfully ran in New York City last year because of a strange set of redistricting-induced circumstances, used his intro video to emphasize his local roots in Rockland County and record securing funds for the area during his one term in D.C.

Before Jones can focus on reclaiming this seat, though, he has to get through what could be an expensive primary against local school board member Liz Gereghty, the sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Gereghty, who launched her campaign in mid-May, announced this week that she'd raised $400,000 though the end of last month. The field also includes former Bedford Town Supervisor MaryAnn Carr, but it remains to be seen if she'll have the resources to run a strong campaign.

In the 2020 election cycle, Jones sought what was, at the time, a safely blue seat held by Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey. Lowey, however, retired soon after Jones launched his campaign, and he won a competitive, multi-way battle for the Democratic nomination. Jones made history with his comfortable victory that fall by becoming the first openly gay black member of Congress, a distinction he shared with fellow New York Democrat Ritchie Torres. (It was only after she died in 1996 that news accounts identified legendary Texas Rep. Barbara Jordan as a lesbian; she never discussed her sexuality during her lifetime.)

Two years later, Jones seemed to be on track for another easy win, but everything changed after New York's highest court rejected state's new Democratic-drawn congressional map and substituted in its own lines. Fellow Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who represented a neighboring district and also chaired the DCCC, infuriated Jones and many local Democrats when he decided to seek reelection in the 17th District rather than defend the 18th, a slightly more competitive seat that included the bulk of his current constituents.

Jones decided to avoid a primary by campaigning for the open 10th District, an open seat based in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan that was far from his home turf, though he offered an explanation for his change of venue. "This is the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ rights movement," he tweeted, "Since long before the Stonewall Uprising, queer people of color have sought refuge within its borders."

But while Jones enjoyed the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he had a tough time in a primary dominated by politicians with far stronger ties to New York City. Former federal prosecutor Dan Goldman, a self-funder who served as House Democrats' lead counsel during Donald Trump's first impeachment, massively outspent the rest of the field and secured the influential support of the New York Times. Goldman ultimately beat Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou in a 25-24 squeaker, while Jones finished third with 18%.

Maloney, for his part, acknowledged months before his own general election that "there are a lot of strong feelings" among Democrats who felt he'd sent Jones packing. "I think I could've handled it better," he admitted. He'd soon have more reasons for regret: One local progressive leader would recount to Slate that volunteers canvassing for Maloney would be asked, "Isn't he the guy that pushed Mondaire out of this district?" Maloney ended up losing to Lawler 50.3-49.7 at the same time that Republican Lee Zeldin was beating Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul 52-48 in the 17th, according to Bloomberg's Greg Giroux. (Ironically, Democrat Pat Ryan held the 18th District that Maloney left behind.)

Jones soon made it clear that he was interested in returning to his home base to challenge Lawler, saying in December, "I've also learned my lesson, and that is home for me is in the Hudson Valley." (The Daily Beast reported in February that Jones hadn't ruled out waging a primary against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, but there was little indication he'd ever seriously considered the idea.)

The once and perhaps future congressman continues to express strong feelings about how the midterm elections went down. "I never imagined that I would wake up one day and would have to decide against primarying a member of the Democratic Party at a time when we were seeing an assault on our democracy," he told News12 Westchester on Wednesday. "To that extent, yeah, I do regret not being the Democratic nominee last cycle."

Gereghty's team, though, made it clear they'd use his campaign in New York City against him. "Liz Whitmer Gereghty has lived in the Hudson Valley for 20 years," her campaign said in a statement, "and the reason you'll never see her moving to Brooklyn to chase a congressional seat is because the only place and only people she wants to represent are right here in the Hudson Valley."

RI-01: Candidate filing closed Friday for the special election to succeed former Rep. David Cicilline, and 22 of his fellow Democrats are campaigning for this 64-35 Biden constituency. The notable candidates competing in the Sept. 5 Democratic primary appear to be (deep breath):

  • State Rep. Marvin Abney
  • former Biden administration official Gabe Amo
  • former state official Nick Autiello
  • Lincoln Town Councilor Pamela Azar
  • Navy veteran Walter Berbrick
  • State Sen. Sandra Cano
  • Businessman Don Carlson
  • State Rep. Stephen Casey
  • Providence City Councilman John Goncalves
  • Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos
  • Narragansett Aboriginal Nation tribal elder Bella Machado Noka
  • State Sen. Ana Quezada
  • former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg

The field isn't quite set, though, because candidates still need to turn in 500 valid signatures by July 14. The general election will be Nov. 7.

VA-02: Navy veteran Missy Cotter Smasal, reports Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin, is "moving toward" challenging freshman Republican Rep. Jen Kiggans in a competitive seat where Democrats are awaiting their first serious contender. Cotter Smasal previously lost an expensive race for the state Senate 52-48 against GOP state Sen. Bill DeSteph. (Donald Trump had carried that constituency 51-43 in 2016, though Joe Biden would take it 50-48 the year after Cotter Smasal's defeat.)

The current version of the 2nd Congressional District, which includes all of Virginia Beach and other Hampton Roads communities, also supported Biden 50-48. Kiggans last year went on to unseat Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria 52-48, and while Luria went on to form a PAC to help her party in this fall's state legislature contests, Rubashkin says she's "unlikely" to seek a rematch.

Ballot Measures

NY Ballot: New York could join the ranks of states whose constitutions protect the right to an abortion next year when voters decide whether to approve a far-reaching amendment placed on the ballot by lawmakers.

The amendment, which the legislature passed for the required second time in January, would outlaw discrimination based on a wide variety of factors, including race, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, and sex. Under "sex," the measure further adds several more categories, including sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as "pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy."

It is that last grouping that proponents say will protect abortion rights, though the amendment doesn't actually reference the word "abortion" anywhere. State law expert Quinn Yeargain expressed concern about that omission in an essay earlier this year. While noting that the amendment "encompasses a number of really good ideas" that would put New York at the vanguard of prohibiting a number of types of discrimination, he opined that it "leaves a lot to be desired" if it's to be regarded as "an abortion-rights amendment."

Yeargain contrasted New York's approach with a much more explicit amendment that will appear on the Maryland ballot next year. That amendment guarantees "the fundamental right to reproductive freedom, including but not limited to the ability to make and effectuate decisions to prevent, continue, or end one's own pregnancy." Regarding the New York amendment, Yeargain concluded that if he lived in the state, "I'd enthusiastically vote for this measure next year—but I wouldn't do so with the assumption that it'll constitutionalize abortion rights."

OH Ballot: Activists seeking to enshrine abortion rights into the Ohio constitution submitted 710,000 signatures on Wednesday to place an amendment on the November ballot, far more than the 413,000 required by law. That figure gives organizers a sizable cushion should any petitions get thrown out after state officials review them, but a much more serious hurdle looms: Next month, voters will decide on a separate amendment approved by Republican lawmakers that would raise the threshold for passage for any future amendments from a simple majority to 60%.

Republicans have been explicit in explaining why they're pushing their measure. "This is 100% about keeping a radical, pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution," Secretary of State Frank LaRose said at an event in May, according to video obtained by News 5 Cleveland. "The left wants to jam it in there this coming November." A broad array of organizations are opposing the GOP amendment, which will go before voters in an Aug. 8 special election.

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

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

Leading Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Races

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

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Trump-backed rich guy wins close primary to take on Wisconsin’s Democratic governor

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

Leading Off

 WI-Gov: Self-funding businessman Tim Michels, who had Donald Trump’s endorsement, defeated former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch 47-42 in the Republican primary to take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Michels was last on the ballot all the way back in 2004 when he lost the Senate race to Democrat Russ Feingold 55-44 as John Kerry was only narrowly carrying Wisconsin 50-49. Team Red, though, is counting on a much better performance from him this time against Evers in what will be one of the biggest races of 2022.

Kleefisch, who was Scott Walker’s running mate in each of his campaigns and had his backing for the top job, looked like the clear frontrunner until April when Michels jumped in seemingly out of nowhere. The construction executive, however, immediately used his wealth to reintroduce himself to voters, and he wound up decisively outspending his opponent after investing at least $12 million into his comeback.

Michels went on to earn Trump’s endorsement in June; the GOP's leader reportedly was infuriated about a 2019 picture of Kleefisch's daughter going to her high school prom with the son of Brian Hagedorn, a conservative state Supreme Court justice who sided against Trump’s attempts to steal the 2020 election. Kleefisch and her allies began airing negative ads a month before Election Day, but Michels spent weeks insisting he wouldn’t do the same.

As recently as last Monday, the businessman proclaimed, “I've never had a negative ad run by my campaign in this race,” explaining, “And the reason is we've never had a single piece of business by talking bad about the competition.” However, while Michels continued, “And the reason is, it's just bad policy, and if you get a reputation of doing that in my industry … people immediately disrespect you,” he decided to risk that disrespect on Thursday by indeed going negative. That belated response, as well as the Club for Growth’s earlier anti-Kleefisch ad campaign, may have made the difference in Tuesday’s close primary.

Election Recaps

Primary Night: Below is a state-by-state look at where Tuesday’s other major contests stood as of 8 AM ET Wednesday, and you can also find our cheat-sheet here.

 CT-Sen (R): Former Ambassador to Chile Leora Levy beat former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides 51-40 for the right to face Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Biden won Connecticut 59-39, and there was little indication that the senator was vulnerable even before the Trump-endorsed Levy took the GOP nomination.

Klarides spent years as a GOP rising star in a state where the party desperately needed one, and she had been widely expected to challenge Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont. In January, though, Klarides kicked off a Senate bid instead after wealthy businessman Bob Stefanowski announced that he would seek a rematch with Lamont, who beat him 49-46. However, while Klarides likely believed she’d avoid a tough primary by choosing to go after the entrenched Blumenthal, Levy proved her very wrong.

 MN-01 (special): The Associated Press has not yet called the special election to succeed the late Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn, but Republican Brad Finstad leads Democrat Jeff Ettinger 51-47 with 118,000 votes in; the AP estimates that this is represents 99% of the total vote. Trump carried this southern Minnesota constituency 54-44 in 2020, while Hagedorn won his second and final term that year 49-46

 MN-01 (R): Finstad easily turned back state Rep. Jeremy Munson 76-24 in the Republican primary for a full two-year term, while Ettinger secured the Democratic nod 92-6 against a little-known foe. Trump would have carried the new version of the 1st, which largely resembles the constituency Hagedorn represented, by a similar 53-44 spread.

Finstad beat Munson just 38-37 in the May special primary, and while Munson filed to run for a full term days later, it initially looked like he was just raising money to pay back a $200,000 campaign loan. Munson announced in July that he would indeed try once more to beat Finstad, but that effort badly collapsed on Tuesday.

 MN-04 (D): Longtime Rep. Betty McCollum pulled off a landslide 83-15 win against party operative Amane Badhasso in the primary for this safely blue St. Paul-based seat.

 MN-05 (D): In arguably the biggest surprise of the evening, Rep. Ilhan Omar fended off former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels just 50-48 to win renomination in this heavily Democratic constituency in the Minneapolis area. We’ll take a closer look at this near upset in our next Digest.

MN-AG (R): Attorney Jim Schultz, who earned the state party’s endorsement in May, beat 2018 nominee Doug Wardlow 53-35. Schultz will now take on Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison, who defeated Wardlow 49-45 four years ago.

Hennepin County, MN Attorney: Former Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty took first place in the seven-way nonpartisan primary with 36%, while retired judge Martha Holton Dimick edged out state House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler 18-16 for the second spot in the November general election.

Both Moriarty and Dimick are Democrats, but they’ve been running very different campaigns. Moriarty, who has the backing of Rep. Ilhan Omar, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and the state Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, has pitched herself as a reformer, saying there needs to be “accountability both for people who violate the law and police.”

Dimick, who has both Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association in her corner, has in turn argued, “We have to send messages that we will prosecute violent criminals … With that effort to defund the police, people sent the wrong message.” Dimick would be the state's first Black county attorney.

 VT-Sen (R): First-time candidate Gerald Malloy scored a 43-39 win against former U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan, who generated some attention when she launched her campaign; Nolan also had the support of Gov. Phil Scott, who is one of the few prominent Republicans in this very blue state. The result makes little difference for the general election, though, because Democratic Rep. Peter Welch should have no trouble winning the contest to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Leahy in a state Biden took 66-31.

VT-AL (D): State Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint beat Lt. Gov. Molly Gray 61-37 in the primary to replace Welch as Vermont’s only House member. Balint, who had endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders and the LGBTQ Victory Fund, is now set to end Vermont’s status as the only state in America that has not elected a woman to Congress; Balint would also be the Green Mountain State’s first gay representative.

WI-03 (D): State Sen. Brad Pfaff defeated businesswoman Rebecca Cooke 39-31 in the primary to succeed retiring Rep. Ron Kind, who is Pfaff’s former boss and top supporter. Pfaff will now go up against 2020 Republican nominee Derrick Van Orden, who lost to Kind 51-49 in the closest race of the congressman’s career. Trump carried both the old and new versions of this southwestern Wisconsin constituency 51-47.

 WI-AG (R): Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney holds a 37.5-36.9 edge over former state Rep. Adam Jarchow in a contest that the Associated Press has not yet called; 595,000 ballots have been tabulated, and the AP estimates they represent 99% of the total vote. The winner will go up against Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, who won his post in a tight 2018 contest.

WI State Assembly (R): Speaker Robin Vos won renomination 51-49 against Adam Steen, who was very much a longshot until Trump endorsed him last week. No Democrats are running for this seat in the Racine area.

Trump made his move after Vos said that the GOP’s master had recently called him and urged him to retroactively decertify Joe Biden's victory in the state—a move the speaker said was legally impossible. Trump retaliated by trashing Vos for using an old photo of the two of them together in his campaign literature as he endorsed the previously little-known Steen.  

Senate

GA-Sen, GA-Gov, GA-LG: Charlie Bailey, who is Team Blue's nominee for lieutenant governor, has released an internal from Research Affiliates that shows his party doing well in competitive contests. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock edges out Republican Herschel Walker 49-46, while GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams are deadlocked 47-47. Bailey also posts a 43-43 tie in his own race against Republican Burt Jones, who was the rare member of Donald Trump's Big Lie slate to win a statewide primary this year.

OK-Sen-B: The Republican pollster Battleground Connect last week found Rep. Markwayne Mullin leading former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon 46-38 ahead of the Aug. 23 Republican primary runoff. This survey, which did not mention a client, is the first poll we've seen of the second round of voting. Mullin outpaced Shannon 44-18 in late June and picked up Trump's endorsement soon after, so it would be a surprise if the runoff is close.

Battleground Connect did depart from the consensus in July when it released a trio of polls in the GOP primary for Arizona's U.S. Senate seat that showed wealthy businessman Jim Lamon narrowly leading the Trump-endorsed Blake Masters at a time when every other firm had Masters well ahead. (Its final poll in late July put Lamon up 30-28.) But that iconoclasm didn't work out well for Battleground Connect or Lamon, and Masters prevailed 40-28 last week.

UT-Sen: Republican incumbent Mike Lee's team has dusted off a WPA Intelligence Poll from July 12-14 that shows him beating independent Evan McMullin 49-35, with 10% going to unnamed other candidates. A survey taken around that same time by Dan Jones & Associates showed Lee up by a considerably smaller 41-36.

Governors

OK-Gov: Oklahoma's Children Our Future, a group that very much does not like Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, has publicized an internal from the Democratic firm Change Research that shows him leading Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister only 42-34. Libertarian Natalie Bruno takes 6% while independent Ervin Yen, who is a former Republican state senator, grabs another 4%.

The memo, which begins, "As scandal after scandal plagues the Kevin Stitt administration," says that the governor posted a 58-32 advantage in an unreleased January poll. The last survey we saw was in early June when the GOP firm Amber Integrated gave Stitt a 47-29 edge over Hofmeister, who left the Republican Party in October.

House

CA-13, OR-04, OR-06: Politico’s Ally Mutnick has obtained a trio of polls sponsored by the NRCC and the seat’s respective Republican nominee that show Team Red in competitive races in constituencies Biden decisively carried:

CA-13: Moore Information (R): Adam Gray (D): 47, John Duarte (R): 43

OR-04: Moore Information (R): Val Hoyle (D): 46, Alek Skarlatos (R): 41

OR-06: Cygnal (R): Mike Erickson (R): 47, Andrea Salinas (D): 40

These are the first numbers we’ve seen from any of these contests.

NY-24: Rep. Claudia Tenney has unveiled an internal from Public Opinion Strategies that has her taking 52% in the Aug. 23 GOP primary while her two opponents, attorney Mario Fratto and perennial candidate George Phillips, grab just 6% each. Trump would have won 57-40 in this constituency, which is based in the Finger Lakes region.

The Trump-endorsed Tenney currently represents less than 6% of this revamped district, but neither of her foes have generated much attention. Fratto did finish June with $230,000 on-hand thanks mostly to self-funding, but Tenney was still well ahead with $1 million banked. Phillips, writes The Citizen, "has not been actively campaigning for the seat and did not file a fundraising report."

WA-03: On Tuesday evening Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who was one of the 10 House Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump last year, conceded last week’s top-two primary one day after she dropped into third place. With 218,000 ballots tabulated Democrat Marie Perez leads with 31% while Trump's candidate, Army veteran Joe Kent, edged out Herrera Beutler 22.8-22.3 for the second general election spot. Trump would have carried this southwestern Washington seat 51-46.

WY-AL: Sen. Cynthia Lummis endorsed attorney Harriet Hageman over the weekend for the Aug. 16 GOP primary almost a year after Donald Trump declared that the senator was already supporting Hageman's bid against Rep. Liz Cheney. Lummis' spokesperson said back in September, "While Senator Lummis is not making an endorsement at this time, she believes President Trump has made an inspired choice in backing Harriet Hageman."

secretaries of state

 WA-SoS: The AP has called a special general election between appointed Democratic incumbent Steve Hobbs and Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who does not identify with either party. Hobbs, who is the first Democrat to hold this office since the 1964 election, took first in last week’s top-two primary with 40%, while Anderson edged out Republican state Sen. Keith Wagoner 13-12 for second. The winner will be up for a full four-year term in 2024.

Ad Roundup

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

Morning Digest: Trump-backed rich guy wins close primary to take on Wisconsin’s Democratic governor

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

Leading Off

 WI-Gov: Self-funding businessman Tim Michels, who had Donald Trump’s endorsement, defeated former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch 47-42 in the Republican primary to take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Michels was last on the ballot all the way back in 2004 when he lost the Senate race to Democrat Russ Feingold 55-44 as John Kerry was only narrowly carrying Wisconsin 50-49. Team Red, though, is counting on a much better performance from him this time against Evers in what will be one of the biggest races of 2022.

Kleefisch, who was Scott Walker’s running mate in each of his campaigns and had his backing for the top job, looked like the clear frontrunner until April when Michels jumped in seemingly out of nowhere. The construction executive, however, immediately used his wealth to reintroduce himself to voters, and he wound up decisively outspending his opponent after investing at least $12 million into his comeback.

Michels went on to earn Trump’s endorsement in June; the GOP's leader reportedly was infuriated about a 2019 picture of Kleefisch's daughter going to her high school prom with the son of Brian Hagedorn, a conservative state Supreme Court justice who sided against Trump’s attempts to steal the 2020 election. Kleefisch and her allies began airing negative ads a month before Election Day, but Michels spent weeks insisting he wouldn’t do the same.

As recently as last Monday, the businessman proclaimed, “I've never had a negative ad run by my campaign in this race,” explaining, “And the reason is we've never had a single piece of business by talking bad about the competition.” However, while Michels continued, “And the reason is, it's just bad policy, and if you get a reputation of doing that in my industry … people immediately disrespect you,” he decided to risk that disrespect on Thursday by indeed going negative. That belated response, as well as the Club for Growth’s earlier anti-Kleefisch ad campaign, may have made the difference in Tuesday’s close primary.

Election Recaps

Primary Night: Below is a state-by-state look at where Tuesday’s other major contests stood as of 8 AM ET Wednesday, and you can also find our cheat-sheet here.

 CT-Sen (R): Former Ambassador to Chile Leora Levy beat former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides 51-40 for the right to face Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Biden won Connecticut 59-39, and there was little indication that the senator was vulnerable even before the Trump-endorsed Levy took the GOP nomination.

Klarides spent years as a GOP rising star in a state where the party desperately needed one, and she had been widely expected to challenge Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont. In January, though, Klarides kicked off a Senate bid instead after wealthy businessman Bob Stefanowski announced that he would seek a rematch with Lamont, who beat him 49-46. However, while Klarides likely believed she’d avoid a tough primary by choosing to go after the entrenched Blumenthal, Levy proved her very wrong.

 MN-01 (special): The Associated Press has not yet called the special election to succeed the late Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn, but Republican Brad Finstad leads Democrat Jeff Ettinger 51-47 with 118,000 votes in; the AP estimates that this is represents 99% of the total vote. Trump carried this southern Minnesota constituency 54-44 in 2020, while Hagedorn won his second and final term that year 49-46

 MN-01 (R): Finstad easily turned back state Rep. Jeremy Munson 76-24 in the Republican primary for a full two-year term, while Ettinger secured the Democratic nod 92-6 against a little-known foe. Trump would have carried the new version of the 1st, which largely resembles the constituency Hagedorn represented, by a similar 53-44 spread.

Finstad beat Munson just 38-37 in the May special primary, and while Munson filed to run for a full term days later, it initially looked like he was just raising money to pay back a $200,000 campaign loan. Munson announced in July that he would indeed try once more to beat Finstad, but that effort badly collapsed on Tuesday.

 MN-04 (D): Longtime Rep. Betty McCollum pulled off a landslide 83-15 win against party operative Amane Badhasso in the primary for this safely blue St. Paul-based seat.

 MN-05 (D): In arguably the biggest surprise of the evening, Rep. Ilhan Omar fended off former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels just 50-48 to win renomination in this heavily Democratic constituency in the Minneapolis area. We’ll take a closer look at this near upset in our next Digest.

MN-AG (R): Attorney Jim Schultz, who earned the state party’s endorsement in May, beat 2018 nominee Doug Wardlow 53-35. Schultz will now take on Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison, who defeated Wardlow 49-45 four years ago.

Hennepin County, MN Attorney: Former Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty took first place in the seven-way nonpartisan primary with 36%, while retired judge Martha Holton Dimick edged out state House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler 18-16 for the second spot in the November general election.

Both Moriarty and Dimick are Democrats, but they’ve been running very different campaigns. Moriarty, who has the backing of Rep. Ilhan Omar, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and the state Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, has pitched herself as a reformer, saying there needs to be “accountability both for people who violate the law and police.”

Dimick, who has both Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association in her corner, has in turn argued, “We have to send messages that we will prosecute violent criminals … With that effort to defund the police, people sent the wrong message.” Dimick would be the state's first Black county attorney.

 VT-Sen (R): First-time candidate Gerald Malloy scored a 43-39 win against former U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan, who generated some attention when she launched her campaign; Nolan also had the support of Gov. Phil Scott, who is one of the few prominent Republicans in this very blue state. The result makes little difference for the general election, though, because Democratic Rep. Peter Welch should have no trouble winning the contest to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Leahy in a state Biden took 66-31.

VT-AL (D): State Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint beat Lt. Gov. Molly Gray 61-37 in the primary to replace Welch as Vermont’s only House member. Balint, who had endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders and the LGBTQ Victory Fund, is now set to end Vermont’s status as the only state in America that has not elected a woman to Congress; Balint would also be the Green Mountain State’s first gay representative.

WI-03 (D): State Sen. Brad Pfaff defeated businesswoman Rebecca Cooke 39-31 in the primary to succeed retiring Rep. Ron Kind, who is Pfaff’s former boss and top supporter. Pfaff will now go up against 2020 Republican nominee Derrick Van Orden, who lost to Kind 51-49 in the closest race of the congressman’s career. Trump carried both the old and new versions of this southwestern Wisconsin constituency 51-47.

 WI-AG (R): Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney holds a 37.5-36.9 edge over former state Rep. Adam Jarchow in a contest that the Associated Press has not yet called; 595,000 ballots have been tabulated, and the AP estimates they represent 99% of the total vote. The winner will go up against Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, who won his post in a tight 2018 contest.

WI State Assembly (R): Speaker Robin Vos won renomination 51-49 against Adam Steen, who was very much a longshot until Trump endorsed him last week. No Democrats are running for this seat in the Racine area.

Trump made his move after Vos said that the GOP’s master had recently called him and urged him to retroactively decertify Joe Biden's victory in the state—a move the speaker said was legally impossible. Trump retaliated by trashing Vos for using an old photo of the two of them together in his campaign literature as he endorsed the previously little-known Steen.  

Senate

GA-Sen, GA-Gov, GA-LG: Charlie Bailey, who is Team Blue's nominee for lieutenant governor, has released an internal from Research Affiliates that shows his party doing well in competitive contests. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock edges out Republican Herschel Walker 49-46, while GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams are deadlocked 47-47. Bailey also posts a 43-43 tie in his own race against Republican Burt Jones, who was the rare member of Donald Trump's Big Lie slate to win a statewide primary this year.

OK-Sen-B: The Republican pollster Battleground Connect last week found Rep. Markwayne Mullin leading former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon 46-38 ahead of the Aug. 23 Republican primary runoff. This survey, which did not mention a client, is the first poll we've seen of the second round of voting. Mullin outpaced Shannon 44-18 in late June and picked up Trump's endorsement soon after, so it would be a surprise if the runoff is close.

Battleground Connect did depart from the consensus in July when it released a trio of polls in the GOP primary for Arizona's U.S. Senate seat that showed wealthy businessman Jim Lamon narrowly leading the Trump-endorsed Blake Masters at a time when every other firm had Masters well ahead. (Its final poll in late July put Lamon up 30-28.) But that iconoclasm didn't work out well for Battleground Connect or Lamon, and Masters prevailed 40-28 last week.

UT-Sen: Republican incumbent Mike Lee's team has dusted off a WPA Intelligence Poll from July 12-14 that shows him beating independent Evan McMullin 49-35, with 10% going to unnamed other candidates. A survey taken around that same time by Dan Jones & Associates showed Lee up by a considerably smaller 41-36.

Governors

OK-Gov: Oklahoma's Children Our Future, a group that very much does not like Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, has publicized an internal from the Democratic firm Change Research that shows him leading Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister only 42-34. Libertarian Natalie Bruno takes 6% while independent Ervin Yen, who is a former Republican state senator, grabs another 4%.

The memo, which begins, "As scandal after scandal plagues the Kevin Stitt administration," says that the governor posted a 58-32 advantage in an unreleased January poll. The last survey we saw was in early June when the GOP firm Amber Integrated gave Stitt a 47-29 edge over Hofmeister, who left the Republican Party in October.

House

CA-13, OR-04, OR-06: Politico’s Ally Mutnick has obtained a trio of polls sponsored by the NRCC and the seat’s respective Republican nominee that show Team Red in competitive races in constituencies Biden decisively carried:

CA-13: Moore Information (R): Adam Gray (D): 47, John Duarte (R): 43

OR-04: Moore Information (R): Val Hoyle (D): 46, Alek Skarlatos (R): 41

OR-06: Cygnal (R): Mike Erickson (R): 47, Andrea Salinas (D): 40

These are the first numbers we’ve seen from any of these contests.

NY-24: Rep. Claudia Tenney has unveiled an internal from Public Opinion Strategies that has her taking 52% in the Aug. 23 GOP primary while her two opponents, attorney Mario Fratto and perennial candidate George Phillips, grab just 6% each. Trump would have won 57-40 in this constituency, which is based in the Finger Lakes region.

The Trump-endorsed Tenney currently represents less than 6% of this revamped district, but neither of her foes have generated much attention. Fratto did finish June with $230,000 on-hand thanks mostly to self-funding, but Tenney was still well ahead with $1 million banked. Phillips, writes The Citizen, "has not been actively campaigning for the seat and did not file a fundraising report."

WA-03: On Tuesday evening Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who was one of the 10 House Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump last year, conceded last week’s top-two primary one day after she dropped into third place. With 218,000 ballots tabulated Democrat Marie Perez leads with 31% while Trump's candidate, Army veteran Joe Kent, edged out Herrera Beutler 22.8-22.3 for the second general election spot. Trump would have carried this southwestern Washington seat 51-46.

WY-AL: Sen. Cynthia Lummis endorsed attorney Harriet Hageman over the weekend for the Aug. 16 GOP primary almost a year after Donald Trump declared that the senator was already supporting Hageman's bid against Rep. Liz Cheney. Lummis' spokesperson said back in September, "While Senator Lummis is not making an endorsement at this time, she believes President Trump has made an inspired choice in backing Harriet Hageman."

secretaries of state

 WA-SoS: The AP has called a special general election between appointed Democratic incumbent Steve Hobbs and Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who does not identify with either party. Hobbs, who is the first Democrat to hold this office since the 1964 election, took first in last week’s top-two primary with 40%, while Anderson edged out Republican state Sen. Keith Wagoner 13-12 for second. The winner will be up for a full four-year term in 2024.

Ad Roundup

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Morning Digest: Why an attack ad is sometimes just an attack ad

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

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Leading Off

MI-Gov: With less than a week to go before the primary, a DGA-backed group is spending a reported $2 million to attack Republican Tudor Dixon, but the effort doesn't appear to be the sort of now-common Democratic meddling in GOP nominating contests for a few reasons.

For starters, the ads that Put Michigan First is running are legit attacks—they hammer Dixon for a plan to cut the state's income tax that would mean "less cops on the street"—not the "Joe Schmendrick is too conservative!" subterfuge you typically see. There's also nothing to suggest that Dixon's chief rival, businessman Kevin Rinke, is more problematic and less electable. In fact, he's the only Republican candidate who hasn't fully embraced the Big Lie, and an independent survey earlier this month showed Rinke and Dixon turning in virtually identical—and equally poor—performances against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Put Michigan First has also hit Dixon before, as part of an ad savaging every candidate in the field, Rinke included: Dixon was dinged as "an actress in low-budget horror movies"—one film "featured two people having sex in a bathroom stall and a zombie biting a man's genitals"—while Rinke was branded "a car salesman sued for harassment"; more on that here.

The DGA ran a similar campaign in Nevada tagging frontrunner Joe Lombardo as weak on crime before his primary, a move that was widely interpreted at the time as Democrats once again trying to pick their opponent. But as in Michigan, the DGA didn't try to elevate a specific alternative. One unnamed insider said of Lombardo, "If he doesn't make it through the primary, then we've knocked out what is seen as the front-runner," suggesting that there was still a benefit to the gambit even if Lombardo prevailed—by weakening the ultimate nominee with an attack that would speak to a broad range of the political spectrum.

So too with Dixon, who's the closest thing Michigan Republicans have to a frontrunner of their own after an extremely messy race that saw multiple major contenders booted off the ballot for petition fraud. Recent polls have given Dixon a small lead over Rinke, including a brand new one from Republican pollster Mitchell Research for MIRS News that has her up 28-22, and the powerful DeVos family is in her corner. Donald Trump has also praised her in the past, and the Detroit News recently reported that she's "viewed as the top contender for Trump's possible endorsement," though he hasn't backed her yet.

Democrats may therefore be seeking to bang up Dixon chiefly to wound her if she does win the primary, but if they cause her to stumble and hand the nomination to Rinke or another wannabe, so much the better.

The Downballot

 Whoa, mama! August has so, so many juicy primaries on tap, which is why we've brought Daily Kos Elections Editor Jeff Singer back to discuss all the best races for this week's edition of The Downballot. There's the GOP battle for Arizona's governorship, where Trump's pick has been absolutely slayed by her drag queen ex-friend; two pro-impeachment Republicans in Washington state trying to keep their political careers alive; a heavyweight battle between two 30-year veteran incumbents in New York City; and lots, lots more.

Co-host David Nir recaps the back-to-back dropouts in Wisconsin's Democratic primary for Senate that have solidified Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes as the undisputed frontrunner. He also criticizes the handwringing over Democrats' meddling in a Michigan primary, saying it's not the Democratic Party's responsibility to make sure Republicans nominate sensible candidates—that's the GOP's job (if it even cares to). David Beard, meanwhile, previews the snap election just called in Italy, where the right looks set to perform well.

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

Senate

GA-Sen, GA-Gov: The University of Georgia and SurveyUSA each find Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp ahead, though they very much disagree how close the two contests are. UGA’s poll for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows Warnock edging out Republican Herschel Walker 46-43, while Kemp defeats Democrat Stacey Abrams 48-43. SurveyUSA’s numbers for WXIA-TV, though, are far better for Democrats: Warnock leads 48-39, while Kemp is only up 45-44.

Other polls taken in July have universally agreed that Warnock is running ahead of Abrams, but they’ve also painted very different pictures on the state of the two races. Numbers from early in the month from the Democratic firm Data for Progress had Walker and Kemp up 49-47 and 53-44, respectively. A short time later, AARP dropped a survey from a bipartisan pair of pollsters that put Warnock ahead 50-47 as Kemp posted a wider 52-45 advantage. A Kemp internal from Cygnal, which did not include Senate numbers, also gave the governor a 50-45 edge.

OK-Sen-B: Former Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn is airing her first TV ad of the race, and despite running in dark-red Oklahoma, she makes abortion the centerpiece. She says that the state "now has the most extreme abortion ban in the country, which puts all of us at risk" and warns that the likely GOP nominee, Rep. Markwayne Mullin, "promises to make this ban federal law." Horn also notes that Oklahoma "has never sent a woman to the U.S. Senate," making it one of 17 states in this ignominious club. Mullin still faces a runoff with former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon on Aug. 23, but he's the heavy favorite after leading the first round by a 44-18 margin last month.

WI-Sen: In an unexpected development two weeks ahead of Wisconsin's primary, former Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry abandoned his bid for Senate and endorsed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes to take on Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, saying "it was clear there was no path forward for us to be able to win." The move came two days after Outagamie Executive Tom Nelson did the same thing, making Barnes the undisputed frontrunner for the nomination.

One other notable Democrat, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, remains in the race, and she insisted on Wednesday that would not quit. But Barnes also released a poll from Impact Research taken before both Nelson and Lasry dropped out showing him with a 39-25 lead on Lasry, with Godlewski far back at 12 and Nelson at 5. Every other public poll of the race has likewise found Barnes in front while Godlewski has never rated higher than third place.

Governors

IL-Gov: Politico reports that conservative megadonor Richard Uihlein, who helped bankroll far-right state Sen. Darren Bailey's June victory in the Republican primary, has contributed another $5 million to the candidate this month. Uihlein has also made a larger $15 million donation to Bailey's allied PAC, People Who Play By The Rules.

MA-Gov: Suffolk University's newest survey for the Boston Globe shows Attorney General Maura Healey, who has the Democratic primary to herself, posting huge leads over both of her prospective Republican foes. Healey beats out former state Rep. Geoff Diehl 54-23, while she enjoys a nearly-identical 54-22 advantage over self-funding businessman Chris Doughty.

ME-Gov: Democratic Gov. Janet Mills continues to maintain a large financial edge ahead of her general election battle with her predecessor, Paul LePage. Mills outraised the Republican $600,000 to $310,000 during the period covering June 1 to July 19, and she finished with a $2.7 million to $1.1 million cash-on-hand lead.

Several past Maine statewide contests, including LePage's 2010 and 2014 victories, featured at least one prominent independent or third-party candidate, but that won't be the case this time. The only other contender on the ballot is independent Sam Hunkler, who had just over $600 to spend.

WI-Gov: While the Club for Growth has not endorsed anyone in the Aug. 9 Republican primary, NBC reports that the anti-tax group has dropped $1.1 million into a TV and radio campaign to defeat former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. The TV spot argues that in office, Kleefisch "used taxpayer resources, traveling across the globe on junkets hosted by foreign interests," a statement that's accompanied by a huge flag of China.

House

CA-40: Republican Rep. Young Kim and the NRCC have jointly released a mid-July poll from Public Opinion Strategies that shows the congresswoman beating her Democratic opponent, physician Asif Mahmood, by a 51-35 margin. This is the first poll of the race, but its 16-point spread is similar to the overall margins of June's top-two primary, when a trio of Republican candidates, including Kim, combined for 59% while Mahmood took 41%. Joe Biden would have carried this redrawn district in eastern Orange County by a 50-48 margin, according to Dave's Redistricting App.

VT-AL: The University of New Hampshire, polling on behalf of WCAX, finds state Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint beating Lt. Gov. Molly Gray by a lopsided 63-21 in the first survey we’ve seen of the Aug. 9 Democratic primary since filing closed in the spring. Either candidate would end Vermont’s status as the only state to never elect a woman to Congress, while Balint would also be the first gay person to represent the Green Mountain State in D.C.

Balint, who has Sen. Bernie Sanders’ endorsement, and Gray have each raised comparable amounts in the contest to succeed Rep. Peter Welch, who is running for Vermont’s other Senate seat. However, a trio of organizations―the LGBTQ Victory Fund, Equality PAC, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC―have spent a total of just under $850,000 to promote Balint, while there have been no independent expenditures for Gray. VTDigger notes that this sort of outside spending is rare in state politics, though not unheard of: In 2016, notably, the RGA spent $3 million on the successful effort to elect Phil Scott governor.

WA-03, WA-04: Outside groups are continuing to spend serious money ahead of Tuesday's top-two primary on separate efforts to boost a pair of Republicans who voted for impeachment, 3rd District Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and 4th District Rep. Dan Newhouse, against their Trump-backed rivals.

In the 3rd in southwest Washington, a group called Conservatives for A Stronger America has deployed close to $400,000 on a TV buy that argues Army veteran Joe Kent wants to defund the police. The commercial features clips of the candidate saying, "Federal law enforcement grants, I would cut that off cold," and, "Also, cutting off federal law enforcement funding." Kent himself has made news for his ties to far-right extremists, though the ad unsurprisingly doesn't mention that.

This PAC made news a little while ago when it dropped another $740,000 into efforts to promote a different Republican, evangelical author Heidi St. John, a move Kent argued was intended to "prop up a spoiler candidate and split the vote so they can re-elect the Establishment's RINO incumbent, Jaime Herrera Beutler."

Kent himself, though, has also tried a similar maneuver, though on a much smaller scale. Last week, the Washington Observer's Paul Queary reported that Kent sent out mailers ostensibly attacking one of the two Democratic candidates, auto repair shop owner Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, for being the one "pro-choice candidate for Congress."

Queary noted that Kent was trying to influence Democrats to support Perez instead of Herrera Beutler, whose own messaging has been aimed at winning over middle-of-the-road voters, in an attempt to stop the incumbent from advancing to the general election. Trump would have carried this district 51-46, so it's quite possible Perez will reach the second round instead of Herrera Beutler or Kent. (The other Democrat on the ballot, 2020 candidate Davy Ray, hasn't reported bringing in any money.)

And while Kent sports Trump's backing, he's raised far less cash than Herrera Beutler and doesn't have any major outside groups spending on his behalf. The congresswoman, by contrast, has benefited from $1 million in support from Winning For Women Action Fund, a super PAC funded in part by the Congressional Leadership Fund.

The dynamics are similar one seat to the east in the 4th, where Defending Main Street has so far deployed $1.2 million to support Newhouse or attack Trump's choice, 2020 gubernatorial nominee Loren Culp. One of the establishment-aligned PAC's new spots accuses Culp of being a tax dodger who was "caught enriching himself with tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations," while others praise the congressman for "standing up to China" and fighting to protect the Snake River dams.

Culp has badly struggled with fundraising, and like Kent, he's also received no serious outside support. Five other Republicans are campaigning here including self-funding businessman Jerrod Sessler and state Rep. Brad Klippert, while businessman Doug White is the one Democrat running for this 57-40 Trump constituency.

Secretaries of State

GA-SoS, GA-AG: The University of Georgia finds Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger beating Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen by a wide 46-32 margin, while SurveyUSA gives the Republican a smaller 40-33 edge. SurveyUSA also checked out the race for attorney general and found GOP incumbent Chris Carr turning back Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan only 38-34

Ad Roundup

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

Donald Trump, serial grifter who never gives back, has soaked up more than $100 million in donations

Donald Trump has amassed a $105 million war chest since leaving office but hasn't dropped so much as a dime on boosting GOP candidates or funding outside efforts to overturn the 2020 elections, according to Politico.

Nope. That's for losers and suckers, and Trump is just a good old-fashioned grifter. Consequently, he has directed nearly all the money he soaked up through his political action committees (Make America Great Again PAC, Save America PAC, and the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee) to pay his own personal and business expenses almost exclusively. That includes paying for travel expenses, more fundraising appeals, the salaries of personal and political aides, and legal fees he racked up trying to mount an impeachment defense and overturn the 2020 results. Trump did make one external donation of $1 million to the America First Policy Institute, which was founded by several of his former aides after he lost reelection. 

But when it comes to high-profile efforts to overturn 2020, like the Arizona fraudit or helping Republican candidates—zip! They're on their own. In other words, the vast majority of Trump's fundraising appeals have nothing to do with where he is actually directing his money. Those Arizona-style audits that more than half of Republican voters actually think could change the 2020 outcome are just window dressing to Trump. They're going nowhere and he isn't wasting a dime on them—but they sure are lucrative.

Another popular fundraising theme for Trump is that he's going to ensure Republicans win back Congress next year. But apparently the sum total of his efforts include dooming the Republican candidates who are perhaps best-suited to win in general elections

A Trump spokesperson now claims he recently made donations to his chosen candidates that haven't yet shown up in campaign filings. And despite telling all the GOP campaign committees earlier this year to cease and desist from using him or his likeness to solicit donations, Trump is now taking credit for their fundraising hauls.

“In addition to the RECORD BREAKING money raised over the last 6 months to my political affiliates, I am pleased to see the entire party benefit from ‘Trump,’ Trump said in a statement after the GOP's national committee and two congressional campaign committees raised close to a combined $300 million in first six months of the year.

Interestingly, though, the statement from the National Republican Senatorial Committee hailing its $51 million intake made no references to Trump. 

“The more voters learn about the disastrous impacts of the Senate Democrats’ socialist agenda, the more the momentum builds to elect a Republican Senate majority in 2022,” NRSC chair Rick Scott said in a statement.

Gee, it almost seems like Senate Republicans don't want to be associated with Trump. Rest assured that Trump is lying awake at night smarting over the fact that the GOP committees have raised even a single cent that he believes belongs to him exclusively.

What Trump has lavished money on is attorney fees—the many, many lawyers involved in defending and advising him in everything from his second impeachment to the Russian investigation to a host of personal lawsuits.

Rudy Giuliani, however, the face of Trump's legal resistance following his 2020 loss, appears to have come up dry. The $75,000 Trump shelled out to Giuliani went exclusively to his travel expenses, not legal fees. Sorry, Rudy.

NRCC Chair Warns Trump Against Backing Primary Challenges

National Republican Congressional Committee Chair (NRCC) Tom Emmer warned former President Trump against backing primary challenges to Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach him.

Emmer made the comments in an interview with Politico.

“He can do whatever he wants,” said the Minnesota Republican. “But I would tell him that it’s probably better for us that we keep these people and we make sure that we have a majority that can be sustained going forward.”

On Trump weighing into the primaries, Emmer said, “That’s not gonna be helpful.”

Still, Emmer opined that it would be wise for the party to embrace some of Trump’s policies because they brought Republicans “a lot of new voters” and were “hugely popular.”

RELATED: Trump Plans New Super PAC, Setting His Sights On 2022 Elections

Trump Will Support Primary Challenges to Pro-Impeachment Republicans

President Trump last week announced that he was planning to form a super PAC, a sure sign he intends to help shape the future of the Republican party heading into 2022 and 2024.

Seven out of the 10 Republican lawmakers who voted in favor of impeaching Trump are already facing primary challenges for their congressional seats.

Adam Kinzinger (IL), one of those seven being primaried and who voted in favor of impeachment, formed a new PAC of his own, claiming he is fighting to “take back” the party from Trump.

In a statement last month, Trump savaged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying he is “a dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack” and indicating he was willing to wage war against the establishment GOP.

“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” he added.

While McConnell did not vote in favor of impeachment, he certainly placed blame on the former President for a riot at the Capitol in January.

RELATED: Nearly 50% Of Trump Voters Say They Will Follow Him To Another Party And Abandon The GOP

How Can They Win Back the House?

Emmer needs to find a way to back Trump, not the other way around.

The NRCC last month released a list of 47 “vulnerable Democrats” they plan to target in 2022 in an effort to take back the House.

The memo reminds voters that Republicans are “just five seats short of a majority” following some unexpected successes in the 2020 election.

But how do they think those unexpected successes came about? It wasn’t because Trump supporters stayed away from the polls.

A newly released poll indicates a majority – nearly 50 percent – of Trump voters would follow the former President to a new party and abandon the GOP.

And while he has shied away from announcing a new party, Trump would certainly hold some weight when it comes to his supporters voting in favor of primary challenges.

Other polls have shown a vast majority of GOP voters want to see Trump play a big role in the future of the party and a supermajority of them want their legislators to be more like Trump and less like establishment politicians.

Emmer told Politico he expects to have a conversation with Trump “at some point” about how to move forward.

 

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Republicans Release Plan to Target Vulnerable Democrats, Take Back The House

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) released a list of 47 “vulnerable Democrats” they plan to target in 2022 in an effort to take back the House.

The memo reminds voters that Republicans are “just five seats short of a majority” following some unexpected successes in the 2020 election.

NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer says that in the first few weeks of the Biden administration, Americans are already “seeing the job-killing initiatives House Democrats support.”

House Democrats on the Education and Labor Committee, for example, are pushing for a $15 minimum wage proposal, despite warnings from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that it would put 1.4 million Americans out of work.

“We will relentlessly hold House Democrats accountable for their socialist agenda,” Emmers adds, “and ensure voters understand the damaging impact policies like defunding the police, government-run health care, and ending the Keystone XL Pipeline will have on Americans’ everyday lives.”

RELATED: Democrats Have A Back-Up Plan That Might Still Bar Trump From Running Again If Impeachment Fails

Republicans Will Target Democrats, But They’re a Target As Well

While House Republicans will be targeting Democrats to win back the majority from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, some of them will be targets themselves.

Former President Donald Trump is reportedly setting his sights on possible primary challenges to “Never Trump” Republicans, according to Newsmax.

His son Eric was floating the idea even prior to the impeachment fiasco.

“I will personally work to defeat every single Republican Senator/Congressman who doesn’t stand up against this fraud,” he tweeted regarding the 2020 election. “They will be primaried in their next election and they will lose.”

We doubt things have been patched up after the events that followed.

In mid-January, 10 Republicans in the House voted to impeach the former President for “incitement of insurrection.”

RELATED: 64 Percent Of Republican Voters Would Join Trump If He Started A New Party

What Will Trump Do?

The ability of Republican candidates to target their Democrat counterparts may very well come down to what Trump does going forward.

Anger over Republicans joining Democrats in the impeachment effort has boiled over – a report notes that 7 out of the 10 GOP lawmakers who voted in favor of impeaching Trump are already facing primary challenges for their congressional seats.

Further complicating matters, some have speculated whether or not Trump would be better served to start his own party due to a fracture with the GOP.

A poll from earlier this month shows an overwhelming percentage of Republican voters would join a new political party established by the former president.

It seems the NRCC might want to focus on shoring up support from the former President if they are to have any chance of regaining a majority in the House.

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