Morning Digest: The top GOP candidate to run Nevada’s elections is an antisemitic Big Lie proponent

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

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Leading Off

NV-SoS: Both parties will be fighting hard to win the race to succeed termed-out Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who was the only Nevada Republican to prevail statewide during the 2018 Democratic wave, and with the close of candidate filing on Friday, we now know who all the contenders are. However, while former state Athletic Commission member Cisco Aguilar faces no opposition in the June 14 Democratic primary, Republicans have a seven-way contest that includes a well-connected election denier.

That conspiracy theorist is former Assemblyman Jim Marchant, who challenged Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford last cycle in the 4th District and lost by a 51-46 margin. Marchant, though, responded to that incontrovertible defeat by baselessly claiming he was the "victim of election fraud" and unsuccessfully suing to overturn the results. The ex-lawmaker, who has repeatedly addressed QAnon gatherings, has also said that he would not have certified Joe Biden's victory in the state had he been secretary of state at the time. And as for the endless string of courtroom losses Trump allies were dealt when they sought to undo the 2020 election, Marchant has an explanation for that, too: "A lot of judges were bought off too—they are part of this cabal."

Marchant continued to embrace the far-right last week by letting loose an antisemitic rant against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. "We need to support the people in Ukraine that are not the Biden, the Clintons, the cabal," said Marchant, continuing, "They have patriots like us … that have been oppressed by the cabal, the central bankers for centuries. And that's who we need to support people that were oppressed by the Soros cabal." Yet Marchant is anything but a pariah in today's GOP, as he has the backing of former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is the frontrunner to take on Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

Republicans have several other contenders, with the most formidable looking like Reno-area developer Jesse Haw. The Nevada Independent reported in January that Haw, who was appointed to fill a vacant state Senate seat for a few months in 2016, was "expected to bring at least half a million of dollars in campaign cash in the bank." The GOP field also includes Sparks City Councilman Kristopher Dahir, former TV anchor Gerard Ramalh, and former District Court Judge Richard Scotti.

Further below we'll be taking a look at Nevada's other competitive races now that filing has closed. Candidates running statewide or in constituencies containing multiple counties were required to file with the secretary of state, while candidates running for single-county seats, such as the 1st and 3rd Congressional Districts in Clark County, had to instead file with their local election officials.

Redistricting

OH Redistricting: A group of Ohio voters, with the support of Eric Holder's National Democratic Redistricting Committee, filed a new lawsuit on Monday challenging the replacement congressional map that Republicans passed earlier this month. The suit comes after the state Supreme Court ruled on Friday that it could not entertain plaintiffs' objections to the map in a pair of pending cases because it had issued a "final judgment" when it invalidated the GOP's original district lines in January.

In its decision, however, the court noted that plaintiffs were free to bring a new suit targeting the remedial map, which remains heavily gerrymandered in favor of the GOP. Meanwhile, the ACLU of Ohio, which served as counsel in the second case, said that it is "considering next steps."

Senate

IA-Sen: Candidate filing closed Friday for Iowa's June 7 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders here. The Hawkeye State has an unusual law that requires party conventions to select nominees in races where no candidate receives over 35% of the vote in the primary, but that provision is unlikely to come into play this year in any of the contests we'll be watching.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is one of the two longest-serving members of Congress following the death of Alaska Rep. Don Young (Grassley is tied with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is retiring), is seeking an eighth term in a state that swung hard to the right during the Trump era. The incumbent's only primary foe is state Sen. Jim Carlin, a pro-Trump die-hard who has baselessly claimed the 2020 election was stolen and spouted antisemitic conspiracy theories blaming wealthy Jews like Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros for the outcome. Trump himself, though, is supporting Grassley over Carlin, who barely raised any money in 2021.

The frontrunner on the Democratic side looks like former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, who lost a tight battle for a second term last cycle in northeast Iowa. Also in the running are retired Vice Admiral Mike Franken, who lost the 2020 primary for the state's other Senate seat, and Minden City Councilman Glenn Hurst.

MO-Sen: Former Gov. Eric Greitens' ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, accused him of physically abusing both her and their children in 2018, as well as threatening to kill himself, in a court affidavit released Monday in the couple's ongoing child custody dispute. The former governor, who is competing in the August Republican primary for Missouri's open Senate seat, responded by calling the allegations "completely fabricated." His campaign manager also characterized the account as "clearly a politically-motivated attack against him."

In her filing, Sheena Greitens attested, "Prior to our divorce, during an argument in late April 2018, Eric knocked me down and confiscated my cell phone, wallet and keys so that I was unable to call for help or extricate myself and our children from our home." When her mother confronted the then-governor, Greitens continued, her husband said he'd sought "to prevent me from doing anything that might damage his political career."

The alleged incident occurred the month before Eric Greitens resigned as governor while under indictment for purportedly sexually assaulting a woman he was having an affair with and blackmailing her into silence, as well as unrelated charges of computer tampering involving his charity. The tampering charge was dropped in exchange for Greitens’ resignation, while Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker later abandoned the assault and blackmail case saying that, while she believed Greitens' accuser, she did not think she could prove the charges.

Sheena Greitens further said in her affidavit that, during "the spring and early summer of 2018," her husband had threatened to kill himself "unless I provided specific public political support." She continues that "multiple people other than myself were worried enough to intervene to limit Eric's access to firearms on at least three separate occasions, in February, April, and May 2018."

She also added that in June of 2018, the month following his resignation, "I became afraid for my safety and that of our children at our home, which was fairly isolated, due to Eric's unstable and coercive behavior. This behavior included physical violence toward our children, such as cuffing our then three-year-old son across the face at the dinner table in front of me and yanking him around by the hair."

Eric Greitens is currently competing against several other Republicans in the August primary. Donald Trump last week said, in the words of the Washington Examiner, that "Greitens is still in the running for his seal of approval."

NV-Sen: Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto will be a top GOP target in a state that both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden narrowly won, and eight Republicans have filed to go up against her.

The undisputed frontrunner is former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who lost the 2018 gubernatorial race 49-45 against Democrat Steve Sisolak and now touts endorsements from Donald Trump and the Club for Growth for his latest bid. Laxalt so far has shown no interest in tacking to the center, and he's repeatedly accused Democrats and the media of exaggerating the Jan. 6 attack, saying in September, "What the media and their left wing allies have done to weaponize this against Republicans and Trump voters is reprehensible."

However, Laxalt still faces a surprisingly well-funded intra-party challenge from Army veteran Sam Brown, though it remains to be seen whether Brown will be able to put up a serious fight. None of the other six Republicans have attracted much attention.

PA-Sen: Self-funding attorney George Bochetto's new commercial for the May Republican primary is entirely devoted to attacking TV personality Mehmet Oz for his "pro-abortion views." Bochetto, who earned all of 1% in a recent Fox News survey, doesn't even appear at all except to provide the legally required "I approve this message" disclaimer at the very end.

WI-Sen: In her second commercial ahead of the August Democratic primary, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski bemoans how prescription drug costs keep rising and declares that it's "[b]ecause Republicans like [Sen.] Ron Johnson—and let's be honest, too many Democrats—don't have the guts to stand up to the pharmaceutical companies. I'm Sarah Godlewski and I will."

Governors

IA-Gov: Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds' sole Democratic foe is Deidre DeJear, who lost the 2018 general election for secretary of state 53-45 against incumbent Paul Pate. DeJear would be the first Black person elected statewide, but a recent poll from Selzer & Company gave Reynolds a 51-43 advantage.

NV-Gov: Steve Sisolak's 2018 win made him the Silver State's first Democratic governor in 20 years, and 16 different Republicans are campaigning to unseat him this year. Most of the field has little money or name recognition, but the Republican side does include a few familiar names.

One prominent contender is former Sen. Dean Heller, who lost re-election to Democrats Jacky Rosen during the 2018 blue wave. Heller, however, has struggled to raise money for his gubernatorial bid. There's also Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who is the top lawman in a county that's home to about three-quarters of Nevada's residents and was the field's best fundraiser in 2021.

Another notable candidate is North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, a longtime conservative Democrat who switched parties just before he launched his new bid. Other contenders to watch are venture capitalist Guy Nohra and attorney Joey Gilbert, who has bragged that he was "definitely on the Capitol steps" on Jan. 6. The only recent primary poll we've seen was an early March survey from the Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling on behalf of the DGA that gave Lombardo the lead with 26%, while Heller and Lee tied for second with 13% each.

NY-Gov: Empire Results, a dark money group run by a longtime consultant to Rep. Tom Suozzi, is running a new commercial for the June Democratic primary that once again amplifies the congressman's attacks against Gov. Kathy Hochul. This time it faults the incumbent for using "state aircraft to travel to fundraisers."

PA-Gov: Pennsylvania Works, which is funded by a DGA affiliate, recently began airing ads touting Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the size of the buy is $1 million.

House

FL-07: Democratic state Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil has announced that she'll run for the state Senate rather than for the open 7th Congressional District.

FL-22: Attorney Chad Klitzman, state Rep. David Silvers, and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis have each announced that they won't compete in the August Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Ted Deutch. The only notable contender remains Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz, who earned Silvers' support.

IA-01: Freshman Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican who won the old 2nd District by all of six votes last cycle, faces Democratic state Rep. Christina Bohannan in a southwestern Iowa seat that Trump would have carried 50-48. Bohannan has no opposition in the primary, while Miller-Meeks should have no trouble getting past her one intra-party opponent.

IA-02: Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson, who unseated Democratic incumbent Abby Finkenauer last cycle in a close race for the old 1st District, now faces Democratic state Sen. Liz Mathis in a northeast Iowa seat that Trump would have taken 51-47. Neither Hinson nor Mathis, who were once coworkers at the TV station KCRG (Hinson was a morning news anchor while Mathis hosted the evening news program) have any primary opposition.

IA-03: Three Republicans are competing to take on Rep. Cindy Axne, who emerged from the 2020 elections as Iowa's only Democratic representative, in a district based in Des Moines and southwestern Iowa that Trump would have carried by a tiny 49.2-48.9 edge. The only elected official in the primary is state Sen. Zach Nunn, who is going up against businesswoman Nicole Hasso and Gary Leffler; Leffler, who took part in the Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, didn't report any fundraising during his first quarter in the race.

IL-01: While former 3rd District Rep. Dan Lipinski thankfully will not be on the ballot this year, he's endorsing pastor Chris Butler, who shares his anti-abortion views, in the June Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Bobby Rush. Lipinski represented about 10% of the new 1st until he left Congress early last year following his 2020 primary loss to Marie Newman.

NV-01: Democratic Rep. Dina Titus is defending a seat in the eastern Las Vegas area where her party, in order to make the 3rd and 4th Districts bluer, cut Biden's margin of victory from 61-36 to 53-45, and eight Republicans are now running against her. The most prominent name belongs to former 4th District Rep. Cresent Hardy, who launched a surprise bid just before filing closed on Friday; only 4% of the new 1st's residents live in the old 4th, but, because both seats are located in the Las Vegas media market, he should be a familiar presence here.

Hardy was a state assemblyman in 2014 when he waged what appeared to be a longshot campaign against Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in a seat that Barack Obama had carried 54-44. However, the GOP wave hit Nevada hard, and with a little-known Democrat leading the statewide ticket against popular Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, Team Blue's turnout was a disaster. Both parties began spending serious amounts of money in the final weeks of the race, but it was still a bit of a surprise when Hardy won 49-46.

Hardy was immediately a top Democratic target in 2016, and state Sen. Ruben Kihuen ended up unseating him 49-45 as Hillary Clinton was taking the 4th 50-45. Kihuen, though, didn't seek re-election after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, and both Hardy and Horsford ended up campaigning for the unexpectedly open seat. Both parties spent huge amounts of money for their rematch, but this time, a favorable political climate helped Horsford prevail 52-44.

Both Titus and Hardy have primaries ahead of them before they can fully focus on one another. Titus' only intra-party foe is progressive activist Amy Vilela, who also ran in the 4th in 2018 and took third place in the primary with 9%. The GOP field includes conservative activist David Brog, who previously ran a group funded by the late casino magnate Sheldon Adelson; Army veteran Mark Robertson; and former Trump campaign staffer Carolina Serrano.

NV-02: Republican Rep. Mark Amodei learned Friday that he'd have the pleasure of a primary fight against Douglas County Commissioner Danny Tarkanian, who ended his legendary losing streak last cycle after relocating from the Las Vegas area. Three other Republicans are also running for this northern Nevada constituency that would have backed Trump 54-43, and while none of them look formidable, they could cost Tarkanian some needed anti-incumbent votes.

Tarkanian previewed his strategy in a video posted just before he filed, saying that the incumbent has "voted for amnesty for illegal immigrants, for giving your money to Planned Parenthood, for voting for the $1.5 trillion budget which gave him a 20% increase." The challenger continued, "Mark Amodei was the first GOP congressman to join the Democrats in support[ing] President Trump's first impeachment inquiry, and he also blamed President Trump for Jan. 6."

Amodei, of course, never voted to impeach Trump, but he did piss off conservatives nationwide in September of 2019 when he became the first House Republican to identify as impeachment-curious, saying of the inquiry into Trump, "Let's put it through the process and see what happens." Hardliners immediately called for his ouster, and while the congressman soon protested that "[i]n no way, shape, or form, did I indicate support for impeachment," Trump's campaign notably snubbed the Silver State's only GOP member of Congress by leaving him off its list of state co-chairs for 2020.

Amodei avoided a serious primary fight, but he wasn't done inflaming Trumpists. Right after the Jan. 6 attacks, the congressman told Nevada Newsmakers, "Do I think he (Trump) has a responsibility for what has occurred? Yes." The congressman, though, this time used his interview to say upfront that he'd oppose any impeachment effort, and he soon joined most of his party colleagues in voting against impeachment. Tarkanian, however, is betting those anti-impeachment votes won't actually matter to a base looking to purge the party of anyone who's shown even a hint of disloyalty toward Trump.

NV-03: Democratic legislators sought to protect Rep. Susie Lee in this southern Las Vegas area seat by extending Joe Biden's margin of victory from just 49.1-48.9 to 52-46, but five Republicans are still campaigning against her. The frontrunner appears to be attorney April Becker, who narrowly failed to unseat state Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro by a 50.5-49.5 margin last cycle; Becker then tried to challenge her 631-vote loss in court and demanded a "revote," but she failed to get what she wanted. None of the other four Republicans have generated much attention yet.

NV-04: Three Republicans are challenging Democratic incumbent Steven Horsford in a northern Las Vegas area seat where Democratic legislators doubled Biden's margin from 51-47 to 53-45. The only elected official of the trio is Assemblywoman Annie Black, who attended the Jan. 6 Trump rally the preceded the attack on the Capitol. She was later censured by her colleagues on a party-line vote for refusing to comply with the chamber's COVID mitigation rules.

Also in the running is Chance Bonaventura, who works as an aide to another far-right politician, Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore (Fiore herself recent ditched a longshot gubernatorial bid to run for state treasurer instead). Finally, there's Sam Peters, an Air Force veteran and businessman who took second place in the 2020 primary to face Horsford. However, while professional boxer Jessie Vargas announced he was running last year, the secretary of state doesn't list him as a candidate.

NY-01: 2020 2nd District nominee Jackie Gordon has earned an endorsement in the June Democratic primary from 4th District Rep. Kathleen Rice, who represents a seat on the other end of Long Island.

NY-04: Retiring Rep. Kathleen Rice has backed former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen in the June Democratic primary to succeed her in this Nassau County-based seat. The congresswoman's endorsement comes not long after Jay Jacobs, who chairs both the state and county parties, publicly talked down Gillen's chances, though he did not explain his rationale. Rice, though, has made it clear she's not at all a fan of Jacobs: Earlier this month, after the chair implored donors to refrain from contributing to anyone "until we have had an opportunity to discuss the complexities of the race," she responded by tweeting, "No wonder Democrats in Nassau county lose with this kind of leadership."

NY-16: Pastor Michael Gerald last week ended his nascent Democratic primary bid against freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman, telling Jewish Insider, "Rather than crash-landing, I think it was the best thing for me to do." Little-known opponent Manuel Casanova exited the race days later and endorsed Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi, who is now Bowman's only intra-party foe.

SC-07: On Monday, the State Law Enforcement Division confirmed it was investigating allegations leveled by former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride, who said that a blogger named David Hucks tried to bribe him to quit the June Republican primary at the behest of another candidate, Horry County school board chair Ken Richardson. Both McBride and Richardson are trying to deny renomination to Rep. Tom Rice, though they've each been overshadowed in recent weeks by Trump-endorsed state Rep. Russell Fry.

McBride claimed in early March that Hucks told him in a call, "There's an opportunity for you, there's a $70,000 job opportunity for you to step out of this race and support another candidate." Hucks responded both by denying the bribery allegation and that he'd "taken a cent from Ken Richardson." Richardson himself was asked about McBride's claims at a March 7 candidate forum and declared, "I didn't know anything about this until you dropped your bomb. I didn't know anything about it."

Attorneys General

IA-AG: Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat who is already the longest-serving state attorney general in American history, is seeking an 11th term this year. (Miller was elected in 1978, left in 1994 to unsuccessfully run for governor, and regained the post in 1998.) The one Republican taking him on is Guthrie County Attorney Brenna Bird, who previously worked as chief counsel to then-Gov. Terry Branstad.

NV-AG: Democrat Aaron Ford made history in 2018 when he became the first Black person elected to statewide office in Nevada, and two Republicans are now campaigning to unseat the attorney general. Until last month the only contender was Sigal Chattah, an attorney who has sued to try to undermine the state's pandemic response measures and who has complained that the attorney general has done a poor job investigating (baseless, of course) voter fraud allegations. February, though, saw the entrance of Tisha Black, who lost a 2018 race for Clark County Commission and whom the Nevada Independent identified as a former head of a cannabis industry trade group.

Secretaries of State

IA-SoS: Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate has no primary opposition in his bid for a third term, while the Democratic contest is a duel between Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker and Linn County Auditor Joel Miller.

Prosecutors

Maricopa County, AZ Attorney: Republican Allister Adel announced Monday that she was resigning as the top prosecutor of America's fourth-most populous county, effective Friday, a move that the Arizona Republic writes came after negative attention "over her sobriety and absences from the office, which prompted investigations by the State Bar of Arizona and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors." Her situation grew worse last week when Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked her to provide more information about 180 misdemeanor cases that were dropped because Adel's office failed to file charges before it was too late.

The Board of Supervisors, which appointed Adel in 2019, must choose a fellow Republican to replace her. Adel herself won a four-year term in a close 2020 contest, but it's not clear if her soon-to-be-vacant post will be on this year's ballot or if voters will need to wait until 2024. The paper says that normally an appointed incumbent would be up whenever an election next takes place, but the deadline to turn in signatures for the 2022 cycle is fast approaching on April 5.

Suffolk County, MA District Attorney: Sen. Ed Markey on Monday endorsed Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo in the September Democratic primary, a development that came a week after Markey's home-state Senate colleague, Elizabeth Warren, also backed the city councilor. Arroyo is campaigning as a criminal justice reformer against appointed incumbent Kevin Hayden in a heavily blue county that's home to Boston and the nearby communities of Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop.

Morning Digest: Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania gets smaller as GOP’s gets uglier

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

Leading Off

PA-Sen: Montgomery County Commission Chair Val Arkoosh announced Friday that she was dropping out of the May Democratic primary. Arkoosh, who was the only woman running a serious campaign, had the backing of EMILY's List, but she didn't attract much support in any released poll and ended 2021 with significantly less money than two of her intra-party foes. She acknowledged Friday to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "It's become increasingly clear over the last month or two that I'm unlikely to be the Democratic nominee."

Arkoosh's departure leaves three notable Democrats in the contest to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who has enjoyed a huge edge in every survey we've seen, has also continued to lead the money race in the fourth quarter by outpacing Rep. Conor Lamb $2.7 million to $1.3 million and ending with a $5.3 million to $3 million cash-on-hand lead. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta was far back with $335,000 raised and only $285,000 available.

The Republicans, meanwhile, already had a massively expensive and ugly contest even before Friday, when the Inquirer reported that Honor Pennsylvania, a super PAC funded by mega-donor Ken Griffin to support hedge fund manager David McCormick, had reserved $12 million for a six-week ad buy against TV personality Mehmet Oz.

Campaign Action

The two sides have been using anti-Chinese messaging to attack one another: Oz recently ran a commercial that employed stereotypical gong sounds to argue McCormick is "China's friend, not ours," while McCormick's team says of his main opponent, "Mehmet Oz—citizen of Turkey, creature of Hollywood—has spent the last 20 years making his fortune from syndicating his show in China, enriching itself through censorship and CCP propaganda … How can he claim to be America First when he has dual loyalties?"

McCormick, as well as attorney John Giordano, entered the primary after the start of the new quarter, but we have fundraising reports for the other GOP candidates:

  • TV personality Mehmet Oz: $670,000 raised, additional $5.2 million self-funded, $1 million cash-on-hand
  • 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos: $435,000 raised, additional $10,000 self-funded, $2.5 million cash-on-hand
  • Author Kathy Barnette: $415,000 raised, $565,000 cash-on-hand
  • former Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands: $160,000 raised, additional $500,000 self-funded, $1.5 million cash-on-hand

Barnette, Bartos, and Sands each entered the race several months ago, but they’ve largely been left out of the increasingly pricey feud between McCormick and Oz.

Redistricting

Stay on top of the map-making process in all 50 states by bookmarking our invaluable redistricting timeline tracker, updated daily.

KS Redistricting: As expected, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed the new congressional map recently passed by Kansas Republicans. In a statement accompanying her veto on Thursday evening, Kelly specifically criticized the plan for splitting the Kansas City area between two districts, a move designed to undermine Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids by making her 3rd District redder.

The question now is whether Republicans can override Kelly's veto. On paper, they have the necessary two-thirds supermajorities to do so. However, neither chamber hit that threshold when approving the new boundaries due to absences. The map passed the House by a 79-37 vote, five short of the 84-vote supermajority needed. However, four Republicans were absent while two others voted "present" and just one voted against the final map. In the Senate, where 27 votes are necessary for an override, the map was approved 26-9, with two Republicans absent and one opposed.

NC Redistricting: On Friday evening, North Carolina's Supreme Court struck down the new congressional and legislative maps that Republicans passed last year, deeming them "unlawful partisan gerrymanders" that violated multiple provisions of the state constitution. The court, which broke down 4-3 along party lines, ordered lawmakers to come up with remedial maps in two weeks and specifically mandated that they detail the "methods they employed in evaluating the partisan fairness" of their new plans.

Republicans had drawn their now-invalidated congressional districts with the aim of giving themselves an 11-3 advantage in the state's House delegation, despite North Carolina's perpetual swing-state status. The legislative maps were likewise designed to lock in sizable GOP majorities. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper was unable to veto any of the maps because redistricting plans do not require the governor's approval under state law.

PA Redistricting: Pennsylvania's bipartisan redistricting commission approved final legislative maps in a 4-1 vote on Friday, though critics now have 30 days to challenge the plans before the state Supreme Court. The maps, which can be viewed here, vary somewhat from versions the commission introduced in December, but they still represent a major break from the past.

Under the lines used for the previous decade, Donald Trump carried 109 districts in the state House while Joe Biden won just 94, despite the fact that Biden beat Trump statewide in 2020. The new map, however, features 103 Biden districts and 100 Trump seats, giving Democrats a chance to make major inroads and, one day, potentially take a majority. The Senate plan, by contrast, largely maintains the status quo, with Biden and Trump each carrying 25 districts—the exact same split as before.

Republicans had long controlled the process for drawing legislative districts in the Keystone State, where the Supreme Court appoints a tiebreaking member to the panel responsible for drafting them. The court had been in GOP hands for many years, giving Republicans a lock on selecting that tiebreaker, but Democrats—with an eye on redistricting—made a major push to flip the court in 2015.

That effort culminated in the justices tapping former University of Pittsburgh chancellor Mark Nordenberg, a registered Democrat who has described himself as "about as close to the middle as you probably could get." Nordberg voted with the commission's two Democrats and one of the Republicans in favor of the final maps, while another Republican dissented.

Senate

MO-Sen: Team PAC, a super PAC funded by mega-donor Richard Uihlein to aid disgraced Gov. Eric Greitens, is the latest group to try and use anti-China messaging to win a Republican primary. The TV spot accuses Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is a former state legislator, of having "sponsored a bill to spend $480 million of your tax dollars to create a cargo hub here for airlines owned by China's Communist Party. To flood Missouri dollars with cheap Chinese imports."

Schmitt's allies at Save Missouri Values quickly hit back with an ad of their own that uses footage of then-Gov. Greitens appearing on a Chinese TV program. After the interviewer says, "Your visit to China is like an old, beautiful story renewed," Greitens responds, "It really is. It's amazing to see the transformation that's taken place here." There is no word on the size of the buy for either commercial.

Governors

GA-Gov: Gov. Brian Kemp's allies at Georgians First Leadership Committee are running a new commercial that once again attempts to portray former Sen. David Perdue, who is Donald Trump's endorsed candidate in the May Republican primary, as downright unTrumpy. The spot opens with footage of Trump declaring, "I'm gonna bring jobs back from China" before the narrator declares that Perdue "sent American jobs to China. Over and over again. By the thousands." It goes on to use an infamous clip of Perdue from his successful 2014 campaign, saying of his past practice fo outsourcing jobs, "Defend it? I'm proud of it."

There is no word on how much this pro-Kemp group is spending, but as we've written before, a new law gives the PAC access to as much money as the governor's supporters care to fork over. That's because, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously noted, Georgians First Leadership Committee was created last year after Kemp signed into law a bill that lets the governor and certain other statewide candidates "create funds that don't have to adhere to contribution caps." Importantly, these committees will also be able to accept donations during the legislative session, when the governor and lawmakers are otherwise forbidden from fundraising.  

This legislation won't be any help for Perdue, though, unless and until he wrests the GOP nomination from Kemp. And while Stacey Abrams is the overwhelming favorite to be the Democratic standard-bearer again, she also won't be able to create this kind of committee until her primary is officially over.

OH-Gov: The Democratic Governors Association has released numbers from Public Policy Polling that show Gov. Mike DeWine only leading former Rep. Jim Renecci 38-33 in the May Republican primary, which is actually better for the incumbent than his 46-38 deficit in a recent Renacci poll. Neither of those surveys included Joe Blystone, a little-known farmer who has been running for months. Former state Rep. Ron Hood also made a late entry into the race on Feb. 1, which was after both polls were conducted.

PA-Gov: Campaign finance reports were due Monday covering all of 2021, and they give us our first real look into which of the many Republican candidates for governor have the resources to run a serious race in this very expensive state:

  • State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman: $3 million raised, $2.7 million cash-on-hand
  • 2018 Senate nominee Lou Barletta: $1.1 million raised, $245,000 cash-on-hand
  • U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain: $900,000 raised, additional $100,000 self-funded, $815,000 cash-on-hand
  • GOP strategist Charlie Gerow: $420,000 raised, $250,000 cash-on-hand
  • former Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry President Guy Ciarrocchi: $305,000 raised, $240,000 cash-on-hand
  • State Sen. ​​Scott Martin: $300,000 raised, $270,000 cash-on-hand
  • Businessman Dave White: $350,000 raised, additional $3 million self-funded, $2.5 million cash-on-hand
  • Surgeon Nche Zama: $200,000 raised, $145,000 cash-on-hand
  • Attorney Jason Richey: $160,000 raised, additional $1.45 million self-funded, $1.5 million cash-on-hand
  • Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale: $40,000 raised

This is the first time we've mentioned Richey, who attracted little attention when he kicked off his bid in May.

The list does not include two other declared Republican candidates: former Rep. Melissa Hart, whose numbers were not available days after the deadline, and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who announced last month.

The Philadelphia Inquirer writes of the latter, "After he set up an exploratory committee in the fall, he said he'd reached a fund-raising goal to enter the race. The Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, said Mastriano's Senate campaign typically files disclosures electronically, but the agency had no report available for his gubernatorial campaign." The story added, "If Mastriano filed the report on paper and mailed it to Harrisburg, that could account for the delay. Mastriano didn't respond to emails seeking comment."

While McSwain has significantly less money to spend than Corman and two self-funders, Richey and White, he does have one huge ally in his corner. Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, which is funded by conservative billionaire Jeff Yass, had $20 million on-hand at the end of the year, and it said in January that "all of that money is at our disposal" to help McSwain.

Whoever emerges from the busy May primary will be in for an expensive general election fight against Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who faces no serious intra-party opposition in his bid to succeed his fellow Democrat, termed-out Gov. Tom Wolf. Shapiro hauled in $13.4 million in 2021, which his team says is a state record for a non-election year, and he had a similar $13.5 million to spend.

House

CO-03: State Senate President Leroy Garcia didn't show any obvious interest in challenging Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert after Colorado's new maps made the 3rd District even more conservative, but the Democrat fully took himself out of contention on Thursday when he announced he was resigning from the legislature in order to take a post in the Department of the Navy.

GA-06: Rich McCormick, who was the 2020 Republican nominee for the old 7th District, has dropped a Public Opinion Strategies internal arguing he's the frontrunner in the May primary for the new and safely red 6th District. McCormick takes first with 25%, while none of his four opponents secure more than 3% of the vote each.    

NE-01: Indicted Rep. Jeff Fortenberry recently went up with a commercial arguing that his May Republican primary opponent, state Sen. Mike Flood, was unacceptably weak on immigration, and Flood is now airing a response spot. Madison County Sheriff Todd Volk tells the audience, "Jeff Fortenberry is facing felony criminal charges, so he's lashing out at law enforcement and lying about Mike Flood." After praising Flood for having "opposed in-state tuition for illegal immigrants," the sheriff commends him for opposing the repeal of the death penalty, which is a topic Fortenberry's opening ad didn't touch on.

NY-01, NY-02: With the adoption of New York's new congressional map, a number of candidates have announced changes of plans in terms of which district they'll run in. One of the most notable is former Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon, who'd been seeking a rematch against Republican Rep. Andrew Garbarino in the old 2nd District after losing to him 53-46 in 2020 when the seat came open following GOP Rep. Peter King's retirement.

Democrats in the legislature, however, gerrymandered Long Island to make the new 2nd considerably redder while simultaneously turning the neighboring 1st District much bluer: The former would have voted for Donald Trump 56-42 while the latter would have gone for Joe Biden 55-44, according to Dave's Redistricting App. That naturally makes the 1st much more appealing for Gordon, who said on Thursday that she'll run there, adding that her home also got moved into the district.

However, Gordon will face a contested fight for the Democratic nomination, as two other candidates had already been running in the 1st, which is open because Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin is making a bid for governor. Bridget Fleming and Kara Hahn, both members of the Suffolk County Legislature, entered the race last spring and have stockpiled similar sums: $644,000 for Fleming and $575,000 for Hahn. Gordon, who launched her second effort in October, had just $134,000 in the bank, but she was a dominant fundraiser last cycle, taking in $4.4 million.

NY-03: A spokesperson for Democratic state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi says their boss is "seriously considering" a bid for New York's redrawn 3rd Congressional District, a blue-leaning Long Island-based seat that just picked up a slice of the Bronx and Westchester County in its latest incarnation. That sliver includes Biaggi's hometown of Pelham and also overlaps with her legislative district. Several notable Democrats are already running in the 3rd, which is open because Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi is running for governor, but Biaggi has experience prevailing in difficult primaries: In 2018, she won a stunning 54-46 upset over state Sen. Jeff Klein, who was the well-financed leader of the renegade faction of Democrats known as the IDC.

NY-11: Sigh: Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is reportedly considering a bid for the redrawn 11th Congressional District, which now includes his home in Park Slope.

NY-22, NY-23: Democrat Josh Riley, an attorney who'd been challenging Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney in the old 22nd District, says he'll continue his campaign in the new, Tenney-less version of the seat. Tenney herself previously announced she'd seek re-election in the open 23rd, a much redder seat than the new version of the 22nd, which in fact is really the successor to the old 24th.

The revamped 22nd, which recently came open after GOP Rep. John Katko announced his retirement, was already a Democratic target even before redistricting made it bluer (the latest iteration would have gone 58-40 for Joe Biden). As such, there are already several candidates vying for the nomination, the most notable among them Navy veteran Francis Conole, who raised $202,000 in the fourth quarter of last year and had $413,000 cash-on-hand. Riley, who launched his campaign in mid-November, brought in $410,000 and had the same amount banked.

As for Tenney, yet another would-be Republican opponent, Steuben County GOP chair Joe Sempolinski, has said he won't run against her in the new 23rd. However, state Sen. George Borrello wouldn't rule out a bid in recent comments, though he appears to be holding out the extremely slender hope that Republicans will successfully challenge the new map in court.

NY-24: Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs, who represents the old 27th District, says he will seek re-election in the new 24th, which shares much of its DNA with his current seat and is likewise deep red. However, he may not have a clear shot at the nomination: Attorney Todd Aldinger, who has repeatedly sued to overturn COVID mitigation measures, says he'll run here as well.

RI-02: Michael Neary, who worked as a staffer for then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich's 2016 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, has joined the September Democratic primary.

Mayors

Washington, D.C. Mayor: Mayor Muriel Bowser went into the new year with a huge fundraising lead over her two rivals in the June Democratic primary, a contest that is tantamount to election in the District of Columbia.

Bowser led Robert White, who holds an at-large post on the Council of the District of Columbia, $2.4 million to $555,000 in cash-on-hand; White, who like Bowser is utilizing the local public financing system, said that he would have a total of $910,000 to spend once matching funds are included, however. Another Council member, Trayon White (who is not related to Robert White), had less than $3,000 available.

Ed. note: In our previous newsletter, we reported erroneous cash-on-hand figures for several candidates running in incumbent-vs.-incumbent races for the House. We have since corrected those numbers.

Morning Digest: D.A. leading reform charge in Philadelphia faces primary challenge from skeptic

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

Leading Off

Philadelphia, PA District Attorney: Larry Krasner's 2017 victory in the race for Philadelphia district attorney gave criminal justice reformers an early high-profile win, but he faces a competitive May 18 Democratic primary fight to hold onto his office. Krasner's opponent is former prosecutor Carlos Vega, who has argued that the incumbent has been running "an experiment that is costing the lives of our children." The eventual nominee should have no trouble in the November general election in this heavily blue city.

Politico's Holly Otterbein writes that Vega, who was one of the 31 prosecutors whom Krasner fired shortly into his tenure, has avoided "campaigning as a tough-on-crime politician." Vega instead has argued he can deliver "real progressive reform" and insisted that "we don't have to choose between safety and reform." Vega has also blamed the city's spike in homicides on the district attorney's policies.

Krasner has responded by pointing out that murders have increased nationwide for reasons far beyond his control, saying, "What has happened, and essentially every criminologist agrees on this, is that the pandemic, closing of society and closing of so many different aspects of what protects and surrounds especially young men have disappeared." Krasner has further defended himself by arguing, as Otterbein writes, that he's "delivered on his campaign promises by lowering the jail population, exonerating the innocent and reducing the amount of time people are on probation and parole."

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The incumbent, in turn, is framing his contest as a choice between criminal justice reform and "past that echoes with names like [Frank] Rizzo," the city's racist late mayor. Krasner is also trying to turn the local Fraternal Order of Police's support for Vega into a liability by pointing out that the national organization backed Donald Trump last year. Vela, who was the first Latino homicide prosecutor in Pennsylvania, has pushed back, saying it was "really rich" for Krasner to compare him to Trump "when this is coming from a person who's white, elite, from an Ivy League school."

Krasner outraised his opponent by hauling in $420,000 during the first three months of 2021, but Vega still brought in a credible $340,000. Krasner also has to deal with a well-funded group called Protect Our Police PAC, which has mostly been financed by pro-Trump megadonor Timothy Mellon. The PAC, though, generated plenty of negative attention in early April when it sent out a fundraising email falsely blaming George Floyd for his own death.

Vela quickly disavowed the group, which blamed the message on a marketing firm, and said he didn't want its backing. Protect Our Police, in turn, responded by saying that it wasn't endorsing Vela but was "laser-focused" on unseating Krasner.

One major question looming over the race is whether billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who has in the past donated heavily to groups supporting Krasner and likeminded candidates, will help him again. Otterbein also notes that there have been no public polls here, and insiders disagree on how vulnerable Krasner is next month.

1Q Fundraising

NV-Sen: Catherine Cortez Masto (D-inc): $2.3 million raised, $4.7 million cash-on-hand

Senate

AK-Sen: The prominent GOP super PAC Senate Leadership Fund has backed Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who already faces an intra-party challenge from former state cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka. Murkowski, who has not yet announced if she'll seek re-election, had suggested she might run as an independent back in January, but SLF's endorsement indicates that party leaders doubt she'll abandon the party label.

As we've noted before, Alaska will not hold a conventional party primary next year thanks to a new ballot measure Alaska voters passed in November that radically reforms how elections are conducted in the state. Under Measure 2, all candidates from all parties will now run together on a single primary ballot, with the top four vote-getters advancing to a November general election. Voters would then choose a winner from that quartet by means of an instant runoff.

AZ-Sen: The far-right anti-tax Club for Growth has released a survey from its usual pollster WPA Intelligence showing its ally, extremist Rep. Andy Biggs, edging out Gov. Doug Ducey 46-45 in a hypothetical Republican primary.

Biggs said a few weeks ago that he'd decide by the end of March if he'd challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, but the month concluded without any public comment from the congressman about his plans. Ducey, by contrast, took his name out of consideration in January, though Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reportedly has been trying to get him to reconsider.

GA-Sen: While Donald Trump generated plenty of chatter about former NFL running back Herschel Walker's interest in this race last month when he not-tweeted "Run Herschel, run!", the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Walker himself has remained "silent" about a possible campaign against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. The paper says that Walker, who remains a Texas resident, also "hasn't returned the calls of even some senior Republican officials trying to ascertain his next move."

Meanwhile another Republican, banking executive Latham Saddler, filed paperwork with the FEC on Friday for a potential campaign.

NC-Sen: On Thursday, a consultant for far-right Rep. Ted Budd named Michael Luethy told the News & Observer that his boss would make his decision whether to run for the state's open Senate seat "sooner than later." Luethy also said of the Budd's deliberations, "It's fair to say he's leading towards it."

That same day, the conservative Carolina Journal published a piece by Dallas Woodhouse, the infamous former executive director of the state GOP, who wrote that multiple unnamed sources believed that Budd "will enter the U.S. Senate race in the coming weeks." Luethy, though, insisted that, while Budd is putting together a "formidable team," the congressman had not yet made a final decision.

The only notable Republican in the running right now is Budd's former colleague, ex-Rep. Mark Walker, though others are eyeing this contest. The potential candidate who continues to generate the most attention is former Trump campaign adviser Lara Trump, while former Gov. Pat McCrory has been flirting with a bid for years.  One Republican who will not be running, though, is state party chair Michael Whatley, who took his name out of contention on Thursday.

NV-Sen: On Thursday, former Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval unambiguously ruled out running against Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto. "I have no interest in running and I will not be a candidate" said Sandoval, who now serves as president of the University of Nevada, Reno.

Governors

MD-Gov: Former Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker announced Thursday that he would seek the Democratic nomination to succeed termed-out Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Baker's decision came as a surprise, as his name had not been mentioned much before he kicked off his second campaign for this office.

Baker, who would be Maryland's first Black governor, competed in the 2018 primary to take on Hogan, and he attracted the support of almost the entire state party establishment. However, Baker lost by a surprisingly wide 40-29 margin to former NAACP president Ben Jealous, whom Hogan went on to defeat in the general election.

The Washington Post's Arelis Hernandez took a close look at what went wrong for Baker right after the primary and pointed to a number of factors that led to his downfall. These included his refusal to heed advice that he campaign more visibly, Jealous' aggressive courting of unions and stronger fundraising, and the fact that Baker didn't jump on developments coming out of the Trump White House in the way that Jealous did. On Friday, fellow Post writer Rachel Chason noted that Baker was also held back by "political enemies he made in Prince George's, including labor unions and opponents of his controversial efforts to improve county public schools."

In an interview Thursday with Maryland Matters, Baker acknowledged that his underwhelming fundraising had played a big role in his defeat last time. Baker argued, though, that he was limited at the time by his responsibilities as county executive and local ethics rules restricting how much officeholders could take from developers, which will not be factors for him now.

Baker joins a primary field that already includes state Comptroller Peter Franchot, who has been running for over a year, and former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain, while more could be in before long. Maryland Matters' Bruce DePuyt writes that former Attorney General Doug Gansler, who badly lost the 2014 primary for governor, is "expected to announce that he's running later this month." DePuyt also relays that Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski "is expected" to decide next month after the county council acts on his proposed budget.

Several other Democrats could also join the field, but it looks like Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks will not be one of them. Alsobrooks, who was elected in 2018 to succeed Baker as leader of the state's second-largest county, said last month that "in this moment I'm running for re-election."

While Alsobrooks' statement didn't quite close the door on a campaign for higher office, Baker said Thursday that he'd only made his decision after talking with her the day before. Baker said he'd spoken to her about the gubernatorial race and added that "[w]e're genuinely friends" and "our supporters are the same."

NV-Gov: Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo acknowledged to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Thursday that he was thinking about seeking the Republican nomination to face Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. Rep. Mark Amodei also recently reaffirmed his interest, while former Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchinson has reportedly been considering as well. The paper writes of this group, "The consensus among local Republican political operatives is that the trio is working to reach an agreement on a single candidate to support by the beginning of summer.

NY-Gov: Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik's team on Thursday put out their first statement directly addressing the possibility that she could run for governor, which came hours after her colleague, Lee Zeldin, kicked off his own bid. "Congresswoman Stefanik continues to receive encouragement from all corners of the state as she would immediately be the strongest Republican candidate in both a primary and general gubernatorial election," said senior advisor Alex DeGrasse, who added that she "is not ruling anything out - nor will she make her decision based on others' timetables."

House

FL-01, NY-23: The House Ethics Committee on Friday announced that it had opened investigations into two Republicans embroiled in separate scandals, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and New York Rep. Tom Reed.

The committee says it is "aware of public allegations" that Gaetz "may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct." Gaetz, who is under federal investigation for sex trafficking, has rejected calls for his resignation.

The Ethics Committee, meanwhile, is probing allegations that Reed "may have engaged in sexual misconduct." Last month, a woman named Nicolette Davis accused Reed of sexually harassing her at a Minneapolis restaurant in 2017. While Reed initially denied Davis' account as "not accurate," he published a statement two days later apologizing to her and announcing that he would not be on the ballot for anything next year.

FL-20: The Sun Sentinel writes that, while Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness hasn't yet launched a campaign to succeed the late Rep. Alcee Hastings, Holness has "been informally running for months" for this safely blue South Florida seat. The paper also name-drops Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard as another possible Democratic contender for the unscheduled special election.

NY-01: Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, who took third in last year's Democratic primary, filed paperwork with the FEC on Friday for a potential bid to succeed Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is running for governor. Fleming did not immediately announce a bid, though she responded to a tweet the previous day urging her to run by writing, "Stay tuned."

Morning Digest: The longest-serving state House speaker in history was just deposed by his own party

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

Leading Off

IL State House: A new era began in Illinois politics on Wednesday when Chris Welch won the race to replace Mike Madigan, a fellow Democrat, as speaker of the state House. Welch, whom the Chicago Tribune identifies as a Madigan ally, is the first African American to lead the chamber.

Madigan, who rose through the ranks of the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley's political machine, was first elected to the legislature all the way back in 1970. Madigan was elevated to the speaker's chair in 1983 and, apart from the two years the GOP was in power following the 1994 elections, he remained there ever since. In 2017, Madigan became the longest-serving state House speaker in American history.

Governors from both parties acknowledged over the decades, often to their detriment, that Madigan was the most powerful figure in state politics. Madigan also wielded plenty of influence outside the chamber: He has served as chair of the state Democratic Party since 1998, and his daughter, Lisa Madigan, was elected state attorney general in 2002.

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The speaker's long stint may have blocked Lisa Madigan's further rise, though. The younger Madigan was mentioned as a potential candidate for Senate or governor for years, and for a time it seemed likely she'd challenge Gov. Pat Quinn in the 2014 Democratic primary. She decided not to enter that race, however, saying she felt it would be bad for the governor and speaker to come from the same family. Lisa Madigan ended up retiring in 2018, while her father sought and won another term as leader of the state House.

Mike Madigan also was one of the Illinois GOP's favorite targets during his decades-long tenure. Republican Bruce Rauner spent his four years as governor blaming the speaker for the state's many financial difficulties. The unpopular Rauner even argued in 2018 that voters should re-elect him because a victory for his actual Democratic opponent, J.B. Pritzker, would effectively put Madigan in charge of the state.

Rauner lost badly, but Team Red had success two years later in the 13th Congressional District with a campaign that tied Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, a Democrat who had never held office, to Madigan. Last year, the speaker was also blamed for the failure of a constitutional amendment pushed by Pritzker that would have reformed the state's tax system: The Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson said afterwards, "Opponents, largely funded by business interests, continually raised the question of 'do you trust politicians with more tax money?'"

Madigan himself, though, appeared to have a firm hold over the speakership despite intra-party complaints about him, including over his handling of sexual harassment allegations against two of his top aides. Progressives also resented the speaker for what the Pearson described as an "autocratic style which lets members advance only a few of their bills per session."

But things took an especially bad turn for Madigan last summer when the utility giant Commonwealth Edison admitted to federal prosecutors that it had given $1.3 million to his confidants in jobs and contracts in order to influence legislation. Madigan himself has not been charged and denied knowledge of the scheme, but one of his associates was indicted in December.

Madigan retained plenty of support to the end, including from labor groups and Democrats who feared they'd struggle at the ballot box without "The Program," his vast fundraising and volunteer network. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, though, called for him to step down, and Madigan struggled to win enough support from fellow Democratic representatives to stay on as speaker. On Sunday, Madigan secured just 51 out of 73 votes in an internal party caucus, which was nine short of the number he'd need to be re-elected speaker of the 118-member chamber.

Madigan announced the following day that he was suspending his campaign for speaker, though he said he wasn't dropping out. Madigan, as Politico reported, wanted to keep his options open in case another Democrat couldn't win enough votes to replace him. That's not how things went, however: Welch entered the race afterwards and put together a large enough coalition on Wednesday to secure the speakership.

Senate

PA-Sen: Roll Call's Bridget Bowman mentions two new Democrats as potential candidates for this open seat: Rep. Madeleine Dean, whom Speaker Nancy Pelosi named this week as one of the nine managers for Donald Trump's second impeachment, and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who would be the state's first Black senator. Neither Dean nor Kenyatta appears to have said anything publicly about a potential bid.

House

NY-01: John Feal, who is a prominent advocate for fellow Sept. 11 first responders, told Newsday this week that he was considering challenging Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin in this eastern Long Island seat. Feal, a demolition supervisor who was seriously injured at the ruins of the World Trade Center in the day after the attacks, does not appear to have run for office before. Last cycle, Feal was one of a number of locals whom Democratic leaders reportedly contacted about a potential bid against Zeldin, though he didn't end up getting in.

Feal said that, while he had been friendly with Zeldin in the past, he was furious at the congressman for objecting to the Electoral College results even after last week's terrorist mob attack on the Capitol. Feal declared, "Lee Zeldin is not loyal to the people in the first [congressional] district; he's loyal only to Donald Trump, who is a con man."

Governors

CA-Gov: Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is up for re-election next year in this solidly blue state, but California Republican leaders are hoping to remove him from office before then through a recall campaign.

Recall supporters told Politico last week that they'd collected two-thirds of the nearly 1.5 million signatures they need ahead of the March 17 deadline, though they'll have to gather plenty more because some petitions will inevitably be rejected. Multiple polls from last fall gave Newsom at least a 60% approval rating, but his detractors are hoping that the worsening COVID-19 crisis has damaged his standing since then.

It's quite possible that they'll get a recall question on this year's ballot regardless of whether public sentiment is with conservatives. In a new piece, recall expert Joshua Spivak writes that the Golden State has "the easiest recall to get on the ballot" of the at least 19 states that allow governors to be removed this way. (It's not clear if Virginia authorizes recalls.)

Spivak continues, "Petitioners need only to gather 12% of the votes cast in the last election (5% in every district), and they have a leisurely 160 days to do it. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, they were granted an additional 120 days." He also notes that, because California has so many ballot measures, there's already a "signature gathering industry" in place for Republicans to utilize.

If there is a recall election, voters would be given a two-part question. First, they'd be asked if they want to recall Newsom, and second, they'd be asked to select a replacement candidate. If a majority voted no on the recall question, Newsom would stay in office. However, if a majority voted to recall him, the replacement candidate with the most votes would take his seat for the remainder of his term: There would be no primary or runoff, so the new governor could be elected even if they don't come anywhere close to taking a majority of the vote.

This very process played out in 2003 against another California governor, Democrat Gray Davis. Voters opted to oust Davis by a 55-45 margin, and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger defeated 134(!) other candidates in the race to succeed him: Davis beat Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante 49-31 while Republican Tom McClintock, who is now a member of Congress, took third with 13%. The only other governor who has ever been successfully recalled in American history is North Dakota Republican Lynn Frazier in 1921.

Legislatures

Special Elections: While special elections have been sparse to start 2021, we have early previews of two upcoming races in Iowa and Maine that could prove interesting.

IA-SD-41: Last week, parties selected their nominees for the Jan. 19 race to replace Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks in this southeastern Iowa district. Miller-Meeks was elected to the House last year, defeating Democrat Rita Hart by just six votes. While Hart is currently contesting the results, Miller-Meeks resigned from her seat in the state Senate and is currently seated in the House on a provisional basis.

Mary Stewart, who was the 2018 Democratic nominee for this seat, will face Republican Adrian Dickey, a businessman. This district has experienced the same rightward trend in the Trump era that we've seen in many other rural areas, swinging from 53-45 Obama to 57-38 Trump in 2016, though Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds won by a smaller 52-45 in 2018.

Despite the shift, Republicans only narrowly prevailed in the last two midterms amid very different political climates. In 2014, a great GOP year nationally, Republican incumbent Mark Chelgren defeated Democrat Steven Siegel just 51-49, while in 2018, a year much more favorable to Democrats, Miller-Meeks actually increased that margin, defeating Stewart 52-48.

Republicans have a 31-18 advantage in this chamber with just this seat vacant.

ME-SD-14: Candidates have been selected by their parties for the March 9 race to replace former Sen. Shenna Bellows, who was inaugurated as secretary of state in December. Both sides went with former state House members: The Democrats chose Craig Hickman, while Republicans tapped William Guerrette. While this district swung from 55-43 Obama to 47-45 Trump in 2016, Bellows never had any trouble winning re-election in this Augusta-area seat.

Democrats hold a 21-13 majority in this chamber with just this seat vacant.

Mayors

Boston, MA Mayor: Boston Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez did not rule out a bid for mayor when asked this week. Martinez, who is of Mexican ancestry, would be the city's first Hispanic leader, as well as its first gay mayor.

Morning Digest: Maine’s Jared Golden ran 13 points ahead of the top of the ticket

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

Leading Off

Pres-by-CD: Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide goes to Maine, where Democratic Rep. Jared Golden won a second term even as Donald Trump once again carried his 2nd Congressional District. We'll also be taking a look at the seven states that are home to only one U.S. House seat. You can find our complete data set here, which we're updating continuously as the precinct-level election returns we need for our calculations become available.

Joe Biden carried Maine, which has backed every Democratic presidential nominee since 1992, by a 53-44 margin, which was a notable improvement on Hillary Clinton's 48-45 performance there in 2016. Maine, however, gives an electoral vote to the winner of each of its congressional districts (the only other state to do this is Nebraska), and for the second cycle in a row, the 2nd District went to Trump. This seat in the northern part of the state supported Trump 52-45, a somewhat smaller margin compared to his 51-41 performance there four years ago but still a clear win. You can find a larger version of our map here.

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Despite Trump's victory at the top of the ticket, though, Golden defeated Republican Dale Crafts 53-47. At the start of the cycle, Republicans had planned to target Golden, who had flipped this seat in a tight 2018 race, but major outside groups on both sides dramatically cut their ad buys in the final weeks of the race in what Politico characterized at the time as "a sign of no confidence" in Crafts.

Biden took the 1st District, meanwhile, by a 60-37 margin, which was also a big shift from Clinton's 54-39 win. This seat, which contains Portland, has been solidly blue turf for decades, and Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree won her seventh term 62-38.

While Democrats control the governorship and both houses of the legislature, redistricting isn't likely to alter Maine's congressional boundaries all that much. The state requires two-thirds of each chamber to pass a new map, and there are more than enough Republicans to block any districts they view as unfavorable. If the legislature deadlocks, the state Supreme Court would take charge of redistricting.

We'll now take a look at the nation's seven at-large congressional districts. Alaska supported Donald Trump 53-43, a smaller margin than his 53-38 showing in 2016. This was the closest a Democrat's come to winning the Last Frontier's three electoral votes since 1992, when George H.W. Bush edged out Bill Clinton 39-30 as Ross Perot was taking 28%. Biden's 43% was also the highest for Team Blue since 1964, when Lyndon Johnson became the only Democratic candidate to ever carry Alaska.

Rep. Don Young, a Republican whose nearly 48 years in office makes him the House's longest serving current member, faced a rematch this year against Alyse Galvin, an independent who won the Democratic nomination. While outside groups for both parties spent heavily, Young won 54-45, an improvement from his 53-47 showing in 2018.

Democrats also made a serious effort to flip Montana's open House seat but came up short. Trump's 57-41 margin of victory was smaller than his 56-36 showing four years ago, but the state still wasn't close. Republican Matt Rosendale beat Democrat Kathleen Williams 56-44, a win that came two years after Rosendale lost his challenge to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester by a 50-47 margin. It was also a much bigger defeat for Williams than in her previous attempt for this seat in 2018, when she fell to now-Gov.-elect Greg Gianforte 51-45.

Biden, meanwhile, improved on Clinton's performance in his home state of Delaware and in Vermont, where Democratic Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester and Peter Welch, respectively, also had no trouble winning re-election. North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming remained safely red turf up and down the ballot. Wyoming, which backed Trump 70-27, also gave him his largest margin of victory in any state for the second cycle in a row.

Congressional redistricting hasn't been a factor in any of these seven states in some time, but there's a very good chance that Montana could regain the second House seat that it lost after the 1990 census. However, while Gianforte's win in this year's gubernatorial race gives Team Red the trifecta it lost in the 2004 elections, state law grants a bipartisan commission responsibility over redistricting matters. Rhode Island, meanwhile, could soon join the list of at-large states, as population growth patterns suggest its two seats will shrink to one following reapportionment.

Georgia Runoffs

GA-Sen-A, GA-Sen-B: A new poll from RMG Research, the firm run by Scott Rasmussen, finds Democrat Jon Ossoff narrowly leading Republican Sen. David Perdue 48-47 while Democrat Raphael Warnock holds a similar 48-46 edge over Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

Ossoff excoriates Perdue in a new ad for "doing nothing" to alleviate the pandemic and "blocking relief for the rest of us." Warnock, meanwhile, holds aloft a photo of his father, an Army veteran born in 1917 who served in World War II, calling him his "hero." Warnock blasts Loeffler for "taking my words out of context to try and fool you into believing that I don't respect members of the military, like my own father."

Finally, AdImpact reports that total ad spending across both runoffs has reached $315 million, with $170 million of that devoted to the special election. In that contest, Warnock has outspent Loeffler $60 million to $45 million so far, but outside GOP groups have spent $53 million versus just $13 million for Democrats.

However, as AdImpact notes, the difference between the third-party spenders is "misleading." That's because at least one large Republican super PAC, American Crossroads, has spent $44 million on ads that will run straight through Jan. 5. Democratic groups, by contrast, have all booked airtime on a week-by-week basis.

Senate

CO-Sen, CO-Gov: Outgoing Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who just lost to Democrat John Hickenlooper 54-44 last month, has declined to rule out bids against either Sen. Michael Bennet or Gov. Jared Polis, two Democrats who are both up for re-election in 2022.

PA-Sen, PA-Gov: Republican Rep. Glenn Thompson, who recently said he'd "like to be the first member of Congress from Pennsylvania in 202 years to chair the House Agriculture Committee" in describing his feelings about a bid for Senate or governor, was elevated to the post of "ranking member" on the committee by his GOP colleagues this week. That makes him the most senior Republican on the committee and puts him in line to chair it in two years' time should the GOP win back the House in 2022.

Gubernatorial

IL-Gov: State Rep. Darren Bailey, who wouldn't rule out a run for governor in a radio interview over the summer, just decided to pick a Facebook fight with Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a fellow Republican whom Capitol Fax's Rich Miller says is "widely rumored" to also be considering a bid against Democratic Gov. J. B. Pritzker.

Kinzinger has been just about the only congressional Republican to explicitly call out Donald Trump's "baseless conspiracies" about the election, as he put it, earning the ire of true believers like Bailey, who termed Kinzinger's view that Trump should accept reality and stop undermining democracy "appalling."

NV-Gov: Republican Rep. Mark Amodei says in a new interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Colton Lochhead that he's "gonna look at" a challenge to Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, who's up for re-election in 2022. For almost six years, Amodei's half-heartedly sought an escape from Washington, D.C., whose culture, he said at a 2015 town hall, "sucks." Not long after, he began mooting a bid for governor in 2018 but ultimately declined—and then said he might run for state attorney general that year … but ultimately declined.

In fact, Amodei even suggested he might retire that cycle, though he wound up seeking another term and winning comfortably in northern Nevada's rural 2nd District, which twice backed Donald Trump by double digits, according to new Daily Kos Elections calculations. Perhaps as a consequence, he was dogged by retirement rumors last year, though he pushed back against them firmly early on and easily won again.

However, he nearly courted electoral disaster when he expressed the slightest openness to impeaching Trump and inspired the Club for Growth to push for former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt to challenge Amodei in the GOP primary. Amodei had earlier accused Laxalt of coveting his seat and fomenting the chatter that he might quit, but in the end, Laxalt left the congressman alone.

Things might play out differently in a gubernatorial race, though. Lochhead says that Laxalt and former Sen. Dean Heller are both "rumored" to be considering bids against Sisolak, who defeated Laxalt 49-45 in 2018. Neither man, however, has publicly said anything about their interest.

House

NJ-03: Republican Assemblyman Ryan Peters sounds as though he's considering a bid against Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, who just won re-election to a second term by a surprisingly hale 53-45 margin. Insider NJ says that Peters is "not ready yet to say he's running for Congress," but he also disparaged the idea of running against Democratic state Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego next year (a race he's been rumored to be interested in) by saying, "Do I want to be in the minority again? I really don't have a burning desire to do that."

Called Races

NY-01, NY-02: With New York finally certifying the results of last month's elections, the AP called the race for 1st Congressional District for Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin on Friday, a day after Democrat Nancy Goroff conceded; Zeldin defeated Goroff by a 55-45 margin. The AP also called the contest in the neighboring 2nd District, which Democrat Jackie Gordon conceded to Republican Andrew Garbarino a couple of weeks ago. Final tallies there show Garbarino winning 53-46.

That leaves just two unresolved House races, Iowa's 2nd and New York's 22nd, both of which are subject to ongoing legal challenges.

Morning Digest: Ever heard of a ‘top-four’ primary? It could be coming to a state near you soon

Leading Off

Election Reforms: This November, as many as five states will vote on ballot measures that could dramatically change how their elections are conducted.

In Florida, voters will decide whether to institute a top-two primary system, while Massachusetts could implement instant-runoff voting. Alaska, meanwhile, could become the first state in the nation to adopt a "top-four" voting system, which, as we'll explain, is something of a hybrid between top-two and instant-runoff.

Top-four ballot measures have also been certified for the ballot in Arkansas and North Dakota. However, there's still ongoing litigation in each state that could impact whether or not these referendums would take effect if they won.

Campaign Action

We'll start with a look at the Florida top-two ballot initiative, Amendment 3, which needs to win at least 60% of the vote in order to pass. If this measure takes effect, starting in January of 2024, all the candidates in races for governor; the other three state cabinet offices (attorney general, chief financial officer, and commissioner of agriculture); and for the state legislature would each compete on one primary ballot rather than in separate party primaries.

The two contenders with the most votes, regardless of party, would then advance to the general election. Candidates would not be able to avert the general election by taking a majority of the vote in the primary. Amendment 3 would not apply to federal elections such as the presidential or congressional contests due to limitations on the scope of any single initiative.

California and Washington already use the top-two primary (Louisiana also uses a similar all-party primary system that does allow candidates to avoid a second round of voting if they win a majority), and as we've written before, it's notorious for producing outcomes that don't reflect the desires of the electorate. One chief reason why: A party can win a majority of votes cast in the primary, yet get shut out of the general election simply because it fields a large number of candidates while the minority party only puts forth a few, or even just two.

Furthermore, primary electorates often feature very different demographic compositions than higher-turnout general elections, producing greater partisan and racial dissonance between the two rounds. These distortions have seen one party or the other get shut out of general elections in recent years in California and Washington, including in contests they likely would have won if the parties had gotten to nominate candidates through traditional primaries.

Indeed, if the top-two had been in place in 2018 when both parties had competitive primaries for governor, Democrats would have been locked out of the general election. That year, Republican Ron DeSantis would have taken first place with 29%, while fellow Republican Adam Putnam would have beaten Democrat Andrew Gillum 19-17 for second, even though Republicans outvoted Democrats just 51-49.

The only poll we've seen all year of Amendment 3 was a late May survey from St. Pete Polls, which found the "no" side ahead 44-35. However, Amendment 3's backers have received at least $6.2 million from conservative billionaire Mike Fernandez, who has been leading the effort to get the top-two implemented, which gives the campaign the resources to put up a serious fight.

Over in Massachusetts, meanwhile, supporters of instant-runoff voting (also known as ranked-choice voting), are trying to pass Question 2 this November. If Question 2 receives a majority of the vote, then starting in 2022, instant-runoff would be used in both primaries and general elections for governor and other statewide offices; U.S. Senate and House seats; the state legislature; and countywide posts such as district attorney and sheriff. The measure would not impact presidential elections or races for city and town offices.

The only poll we've seen this year was an early August survey from MassINC that showed voters deadlocked 36-36 on whether to adopt Question 2. If the measure passes, then Massachusetts would become the second state after Maine to use this method to decide many of its elections.

Finally, voters in Alaska, Arkansas, and North Dakota each will have the opportunity to become the first states to adopt a top-four primary. This system would require all the candidates to face off on one primary ballot, and the top four vote-getters would advance. In the general election, voters would then be able to rank their choices using instant-runoff voting. Each of these referendums only needs to win a majority of the vote to pass, but there are some key differences between them.

While each would apply to all congressional, legislative, and statewide races, only Alaska's Measure 2 would also institute instant-runoff voting for the presidential contest. North Dakota's Measure 3, meanwhile, would additionally remove the legislature's unfettered control over legislative redistricting and put it in the hands of a bipartisan commission.

North Dakota's top-four law would also take effect 30 days after approval, Arkansas' would start Jan. 1, 2021, and Alaska's measure would begin in 2022. The only poll we've seen from any of these three states was a mid-July survey from the Arkansas League of Women Voters, which supports the top-four measure, from Mercury Analytics that showed respondents agreeing by a 60-28 margin that they support "[a]llow[ing] voters to rank their top four candidates when voting in the general election so voters can have more say in their second choice candidate."

Senate

MA-Sen: The Sept. 1 Democratic primary has become particularly heated on the airwaves in recent days.

Sen. Ed Markey is running a commercial accusing Rep. Joe Kennedy of running a desperate campaign, while a spot from Kennedy's allies at New Leadership PAC features audio from the congressman's recent speech declaring that Markey was questioning his family's integrity. The ads come at a time when Markey has been trying to use Kennedy's membership in what is arguably America's most prominent political family (the congressman is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy) against him.

In an Aug. 11 debate, Markey took aim at New Leadership PAC, which Kennedy's twin brother and other relatives have been raising money for. Markey also brought up speculation that the congressman's father and namesake, former Rep. Joe Kennedy II, could fund the PAC with the $2.8 million in campaign funds he still has available almost 22 years since he left Congress. "Tell your father and tell your twin brother you don't want any money to be spent on negative ads," Markey said in a clip that generated plenty of attention and quickly made it into the senator's digital advertising.

Markey also generated headlines with an online commercial that didn't mention Kennedy or his family directly, but concluded with the senator putting his own spin on the famous 1961 inaugural address delivered by the congressman's great uncle. "With all due respect," Markey said, "it's time to start asking what your country can do for you."

On Monday, Kennedy responded with the speech that was used in New Leadership PAC's new commercial. Kennedy declares, "I'm here today to talk about my family, because Sen. Markey is questioning their integrity, weaponizing their history." The congressman goes on to talk about his grandfather's record as U.S. attorney general during the civil rights era before saying he understands that "a legacy is earned." Kennedy continues by describing his own work in Congress and declares, "We deserve a senator who will not stand by."

Kennedy's campaign is also running a commercial where the narrator says he "knows how a legacy is earned." The spot goes on to show footage of RFK and the congressman's two legendary great uncles, JFK and Ted Kennedy, and says that for the younger Kennedy, battles for racial justice and healthcare for all are "a fight in his blood."

Markey's campaign, meanwhile, is airing their own commercial that contrasts the senator with Kennedy. After decrying how Kennedy is attacking the incumbent, the narrator quotes from the Boston Globe's Markey endorsement. The narrator reads how the senator has "been ahead of the curve championing progressive causes," while Kennedy "lacks the chops and track record Markey brings."

Markey's allies at United for Massachusetts are also up with a spot that also quotes the Globe endorsement, though it doesn't mention Kennedy. The ad extols Markey as "a progressive champion with chops" who has been "achieving real results on healthcare and the environment." The commercial also features images of Markey with two of his most prominent supporters, fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

This has been a very expensive contest. From July 1 to Aug. 12 (the time the FEC defines as the pre-primary period), Markey outraised Kennedy $1.4 million to $930,000, while Kennedy outspent the incumbent $4.3 million to $2.8 million during this time. Markey had a $3.5 million to $1.4 million cash-on-hand edge for the homestretch.

NH-Sen: Saint Anselm College's new poll of the Sept. 8 GOP primary finds wealthy attorney Corky Messner, who is Donald Trump's endorsed candidate, with a 31-29 edge over retired Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc. A late June Remington Research poll for Bolduc had Messner up 17-8, while a mid-July Tarrance Group internal for Messner had him ahead 39-27. The winner will be the underdog against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Gubernatorial

MT-Gov: Campaign finance reports are in covering June 15 to Aug. 15. Democrat Mike Cooney outraised Greg Gianforte $725,000 to $582,000, while the wealthy Republican threw down an additional $1 million of his own money. Gainforte outspent Cooney by a lopsided $1.7 million to $209,000 during this time, though it was Cooney who ended the period with $670,000 to $330,000 a cash-on-hand lead. However, Gianforte likely can afford to do much more self-funding over the next few months.

NH-Gov: Saint Anselm College has released the first poll we've seen of the Sept. 8 Democratic primary, and it gives state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes a narrow 22-19 lead over Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky; an additional 13% say they'd back "someone else," though there aren't any other candidates on the ballot.

Feltes, meanwhile is using his second TV spot to go right after Republican Gov. Chris Sununu over his handling of school reopenings. Feltes appears with his wife and young children and says, "As parents, we just want to know our kids will be safe. That's why it's so distressing that Chris Sununu refuses to even put forward a plan." Feltes continues, "He says nobody has to wear masks. There are no clear guidelines. Teachers are afraid. Why shouldn't they be?"

House

CA-08: The general election for this open 55-40 Trump seat hasn't generated much attention, but Democrat Chris Bubser has released a poll from Global Strategy Group to try to change that. The survey gives Republican Assemblyman Jay Obernolte a 48-38 lead, which Bubser, who is a first-time candidate, argues will dramatically narrow once she gets her name out. The sample also finds Donald Trump ahead only ahead 49-44 in this seat, which contains northern San Bernardino County and the geographically vast, but sparsely populated, High Desert to the north.

Bubser ended June with a small $325,000 to $300,000 cash-on-hand edge over Obernolte, but she'll need much more to effectively communicate her message: Almost all of this seat is located in the Los Angeles media market, where it costs quite a lot of money to air TV commercials.

FL-18: Immediately after Pam Keith decisively won the Democratic primary for Florida's 18th Congressional District, Republican Rep. Brian Mast launched a $150,000 TV buy against her. The commercial, like so many Republican ads we've seen this cycle, ties Keith to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

The narrator alternates between praising Mast's record and portraying Keith as an extremist, declaring at one point that the Democrat "called all Republicans 'traitors,' 'racist,' 'stupid,' and 'white supremacists.'" Parts of Keith tweets going after Donald Trump and his allies fill the screen, including an October 2019 message written during the House's impeachment inquiry into Trump where she asked, "I wonder if the GOP realizes that an entire generation of Americans is growing up knowing no other version of Republicans than the racist, white supremacist, bigoted, woman-hating, anti-science, delusional, gun-worshiping, treasonous greed-mongers currently on display."

Mast held a huge $1.8 million to $100,000 cash-on-hand lead over Keith on July 29, and he's likely going negative now to weaken her before she can effectively respond. Still, it's a bit surprising that Mast feels he needs to do this, since he's looked safe for a long time.

This seat, which includes the Palm Beach area and the Treasure Coast to the north, moved from 51-48 Romney to 53-44 Trump, and it remained tough turf last cycle. Mast won re-election 54-46 against a well-funded opponent, and according to analyst Matthew Isbell, both Republicans Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis carried it 52-47 as they were narrowly winning the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial contests statewide.

Still, this district could be worth watching this fall, especially if 2020 turns out to be a better year for Florida Democrats than 2018 did, which may be why Mast has decided he needs to take action now.

GA-07: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the far-right Club for Growth has booked $900,000 on TV to attack Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, though there's no copy of the spot yet. The Club is backing Republican Rich McCormick, who badly trailed Bourdeaux $760,000 to $106,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of June.

MA-01: Democratic Majority for Israel recently launched a $100,000 ad buy against Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse ahead of the Sept. 1 Democratic primary, and their newly released commercial attacks him over the condition of the local school system. American Working Families, a PAC supported by labor, also began airing commercials earlier this month going after Morse on this.

DMFI's new campaign is the latest in what has become a very expensive intra-party battle for this safely blue western Massachusetts seat. OpenSecrets reports that, as of Friday, outside groups supporting Rep. Richie Neal have spent a total of $1.3 million, while organizations like the Justice Democrats and Fight Corporate Monopolies have dropped $995,000 to oppose the incumbent.

Neal's campaign also maintains a huge financial edge over Morse, though the challenger has been bringing in a credible amount of money. Morse outraised Neal $470,000 to $360,000 during the pre-primary period, while the incumbent outspent him by a $1.8 million to $490,000 margin during this time. Neal held a $2.8 million to $295,000 cash-on-hand edge for the final weeks of the race.

MA-04: Newton City Councilor Jake Auchincloss uses his new commercial for the Sept. 1 Democratic primary to contrast his time in the Marines, where he says leadership was "on you," with Donald Trump's refusal to take responsibility for his many failures.

NY-01: In the previous Digest, we wrote that an internal poll for Democrat Nancy Goroff found Donald Trump leading Joe Biden 46-42 in New York's 1st Congressional District. However, those numbers were transposed by the outlet that originally reported the poll. Goroff's poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group, in fact found Biden ahead 46-42.

Ads: The conservative Congressional Leadership Fund is spending $2.5 million on August advertising in seven Democratic-held seats that Donald Trump carried in 2016. Politico provides a breakdown:

  • ME-02 (Jared Golden): $200,000
  • NM-02 (Xochitl Torres Small): $500,000
  • NY-11 (Max Rose): $260,000
  • NY-22 (Anthony Brindisi): $650,000
  • OK-05 (Kendra Horn): $500,000
  • SC-01 (Joe Cunningham): $200,000
  • VA-07: (Abigail Spanberger): $200,000

It is not clear if these buys come from CLF's existing reservations in these seats, or if it's new money. The only spot that is available right now is the group's ad against Horn, which ties her to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Other Races

PA-AG: Josh Shapiro, a rising star in Pennsylvania Democratic politics, won his bid for attorney general 51-49 in 2016 as Donald Trump was carrying Pennsylvania 48-47, but Republicans are hoping to unseat him this fall and regain a seat they'd previously held for decades. Shapiro is only the second Democrat to win this post since it became an elected office in 1980: The first was Kathleen Kane, who decisively won in 2012 but resigned in disgrace in 2016.

Republican nominee Heather Heidelbaugh recently launched what her campaign says is a $200,000 opening ad campaign. Heidelbaugh doesn't mention Shapiro directly in her spot as she talks about her tough upbringing, but her pledge to "serve my full term" was very much a dig at the incumbent, whom politicos widely expect to run for governor in 2022. Indeed, when Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who will be termed-out, was asked last year about the contest to succeed him, he pointed at Shapiro and said, "That's my guy right there."

Shapiro held a massive $4.1 million to $210,000 cash-on-hand lead over Heidelbaugh on June 22, but the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a group called Commonwealth Leaders Fund has booked a total $435,000 to help the Republican. The PAC, which the paper says has already spent $144,000, has been running commercials that ditch Heidelbaugh's subtlety and tear into Shapiro as "a career politician already looking to run for governor."

Shapiro responded in mid-August with what the Inquirer writes is his first TV spot. The ad says Shapiro is being attacked by dishonest commercials "paid for by people backing the insurance companies' candidate, hack lawyer Heather Heidelbaugh." The narrator goes on to praise the incumbent's service as attorney general, including his high-profile role in "holding Catholic Church officials accountable for covering up sexual abuse."

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: How a brazen campaign finance scandal led to this Florida Republican’s downfall

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

Alaska, Florida, and Wyoming held their primaries on Tuesday. You can find current results at the links for each state; we’ll have a comprehensive rundown in our next Digest.

Leading Off

FL-15: Republican primary voters in Florida’s 15th Congressional District on Tuesday denied renomination to freshman Rep. Ross Spano, who has been under investigation by the Justice Department since last year due to a campaign finance scandal, and instead gave the GOP nod to Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin.

With all votes apparently counted, Franklin defeated Spano 51-49. Franklin’s next opponent will  be former local TV news anchor Alan Cohn, who beat state Rep. Adam Hattersley 41-33 for the Democratic nomination.

Campaign Action

This central Florida seat, which includes the mid-sized city of Lakeland and the exurbs of Tampa and Orlando, moved from 52-47 Romney to 53-43 Trump, and Franklin is favored to keep it in Republican hands. Still, the general election could be worth watching: In 2018, before news of Spano’s campaign finance scandal broke, he won by a modest 53-47 margin.

Spano’s defeat ends a short, but unfortunately for him quite eventful, congressional career. Spano, who was elected to the state House in 2012, had been waging a campaign for state attorney general in 2018 until Republican Rep. Dennis Ross surprised everyone by announcing his retirement. Spano switched over to the contest to succeed Ross, which looked like an easier lift, but he nonetheless faced serious intra-party opposition from former state Rep. Neil Combee.

Spano beat Combee 44-34 and went on to prevail in the general election, but he found himself in trouble before he was even sworn into Congress. That December, Spano admitted he might have broken federal election law by accepting personal loans worth $180,000 from two friends and then turning around and loaning his own campaign $170,000. That's a serious problem, because anyone who loans money to a congressional candidate with the intent of helping their campaign still has to adhere to the same laws that limit direct contributions, which in 2018 capped donations at just $2,700 per person.

The House Ethics Committee initially took up the matter but announced in late 2019 that the Justice Department was investigating Spano. The congressman variously argued that he'd misunderstood the law governing campaign loans but also insisted his campaign had disclosed the loan "before it became public knowledge" in the financial disclosure forms all federal candidates are obligated to file.

That latter claim, however, was flat-out false: As the Tampa Bay Times' Steve Contorno explained, Spano had failed to file those disclosures by the July 2018 deadline, only submitting them just before Election Day—after the paper had asked about them. Only once those reports were public did the paper learn that the money for Spano's questionable loans came from his friends.

Despite his scandal, most of the party establishment, including Sen. Marco Rubio and most of the neighboring Republican congressmen, stood by Spano. However, he had trouble bringing in more money, and Franklin used his personal wealth to decisively outspend the incumbent. The anti-tax Club for Growth dumped $575,000 into advertising attacking Franklin, but it wasn’t enough to save Spano from defeat on Tuesday.

P.S. Spano is the fifth House Republican to lose renomination this cycle, compared to three Democrats. The good news for the rest of the GOP caucus, though, is that none of them can lose their primaries … because the remaining states don’t have any Republican members. (Louisiana does host its all-party primaries in November, but none of the state’s House members are in any danger.)

Senate

AL-Sen: In what appears to be the first major outside spending here on the Democratic side, Duty and Honor has deployed $500,000 on an ad buy praising Sen. Doug Jones. The commercial extols the incumbent for working across party lines to protect Alabamians during the pandemic and "fighting to expand Medicaid to cover Alabama families who need it." The conservative organization One Nation, meanwhile, is running a spot hitting Jones for supporting abortion rights.

GA-Sen-A: The Democratic group Senate Majority PAC is running an ad going after a Georgia Republican senator's stock transactions … just not the senator you might expect. The commercial begins, "Jan. 24, the U.S. Senate gets a private briefing on the coronavirus. Georgia Sen. David Perdue gets busy." The narrator continues, "That same day, he buys stock in a company that sells masks and gloves. Then sells casino stocks and winds up buying and dumping up to $14.1 million dollars in stock."

Perdue, like homestate colleague Kelly Loeffler, has argued that these trades were made by advisers who acted independently. Perdue has also said that he was not part of that Jan. 24 briefing.

Meanwhile, SMP's affiliated nonprofit, Duty and Honor, is airing a spot that uses Perdue's own words to attack his handling of the pandemic. "Very, very few people have been exposed to it," the audience hears Perdue say, "The risk of this virus still remains low." The narrator continues, "No wonder Perdue voted against funding for more masks, gloves, and ventilators. And voted to cut funding at the CDC to combat pandemics."

GA-Sen-B: Georgia United Victory, which supports Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, is airing another commercial attacking Republican Rep. Doug Collins, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that its total buy now stands at $6 million.

As pigs fill the screen, a truly bored-sounding narrator begins, "Another talking pig commercial? Good grief. We all know pigs are wasteful." She goes on to ask, "Is that the best comparison to Doug Collins? Oh sure. Collins loves pork for things like wine tasting and the opera." She goes on to say the congressman is too close to lobbyists and concludes, "He's laid quite a few eggs. Ever seen a pig lay an egg? Didn't think so." We really don't understand why this spot decided to go into the details of pig reproduction for no apparent reason, but ok.

IA-Sen, NC-Sen: Politico reports that Everytown for Gun Safety is launching an ad campaign this week against two Republican senators: The group will spend $2.2 million against Iowa's Joni Ernst (here and here), and $3.2 million opposing North Carolina's Thom Tillis (here and here).

Both ads argue the incumbents are too close to special interests, including the "gun lobby" and the insurance industry. The Iowa commercials also reference Ernst's infamous 2014 "make 'em squeal" spot by arguing, "She said she'd go to Washington and make them squeal. Joni Ernst broke that promise to Iowa and made the special interests her top priority." The narrator concludes that Ernst has actually left Iowans to squeal.

MA-Sen: Priorities for Progress, a group that the Boston Globe says is affiliated with the pro-charter school and anti-teachers union organization Democrats for Education Reform, has released a SurveyUSA poll that shows Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey narrowly leading Rep. Joe Kennedy 44-42 in the Democratic primary. Neither group appears to have taken sides in the Sept. 1 contest.

This is the third poll we've seen in the last month, and the others have also shown Markey in the lead. However, while the Republican firm JMC Analytics gave the incumbent a similar 44-41 edge in an early August crowdfunded survey, a YouGov poll for UMass Amherst and WCVB had Markey ahead 51-36 last week.

MI-Sen: Republican John James has publicized a poll from the Tarrance Group that shows him trailing Democratic Sen. Gary Peters "just" 49-44; the survey, like most Republican polls this cycle, did not include presidential numbers.

There isn't any ambiguity about why James' team is releasing this survey, though. The memo noted that, while the Democratic group Duty and Honor has been airing commercials for Peters, there has been "no corresponding conservative ally on the air against Gary Peters," and it goes on to claim the Republican can win "[w]ith the proper resources." Indeed, as Politico recently reported, major Republican outside groups have largely bypassed this contest, and neither the NRSC or Senate Leadership Fund currently has any money reserved for the final three months of the campaign.

James is getting some air support soon, though. Roll Call reports that One Nation, a nonprofit affiliated with SLF, will launch a $4.5 million TV and radio ad campaign against Peters on Wednesday.

NC-Sen: While most Republican downballot candidates have largely avoided tying their Democratic opponents to Joe Biden, Sen. Thom Tillis tries linking Democrat Cal Cunningham to Biden in a new spot.

Polls: The progressive group MoveOn has unveiled a trio of new Senate polls from Public Policy Polling:

  • GA-Sen-A: Jon Ossoff (D): 44, David Perdue (R-inc): 44 (June: 45-44 Ossoff)
  • IA-Sen: Theresa Greenfield (D): 48, Joni Ernst (R-inc): 45 (June: 45-43 Greenfield)
  • ME-Sen: Sara Gideon (D): 49, Susan Collins (R-inc): 44 (July: 47-42 Gideon)

The releases did not include presidential numbers.

House

OH-01: Democrat Kate Schroder is running a TV commercial about the truly strange scandal that engulfed Republican Rep. Steve Chabot's campaign last year. The narrator accuses the incumbent of lying about Schroder to draw attention away from his own problems, declaring, "Chabot is facing a grand jury investigation for $123,000 in missing campaign money."

The ad continues, "After getting caught, Chabot blamed others. And his campaign manager went missing." The narrator concludes, "We may never learn the truth about Shady Chabot's missing money, but we do know that 24 years is enough. (Chabot was elected to represent the Cincinnati area in Congress in 1994, lost a previous version of this seat in 2008, and won it back two years later.)

As we've written before, Chabot's campaign was thrown into turmoil last summer when the FEC sent a letter asking why the congressman's first-quarter fundraising report was belatedly amended to show $124,000 in receipts that hadn't previously been accounted for. From there, a bizarre series of events unfolded.

First, Chabot's longtime consultant, Jamie Schwartz, allegedly disappeared after he shuttered his firm, called the Fountain Square Group. Then Schwartz's father, Jim Schwartz, told reporters that despite appearing as Chabot's treasurer on his FEC filings for many years, he had in fact never served in that capacity. Chabot's team was certainly bewildered, because it issued a statement saying, "As far as the campaign was aware, James Schwartz, Sr. has been the treasurer since 2011." Evidently there's a whole lot the campaign wasn't aware of.

The elder Schwartz also claimed of his son, "I couldn't tell you where he's at" because "he's doing a lot of running around right now." Well, apparently, he'd run right into the arms of the feds. In December, local news station Fox19 reported that Jamie Schwartz had turned himself in to the U.S. Attorney's office, which, Fox19 said, has been investigating the matter "for a while."

Adding to the weirdness, it turned out that Chabot had paid Schwartz's now-defunct consultancy $57,000 in July and August of 2019 for "unknown" purposes. Yes, that's literally the word Chabot's third-quarter FEC report used to describe payments to the Fountain Square Group no fewer than five times. (Remember how we were saying the campaign seems to miss quite a bit?)

We still don't know what those payments were for, or what the deal was with the original $124,000 in mystery money that triggered this whole saga. Chabot himself has refused to offer any details, insisting only that he's been the victim of an unspecified "financial crime."

There haven't been any public developments since December, though. The Cincinnati Inquirer's Jason Williams contacted Schwartz's attorney last week to ask if Schwartz had been informed of any updates, and the reporter was only told, "No, not yet." Unless something big changes in the next few months, though, expect Democrats to keep pounding Chabot over this story.

OK-05: State Sen. Stephanie Bice is going up with a negative commercial against businesswoman Terry Neese just ahead of next week's Republican primary runoff. The winner will face Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn in what will be a competitive contest for this Oklahoma City seat.

Bice accuses Neese of running "the same fake news smears she always sinks to." Bice continues by alluding to Neese's unsuccessful 1990 and 1994 campaigns for lieutenant governor by declaring that in her 30 years of running for office Neese has been "mastering the art of dirty politics but never beating a single Democrat." (Neese badly lost the general election in 1990 but fell short in the primary runoff four years later, so she's only had one opportunity up until now to beat a Democrat.) Bice then sums up Neese by saying, "Appointed by Clinton. Terrible on gun rights. Neese won't take on the Squad, because she can't beat Kendra Horn."

Neese outpaced Bice 36-25 in the first round of voting back in late June, and Neese' allies have a big financial advantage going into the runoff. While Bice did outspend Neese $290,000 to $210,000 from July 1 to Aug. 5 (the time the FEC designates as the pre-runoff period), the Club for Growth has deployed $535,000 on anti-Bice ads this month. So far, no major outside groups have spent to aid Bice.

SC-01: The NRCC has started airing its first independent expenditure ad of the November general election, a spot that seeks to attack freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham on the issue that powered his upset victory in 2018: offshore drilling. The ad tries to question Cunningham's commitment to opposing such drilling in a move straight from Karl Rove’s dusty playbook, but given how closely his image is tied to the cause—he defeated his Republican opponent two years ago, Katie Arrington, in large part because of her support for offshore oil extraction—it's a tough sell.

And while Nancy Mace, his Republican challenger this year, might welcome the committee's involvement, the move doesn't come from a position of strength. In fact, the NRCC's own ad seems to acknowledge this at the outset, with a narrator saying, "Your TV is full of Joe Cunningham" as three images from prior Cunningham spots pop up on the screen. It's not wrong: The congressman has been advertising on television since the first week in July, and he recently released his fifth ad.

Cunningham's been able to blanket the airwaves because of the huge financial advantage he's locked in. Mace raised a prodigious $733,000 in the second quarter of the year, but Cunningham managed to beat even that take with an $845,000 haul of his own. It's the campaigns' respective bank accounts that differ dramatically, though: Cunningham had $3.1 million in cash-on-hand as of June 30 while Mace, after a costly primary, had just $743,000.

As a result, she hasn't gone on the air yet herself, which explains why the NRCC has moved in early to fill in the gap. Interestingly, the committee didn't bother to mention that this is its first independent expenditure foray of the 2020 elections in its own press release, whereas the DCCC loudly trumpeted the opening of its own independent expenditure campaign in New York's 24th Congressional District a month ago.

TX-21: Both Democrat Wendy Davis and the far-right Club for Growth are running their first commercials here.

Davis talks about her life story, telling the audience, "[M]y parents divorced when I was 13. I got a job at 14 to help mom. And at 19, I became a mom." Davis continues by describing her experience living in a trailer park and working two jobs before community college led her to Texas Christian University and Harvard Law. She then says, "As a state senator, I put Texas over party because everyone deserves a fair shot."

The Club, which backs Republican Rep. Chip Roy, meanwhile tells the Texas Tribune's Patrick Svitek that it is spending $482,000 on its first ad against Davis. The group has $2.5 million reserved here to aid Roy, who ended June badly trailing the Democrat in cash-on-hand, and it says it will throw down more.

The Club's spot declares that Davis is a career politician who got "busted for using campaign funds for personal expenses," including an apartment in Austin. However, while the narrator makes it sound like Davis was caught breaking the rules, Svitek writes, "Members are allowed to use donors' dollars to pay for such accommodations—and it is not uncommon."

This topic also came up during Davis' 2014 campaign for governor. The campaign said at the time that legislative staffers also stayed at the apartment, and that Davis followed all the state's disclosure laws.

Polls:

  • AZ-06: GQR (D) for Hiral Tipirneni: Hiral Tipirneni (D): 48, David Schweikert (R-inc): 45 (50-48 Biden)
  • MT-AL: WPA Intelligence (R) for Club for Growth (pro-Rosendale): Matt Rosendale (R): 51, Kathleen Williams (D): 45
  • NJ-02: RMG Research for U.S. Term Limits: Jeff Van Drew (R-inc): 42, Amy Kennedy (D): 39
  • NY-01: Global Strategy Group (D) for Nancy Goroff: Lee Zeldin (R-inc): 47, Nancy Goroff (D): 42 (46-42 Trump)
  • WA-03: RMG Research for U.S. Term Limits: Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-inc): 44, Carolyn Long (D): 40

The only other numbers we've seen from Arizona's 6th District was an early August poll from the DCCC that had Republican Rep. David Schweikert up 46-44 but found Joe Biden ahead 48-44 in this Scottsdale and North Phoenix constituency; Donald Trump carried this seat 52-42 four years ago, but like many other well-educated suburban districts, it's been moving to the left in recent years.

The Club for Growth's new Montana survey comes a few weeks after two Democratic pollsters found a closer race: In mid-July, Public Policy Polling's survey for election enthusiasts on Twitter showed a 44-44 tie, while a Civiqs poll for Daily Kos had Republican Matt Rosendale ahead 49-47 a few days later. PPP and Civiqs found Donald Trump ahead 51-42 and 49-45, respectively, while the Club once again did not include presidential numbers.

U.S. Term Limits has been releasing House polls at a rapid pace over the last few weeks, and once again, they argue that Democrats would easily win if they would just highlight the Republican incumbents' opposition to term limits; as far as we know, no Democratic candidates have tested this theory out yet. These surveys also did not include presidential numbers.

The only other poll we've seen out of New York's 1st District on eastern Long Island was a July PPP internal for Democrat Nancy Goroff's allies at 314 Action Fund. That survey gave Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin a 47-40 lead, which is slightly larger than what her poll finds now, though it showed the presidential race tied 47-47. This seat has long been swing territory, though it backed Trump by a 55-42 margin in 2016.

Mayoral

Honolulu, HI Mayor: Former Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who finished a close third in the Aug. 8 nonpartisan primary, announced Monday that she was endorsing independent Rick Blangiardi over fellow Democrat Keith Amemiya. Blangiardi took 26% in the first round of voting, while Amemiya beat Hanabusa 20-18 for second.

ELECTION CHANGES

Minnesota: Republicans have dropped their challenge to an agreement between Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon and voting rights advocates under which Minnesota will waive its requirement that mail voters have their ballots witnessed and will also require that officials count any ballots postmarked by Election Day and received within a week.

In dismissing their own claims, Republicans said they would "waive the right to challenge [the agreement] in any other judicial forum." That likely moots a separate federal case in which Republicans were challenging a similar agreement that a judge had refused to sign off on.

North Dakota: An organization representing county election officials in North Dakota says that local administrators are moving forward with plans to conduct the November general election in-person, rather than once again moving to an all-mail format, as they did for the state's June primary.

South Carolina: Republican Harvey Peeler, the president of South Carolina's state Senate, has called his chamber in for a special session so that lawmakers can consider measures to expand mail voting. Legislators passed a bill waiving the state's excuse requirement to vote absentee ahead of South Carolina's June primary, and Peeler says, "I am hopeful we can do it again."

However, Republican House Speaker Jay Lucas is refusing to convene a special session for his members, who are not due to return to the capitol until Sept. 15. That would give the state significantly less time to prepare for a likely influx of absentee ballot requests should the legislature once again relax the excuse requirement.

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Morning Digest: Virginia GOP congressman who officiated same-sex wedding gets denied renomination

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

Leading Off

VA-05: Campbell County Supervisor Bob Good won the Republican nomination on Saturday by defeating freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman at the party convention by 58-42, a result that ends Riggleman’s brief career in Congress. While Riggleman had Donald Trump’s endorsement, Good and his allies portrayed the congressman as insufficiently conservative. Riggleman notably pissed off the base last summer when he officiated a same-sex wedding between two of his former campaign volunteers, a move that quickly led to a homophobic backlash at home.

Good will now be Team Red’s standard bearer in a district which includes Charlottesville and south-central Virginia, and that moved from 53-46 Romney to 53-42 Trump. Riggleman, though, only won 53-47 in 2018, and Good could be vulnerable in the fall. Democrats, who opted to hold a traditional party primary, will choose their nominee to take on Good on June 23 in a contest that features several well-funded contenders. Daily Kos Elections currently rates this contest as Likely Republican.

Campaign Action

Riggleman’s loss comes after a short and at times bizarre career in politics that began with a 2017 run for governor. Riggleman, a distillery owner and former Air Force intelligence officer, pitched himself as an aggravated outsider and focused his anger at the utility giant Dominion Energy, which had tried to route a natural gas pipeline through his property. However, Riggleman dropped out of the contest after a few months of weak fundraising, declaring that he'd sadly learned that "money seems to be the most important part of a campaign."

Riggleman surprisingly got another chance to run for office the following year, though, after first-term GOP Rep. Tom Garrett unexpectedly dropped out in bizarre fashion after winning renomination. The 5th District Republican Committee was tasked with picking a new nominee, and Riggleman ended up defeating Republican National Committee member Cynthia Dunbar, who had lost a convention for the neighboring 6th District just weeks prior, on the fourth and final ballot.

This race always looked like a longshot for Democrats, but the contest attracted national attention. Riggleman’s opponent was journalist Leslie Cockburn, the mother of actress Olivia Wilde, and Cockburn ended up raising a credible amount of money. And perhaps more importantly, Riggleman himself turned out to be an aficionado of Bigfoot erotica.

National Republicans ended up spending $600,000 in the final weeks of the campaign to aid Riggleman, which was a costly rescue mission at a time when the GOP was on the defensive in numerous other House seats. Riggleman won, though, and he showed up to his first day in Congress wearing … Bigfoot socks.

Riggleman soon had a more human political concern, though. After the congressman officiated a same-sex wedding over the summer, local Republican Parties in three small 5th District counties each passed anti-Riggleman motions. Good, who worked as an athletics official at Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Liberty University, soon launched his campaign against Riggleman, whom he'd describe as “out of step with the base of the party on life. He's out of step on marriage. He's out of step on immigration. He's out of step on health care.”

Falwell himself backed Riggleman, but local party leaders weren’t so supportive. The 5th District Committee voted to decide its nominee through a convention, a gathering that tends to be dominated by conservative activists, rather than a primary. It also didn’t escape Riggleman’s attention that the convention was taking place at Good’s own church.

Riggleman himself publicly bashed the 5th District Committee’s handling of the nominating contest, especially after the coronavirus pandemic indefinitely delayed the convention. Chairman Melvin Adams also didn’t hide his frustration with the congressman, telling Roll Call, “I know the congressman and some of his staff and other people have been putting out false information, or at least implying this committee is trying to rig things. This committee is not trying to rig things.”

The party ended up holding its convention in the parking lot of Good’s church, an event that allowed 2,537 delegates to eject Riggleman from Congress from the comfort of their cars. Riggleman claimed that “[v]oting irregularities and ballot stuffing” took place, insinuating that it decided the outcome, and he said his campaign is evaluating its options, which could include legal action.

Election Changes

Please bookmark our litigation tracker for a complete compilation of the latest developments in every lawsuit regarding changes to election and voting procedures.

Iowa: Iowa's Republican-run state House has almost unanimously approved a bipartisan compromise that would require Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate to seek approval from a special panel of lawmakers to send unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters. A day earlier, the state Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans, passed a bill that would forbid Pate from sending out applications altogether, as he did before the state's June 2 primary.

Under the House measure, Pate would have to get the sign-off of Iowa's Legislative Council, which describes itself as a "steering committee" that, explains the Quad-City Times, is empowered to act on behalf of the full legislature when it's not in session. The 20-member panel includes 11 Republicans and nine Democrats. It would have to approve any emergency changes Pate might propose, including mailing applications or altering the absentee voting period (something Pate also did before the primary, increasing it from 29 days to 40).

It's not clear whether the Senate will concur with the House, though, and Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has not expressed a view on either bill.

North Carolina: Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has signed a bill that will make mail voting easier by reducing the requirement that voters have two witnesses or a notary sign their ballots, instead requiring just a single witness. However, the legislation also prevents local election officials from conducting all-mail elections, and it contains a provision that could help Republicans revive their voter ID law, which two separate courts have blocked from taking effect.

Tennessee: A state court judge warned Tennessee officials that they could be held in criminal contempt for their refusal to follow an order she recently issued instructing them to provide absentee ballots to all voters during the pendency of the coronavirus pandemic. "Shame on you for not following that procedure and just taking matters into your own hands," Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle told the defendants, who emailed local officials after Hobbs' initial ruling and told them to "hold off" on sending out absentee applications.

A spokesperson for Republican Secretary of State Tre Hargett said the office was "working on complying" with Lyle's latest instructions, according to Courthouse News Service.

Vermont: Vermont's Democratic-run legislature has passed a bill that would remove Republican Gov. Phil Scott's power to block Democratic Secretary of State Jim Condos from ordering that the November general election be conducted by mail. Scott has said that he doesn't oppose the measure, which passed both chambers with veto-proof majorities. Condos has for months promoted a plan for holding nearly all-mail elections this year.

Senate

NH-Sen, NH-01: Donald Trump has waded into two Republican primaries in New Hampshire, which doesn't hold nominating contests until Sept. 8. In the race to take on Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Trump's given his backing to wealthy attorney Corky Messner, despite the fact that retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc has claimed the NRSC supports his candidacy (the committee has, however, declined to confirm).

Meanwhile, in the 1st Congressional District, where the GOP is trying to unseat freshman Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas, Trump has endorsed Matt Mowers—an unsurprising move, given that Mowers previously worked as a Trump aide. Mowers faces former state party vice chair Matt Mayberry in the primary. Republicans are underdogs in both contests: Daily Kos Elections rates the Senate race as Likely Democratic and the 1st District as Lean Democratic.

House

GA-13: The Associated Press has now called the Democratic primary in Georgia's 13th District for Rep. David Scott outright, after first saying that Scott had been forced into an Aug. 11 runoff but then later retracting that call. Scott was leading former state Rep. Keisha Waites 51-27 on Friday afternoon, just over the 50% mark needed to avoid a second round. Waites entered the race late and spent virtually nothing, suggesting that the veteran Scott could be very vulnerable to a more aggressive challenger if he seeks another term in 2022.

NY-01: A Global Strategy Group poll for chemistry professor Nancy Goroff finds her trailing businessman Perry Gershon by a small 29-27 margin ahead of the June 23 Democratic primary in New York's 1st Congressional District, with Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming at 17. GSG says that the numbers represent a substantial shift from a previously unreleased early April survey that gave Gershon, who was the party's 2018 nominee against GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin, a 33-16 lead over Fleming, with Goroff at just 11.

Thanks to a $1 million personal loan, Goroff was able to outspend Gershon $1.1 million to $453,000 during April and May (Gershon self-funded extensively last time but hasn't materially done so this cycle). Fleming was not far behind, spending $405,000 in the same timeframe. Goroff had a large $758,000 to $190,000 cash edge over Gershon for the final three weeks of the race, with Fleming sitting on $112,000, though presumably the wealthy Gershon could once again dip into his own bank account if he wanted to.

NY-16: Former principal Jamaal Bowman outraised Rep. Eliot Engel during April and May in new reports filed with the FEC, though Engel held a cash edge as of June 3, the close of the "pre-primary" filing period. Bowman brought in $431,000 versus $389,000 for Engel, but Engel had $826,000 left to spend in the final weeks compared to $345,000 for his challenger. However, Bowman finished the period strong, thanks to Engel's viral "If I didn't have a primary, I wouldn't care" blunder on June 2, and that surge appears to have continued past the FEC's reporting deadline, as the Bowman campaign says it raised $345,000 in the week following the gaffe.

Bowman has sought to further capitalize on Engel's misstep. A few days ago, Bowman released his first TV ad, which features a clip of Engel's now-infamous gaffe. The second half is more positive and shows images of Bowman alongside his would-be constituents, while a voiceover of the candidate himself proclaims, "We need a representative that cares about our communities year-round, not just during election season."

NY-17: End Citizens United, which has a track record of both spending and fundraising for its endorsees, has backed attorney Mondaire Jones in the June 23 Democratic primary for New York's open 17th Congressional District. Candidates also just filed so-called "pre-primary" fundraising reports with the FEC on Thursday, covering the period of April 1 through June 3. During that timeframe, Jones reported raising $295,000 and spending $500,000, leaving him with $339,000 for the stretch run.

In terms of spending, which is probably the most important metric at this late stage of the campaign, that puts Jones in the middle of the pack among notable contenders:

  • Adam Schleifer: $62,000 raised (plus $2.1 million loan), $3.3 million spent, $369,000 cash-on-hand
  • Evelyn Farkas: $340,000 raised, $787,000 spent, $242,000 cash-on-hand
  • David Buchwald: $47,000 raised (plus $300,000 loan), $329,000 spent, $514,000 cash-on-hand
  • Allison Fine: $53,000 raised, $100,000 spent, $29,000 cash-on-hand
  • David Carlucci: $89,000 raised, $86,000 spent, $101,000 cash-on-hand

UT-01: A poll of the GOP primary from Dan Jones & Associates on behalf of former U.S. Foreign Service officer Blake Moore in Utah's open 1st Congressional District finds an unsettled race, with Moore tying Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson at 16 apiece, former state Agriculture Commissioner Kerry Gibson taking 13, and Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt bringing up the rear with 7. That leaves a giant 48% undecided ahead of the June 30 primary.

Oddly, Moore is an employee of the consulting firm Cicero Group, which just so happens to be the parent company of Dan Jones. A memo from Dan Jones says that Moore was not involved "in poll gathering," but unsurprisingly, rival campaigns took shots at Moore over his connection to the pollster and questioned the results, though none offered alternate numbers.

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After a successful midterm, New York Democrats look to flip more GOP-held House seats

Candidate filing closed last month for New York’s June 23 primaries, and we’ll be running down the state of play in the state’s big congressional races here.

The state does publish a list of candidates who've filed for Congress, but it doesn't include all House seats. Candidates running for a district that is contained entirely within a single county or within the five boroughs of New York City file with their local election authorities, while everyone else files with the state.

As a result, the state's list only covers 14 of New York's 27 congressional districts; the rest we've had to obtain from New York City, Suffolk County, and Monroe County. We've consolidated these various lists and put them into a single document here. We're still missing NY-04 (which is entirely located in Nassau County), but Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice faces minimal opposition for a fourth term. 

NY-01: GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin won reelection last cycle 51-47 against Democrat Perry Gershon, and Gershon is once again running for this eastern Suffolk County seat. However, two other notable Democrats—Stony Brook University professor Nancy Goroff and Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming—are also competing in the June primary.

Goroff, who has the support of EMILY’s List, ended March with a $646,000 to $504,000 cash on hand lead over Gershon, though Gershon demonstrated last cycle that he’s capable of some serious self-funding. Fleming, who is the only elected official in the primary, was further behind with $305,000 on hand.

While Zeldin only pulled off a modest win in 2018, he’ll be difficult to unseat in a presidential year. Although this seat narrowly supported Barack Obama in 2012, Donald Trump took it 55-42 four years later. Zeldin also had a hefty $1.8 million to defend himself in a race Daily Kos Elections rates as Likely Republican.

NY-02: Longtime GOP Rep. Peter King’s retirement makes this southern Long Island one of Team Blue’s top pickup opportunities in the nation, but Republicans still have a good chance to keep it. The district swung from 52-47 Obama to 53-44 Trump, and Republicans do well downballot in this area. Daily Kos Elections rates this contrast as Lean Republican, but it’s one we’ll be watching closely for developments.

While plenty of Republicans jumped in the race in the months after this seat opened up, almost all of them dropped out after Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino picked up endorsements from King and the leaders of the Nassau and Suffolk County Republican parties. Fellow Assemblyman Mike LiPetri decided to stay in the primary, but Garbarino ended March with a $322,000 to $136,000 cash on hand edge.

On the Democratic side, Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon faces little intraparty opposition. Gordon, an Army veteran who deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, spent months challenging King before he retired, and she ended the last quarter with $536,000 to spend.

NY-09: Democratic Rep. Yvette Clarke defeated community organizer Adem Bunkeddeko in an unexpectedly close 53-47 primary last cycle, and Bunkeddeko is back for a rematch.

This time, though, three other candidates are also running for this safely blue seat in central Brooklyn. The most notable newcomer is New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, a self-described "conservative Democrat” who has a record of consistently opposing LGBTQ rights. Clarke ended March with a $267,000 to $116,000 cash on hand lead over Bunkeddeko, while Deutsch had $65,000 to spend.

NY-10: Longtime Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler faces a primary challenge from Lindsey Boylan, a former economic adviser to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a safely blue seat that includes the west side of Manhattan and part of southern Brooklyn. Boylan entered the race last spring arguing that the incumbent had been slow to use his powerful post as chair of the House Judiciary Committee to fight the Trump administration. Nadler, though, later went on to play a prominent role in impeaching Donald Trump.

Nadler ended March with a $957,000 to $147,000 cash on hand lead over Boylan. One other Democrat, political organizer Jonathan Herzog, is also in, but he had just $27,000 on hand.

NY-11: Democrat Max Rose’ 53-47 win over GOP incumbent Dan Donovan was one of the biggest upsets of 2018, and this is a constituency that Republicans badly want to take back.

National Republicans, including Donald Trump, have consolidated behind Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis. While a few other local Republicans, including disgraced ex-Rep. Mike Grimm, talked about running here (Grimm even said at one point he was “90% of the way there to run”), Malliotakis’ only intraparty foe is former Brooklyn prosecutor Joe Caldarera. Malliotakis ended March with a wide $884,000 to $51,000 cash on hand lead over Caldarera, though, and she should have no trouble winning in June.

The November election will be a much tougher affair for Team Red, though. Rose is one of the strongest fundraisers in the House, and he had $3.33 million in the bank at the end of the first quarter. Rose, who is a captain in the National Guard, also earned national attention in early April when he was deployed to Staten Island to set up an emergency hospital to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

However, this is still a difficult area for Democrats. This seat, which includes all of Staten Island and part of southern Brooklyn, swung from 52-47 Obama to 54-44 Trump, so even a strong incumbent like Rose will be in for a real fight. National Republicans have also reserved $1.4 million in fall TV time for a contest that we rate as a tossup.

NY-12: Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney defeated attorney Suraj Patel 60-40 in an expensive 2018 primary, and Patel is back for a rematch. However, while Patel outraised the congresswoman last time, Maloney ended March with a $427,000 to $195,000 cash on hand lead. Two other candidates are also running, which complicates Patel’s task. This seat, which includes the east side of Manhattan and nearby parts of Queens and Brooklyn, is safely blue.

NY-14: Freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), who pulled off one of the most shocking primary wins we’ve ever seen, faces an expensive intraparty challenge from the right from former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.

Caruso-Cabrera has the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and she ended March with a large $854,000 war chest after just seven weeks in the race. AOC, though, has a national base of support to draw on, and she had a massive $3.51 million in the bank. Two other Democrats are also running for this safely blue seat in the East Bronx and northern Queens.

NY-15: Longtime Rep. José Serrano is retiring from the bluest district in the entire country, and 12 fellow Democrats are running to succeed him. However, the crowded field in this Bronx seat could allow New York City Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr., who has a long and ugly history of homophobia, to win the nomination with just a plurality.  

A number of other candidates are running well to Diaz’s left. The best-funded contender at the end of March by far was fellow New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who held a $939,000 to $125,000 cash on hand lead over Diaz. Torres, who would be the first gay Latino member of Congress, also has the backing of the Hotel Trades Council, which is one of the most influential unions in city politics.

Assemblyman Michael Blake has the support of two other powerful unions, SEIU 32BJ and 1199 SEIU, but he had just $77,000 in the bank. Other notable candidates include former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito; New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez; and activist Samelys Lopez, who has the endorsement of neighboring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Working Families Party.

NY-16: Longtime Rep. Eliot Engel faces four Democratic primary opponents in this safely blue seat, which includes southern Westchester County and the northern Bronx. The challenger who has attracted the most national attention so far is middle school principal Jamaal Bowman, who has the support of the Working Families Party. Engel ended March with a huge $1.05 million to $217,000 cash on hand lead over Bowman while two other contenders, educator Andom Ghebreghiorgis and attorney Chris Fink, each had about $80,000 to spend.

NY-17: Longtime Rep. Nita Lowey is retiring from a safely blue seat that includes much of Westchester County and all of Rockland County, and 10 fellow Democrats are running to succeed her. The best-funded contender is former federal prosecutor Adam Schleifer, who had $1.52 million in the bank in March after self-funding most of his campaign. Behind him in the money race is former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas, who had $688,000 on hand.

Another candidate to watch is attorney Mondaire Jones, who was challenging Lowey before she retired. Jones, who had $544,000 in the bank, would be the first openly gay black member of Congress. (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.)

The contest also includes two state legislators. Assemblyman David Buchwald had $496,000 in the bank while state Sen. David Carlucci, who was a founding member of turncoat Independent Democratic Conference, had only $99,000. Also in the race are former NARAL board chair Allison Fine; Catherine Parker, who is the majority leader of the Westchester County Board of Legislators; and Army veteran Asha Castleberry-Hernandez, though none of them had much money to spend.

NY-18: Democratic Rep. Sean Maloney is seeking reelection in a Lower Hudson Valley seat that swung from 51-47 Obama to 49-47 Trump, but it doesn’t look like the GOP will be making much of an effort to beat him. The only Republican candidate is 2018 Senate nominee Chele Farley, who lost that contest to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand 67-33. Maloney ended March with a wide $893,000 to $258,000 cash on hand lead in a race we rate as safe Democratic.

NY-19: Freshman Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado should have been a top GOP target, but national Republicans failed to recruit a strong candidate after their top choice, 2018 gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro, declined.

Delgado ended March with a massive $2.65 million to $254,000 cash on hand lead over fashion designer Ola Hawatmeh, who has been self-funding most of her campaign; the other Republican, Army veteran Kyle Van De Water, had a mere $14,000 in the bank. This Hudson Valley seat swung from 52-46 Obama to 51-44 Trump, so it’s still possible for the GOP to score a win here if the political climate is good for them, but we’re rating this swing seat as likely Democratic.

NY-21: GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik defeated Democrat Tedra Cobb 56-42 last cycle in a contest that didn’t attract much attention, but their rematch has turned into a nationally watched affair. Stefanik infuriated progressives and delighted Trump and his fans with her antics during an impeachment hearing in November when she sought to violate House Intelligence Committee rules and then lied about why the committee's chair, Democrat Adam Schiff, had cut her off. Both candidates raised millions afterwards, and Stefanik ended March with a $4 million to $2.38 million cash on hand lead.

However, as Stefanik’s large win last time demonstrated, this is a very difficult race for Team Blue. The district, which includes the farthest upstate reaches of New York, swung from 52-46 Obama all the way to 54-40 Trump, and we rate this contest as safe Republican.

NY-22: Democrat Anthony Brindisi unseated GOP incumbent Claudia Tenney 51-49 in 2018, and Tenney is back for a rematch. The former congresswoman faces minimal intraparty opposition, but Brindisi ended March with a wide $2.16 million to $408,000 cash on hand lead.

Despite Brindisi’s huge financial edge and Tenney’s many mistakes last cycle, this is still a tough race for Team Blue. This seat, which includes Binghamton, Utica, and Rome, moved from a tiny win for Mitt Romney all the way to 55-39 Trump, and national Republicans have reserved over $2 million in fall TV time here. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as a tossup.

NY-23: GOP Rep. Tom Reed beat Democrat Tracy Mitrano 54-46 last cycle in an expensive race, and Mitrano is running again. This seat, which includes Ithaca and southwestern New York, moved from 50-48 Romney to 55-40 Trump, and Reed ended March with a wide $763,000 to $206,000 cash on hand lead. So far this contest hasn’t attracted much outside attention, and we rate it as safe Republican.

NY-24: Rep. John Katko, who is one of just two Republican incumbents seeking reelection in a Clinton seat, defeated Democrat Dana Balter 53-47 in 2018, and Balter is running again. First, though, Balter has to get past Navy veteran Francis Conole, who held a small $313,000 to $268,000 cash on hand edge at the end of March.

Whoever wins the June primary will be in for a difficult race against Katko, who had $1.19 million to defend himself; the incumbent’s allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund have also reserved $600,000 to aid him. This Syracuse seat moved from 57-41 to just 49-45 Clinton, and this is an area where Republicans do well downballot. Daily Kos Elections rates this contest as lean Republican.

NY-27: The special election to succeed disgraced GOP Rep. Chris Collins, who is scheduled to report to prison on June 23 after pleading guilty to insider trading charges, will take place on the same day as the regular two-year primary. (The contest was originally set for April, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo moved it due to the coronavirus pandemic.) That’s created a bit of an awkward situation for state Sen. Chris Jacobs, who is the GOP’s special election nominee but faces primary challenges from the right from both attorney Beth Parlato, who has the Conservative Party’s backing, and Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw.

However, the split field could give Jacobs the advantage as the de facto incumbent; Parlato and Mychajliw will also need to win over plenty of Republican voters at the same time that they’re supporting Jacobs in the special election. Jacobs ended March with a $521,000 to $451,000 cash on hand lead over Parlato, while Mychajliw had $72,000 to spend.

The Democratic candidate for the special election is 2018 nominee Nate McMurray, who faces no intraparty opposition in the regular primary and had $267,000 in the bank. McMurray held Collins, who was under indictment but had not been convicted, to a 49.1-48.7 win last cycle, but he’s in for an even tougher race in June. This seat in the Buffalo suburbs moved from 55-43 Romney to 60-35 Trump, and Jacobs doesn’t have Collins’ problems. We rate the special election as safe Republican.

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Morning Digest: Former Hawaii congresswoman enters what could be a crowded race for Honolulu mayor

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

Leading Off

Honolulu, HI Mayor: On Friday, former Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa announced her long-anticipated campaign for mayor of Honolulu.

Hanabusa, who has been raising money for months, is one of several candidates competing to succeed termed-out Democratic incumbent Kirk Caldwell, but others may jump in ahead of Hawaii's June filing deadline. All the candidates will run on one nonpartisan ballot in September, and a runoff would take place in November if no one secures a majority of the vote in the first round.

Campaign Action

Hanabusa has a long history in Hawaii politics, though she lost two high-profile primaries during the last decade. Hanabusa gave up her House seat representing the 1st District, which includes just over 70% of Honolulu, in 2014 to challenge appointed Sen. Brian Schatz, a campaign she very narrowly lost.

Fellow Democrat Mark Takai won the race to succeed Hanabusa, but he announced in 2016 that his battle with pancreatic cancer would prevent him from running for re-election. Hanabusa, who earned Takai's endorsement shortly before he died that summer, went on to win back her old seat with minimal opposition. Hanabusa left the House again in 2018 to challenge Gov. David Ige in the primary, and she was the clear frontrunner for most of the campaign.

However, while Ige's prospects seemed to sink even lower that January when a false ballistic missile alert went out, intense flooding in Kauai and the Kilauea volcano eruption both gave the incumbent the chance to demonstrate the decisive leadership that Hanabusa insisted he lacked. It also didn't help Hanabusa that her duties in the House kept her thousands of miles away from the state for much of the campaign, a problem Ige did not have. Ige ended up winning renomination 51-44, and he carried Honolulu 54-43.

Hanabusa began talking about a mayoral run last year by highlighting Honolulu's ongoing difficulties completing its expensive and long-delayed rail system and the island's struggles with homelessness. The former congresswoman launched her campaign last week arguing that she has the "requisite experience, connections and a history of being able to tackle the hard issues and know what you are doing."

A number of other candidates are already running, and two of them had considerably more money than Hanabusa at the end of 2019. Former insurance executive Keith Amemiya, who is a former executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, took in $724,000 and self-funded another $200,000 during the second half of the year, and he had $360,000 on-hand at the end of December.

City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine raised a much smaller $127,000 during this time but already had plenty of money available, and she had $607,000 on-hand. Hanabusa hauled in $259,000 during these six months and had $216,000 in the bank at the close of last year.

The field continued to expand in January when real estate broker Choon James launched her campaign, while former Hawaiʻi News Now general manager Rick Blangiardi entered the race this month. It may get larger still: The Honolulu Star-Advertiser also wrote in mid-February that two prominent politicians, former Mayor Mufi Hannemann and ex-Rep. Charles Djou, had not ruled out running here over the last few weeks.

Hannemann, who has a terrible record when it comes to LGBTQ rights and abortion access, served from 2005 until he resigned to focus on his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the Democratic nod for governor. After losing a 2012 primary for the 2nd Congressional District, Hannemann bolted the party and took 12% of the vote as an independent in the 2014 race for governor. He considered another independent bid for governor last cycle but decided against it, and it's not clear how Hannemann identifies now.

Djou, for his part, is a former Republican who became an independent in 2018 after waging several high-profile, but mostly unsuccessful, campaigns of his own. Djou beat Hanabusa in a fluke in a three-way 2010 special election for the House but lost their rematch several months later, and Djou failed poorly against her the following cycle. However, Djou came close to winning this seat back against Takai in 2014, and he only lost the 2016 mayoral race to Caldwell 52-48.

Senate

GA-Sen-B: On Monday, GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger set the candidate filing deadline for this special election for March 6, which is the same day that the state requires candidates to file for its regularly-scheduled primaries. This move means that anyone who loses in the spring won't be able to just turn around and enter the November all-party primary for this Senate seat.

IA-Sen: On Monday, Senate Majority PAC began a seven-figure TV and digital ad buy in support of businesswoman Theresa Greenfield well ahead of the June Democratic primary to face GOP Sen. Joni Ernst.

The narrator begins, "Tough times don't last, but tough people do," and he describes how Greenfield worked her way through college. The spot continues by talking about how Greenfield raised her two boys and led a business after her husband died in an accident, and it concludes, "All of it makes Theresa tough enough to take on Washington's corruption and deliver for Iowa."

KS-Sen: Former Gov. Jeff Colyer endorsed Rep. Roger Marshall on Monday ahead of the August GOP primary. Colyer lost an incredibly close 2018 primary to former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who looks like Marshall's main intra-party foe for this race.

KY-Sen: Retired Marine pilot Amy McGrath, who has the support of the DSCC, is out with two January polls that show her in a tight race with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Garin-Hart-Yang, which was in the field Jan. 8-13, gave McConnell a 43-40 edge over McGrath, while Libertarian Brad Barron took another 5%. A Change Research poll conducted Jan. 17-21 showed McConnell and McGrath tied 41-41, while Barron took 7%. McGrath's memo did not mention state Rep. Charles Booker, who is her main foe in the May Democratic primary.

These are the first polls we've seen of this race since July, when a survey from the GOP firm Fabrizio Ward for the AARP showed McConnell leading McGrath by a similar 47-46 spread. However, while the majority leader has been unpopular in Kentucky for years, he's also proven to be a very tough opponent for Democrats in this very red state. Indeed, some early polls from the 2014 cycle showed McConnell trailing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, but the incumbent ended up winning by a convincing 56-41 spread.

While the political environment should be considerably better for Democrats this year than it was back then, it's still going to be extremely difficult for McGrath or any other Democrat to beat McConnell in a year where Donald Trump will be leading the ballot.

NE-Sen: The GOP firm We Ask America is out with a poll giving Sen. Ben Sasse a 65-17 lead over businessman Matt Innis in the May Republican primary. There was some talk at the beginning of the cycle that Sasse, who once made a name for himself by criticizing #BothSides, could face serious intra-party opposition, but that never happened. Donald Trump has joined the state party establishment in supporting Sasse, while Innis has brought in almost no money.

Gubernatorial

NJ-Gov: Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy announced over the weekend that he would be treated for a tumor on his kidney early next month. Murphy said, "The expectation is that overwhelmingly, assuming nothing happens on the operating table or you don't get an infection or something, you're back on your feet and back in the game without any impairment going forward."

House

AL-01: The GOP firm Strategy Research is out with a poll of next week's Republican primary for News 5, and it gives Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl the lead with 29%. That's well below the majority needed to avoid a March 31 runoff, though, and former state Sen. Bill Hightower leads state Rep. Chris Pringle 21-13 for the second place spot. This is the first poll we've seen here since just before Thanksgiving when Hightower's allies at the anti-tax Club for Growth released a survey showing him ahead with 35% as Pringle edged Carl 16-13 for second.

P.S. Strategy Research also polled the Democratic primary in this 63-34 Trump seat along the Gulf Coast.

MN-07: While Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson previously insisted that he'd decide by the end of this month whether to seek re-election in his 62-31 Trump seat, he recently told Agri-Pulse that he still hadn't made up his mind. Peterson said that he might make his choice after the March 3 primaries, but he also noted that candidate filing doesn't begin until May; the deadline to file is June 2.

Peterson has flirted with retirement for years, and he said he wasn't sure he wanted to stick around much longer. The congressman argued, "I know I can win. That's not the issue. That's the problem. I'm not sure that I want to win." Peterson didn't give a good indication about which way he was leaning, though he said, "I tell people I'm running until I'm not."

Peterson is almost certainly the only Democrat who could hold this very red seat in western Minnesota, but Team Red will make a strong push for it even if he seeks another term. Former Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach, who has House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's endorsement, is the most prominent Republican who has run here in years, and she outraised Peterson $261,000 to $158,000 during the fourth quarter of 2019. Peterson, who does not traditionally raise much money during odd-numbered years, still ended December with a large $1 million to $204,000 cash-on-hand lead over Fischbach, though.

Fischbach also doesn't quite have a clear path through the August GOP primary. Physician Noel Collis, who has been self-funding most of his campaign, had $272,000 to spend at the end of last quarter, which was actually a bit more than what Fischbach had available. Dave Hughes, who held Peterson to unexpectedly close wins in 2016 and 2018, is also trying again, but he had just $19,000 to spend.

NY-01: Perry Gershon, who was the 2018 Democratic nominee against GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin, is out with a new poll that finds him well ahead in the June primary in this eastern Long Island seat. GBAO gives Gershon a 42-21 lead over Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, while Stony Brook University professor Nancy Goroff takes 9%.

It's quite possible that Gershon is benefiting from name recognition from his last campaign, which ended in a surprisingly close 51-47 loss against Zeldin. However, his opponents will have the resources to get their names out closer to primary day: Goroff outraised the field during the fourth quarter by bringing in $348,000, while Fleming outpaced Gershon $239,000 to $200,000 during her opening quarter.

Goroff ended 2019 with a $636,000 to $549,000 cash-on-hand edge against Gershon, while Fleming had $202,000 to spend. However, Gershon did plenty of self-funding during his last campaign, and he might be able to throw down more if he feels like he needs to.

Whoever wins in June will be a tough race against Zeldin in a seat that has shifted sharply to the right in recent years. While Barack Obama carried the 1st District by a narrow 50-49 margin, Trump won it 55-42 just four years later, and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo prevailed there by just a 49.1 to 48.6 spread in 2018 despite winning a 23-point blowout statewide. Zeldin himself raised $713,000 during the last quarter and had a hefty $1.5 million on-hand.

TX-13: Wealthy businessman Chris Ekstrom is out with a new TV spot ahead of next week's GOP primary promoting himself as a political outside opposing "the creatures of the swamp."

TX-17: Rocket scientist George Hindman is going up with a negative TV spot against businesswoman Renee Swann, who has the endorsement of retiring Rep. Bill Flores, ahead of next week's GOP primary. The narrator declares that Swann is "actually a Democrat primary voter" and that she refused to answer whether she'd support additional restrictions on gun owners. The ad goes on to charge that Swanson is "the handpicked candidate of the Washington establishment."

While this ad doesn't actually mention Flores, who is Swanson's most prominent supporter, there's no love lost between the retiring congressman and Hindman. Back in 2012, Hindman challenged Flores for renomination and lost by a lopsided 83-17 margin; Hindman went down in flames in subsequent races for the Austin City Council and for state Senate in 2014 and 2018, respectively. However, Hindman has poured $600,000 of his own money into his newest campaign, and his heavy spending could help him at least advance to a May runoff in this very crowded contest.

Legislative

Special Elections: There are three special elections on tap for Tuesday.

KY-HD-67: This is a Democratic district located in Campbell County in the suburbs of Cincinnati. This seat became vacant after Gov. Andy Beshear tapped former Rep. Dennis Keene to be commissioner of the state Department of Local Government.

Candidates were selected by the parties rather than through primary elections, and businesswoman Rachel Roberts is the Democratic candidate while businesswoman Mary Jo Wedding is the GOP standard bearer. Roberts ran for a state Senate seat in this area in 2018 and lost to Will Schroder 57-43, though she still overperformed in a 62-32 Trump seat. Wedding, by contrast, faced legal questions about her residency in this district but was ultimately ruled eligible to seek this seat.

This district is swingy turf that went for Trump 49-44 and Mitt Romney by a narrow 49-48. According to analyst Drew Savicki, Beshear dominated here last year by winning 61-36.

KY-HD-99: This is a Democratic district in rural eastern Kentucky that became vacant when Beshear selected former State House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, whom he defeated in the primary last year, to be a senior advisor to his administration.

Democrats picked former Rowan County Board of Education chair Bill Redwine, who was also endorsed by Adkins, to be their nominee, while Republicans chose former Rowan County party co-chair Richard White as their candidate.

At the presidential level, this is a strongly Republican district that backed Trump 68-28 and Romney 57-40. However, this district has been much more favorable to Democrats down the ballot. Adkins had served in this seat since 1987 and, according to analyst Matthew Isbell, Beshear prevailed 50-48 here last year.

Republicans have a 61-37 advantage in this chamber with these two seats vacant.

PA-HD-190: This is a Democratic district in west Philadelphia that became vacant when former Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell resigned after being charged with stealing funds from a charity she ran. Johnson-Harrell had just won a special election last year to replace Vanessa Lowery Brown, who was convicted of bribery.

Just like in Kentucky, the candidates were chosen by the parties: The Democrat is SEIU business agent Roni Green, while the Republican is businesswoman Wanda Logan. This is Logan's fifth run for this seat, though it is her first as a Republican after primarying Lowery Brown in each election from 2012 to 2018.

This district is assured to remain in the Democrats' column, as it backed Hillary Clinton 96-3 and Barack Obama 97-2. Republicans have control of this chamber 107-92 with this and three other seats vacant.