Morning Digest: Trump backs longtime coal operative in Ohio special election for red House seat

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

OH-15: Donald Trump waded into the crowded August Republican primary to succeed former Rep. Steve Stivers by endorsing coal company lobbyist Mike Carey on Tuesday.

Trump's decision came days after Stivers, who officially resigned from this very red suburban Columbus seat last month, backed state Rep. Jeff LaRe. That move, as well as Stivers' decision to use his old campaign committee to air ads for the state representative, briefly made LaRe the primary frontrunner; another candidate, state Rep. Brian Stewart, subsequently dropped out and acknowledged he didn't think he could compete against his Stivers-supported colleague. Trump's support for Carey, though, likely upends this contest.

Carey himself doesn't appear to have run for office since his 1998 defeat in an eastern Ohio state House seat against the late Charlie Wilson, a Democrat who went on to represent that area in Congress from 2007 to 2011, but he's long been influential in state politics.

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Back in 2011, Politico described Carey, who worked as an operative for the state coal industry, as "a one-man wrecking ball for Democrats who have strayed too far green for voters' liking." It noted that Carey's political organization ran TV ads in Ohio in 2004 savaging the Democratic presidential nominee as "John Kerry, Environmental Extremist," and he also targeted Barack Obama four years later.

Carey went on to work as a lobbyist for the coal giant Murray Energy, which was renamed American Consolidated Natural Resources Inc. last year after it emerged from bankruptcy protection. The company and its leadership has long been a major foe of environmentalists in Ohio and nationally, with former chief executive Robert Murray, a close Trump ally, lavishly funding global warming deniers.

Senate

AK-Sen: A new poll from Change Research for the progressive group 314 Action finds Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski faring poorly under Alaska's new top-four primary. In a hypothetical matchup against fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka (who is running) and independent Al Gross (who unsuccessfully ran for Senate last year with Democratic support and is considering another bid), Tshibaka leads with 39%, while Gross takes 25 and Murkowski just 19. John Wayne Howe of the far-right Alaska Independence Party would get 4%, and 12% are undecided.

Murkowski would still advance to the general election in this scenario, since, as the name implies, the four highest vote-getters in the primary move on, but she'd do no better then. To reduce the risk of spoilers, November elections will be decided via ranked-choice voting, but in a simulated instant runoff, Tshibaka would beat Gross 54-46. 314 Action, which endorsed Gross last cycle, is arguing that the poll suggests that Murkowski's weakness offers Democrats an opening, but Tshibaka's performance—and recent history—show just how tough it is for Democrats to win statewide in Alaska.

AL-Sen: The Club for Growth has dusted off a late April poll from WPA Intelligence showing Rep. Mo Brooks leading businesswoman Lynda Blanchard by a wide 59-13 margin in next year's GOP Senate primary, with Business Council of Alabama head Katie Boyd Britt at 9 and 19% of voters undecided. (The survey was conducted well before Britt, who just kicked off her campaign the other day, entered the race.) The Club hasn't endorsed Brooks yet, but sharing this poll is a signal that it may do so.

FL-Sen: On Wednesday, several weeks after a consultant said Rep. Val Demings would run for Senate, Demings herself made her campaign against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio official. Demings, who was a manager during Donald Trump's first impeachment trial and reportedly was under consideration as Joe Biden's running-mate last year, is by far the highest-profile Democrat to enter the race, though she faces Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell and (apparently?) former Rep. Alan Grayson for the nomination.

OH-Sen: A new poll of next year's GOP Senate primary in Ohio from former state Treasurer Josh Mandel unsurprisingly finds Mandel leading former state party chair Jane Timken 35-16, with all other candidates (actual and hypothetical) in the mid-to-low single digits and 34% of voters undecided. The survey, from Remington Research, is likely intended as pushback to a recent set of Timken internals from Moore Information that showed her gaining on Mandel, the newest of which had Mandel up just 24-19.

Governors

MI-Gov: A new poll from the Michigan Republican Party from Competitive Edge finds former Detroit police Chief James Craig (who hasn't actually kicked off a campaign yet) leading Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer 45-38 in a hypothetical test of next year's race for governor. Somewhat strangely, the survey also finds Whitmer beating Army veteran John James, who lost back-to-back Senate bids in 2018 and 2020 (and also hasn't announced a gubernatorial run), by a 50-45 margin.

These numbers are peculiar for two reasons: First, why would the state GOP want to make a prominent potential recruit like James look less electable—unless party leaders actually would prefer he stay out of the race, that is? The second oddity is the data itself. The 12-point difference in Whitmer's share as between the two matchups suggests that Craig, who's never run for office before, has an ability to win over Democratic voters so strong as to be almost unique in American politics today.

This extremely bifurcated take also stands in contrast to an independent poll last month from Target Insyght for the local tipsheet MIRS News, which found Whitmer up 48-42 on Craig and 49-39 on James. We'll need more polling before we can get a better sense of where things stand, but in today's extremely polarized political environment, the results from Target Insyght make much more sense than those from Competitive Edge.

NJ-Gov: Just hours before polls closed in the Garden State for Tuesday's primary, Rutgers University's Eagleton Institute of Politics released a poll of a matchup between Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and former Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli that showed Murphy comfortably ahead 52-26. The survey found 10% of respondents undecided and an additional 11% who declined to choose either candidate.

The poll only pitted Murphy against Ciattarelli, a matchup that's no longer hypothetical since Ciattarelli secured the GOP nod with 49% of the vote on Tuesday and Murphy faced no intra-party opposition.

OR-Gov: Businesswoman Jessica Gomez has joined next year's race for governor, making her the second notable candidate to seek the Republican nod after 2016 nominee Bud Pierce. Gomez has run for office once before, losing an open-seat race for the state Senate to Democrat Jeff Golden 55-45 in 2018.

PA-Gov: The Associated Press reports that Republican strategist Charlie Gerow is considering a bid for governor, though there's no quote from Gerow himself. Gerow's run for office twice before, losing bids in the GOP primary for Pennsylvania's old 19th Congressional District in both 1996 and 2000. (The closest successor to the 19th is the present-day 10th District, as both are centered around York and Cumberland counties.)

VA-Gov: With the general election matchup between former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin now set, Youngkin immediately began attacking his opponent, releasing two ads the day after McAuliffe clinched his party's nod.

The first commercial prominently features former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, who finished second in the Democratic primary, and shows several clips of her criticizing McAuliffe. Youngkin appears at the end to call himself "a new kind of leader to bring a new day to Virginia". However, before the ad even had a chance to air, Carroll Foy had already unambiguously endorsed McAuliffe's bid for a second term as governor.  

The second spot follows a similar theme of a "new day". It begins showing a legion of grey-haired white men in suits while Youngkin's voiceover decries "the same politicians taking us in the wrong direction". Youngkin, a younger, less-grey white man wearing a vest, then appears amid the crowd to describe the policies he would pursue as governor.

House

TX-08: Republican state Sen. Brandon Creighton, who previously hadn't ruled out a bid for Texas' open 8th Congressional District, says he won't run for the seat held by retiring GOP Rep. Kevin Brady.

Legislatures

NJ State Senate, Where Are They Now?: Michael Pappas, a Republican who represented New Jersey in the U.S. House for a single term from 1997 to 1999, won Tuesday's state Senate primary for the open 16th Legislative District by a 65-35 margin. Pappas will take on Democratic Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker for an open GOP-held seat in the west-central part of the state that Hillary Clinton carried 55-41.

Pappas earned his brief moment in the political spotlight in 1998 when he took to the House floor to deliver an ode to the special prosecutor probing the Clinton White House that began, "Twinkle, twinkle, Kenneth Starr/ Now we see how brave you are." Politicos would later blame that bit of awful poetry for Pappas' 50-47 defeat against Democrat Rush Holt that fall. Pappas tried to return to Congress in 2000, but he lost the primary to former Rep. Dick Zimmer, who in turn lost to Holt.

Special elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's special election in New Hampshire:

NH-HD-Merrimack 23: Democrat Muriel Hall defeated Republican Christopher Lins 58-42 to hold this seat for her party. Hall improved on Joe Biden's 55-44 win in this suburban Concord district last year, which was the best showing of any of the last three Democratic presidential nominees.

Republicans control this chamber 213-186, with one other seat vacant.

Mayors

Atlanta, GA Mayor: Former Mayor Kasim Reed filed paperwork Wednesday to set up a campaign to regain his old office, and while he has yet to make an announcement, there's little question he'll be on this year's ballot.

Local NBC reporter Shiba Russell tweeted that Reed "could officially announce he plans to enter the race" at a Thursday birthday fundraiser, a message the ex-mayor retweeted. If Reed wins this fall, he would be the first Atlanta mayor to secure a third term since the city's first-ever Black leader, Maynard Jackson, won back this office in 1989.

Reed himself had no trouble winning re-election the last time he was on the ballot in 2013 (term limits prevented him from seeking a third consecutive term in 2017), but a federal corruption investigation that ultimately resulted in bribery convictions for two senior city officials generated plenty of bad headlines during the end of his tenure. The matter isn't over, as Reed's former chief financial administration officer and director of human services are currently under indictment but unlikely to go on trial before this year's election.

Last month, Channel 2's Dave Huddleston asked Reed whether he was under investigation, to which the former mayor replied, "The Justice Department under [former Attorney General] Bill Barr has looked into every aspect of my life for more than three years and took no action." The former mayor also said of the scandals involving his old staffers, "Anything on my watch, I take responsibility for," adding, "I'm sorry I didn't see it faster."

Reed himself used that interview to argue that he could tackle Atlanta's rising crime rate if he returned to office, declaring, "I do know how to fix crime, and I do know I could turn our crime environment around in 180 days, and I know that I've done it before."

A number of fellow Democrats are already campaigning in this November's nonpartisan primary to succeed incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms, who shocked the city last month when she decided not to seek a second term, and others could still get in ahead of the August filing deadline. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Tharon Johnson, whom the paper identifies as a "veteran Democratic strategist and businessman," is one of the prospective contenders thinking about running.

Boston, MA Mayor: This week, state Rep. Jon Santiago became the first candidate to air TV commercials ahead of the September nonpartisan primary; Politico's Lisa Kashinsky says his "six-figure ad buy is for two 30-second spots that will air on the city's cable systems and Spanish-language broadcast."

Both Santiago's English and Spanish spots focus on his work as an emergency room physician and military service, with the narrator in the former ad asking, "You want a mayor who's got a pulse on Boston and its problems, literally?"

New York City, NY Mayor: Attorney Maya Wiley picked up an endorsement Wednesday from Public Advocate Jumaane Williams ahead of the June 22 Democratic primary. Williams, who was elected in 2019 as an ardent progressive, is one of just three citywide elected officials: The others are termed-out Mayor Bill de Blasio and one of Wiley's rivals, city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Morning Digest: Surprising census data shows Sun Belt states gaining fewer House seats than expected

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

Reapportionment: On Monday, the Census Bureau released long-awaited data from the 2020 census showing which states will gain seats in the House for the coming decade and which will see their congressional delegations shrink. In all, 13 states will feel the impact of population changes over the past 10 years, with six adding seats and seven losing representatives. These shifts are all reflected in the map above (with a larger version available here), but they contain several surprises compared to projections based on recent growth trends.

In a continuation of long-standing patterns, most of the increases in representation will be concentrated in Sun Belt states, with Texas once again leading the way in gaining two seats. However, while Florida looked likely to grow by two seats, it will only add one, and Arizona, which forecasts showed tacking on another seat, won't pick up any.

Conversely, losses will largely show up in states in the Midwest and Northeast, though New York avoided shedding two seats and came just 89 people away from standing pat. California, meanwhile, will experience its first decline in seats in state history. Montana, which lost a seat after the 1990 census, will once more send two members to Washington, D.C., though Rhode Island, which appeared to be on track to end up with just a single at-large district, will hang on to both of its seats.

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These shifts also affect the number of votes each state gets in the Electoral College, though they would not have altered the outcome of last year's presidential election and instead would have narrowed Joe Biden's 306-232 win slightly to 303-235. But the biggest impacts of the census won't be known until congressional redistricting is complete, a process that, thanks to delays in the production of necessary data, won't begin until August at the earliest and will likely last through a good part of next year.

We do know, however, that Republicans will once again dominate the redistricting process, just as they did following the 2010 census: As shown on this map, GOP lawmakers in the states will be able to draw new maps for anywhere from 38% to 46% of all districts while Democrats will control the process for just 16% of seats (the remainder will likely be drawn by nonpartisan entities or through bipartisan compromise). To stay on top of the mapmaking process as it unfolds, subscribe to our free weekly newsletter, the Voting Rights Roundup.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters hasn't even publicly expressed interest in a Senate bid yet, but Politico reports that hasn't stopped his Republican mega donor boss, billionaire Peter Thiel, from dumping $10 million into a super PAC to support him. Thiel recently made a similar investment on behalf of venture capitalist J.D. Vance, a likely GOP Senate candidate in Ohio.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, has reportedly been attempting to convince Gov. Doug Ducey to change his mind and run against Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly after all, but Donald Trump is certainly not making McConnell's job any easier. The Daily Beast writes that Trump, who remains furious with the governor for not going along with his attempt to steal Arizona's electoral votes, has "told associates he would gladly and personally spoil any of Ducey's future political plans."

Trump even reportedly ranted that he'd go and campaign for Kelly if Ducey won the GOP nomination, a threat that, while few believe Trump would actually follow through on, shows just how much he despises his one-time ally. We may never find out just how far Trump would go, though, as the conservative Washington Examiner said last week that Ducey "continues to wave off the encouragement from fellow Republicans" to run.

GA-Sen, GA-Gov: Former Republican Rep. Doug Collins said Monday that he wouldn't run for anything in 2022. Collins, who gave up his seat in the House last year to unsuccessfully run for the Senate, had previously talked about campaigning against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock or waging a primary bid against Gov. Brian Kemp.

OH-Sen, OH-13: It's really happened: Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan has launched a campaign for Ohio's open U.S. Senate seat. Ryan, who is close to labor and had $1 million in the bank at the end of March, is the first major candidate to announce a bid for Team Blue, and he'll likely be the frontrunner in a primary. He'd face a tough general election battle, though, in a former swing state that supported Donald Trump by a wide 53-45 margin last year.

Still, the congressman and his allies are hoping that Ryan, who has represented the Youngstown area in Congress since 2003, will be able to win back the type of working class voters who backed the Democratic ticket until the Trump era. He very much seemed to be aiming his opening message at this demographic, declaring, "Ohioans are working harder than ever, they're doing everything right, and they're still falling behind."

Ryan himself has also managed to decisively hold the 13th Congressional District, which backed Barack Obama 63-35 in 2012 but only supported Joe Biden 51-48, despite its ugly trend to the right. Still, his 52-45 showing last cycle was by far the narrowest victory in his 10 House campaigns.

Ryan has, until now, explored running for statewide office numerous times only to stay in the House, but his congressional district may not exist for much longer. Ryan made his announcement hours before the Census confirmed that Ohio would be losing a seat. Ohio Republicans also will more or less have free rein to draw the new congressional maps as they please despite the passage in 2018 of a supposedly reform-minded constitutional amendment, and they very well could leave Ryan's would-be Democratic successors without a friendly constituency to campaign for.

PA-Sen, PA-Gov: The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jonathan Tamari relays that Republican Rep. Mike Kelly or his team have told at least two of his colleagues that he'll seek re-election rather than run for Senate or for governor.

Governors

FL-Gov: Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist recently created a political committee that allows him to raise money for a potential bid for governor.

NV-Gov: North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee didn't rule out a run for governor earlier this month just before he left the Democratic Party to join the Republicans, and political columnist Jim Hartman writes that he's indeed considering taking on Democratic incumbent Steve Sisolak. Hartman also adds that 2018 nominee Adam Laxalt has turned his attention to a possible campaign against Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and doesn't appear interested in another campaign against Sisolak.

SC-Gov, SC-01: Former Rep. Joe Cunningham announced Monday that he would seek the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Gov. Henry McMaster rather than try to regain his old House seat along the South Carolina coast, which Republicans are poised to redraw in redistricting and could make much redder.

Cunningham lost his bid for a second term by a narrow 51-49 to Republican Nancy Mace last year as Donald Trump was taking the 1st District 52-46, and he'll face a decidedly uphill climb in a state that Trump won by a much-larger 55-43 spread. Still, Democrats are hoping that two uninterrupted decades of GOP governors, as well as a potentially competitive Republican primary, could give them an opening to score their first statewide win since 2006.

Cunningham is McMaster's only notable opponent from either party so far, but a few Republicans have shown some interest in taking on the governor. The most vocal member of this group is businessman John Warren, who lost the 2018 runoff to McMaster 54-46 and didn't rule out a rematch back in January.

VA-Gov: The Virginia Republican Party will be choosing its statewide nominees at its May 8 convention, but the Washington Post's Laura Vozzella says it will likely take "several days" to learn the winners. The party's State Central Committee voted Sunday to begin a hand-count of the ballots starting the day after the gathering, a lengthy process that involves instant-runoff tabulations; Vozzella adds, "Votes will be weighted based on each locality's performance in past GOP contests."

House

LA-02: The all-Democratic special election runoff for Louisiana's vacant 2nd Congressional District saw state Sen. Troy Carter defeat fellow state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson 55-45 on Saturday. Carter will succeed Cedric Richmond, who resigned from this New Orleans-area district in January to take a post in the Biden White House.

Many national observers saw the contest between Carter and Peterson (who are not related) as a battle between moderates and progressives. Both New Orleans-based legislators campaigned as ardent Democrats, but Peterson, who would have been the first Black woman to represent Louisiana in Congress, argued she was the more liberal of the two. Notably, while Peterson emphatically backed the Green New Deal, Carter would only call it "a good blueprint" and said he didn't support the plan. Carter, in turn, insisted he'd have an easier time working with Republicans in Congress than Peterson.

Carter did in fact earn the support of some prominent Republicans, including Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng, but he also had endorsements from Richmond himself and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking Black member of the House. Peterson, for her part, enjoyed the backing of Gary Chambers, a vocal progressive who took a strong third place in the first round of voting in March, as well as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and she also benefited from $1.2 million in runoff spending from EMILY's List.

However, other factors at work complicate the narrative that Carter's victory was a win for the establishment over progressive outsiders. To begin with, both Carter and Peterson have served in elected office since the 1990s, and Peterson even chaired the state Democratic Party from 2012 until just last year.

In a marker of their political longevity, both candidates also competed against one another for a previous version of this seat 15 years ago. Carter took a distant fifth in the all-party primary, while Peterson went on to lose a runoff to then-Rep. Bill Jefferson; Carter would unsuccessfully run again two years later.

Stephanie Grace of the New Orleans Advocate also notes that Carter had the support of very influential liberal politicians in New Orleans, an area that made up just over half the vote in Saturday's election. Among those in Carter's corner were Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams, a progressive reformer who won his seat last year by beating a Peterson-backed opponent, as well as City Council President Helena Moreno. And while both candidates supported LGBTQ rights, Grace notes that Carter's "longtime advocacy made him the favorite for much of that community."

Local New Orleans political divides also likely played a big role in the end result. Peterson is a leader in the Black Organization for Leadership Development (BOLD), a longtime power-player in the Crescent City that has often clashed with Richmond and his allies. Both sides ran up some major wins and losses in the 2019 legislative elections, and if anything, Saturday's runoff was a continuation of that long-running battle—one in which the Richmond-Carter bloc came out decisively on top.

Peterson had needed a good showing in Orleans Parish, which is coterminous with the city of New Orleans, to make up for her losses in the rest of the district, but Carter instead carried it 53-47.

NJ-11: The New Jersey Globe mentions former Monmouth County Commissioner Christine Myers as a possible Republican opponent for Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill, though there's no word on her interest. Myers' name came up here in 2018 and 2020, but she opted to remain at the Small Business Administration during both cycles. Myers, though, was one of the many Trump appointees who recently lost their post in the federal government.

NY-24: The Conservative Party in Onondaga County, which makes up most of New York's 24th Congressional District, says it won't endorse Republican Rep. John Katko next year, putting the congressman at risk of losing a ballot line that's played a key role in sustaining his political career. Katko had previously lost the support of Conservatives in the other three counties in the district—Oswego, Cayuga, and Wayne—though the ultimate decision will fall to state party chair Jerry Kassar, who previously said Katko is "in trouble" and reportedly plans to defer to local leaders.

Katko has received a great deal of attention—and, from Donald Trump loyalists, scorn—for his vote to impeach Trump in January, but that's not the only issue putting him at odds with the Conservative Party. Die-hards are also pissed that he backed the Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ rights, and that he voted to boot Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her committee assignments due to her violent rhetoric. However, Katko also voted for the Equality Act in 2019 and still retained the Conservative Party's support the next year, so there may be time to repair the relationship.

Katko will certainly hope so: In 2018, he defeated Democrat Dana Balter by 13,694 votes—fewer than the 16,972 he received on the Conservative line. While his victory wasn't dependent on that line in his 2020 rematch with Balter, Katko might not be so lucky next year, especially if Democrats target him in redistricting.

Onondaga Conservatives say they'll ask Kassar to either leave the party's line blank or endorse someone else in 2022. The latter option could prove particularly self-defeating, but it's a tack not unfamiliar to right-wing extremists in New York: Republicans lost a special election in 2009 in what was then the 23rd Congressional District after the GOP and the Conservative Party nominated different candidates, allowing Democrat Bill Owens to flip a seat that had been red since the 19th century.

OH-01: Franklin Mayor Brent Centers recently filed paperwork with the FEC, but the Republican isn't ready to launch a bid for Congress yet. Centers recently told the National Journal's Kirk Bado that he wasn't making any decisions until he sees Ohio's new congressional map, though he added that he wanted to run for the seat in the Cincinnati suburbs.

The mayor also said of Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, who appears to be his most likely opponent, "After 25 years, we need new energy. I would hope he retires." Chabot, however, has insisted time after time that he's not going anywhere.

OH-15: Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday announced the dates of the special election to succeed Rep. Steve Stivers, a fellow Republican who will resign May 16 in order to lead the state Chamber of Commerce. The filing deadline will be the following day, May 17. The primary and general will be Aug. 3 and Nov. 2, respectively, the same as the dates for the special for the 11th District.

TX-06: Republican activist Susan Wright picked up an endorsement Monday from Donald Trump less than a week ahead of the May 1 all-party primary to succeed her late husband, Rep. Ron Wright.

Trump made his not-tweet days after his camp publicly called out former wrestler Dan Rodimer for claiming, "Our campaign is the only one that has ever been endorsed by President Trump in this race." Trump did indeed back Rodimer last year when he was the GOP nominee for Congress―in Nevada.

Legislative

Special Elections: There was a special election on Saturday in Louisiana and there is also one on tap for Tuesday in Connecticut. First up is our recap:

LA-HD-82: Republican Laurie Schlegel defeated fellow party member Eddie Connick 52-48 in a runoff election to win this suburban New Orleans district. Schlegel was able to reverse her fortunes from the first round of voting, which Connick led 40-36.

This chamber is now at full strength with Republicans in control 68-35 (there are two independent members).

CT-HD-145: This is a Democratic district in Stamford that became vacant when former Rep. Patricia Miller was elected to the state Senate in a special election in March. Democrat Corey Paris is taking on Republican J.D. Ospina, and both candidates have run for office before; Paris waged a bid for a state House seat in the Bridgeport area in 2018 but failed to make the ballot, while Ospina ran for this seat in 2020, losing to Miller 77-23.  

This is a strongly Democratic district that backed Hillary Clinton 80-17 in 2016. Democrats currently control this chamber 96-54, with just this seat vacant.

Mayors

New York City, NY Mayor: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams unveiled an endorsement Monday from Ruben Diaz Jr., his counterpart in the Bronx, for the June instant-runoff Democratic primary. Diaz, who is one of the more prominent Latinos in city politics, surprised almost all political observers last year when he decided not to wage his own campaign for mayor.

Other Races

CA-AG: Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert on Monday announced a campaign against Democratic incumbent Rob Bonta, who was confirmed to this post just last week. Schubert, a former Republican who became an independent in 2018, attracted national attention for her role in apprehending the Golden State Killer in 2016, and she would be the first gay person elected to this post.

Schubert presented herself as a counter to two prominent California criminal justice reformers who recently won district attorney races, Los Angeles County's George Gascón and San Francisco's Chesa Boudin. She joins a top-two primary that includes Republican Nathan Hochman, a former federal prosecutor who is running on similar themes.  

VA-LG: On Monday, Del. Hala Ayala picked up an endorsement from Gov. Ralph Northam ahead of the June 8 Democratic primary. Ayala, whose 2017 win made her one of the first Latinas to serve in the state House, would be the first woman of color elected statewide in Virginia. She faces five rivals for the nomination, including three with significantly more cash-on-hand than her.

Morning Digest: Check out our roundup of 1Q 2021 fundraising reports for the House and Senate

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

1Q Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to unveil our new charts rounding up first-quarter fundraising for the House and Senate. Our data includes the numbers for every incumbent (excluding those who've said they're not seeking re-election) and notable announced or potential candidates.

Early fundraising reports give us our first glimpse at which candidates have the ability to raise the serious sums needed to run for Congress. However, what matters isn't necessarily who's outraising whom but rather which contenders will have the resources to get their message out and which ones won't.

It's not uncommon for candidates to win primaries or general elections despite being dramatically outspent. But what is uncommon is for them to win without having the money to run ads, hire a skilled staff, build a field operation, and pay for all the other things it takes to run a credible race. And of course, it costs much more to air ads in some markets than others, so what might look like a decent fundraising haul in North Dakota can be underwhelming in New Jersey.

Campaign Action

While these opening totals are important, by no means do they tell us everything. Many hopefuls in past cycles have posted underwhelming early numbers only to haul in stronger totals as Election Day draws closer. That's been especially true in the last two election cycles, when we've regularly seen grassroots donors, especially on the Democratic side, flock to newly-minted nominees in competitive races and help them raise sums that not long ago would have been unimaginable.

The 2022 cycle is also particularly unpredictable because of the upcoming round of redistricting. Most House candidates do not yet know exactly where they'll be running, and some will wind up facing off against different opponents once new maps are finally in place. Many other would-be contenders are taking a wait-and-see approach, so it's likely we'll see a flurry of new campaigns launched later this year.

There's a lot to see, so check out our House and Senate charts.

Senate

AZ-Sen, AZ-Gov: While Grand Canyon State politicos have long expected Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich to run for governor in 2022, David Drucker of the conservative Washington Examiner writes that he's now leaning towards challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly instead. Brnovich himself has yet to say anything publicly about this contest.

Brnovich's reported interest in the Senate race comes months after Gov. Doug Ducey, whom the attorney general has clashed with in the past, announced that he would not run. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has tried to get Ducey to reconsider, but Drucker relays that the governor "continues to wave off the encouragement from fellow Republicans."

There are a number of other Republicans who could challenge Kelly, and Drucker name-drops former Ambassador to Mexico Chris Landau as a possibility. There is no word on Landau's interest in this contest.

CA-Sen: This week, appointed Sen. Alex Padilla unveiled endorsements from 40 of California's 42 Democratic House members in his bid for a full term. The only two who aren't currently supporting the incumbent are Rep. Ro Khanna, who has not ruled out an intra-party challenge, and Rep. Maxine Waters, whom Politico says "could endorse Padilla shortly."

MO-Sen: Republican Rep. Jason Smith responded to Sen. Roy Blunt's retirement a month ago by saying he'd be considering in "the coming days" whether to run to succeed him, but like so many politicians before him, Smith has disregarded that timeline. When CNN asked the congressman Monday when he'd be making up his mind, Smith responded, "Not for a while."

OH-Sen: We'll get right to it: Josh Mandel announced he'd raised $1.3 million for the quarter when he actually brought in just $33,000 for his campaign. Indeed Mandel, a Republican who ostensibly spent eight years as treasurer of Ohio, actually lost money during this time, though thanks to leftover cash from his aborted 2018 Senate bid, he still had $4.2 million on-hand.

So, where did that $1.3 million number come from? Seth Richardson of Cleveland.com writes that Mandel raised that much through a joint fundraising committee that consisted of his campaign, his PAC, and the Delaware County Republican Party. Richardson, though, notes that Mandel can't take in all that money for his campaign: Even his spokesperson says that they'll only get about $700,000, or a little more than half. Adds Richardson, "He did not say why Mandel opted to fundraise using the committee instead of his campaign."

Another Republican, former state party chair Jane Timken, took in $1.1 million from donors and loaned her campaign an additional $1 million. Timken, like many wealthy contenders, did not distinguish between the money she'd raised and the amount she self-funded when she announced her $2.1 million haul earlier this month, but unlike Mandel, she at least can spend all that cash.

Governors

CA-Gov: Former reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner used Twitter on Sunday to publicly express interest for the first time in competing as a Republican in this year's likely recall election against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. Jenner added that she would "decide soon."

MD-Gov: Former U.S. Secretary of Education John King announced Tuesday that he would seek the Democratic nomination for this open seat. King, who would be the state's first Black governor, joins a primary that currently consists of state Comptroller Peter Franchot and former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain, though plenty of others are considering getting in.

King, who is running for office for the first time, became the Obama administration's second and final secretary of education in 2016 after a previous stint as New York's education commissioner. King went on to lead The Education Trust, a nonprofit focused on closing education gaps among students of color.

ME-Gov: While former Gov. Paul LePage appeared to unequivocally announce last November that he was challenging his successor, Democratic incumbent Janet Mills, the Bangor Daily News writes that many of his fellow Republicans still aren't certain if he'll run. It's not hard to see where the confusion comes from: Last year, LePage's political strategist, Brent Littlefield, said he had no "impending or planned announcement," and Littlefield added Monday that the former governor, "has no announcement to make."

Still, everyone in Maine politics seems to agree that the GOP nomination is LePage's if he wants it. No other notable Republicans have expressed interest, and this week, his allies in the state party leadership waived a rule that would have prevented the Maine GOP from helping candidates before the primary is over.

NE-Gov: Republican state Sen. John Stinner said this week that running for governor is "not a serious consideration right now," and while that's not quite a no, he still sounds very unlikely to get in. The western Nebraska legislator said he was "just getting too old to play the game" and added that he doubted that a candidate from his section of the state could raise enough money or win enough votes to prevail.

NY-Gov: Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a new criminal investigation by state Attorney General Tish James into allegations that he used state resources to help write and publicize his book, "American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic," last year. The matter was referred by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to James, who by law can only investigate criminal matters when asked to do so by other state or local officials.

Cuomo, who reportedly earned a $4 million advance from Crown Publishing Group, did not dispute that state employees had worked on his book, including editing drafts and printing manuscripts, but claims they did so voluntarily. A Cuomo spokesperson attacked the investigation itself, saying, "Both the comptroller and the attorney general have spoken to people about running for governor, and it is unethical to wield criminal referral authority to further political self-interest‎." Cuomo, James, and DiNapoli are all Democrats.

Meanwhile, several actual and potential GOP candidates for governor recently addressed a meeting of county-level party leaders from across the state, including Rep. Lee Zeldin, the most prominent declared Republican to enter the race so far. Also on the list of speakers, though, was a name we hadn't seen mentioned before, former state housing commissioner Joe Holland, who served under Gov. George Pataki. Holland briefly ran for governor in 2018 before dropping out, then sought the Republican nomination for attorney general but declined to run in the primary after losing to attorney Keith Wofford at the GOP convention.

TX-Gov: The Dallas Morning News generated plenty of attention over the weekend when it released a UT Tyler poll showing actor Matthew McConaughey leading Republican Gov. Greg Abbott 45-33 in a hypothetical general election, but there's a big reason to be skeptical that the Oscar winner would start out with anything like that advantage if he ran.

The survey did not include the party affiliation for either man, instead simply asking, "Matthew McConaughey has been talked about as a potential candidate for Governor of Texas. If he ran, would you be likely to support him more than Governor Abbott?" That omission makes it tough to draw any conclusions from this survey, especially since the self-described "aggressively centrist" McConaughey has refused to say what party banner, if any, he'd run under.

If McConaughey campaigns as a Democrat, it's likely that many of the respondents who opt for him now (including the 30% of the Republicans in the sample) simply would no longer consider him as a viable option. And should McConaughey instead campaign as an independent, he'd almost certainly face a Democratic opponent who would take many anti-Abbott votes from him. The dynamics of the race would also be dramatically different if McConaughey decided to run in a Republican primary against Abbott.

McConaughey himself has talked about running for governor but hasn't taken any obvious steps towards running, so we may never find out how he'd do under any of these scenarios. However, there's still an important lesson to be drawn here about the importance of including party affiliation (or noting the lack of it) in horserace surveys, even ones looking at very hypothetical races like this one. As we've written before, if a pollster doesn't include this, then they're leaving out important information and failing to accurately mimic the way voters will make their choices when they actually cast their ballots.

House

CA-21: While former Rep. TJ Cox announced in December that he'd seek a rematch against Republican incumbent David Valadao, the Democrat said Monday that he wouldn't decide on any 2022 plans until he sees the new congressional map.

FL-20: Democratic state Rep. Bobby DuBose announced Tuesday that he would run in the still-unscheduled special election to succeed the late Rep. Alcee Hastings. DuBose, who serves as his party's co-leader in the lower chamber, is a veteran elected official in the Fort Lauderdale area. The Florida Sun-Sentinel notes that another declared primary candidate, state Sen. Perry Thurston, also represents much of the same area as DuBose, so they could end up competing for the same base of geographic support.

Another Democrat, former Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, also recently filed with the FEC, though she doesn't appear to have publicly announced yet. Taylor was last on the ballot in 2019 when she took last place with 20% in the three-way race for mayor of West Palm Beach.

MN-02: Marine veteran Tyler Kistner, who was the 2020 Republican nominee, announced Tuesday that he would seek a rematch against Democratic Rep. Angie Craig. Kistner is the first major Republican to announce a campaign against Craig in a state where neither party has control over redistricting.

Kistner spent much of last cycle looking like the underdog in a suburban Twin Cities seat that had backed Donald Trump 47-45 in 2016 but had moved to the left two years later. Kistner raised a serious amount of money in the final months, though, and the race took an unexpected turn in October when it was briefly postponed following the death of Legal Marijuana Party Now candidate Adam Weeks. Biden ultimately took the 2nd District 52-46, but Craig won by a smaller 48-46 margin, with Weeks posthumously taking 6%.

OH-15: Rep. Steve Stivers' Monday resignation announcement took the Buckeye State political world by surprise, but the field to succeed him has already started to take shape. Trump carried Ohio's 15th District, which includes the southern Columbus area and the college town of Athens, by a 56-42 margin.

On the GOP side, state Rep. Brian Stewart and state Sen. Bob Peterson each announced Monday that they were running in the upcoming special election. Stewart, who like Stivers is an Iraq War veteran, is a first-term state representative, while Peterson was first elected to the legislature during the 2010 GOP wave.

Both men may have company in the primary before long. State Rep. Jeff LaRe said Monday he was "extremely interested and very serious," while Mehek Cooke, who served as an attorney for the administration of now-former Gov. John Kasich, also said she was thinking about it. The Columbus Dispatch's Laura Bischoff reports that state Sen. Stephanie Kunze and Tim Schaffer are also considering.

For the Democrats, state Sen. Tina Maharath; state Reps. Allison Russo and Adam Miller; Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano; and Upper Arlington City Councilmember John Kulewicz each told Bischoff they were thinking about getting in; Stinziano added that he'd decide as soon as he could. Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein also has not ruled out a bid. Cleveland.com additionally mentions former state Sen. Lou Gentile and ex-Rep. Zack Space as possibilities.

It will be some time before the dates for the special can be set, though. Stivers announced Monday that his resignation would be effective May 16, and GOP Gov. Mike DeWine's office says the contest to succeed him can't be scheduled until the seat is officially vacant.

TX-06: Campaign finance reports are in ahead of the May 1 all-party primary for the period covering Jan. 1 to April 11, and we've collected the numbers for all the candidates in our quarterly House fundraising chart. The seven Democrats who filed a report reported bringing in a total of $915,000, while the six Republicans hauled in a combined $1.6 million.

The top fundraiser on either side was GOP state Rep. Jake Ellzey, who took in $504,000 from donors. Next was former Department of Health and Human Services official Brian Harrison, a fellow Republican who raised $356,000 from donors and self-funded an additional $285,000.

Harrison, who deployed $258,000 during this time, was also the top spender of the race; two Democrats, 2018 nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez and education advocate Shawn Lassiter, each outpaced the rest of the field by spending just over $200,000. The candidate who had the most money left on April 11 was Ellzey, who led Harrison $400,000 to $383,000 in cash-on-hand.

GOP activist Susan Wright, who is the wife of the late Rep. Ron Wright, has taken one of the top two spots in the few polls we've seen, but she doesn't have access to as much money as many of her rivals. Wright raised $286,000 and spent $158,000, and she had $128,000 for the final weeks.

Mayors

New York City, NY Mayor: The United Federation of Teachers, which was the last major union in city politics to make an endorsement in the June Democratic primary, backed City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Monday. Attorney Maya Wiley previously earned the endorsement of the health care union 1199 SEIU, while Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has the Hotel Trades Council, 32BJ, and DC37 (which represent hotel workers, building and airport employees, and municipal workers, respectively) in his corner.

Meanwhile, Rep. Gregory Meeks, a longtime congressman from Queens, has thrown his support behind former financial executive Raymond McGuire.

Obituaries

Deaths: Walter Mondale, a Democrat who represented Minnesota in the Senate from 1964 until just after he was elected vice president in 1976, died Monday at the age of 93. Mondale is most remembered for being the first truly influential vice president in modern American history and for his 1984 loss to Ronald Reagan, but, as is our wont at Daily Kos Elections, we'll devote ourselves to taking stock of his downballot political career.

Mondale got his start in politics in 1948 when Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey was campaigning to unseat Republican Sen. Joseph Ball. Mondale served as Humphrey’s organizer in the southern part of the state, and he became close to both the candidate and his campaign manager, Orville Freeman. Humphrey decisively won, and the connections Mondale made during that race would serve him well at a time when Democrats were making gains in what had been a Republican dominated state.

Freeman became governor in the 1950s, and he appointed the 32-year-old Mondale in 1960 to fill the vacant post of state attorney general. Mondale defended the post 58-42 that year, and he was re-elected in 1962 by an even larger margin. During his tenure, Mondale led an amicus brief in support of Clarence Gideon, who had been forced to represent himself when he couldn’t afford a lawyer; in 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the landmark Gideon v. Wainwright decision that established that all defendants had the right to legal counsel.

Mondale was appointed to the Senate in 1964 by Gov. Karl Rolvaag to succeed Humphrey, who had just been elected vice president on Lyndon Johnson’s ticket, and he was up for a full term two years later. This was a tough cycle for Democrats nationwide in large part because of the increasing unpopularity of the Vietnam War, but Mondale prevailed 54-45 even as Rolvaag was losing re-election.

Mondale’s colleague, George McGovern, asked him to be his running mate in 1972 after Ted Kennedy declined, but he also turned the South Dakota senator down. Mondale instead sought re-election and prevailed 57-43 even as Richard Nixon was carrying Minnesota 52-46, which marked the last time the state’s electoral votes wound up in the GOP column.

Mondale considered a presidential run in 1973 only to decide not to. Mondale later wrote, “I had pulled about even with 'None of the Above' in national opinion surveys, and I dropped that bid — to widespread applause.” Mondale, though, would be on the national ticket in 1976 as Jimmy Carter’s running mate.

Mondale’s time in state politics seemed to be over following his ascension to the vice presidency and subsequent 1980 re-election loss, as well as his landslide defeat to Reagan in 1984. In 1990, some Democratic leaders tried to recruit him to challenge Republican Sen. Rudy Boschwitz but he declined, arguing the party needed new voices; Boschwitz would go on to lose to Democrat Paul Wellstone, while Mondale would later serve as Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Japan.

Mondale, though, would compete in one more election. Wellstone died in a plane crash 11 days before the 2002 election, and party leaders chose the former vice president as their replacement candidate. Democrats were in for another tough cycle thanks to George W. Bush’s popularity following the Sept. 11 attacks and the leadup to the invasion of Iraq, and this time, Mondale wasn’t able to run ahead of the tides during his six days as a candidate.

Allies of Republican Norm Coleman, who had been locked in a close race with Wellstone, loudly argued that Team Blue had turned the senator’s funeral into a partisan event, a tactic that likely harmed the new nominee’s prospects. Coleman triumphed 50-47 in what was Mondale’s only defeat in his home state, a defeat that when combined with his 1984 presidential loss also gave Mondale the unwelcome distinction of being the only person in American history to lose an election in all 50 states as a nominee of one of the two major parties, a feat that looks very unlikely to be repeated by anyone for the foreseeable future.