Morning Digest: Why we won’t know the winner of New York’s mayoral primaries for weeks

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

Leading Off

New York City, NY Mayor: A final poll from Ipsos ahead of Tuesday's instant-runoff Democratic primary in New York City shows Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in a strong position to secure his party's nomination, in contrast with other recent polls that have shown one of his top rivals, former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, prevailing in the end. But regardless of who's leading, it may not be until mid-July until we know who's actually won—more on that in a bit.

First, the new survey, which gives Adams the lead with 28% when it comes to voters' first-choice preferences, while 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang edges out Garcia 20-15 for second. This is the strongest performance in some time for Yang, the one-time frontrunner, but it's not good enough: Ipsos shows Adams beating him by a wide 56-44 spread in the seventh and final round of ranked-choice tabulations.

We've seen a few other polls in the last few weeks, and while they all agree that Adams is in striking distance to take the nomination, they're not united in designating him as the undisputed frontrunner. The best recent numbers for Adams prior to Ipsos' new data came from a Marist College poll conducted in early June that had him defeating Garcia 56-44 in the last round of tabulations.

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But those contrasted with Public Opinion Strategies' survey for the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, that found Garcia narrowly beating Adams 52-48 after ranked-choice tabulations were complete. The Democratic pollster Change Research, on behalf of a pro-Garcia super PAC, showed something very similar, with Garcia triumphing over Adams in the end by a slim 51-49 margin.

One big challenge for pollsters is that New York City will be the largest jurisdiction in America to ever hold an instant-runoff election, and no one, including the candidates, is quite sure what to expect. Vividly illustrating the terra incognita this new system is uncovering, Yang and Garcia made news over the weekend by campaigning together, an alliance that would never come about in a traditional primary.

The accord however, didn't quite amount to a formal coalition: While Yang implored his voters, "Rank me No. 1 and then rank Kathryn Garcia No. 2," Garcia didn't ask her supporters to make Yang their second choice. (It's not clear why Yang assented to such a one-sided arrangement, but Garcia says his team "absolutely knew what I was gonna say.")

The joint appearances drew a furious response from Adams, who spent his final days accusing his rivals of banding together to stop New York City from electing its second-ever Black mayor. Attorney Maya Wiley, who is also Black, had a very different response, expressing her support for ranked-choice voting and condemning Adams' description of the alliance as a form of "voter suppression."

No matter what, though, we're very unlikely to know for sure who's won the Democratic nomination until mid-July. While votes will be tabulated Tuesday after polls close at 9 PM ET for ballots cast in-person during the early voting period and on Election Day, mail-in votes will not be counted until the week of July 12. The New York City Board of Elections said last month that the delay is a result of a state law that allows absentee votes to be received for up to two weeks after Election Day, and for voters to fix any minor errors.

Ranked-choice tabulations will not occur on election night but will instead start June 29. You'll notice that this date is long before the count of mail ballots will begin, raising the obvious question of why anyone would bother tabulating any instant-runoff scenarios before all votes are counted, since they won't be representative of the full electorate. (If there's a good explanation, we haven't heard it.)

Instant-runoff voting is also being used in other city primaries, including races for comptroller, borough president, and City Council, many of which are open due to term limits. A big exception, though, is the crowded race for Manhattan district attorney: Because the post is a state-level office, the ballot measure New York City voters approved in 2019 to establish ranked-choice voting doesn't apply, so the victor only needs a plurality to prevail.

Key elections in the rest of the state, including the Democratic primary for mayor of Buffalo, are also being conducted with plurality rules, so there's a better chance we'll know the winners of these races somewhat earlier, though delays in processing mail ballots still apply.

Senate

AK-Sen: Donald Trump has endorsed former Alaska cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka in her quest to dethrone Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, whom Trump has long despised for her insufficient fealty. Tshibaka once wrote approvingly of "conversion therapy" and hasn't answered questions as to whether she still believes in the discredited practice herself. On a now-defunct personal blog, she also warned that the "Twilight" series of vampire books and movies "is evil and we should not read or watch it" because it "leaves us open to the enemy's attacks."

MO-Sen: Attorney Mark McCloskey, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Senate, pleaded guilty late last week to a misdemeanor assault charge after he and his wife brandished firearms at a group of Black Lives Matter demonstrators. McCloskey paid a $750 fine and surrendered the weapon he pointed at protestors last year, but he said immediately after his sentencing that "I'd do it again" and quickly purchased a new rifle that he proudly showed off on social media.

Meanwhile, it looks like we can rule out Republican Rep. Blaine Leutkemeyer for this race: A spokesperson told The Missourian that the congressman "has no interest in pursuing other offices."

NC-Sen: File this one under endorsements you don't want—if you're running in a GOP primary: Retiring Sen. Richard Burr, who was one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump at his second impeachment trial, just described former Gov. Pat McCrory as "the only one in the race that can win the general election" in next year's Senate race in North Carolina. It's not clear whether McCrory actually considers Burr's comments to be a formal statement of support, but the surest sign we can look for is whether rival campaigns try to use this against him at some point.

PA-Sen: Montgomery County Commission Chair Val Arkoosh earned an endorsement on Monday from EMILY's List ahead of next year's Democratic primary for this open seat. Arkoosh is the only woman running a serious campaign for Team Blue's nomination, and that looks unlikely to change now that Reps. Madeleine Dean and Chrissy Houlahan have both taken their names out of contention.

Governors

AL-Gov: State Auditor Jim Zeigler said Monday that he was forming an exploratory committee for a potential Republican primary campaign against Gov. Kay Ivey, but don't mark him down as a candidate yet. Zeigler took this very action back in 2018, but he ended up staying out of that contest for governor. The auditor said later that year that he'd formed an exploratory committee for a 2020 Senate race, but he never so much as filed FEC paperwork afterwards.

AZ-Gov: Former Rep. Matt Salmon unveiled an endorsement Monday from extremist Rep. Andy Biggs for next year's Republican primary. It's hardly a surprise that Biggs decided to back his predecessor in Congress: Back in 2016, Salmon issued a retirement announcement that caught almost everyone off guard except Biggs, who immediately entered the House race with Salmon's endorsement.

CA-Gov: Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is out with a trio of TV ads as part of what Politico says is a $3 million opening reservation ahead of the unscheduled recall vote, and while the first spot touts his accomplishments, the other two take aim at his many far-right enemies.

One commercial begins, "The same Trump Republicans who refuse to accept the presidential election are back, passing voter suppression laws across the country. Now, they've set their sights on California." As footage of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol plays, the narrator declares, "Different tactics, same assault on democracy."

The final ad, which is running in Spanish, makes many of the same arguments while also focusing on a figure closer to home. The narrator reminds viewers that a recall organizer named Orrin Heatlie wrote that his allies "supported tracking immigrants with microchips."

ID-Gov: Far-right anti-government militant Ammon Bundy, who unsuccessfully tried to file paperwork for a gubernatorial bid last month, has now officially kicked off his campaign for the GOP nomination. (For what it's worth, that filing snafu appears to be have been resolved, since Bundy's campaign is now listed as "Active" on the Idaho secretary of state's website.)

Bundy is best known for leading an armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016, in protest of federal land management policies. While other militants were convicted of charges in relation to the occupation, Bundy himself was acquitted. Yet despite his reputation, Bundy may not be the most extreme candidate in the race, since he's competing with Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin for the title. Both are challenging incumbent Gov. Brad Little, who has yet to declare for re-election.

MD-Gov: Nonprofit executive Jon Baron announced Monday that he was joining the crowded Democratic primary for this open seat. Baron, who formed an exploratory committee back in March, is a former official in the Clinton-era Department of Defense who went on to serve on boards and commissions during the Bush and Obama administrations, though this is his first run for office.

Baron later worked as vice president of Arnold Ventures, a group supported by a billionaire couple that describes its mission as "invest[ing] in evidence-based solutions that maximize opportunity and minimize injustice." The nonprofit was in the headlines last year after it launched a program where it attempted to reduce crime by flying drones over Baltimore; Baron says he had nothing to do with this controversial initiative, which ended after six months.

NJ-Gov: Farleigh Dickinson University has put out the first poll of New Jersey's gubernatorial race conducted after the June 8 primary and finds Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy up 48-33 on former Republican Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. A poll taken by Rutgers shortly before the primary had Murphy ahead 52-26.

OR-Gov: On Friday, Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla became the first elected official to announce a campaign for the Democratic nomination for this open seat. Kulla, who works as a farmer, won his first campaign in 2018 in his county, which is located southwest of Portland.

WI-Gov: Despite (or perhaps because of) her caginess, Wisconsin political observers have been quite certain for some time that former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch would challenge Democratic Gov. Tony Evers next year, and new remarks she made over the weekend have them more convinced than ever. At a gathering on Saturday night, Kleefisch referred to a slew of Republican voter suppression bills and said that, with a different governor in office, "I can tell you she will sign them on day one"—with an emphasis on the word "she," according to the Journal Times' Adam Rogan. Still, there's no word on when she might announce.

House

FL-07: A trio of Florida Republican congressmen have endorsed Army veteran Cory Mills' bid against Democratic incumbent Stephanie Murphy: Neal Dunn, Brian Mast, and Greg Steube.

GA-06: Republican Jake Evans announced Monday that he was resigning as chair of the Georgia ethics commission ahead of what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says is his anticipated campaign against Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath.

MO-04: On Thursday, Cass County Commissioner Ryan Johnson became the second Republican to enter the race to succeed incumbent Vicky Hartzler, who is giving up this safely red seat in the west-central part of the state to run for the Senate. Johnson joins former state Sen. Ed Emery in what could be a crowded contest.

Johnson, who is a veteran of the Army and Coast Guard, previously worked for another Missouri Republican congressman, Sam Graves, before he helmed the dark money group Missouri Alliance for Freedom. Johnson won elected office for the first time last year when he narrowly unseated an incumbent in the primary.

NM-02, Where Are They Now?: President Joe Biden announced Friday that he was nominating former Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small for a position at the Department of Agriculture, a move that ends speculation that she could instead try to retake her old seat from Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell. The current version of the 2nd District in southern New Mexico backed Donald Trump 55-43, but Democrats could shift it to the left now that they're in charge of the redistricting process for the first time in decades.

Attorneys General

TX-AG: Former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman announced Monday that she would take on scandal-plagued incumbent Ken Paxton in next year's Republican primary for attorney general.

Guzman, who was the first Latina to serve on the body, joins a nomination fight that also includes Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who has a terrible relationship with the party's nativist base. She refrained from going after Bush on his attempts to renovate the Alamo, though, and instead argued that she's the only Paxton challenger who has the experience and credibility to hold this post.

Guzman almost certainly lacks the name recognition of both her foes, though she did enter the race with an endorsement from Texans for Lawsuit Reform, which the Texas Tribune describes as "the powerful tort reform group that supported Paxton for attorney general in the 2014 and 2018 general elections." A primary runoff would take place if no one earns a majority of the vote in the first round.

Other Races

Staten Island, NY Borough President: Former Rep. Vito Fossella's lethargic comeback campaign picked up an endorsement over the weekend from Donald Trump ahead of Tuesday's instant-runoff Republican primary.

Fossella, who retired from Congress in 2009 after the public learned about his second family, faces two intra-party opponents: New York City Councilman Steven Matteo, who has the backing of the borough's Republican Party and a number of police unions, and former borough party chair Leticia Remauro, who has the Conservative Party in her corner. Four Democrats are also competing for an office that has been in GOP hands since the 1989 election.

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.