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

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governors

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

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ballot Measures

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

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

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

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

Obituaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Morning Digest: Florida Republican colludes with preferred successor to hand off House seat

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

FL-08: Republican Rep. Bill Posey essentially handed off his House seat to former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos on Friday when the eight-term incumbent unexpectedly announced his retirement and endorsement shortly after candidate filing closed in Florida. Haridopolos hasn't sought public office since his disastrous U.S. Senate bid ended prematurely 13 years ago, but he's now on a glide path to Congress.  

Posey, who filed to run again on April 9, said he was ending his campaign after it was too late for anyone else to run because of unspecified "circumstances beyond my control." He also acknowledged he'd previously discussed his decision with Haridopolos, who filed to run only an hour before the deadline, claiming the "stars aligned during the past week and Mike decided he was ready for Congress."

Donald Trump carried the 8th District, which is based in the Cape Canaveral area, by a comfortable 58-41 margin, so the winner of the Aug. 20 GOP primary should have no trouble claiming this seat in the fall. Apart from Haridopolos, the only two Republicans running are a pair of candidates who were waging little-noticed challenges to Posey, businessman John Hearton and attorney Joe Babits.

Both Hearton and Babits had done some self-funding when they expected to be running against Posey, but it remains to be seen if they can throw down enough to give Haridopolos a hard time. Hearton loaned his campaign $140,000 and had $100,000 on hand at the end of last month, while Babits had invested $82,000 in his own effort but had just $13,000 left over. Neither had raised a meaningful sum from donors.

By conspiring with Posey, Haridopolos prevented anyone stronger from entering the race, even though an open seat would likely have attracted other established politicians. While the Sunshine State allows candidates to get on the primary ballot by collecting signatures, they can avoid this time-consuming process by paying a $10,400 fee. That allows anyone who has the money to submit their names right as the clock expires, an option Haridopolos readily took advantage of on Friday.

A few states have laws in place that try to prevent this sort of collusion. In Nebraska, for example, all incumbents are required to file two weeks before everyone else, even if they're running for a different office than the one they currently hold.

California, meanwhile, automatically extends the candidate filing deadline by five days in races where an incumbent chooses not to run for reelection. And Missouri reopens its filing period in contests where any candidate, incumbent or otherwise, withdraws within two business days of the original deadline.

Florida, though, has no such preventive measures, which is why we've seen this kind of maneuver before. Another Republican, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, took advantage of this loophole in 2010 when she announced on the final day of candidate filing that she was abandoning her reelection campaign for health reasons and said that Hernando County Sheriff Rich Nugent would run in her place. The swap worked, and Nugent easily won three terms before retiring―albeit long before the 2016 filing deadline.

However, Haridopolos' detractors may have some hope that if one of his intra-party opponents can get organized, his comeback bid will go as well as his last effort to enter Congress.

Haridopolos was serving as leader of the state Senate in early 2011 when he launched a campaign to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and initially looked like a frontrunner. Those impressions were solidified when he hauled in a hefty $2.6 million during his opening quarter, which was more than the incumbent brought in.

However, what followed was a campaign that the Miami Herald would summarize months later with the headline, "Anatomy of a meltdown: How Mike Haridopolos U.S. Senate campaign fell apart and ended." (The full article isn't online anymore, but attorney Nicholas Warren posted a copy of the print edition.)

In particular, Haridopolos was harmed by his connections to former state party chair Jim Greer, who would eventually plead guilty to theft and money laundering. The state Senate leader also attracted negative publicity over a book deal that awarded him $150,000 in public funds to write a college textbook on government that resulted in just a single copy getting produced.

Haridopolos made many more mistakes during his campaign, including taking three tries to explain how he stood on Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan's unpopular plan to cut Medicare. His decision to come out in opposition did not help his standing with tea party activists who already resented how what had been hyped as "the most conservative" state Senate in state history failed to pass anti-immigration laws modeled after the hardline provisions Arizona had put into place the previous year. 

Haridopolos' bid was further beset by infighting and staff shakeups. His vaunted fundraising also plummeted in the second quarter, with observers noting that, while the special interests who had business before the legislature were initially eager to contribute, they had no reason to keep doing so once the body adjourned.

Haridopolos pulled the plug on his doomed effort in July, though things didn't go any better for his party after he dropped out. Rep. Connie Mack IV eventually ran and secured the nomination only to lose to Nelson 55-42

After leaving the legislature the following year, Haridopolos occasionally mulled a comeback, but he decided not to campaign for an open state Senate seat in 2016. Instead, he became a lobbyist and spent the next decade using leftover money from his failed bid against Nelson to boost a pro-Trump super PAC, legislative candidates, and other entities such as the state GOP. He eventually terminated his campaign in 2022, more than a decade after he'd ceased running.

Posey, for his part, easily won a promotion from the state Senate to Congress in 2008 when GOP Rep. Dave Weldon retired—though unlike Posey, Weldon announced his departure well in advance of the filing deadline. (Weldon lost the 2012 Senate primary to Mack, but he's now campaigning for a seat in the state House.)

Posey made national news early in his first term when he introduced a bill to require presidential candidates to submit a copy of their birth certificate. The congressman unconvincingly denied that his proposal, which critics quickly dubbed the "birther" bill, was targeted at President Barack Obama. But Posey never struggled to hold his seat and remained an ardent hardliner throughout his tenure, though he was soon overshadowed by louder voices like fellow Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Senate

UT-Sen: The Republican field to succeed Utah Sen. Mitt Romney shrunk from 10 candidates to four over the weekend when convention delegates overwhelmingly backed Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, who received Donald Trump's endorsement hours before the event began.

"Let’s replace Joe Biden’s favorite Republican with Donald Trump’s favorite Republican in Utah," Staggs told the crowd, and the room full of hardline delegates eagerly responded to his pitch.   

Staggs earned 70% of the vote on the fourth and final round of voting, which gives him a spot on the June 25 primary ballot. The Deseret News writes that, because the mayor exceeded 60%, he also gets access to the state GOP's "resources and organization."

Rep. John Curtis was a distant second with 30%, but, because he turned in the requisite 28,000 signatures, he was guaranteed a place in the primary no matter how the convention went. The same was also true for two other Republicans, former state House Speaker Brad Wilson and businessman Jason Walton. The eventual nominee will be the favorite in November in this dark red state.

Staggs, by contrast, was one of seven Republicans who didn’t collect signatures and therefore needed to secure the support of at least 40% of the delegates to continue his campaign. In the end, he was the only contender to come anywhere close to hitting that threshold. Conservative activist Carolyn Phippen, attorney Brent Orrin Hatch, and four minor candidates were not so fortunate, so their campaigns are now over.

The development was a particularly big blow for allies of Hatch, who is the son and namesake of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch. The younger Hatch, who served as treasurer of the right-wing Federalist Society, benefited from $1.8 million in outside spending from a group funded by the Club for Growth and spent a sizable sum himself. But Hatch learned Thursday evening that he had failed to turn in enough signatures to survive a convention loss, which is exactly how things turned out for him when he took less than 2% of the vote.

By contrast, Staggs, who began running as a hard-right alternative to Romney months before the incumbent announced his retirement, has raised by far the least of any of the four candidates who will be on the June ballot. However, his support from Trump, who extolled him as "100% MAGA," could help him overcome his fundraising difficulties.

Wilson, meanwhile, has led the pack financially in large part to about $3 million in self-funding. The former speaker has touted his work passing conservative legislation, though unlike most candidates in the Trump-era GOP, he's pledged to work with members of Congress from both parties who "also care about this country’s future and want to solve some of the biggest problems."

Curtis has raised by far the most from donors, though he's already benefited from more than $3 million in support from a super PAC funded by North Carolina businessman Jay Faison. Curtis, a one-time Democrat who has at times criticized GOP extremists and called for protecting the environment, comes closest in temperament to the outgoing incumbent, though Romney himself has not taken sides.

Finally, Walton, who is CEO of a pest control company, has self-financed his campaign almost as much as Wilson, putting in at least $2.5 million. Walton has promoted himself as an ally of Utah's other member of the upper chamber, far-right Sen. Mike Lee, though Lee has yet to make an endorsement in this contest.

Utah’s Senate contest was the final race that delegates voted on after a nearly 17-hour convention that stretched well into the wee hours of Sunday morning. ("This is officially the longest I've ever been at any political convention, and I've been coming to these things since 2001," Bryan Schott from the Salt Lake Tribune posted on social media with an hour still to go.) See below for recaps of the action in the state’s races for governor and the House.

Governors

UT-Gov: State Rep. Phil Lyman beat Gov. Spencer Cox 68-32 on the convention floor, but the governor had already earned a spot in the June 25 GOP primary by turning in signatures. That was not the case for former state GOP chair Carson Jorgensen and two little-known contenders, who are now done.

"Maybe you hate that I don’t hate enough," Cox told his detractors in a convention speech, but he has reason to be optimistic that the primary electorate will be more charitable than delegates. Back in 2016, another sitting governor, Gary Herbert, lost at the convention by a 55-44 margin against businessman Jonathan Johnson only to win the primary in a 72-28 landslide two months later. Cox, incidentally, was Herbert's running mate that year (candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run together as a ticket in both the primary and general elections).

Lyman, meanwhile, may have some issues with his own pick for lieutenant governor. The state representative announced the day of the convention that he'd chosen former Trump administration official Layne Bangerter to be his number-two, but while Bangerter grew up in Utah, he says he only moved back to the state from Idaho in 2021. That's a potential problem because, as the Salt Lake Tribune notes, the state constitution requires candidates for both governor and lieutenant governor to have been Utah residents "for five years next preceding the election."

Lyman responded by downplaying the issue. "I won’t be surprised if it’s challenged. I hope it’s not, but if it is, I think we’ll win it," he told the Tribune. "I’ve talked to a number of attorneys over the last few days. That was a huge concern right up front."

Lyman, for his part, ran afoul of federal law in 2015 when, as a San Juan County commissioner, he was convicted after leading an all-terrain vehicle group through a canyon the federal government had closed to protect Native American cliff dwellings. Prosecutors alleged that he recruited people who had recently taken part in far-right militant Cliven Bundy's armed standoff with federal law enforcement officials.

Lyman spent 10 days in prison, though Trump later pardoned him in late 2020. Lyman has since made a name for himself by advancing lies about the 2020 and 2022 elections.

He also attracted national attention following the collapse of Maryland’s Francis Scott Key Bridge when he retweeted a post claiming that a Black woman on the state’s Port Commission was a "diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) auditor and consultant."

"This is what happens when you have governors who prioritize diversity over the wellbeing and security of citizens," Lyman said. He told the Tribune that the tweet, as well as a follow-up saying, "DEI=DIE," came from a staffer without his approval. However, Lyman refused to apologize, and the first missive was still up more than a month later.

As of mid-April, Herbert enjoyed a $990,000 to $638,000 cash advantage over Lyman. Most of the challenger's funds came from a mysterious new company that appears to be connected to his family and a large loan from a former Texas congressional candidate named Johnny Slavens.

WV-Gov: Allies of former Del. Moore Capito at the Coalition for West Virginia's Future have released a new poll from NMB Research showing Capito with a 31-23 lead over state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey ahead of the May 14 GOP primary for governor. That makes this the first poll released all year to give top honors to Capito, who recently earned an endorsement from term-limited Gov. Jim Justice.

The survey also finds businessman Chris Miller and Secretary of State Mac Warner far behind at 14 and 13 respectively, while another 18% are undecided. For much of the race, Morrisey's buddies at the Club for Growth had treated Miller as their top threat, but earlier this month, the Club also began training its fire on Capito.

The campaign has descended into an ugly contest in which each candidate has sought to prove they're the most transphobic. The winner will be the overwhelming favorite to succeed Justice in November.

House

FL-15, FL-20: Freshman GOP Rep. Laurel Lee and Democratic Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick both got some welcome news Friday when, despite intense speculation to the contrary, no big names filed to challenge either incumbent.

However, while Cherfilus-McCormick is unopposed in both the primary and general elections for her dark blue 20th District in South Florida, Lee still could face a tough battle to hold her light red 15th District in the Tampa area.

Lee infuriated Donald Trump last year when she became the only member of Florida's congressional delegation to support Gov. Ron DeSantis' doomed presidential bid, but only two failed House candidates answered his call last month for "great MAGA Republicans" looking to beat Lee to “PLEASE STEP FORWARD!” 

One of these contenders is businessman James Judge, who ran against Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor in 2022 in the solidly blue 14th District next door and predictably lost 57-43. This cycle, Judge had been waging another longshot bid, this time against GOP Rep. Gus Bilirakis in the neighboring 12th District, and ended March with just $27,000 in the bank

Earlier this month, though, Judge announced he would heed Trump's plea and campaign for a third House seat by going after Lee. Judge, however, lives in Dade City back in the 12th, though House members don't need to reside in the district they represent.

But Judge, unlike Lee's other intra-party foe, can at least say he ran as a Florida Republican. Jennifer Barbosa, who only set up a fundraising account with the FEC on April 23, challenged California Rep. Adam Schiff in 2020—and did so as an independent. That campaign ended with her taking a distant fourth place in the top-two primary with less than 6% of the vote

Another Republican, Navy veteran Brian Perras, did not file by Friday even though he announced he was in earlier this month. 

Despite Judge's and Barbosa's unimpressive campaign histories, however, it's possible Trump hates Lee enough to give one of her opponents a boost by rewarding them with his endorsement. That would probably be fine with Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp, who has no Democratic primary opposition as she tries to flip a seat Trump took by a modest 51-48 margin in 2020

Cherfilus-McCormick, by contrast, learned Friday she wouldn't have to get past 2 Live Crew rapper Luther Campbell in what would likely have turned into one of the most attention-grabbing primaries in America.

"It’s gonna be very hard for me not to run," Campbell said in a video on April 9, and speculation only intensified when he set up an FEC account on Tuesday. 

But while Campbell promised an announcement at 11 AM Friday, he was silent until after filing closed an hour later without his name on the ballot. He put out a video later that day saying he'd decided to stay out of the contest. Campbell's brother, businessman Stanley Campbell, is waging an uphill battle for the U.S. Senate.

You can find a complete list of candidates who filed in Florida by Friday, though it doesn't include everyone running for office this year in the Sunshine State. That's because the deadline to run for the state legislature, county-level offices, and a few other posts is not until June 14.

Florida is now the 36th state where filing for the 2024 cycle has closed for major-party congressional candidates (the deadline for third-party and independent contenders is sometimes later), and it was by far the largest state left on the calendar. The most populous remaining state where candidates can still run for Congress is Washington, which closes on May 10. Filing closes in the final state, which as always is Louisiana, on July 19.

While there's still suspense about who will run in the 14 remaining states, the deadline for major-party contenders has now passed in 375 of the nation's 435 House seats—a full 86% of the chamber. Primaries have taken place in states with a combined 168 of those congressional districts, though there are still some runoffs pending in North Carolina and Texas.

KS-02: Former state Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who was the GOP's unsuccessful nominee for governor in 2022, jumped into the race for Kansas' newly open 2nd Congressional District on Friday.

Schmidt's entry came a day after Jeff Kahrs, who just stepped down as district director for retiring Republican Rep. Jake LaTurner, announced his own bid for his now-former boss' seat. A third Republican, businessman Shawn Tiffany, also kicked off a campaign on Thursday; Tiffany owns a cattle company and is a former head of the Kansas Livestock Association.

Kahrs and Tiffany don't appear to have run for office before, but Schmidt is a longtime fixture in Kansas politics. After a decade in the state Senate, Schmidt won three terms as attorney general beginning in 2010 and was often mentioned for higher office. But when he finally decided to run for governor, his campaign went poorly. Despite running in a red state in what should have been a good year for Republicans, Schmidt lost to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly by a 50-47 margin.

He even managed to fall short in the 2nd District, which had supported Donald Trump by a wide 57-41 spread two years earlier: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin says Kelly edged out Schmidt 49-48 in the district he's now seeking. As Rubashkin observes, that weak showing likely wouldn't translate into a federal race, but Schmidt's Republican opponents may not hesitate to call it out.

MD-03: Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin relays data from AdImpact showing that the United Democracy Project, which is an arm of the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, has now spent $3.5 million on the airwaves to boost state Sen. Sarah Elfreth in the May 14 Democratic primary for Maryland's open 3rd Congressional District.

Combined with her own spending, Elfreth has now aired 53% of all broadcast TV ads in the race, while retired Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who raised a monster $3.7 million in the first quarter of the year, has accounted for 37%. The remaining 10% of broadcast ads have been aired by state Sen. Clarence Lam, though these figures don't take into account other media, such as cable television or digital platforms.

MT-02: State Auditor Troy Downing has publicized an internal from Guidant Polling & Strategy that shows him beating former Rep. Denny Rehberg 38-26 in the June 4 GOP primary to succeed retiring Rep. Matt Rosendale, a fellow Republican.

Another 10% support Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen while 27% are undecided. The survey does not appear to have included any of the other six Republicans who filed for this dark red seat in the eastern part of the state, none of whom have brought in much money. This is the first poll we've seen since candidate filing closed last month

NC-13: Businessman Fred Von Cannon, who finished third with 17% in last month's primary, has endorsed former federal prosecutor Brad Knott in the May 14 GOP runoff for North Carolina's open 13th Congressional District. Attorney Kelly Daughtry led Knott 27-19 in the first round of voting, but Knott recently earned an even more important endorsement when Donald Trump weighed in on his behalf.

UT-01: GOP delegates backed electrician Paul Miller, who hasn't reported raising any money at all, by a 55-45 margin over Rep. Blake Moore.

Moore, who had collected enough signatures to advance no matter how the convention went, went through a similar experience last cycle against a different GOP foe. Retired intelligence officer Andrew Badger outpaced Moore 59-41 at the 2022 conclave, but the incumbent beat him 58-28 in the primary before easily securing reelection in the conservative 1st District.

UT-02: Freshman Rep. Celeste Maloy narrowly avoided a career-ending disaster at Saturday's convention when Green Beret veteran Colby Jenkins defeated her 57-43. Maloy, like Jenkins, did not collect signatures, so had she fallen below 40%, she would not have made the June 25 primary ballot.

Jenkins received an important endorsement shortly before the convention on Thursday when hardline Sen. Mike Lee announced his support. The Deseret News' Brigham Tomco notes that the senator has indicated he sided against Maloy because of her recent vote for the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Lee bitterly opposed.

Maloy ended March with a $290,000 to $170,000 cash edge over Jenkins. Utah's 2nd District, which includes central and western Salt Lake City and southwestern Utah, backed Donald Trump 57-40 in 2020. 

UT-03: State Sen. Mike Kennedy triumphed 62-38 against Utah Young Republicans chairman Zac Wilson on the sixth and final round of convention balloting, which ensures Kennedy a spot in the June 25 GOP primary to replace Senate candidate John Curtis. Wilson was one of three Republicans whose campaigns ended Saturday, along with perennial candidate Lucky Bovo, former Senate aide Kathryn Dahlin, and former state Rep. Chris Herrod.

Kennedy, who lost the 2018 U.S. Senate primary to Mitt Romney, will compete against four Republicans who successfully collected the requisite 7,000 signatures to petition their way onto the ballot. (Kennedy himself successfully pursued a convention-only strategy.) His intra-party opponents are Roosevelt Mayor Rod Bird, state Auditor John Dougall, businessman Case Lawrence, and former Utah County party chair Stewart Peay.

Bird finished March with a wide $800,000 to $461,000 cash lead over Kennedy. Dougall was far back with $208,000, compared to $196,000 for Lawrence. The latter, though, has thrown down close to $1.3 million of his own money so far, so he may have access to more. Peay, finally, had just $109,000.

This could be an expensive battle, as Bird and Lawrence had each deployed over $1 million of their own money through March. Dougall and Kennedy respectively have self-funded $250,000 and $156,000. Donald Trump carried Utah's 3rd District, which includes the Provo area, the southeastern Salt Lake City suburbs, and rural southeastern Utah, 57-38.

WI-03: State Rep. Katrina Shankland announced Friday that she'd received the endorsement of the state AFL-CIO ahead of the Aug. 13 Democratic primary. Shankland faces businesswoman Rebecca Cooke, who was the runner-up in last cycle's primary, for the right to freshman GOP Rep. Derrick Van Orden in a southwestern Wisconsin constituency that Donald Trump took 51-47 in 2020.

There's no obvious frontrunner in this year's nomination contest, though Cooke finished the first quarter with more than twice as much money available as her intra-party rival. Cooke ended March with a $808,000 to $357,000 cash advantage over Shankland; Van Orden, who has no notable GOP primary opposition, had $1.9 million at his disposal.

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WI-01: Peter Barca, a Democrat with a long history in Wisconsin politics, announced Thursday that he would challenge Republican Rep. Bryan Steil for the state's 1st District, a constituency that's descended from the one Barca briefly represented three decades ago. While Republicans have held it ever since, Barca's entry could put into play a seat that the GOP has rarely had to sweat.

Barca, who stepped down last month as state revenue secretary, is the first major contender to enter the Aug. 13 Democratic primary, and it's possible he could be the last. Right after his launch, former Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan informed the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Lawrence Andrea that he'd decided to back Barca rather than run himself.

The filing deadline isn't until June 3, but according to Barca, national Democrats would be pleased if no other notable candidates entered the race. Barca told Andrea in late March that the DCCC began recruiting him last fall, though he says he repeatedly told the committee, "No way." The former congressman, however, said that he began to reconsider after watching "month after month of total dysfunction" in the House.

Given Wisconsin's late primary, Democrats' odds of flipping the 1st could improve should Barca clear the field, especially since Steil begins the race with a big fundraising head start. The incumbent hauled in $618,000 during the first three months of 2024 and finished March with a hefty $4 million in the bank.

The 1st District, which includes the Milwaukee suburbs of Janesville, Kenosha, and Racine, favored Donald Trump by a small 50-48 margin in 2020 as Joe Biden was narrowly carrying Wisconsin, and it's continued to vote a few points to the right of the state since then.

Republican Tim Michels, according to data from Dave's Redistricting App, edged out Gov. Tony Evers by a skinny 49.5-49.3 margin in 2022 in 2022 as Evers was winning statewide 51-48, while Republican Sen. Ron Johnson took the 1st 52-48 that same evening amid his 50-49 reelection win. Steil, for his part, won his third term 54-45 against an underfunded Democrat.

However, the district hasn't been unwinnable for progressives. Analyst Drew Savicki says that Janet Protasiewicz carried it 53-47 in last year's officially nonpartisan state Supreme Court race as she was winning her race 55-45.

But while this seat is far from safely red, no House Democrat has won the 1st District in the decades since Barca prevailed in a tight 1993 special election to succeed 12-term Rep. Les Aspin, a fellow Democrat who resigned to become Bill Clinton's first secretary of defense.

Barca, as we detailed recently, earned a promotion out of the state Assembly that year by beating Republican Mark Neumann 50-49. Neumann, though, won a rematch by an even tighter 49.2-48.8 spread the following year as Newt Gingrich was leading the GOP to its first House majority in 40 years.

Democrats hoped to reclaim the 1st District in 1996, but Neumann fended off Democrat Lydia Spottswood 51-49. Neumann left the House in 1998 to wage an unsuccessful bid against Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, but a 28-year-old former Republican congressional staffer named Paul Ryan held the seat by defeating Spottswood 57-43.

(Neumann went on to badly lose the 2010 nomination for governor to Scott Walker and take a distant third place in the 2012 Senate primary; Spottswood lost a bid earlier this month to serve as mayor of Kenosha.)

Ryan quickly became entrenched and won each of his reelection campaigns by double digits, but Democrats hoped they'd have an opening when the speaker unexpectedly retired ahead of the 2018 blue wave.

However, Steil, who was a member of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, kept the seat in GOP hands by turning back a well-funded effort from Democrat Randy Bryce 55-43. Following that win, Steil was not seriously targeted in either 2020 or 2022.

But despite that loss during the Gingrich revolution, Barca remained on the political scene. He returned to the Assembly in 2008 and became minority leader after the following cycle's red wave flipped control of the chamber.

Barca attracted widespread attention in 2011 when he led a 60-hour floor debate in the hopes of derailing a notorious anti-labor law pushed by Walker, but he stepped down from his leadership post in 2017 after he was one of just three Democrats to vote for Walker's infamous $3 billion tax incentive package to the electronics company Foxconn.

Barca still sought and won another term in the legislature, but he left in early 2019 after Tony Evers, who had just unseated Walker, named him to his cabinet as head of the state's Department of Revenue.

Governors

WV-Gov: Republican Gov. Jim Justice on Thursday endorsed former Del. Moore Capito, who is the son and namesake of Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, with just under a month to go before the May 14 Republican primary to replace him.

Justice, who is the GOP's frontrunner for West Virginia's other Senate seat, made his choice at a time when Capito and his two main rivals are engaged in a bitter air war that's turned into a battle over which candidate is the most transphobic.

The Cook Political Report's Matthew Klein recently collected many of the lowlights of this grim competition, which has been playing out for some time. Capito has been an active participant, debuting a new spot that claimed that the frontrunner, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, "got rich lobbying for the puberty blocker companies." He's also airing another commercial that shows a male actor winning a women's track competition.

That ad, which does not mention any of Capito's intra-party rivals, concludes, "Thanks to Del. Moore Capito, girls' sports in West Virginia are protected." The spot was almost certainly produced before a federal appeals court blocked a 2021 state law this week that bans trans student-athletes from participating in the sport that corresponds to their gender identity.

A third GOP candidate, businessman Chris Miller, is airing his own commercial in which a woman declares, "The trans shouldn't get more rights than what our kids have." The spot, similar to Capito's, goes on to argue that Morrisey "was the go-to lobbyist for drug makers peddling puberty blockers and a gender transition clinic for kids." (Miller has also been running another anti-trans ad.)

Miller's allies at West Virginia Forward make similar arguments in another spot that also unsubtly attacks Morrisey's physical appearance. The ad features an animated version of the attorney general, calling him "small in stature." It shows the cartoon Morrisey barely rising above a podium before depicting him in front of plates of food as the narrator concludes he has "a big appetite for getting rich at our expense."

Morrisey's backers at Black Bear PAC, meanwhile, are arguing that when Miller was a university board member, he "looked the other way as pro-transgender events happened on his watch." The narrator goes on to quote from the far-right Daily Caller, saying one such event involved "a trans closet that provided items to support sex changes for students."

All of these commercials come during the final month of an expensive campaign during which, according to AdImpact, close to $19 million has been spent on or reserved for advertising. The firm reports that $7.5 million has gone into pro-Morrisey ads compared to $5.3 million to boost Miller, while Capito has deployed $2 million. AdImpact has also tracked another $2.1 million in anti-Miller ads and $2 million in spots hitting Morrisey.

The data does not mention any commercials run against Capito, though it may not yet reflect a new offensive from Morrisey's allies at the Club for Growth that began this week. Secretary of State Mac Warner, who is the fourth notable Republican candidate, still does not appear to have run any TV ads or been attacked on the air.

House

KS-02: Republican Rep. Jake LaTurner unexpectedly announced Thursday that he would not seek a third term in Kansas' 2nd District, a decision that makes the 36-year-old one of the youngest people to ever voluntarily retire from Congress.

This seat in the eastern part of the state favored Donald Trump 57-41 in 2020, so the winner of the Aug. 6 GOP primary will be favored in the general election. While major-party candidate filing has already closed in 34 states, LaTurner's would-be successors still have until June 1 to place their names on the ballot.

Two Republicans, Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson and state House Majority Leader Chris Croft, were each quick to tell the Kansas City Star that they're interested in running to fill the newly open seat.

The paper also mentioned several other Republicans as possibilities, including 2022 gubernatorial nominee Derek Schmidt; LaTurner staffer Jeff Kahrs; and a pair of state senators who unsuccessfully sought the 2nd District when it last came open in 2018, Dennis Pyle and Caryn Tyson. Pyle, though, later ran for governor as an independent in 2022, and he has yet to rejoin the GOP.

Another candidate who also lost in that same 2018 race, former state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, laughed when the Star asked him about another campaign, so he's presumably a no.

LaTurner, whom Inside Elections notes is the youngest Republican in Congress, is ending an electoral career that began at 20 when he lost a 2008 primary for state Senate 55-45 to Bob Marshall, who went on to win the seat. LaTurner soon began running a district office for Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who had been elected to represent the 2nd Congressional District that same year, before seeking a rematch against Marshall in 2012.

Kansas GOP primaries had long pitted relative moderates like Marshall against hardline conservatives, and right-wing groups were especially determined to purge centrists after they joined with the Democratic minority in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Gov. Sam Brownback's income tax cuts. LaTurner won the support of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the Koch family's Americans for Prosperity and defeated Marshall 57-43 on what proved to be a strong night for conservatives.

LaTurner won the general election 61-39 and easily secured reelection in 2016, but Trump would soon set off a chain of events that would elevate LaTurner to higher office.

Trump unexpectedly picked Mike Pompeo, who represented Kansas' 4th District around Wichita, to lead the CIA, prompting a special election that state Treasurer Ron Estes went on to win (albeit in remarkably weak fashion). Brownback then appointed LaTurner to replace Estes, a move that made the new treasurer the youngest statewide elected official in the country.

LaTurner easily kept his new job in 2018 even as Democrat Laura Kelly was pulling off an upset for governor. That same night also saw Republican Steve Watkins narrowly win the race to succeed the retiring Jenkins in the conservative 2nd District, despite the fact that multiple media reports had exposed Watkins as a serial liar and a woman accused him of sexual misconduct.

LaTurner almost immediately kicked off a campaign to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, but he struggled to gain traction. However, he got far more support when he announced in September of 2019 that he would instead launch a primary challenge against Watkins, who just weeks before had denied widespread rumors that he'd resign because of an undisclosed scandal.

Watkins attracted still more ugly headlines, including a Topeka Capital-Journal story reporting that he might have committed voter fraud by listing a UPS store in Topeka as his home address on his voter registration form and then proceeding to cast a ballot the previous month as though he lived there.

Things got worse the month before the primary when local authorities charged Watkins with three felonies over his 2019 vote—a development that awkwardly came just half an hour before he was set to debate his challenger.

LaTurner beat Watkins 49-34, news that came as a relief for Republicans who feared the congressman was too weak to hold what should have been a safe seat. LaTurner went on to defeat Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla, who hoped Watkins would be her opponent, by a comfortable 55-41 margin as Trump was carrying the 2nd District by a similar spread. (Watkins later reached a diversion agreement with local prosecutors that ultimately led to the voter fraud charges against him getting dropped.)

LaTurner, who joined the majority of his caucus in voting against recognizing Joe Biden's victory, won his second term without trouble, and he was on track to easily claim reelection again before his surprise Thursday retirement announcement. But LaTurner didn't just put an end to his congressional career: He also said on Thursday that he wouldn't seek state-level office in 2026, when Kelly will be termed out as governor.

The congressman insisted that he was cutting short his once-promising political future to spend time with his family and not because of GOP infighting, though he acknowledged Congress' deep flaws.

"Undoubtedly, the current dysfunction on Capitol Hill is distressing, but it almost always has been; we just didn't see most of it," LaTurner said in a statement.

But even LaTurner seemed surprised by the chaos last fall when he responded to the GOP's three-week speakership deadlock by exclaiming, "I thought we had reached rock bottom, but we hadn't."  

MI-03: The Detroit News' Grant Schwab reports that the brother of attorney Paul Hudson is the sole donor to a super PAC that announced last week it had taken in $1 million to promote Hudson, a Republican running for Michigan's 3rd congressional District. Schwab writes that Ryan Hudson is a co-founder of the browser extension Honey, a tool for finding coupons that he sold to PayPal for a reported $4 billion in 2020.

Paul Hudson is the GOP frontrunner to take on Democratic Rep. Hillary Scholten in a Grand Rapids constituency that Joe Biden carried 53-45 in 2020. Hudson only raised $59,000 from donors during the first quarter of 2024 but self-funded another $150,000, ending March with $342,000 in the bank. Scholten raised $643,000 during that time and finished last month with $1.8 million in her coffers.

OR-03: Primary School flags that the super PAC 314 Action so far has spent $816,000 to support state Rep. Maxine Dexter ahead of the May 21 primary to succeed her fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Earl Blumenauer, in the dark blue 3rd District around Portland. The PAC, which promotes Democratic candidates with backgrounds in science (Dexter is a pulmonologist), is the only outside group that has spent anything on the contest so far.

Dexter, former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, and Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales are the main candidates competing in next month's primary. Jayapal, who is the sister of Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, outraised her rivals during the first quarter by taking in $333,000, and her $408,000 war chest was also the largest.

Morales outpaced Dexter $245,000 to $185,000, and he ended March with $251,000 in the bank, versus a similar $227,000 for Dexter.

Judges

WI Supreme Court: Wisconsin Court of Appeals Judge Chris Taylor, who was one of three liberal jurists considering a bid for the state Supreme Court next year, said on Thursday that she would not run for the new open seat created by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley's recent retirement announcement.

Two other progressives, Dane County Circuit Judge Susan Crawford and Court of Appeals Judge Pedro Colón, are still weighing the race. Crawford said Thursday she'd have "more to say in the coming weeks."

On the conservative side, former Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel has been running since the fall, while Court of Appeals Judge Maria Lazar has also expressed interest.

All candidates will run together on a single primary ballot on Feb. 18, with the top two vote-getters advancing to an April 1 general election. Control of the court will once again be up for grabs as liberals seek to defend the 4-3 majority they earned last year when Janet Protaseiwicz, then a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge, flipped an open seat that had been held by a conservative justice.

Ballot Measures

CO Ballot: Reproductive rights supporters in Colorado turned in petitions on Thursday to place an amendment on the November ballot to safeguard abortion access and overturn a 1984 amendment that bans public funding for the procedure. That same day anti-abortion groups acknowledged that they'd failed to collect enough signatures to put a rival amendment before voters that would all but ban the procedure.

Constitutional amendments need to win at least 55% of the vote to pass in Colorado, but first campaigns must get them on the ballot. Amendment campaigns need to collect about 124,000 valid signatures, a figure that represents 5% of the total vote cast in the most recent election for secretary of state, and also hit certain targets in each of the state's 35 Senate districts.

Abortion rights advocates announced Thursday they'd submitted nearly 240,000 signatures with eight days left before their April 26 deadline, and Westworld says election officials have a month to verify them. That review will not be necessary for the opposite side, though: Anti-abortion groups only had until Thursday because they began their task earlier, but they fell short of legal requirements to make the ballot.

NV Ballot: The Nevada Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a constitutional amendment to protect broadly reproductive rights, including the right to an abortion, does not violate state rules prohibiting ballot initiatives from addressing more than one subject, but organizers said they nonetheless plan to keep focusing on a separate proposal that only addresses abortion.

Advocates changed gears last fall after a lower court judge blocked the more expansive amendment, saying it "embraces a multitude of subjects." The Supreme Court, however, rejected that reasoning, concluding that "all the medical procedures considered in the initiative petition concern reproduction."

The group backing both measures, Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom, welcomed Thursday's decision but said in a statement it intends to put the second, abortion-only amendment before voters. The organization also said it had already collected 160,000 signatures for the narrower amendment, which is well over the 103,000 required by law. However, supporters have said their goal is to submit twice as many signatures as necessary as a cushion.

The original amendment could still appear before voters two years from now, though. The Democratic-led state legislature advanced an amendment last year that the Nevada Independent says includes "essentially identical language" as the version the state Supreme Court blessed on Thursday.

State law, however, requires lawmakers to approve the amendment again following the 2024 general election before it could go before voters in 2026, when it would need to win a majority to go into effect.

Because the newer amendment put forth by Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom is a citizen-sponsored initiative, it would need to earn majority backing at the ballot box twice, both this fall and again two years from now. Measures placed on the ballot by the legislature, however, only need to win voter support once.

Poll Pile

  • FL-Sen: Mainstreet Research for Florida Atlantic University: Rick Scott (R-inc): 53, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D): 36 (51-43 Trump in two-way, 49-40 Trump with third-party candidates)

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WA-04: Donald Trump on Friday endorsed former NASCAR driver Jerrod Sessler's intra-party bid against Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, who is one of the two remaining House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump following the Jan. 6 riot.

Trump's backing makes Sessler, who waged an unheralded campaign two years ago, Newhouse's only notable foe in what had been a quiet Aug. 6 top-two primary for Washington's conservative 4th District. However, it remains to be seen whether Democrats will once again consolidate behind a single candidate as they did in 2022, a development that could make it tougher for one of the two Republicans to reach the November general election.

Newhouse's own plans are also uncertain. Two months ago, the Seattle Times' Jim Brunner relayed that there had been "rampant speculation in state Republican circles that Newhouse may be the next to announce his retirement." The incumbent doesn't appear to have confirmed his 2024 plans yet, though he tweeted out an endorsement from the National Federation of Independent Business on Monday. The candidate filing deadline isn't until May 10, so it may still be a few weeks before the roster is set here.

Newhouse, who was elected to represent central Washington in 2014, attracted little attention during his first three terms in Congress, but all of that changed early in 2021 when he responded to the Jan. 6 attack riot by voting to impeach Trump.

"A vote against this impeachment is a vote to validate the unacceptable violence we witnessed in our nation's capital," he said in a statement. "It is also a vote to condone President Trump's inaction."

Sessler, who had raced in local NASCAR competitions that could be considered the equivalent of baseball's minor leagues (his name does not come up when searching the auto sports database Racing-Reference.info), was one of several hard-right politicians who reacted by launching campaigns against the congressman. Trump, however, was far more impressed by 2020 gubernatorial nominee Loren Culp, a former cop who refused to recognize his decisive loss to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee.

Trump's endorsement, though, didn't do much to help Culp augment his weak fundraising numbers hauls. Newhouse's allies at Defending Main Street, which is aligned with the GOP leadership, also spent over $1 million to boost the incumbent while the challenger received no major outside help. Sessler, who self-funded about $400,000 but raised little from donors, attracted comparatively little attention.

The 4th District had favored Trump 57-40 in 2020, but businessman Doug White benefited from being the only Democrat on the ballot in a top-two primary that featured seven Republicans. Newhouse and White took 25% apiece, while Culp and Sessler respectively grabbed 22% and 12%. That victory made Newhouse and California Rep. David Valadao the only two pro-impeachment Republicans to win renomination in a cycle that saw their eight fellow travelers either opt to retire or lose their own primaries.

Newhouse went on to easily beat White 66-31 in the general election (Valadao narrowly won in a more competitive seat), and he resumed his former role as a quiet conservative vote. The congressman even made it clear earlier this month that, despite saying three years ago that Trump "failed to fulfill his oath of office," he'd support his return to the White House. Trump repaid him Friday with a Truth Social missive branding Newhouse "a weak and pathetic RINO named Newhouse, who voted to, for no reason, Impeach me."

Trump, as he almost always does, also extolled his newest endorsee as someone who will "stand for the Rule of Law," though Sessler had a recent run-in with authorities. In September of 2022, a month after Sessler's first congressional campaign came to an end, a code enforcement officer in Benton County named Dale Wilson said that he'd investigated a complaint that someone was living on Sessler's property without the proper permits. Wilson said that Sessler confronted him and threatened to retrieve a gun and "deal with him" if Wilson returned.

County commissioners sent the once and future candidate a letter a few months later telling him that the actions described by Wilson constituted a felony, adding, "If you continue to threaten Benton County employees, the county will involve law enforcement to conduct a full investigation." There do not appear to have been any public developments since then.

Another Washington Republican who voted to impeach Trump, former Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, will also be on the Aug. 6 top-two primary ballot as she campaigns for the open post of state lands commissioner. Herrera Beutler's career representing the 3rd District came to an end two years ago when her Trump-backed foe, Joe Kent, edged her out in the first round, though Kent went on to suffer an upset general election loss to Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez.

Herrera Beutler faces one fellow Republican, Sue Kuehl Pederson, who badly lost the 2020 general election for lands commissioner, along with several Democrats. Kent, meanwhile, needs to get past Camas City Councilmember Leslie Lewallen to set up a rematch with Gluesenkamp Perez. Trump has not yet endorsed in either contest.

Election Night

AL-02: The downballot primary season picks back up on Tuesday in Alabama's revamped 2nd District, which is the only place in America that's hosting a congressional nominating contest this week. Whoever wins the Democratic primary runoff will be favored in November to claim a constituency that, under the new map drawn by a federal court, is now a plurality Black district that would have backed Joe Biden 56-43.

Former Justice Department official Shomari Figures led state House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels 43-22 in the first round of voting on March 5. While Figures' share of the vote was below the majority needed to win the Democratic nod outright, his performance established him as the frontrunner for the runoff.

Subsequent developments have only underscored the perception that Figures is the one to beat. State Rep. Napoleon Bracy, who took third place with 16%, went on to endorse him, and a late March Impact Research poll for an unknown client showed Figures beating Daniels 59-24.

Figures has once again gotten a major assist from Protect Progress, a super PAC with ties to the cryptocurrency industry that spent heavily on him ahead of the primary and has poured in another $900,000 for the runoff. The only pro-Daniels outside spending, by contrast, is about $50,000 from Progress for Alabama, a super PAC that Politico reports is run by Republican operative David Driscoll. Driscoll did not comment when Politico asked him about his interest in the race.

Each Democrat is arguing that the other has weak ties to this district, which now takes in Mobile, Montgomery, and the eastern Black Belt. Figures, who hails from a prominent political family in Mobile, has highlighted the fact that Daniels represents a legislative seat in Huntsville, far off in the northern part of the state.

Daniels, however, has emphasized his roots in the Montgomery area and pointed out that Figures only recently returned to Alabama after spending his career in and around the nation's capital.

The GOP runoff pits former state Sen. Dick Brewbaker and attorney Caroleene Dobson. Brewbaker led Dobson 40-26 on March 5.

MI State House: Two special elections taking place in the Detroit suburbs on Tuesday would allow Democrats to regain the majority they earned in the state House in 2022 if they prevail in both. The contests are being held to succeed a pair of Democrats who resigned to become mayor of their respective communities, Kevin Coleman of Westland and Lori Stone of Warren.

The election to replace Coleman in the 25th District pits his cousin and fellow Democrat, Westland City Councilman Peter Herzberg, against Republican businessman Josh Powell. Joe Biden, according to data from Dave's Redistricting App, carried this seat 59-40 in 2020.

The race to succeed Stone, meanwhile, is between Democrat Mai Xiong, a member of the Macomb County Commission, and Republican Ronald Singer, a perennial candidate. Xiong, who would be the first Hmong American elected to the state House, should have little trouble Tuesday in a seat that favored the president 64-35

However, November's contest for a full term would likely be more difficult. That's because, under the replacement map that Michigan's independent redistricting commission recently passed pursuant to a court order, the redrawn 13th would have backed Biden just 50-48.

Senate

KY-Sen & Louisville, KY Mayor: Kentucky's Republican-dominated legislature overrode vetoes by Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear of two election-related bills, one that will have an impact statewide and one more local.

The first bill prohibits the governor from appointing anyone to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat. This legislation replaces a 2021 law that required the governor to pick from a three-person list submitted by the party of the person who last held the Senate seat.

The new bill's sponsor, state House Majority Floor Leader Steven Rudy, denied that these new changes have anything to do with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's health. McConnell himself expressed support for the legislation even as he once again reiterated that he'd serve out the remainder of his term, which ends in early 2027.

The legislature, which only requires a simple majority in each chamber to override vetoes, also defied Beshear by approving a new law that, among other things, makes elections for Louisville's local government officially nonpartisan starting next year. All the candidates would face off on one ballot, and the top two vote-getters would advance to the general election.

Kentucky's largest city, which was consolidated with the rest of Jefferson County in 2003, favored Joe Biden 59-39 in 2020, so this switch could make it easier for Republicans to win races now that party affiliation won't be included on the ballot.

State Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, however, told Louisville Public Media last month he was supporting the legislation "out of respect for" Mayor Craig Greenberg, a Democrat whom he says was involved in discussions about the law. Greenberg, who is up for reelection in 2026, didn't answer when LPM asked him about the bill when it was first introduced earlier this year.

MD-Sen: Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks has publicized an internal from Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group that shows her trailing Rep. David Trone by a small 43-40 spread ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary. It's the first data that Alsobrooks has shared since launching her campaign, and it's also the first internal poll of the race we've seen since Trone shared a Hickman Analytics internal two months ago that had him up 49-32.

In between, two March polls conducted by Braun Research for separate clients found Trone ahead by larger margins: An early March poll for the Washington Post and the University of Maryland gave the congressman a 34-27 edge, while its subsequent numbers for Goucher College and the Baltimore Banner showed him leading 42-33.

NJ-Sen: Fairleigh Dickinson University shows Democratic Rep. Andy Kim posting 9-point leads over his two most notable Republican rivals, developer Curtis Bashaw and Mendham Borough Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner. Were Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez to run as an independent, Kim would still defeat both Republicans by a 6-point margin:

  • Kim (D): 48, Bashaw (R): 39
  • Kim (D): 47, Glassner (R): 38
  • Kim (D): 44, Bashaw (R): 38, Menendez (I-inc), 6
  • Kim (D): 45, Glassner (R): 39, Menendez (I-inc): 7

Presidential numbers were not included in this release.

Governors

WV-Gov: The Club for Growth, which supports Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the May 14 Republican primary, has launched what appears to be the first TV ad from anyone attacking former Del. Moore Capito. Morrisey and his allies until now had focused on tearing down businessman Chris Miller, but this shift in strategy suggests they think Capito has now emerged as a threat as well.

The Club's ad declares that Capito, who is the son and namesake of Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, was "born with a silver spoon in his mouth," though the commercial doesn't reference the senator by name. Instead, it features several animations of Capito accompanied by spoons (maybe the ad maker is a fan of "The Room") as the narrator accuses him of repeatedly voting to raise taxes.

Capito, meanwhile, has launched a spot in which his narrator declares, "Moore Capito wrote the bill blocking puberty blockers for children while Morrisey got rich lobbying for the puberty blocker companies." Miller recently used a similar line of attack against Morrisey, who has run his own transphobic ad campaign.

Capito ends his ad by portraying Morrisey as an outsider, though strangely, he doesn't actually bring up the state the attorney general is originally from. "California's that way," Capito tells the New Jersey-reared attorney general, who ran for Congress in the Garden State back in 2000 only to finish last in a four-way primary.

House

CA-16: Election officials in California's 16th Congressional District began the process for a machine recount of the March 5 top-two primary on Monday, but there are still big questions over just what will happen next in this wild race.

The Mercury News reports that Jonathan Padilla, who was a 2020 Biden delegate, paid the county a $12,000 deposit to start the recount. However, election administrators in Santa Clara County, which makes up over 80% of this Silicon Valley-based seat, tell KQED's Guy Marzorati that it will cost $16,800 per day for what they estimate will be a five-day undertaking.

Their counterparts in San Mateo, which forms the balance of the 16th District, say it will take another $4,550 per day to recount its ballots, though they told Marzorati they hadn't received a deposit as of Monday morning.

Marzorati writes that if Padilla misses a day's payment, the recount would end and the results certified by the state earlier this month would stand. A second voter, Dan Stegink, had sought a recount as well, but he withdrew his request and did not put down the requisite deposit.

Padilla's own plans have also changed somewhat, as he said he originally intended to seek a manual recount before opting for a machine recount. A manual recount is more likely to catch errors, but it's also far more expensive.

Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, whom Padilla worked for in 2014, is guaranteed a spot in the November general election, while two other Democrats, Assemblyman Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, would both advance if they remain tied for second. Should a recount shift the results even a single vote for either runner-up, however, then Liccardo would face the second-place finisher in a one-on-one matchup.

FL-15: Far-right social media troll Rogan O'Handley told the conservative site The Floridian over the weekend that he's decided not to challenge freshman Rep. Laurel Lee in the Aug. 20 Republican primary. The candidate filing deadline is April 26.

IN-03: Winning for Women, a conservative super PAC largely funded by megadonor Ken Griffin, has launched a commercial accusing former Rep. Marlin Stutzman of being weak on border security. The spot does not mention former Judge Wendy Davis, whom Politico says the group supports in the May 7 Republican primary for this safely red seat in northeastern Indiana. According to reports filed with the FEC, WFW has spent $414,000 so far.

The offensive comes at a time when another super PAC, America Leads Action, is spending a similar amount to derail Stutzman's comeback campaign. The former congressman's allies at the far-right House Freedom Caucus have deployed $110,000 to return him to Congress after an eight-year absence, but most of that spending came last year.

IN-05: State Rep. Chuck Goodrich's new commercial for next month's GOP primary utilizes material from a 2022 Politico article to argue that Rep. Victoria Spartz is an abusive boss. "Manic behavior," says the narrator, continuing, "She yells and curses, calling them morons and idiots." The spot goes on, "Victoria Spartz's behavior is embarrassing. We don't need politicians who lie and disrespect employees and lack the temperament for public service."

IN-08: Former Rep. John Hostettler is getting some welcome outside support from Protect Freedom PAC, which is airing commercials starring Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. There is no word yet as to how much the PAC is spending to promote Hostettler, who has been on the receiving end of at least $1.75 million in attacks from a trio of super PACs. Hostettler's campaign, according to AdImpact data from Howey Politics, had not run any TV ads for the May 7 GOP primary as of April 5.

Paul uses the ad to tout Hostettler as someone who will resist "the politicians that are destroying America," a crowd that, according to footage shown on-screen, includes Paul's home state colleague, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Paul was elected to the upper chamber four years after Hostettler lost reelection in the 2006 blue wave, but his father, then-Texas Rep. Ron Paul, and Hostettler were part of a small group of House Republicans who opposed the Iraq War. The elder Paul went on to endorse Hostettler's failed 2010 Senate primary campaign.

NH-02: State Sen. Becky Whitley announced Sunday that she would run to succeed retiring Rep. Annie Kuster, a fellow Democrat. Whitley says she's raised $100,000 for her bid in her first week since forming an exploratory committee earlier this month.

Whitley, who has worked as a disability rights lawyer, joined the legislature in 2020 after winning a safely blue Senate seat, but she first had to get past a familiar name in the primary. To earn the nomination, she scored a 41-33 victory over former Rep. Paul Hodes, who was seeking a comeback a decade after his failed bid for the U.S. Senate.

WMUR wrote earlier this month that Whitley, who is a member of the Judiciary Committee, has since "been on the legislative front lines" in battles to safeguard abortion rights. She joins a September primary that includes former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, who has Kuster's endorsement.

But two would-be Democratic candidates, state Reps. Angela Brennan and Rebecca McWilliams, each said this week they'd seek to replace Whitley in the state Senate rather than run for Congress.

Mayors & County Leaders

Baltimore, MD Mayor: OpinionWorks shows incumbent Brandon Scott edging out former Mayor Sheila Dixon 38-35 in the May 14 Democratic primary, with former federal prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah far back at 10%. The survey was conducted for FOX45 News, the Baltimore Sun, and the University of Baltimore.

The only other independent poll we've seen of Baltimore's mayoral race this year was a Braun Research survey released last week on behalf of Goucher College and The Baltimore Banner, which gave Scott a larger 40-32 edge over Dixon. (Vignarajah was similarly situated at 11%.) It only takes a plurality to secure the Democratic nomination, which is tantamount to election in this dark blue city.

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

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

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Downballot

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

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

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

1Q Fundraising

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

Governors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Elections chief who advanced the Big Lie launches bid for West Virginia governor

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

WV-Gov, WV-Sen: Secretary of State Mac Warner, who runs West Virginia's elections even as he's helped spread election conspiracy theories, announced Tuesday that he was joining the 2024 primary to succeed his fellow Republican, termed-out Gov. Jim Justice.

Warner kicked off his campaign with a speech emphasizing service in the Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps and declaring, "It is time to call-out the radical, woke, dangerous and ridiculous policies of the 'progressive' Administration in Washington, D.C." West Virginia Metro News' Brad McElhinny notes that in that address, the secretary of state "did not mention issues specific to West Virginia."

Warner, who won his job in 2016 by narrowly unseating Democratic incumbent Natalie Tennant, was respected by fellow election officials heading into the 2020 contest for his efforts to combat misinformation, but that very much changed after Election Day. That's because Warner, who had just decisively defeated Tennant in their rematch, spent the next weeks backing up lies about Donald Trump's defeat.

Warner appeared at a December "March for Trump" rally in the state, where he appeared to be holding up a "Stop the Steal" sign. He later said he didn't actually think he'd hoisted that particular banner, but there's no question the secretary of state told Trump's fans at that gathering that it was "so important to keep him in office."

Warner also supported Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's failed lawsuit to invalidate Joe Biden's win in four swing states. While he insisted he was concerned whether changes states made in how late mail-in ballots could be received were constitutional, Warner also spread lies alleging, "When cardboard is put over windows, when two cases of ballots come out, when ballots are pre-marked or don't have folds on it—there's all those things. Those are red flags that need to be looked at and not just discounted, and that's what the mainstream media wants us to do."

Warner the following year was the one person at the National Association of Secretaries of State meeting to vote against a bipartisan proposal by his colleagues to set a standard for election audits, and he soon withdrew from the group in protest. (Missouri's Jay Ashcroft, who is also likely to run in 2024 for governor of his own state, abstained.)

In a recent interview with the New York Times, Warner acknowledged Biden "was elected," but he still questioned if that contest was fairly run. He also argued that congressional Democrats' efforts to expand voting rights and the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to hear Paxton's suit are "what spurred on the Jan. 6 people."

Warner joins a GOP primary that includes Del. Moore Capito and auto dealer Chris Miller, both of who come from prominent Mountain State political families. Capito is the son of Sen. Shelly Moore Capito and grandson of the late Gov. Arch Moore, while Miller's mother is Rep. Carol Miller. Warner also has some notable relatives: His wife, Debbie Warner, was recently elected to the state House, while his brother Monty Warner badly lost the 2004 gubernatorial race to Democrat Joe Manchin. Another brother currently leads the West Virginia Economic Development Authority.

The contest to replace Justice could expand further, as Auditor JB McCuskey has talked about getting in. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who lost the 2018 Senate race to Manchin, also put out a video Tuesday reiterating he was "still evaluating my options as to whether I'm going to run for U.S. Senate or for governor … We're coming soon." While Morrisey didn't indicate which office he was leaning towards, McElhinny noted that the attorney general's message urging voters not to "settle for second best" went up as Warner was still delivering his announcement speech.

The Downballot

 Hell yeah! Election season is already here, and it's off to an amazing start with Democrats' huge flip of a critical seat in the Virginia state Senate, which kicks off this week's episode of The Downballot. Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard dissect what Aaron Rouse's victory means for November (abortion is still issue #1!) when every seat in the legislature will be on the ballot. They also discuss big goings-on in two U.S. Senate races: California, where Rep. Katie Porter just became the first Democrat to kick off a bid despite Sen. Dianne Feinstein's lack of a decision about her own future, and Michigan, which just saw veteran Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow announce her retirement.

The Davids also delve back into a topic that frequently came up last year: redistricting. Didn't every state just draw new maps? you might ask. Yes! But many have to do so again, thanks to court rulings. Unfortunately, this gives Republicans in North Carolina and Ohio the opportunity to gerrymander once more, though there's an outside chance some Southern states could be required to draw new congressional districts where Black voters can elect their candidates of choice.

New episodes of The Downballot come out every Thursday morning. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts to make sure you never miss a show. You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by noon Eastern Time.

Senate

AZ-Sen: The Democratic firm Blueprint Polling has released numbers showing conspiracy theorist Kari Lake, who was the 2022 Republican nominee for governor, leading Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego 36-32 as independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema grabs 14%. None of these people have said they'll be running for the Senate in 2024, though Gallego has been hiring staff for a likely campaign. The firm says this poll was done "with no input or funding from any candidate, committee, or interest group."

CA-Sen: Multiple media outlets reported Wednesday that longtime Rep. Barbara Lee told the Congressional Black Caucus she planned to run for the Senate seat held by her fellow Democrat, incumbent Dianne Feinstein, but Lee herself did not commit to anything when reporters asked about her 2024 plans. "What I said was that I'm very sensitive and honoring Senator Feinstein," said Lee, who represents a heavily Democratic bastion that's home to Oakland and Berkeley. (Joe Biden performed better in Lee's new 12th District than he did in any of California's other 51 House seats.)

Lee, who has long been a national progressive favorite, told Politico in a separate interview she'd say what she's doing "when it's appropriate," adding, "I'm not really doing anything except letting colleagues know that there'll be a time to talk about the Senate race." The congresswoman also did not reveal if she was willing to challenge Feinstein if the 89-year-old incumbent surprised the political world and ran again. Rep. Katie Porter, a fellow Democrat who represents an Orange County seat, launched a bid on Tuesday and currently has the field to herself.

MD-Sen: Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin tells Politico he'll decide "probably in February or March" if he'll seek a fourth term.

MI-Sen: Wealthy businessman Perry Johnson, a Republican who failed to make the Republican primary ballot for governor last year, confirms he's interested in running for this open seat but has no timeline for deciding. Johnson spent $7 million of his own money last cycle before election authorities disqualified him after he and several other GOP contenders fell victim to a fraudulent signature scandal, and he unsuccessfully sued to try to get his name included. The ever-modest Johnson then began talking about a 2024 run for president after he decided to pass on a write-in effort.

Former Rep. Fred Upton, who was not on the 2022 ballot for anything by choice, meanwhile didn't quite dismiss a Senate campaign but sounds unlikely to go for it. The Republican noted he was 69 in his interview with MSNBC's Andrew Mitchell (the relevant portion begins at the 4:45 point) and said he was "probably not a candidate." Mitchell responded by noting he hadn't ruled it out, to which Upton replied, "I'm glad to be out of the Congress this last week, haven't thought about my future quite yet ... I guess you could say I've not ruled it out, but I'm really probably most inclined not to do so."

For the Democrats, Rep. Elissa Slotkin on Tuesday publicly confirmed for the first time she was "seriously considering" running to succeed retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow, though she also didn't have a timeline to decide. Attorney General Dana Nessel, however, played down the possibility she'd run, declaring she believes she could "do the most good" in her current post. "That's where I intend to stay," said Nessel.

NE-Sen-B: Gov. Jim Pillen says he'll announce Thursday morning whom he'll appoint to succeed Ben Sasse, a fellow Republican who has resigned from the Senate to become president of the University of Florida.

Governors

KY-Gov: Former Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, who currently has the airwaves to herself ahead of the May Republican primary, is running a new ad focused on combating fentanyl.

LA-Gov: East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore, a Democrat who is considering entering this year's race for governor, tells LaPolitics' Jeremy Alford, "I expect to have a decision in the next few weeks or sooner." Alford also writes that state Democratic chair Katie Bernhardt "sounds as serious as serious can get and will have something to say in a week or so." Bernhardt last week did not rule out a bid last week after her name was included in an unreleased poll.

House

CA-47: Former Rep. Harley Rouda, a Democrat who represented about two-thirds of this constituency from 2019 to 2021, announced Wednesday that he would run for the seat that Democratic incumbent Katie Porter is giving up to campaign for the Senate.

The only other declared candidate so far is former Orange County Republican Party chair Scott Baugh, who narrowly lost to Porter last cycle. This constituency, which includes coastal Orange County and Irvine, supported Biden 54-43, but this historically red area contains plenty of voters who are open to backing Republicans who aren’t named Donald Trump.

Rouda and Baugh previously faced off in the 2018 top-two primary to take on longtime Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in the old 48th District in what turned out to be an expensive and consequential contest. Rouda and another first-time Democratic candidate, Hans Keirstead, spent months competing against the Putin-loving congressman, and it looked likely that one of them would advance to the general election. But everything changed just before the filing deadline when Baugh, who had previously served in the state Assembly in the 1990s, unexpectedly jumped in and threatened to lock Democrats out of the general election.

Baugh, though, was hardly running as a favor to Rohrabacher. The two Republicans used to be friends, and when Baugh began raising money in 2016 for a campaign, Rohrabacher initially took it in stride and said he was "just laying the foundation for a race for Congress when I am no longer a member ... but I don't know when that's going to be." Their relationship publicly collapsed, however, after Baugh refused to actually say he wouldn’t use that cash against the congressman.

Baugh didn’t run for anything in 2016, but he used the money he’d amassed that year for his last-second bid against Rohrabacher two years later. Democratic outside groups scrambled to make sure this nasty intra-party fight didn’t end up hurting their own chances to flip the seat, and the DCCC and House Majority PAC spent about $1.8 million on an effort mostly aimed at attacking Baugh. The DCCC, which supported Rouda, also made an effort to promote a third Republican, little-known candidate John Gabbard, to further splinter the vote.

This expensive undertaking proved to be just enough to avoid a disaster for Democrats in a contest where Rohrabacher, who was in no danger of being eliminated, grabbed first with 30%. Rouda edged out Keirstead 17.3-17.2, while Baugh was right behind with 16%; Gabbard finished with 3%, which may have been enough to hold back Baugh. Rouda went on to score a 54-46 victory over Rohrabacher, who never seemed to take his general election seriously.

Baugh unexpectedly turned down a rematch with Rouda in 2020, and Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel instead stepped up to take on the new congressman. Steel proved to be a much tougher foe than Rohrabacher, and she managed to secure enough voters who’d turned against Trump but still favored Republicans down the ballot: Biden took the 48th 50-48, but Steel unseated Rouda 51-49.

Rouda quickly began running against Steel again, but that was before redistricting scrambled California’s map at the end of 2021. Rouda and Porter initially both planned to run for the new 47th District, and while Rouda had represented considerably more of the redrawn constituency than his former colleague, Porter went into 2022 with a massive financial edge and a national progressive base that allowed her to bring in far more. Rouda soon announced he wouldn’t run for anything that cycle, and Porter went on to beat Baugh 52-48 after a very expensive battle.

NY-03: Prominent Nassau County Republican officials held a press conference Wednesday calling for GOP Rep. George Santos to resign only for the scandal-drenched freshman to immediately say, "I will not." The state Conservative Party, which usually backs Republicans in general elections, also told Santos to get lost; Nick Langworthy, the 23rd District congressman who still leads the state GOP, later said he supported the Nassau County party's anti-Santos declaration.

Still, while there was no reason to think Santos would heed the calls for his departure, his former allies used their gathering to make it clear just what they thought of him. Nassau County GOP chair Joseph Cairo, whose community forms three quarters of the 3rd District (the balance is in Queens) even said that the freshman congressman had personally lied to him about being "a star on the" volleyball team at Baruch College, an institution Santos never attended.

Rep. Anthony D'Esposito, who was elected to the neighboring 4th District last year on the same night as Santos, said he "will not associate with him in Congress and I will encourage other representatives in the House of Representatives to join me in rejecting him." The county GOP even added that it would direct any constituent calls from Santos' district to D'Esposito, while county Executive Bruce Blakeman called the 3rd District congressman "a stain on the House of Representatives."

Speaker Kevin McCarthy, though, showed no interest in pressuring Santos to resign or trying to organize two-thirds of the House to expel him. (The last time this happened was 2002, when Democratic Rep. James Traficant of Ohio was ejected by his colleagues three months after he was found guilty on corruption charges.) McCarthy instead said, "The voters elected him to serve," adding, "Is there a charge against him? In America today, you're innocent until proven guilty."

While McCarthy did declare that Santos, who backed him last week in each of the 15 speakership votes, would not be assigned to any of the top House committees, he made it clear that he'd get to sit on some panels. The speaker, when reminded how Santos had lied about his biography, responded, "Yeah, so did a lot of people here, in the Senate and others, but the one thing I think, it's the voters who made that decision. He has to answer to the voters and the voters can make another decision in two years."

Legislatures

MI State House: Democrats last November flipped the state House to win a 56-54 edge, but Gorchow News Service notes the chamber would become tied for a few months should two members from the Detroit suburbs win their respective mayoral elections this November. State Rep. Kevin Coleman said last month that he would run to lead Westland, while colleague Lori Stone recently filed paperwork for a potential bid for mayor of Warren.  

Democrats would be favored to keep both of their constituencies should any special elections take place. According to data from Dave's Redistricting App, President Joe Biden carried Coleman's 25th House District 59-40, while he racked up an even larger 64-35 margin in Stone's HD-13.

Mayors and County Leaders

Jacksonville, FL Mayor: The two leading Republicans are continuing to attack one another ahead of the March nonpartisan primary, with City Councilwoman LeAnna Gutierrez Cumber's PAC airing a commercial declaring that Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis was "ready to sell out" the city by supporting the privatization of the municipal utility JEA.

"As CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, Davis took over $300,000 from JEA to promote privatization," declares the narrator, who argues this would have raised energy bills. The ad then plays audio of Davis saying, "I think more privatization should take place in the city of Jacksonville." Davis' own PAC recently went up with a commercial labeling Cumber a "fake conservative."

Montgomery County, PA Board of Commissioners: Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro announced Wednesday that he was nominating Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Chair Valerie Arkoosh, a fellow Democrat who succeeded him in 2016 as head of the state's third-largest county, to become the new state human services secretary. Should Arkoosh, who ran an aborted 2022 campaign for the U.S. Senate, be confirmed by two-thirds of the state Senate, it would be up to the County Court judges to pick her replacement on the three-member body.

Arkoosh's planned departure comes ahead of this year's local elections in this suburban Philadelphia county. All three Commission seats are elected countywide, and voters in November can select up to two candidates. However, each party can only nominate two candidates this May, so the body will wind up with a 2-1 split no matter what.

Republicans spent generations as the dominant party in Montgomery County, and they continued to control the Commission into the 21st century even as local voters began favoring Democratic presidential candidates. In 2011, though, Shapiro led his party to its first-ever majority, and there's no reason to think they're in danger of losing it this fall in what's become a heavily blue area.  

Prosecutors and Sheriffs

Philadelphia, PA District Attorney: The Republican-led state Senate voted Wednesday to indefinitely postpone its impeachment trial against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, a decision that came weeks after the state's Commonwealth Court ruled that state House Republicans failed to demonstrate any of the legally required standards for "misbehavior in office" in their articles of impeachment. That ruling did not order the upper chamber to halt the planned Jan. 18 trial, and the House GOP has not yet said if it will appeal the decision.