Morning Digest: Republican attacks primary rival for being too strict on abortion

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

SC-04: South Carolina Rep. William Timmons' newest ad accuses his primary opponent of being too hardline on abortion, a line of attack that GOP candidates almost never use against one another. Timmons, though, is betting that even Republican primary voters in the conservative Greenville area have limits on what they're willing to tolerate.

The spot shows footage of state Rep. Adam Morgan, who is challenging Timmons for renomination on June 11, raising his hand in support of what a female narrator describes as "legislation that would send rape and incest victims to jail for up to two years who ended their pregnancy."

"Adam," she continues, "being pro-life doesn’t mean you hurt women by jailing the victims of rape and incest. Your vote was shameful." Timmons himself closes out the commercial by saying he approves his message "because I am pro-life."

The Greenville News' Savannah Moss recently explained the context for the 2022 vote in question. At the time, the state House was debating a bill that would ban abortion unless the mother's life was at risk or the pregnancy was the result of a sexual assault.

But Republican Rep. Josiah Magnuson thought these restrictions still did not go far enough, so he proposed an amendment that would punish a woman who "intentionally commits abortion" with a misdemeanor with a maximum prison sentence of two years.

Morgan, who chairs the far-right Freedom Caucus that Magnuson is also a member of, voted for his ally's plan, but most lawmakers did not. The amendment failed 91 to 9, though the legislature went on to ban abortion in most cases after just six weeks.

Morgan defended himself at a candidate forum earlier this month by claiming that his vote was meant to close an alleged "loophole" by going after women "who performed abortions on themselves." He also snarked that the three-term congressman didn't understand the true purpose of the vote because he suffered from "reading comprehension issues."

Timmons stood his ground both on the amendment and his reading abilities. The incumbent shared his new ad on social media Monday, writing that Morgan had backed a measure that "was widely rejected by the national and state pro-life movement as not only harmful to women, but to the noble effort to protect the unborn."

Timmons, who has Donald Trump's endorsement, is facing off against Morgan in an increasingly ugly battle. During a debate last week, the congressman brought up a website his campaign had created to attack Morgan for missing votes in the legislature, prompting Morgan to respond by drawing attention to rumors that Timmons used the powers of his office to conceal an extra-marital affair.

"The fact that we’re at a place in our politics where somebody has to go and create a website about attacking their opponent and attacking their integrity," Morgan complained. "I have to say, you don’t want this election to be about integrity."

When the rumors first surfaced two years ago, Timmons denied he'd done anything illegal. He did not, however, address whether he'd been unfaithful to his wife, who filed for divorce several months later, with the estranged wife of a developer named Ron Rallis.

Rallis publicly accused Timmons of moral and legal wrongdoing at the time and has since kept up a public crusade against the incumbent. The developer sat in the audience at a late April candidate forum as another attendee asked Timmons about the scandal. The congressman, after what the Post & Courier described as "a moment that left the room in awkward silence and Timmons at a loss for words," avoided giving a direct answer.

Election Recaps

CA-20: Assemblyman Vince Fong beat Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux in Tuesday's all-Republican special election to replace former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Fong leads 60-40 as of Wednesday morning, with the Associated Press estimating that 87% of the vote has been tabulated. It's possible the margin may change as the remaining ballots are counted, but the outcome is not in doubt.

Fong and Boudreaux will face off one more time in November in the general election to represent California's conservative 20th District, which is based in the Central Valley, for a full term.

 GA-03 (R): Former Trump aide Brian Jack and former state Sen. Mike Dugan will face off in a June 18 primary runoff after no candidate won a majority of the vote in this five-person field. 

Jack took first with 47%, while Dugan outpaced former state Sen. Mike Crane 25-16 for second. The winner of next month's runoff should have no trouble in the general election to replace retiring GOP Rep. Drew Ferguson in Georgia's 3rd District, a reliably red seat based in the southwestern Atlanta exurbs.

Jack earned Trump's endorsement hours before he even announced he was running, and he also benefited from $1.5 million in spending from super PACs. (None of his opponents received any serious outside support.) It wasn't quite enough to secure an outright win for Jack on Tuesday, but it should give him a formidable advantage over Dugan in the second round.

 GA-06 (D): Rep. Lucy McBath handily won renomination in Georgia's revamped 6th District, setting her up for an easy November victory in this safely blue constituency. The well-known McBath took 85% while Cobb County Commissioner Jerica Richardson finished with a distant 9% and state Rep. Mandisha Thomas ended up with 6%.

Thanks to multiple rounds of redistricting since she was first elected in 2018, McBath will have represented around 20% of the state once she's sworn in next year, according to analyst Varun Vishwanath.

GA-13 (D): Rep. David Scott defeated six challengers on Tuesday, clearing the way for the longtime congressman to win a 12th term in Georgia's redrawn 13th District in the fall. Despite serious concerns about his health, Scott won 57% of the vote while his nearest competitor, former South Fulton City Councilman Mark Baker, earned just 12%. Like McBath's 6th, this district is safely Democratic.

 GA Supreme Court: Conservative Justice Andrew Pinson fended off a late challenge to win a six-year term on Georgia's Supreme Court, turning back former Democratic Rep. John Barrow 55-45.

Barrow had hoped his vocal support for abortion rights would help make him the first challenger to unseat a sitting justice in more than a century. Pinson, however, benefitted from his status as an incumbent—he was even listed as such on the ballot—and outside support from Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who appointed him to the bench in 2022.

ID-02 (R): While Rep. Mike Simpson didn't come close to losing renomination, the 13-term incumbent took an unimpressive 56% of the vote against a pair of underfunded foes; his nearest intra-party opponent, 2022 independent Senate candidate Scott Cleveland, earned 35%. But Simpson, who considered retiring this cycle before opting to seek reelection, should have nothing to worry about in the fall in this dark red constituency.

OR-03 (D): State Rep. Maxine Dexter beat former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal in the primary to replace their fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Earl Blumenauer, in this safely blue seat in the eastern Portland area. Dexter leads Jayapal 51-29 as of Wednesday morning, with the AP estimating that 63% of the vote has been tabulated. 

Dexter benefited from more than $2 million in support from 314 Action, a group that promotes Democratic candidates with backgrounds in science (Dexter is a pulmonologist). She also decisively outraised her opponents late in the race thanks in part to a large infusion from donors with a history of also giving to the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC. 

While AIPAC did not officially endorse Dexter, it responded to her victory by tweeting that "AIPAC members were proud to support" her against Jayapal.  

Jayapal, who is the sister of Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, received no major outside support and was also on the receiving end of more than $3 million in attacks from a new super PAC called Voters for Responsive Government.

We still don't know who's funding the super PAC, though. VFRG was required on Monday to disclose any contributors it received through April 30, but the forms it submitted only revealed that all of its donations came after that date.

OR-05 (D): State Rep. Janelle Bynum defeated 2022 nominee Jamie McLeod-Skinner for the right to take on freshman GOP Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer. Bynum leads 69-31 with 70% of the estimated vote in.

Bynum, who would be the first Black person to represent Oregon in Congress, benefited from the support of the DCCC and Gov. Tina Kotek. A mysterious super PAC, by contrast, launched a late ad campaign to boost McLeod-Skinner in what appears to have been an unsuccessful Republican attempt to meddle in the primary.

McLeod-Skinner spent the race dogged by allegations that she had mistreated her staff as a candidate and as a municipal official, which could help explain both why Republicans wanted her and why national Democrats wanted Bynum. The 5th District, which is based in Portland's southern suburbs and central Oregon, favored Joe Biden 53-44 in 2020. 

OR-SoS (D): State Treasurer Tobias Read defeated state Sen. James Manning in the primary to replace Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade, a fellow Democrat who did not run for a full term. Read leads 71-21 with the AP estimating that 71% of the vote has been counted.

Read will take on state Sen. Dennis Linthicum, who was one of the six Republican members of the upper chamber who were prohibited from seeking reelection this year because of a 2022 measure aimed at punishing legislators who take part in quorum-busting boycotts. Linthicum's advantage over his nearest opponent, businessman Brent Barker, stood at 66-20 on Wednesday morning with the AP estimating that 74% of the vote has been counted. 

Read will be favored in this blue state for a post that's both the state's chief elections officer and first in line to succeed the governor in case of a vacancy. That latter role will be a familiar one to Read: Oregon has no lieutenant governor, but because Griffin-Valade was appointed to her role after her predecessor, Shemia Fagan, resigned amid a scandal, Read is currently first in line.

Multnomah County, OR District Attorney: Longtime prosecutor Nathan Vasquez enjoys a big lead over District Attorney Mike Schmidt in the officially nonpartisan general election, though the AP has not yet called the race. Vasquez holds a 56-44 advantage with an estimated 63% of the vote tabulated as of Wednesday morning.  

Schmidt, whose decisive 2020 victory represented a big win for criminal justice reformers, identifies as a Democrat, while Vasquez left the Republican Party in 2017 to enroll with the Independent Party of Oregon. 

Vasquez ran ads arguing that under Schmidt, crime and homelessness have veered out of control in Portland. Schmidt tried to defend his record and highlighted Vasquez's past support for the policies he went on to attack, but the challenger's message appears to have won out.

Senate

MD-Sen: Former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has launched his first general election ad, which focuses on abortion and is part of a $1 million buy. The commercial, obtained by Politico, presents Hogan as an abortion rights supporter who claims he'll codify Roe v. Wade if elected.

Hogan had described himself as "pro-life" for years and notably vetoed a bill in 2022 that would have expanded abortion access, which Democratic lawmakers overrode. After kicking off his surprise bid for Senate in February, however, he began shifting his stance

That shift accelerated after Hogan won the GOP primary earlier this month, when he began calling himself "pro-choice" and endorsed the reproductive rights amendment that Democratic lawmakers placed on November's ballot following a party-line vote last year. But just days after he joined the race in February, Hogan told CNN's Dana Bash that abortion was an "emotional issue for women" and the ballot measure "wasn't really necessary."

While serving as governor, Hogan repeatedly claimed he wouldn't seek to restrict abortion access, but that prospect was always a nonstarter with Democrats dominating the state legislature. By contrast, if Hogan wins his Senate race, he would have the first chance in his career to restrict abortion rights by helping Republicans win a majority.

NV-Sen: A new internal poll finds Army veteran Sam Brown crushing former Ambassador to Iceland Jeff Gunter by 52-14 ahead of the June 11 Republican primary, with election conspiracy theorist Jim Marchant taking 7%.

The poll, obtained by the Nevada Independent, was conducted by the Tarrance Group for Brown and his supporters at the NRSC. Gunter has self-funded millions and has been advertising heavily in recent weeks, but it doesn't seem to have had a material impact. Last month, a survey from Tarrance for the same clients found Brown dominating 58-6 over Marchant while Gunter took 3%.

Governors

VT-Gov: Former Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger announced Monday that he wouldn't seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who said earlier this month that he would seek a fifth two-year term. Weinberger led Vermont's largest city for 12 years before leaving office earlier this year. With former Gov. Howard Dean also saying recently that he'd sit out the race, Democrats lack a prominent candidate ahead of the May 30 filing deadline.

House

LA-05: Gov. Jeff Landry endorsed Rep. Julia Letlow on Monday in a tweet that did not mention her colleague and potential opponent, fellow GOP Rep. Garret Graves. Landry's move is anything but a surprise, though, as he reportedly pushed for the congressional map that turned Graves' 6th District solidly blue.

Graves, who spent about a year considering whether to take on Landry in the 2023 race for governor, further alienated the eventual winner by recruiting a rival candidate. Democratic state Rep. Mandie Landry, who is not related to Jeff Landry, said last month in her testimony over the new boundaries, "The governor wanted Congressman Graves out … It was the one [map] we all understood would go through."

Jeff Landry also used his tweet to note that Majority Leader Steve Scalise, who represents Louisiana's 1st District, is likewise supporting Letlow in the 5th. Scalise, like Landry, did not say anything about Graves in his own message praising Letlow, but he has his own reasons to want him out of Congress.

Scalise told Politico last year that Graves sabotaged his bid for speaker by spreading false rumors about his health. Scalise said that, while his physicians had told him his battle with cancer was progressing well, an "unnamed member of Congress" had claimed Scalise was "going to die in six months." This "unnamed member," according to Politico, was Graves.

VA-07: VoteVets has launched what it says is a $400,000 TV ad buy to support former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman in the crowded Democratic primary on June 18. The spot notes that Vindman was fired for standing up to Donald Trump in the scandal that led to Trump's first impeachment, and it also touts the Washington Post's recent endorsement along with Vindman's support for abortion rights.

Attorneys General

VA-AG: Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe this week became the latest prominent Democrat to endorse former Del. Jay Jones for attorney general even though Jones himself hasn't announced his plans for next year's elections. The post is held by Republican Jason Miyares, who is a potential candidate for governor in 2025.

Ballot Measures

NV Ballot: Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom announced it had submitted more than 200,000 voter signatures for a ballot initiative that would enshrine abortion rights in Nevada's constitution. Amendment supporters need 102,362 of those signatures to be valid, including an amount in each congressional district equal to 10% of the votes cast for governor in the last election, a target supporters say they've also surpassed.

If the measure qualifies for the ballot and wins voter approval this fall, voters would have to pass it again in 2026 before it could take effect.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: The National Rifle Association announced Monday that its new president would be former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr, a Republican-turned-Libertarian-turned-Republican. The once mighty organization has seen its influence wane dramatically in recent years in large part due to a series of scandals, though Republican candidates still welcome its endorsement.

Barr, for his part, also saw his own power fade in the decades since he helped prosecute Bill Clinton as a manager during the president's 1999 impeachment trial. Peach State Democrats used the final congressional map they ever got to draw to pit Barr against fellow Rep. John Linder in the 2002 primary for the 7th District, a contest Linder won 64-36.

Barr went on to serve as the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nominee before rejoining the GOP a few years later. He sought a return to the House in 2014 when he campaigned for the open 11th District only to lose the primary runoff 66-34 to Barry Loudermilk, who still holds the seat.

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Michigan Democrats retake House majority, clearing way for progressive priorities

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

 MI State House: Michigan Democrats successfully defended a pair of vacant state House seats in the Detroit suburbs on Tuesday, restoring the outright majority the party won in 2022. With Democrats, who also hold the governorship and state Senate, back in full control of state government, the party once again has the opportunity to advance its agenda.

In one of Tuesday's specials, Westland City Councilman Peter Herzberg defeated Republican Josh Powell 60-38 in the 25th District, which, according to data from Dave's Redistricting App, backed Joe Biden 59-40 in 2020.

Meanwhile, Macomb County Commissioner Mai Xiong likewise beat Republican Ronald Singer 66-34 in the 13th District, which went for the president 64-35. Xiong's win makes her the first Hmong American elected to the state House.

Both seats became vacant following last November's local elections when a pair of Democrats, Kevin Coleman of Westland and Lori Stone of Warren, resigned after being elected mayor of their respective communities. While there was little question that Democrats would win the special elections, Coleman and Stone's absences meant that the 110-chamber would be tied 54-54 for several months.

Democrat Joe Tate remained speaker during the ensuing time, but his party was unable to pass legislation without Republican support. This state of affairs, however, has changed now that Herzberg and Xiong have prevailed and restored Democrats to a 56-54 edge (they also have a 20-18 advantage in the Senate).

Despite their narrow majorities, Democrats passed an ambitious agenda last year, which included repealing anti-union "right to work" laws, reversing a 1931 abortion ban, and protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Their hopes for the coming year are similarly far-reaching.

One major goal will be the passage of the $80.7 billion state budget that Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is touting as a way to provide both free preschool and community college. The House will also have the opportunity to approve a voting rights package to improve access to the ballot box for people of color, voters with disabilities, and people who rely on a language other than English.

While the governorship and state Senate aren't up until 2026, Democrats must once again defend their narrow majority in the lower chamber this November. That task got a bit more complicated this year when a panel of federal judges approved a new map for the state House drawn by Michigan's independent redistricting commission to replace one the court determined improperly factored in race.

The partisan impact of this shift was limited, as Donald Trump would have won the same 56-54 majority of districts under both sets of maps. Xiong, though, will likely be in for a considerably tougher contest this fall than she was on Tuesday: While Biden easily carried the version of the 13th District she won this week, the revamped version favored him just 50-48.

Election Recaps

 AL-02: Former Justice Department official Shomari Figures defeated state House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels 61-39 in Tuesday's Democratic primary runoff for Alabama's revamped 2nd District. 

Figures' nomination in this seat, which now takes in Mobile, Montgomery, and the eastern Black Belt, came after the crypto-aligned super PAC Protect Progress spent another $900,000 to support him in the second round of voting. The group previously deployed over $1.7 million to promote Figures ahead of the March 5 primary, which saw him lead Daniels 43-22.

Figures will be favored in the general election against attorney Caroleene Dobson, who won the GOP runoff by beating former state Sen. Dick Brewbaker by a 58-42 margin. The new version of the 2nd, which was put in place by a federal court, is now a plurality Black district that would have backed Joe Biden 56-43.

Republican Rep. Barry Moore last year all but acknowledged his redrawn seat was unwinnable for his party when he decided that, rather than seek reelection to the new 2nd, he'd challenge fellow incumbent Jerry Carl in the dark red 1st. (Moore won 52-48 last month.)

With Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell poised to easily hold the reliably blue 7th District around Birmingham, a win for Figures in November would give Alabama two Black members of Congress for the first time. It would also be the first time that Democrats have held two House seats in Alabama since Republicans secured their current 6-1 advantage following the 2010 red wave.

Figures, who hails from a prominent political family in Mobile, would also be the first African American to represent this Gulf Coast city in Congress since the 1870s. Two of the three Black representatives who held office during Reconstruction, Republicans Benjamin Turner and Jeremiah Haralson, won Mobile-based seats; the third, James Rapier, represented an area around Montgomery and Dothan.

In addition, Figures would be the first Democrat to represent Mobile in the House since the early 1960s, a time when segregationist Democrats still held a monopoly on power in the state. The last Mobile-based Democratic congressman was Frank Boykin, a conservative Dixiecrat who won what was then numbered the 1st District in a 1935 special election.

Boykin's status was threatened, though, after the state lost one of its nine House seats following the 1960 census and the legislature failed to approve a new map in time for the 1962 elections.

All nine members of the House delegation, which had been all-Democratic since the turn of the century, ended up competing in a statewide primary for eight at-large seats, and Boykin was the unlucky incumbent who took last place. (He was convicted on corruption charges the next year, but President Lyndon Johnson later pardoned the former congressman.)

New districts were approved for the 1964 elections, but Republicans had begun making inroads in the state by emphasizing their opposition to civil rights for African Americans. Republican Jack Edwards decisively won the open 1st District around Mobile as the GOP, aided by Barry Goldwater's landslide win over LBJ in Alabama, secured four other House seats. While the GOP lost two of its new members in 1966, it continued to hold the 1st District throughout the ensuing decades.

Alabama's current court-drawn map, however, means that, for the first time since Boykin's era, most voters in Mobile will soon likely have a Democratic congressman. About 90% of the city is located in the new 2nd District, according to data from Dave's Redistricting App, while the balance is contained in the 1st.

And while the GOP's hold on the 1st District, which would have favored Donald Trump 74-24 in 2020, isn't at risk, the new boundaries were bad news for one Mobile-area Republican. Carl, a former member of the Mobile County Commission, lost his March 5 primary to Moore, a colleague whose base is in the more rural Wiregrass region to the east. 

Senate

MD-Sen: A new survey for OpinionWorks shows former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan leading his two prospective Democratic foes, Rep. David Trone and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, 53-40 and 54-36, respectively. The poll, which was conducted for The Baltimore Sun, FOX45, and the University of Baltimore, did not include presidential numbers in Tuesday's release.

A pair of March polls from Braun Research conducted for two different sets of clients also showed Hogan ahead in general election matchups, though they disagreed just how well he was doing in this dark blue state.

The early March numbers for the Washington Post and the University of Maryland placed the Republican ahead of Trone and Alsobrooks by margins of 49-37 and 50-36, which is similar to what OpinionWorks now finds. But a survey conducted later in the month for Goucher College and the Baltimore Banner showed Hogan edging out Trone just 43-42 and leading Alsobrooks by an only slightly larger 44-40 spread.

OpinionWorks also looks at both parties' May 14 primaries. On the Democratic side, Trone enjoys a 48-29 edge over Alsobrooks, which is larger than what other recent polls have shown. The firm also gives us a rare glance at the GOP side, where Hogan is crushing wealthy perennial candidate Robin Ficker 69-9.

NJ-Sen: A state court judge ruled on Monday that election officials in New Jersey could continue to print ballots for the Republican primary that award special placement to party-endorsed candidates, saying it was "too late" to change course. Previously, a federal judge forbade Democrats from using ballots organized in this way and instead said candidates had to be grouped by the office they're seeking.

However, even though that federal court ruling applied only to Democratic primaries, Superior Court Judge John Harrington suggested that Republicans should have followed suit in eliminating the so-called "county line." The federal case is currently being appealed, and it's possible that the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could extend the lower court's ruling to include the GOP.

NV-Sen: Former diplomat Jeff Gunter is airing his first TV ad against Army veteran Sam Brown ahead of the June 11 Republican primary, though it's anyone's guess how much he's actually spending to get it on the air. Gunter said two weeks ago he'd be deploying a total of $3.3 million on ads for the rest of the contest, but as of Friday, AdImpact reported he'd booked only $654,000.

The new spot accuses Brown of being aided by "dirty cash from Mitch McConnell, the swamp king himself." Brown is the NRSC's endorsed candidate to take on Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen.

DSCC: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced Tuesday that it had reserved a total of $79 million for TV, radio, and digital ads in races across the nation. The news came after its allies at Senate Majority PAC booked what Politico's Burgess Everett says is now $239 million in several battlegrounds.

Everett writes that a large portion of the DSCC's reservation is budgeted toward TV ads in three Democratic-held seats in swing states: $11 million is going to defend Michigan's open seat, while Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin will receive $10 million in support and Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey will benefit from $8 million.

Another $2 million is being devoted to radio buys to help Montana Sen. Jon Tester, but we don't know yet how the remaining $48 million is being assigned. Everett says "seven-figure digital advertisements" will be used in the above states as well as in Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Texas. (Florida and Texas are held by GOP incumbents Rick Scott and Ted Cruz.) An unnamed DSCC aide says some money will also be directed toward coordinated buys with candidates.

Governors

IN-Gov: Campaign finance reports are in for the first quarter of the year, and the Indianapolis Star's Kayla Dwyer has collected the numbers from all the notable Republicans competing in the May 7 primary for governor:

  • Businessman Eric Doden: $4.4 million raised, $251,000 cash on hand
  • Sen. Mike Braun: $2.9 million raised, $946,000 cash on hand
  • Former state Commerce Secretary Brad Chambers: $1.5 million raised, additional $3 million self-funded, $761,000 cash on hand
  • Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch: $1.4 million raised, $3.1 million cash on hand
  • Former Attorney General Curtis Hill: $201,000 raised, $34,000 cash on hand

Dwyer notes that Doden received $3 million in donations and loans from his parents, which represents most of the money he brought in. Braun, for his part, took in $1 million from Richard Uihlein, who is one of the most prolific conservative megadonors in the country.

VA-Gov: Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger publicized an endorsement on Tuesday from Clean Virginia, a prominent environmental group that the Richmond Times-Dispatch says spent almost $12 million in last year's legislative races.

That effort included several 2023 Democratic primaries where Clean Virginia's candidates opposed contenders supported by Dominion Energy. Clean Virginia helped Lashrecse Aird deny renomination to Dominion's ally, conservative state Sen. Joe Morrissey, while it was on the winning side against two other upper chamber candidates backed by the mammoth energy producer. Dominion, though, successfully defended two Democratic state senators against Clean Virginia-supported challengers.  

Spanberger faces Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney in next year's Democratic nomination contest to replace GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who is barred from seeking a second consecutive term. Spanberger ended 2023 with a wide $3.6 million to $758,000 cash on hand advantage, but since fundraising reports covering the first six months of the year won't be available until July 15, we'll need to wait a while for updated numbers.

House

CO-05: State Sen. Bob Gardner said over the weekend that election officials informed him that he'd failed to submit enough signatures to make the June 25 Republican primary ballot. Gardner, who is termed out of his current job, acknowledged his congressional campaign was over to Colorado Politics. "I've always believed there's more to life than the next political office," he said, "so there's many opportunities to serve."

Gardner's involuntary departure makes the primary to replace retiring GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn a two-way duel between state party chair Dave Williams, who has Donald Trump's backing, and conservative radio host Jeff Crank, who has Speaker Mike Johnson in his corner. Crank decisively outraised Williams $302,000 to $68,000 among donors during the first quarter of the year, though Williams self-funded an additional $103,000. Crank finished March with a $228,000 to $166,000 cash advantage.

Both candidates have an unhappy electoral history with Lamborn, who has not taken sides. Crank narrowly lost to Lamborn the last time this seat was open in 2006 and unsuccessfully sought to boot him two years later, while Williams waged a failed challenge to Lamborn last cycle. The GOP nominee will be favored in the general election for the 5th District, a Colorado Springs-based seat that favored Trump 53-43 in 2020.

PA-01: A new group called True Patriots PA, which Politico says has ties to Democrats, has spent at least $50,000 on mailers attacking GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in the hopes that his far-right primary opponent somehow unseats him. One flyer accuses the incumbent of becoming "best friends with Kamala Harris and the Democrats," while another calls him "the biggest RINO in Congress."

Politico reports the treasurer of True Patriots also works for Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, a prominent progressive. Democrats would be thrilled if anti-abortion activist Mark Houck denied renomination to Fitzpatrick in this competitive suburban Philadelphia seat, but there's not much sign that the congressman is in danger against the underfunded challenger.

Fitzpatrick did air commercials on streaming TV last month branding Houck as a "porn addict," but Inside Elections reported at the time that the congressman was spending just $23,000 on those ads. The winner will take on retired Army pilot Ashley Ehasz, a Democrat who is hoping to avenge her 55-45 loss against Fitzpatrick from last cycle.

SC-01: The conservative super PAC Winning for Women has launched what Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin says is at least a $161,000 TV buy to promote former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton in the June 11 GOP primary. The spot, which does not mention Trump-backed incumbent Nancy Mace, declares that Templeton "will stand with President Trump's border policies."

The Washington Post's Patrick Svitek notes that Winning for Women supported Mace in 2022 when she successfully fended off a primary opponent who was endorsed by Trump, and it initially backed her again in May of last year. But while Mace responded by tweeting out her "[e]normous gratitude," the two sides appear to have had a falling out sometime after the congresswoman joined with seven other House Republicans to end Kevin McCarthy's speakership.

"They’re doing this all because the former Speaker is a mean girl on a revenge tour against the only woman who voted against him for Speaker," a Mace spokesperson said in a statement about the congresswoman's erstwhile allies. "And this time he’s hiding behind the skirts of W4W."

Prosecutors & Sheriffs

Alameda County, CA District Attorney: County election officials announced Monday evening that the campaign to recall Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price had turned in enough signatures to force a vote.

It will be up to the Board of Supervisors, which is set to meet on April 30, to decide when the election will take place. Recall expert Joshua Spivak identifies both the timing of the race, as well as the question of whether or not a replacement would be elected on the same ballot, as some of the "areas for potential lawsuits."

Price was elected in 2022 as district attorney for this dark blue East Bay county, which is home to Oakland and Berkeley, by campaigning as a criminal justice reformer. Her critics, though, quickly began arguing that she'd done a poor job combating violent crime. Price’s team, meanwhile, said last month that her ouster would "undermine the results of a free and fair election" and "jeopardize the historic progress achieved in recent years."

Hillsborough County, FL State Attorney: Democrat Andrew Warren announced Tuesday that he would run this fall to reclaim the prosecutor's office in Hillsborough County that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis permanently suspended him from in 2022.

Warren is seeking to oust Republican Suzy Lopez, whom DeSantis appointed to replace him, in a county that includes Tampa and many of its suburbs. First, though, he needs to get past attorney Elizabeth Martinez Strauss, who hails from a prominent local legal family, in the Aug. 20 Democratic primary.

Warren won his second term 53-47 in 2020 as Joe Biden was carrying Hillsborough by a similar spread. However, his tenure came to a sudden end two years later when DeSantis removed him from office for, among other things, refusing to prosecute people who obtain or provide abortions.

Warren initially had little success in court challenging his dismissal and announced in January that he'd decided not to run again because there was a "high risk" that the governor would respond to his victory by removing him again.

However, he unexpectedly got some welcome news just two days later when a federal appeals court determined that a lower court judge had incorrectly concluded that several of the factors that had "motivated DeSantis to suspend Warren"—such as Warren's opposition to prosecuting individuals who obtain or provide abortions—were not protected by the First Amendment. The move did not guarantee Warren's reinstatement, but the Democrat quickly acknowledged he was reconsidering his plans not to run.

There have been no major developments since then, and the Tampa Bay Times says the case hasn't even been formally returned to the lower court yet. Still, Warren told the Times on Tuesday that the appeals court's decision "makes clear that the governor is not above the law and that the will of the people matters."

Strauss, for her part, told the paper that, while she believes Warren was unfairly ousted, his legal situation makes him "a risky candidate." She added that she'd remain in the race unless the courts act on his case before the April 26 candidate filing deadline.

Poll Pile

  • TX-Sen: Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation: Ted Cruz (R-inc): 46, Colin Allred (D): 41, Ted Brown (L): 4 (48-36 Trump in two-way, 46-34 Trump with third-party candidates)

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Democrats’ new Florida recruit has a plan to exploit Rick Scott’s bungling

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-Sen: Former Florida Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell kicked off her campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Rick Scott on Tuesday, a development that gives national Democrats the recruit they want for what will be a challenging contest. Mucarsel-Powell, though, is hoping that Scott's own vulnerabilities, as well as a backlash to Gov. Ron DeSantis' far-right agenda, will give her the chance to score an upset in a longtime swing state that veered sharply to the right in 2022.

Mucarsel-Powell, who flipped a competitive Miami-area House seat in 2018 but lost it two years later, first needs to win the primary. However, she begins as the strong favorite to become the first Latina Democrat ever nominated for statewide office.

The only other notable candidate who has launched a bid is Navy veteran Phil Ehr, who raised $2 million for his 2020 campaign against the nationally infamous Rep. Matt Gaetz in the safely red 1st District, but he's so far attracted no major allies. Former Rep. Alan Grayson also is talking about running and even filed FEC paperwork in late June, but his deliberations have attracted little attention now that he's well into the perennial candidate stage of his career.

Scott, who became wealthy running what was the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain, HCA, used his vast personal resources to win two tight races for governor in 2010 and 2014 before narrowly unseating Sen. Bill Nelson in 2018.

His political fortunes, though, took a sharp downturn last cycle after a chaotic tenure as head of the NRSC that was defined by a feud with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and saw the GOP manage to defy history by actually losing a seat. One of Scott's many mistakes came early in 2022 when he unveiled a plan to "sunset" all federal legislation, including Social Security, after five years, an agenda that Democrats were only too happy to make Republican Senate candidates answer for.

Scott's proposal received new attention earlier this year when President Joe Biden attacked it in his State of the Union address—a pile-on that McConnell was only too happy to join. "I think it will be a challenge for him to deal with this in his own reelection in Florida, a state with more elderly people than any state in America," said McConnell of the senator who months before had tried to oust him as the GOP's Senate leader. (The bad blood between the two camps continues to linger, with one unnamed McConnell ally using just two words to describe Scott to Time magazine in April: "Ass clown.")

Scott soon edited his "sunset" plan to include "specific exceptions of Social Security, Medicare, national security, veterans benefits, and other essential services," but Mucarsel-Powell made it clear this week that his belated about-face wouldn't deter her from making Scott's blunder an issue. "He wrote the plan that could take away the Social Security and Medicare you worked and paid for," she said in a kickoff video that also insinuated Scott had shirked his duties to the public while becoming even richer during his time in office.

The former congresswoman went on to highlight the most notorious chapter of Scott's business career: his company's 2003 guilty plea in what the Department of Justice at the time proclaimed was "the most comprehensive health care fraud investigation" it had ever undertaken. (HCA wound up paying a record $1.7 billion in fines.)  The scandal was never quite enough to deny Scott victory in any of his previous elections, but Mucarsel-Powell is hoping it will help her frame this race as a battle between an immigrant from Ecuador who once "worked for minimum wage in a donut shop" and a wealthy incumbent "who cuts taxes for himself, but he'd raise them for you."

Mucarsel-Powell is also hoping to get some help at the top of the ticket if she's to give Florida Democrats their first win in a federal statewide race since 2012. Donald Trump carried the Sunshine State 51-48 in 2020 even as he was losing most other swing states, but it was landslides by DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio in 2022 that truly left Democrats in a funk. However, there are signs that Joe Biden is serious about keeping Florida in play next year, as his campaign included the state as part of a new $25 million TV and digital buy covering several battlegrounds.

And Democrats have some reason to be optimistic that, if serious resources are allocated here, their message could gain traction. Abortion rights advocates are collecting signatures to place a constitutional amendment on next year's ballot that would both undo the six-week abortion ban that DeSantis signed into law in April and allow the procedure to take place up to 24 weeks into pregnancy. That could create problems for Republican candidates like Scott, who backed DeSantis' ban and has indicated support for a federal ban as well.

The former congresswoman is also betting that voters are tired of other parts of DeSantis' agenda. "These out-of-touch extremists cannot continue to wield the levers of power in our state," she declared last month. Democrats are hoping that Donna Deegan's upset win in the May race for mayor of Jacksonville was an early sign that Floridians are indeed growing weary of what the DeSantis-era GOP has to offer. They'll also have an early chance to prove that victory was no fluke in a Jan. 16 special election where they'll try to flip a competitive state House seat in the Orlando area.

Democrats also hope that Mucarsel-Powell, who was the first immigrant from South America ever elected to Congress, will be able to appeal to the many Latino voters who switched sides and backed Trump in 2020 after voting for Hillary Clinton four years earlier. Mucarsel-Powell herself experienced that swing the hard way in 2020 as the old version of her 26th Congressional District, where the electorate had a large number of Cuban Americans and voters with ties to elsewhere in Latin America, veered from a 57-41 win for Clinton all the way to a 53-47 Trump victory, a transformation that helped Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez unseat her 52-48.

"Yes, the fear of socialism is real and engrained for those of us who fled dangerous places in search of the American dream," Mucarsel-Powell wrote in a Twitter thread two weeks after her defeat. "My own father was murdered by a criminal with a gun in Ecuador. But it's not why I lost and it's not the only reason South Florida went red."

"There were many factors," she continued, including "a targeted disinformation campaign to Latinos; an electorate desperate to re-open, wracked with fear over the economic consequences; a national party that thinks racial identity is how we vote." Mucarsel-Powell went on to argue that state and national Democrats need to "step back and deeply analyze how we're talking to Latinos and every voter." Now she'll have the chance to test out her own prescription statewide.

Senate

NV-Sen: Duty First, a super PAC that backs Army veteran Sam Brown, has publicized an internal from Public Opinion Strategies that shows him beating election conspiracy theorist Jim Marchant 33-15 in the GOP primary, with no one else taking more than 2%. This is the first survey we've seen of the contest to face Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen.

House

CA-22: Democratic state Sen. Melissa Hurtado announced Tuesday that she would challenge Republican Rep. David Valadao in California's 22nd District, a Central Valley constituency that favored Joe Biden by a 55-42 margin in 2020. Hurtado joins former Assemblyman Rudy Salas, a Democrat who is running to avenge his 52-48 loss last year against Valadao, in the top-two primary.

Hurtado joined the state Senate in 2018 when she unseated Republican incumbent Andy Vidak 56-44, a victory that made the 30-year-old the youngest woman ever elected to the chamber. She faced a tough battle four years later to remain there, though, especially after the state's independent redistricting commission left her with a seat that was about one-third new to her.

Democrats were also only too aware that the party's long struggle to turn out their Central Valley base in non-presidential cycles meant that the electorate would be considerably more conservative than the one that favored Biden 53-45 two years before in Hurtado's revamped 16th Senate District. Republican Brian Dahle ended up scoring a 55-45 victory here over Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, but Hurtado narrowly held on and beat Republican David Shepard by 13 votes.

Hurtado's tight win came the same night that Valadao defeated Salas in one of the year's most expensive House races as Dahle was carrying his seat 52-48. Salas soon began laying the groundwork for a rematch, but Hurtado's name only surfaced a week after the former assemblyman launched his campaign in July. She begins the contest with a big geographic base of support, though: Hurtado already represents 96% of the 22nd District, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections, while Salas served just over half of the seat when he lost to Valadao.

Both Salas, who earned an endorsement last week from Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, and Hurtado would be the first Latino to represent the Central Valley in the House. Valadao, for his part, is one of several people of Portuguese descent who has represented this heavily Latino area.

CO-03: Democrat Adam Frisch has publicized an internal from Keating Research that shows him edging out far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert 50-48 less than a year after she only fended him off by 546 votes; the memo notes that Keating's October 2022 survey showed Boebert ahead 47-45 at a time when almost everyone expected her to win easily. The sample favors Donald Trump 49-44, which would mark a small drop from his 53-45 margin in 2020. The memo does not mention Grand Junction Mayor Anna Stout, who joined the Democratic primary last month.

RI-01: We still haven't seen any negative TV ads two weeks ahead of the packed Sept. 5 Democratic primary, and both Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos and former Biden administration official Gabe Amo are remaining positive in their newest spots. Matos is emphasizing her support for abortion rights in what WPRI's Ted Nesi says is her campaign's first TV commercial in two weeks. (EMILY's List and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC have been airing pro-Matos ads while she's been off the air.) Amo, meanwhile, touts his White House experience.

Legislatures

MI State House: The Michigan Board of Canvassers on Monday approved recall petitions against state Rep. Sharon MacDonell while once again rejecting those filed against five other Democrats; recall proponents also withdrew their paperwork against a seventh Democrat, state Rep. Reggie Miller. Biden carried MacDonell's 56th District 57-41, which makes it the bluest of the targeted seats. Democrats currently hold a 56-54 majority in the chamber.

Conservatives looking to oust MacDonell will have 180 days to collect roughly 11,000 signatures, a figure that represents 25% of the votes cast in the district during the most recent general election, but all of them must be gathered within a 60-day timeframe. However, the attorney representing the six Democrats, former state party chair Mark Brewer, declared that he'll appeal the decision, which he says will automatically prevent signature collection efforts from going forward for 40 days.

The bipartisan Board of Canvassers voted 3-0 to approve the recall campaign against MacDonell (one Democrat was absent) after determining that her detractors, by citing her vote for gun safety legislation, provided enough information about why they want her ousted. (Brewer argues the paperwork is still too vague.) The body, though, voted 2-1 to reject petitions filed against the other five Democrats, with the majority saying the language didn't do an acceptable job summarizing the legislation they supported.

Mayors and County Leaders

Houston, TX Mayor: Candidate filing closed Monday for Houston's Nov. 7 nonpartisan primaries, and the wealthy attorney Tony Buzbee waited until the final hours of qualifying to announce that he'd campaign for a spot on the city council rather than wage a second bid for mayor. Buzbee, an independent who serves as GOP Attorney General Ken Paxton's lead attorney for his upcoming impeachment trial, was the only notable politician who was still publicly undecided about running to succeed termed-out Democratic Mayor Sylvester Turner, and there were no other last-minute developments in the mayoral contest.

A pair of prominent Democrats, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and state Sen. John Whitmire, remain the frontrunners in the 17-way race to succeed Turner. Also in the running are City Council member Robert Gallegos; former METRO board chair Gilbert Garcia; attorney Lee Kaplan; and former City Councilmember Jack Christie, who is the only notable Republican in the contest. A runoff would take place either on Dec. 9 or Dec. 16 unless one candidate wins a majority, though that likely second round has not yet been scheduled.

The only poll we've seen in months was a July survey from the University of Houston that showed Whitmire and Jackson Lee taking 34% and 32%, respectively, with Garcia at just 3% (Christie, who was not yet running, was not included.) Responds, though, decisively favored Whitmire 51-33 in a runoff.

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

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

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

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

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

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

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

2Q Fundraising

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

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

Ballot Measures

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governors

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ballot Measures

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Digest: Democrats will soon have the chance to undo Wisconsin GOP’s new Senate supermajority

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

WI State Senate: Though Wisconsin Republicans just captured a supermajority in the state Senate earlier this month, they could soon give it back: Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, longtime GOP state Sen. Alberta Darling announced she'd resign effective Dec. 1, a move that will require Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to call a special election.

Republicans made Darling's 8th District a few points redder under the tilted map they convinced the conservative-dominated state Supreme Court to adopt in April: Under the old lines, Donald Trump carried the 8th by a hair, 49.4 to 49.3, but the current iteration would have backed Trump 52-47, according to Dave's Redistricting App. In the just-concluded midterms, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson won the district 54-46, according to our calculations, while GOP gubernatorial nominee Tim Michels prevailed by a smaller 52-48 spread.

Darling won re-election for a four-year term in 2020 in the old district, but since the new map is now in effect, state constitutional law expert Quinn Yeargain concludes that the new lines will likely be used. But despite the seat's GOP lean, Democrats will contest this seat to the utmost.

Republicans were able to take a two-thirds majority this year by flipping the open 25th District in the northwestern part of the state—another seat they gerrymandered—giving them 22 seats in the 33-member Senate. As a result, if Republicans in the Assembly impeach any state officials, their counterparts in the upper chamber can now remove them from office without a single Democratic vote. And if they were to impeach Evers, he'd be suspended from office until the end of a trial in the Senate, which Republicans could try to drag out even if they lack the votes to convict.

Rolling back this supermajority will therefore be critical for Democrats. One thing working in the party's favor is the fact that the suburbs and exurbs north of Milwaukee where Darling's district is based have been moving to the left in recent years—a key reason Republicans tried to gerrymander this seat further. One potentially strong option, however, has already said no: state Rep. Deb Andraca, who represents a third of the district, took herself out of the running on Monday.

Since Wisconsin "nests" three Assembly districts in each Senate district, there are two other seats that make up the 8th, both held by Republicans. One, Dan Knodl, says he's "seriously considering" a campaign; the other, Janel Brandtjen, doesn't appear to have said anything yet. (Brandtjen, an election denier, was recently barred from private meetings of the Assembly GOP caucus after supporting a primary challenge to Speaker Robin Vos.)

It's not clear when exactly the special will be held, but in her statement declining a bid, Andraca suggested it would take place "this spring." Wisconsin is set to hold its annual "spring election" for state and local offices on April 4, so this race could potentially be consolidated with those contests.

Election Recaps

AK-Sen, AK-AL, AK-Gov: Alaska conducted instant-runoff tabulations one day before Thanksgiving, and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola each won re-election after their respective opponents failed to consolidate enough support to pull ahead. Hardline GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy, meanwhile, claimed a bare majority of the first-choice preferences, so election officials did not do the ranked choice process for his race.

Murkowski held a tiny 43.4-42.6 edge over intra-party rival Kelly Tshibaka, a former state cabinet official backed by Donald Trump, with Democrat Pat Chesbro and Republican Buzz Kelley taking 10% and 3%, respectively. But Murkowski, who has crossed party lines on some high-profile votes, always looked likely to take the bulk of Chesbro's support, and she emerged with a clear 54-46 win when tabulations were complete.

Tshibaka responded to her defeat by blasting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's allies at the Senate Leadership Fund for deploying "millions of dollars in this race on deceptive ads to secure what he wanted—a Senate minority that he can control, as opposed to a majority he could not." Trump weeks before the election also ranted that "[t]he Old Broken Crow, Mitchell McConnell, is authorizing $9 Million Dollars to be spent in order to beat a great Republican" rather than target Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in Arizona, though SLF itself only ended up spending $6.1 million in Alaska.

Peltola, meanwhile, began Wednesday with 49% of the vote while two Republican rivals, former reality TV star Sarah Palin and businessman Nick Begich III, clocked in at 26% and 23%; the balance went to Libertarian Chris Bye. While Palin had announced her chief of staff the day after the election, reality made his services unnecessary: Peltola ended up beating Palin by a staggering 55-45 after the instant-runoff process was finished, a big shift from her 51.5-48.5 upset win in their August special election contest. Peltola will be one of five House Democrats in a Trump seat in the 118th Congress, and hers will be the reddest of the bunch.

Dunleavy, finally, claimed an outright win with 50.3%. His two main rivals, former Democratic state Rep. Les Gara and former independent Gov. Bill Walker, took 24% and 21%, respectively, while the remainder went to Republican Charlie Pierce, who was challenging the already staunchly conservative Dunleavy from the right. Gara and Walker both said they'd be ranking the other as their second choice, but we don't know how many of their respective supporters followed their lead.

Seattle, WA Ballot: Seattle has narrowly voted to replace its municipal top-two primaries with a ranked choice system by 2027, though voters will still need to go to the polls in two different elections even after the switch takes place.

Candidates for mayor, city attorney, and the City Council will continue to compete on one nonpartisan primary ballot, but voters will be able to rank their preferred choices instead of selecting just one option. The two contenders who emerge with the most support after the ranked choice tabulations are completed will advance to the general election, where voters would select just one choice. This is different from several other American cities like Minneapolis, Oakland, and San Francisco where all the contenders compete in a single election decided through instant-runoff voting.

It's not clear yet if the new ranked choice system will be in place in time for Seattle's next mayoral race in 2025. A spokesperson for King County's elections department explained that software and ballot updates, as well as tests and voter education, will be needed, saying, "It is possible that we may be able to roll it out before 2027, but until we're able to dive into the details with the city and state, we won't know." Officials also will need to decide how many candidates a voter can rank.

Seattleites earlier this month were presented with a two-part ballot measure called Proposition 1. The first asked voters whether they wanted to replace the top-two primary for city offices, and voters answered in the affirmative by a 51-49 margin. They were then asked if they wanted to adopt ranked choice voting or approval voting if voters on part one favor changing the status quo, and ranked choice won 76-24.

This contest took place because backers of approval voting collected enough signatures for a referendum to bring it to the Emerald City: The approval voting system, which is used in St. Louis, allows voters to cast as many votes as there are candidates, with up to one vote per contender and each vote counting equally. The City Council, though, responded by also placing a ranked choice question on the ballot as a rival option.

The group supporting approval voting enjoyed a huge financial edge thanks to enormous contributions from the Center for Election Science, a pro-approval voting organization funded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, as well as now-former cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried: The dramatic failure of Bankman-Fried's preferred option, though, turned out to be far from the worst news he got in mid-November.

Georgia Runoff

GA-Sen: AdImpact tells Politico that Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and his outside group allies have outspent Republican Herschel Walker’s side by a lopsided $31 million to $12 million from Nov. 9 to Nov. 28 on TV, radio, and digital ads. The GOP has a $7 million to $5 million advantage in ad time for the remaining week of the contest, though this number can change if new spots are purchased.

Warnock’s campaign alone has outpaced Walker $15 million to $5 million through Monday, an important advantage since FCC regulations give candidates—but not outside groups—discounted rates on TV and radio. The senator was able to amass this sort of spending lead because he’s also continued to overwhelm Walker in the fundraising department: Warnock outraised his foe $51 million to $20 million from Oct. 20 to Nov. 16 and concluded that period with a $30 million to $10 million cash-on-hand lead.

Warnock’s supporters at the Senate Majority PAC affiliate Georgia Honor also outspent their GOP counterparts at the Senate Leadership Fund $13 million to $5 million, though SLF is hoping one prominent surrogate will help them overcome that disadvantage. Just before Thanksgiving the group debuted a spot starring Gov. Brian Kemp, who won re-election outright 53-46 on Nov. 8 as Walker lagged Warnock 49.4-48.5: While Kemp didn’t campaign with the Senate nominee during the first round, he now pledges to the audience, “Herschel Walker will vote for Georgia, not be another rubber stamp for Joe Biden.”

Walker also has benefited from a $1.5 million ad buy from the NRA that began shortly ahead of Thanksgiving. The candidate additionally is running his own ad attacking Warnock’s character.

Senate

OH-Sen: Axios published a profile of venture capitalist Mark Kvamme last week where it briefly noted the Republican "also acknowledges that he's had informal talks about running for public office, possibly as a challenger to Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2024."

Senate: The Associated Press' Michelle Price takes a very early look at the 2024 Senate battleground map and gives us some new information in several key races:

NV-Sen: Army veteran Sam Brown, who lost this year's Senate primary 56-34 after running an unexpectedly well-funded campaign against frontrunner Adam Laxalt, is being mentioned as a prospective foe against Democratic incumbent Jacky Rosen. A Brown advisor didn't rule anything out, saying, "He has committed to his supporters that he will never stop fighting for their issues, but he has not made any decisions as to whether that involves a future run for office."

PA-Sen: Neither former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick nor Big Lie spreader Kathy Barnette, who both lost this year's Senate primary to Mehmet Oz, would respond to Price's inquiries about a campaign against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. An unnamed person close to McCormick told Politico all the way back in June that he was considering the idea.

UT-Sen: An advisor for Attorney General Sean Reyes said of a possible GOP primary challenge to incumbent Mitt Romney, "He's certainly set up to run, but it does not mean he's considering it." The Deseret News wrote earlier this month that Reyes was "actively pursuing a campaign" against Romney, who has not announced if he'll seek a second term.

WI-Sen: GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher deflected Price's questions about his interest in taking on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, merely saying, "Any talk of the next election, especially since we just had an election, distracts from the serious work we need to do."

Governors

KY-Gov: Republican state Sen. Ralph Alvarado, who just months ago expressed interest in running for governor of Kentucky, has very firmly taken himself out of the running by accepting the post of health commissioner of Tennessee.

LA-Gov: Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser told the Lafayette Daily Advertiser's Greg Hilburn on Sunday that it "will absolutely make a difference in my decision" whether or not his fellow Republican, Sen. John Kennedy, runs in next year's all-party primary. Nungesser, though, seems to think that Kennedy will make his plans known in the next month-and-a-half, because he says his own announcement will come Jan. 10.

Hilburn also relays that another Republican, Rep. Garret Graves, "will also likely wait on Kennedy to make a final decision." However, he notes that Graves may opt to stay put no matter what due to his rising status in the House leadership.

House

NM-02: Outgoing GOP incumbent Yvette Herrell last week filed FEC paperwork for a potential 2024 rematch against Democratic Rep.-elect Gabe Vasquez, who unseated her 50.3-49.7. These super-early filings from defeated candidates, as we recently noted, often have more to do with resolving financial matters from their last campaign than they do about the future, though the Republican hasn't said anything publicly over the last week about her plans.

Herrell may also be hoping for a favorable ruling from the state Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments in January in a case brought by Republicans alleging that the congressional map violates the state constitution as a partisan gerrymander. Herrell lost this month's contest to Vasquez in a constituency that favored Biden 52-46.

VA-04: Democratic Rep. Don McEachin, who has represented Virginia’s 4th Congressional District since 2017, died on Monday night at the age of 61 due to colorectal cancer. We will have a detailed look at his career in the next Digest.

Legislatures

AK State Senate, AK State House: Following Wednesday's tabulation of ranked-choice votes in races where no candidate won a majority on Nov. 8, nine Democrats and eight Republicans in Alaska's state Senate announced the formation of a bipartisan majority coalition, similar to one that held sway in the chamber from 2007 to 2012. The situation in the House, however, remains uncertain.

The alliance ends a decade of Republican control over the Senate, though GOP Sen. Gary Stevens will hold the top role of president, a position he served in during the last bipartisan coalition. That leaves just three far-right Republicans out in the cold; Stevens said they've been "difficult to work with" and specifically cited the fact that they've voted against state budgets their own party had crafted. (Members of the majority are required to vote for the budget, a system known as a "binding caucus" whose enforcement is evidently now being given effect.)

The House has likewise been governed by a shifting consortium of Democrats, independents, and Republicans since 2017, but it's not clear whether such an arrangement will continue. While Republicans lost two seats in the Senate, they retained nominal control of 21 seats in the House—theoretically enough for a bare majority. One of those, however, belongs to House Speaker Louise Stutes, a member of the current coalition, while another is represented by David Eastman, a member of the far-right Oath Keepers who is disliked by many fellow Republicans for his obstructionism.

There are many possible permutations that could result in either side winding up in charge. One big question mark is state Rep. Josiah Patkotak, a conservative independent and coalition member who could potentially join forces with the GOP. Another is the 15th District, where Republican Rep. Tom McKay leads Democrat Denny Wells by just four votes after ranked-choice tabulations; Wells says he will likely seek a recount after results are certified on Tuesday.

Whatever happens, we could be in for a long wait: Following both the 2018 and 2020 elections, alliances in the House weren't finalized until February, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see a similar delay this time.

NH State House: Control of the New Hampshire state House remains up in the air after a wild election night and even wilder post-election period that saw Democrats make big gains and left Republicans with just a 201-198 advantage—plus one tied race that could get resolved in a special election.

Even though the GOP will hold a bare majority no matter what happens, that may not be enough to elect a Republican speaker when the chamber—the largest state legislative body in the nation—is sworn in on Dec. 7. Absences are frequent in this part-time legislature, where lawmakers are paid just $100 a year and receive no per diem. Given that reality, a different majority could show up every time the House convenes, a truly chaotic situation that could result in a new speaker every time unless the parties hammer out a power-sharing agreement.

Members will also have to decide what to do in Strafford District 8 (known locally as Rochester Ward 4), which ended in a tie following a recount after election night results put Republican challenger David Walker up just a single vote on Democratic state Rep. Chuck Grassie. The House could simply vote to seat whichever candidate it likes in a raw display of partisan power, or it could order a special election, as was done on at least three prior occasions. In one bizarre case in 1964, however, legislators opted to seat both candidates in a tied race—and gave them half a vote each.

In the event of a special election, though, expect both sides to go all out, especially given the swingy nature of this district, which would've voted 51-47 for Joe Biden. And expect more specials in the near future either way, as resignations are also a regular occurrence in the New Hampshire House.

VA State House, Where Are They Now?: Former Rep. Tom Garrett, a Republican who dropped out of his 2018 bid for a second term in bizarre fashion after winning renomination, has announced that he'll run in next year's race for a safely red open seat in the state House. Garrett, who previously served in the state Senate, kicked off his campaign at the Virginia Civil Rights Monument on the state Capitol grounds in Richmond rather than in the rural 56th District to what the Richmond Times-Dispatch's Charlotte Rene Woods calls a "crowd of five."

Garrett said he was choosing that monument both because he admires Barbara Johns, one of the Civil Rights heroes depicted, and because this was the very place he ended his 2018 re-election campaign. The Republican back then disclosed he was leaving Congress to focus on his fight with alcoholism, and he now says, "I haven't had to drink in four-and-a-half years. As soon as I start declaring victory over anything, it will come back and tap me on the shoulder."

Garrett, though, doesn't appear to have mentioned how the House Ethics Committee issued a lengthy report on his final day in office determining that he'd violated House rules by directing his staff to run personal errands for him. Staffers also told the committee that the congressman's wife "would berate staff, often using profanity and other harsh language, for failing to prioritize her needs over their regular official duties." The report additionally accused the Garretts of deliberately dragging their feet during the investigation so that they could run out the clock and avoid censure before the congressman's term expired.

Mayors and County Leaders

Allegheny County, PA Executive: Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb announced Monday that he would compete in what could be a busy May 2023 Democratic primary to succeed incumbent Rich Fitzgerald, who cannot seek a fourth term as head of this populous and reliably blue county. Lamb, who is the uncle of outgoing Rep. Conor Lamb, carried Allegheny County 77-12 in his 2020 primary for state auditor general even as he was losing statewide 36-27 to Nina Ahmad. (Ahmad in turn lost to Republican Timothy DeFoor.)

WESA reporter Chris Potter describes the city comptroller as "the rare politician who travels easily in Democratic Party circles while also having been an outspoken government reformer," noting that, while he's "not necessarily a political firebrand," Lamb "seems likely to incorporate some progressive concerns with county government, especially on matters of criminal justice." Lamb previously won renomination in 2015 by beating back a Fitzgerald-endorsed foe, and Potter says the two have a "wary relationship."

Lamb's only announced intra-party opponent is Erin McClelland, who came nowhere close to unseating GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus in her 2014 and 2016 campaigns for the old and dark red 12th Congressional District. McClelland, who has worked as a project manager for the county's social-services department, kicked off her bid in August by saying she expected to face both the "old-boys network" and opponents who "dive into performative propaganda on a social media post."

Potter also relays that observers anticipate that former County Councilor David Fawcett and state Rep. Sara Innamorato will compete in the Democratic primary. Fawcett, whom Potter calls a "celebrated attorney," served on the Council as a Republican from 2000 to 2007 before waging an aborted 2016 bid for the Democratic nomination for attorney general.

Innamorato, for her part, rose to prominence in 2018 when the Democratic Socialists of America member defeated incumbent Dom Costa for renomination; that victory came the same night that her ally Summer Lee, who was also backed by DSA, scored an upset of her own against another Costa brother, state Rep. Paul Costa. Innamorato went on to support now-Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and Lee in her own successful 2022 campaign for the new 12th District.

We unsurprisingly haven't seen any notable Republicans mentioned for the race to lead a county that Biden took 59-39 and where Team Blue did even better in this year's Senate and governor races. Republican James Roddey actually did win the 1999 contest for what was a newly created office, but he badly lost re-election four years later to Democrat Dan Onorato. The GOP hasn't come anywhere close to retaking the post since then, and Fitzgerald won his final term in 2019 in a 68-32 landslide.  

Philadelphia, PA Mayor: Former Municipal Court Judge Jimmy DeLeon, who recently retired after 34 years on the bench, announced shortly before Thanksgiving that he was joining the May 2023 Democratic primary, promising to be a "no-shenanigans-let's-follow-the-law-there-will-be-order-in-the-courtroom" mayor. Billy Penn says that there was little chatter about DeLeon running until he jumped in last week.  

DeLeon, who unsuccessfully ran for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and state Superior Court during the 2000s, was sanctioned by the Court of Judicial Discipline in 2008 for issuing "a bogus 'stay away order' on behalf of a social acquaintance." DeLeon says of that incident, "I made a mistake, and I was given a second chance … That's why I believe in second chances."

Morning Digest: Trump’s forces take down Rep. Tom Rice in South Carolina, but Nancy Mace holds on

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

Subscribe to our podcast, The Downballot!

Leading Off

SC-01, SC-07: Two members of South Carolina’s U.S. House delegation went up against Trump-backed Republican primary opponents on Tuesday, but while 1st District Rep. Nancy Mace secured renomination, voters in the neighboring 7th District ejected pro-impeachment Rep. Tom Rice in favor of state Rep. Russell Fry. Mace turned back former state Rep. Katie Arrington, who was Team Red’s unsuccessful 2018 nominee, 53-45, which was just above the majority she needed to avoid a June 28 runoff. Fry also averted a second round in his six-way race by lapping Rice 51-25.

Mace, who was the first woman to graduate from the state’s famed military academy the Citadel, became one of the GOP’s most promising rising stars in 2020 when she unseated Democratic incumbent Joe Cunningham in a very expensive race. Mace, however, broke with Trump in the days after she was forced to barricade in her office during the Jan. 6 attack, saying, “I hold him accountable for the events that transpired.” She never backed impeachment and soon stopped trying to pick fights with Trump, but the GOP master still decided to repay her by endorsing Arrington, who had denied renomination in 2018 to then-Rep. Mark Sanford, in February.

Arrington, who launched her new campaign by blasting the incumbent as a "sellout" who "sold out the Lowcountry" and "sold out President Trump,” released a poll in early March arguing that her all-Trump all the time strategy would carry her to victory. Those Remington Research Group numbers showed Mace’s 50-35 lead transforming into a 51-33 Arrington advantage after respondents were informed she was the “Trump Endorsed America First Candidate,” which led the pollster to conclude that “there is no path to victory” for Mace.  

The congresswoman, though, worked to frame the primary as anything other than a fight between her and Trump. Shortly after Arrington’s kickoff, Mace posted a video shot across the street from Trump Tower where, after talking about her longtime Trump loyalty, she says, “If you want to lose this seat once again in a midterm election cycle to Democrats, then my opponent is more than qualified to do just that.” The GOP legislature did what it could to make sure that no one could lose this coastal South Carolina seat to Democrats by passing a map that extended Trump’s 2020 margin from 52-46 to 54-45, but that didn’t stop Mace from convincingly arguing that Arrington would be electoral Kryptonite against the Democrats’ well-funded candidate, pediatrician Annie Andrews.   

Rice, by contrast, went far further than Mace by actually voting for impeachment last year, a move so shocking that his own consultant initially assumed the five-term congressman had simply hit the wrong button. That vote instantly ensured that Rice, who had been easily renominated every cycle since he’d first won this safely red Myrtle Beach-area constituency in a competitive 2012 primary, would be in for an extremely difficult campaign, and several Republicans soon began challenging him.

Fry, though, cemented his status as the frontrunner after Trump backed him in February, and he soon earned national attention of his own with a truly strange ad depicting the apostate incumbent attending a touchy-feely "Villains Anonymous" meeting with the likes of the Joker, Lucifer, a pirate, Maleficent, and Delores Umbridge of the "Harry Potter" franchise. Rice and his remaining allies fought back by arguing that the congressman was too influential to fire and that Fry wasn't actually the conservative he presented himself as, but it was far from enough.

Rice himself argued to the end that he’d made the right decision by voting to impeach Trump over Jan. 6, saying, “He sat there and watched the Capitol get sacked and took pleasure in that … That’s what a dictator would do.” That didn’t prove to be a very compelling argument, though, and GOP primary voters responded by decisively nominating Fry in his place.

Election Recaps

TX-34 (special): Conservative activist Mayra Flores flipped this Rio Grande Valley constituency to the GOP on Tuesday by taking a majority of the vote in the all-party primary to succeed Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela, who resigned earlier this year to take a job at a lobbying firm. (Vela announced his retirement last year but hadn’t previously indicated he’d leave Congress early.) Flores outpaced former Cameron County Commissioner Dan Sanchez, a Democrat who is not running for a full two-year term anywhere, 51-43 after a campaign where Republicans spent over $1 million while Democrats only began airing TV ads in the final week.

Flores was already the GOP nominee for the new version of the 34th District, where Republican mapmakers extended Joe Biden’s margin of victory from just 52-48 to 57-42 in order to strengthen their position in nearby seats. Her opponent will be Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who decided to run here because that very GOP gerrymander made his own 15th District more conservative: This will almost certainly be the only incumbent vs. incumbent general election of the cycle other than the race for Florida’s 2nd District between Democratic Rep. Al Lawson and Republican colleague Neal Dunn.

While Flores will be in for a difficult fight in November on more Democratic terrain, though, Republicans are hoping that her win Tuesday proves that the GOP can still secure further gains in heavily Latino areas. Flores also will have a geographic advantage, as she’ll spend the next several months representing 75% of the new 34th District; Gonzalez, by contrast, currently serves the remaining quarter.

Primary Night: Here’s a look at where Nevada’s key races for Senate, governor, and U.S. House stand as of Wednesday morning. Note that, because a large number of ballots remain untabulated, these margins could change before the results are certified:

  • NV-Sen (R): Former Attorney General Adam Laxalt turned back an unexpectedly well-funded campaign from Army veteran Sam Brown by a 56-34 margin. Laxalt, who was the 2018 nominee for governor, will go up against Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto in what will be one of the most competitive Senate races of the cycle.
  • NV-Gov (R): Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who like Laxalt had Trump’s endorsement, defeated attorney Joey Gilbert 38-28 for the right to take on Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. Former Sen. Dean Heller, who lost re-election to Democrat Jacky Rosen in 2018, took a distant third with 14%; Heller never lost a race in his long career in Nevada politics until Rosen unseated him four years ago.
  • NV-01 (D): Rep. Dina Titus turned back progressive challenger Amy Vilela in an 82-18 landslide.
  • NV-01 (R): The Associated Press has not yet called this contest but with 89% of the estimated vote in, Army veteran Mark Robertson holds a 30-17 lead over conservative activist David Brog; former 4th District Rep. Crescent Hardy, who raised almost no money for his latest comeback, lags in fourth with just 12%. Democrats in the legislature, much to Titus’ frustration, made this seat in the eastern Las Vegas area considerably more competitive in order to make the 3rd and 4th Districts bluer, and Biden would have carried the new 1st 53-45.
  • NV-02 (R): Republican Rep. Mark Amodei secured renomination in this safely red northern Nevada seat by beating Douglas County Commissioner Danny Tarkanian 54-33. Tarkanian, who was a longtime resident of the Las Vegas area well to the south, finally ended his legendary losing streak in 2020 after moving to Douglas County, but he very much returned to form on Tuesday by failing to win a seat in Congress for the fifth time.
  • NV-03 (R): Attorney April Becker, who was the favored candidate of the GOP establishment, easily defeated self-funder John Kovacs 65-11. Becker will go up against Democratic Rep. Susie Lee in a southern Las Vegas area seat where Democrats extended Biden’s winning margin from just 49.1-48.9 to 52-46.
  • NV-04 (R): The AP hasn’t called this GOP primary yet but with 68% of the estimated vote in, Air Force veteran Sam Peters leads Assemblywoman Annie Black 48-41. The winner will face Democratic incumbent Steven Horsford, whose constituency in the northern Las Vegas area supported Biden 53-45 under the new map.

Senate

WA-Sen: NBC reports that the Democratic group Future Majority PAC has booked $860,000 for an ad campaign that will start in early July, which will make this the first major outside spending of the contest. Early this month the Northwest Progressive Institute released a survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling giving Democratic incumbent Patty Murray a 51-40 lead over her likely Republican opponent, motivational speaker Tiffany Smiley.

Governors

IL-Gov: The Republican firm Ogden & Fry's new look at the June 28 GOP primary finds state Sen. Darren Bailey leading Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin 31-17, with venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan at 11%. This is the third poll in a row we've seen showing Bailey defeating Irvin, an outcome that would greatly please Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his allies.  

OK-Gov: Amber Integrated (R): Kevin Stitt (R-inc): 47, Joy Hofmeister (D): 29 (March: 44-30 Stitt)

TX-Gov: The Democratic pollster Blueprint Polling's inaugural survey of Texas shows Republican incumbent Greg Abbott fending off Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke in a 56-37 landslide. This survey, which the firm says was done "with no input or funding from any candidate, committee, or interest group," comes a month after UT Tyler gave Abbott a considerably smaller 46-39 advantage.

House

CA-40: The Associated Press on Monday night projected that Rep. Young Kim had defeated her fellow Republican, Mission Viejo Councilman Greg Raths, for the second spot in the general election despite a late Democratic effort to boost Raths. Democrat Asif Mahmood took first in last week's top-two primary with 41%, while Kim beat Raths 34-23 after she and her allies launched a significant last-minute spending spree to turn back the perennial candidate. Biden would have carried this eastern Orange County constituency 50-48.

FL-10, FL-Sen: Former Rep. Alan Grayson, whom longtime readers will know is one of our least favorite Democrats in America, announced Tuesday that he was abandoning his little-noticed Senate campaign in favor of running to succeed his now-former intra-party rival, Rep. Val Demings, in the safely blue 10th District in the Orlando area. He joins an August primary that includes state Sen. Randolph Bracy; gun safety activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost; pastor Terence Gray; and civil rights attorney Natalie Jackson, all of whom, like Demings but unlike Grayson, are Black.

The Orlando Sentinel notes that several Florida Democrats have argued that this area should continue to be represented by an African American. Indeed, Orange County Democratic Chair Wes Hodge notably said in April, "My intent is to try to keep it [a Black] access seat because it is important to our community," though he predicted, "But, you know, someone can show up at noon on the last day of qualifying with 10 grand in their pocket, and boom, they're on the ballot." Grayson himself had just over $240,000 on-hand at the end of March, a paltry sum for a statewide contest but enough to put up a fight in a House race.

IL-06: Rep. Sean Casten's office announced Monday evening that his 17-year-old daughter, Gwen Casten, had died that morning. Fellow Rep. Marie Newman, who is Sean Casten's opponent in the June 28 Democratic primary, said in response that her campaign "is working to cease all comparative paid communications immediately."    

IL-07: The Justice Democrats have launched a $120,000 ad buy supporting gun safety activist Kina Collins' bid against longtime Rep. Danny Davis in the June 28 Democratic primary, which makes this the first outside spending on Collins' side. (A group called Opportunity for All Action Fund has deployed a similar amount for the incumbent.) The spot, writes Primary School, faults Davis for missing House votes as crime and inflation remain a serious problem, and pledges that the challenger would be a more focused representative. Davis fended off Collins 60-14 two years ago in this safely blue Chicago seat.

VA-02: The Democratic group Patriot Majority has launched a commercial designed to help far-right activist Jarome Bell win next week's Republican primary to take on Democratic incumbent Elaine Luria, which makes this the latest contest where Democrats have tried to pick their opponents. The narrator tells the audience, "Bell is a Navy veteran who calls himself an 'America First conservative' … He supports Trump's election audit in all 50 states, and Bell wants to outlaw abortion." Unsubtly, the narrator concludes, "If Jarome Bell wins, Donald Trump wins too." There is no word on the size of the buy.

Trump himself has not made an endorsement here, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is all-in for one of Bell's intra-party rivals, state Sen. Jen Kiggans. A late May internal for a pro-Kiggans group showed her decisively beating another primary candidate, Air Force veteran Tommy Altman, 43-9, with Bell at 8%.

DCCC: The DCCC has added 11 more candidates to its Red to Blue program, which is the DCCC's top-tier list of races where it plans to be heavily involved this cycle: 

  • AZ-01: Jevin Hodge
  • FL-27: Annette Taddeo
  • NC-01: Don Davis
  • NC-13: Wiley Nickel
  • NC-14: Jeff Jackson
  • NY-01: Bridget Fleming
  • NY-22: Francis Conole
  • OR-04: Val Hoyle
  • OR-05: Jamie McLeod Skinner
  • OR-06: Andrea Salinas
  • PA-17: Chris Deluzio

Most of these candidates have already won the nomination or face little intra-party opposition, but the DCCC is taking sides in a few contested primaries. In Arizona’s 1st Hodge, who lost a tight 2020 race for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, is going up against former Phoenix Suns employee Adam Metzendorf for the right to take on GOP Rep. David Schweikert. (A third Democrat, environmental consultant Ginger Sykes Torres, failed to collect enough signatures to continue her campaign.)

Taddeo, likewise, has to get past Miami Commissioner Ken Russell before she can focus on Republican Rep. María Elvira Salazar in Florida's 27th. Finally, Conole faces Air Force veteran Sarah Klee Hood, Syracuse Common Council member Chol Majok, and former Assemblyman Sam Roberts in the primary for New York's open 22nd District.  

Ad Roundup

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

Morning Digest: Investment in GOP primary for Illinois governor pays dividends … for Democrats

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Leading Off

IL-Gov: Democrats looking to prevent Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin from winning the June 28 GOP primary got some very welcome news Friday when the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ released a survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling finding far-right state Sen. Darren Bailey ahead 32-17, with another 11% going to venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan. The poll came shortly after a conservative PAC called People Who Play by the Rules PAC, which has been attacking Irvin, publicized its own numbers from Fabrizio, Lee & Associates giving Bailey a smaller 27-20 edge over the mayor.

Irvin in late May had unveiled his own numbers showing himself ahead 31-25, but he didn't have anything to offer Friday when reporters asked him about his underwhelming showing from PPP. Instead, the one-time frontrunner said there were "two and a half weeks left" before primary day and that "that's a lifetime in politics." Those comments came a day after Irvin's campaign confirmed they had cut planned advertising in southern Illinois, which led observers to wonder if the mayor was running out of the $50 million he'd received from billionaire Ken Griffin.

But Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker's allies at the DGA are still pouring it on with another ad designed to make Bailey, who among other things once pushed a hopeless bill to kick Chicago out of Illinois, more appealing to GOP voters. Just like the group's previous spots, the narrator asks, "Are pro-Trump conservative Darren Bailey's policies too conservative for Illinois?" The spot goes on to remind viewers that Bailey "sued to stop J. B. Pritzker's Covid mandates" before showing footage of the state senator using a firearm.

election recaps

 AK-AL: Almost 110,000 votes have been counted in Saturday’s special top-four primary for the final months of the late GOP Rep. Don Young’s term, and while the Associated Press has not yet called any of the four spots in the Aug. 16 instant runoff general election, three contenders have established clear leads over the other 45 candidates. Two Republicans, former reality TV show star Sarah Palin and businessman Nick Begich III, are taking 30% and 19%, respectively; independent Al Gross, who was the 2020 Democratic Senate nominee, is in third with 12%.

The battle for the fourth and final spot is tight, with former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola holding a 7-5 edge over a third Republican, former state Interior Department official Tara Sweeney; not far behind with 4% is North Pole City Council member Santa Claus, a self-described "independent, progressive, democratic socialist" who previously had his name changed from Thomas O'Connor. 

It’s not clear how many votes are left since mail-in ballots received though June 21 will be tabulated as long as they were postmarked by Saturday, though election authorities say that a total of 139,000 votes have been received thus far. The state, writes the Alaska Beacon, plans to count more ballots on Wednesday, Friday, and June 21, with certification to follow four days later.

Redistricting

LA Redistricting: A panel of judges on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday issued a short-term "administrative stay"​ for a lower court ruling that struck down Louisiana's GOP-drawn congressional map for racial discrimination, but the stay was lifted Sunday​​. Arguments over the case are set to take place in early July, though, so this is far from the final word on the future of the maps. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has reiterated that a special redistricting session will begin Wednesday.

NY Redistricting: A state appellate court has struck down New York's Democratic-drawn Assembly map on the grounds that the legislature lacked the authority to draw its own map after the state's bipartisan commission failed to pass anything of its own. However, the ruling won't take effect until after this year's elections, since the court ruled that the Republican plaintiffs had waited too late into the election cycle to bring their lawsuit, meaning the upcoming June 28 primary will proceed using the Democratic-drawn districts and the courts will oversee the redrawing of the map for the 2024 elections.

Senate

GA-Sen: The progressive group VoteVets has launched a TV commercial as part of a $1.5 million ad buy that accuses Republican Herschel Walker of using his supposed charity to prey upon veterans to his own financial benefit of $331,000 last year alone, noting that prosecutors charged the charity with defrauding the federal government. As the Associated Press has reported, Walker served as a celebrity spokesperson for Patriot Support, which is actually a for-profit program marketed to veterans by the large hospital chain Universal Health Services.

A civil lawsuit against Universal by the Justice Department and a number of state governments alleged that the company aggressively pushed veterans into inpatient mental health care facilities, often via misdiagnosis and fraudulent documents, to take advantage of how government-sponsored insurance plans don't limit the duration of psychiatric hospital stays under certain conditions, unlike private insurance plans. Universal ultimately reached a $122 million settlement with the federal government and various states in 2020 but denied any wrongdoing.

NV-Sen, NV-Gov: The nonpartisan Nevada Independent has once more released a survey from the GOP firm OH Predictive Insights of Tuesday's Republican primaries, and it finds the Trump-backed Senate and gubernatorial frontrunners, former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, maintaining double-digit leads in their respective contests.

In the contest to take on Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, Laxalt posts a 48-34 edge over Sam Brown, an Army veteran who has run a surprisingly well-funded campaign. One month before, the firm showed Laxalt up by a similar 45-30 edge, and we haven't seen any reliable polling in the intervening time. The former attorney general's allies at the Club for Growth and its School Freedom Fund affiliate aren't taking any chances, though, as they've continued to spend on advertising in the closing days of the contest.

Meanwhile in the race to go up against Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, Lombardo outpaces attorney Joey Gilbert, a former professional boxer who has bragged that he was "definitely on the Capitol steps" on Jan. 6, 34-21, which puts things a bit closer than Lombardo's 35-15 edge the previous month. Two other Republicans, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee and former Sen. Dean Heller, tie for third with 10% each, which is about where they each were in May.

NBC reported Wednesday that Lee, a former conservative Democrat who defected to the GOP last year, has actually outspent Lombardo $2 million to $1.2 million on advertising, but that a group called Better Nevada PAC has deployed an additional $2.9 million to help the sheriff. The DGA-affiliated A Stronger Nevada, meanwhile, has poured $2.5 million into ads largely attacking Lombardo as "more worried about his public image than public safety" in an effort to try to derail the frontrunner.

OH-Sen: The Democratic group Innovation Ohio has publicized an internal from GrowProgress that shows Democrat Tim Ryan leading Republican J.D. Vance 44-41, little different from his 43-41 edge in a late April poll taken just before both men won their primaries. The only other recent general election survey we've seen was a late May Suffolk University poll that put Vance ahead 42-39.

Governors

MD-Gov: Former Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker announced Friday that he was suspending his campaign, saying that he didn't have the money to win the Democratic nomination on July 19. Baker, who took second in the 2018 primary, said he'd consider restarting his efforts if he received substantially more donations in the next month, but he acknowledged this was very unlikely to happen.    

MI-Gov: Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who was the Republican primary frontrunner before he was disqualified last month for fraudulent voter petition signatures, announced Thursday that he'd wage a write-in campaign to secure the nomination in August. "I got emails, text messages through my campaign that says: 'Chief, we know you were robbed," insisted Craig. "And you know what? I'm not going to roll over. Because this is not about me as a candidate."

Craig made his announcement on the local station Fox 2 along with self-funding businessman Perry Johnson, who is suing in federal court to get back on the ballot himself. However, while Johnson, whose campaign also fell victim to a fraudulent signature scandal, is going to federal court to try to get back on the ballot, he sounded skeptical about running his own write-in effort.

Johnson, while not explicitly ruling out the idea, acknowledged it would be "very, very difficult" for anyone to pull off and estimated the effort would take $22 million. Craig, who had $1.2 million on-hand at the end of 2021, suggested that he and his wealthy former rival "should be partners," but Johnson quickly said he didn't want to be his running mate.

MN-Gov, MN-AG: The Democratic firm Change Research's new survey for the nonpartisan MinnPost shows Democratic Gov. Tim Walz leading his likely Republican rival, Scott Jensen, just 42-40, but there's an important caveat.

The firm found that 7% of respondents chose, "The candidate from either one of the legalize marijuana parties (Legal Marijuana Now or Grassroots Legalize Cannabis)," but the poll didn't name any candidates by name or even separate the two parties. This is a potential issue because, by presenting the two options this way, Change is not replicating how these choices will actually be presented on the ballot. (Independence-Alliance Party Hugh McTavish, who was indeed asked about by name, snagged an additional 3%.)

The poll also finds Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison locked in a tight race against both of the Republicans competing in the August primary. Attorney Jim Schultz, who won the party convention last month, edges out Ellison 45-44, while the incumbent deadlocks 44-44 in a rematch against 2018 rival Doug Wardlow.

House

FL-07: Several Orlando-area Democratic elected officials have endorsed state party official Karen Green's campaign to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy in a constituency that the new GOP gerrymander transformed from a 55-44 Biden seat into one Trump would have taken 52-47. One of the pols backing Green, whom we hadn't previously mentioned, is state Rep. Carlos Guillermo, who didn't quite rule out a bid of his own right after Murphy retired. Florida's filing deadline is June 17, so the field will be set very soon.

FL-23: Airline pilot Curtis Calabrese has filed paperwork with the FEC terminating his campaign for the Democratic nomination for this open seat. Calabrese only switched his party registration from Republican to Democratic in March even though state law requires candidates be registered with their party at least a year before the start of candidate filing, so he likely would have faced serious legal opposition had he continued on.

GA-10: There haven't been many negative ads in the leadup to the June 21 GOP primary runoff, but former state Rep. Vernon Jones is going up with one that portrays his opponent, trucking executive Mike Collins, as a little boy who can only explain his rationale for running with, "My daddy was in Congress." After the actor playing "Little Mike" repeats this line, Jones tells the audience, "My daddy wasn't in Congress, but he was a veteran and he fought for this country."

MT-01: The Associated Press on Thursday evening called the June 7 Republican primary for former Rep. Ryan Zinke, who outpaced former state Sen. Al Olszewski by a surprisingly slim 41-40 margin. But despite his name recognition, support from Trump, and financial advantage, Zinke faced serious scrutiny for reportedly spending more time in his wife's hometown of Santa Barbara, California rather than in Montana, as well as over his myriad of ethics issues from his time as Trump's secretary of the interior.

Zinke will go up against Democratic nominee Monica Tranel, an attorney and former Olympic rower, for a western Montana seat that Trump carried 52-45.

NY-23: State Republican Party Chair Nick Langworthy said Friday morning that he would indeed run to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Chris Jacobs, a decision Langworthy revealed hours before candidate filing closed.

NY-23 (special): Republican leaders on Thursday chose Steuben County party chair Joe Sempolinski as their nominee in the Aug. 23 special election for the final months of former GOP Rep. Tom Reed's term. Sempolinski, who is not seeking a full term in Congress this year, will go up against Democrat Max Della Pia in a constituency Trump took 55-43.

TN-05: The Tennessee Supreme Court on Friday unanimously ruled that music video producer Robby Starbuck would stay off the August Republican primary ballot for this open seat, a move that reverses a lower-court decision that briefly resurrected his campaign.

Starbuck, who was booted by the state GOP failing to meet its opaque "bona fide" standard​, responded by​ tweeting Sunday​, "I have 3 days to decide if I’ll run write in for the primary or general (I have to pick 1). Problem is, if I win the primary, TNGOP can ignore it and pick the person who came in 2nd." He added that he'd told party leaders​, "If they agree to honor the results of the primary election and support the winner, even if it’s a write-in, then I’ll run in the primary as a write-in and not in the general. The ball is in their court now."

Secretaries of State

NV-SoS: The GOP firm OH Predictive Insights surveys Tuesday's Republican primary for secretary of state for the nonpartisan Nevada Independent and finds a 21-21 deadlock between former Assemblyman Jim Marchant and developer Jesse Haw. Marchant, a QAnon ally who has said he would not have certified Joe Biden's 2020 victory, has attracted attention by grouping with other conspiracist candidates running to become their state's chief election official. Haw, though, has himself winked at the Big Lie by saying that last election "had a lot of shenanigans and potential fraud."

The eventual nominee will go up against former state Athletic Commission member Cisco Aguilar, who faces no Democratic primary opposition in the race to succeed termed-out Republican incumbent Barbara Cegavske.

Morning Digest: Trump’s guy won the Ohio Senate primary—and no, it wasn’t J.P. Mandel

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

Subscribe to our podcast, The Downballot!

Leading Off

OH-Sen: The Republican primary for Ohio's open Senate seat—which weighed in at nearly $75 million—finally concluded on Tuesday with a win for Trump's endorsed candidate, venture capitalist J.D. Vance. Vance, the Hillbilly Elegy author and one-time vociferous Trump critic, reinvented himself as a MAGA diehard and defeated former state Treasurer Josh Mandel 32-24 for the nod to succeed retiring Sen. Rob Portman. Vance will take on Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who won his own primary 70-18 against former Treasury official Morgan Harper, in a longtime swing state that has lurched hard to the right in recent years.

Just a few months ago, Vance's allies at Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC funded by megadonor Peter Thiel, warned that the candidate's poll numbers were in "precipitous decline." The group highlighted the previous fall’s assault by the Club for Growth, which supported Mandel and had run a barrage of ads using 2016 footage of Vance saying, "I'm a Never Trump guy," an offensive that persuaded many voters that Vance could not be trusted.

Thiel's group responded with new advertisements that rebranded Vance as a Trump loyalist, a maneuver that seems to have at least kept him in contention. Vance was also able to keep going because none of his four major rivals were able to establish a meaningful lead—either in the polls or in the contest to win Trump's endorsement. (Only state Sen. Matt Dolan, who criticized Trump as recently as last year, didn't seek it.) The financier also had a powerful ally in Fox News host Tucker Carlson, whom Rolling Stone reported played a key role in winning Trump over to Vance's side.

Carlson reportedly not only made the case that Vance's anti-Trump days were long behind him, he also argued that Mandel's main benefactor, Club president David McIntosh, was untrustworthy because of what the story calls an "an embarrassing and 'chronic' personal sexual habit." The magazine refused to provide any details about this salacious claim, but it relayed that Trump "spent a notable amount of time gossiping and laughing about the prominent Republican's penis." (Can't believe you just had to read that sentence? We can't believe we had to write it, either.)

No matter what ultimately convinced Trump, though, he went on to give his stamp of approval to Vance less than three weeks ahead of the primary. Trump excused Vance's past disloyalty at a recent rally, saying that while his new favorite had indeed "said some bad shit about me," each of his rivals "did also."

The Club hoped that voters wouldn't be so forgiving, and it even ran a commercial questioning Trump's judgment—a shocking gambit given the GOP's obeisance to its supreme master. Even Trump himself managed to give Vance a humiliating round of headlines just two days before Election Day when he told an audience, "We've endorsed—JP, right? JD Mandel, and he's doing great." But while Trump couldn't remember Vance's name, enough Republican primary voters could.

We'll be recapping all of Tuesday's results in Ohio and Indiana in the next Morning Digest, though if you don't want to wait that long, join us on Wednesday at Daily Kos Elections and follow along as we provide updates in our Live Digest.

Senate

 NV-Sen, NV-Gov, NV-04: Former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt has publicized an internal from WPA Intelligence that gives him a 57-20 lead over Army veteran Sam Brown ahead of the June 14 Republican primary. Back in mid-March, WPA's survey for Laxalt's allies at the Club for Growth found him ahead by an almost-identical 57-20 margin.

The central committee of the Nevada Republican Party, though, spurned the Trump-backed frontrunner over the weekend by voting to endorse Brown. The party's leadership also threw its support behind attorney Joey Gilbert, who has bragged that he was "definitely on the Capitol steps" on Jan. 6, in the primary for governor; the decision came days after Trump endorsed another candidate, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo. Additionally, the state GOP went for Air Force veteran Sam Peters in the GOP contest to face 4th District Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford.

Governors

 NY-Gov: The state Board of Elections ruled Monday that both 2014 nominee Rob Astorino and former Trump White House staffer Andrew Giuliani had submitted enough valid signatures to appear on the June Republican primary ballot despite a challenge by one of their intra-party rivals, Rep. Lee Zeldin. The field also includes wealthy businessman Harry Wilson, whose petitions were not contested by anyone.

 RI-Gov: Campaign finance reports are in covering the first quarter of 2022, and WPRI has rounded up the totals for all the notable Democratic contenders:

  • former CVS executive Helena Foulkes: $900,000 raised, additional $400,000 self-funded, $1.5 million cash-on-hand

  • Gov. Dan McKee: $427,000 raised, $1.1 million cash-on-hand

  • Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea: $378,000 raised, $896,000 cash-on-hand

  • former Secretary of State Matt Brown: $110,000 raised, $79,000 cash-on-hand 

Businesswoman Ashley Kalus, who is the only major Republican contender, took in a mere $13,000 from donors but self-funded another $500,000, which left her with $410,000 available at the end of March.

House

 FL-15, FL-14: Jay Collins, who lost a leg as a combat medic in Afghanistan, announced Tuesday that he would seek the Republican nomination for the new and open 15th District. Collins had been running against Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor in the neighboring 14th District, which remains safely blue turf under the GOP's new gerrymander, and he ended March with $339,000 on hand that he can use for his new campaign.

On the Democratic side, Alan Cohn, who was the party's 2020 nominee against now-Rep. Scott Franklin in the old 15th, says he's also "seriously considering" running for the open seat. (Franklin himself is running for the renumbered 18th District.)

 NY-LG, NY-19: Gov. Kathy Hochul named Rep. Antonio Delgado as her new lieutenant governor on Tuesday, the day after state legislators passed a new law at Hochul's behest allowing former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin's name to be removed from the ballot following his resignation last month.

The legislation also allowed a seven-member committee of Democratic leaders to swap Delgado in for Benjamin, who prior to the new law's enactment could only have been taken off the ballot had he died, moved to another state, or been nominated for another office; now, anyone charged with a crime can be removed as well.

Delgado, a moderate representing the swingy 19th District in Upstate's Hudson Valley, was facing a difficult re-election campaign that was likely about to get more so: While his fellow Democrats had sought to make his seat bluer in redistricting, that map was recently thrown out by the state's highest court, so the next iteration of the 19th—which will be drawn by an independent expert—could well be tougher.

But Delgado's new path is still fraught. In New York, candidates run in separate primaries for governor and lieutenant governor, with the winners merged onto a single ticket on the November ballot. That system typically prompts pairs of candidates to forge alliances in the hopes of avoiding an unwelcome "shotgun wedding" for the general election, but even if Hochul defeats her two opponents on June 28 (as all polls have indicated she will), there's no guarantee Delgado will do the same.

In fact, after Benjamin's arrest on bribery charges, a number of progressive leaders had rallied around activist Ana Maria Archila, who's allied with New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. (The only other alternative, former New York City Councilwoman Diana Reyna, is running alongside Rep. Tom Suozzi, who's positioned himself well to Hochul's right.)

Delgado will benefit from Hochul's powerful perch and massive war chest, but he may be hurt by accusations that the governor sought to change the rules mid-stream in order to benefit herself—a concern that led a sizable number of Democratic senators to oppose the bill in a rare show of dissent.

And no one knows better that being linked with a powerful, deep-pocketed governor is no guarantee of victory than Hochul herself. In 2018, on the same day that then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo romped to an easy 66-34 victory over actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, Hochul only narrowly defeated the little-known Williams, at the time a member of the City Council, by just a 53-47 margin.

Once Delgado is sworn in to his new post—no legislative confirmation is required—Hochul will have 10 days to call a special election under a law passed last year requiring such elections be held in a much timelier manner than they had been in the past. (Cuomo had been notorious for repeatedly dragging his feet on calling specials when it didn't suit him to do so, thanks to a huge gap in state law that gave him wide discretion.) The election must then be held within 70 to 80 days.

While redistricting is still up in the air, the special will take place under the old lines. Recent trends had been favorable for Democrats in the 19th: Joe Biden flipped the district in 2020, carrying it by a slender 50-48 margin four years after Donald Trump won it 51-44; Delgado, meanwhile, unseated one-term Republican Rep. John Faso 51-46 in 2018 and then defeated an unheralded GOP foe 54-43 two years later.

In New York, local party committees, rather than primary voters, pick nominees for special elections, but there isn't much suspense as to whom Republicans will choose. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro has been running for the 19th since September without any serious intra-party opposition, and he quickly confirmed he would campaign in this summer's contest.

Things are far more uncertain on the Democratic side, though a couple of names have already surfaced. Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, who took second place to Delgado in the 2018 primary, said he was considering, while an unnamed source told the New York Times that state Sen. Michelle Hinchey is looking at the contest as well. Hinchey is the daughter of the late Rep. Maurice Hinchey, who represented a sizable portion of this district from 1993 to 2013.

 OR-05: Journalists at Sludge report that Mainstream Democrats PAC, a new group with the stated purpose of thwarting "far-left organizations" that want to take over the Democratic Party, will spend $800,000 in ads to help moderate Rep. Kurt Schrader fend off attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner in the May 17 primary.

The first spot from the super PAC, which is funded in part by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, uses footage of the Jan. 6 attack and warnings about Team Blue's prospects in the midterms to argue, "We need proven leaders who can beat Trump Republicans." The narrator goes on to declare that McLeod-Skinner, who lost both the 2018 general election for the safely red 2nd District and 2020 primary for secretary of state, "just can't do it," while Schrader "beats every Republican every time." The commercial continues by arguing that the incumbent shares "our Democratic values" and reminding the audience that he's President Joe Biden's endorsed candidate.

 TN-05: Music video producer Robby Starbuck has filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the state GOP's decision to keep him off the August primary ballot for failing to meet the party's definition of a "bona fide" Republican. Starbuck, who moved to the state three years ago, was rejected because he had not voted in three of the last four statewide primaries, which his suit dubbed an unconstitutional "camouflaged residency requirement."

Former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, who was Trump's endorsed candidate, also failed to pass the bona fide test for the same reasons, but she says she will not challenge the decision. Businessman Baxter Lee, the third candidate kicked off the ballot, does not appear to have said what he'll do. It may not matter, though, as NBC notes that "courts, including those in Tennessee, have given broad deference to political parties in such disputes" as this one.

Prosecutors

 Baltimore, MD State's Attorney: Prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah last month released a mid-April GQR poll that shows him trailing incumbent Marilyn Mosby 35-32 in the July Democratic primary to serve as Baltimore's top prosecutor, with defense attorney Ivan Bates at 13%. It takes only a simple plurality to secure the Democratic nod, which is tantamount to election in this reliably blue city.

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Jeff Merkley slams top super PAC’s spending in House primary as ‘flat-out wrong’

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

Subscribe to our podcast, The Downballot!

Leading Off

OR-06: In an unprecedented move that was greeted with instant fury by local and national Democrats alike, the House Majority PAC began spending at least $1 million this week on TV ads promoting the campaign of Carrick Flynn, one of seven Democrats seeking to represent Oregon's brand-new 6th Congressional District.

The other six candidates released an unusual joint statement condemning the move on Monday, calling out the fact that four of the contenders are women, including three women of color. (Flynn is a white man.) "This effort by the political arm of the Democratic establishment to buy this race for one candidate is a slap in the face to every Democratic voter and volunteer in Oregon," read the press release, "and is especially concerning in a year when all resources must go to protecting the Democratic majority."

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, who hasn't backed anyone in the race, piled on as well, calling HMP's actions "flat-out wrong". Meanwhile, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus's BOLD PAC, which has endorsed state Rep. Andrea Salinas, also excoriated HMP, arguing that "Democrats should be doubling-down on their investments to empower Latino and Latina candidates" and pointing out that no Hispanic person has ever represented Oregon in Congress. (One unnamed operative wondered aloud to The Hill's Rafael Bernal whether HMP's decision might "affect[] the relationship where Bold PAC is no longer a large donor to HMP like they've been in the past." The CHC has given more than $6 million to HMP since 2012.)

Campaign Action

In response, a spokesperson for HMP offered a spectacularly unconvincing explanation for the group's new spending. "House Majority PAC is dedicated to doing whatever it takes to secure a Democratic House majority in 2022, and we believe supporting Carrick Flynn is a step towards accomplishing that goal," said communications director CJ Warnke in a statement. "Flynn is a strong, forward-looking son of Oregon who is dedicated to delivering for families in the 6th District."

There's nothing so special about Flynn that he's a must-have nominee—and if there were, he wouldn't need all this help. As Merkley says, Democrats "have multiple strong candidates" who could all win the 6th District, a newly created seat in the Portland suburbs that Joe Biden would have carried by a 55-42 margin.

But what really makes HMP's claim impossible to believe is that the PAC, in its decade-long existence, has never before involved itself in a primary like this. Virtually all of the organization's spending since inception has been devoted to winning general elections. Just twice has HMP reported spending anything to support Democratic candidates in primaries, and in both cases, they were seeking open seats in California where Democrats were worried about getting locked out of the November election due to the state's top-two primary rules: Julia Brownley in the old 26th District in 2012 and then Salud Carbajal in the old 24th in 2016—ironically, a joint effort with the CHC. The PAC has never simply taken sides in a traditional partisan primary.

So why now? Flynn has already been the beneficiary of a $5 million TV and radio ad campaign by another super PAC called Protect Our Future, which is funded by a free-spending 30-year-old billionaire named Sam Bankman-Fried, who made his fortune in cryptocurrency and has lately been seeking to influence policy-making on that front in D.C. (Forbes says he's worth $24 billion. Incidentally, the CEO of the crypto exchange Bankman-Fried founded, Ryan Salame, just this week announced the formation of a similar super PAC aimed at Republicans.)

Bankman-Fried's interest in Flynn is unclear—the candidate claims he has "never met or talked to" his benefactor, and any coordination between the two would be illegal—but Protect Our Future's involvement in the race has prompted a great deal of speculation. As the campaign manager for engineer Matt West, one of the other Democratic hopefuls, put it to OPB's Dirk VanderHart, "Do I know exactly what was exchanged by [Bankman-Fried's] people and [House Majority PAC's] people? No, but I can speculate, as can everyone, that promises have been made."

In other words, goes this line of thinking, HMP is breaking with 10 years of tradition to help Flynn in the expectation that Bankman-Fried will come through with a presumably larger donation to the PAC, which in 2020 eclipsed the DCCC as the largest outside spender on House races on the Democratic side. But if this theory is true, what makes things even more bizarre is that Bankman-Fried could easily dump as much money as he'd like to boost Flynn through his own super PAC. Why go through HMP, then, unless this is a play for winning influence within a major arm of the Democratic Party?

It'll likely be a while before we find out the full story, though. HMP files financial reports with the FEC every month, but the report detailing any transactions in the month of April won't be available until May 20—three days after the Oregon primary.

As for the ad itself, it's narrated by small businessman Quandray "Q" Robertson, who says, "As an owner of a boxing gym, I know a fighter when I see one." Though Robertson is shown prepping and later sparring with a boxer, he means it metaphorically, as the athlete on-screen is not actually Flynn. Instead, says Robertson, Flynn will "stand up to the Trump Republicans" while tackling climate change and prescription drug costs.

Meanwhile, Salinas has also released her first TV ad of the race, which she narrates herself. She says her father "started working the fields" but found a "path to citizenship, and a better life" thanks to his military service in Vietnam. With his experience as inspiration, she says she "passed the country's strongest reproductive rights law," fought for lower drug prices, and "took on polluters to combat climate change."

Redistricting

NH Redistricting: The New Hampshire Supreme Court has appointed Stanford Law professor Nathan Persily as a special master to draw a new congressional map for the state in the event that a deadlock between the Republican-run legislature and GOP Gov. Chris Sununu remains unresolved. The court, however, cautioned that it was only taking "preliminary steps … in the event that the legislative process fails to produce a fully enacted congressional redistricting plan."

NY Redistricting: A New York appellate judge has kept in place a stay of a recent lower court ruling that struck down the state's new congressional and legislative maps, allowing this year's elections to proceed under the new lines, for now. However, Appellate Division Judge Stephen Lindley did say that the trial court judge, Patrick McAllister, could proceed with hiring a special master to draw a new congressional map, which could be used in the event that the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, upholds McAllister's decision.

1Q Fundraising

  • AZ-Sen: Mark Brnovich (R): $765,000 raised  
  • OH-Sen: Tim Ryan (D): $4.1 million raised, $6.4 million cash-on-hand
  • UT-Sen: Mike Lee (R-inc): $1.35 million raised, $2.42 million cash-on-hand
  • WI-Sen: Mandela Barnes (D): $1.7 million raised
  • NE-Gov: Jim Pillen (R): $2.3 million raised (through April 5), $2.9 million cash-on-hand
  • CA-27: Quaye Quartey (D): $320,000 raised  
  • IA-02: Liz Mathis (D): $715,000 raised, $1.3 million cash-on-hand
  • NJ-07: Tom Malinowski (D-inc): $1.06 million raised, $3.5 million cash-on-hand; Tom Kean Jr. (R): $840,000 raised, $1.5 million cash-on-hand
  • NV-01: Carolina Serrano (R): $275,000 raised, $250,000 cash-on-hand
  • OR-06: Andrea Salinas (D): $340,000 raised  
  • PA-12: Steve Irwin (D): $600,000 raised  
  • PA-17: Jeremy Shaffer (R): $670,000 raised, $615,000 cash-on-hand
  • SC-01: Katie Arrington (R): $307,000 raised (in 52 days), additional $500,000 self-funded, $750,000 cash-on-hand

Senate

AZ-Sen: Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly's new spot features footage of the former astronaut in zero-g as he tells the audience, "Compared to Congress, the way NASA operates might seem kind of upside down. Putting the mission first. Working as a team. And getting the job done —no matter what." The senator proclaims that he's "doing things differently" than the rest of the D.C. crowd and will "put aside the party politics so we can accomplish results, together."

NC-Sen: SurveyUSA takes a look at the May 17 Republican primary on behalf of WRAL and finds Rep. Ted Budd beating former Gov. Pat McCrory 33-23, with just 7% going to former Rep. Mark Walker. Several other recent polls have also given Budd the lead.

NV-Sen, NV-Gov: The Reno Gazette-Journal has released a poll from Suffolk University testing several different hypothetical general election scenarios for Senate and governor, and it finds things close overall. Former Attorney General Adam Laxalt posts a 43-40 advantage over Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, while Army veteran Sam Brown, who is the underdog in the June Republican primary, edges her out 40-39.

Turning to the governor's race, Suffolk pits Democratic incumbent Steve Sisolak against five different Republicans:

41-29 vs. venture capitalist Guy Nohra

39-35 vs. attorney Joey Gilbert

39-39 vs. former Sen. Dean Heller

37-39 vs. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo

37-40 vs. North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee

PA-Sen: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has publicized an internal from GBAO that finds him leading Rep. Conor Lamb 44-19 in the May 17 Democratic primary, while state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta takes 17.

On the GOP side, TV personality Mehmet Oz is trumpeting his endorsement from Trump in his new ad, and he also gets in a swipe at former hedge fund manager David McCormick. "Trump knows who the real conservative is who's gonna shake up Washington," says the narrator. "It's not David McCormick, the liberal pro-Biden, pro-China, Wall Street insider."

Governors

GA-Gov: Gov. Brian Kemp's allies at Hardworking Georgians are out with a Cygnal poll arguing that he's in a strong position both to claim the Republican nod and defeat Democrat Stacey Abrams in the fall. The survey shows Kemp taking 49% of the vote on May 24, which is tantalizingly close to the majority he needs to avoid a July runoff, while former Sen. David Perdue is well behind with 33%; Cygnal also finds the incumbent ahead 52-37 in a two-person contest. The general election portion gives Kemp a 50-44 lead in a rematch with Abrams even as she edges out Perdue 48-47.

Abrams, for her part, is continuing to run positive spots to reintroduce herself to voters. One ad is based around a testimonial from Lara Hodgson, an independent who describes how she partnered with Abrams to build a successful small business. The spot briefly alludes to the candidate's recent cameo on "Star Trek: Discovery" when Abrams explains that she and her co-star are a bit different: "Laura's more Star Wars," says Abrams, to which Hodgson responds, "Stacey's … Star Trek." Another commercial features a Macon restaurateur crediting Abrams for helping her and her community during the pandemic.

MN-Gov: State Sen. Paul Gazelka has picked up an endorsement from the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, which is the largest police union in the state, in his quest for the Republican nomination for governor. The Minnesota Reformer described the development as a "blow to former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek," who is one of the many other Republicans who is competing for the state party endorsement at the May 13-14 convention.

OK-Gov: While Gov. Kevin Stitt had looked secure ahead of his June Republican primary, NBC reports that two dark money groups have together spent a hefty $3.3 million to derail him. The incumbent is now firing back with an ad declaring, "The insiders and casino bosses are spending millions to attack Kevin Stitt because he won't do their bidding, resorting to lies, smears, even actors." The story says that Stitt has spent a total of $468,000 on ads so far, while his allies at the RGA are deploying another $577,000 to support him.

Stitt only picked up a notable intra-party challenger last month when Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Director Joel Kintsel launched his bid to unseat his boss, but the offensive against the governor began well before then. All the way back in December, an organization called Conservative Voice of America began running ads attacking Stitt for approving the 2020 release of an inmate named Lawrence Anderson, who was charged the next year with murdering three people, while another group called Sooner State Leadership has deployed similar messaging. (Public Radio Tulsa said Anderson's release was "apparently recommended by the state pardon and parole board by mistake.")

CVA, per NBC, has spent $1.7 million so far, while SSLF has dropped a similar $1.6 million. A third outfit, The Oklahoma Project, said in December that it would spend $500,000 total to thwart Stitt. The group's messaging has been different from that of the other two, though, as its ads have argued that the governor has failed to achieve results.

Last month, Fox 23 sought to learn more about Stitt's critics. It traced TOP's donations back to George Krumme, an oilman and longtime member of the Democratic National Committee. SSLF, meanwhile, was formed by former GOP state Rep. Trebor Worthen, but the organization is not required to divulge its donors. Worthen, in the words of KOCO, said his group "is made up of business and community leaders dedicated to encouraging strong leadership in Oklahoma," adding that it planned to spend a total of $10 million. There's even less information available about CVA except that it's run by longtime lobbyist and Republican staffer Mike Cys.

PA-Gov: Tuesday was a truly chaotic day in Pennsylvania's Republican primary for governor that began with Donald Trump urging voters, "Do not vote for Bill McSwain, a coward, who let our Country down." Multiple media sources reported minutes later that state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman was about to drop out of the race, but while Corman himself essentially confirmed those stories in the afternoon by asking that his name be removed from the May 17 ballot, there was one last twist left: Corman announced in the early evening that he'd decided to stay in the contest because of "President Trump's statement on the race and my conversation directly with the president."

We'll start with McSwain, who appeared to be in a good position until Trump declared he'd never endorse the man he'd once appointed as U.S. attorney for the eastern portion of the state. Trump reiterated the Big Lie to pummel the candidate, claiming that McSwain "did absolutely nothing on the massive Election Fraud that took place in Philadelphia and throughout the commonwealth."

That was dismaying news for McSwain, who had in fact tried to use the Big Lie to gain, rather than lose, Trump's support. His efforts included a letter to Trump last year claiming that his office had "received various allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities" and alleging that "Attorney General Barr, however, instructed me not to make any public statements or put out any press releases regarding possible election irregularities."

Trump was all too happy at the time to use McSwain's missive to backup his own lies and bludgeon Barr, who responded by saying his old subordinate "wanted to not do the business of the department, which is to investigate cases, but instead go out and flap his gums about what he didn't like about the election overall." On Tuesday, though, McSwain got to be the victim of his own words when Trump claimed he "knew what was happening and let it go. It was there for the taking and he failed so badly."

All of this drama inspired Corman to continue a once-promising campaign that he was about to end after several major setbacks. Corman was arguably the primary frontrunner when he entered the race to succeed termed-out Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf back in November, and he raised more money than any of his intra-party rivals in 2021. However, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that his team initially believed they would bring in considerably more during that time: The state Senate leader seemed to agree as he soon went through an intense staff shakeup, but he never managed to fix things.

Corman ended late March with just over $270,000 left in his campaign coffers, and McSwain ominously didn't even bother to mention him in a recent ad targeting three other opponents. Corman himself seemed to recognize he was doomed on Tuesday when he formally sought to have a state court remove his name from the ballot, but hours later he filed a new petition asking the body to ignore that first request. He explained that he'd spoken to Trump, who "encouraged me to keep fighting, and that's what I'm going to do – keep fighting for the people of Pennsylvania." This saga may not be quite over, though, as ABC27 writes, "It is not guaranteed Corman will be able to remain in the race after his first petition was filed."

VT-Gov: Republican Gov. Phil Scott reiterated this week that he wouldn't announce whether he'll seek a fourth two-year term until Vermont's legislative session adjourns May 20, and he insisted to NBC 5 that he was truly undecided. "I think a lot depends on what happens in the next month with the Legislature in this legislative session—what we accomplish and what we don't," said the governor, who currently faces no serious opposition from either party. The filing deadline is May 26, so a Scott retirement would give other candidates very little time to make up their minds if he does indeed wait as long as he says he will to make up his mind.

House

MN-01: Former Department of Agriculture official Brad Finstad has earned endorsements from Reps. Michelle Fischbach and Pete Stauber, who represent the 7th and 8th Districts in the northern part of the state, ahead of the May 24 special Republican primary.

MT-01: In her opening ad for the June Democratic primary, public health expert Cora Neumann stands in front of her modest childhood home in Bozeman and tells the audience, "But now, houses like this are surrounded by mansions like this. And everyone is paying more." She continues, "In Congress, I'll go after rich outsiders driving up costs, take on price gougers, and fight for housing we can actually afford."

NC-13: Former state Sen. Sam Searcy says in his inaugural spot for next month's Democratic primary that his family's job and housing struggles motivated him "to help folks." Searcy continues by saying that in the legislature he "fought like hell to expand Medicaid, and stood with Gov. Cooper to stop Republicans from restricting voting rights and a woman's right to choose."

PA-12: EMILY's List, which is supporting state Rep. Summer Lee in next month's Democratic primary, is out with a poll from GQR that shows her outpacing attorney Steve Irwin 38-13. This is the first survey we've seen of the contest for this open seat.

WV-02: Rep. Alex Mooney has released a new internal from Public Opinion Strategies that gives him a 42-31 lead over fellow incumbent David McKinley ahead of the May 10 GOP primary. The last survey we saw was a March poll for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce that put McKinley ahead 38-33; the organization had not yet endorsed anyone when that poll was released, but it and the West Virginia Manufacturing Association both backed McKinley this week.

CLF: The Congressional Leadership Fund, the well-funded super PAC aligned with the Republican House leadership, has endorsed seven more House candidates challenging Democratic incumbents:

  • AZ-04: Tanya Wheeless
  • NV-03: April Becker
  • NY-18: Colin Schmitt
  • NY-19: Marc Molinaro
  • PA-08: Jim Bognet
  • TX-28: Cassy Garcia
  • TX-34: Mayra Flores

Two of these candidates face notable intra-party opposition: Wheeless has to get past Chandler City Councilman Rene Lopez before she can take on Arizona Rep. Greg Stanton, while Garcia faces a May 24 runoff against 2020 nominee Sandra Whitten in Texas' 28th District. (Democrats have a far more high-profile contest that day between conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar and attorney Jessica Cisneros.) Flores, meanwhile, is already the GOP nominee, while the other four contenders should have little trouble in their own primaries.

Attorneys General

SD-AG: South Dakota's Republican-run state House voted to impeach state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg by a 36-31 margin on Tuesday, a move that temporarily suspends Ravnsborg from his job while he awaits trial in the state Senate.

Last year, Ravnsborg, a Republican, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges for striking and killing a man with his car in September of 2020 but avoided jail time. A special investigative committee recommended against impeaching Ravnsborg last month, saying he had not committed a "crime or other wrongful act involving moral turpitude by virtue or authority of his office" because he wasn't on duty as attorney general at the time of the accident.

However, a majority of lawmakers disagreed with that interpretation, noting among other things that Ravnsborg had identified himself as attorney general in a call to 911 the night of the crash. All eight Democrats were joined by 28 Republicans in favor of impeachment, while 31 Republicans voted against. Ravnsborg would be permanently removed from office if two-thirds of the Senate, which can commence a trial no sooner than May 2, votes to convict him.

Other Races

NY-LG: Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigned Tuesday afternoon hours after he was indicted on federal bribery charges, but because it's notoriously difficult to get off the ballot in New York, he will likely still be listed as a nominal candidate in the June Democratic primary. All of this presents a major complication for Gov. Kathy Hochul, who appointed Benjamin to succeed her as lieutenant governor last year and now faces the prospect of winding up with a running mate she's at odds with.

That's because candidates for governor and lieutenant governor compete in separate nomination contests before running as a ticket in the general election, though Hochul and Benjamin had been running together and urging voters to select them both. The remaining candidates for lieutenant governor have likewise each linked themselves with one of the governor's primary foes: former New York City Councilwoman Diana Reyna is allied with Rep. Tom Suozzi, while activist Ana María Archila is running alongside New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

The candidate filing deadline passed last week, so it's too late for Hochul to recruit a new number two. It's possible that Hochul could decide to support one of the two remaining candidates for lieutenant governor, though Archila responded to Benjamin's arrest by saying, "The governor announced that she would bring a new day, and I'm not sure that's the case." Hochul to date has been the frontrunner in her own race from day one, as every poll has found her far ahead of Williams and Suozzi, though both of her rivals are hoping that Benjamin's downfall will change the calculus.

Benjamin, for his part, has far more than electoral chemistry to worry about. Federal prosecutors allege that, in his previous position as a state senator, he steered taxpayer money to real estate investor Gerald Migdol in exchange for political contributions. The authorities say that Migdol faked the origins of dozens of donations to Benjamin's 2021 bid for New York City comptroller so that Benjamin could more easily qualify for public financing.

Benjamin badly lost that primary, but his career was temporarily revived months later when Hochul, who had ascended to the governorship after Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace, picked him as the new lieutenant governor. Hochul, a white Democrat from upstate New York, sought proverbial "balance" on her ticket by tapping a Black politico from New York City, though questions had been swirling about Benjamin's campaign finances well before he was selected.

P.S. Hochul will once again be able to fill the now-vacant lieutenant governorship, just as she did when she herself ascended to the top job after Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace. Notably, she can do so unilaterally, with no confirmation vote from the legislature required.

Morning Digest: Mo Brooks just found out Trump’s Complete and Total endorsements are anything but

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

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LEADING OFF

AL-Sen: Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he was "withdrawing my endorsement" of Rep. Mo Brooks ahead of the May Republican primary to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, a move that came after months of stories detailing the GOP master's unhappiness with the congressman' campaign. Trump concluded his not-tweet by saying, "I will be making a new Endorsement in the near future!"

There are two remaining available candidates in the GOP primary that Trump could back: Army veteran Mike Durant and Shelby's choice, former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Boyd Britt. Trump had disparaged Britt as "not in any way qualified" for the Senate back in July, but he's warmed up to her in recent months and, per a CNN report last month, even told her that "he would speak positively of her in private and public appearances."

That same story relayed that Trump saw Durant, whom he derided as "a McCain guy" because he functioned as a surrogate for John McCain's 2008 campaign, as unacceptable. That seems to also be changing, though, as Politico reports that Durant met with Trump on Monday. As for Brooks, who helped foment the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, the Club for Growth responded to Trump's Wednesday announcement by saying it was still sticking with him.

Trump argued he was abandoning the "woke" Brooks because the candidate told an August rally, "There are some people who are despondent about the voter fraud and election theft in 2020. Folks, put that behind you." However, while CNN said last year that Brooks' performance at this event, as well as Trump's brief but friendly conversation with Britt backstage, were what "first sowed frustration" with the congressman inside Trumpworld, few observers believe that those seven-month-old comments from Brooks are the reason Trump is now leaving him for dead.

Instead, almost everyone agreed that Trump decided that Brooks was running a doomed bid and wanted to avoid being embarrassed by his primary defeat. Indeed, CNN reported all the way back in December that Trump, GOP insiders, and even Brooks' allies were unhappy with his weak fundraising and other aspects of his campaign: The candidate responded that month by "reassessing his campaign strategy" and replacing several members of his team, but CNN said last week that this shakeup only granted him a temporary reprieve from Trump's gripes. "He feels he has been more than patient and that Mo hasn't risen to the occasion despite many opportunities to do so," said one unnamed person close to Trump.  

But things intensified last week when Trump began to publicly discuss yanking his "Complete and Total" endorsement over the August comments. Brooks responded by saying that Trump had been told "that there are mechanisms by which he could have been returned to the White House in 2021 or in 2022, and it's just not legal." An unnamed Trump advisor told CNN afterwards that a Republican saying that the 2020 election couldn't be overturned represented a "cardinal sin," and that Brooks had just said "the quiet part out loud and it might cost him (Trump's) support." Brooks himself last week used his very first ad of the race to proudly showcase the Jan. 6 speech he delivered to the pro-Trump rally that preceded the day’s violence, but that messaging wasn't enough to keep Trump on his side.

Things got even worse for Brooks on Tuesday when the Republican firm Cygnal released a survey for the Alabama Daily News and Gray Television that showed the former frontrunner in a distant third place. Durant led with 35%, while Britt led Brooks 28-16 for the second spot in an all-but-assured June runoff; last August, before Durant joined the race, the firm showed Brooks crushing Britt 41-17.

There's no word if those ugly numbers influenced Trump, but he announced just a day later that he was finally done backing Brooks. The congressman himself responded with a statement saying, "President Trump asked me to rescind the 2020 elections, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately put President Trump back in the White House, and hold a new special election for the presidency." He continued, "As a lawyer, I've repeatedly advised President Trump that January 6 was the final election contest verdict and neither the U.S. Constitution nor the U.S. Code permit(s) what President Trump asks. Period." Brooks also declared that Trump has allowed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to "manipulate" him.

The Downballot

Joining us on The Downballot for this week’s episode is Jessica Post, the president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee—the official arm of the Democratic Party dedicated to winning state legislatures nationwide. Jessica talks with us about how the DLCC picks its targets and helps candidates, the impact of freshly un-gerrymandered maps in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and how Democrats are protecting vulnerable seats in a challenging midterm environment.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also discuss yet another shameful redistricting ruling from the Supreme Court, Donald Trump pulling the plug on Mo Brooks' Senate campaign in Alabama, and a brand-new special election for the top prosecutor's post in America's fourth-largest county. You can listen to The Downballot on all major podcast platforms, and you can find a transcript right here.

Redistricting

WI Redistricting: The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Wisconsin's new legislative maps in an unsigned "shadow docket" opinion on Wednesday, ruling that the state Supreme Court had violated the Voting Rights Act when it selected a map for the state Assembly earlier this month that would increase the number of Black-majority districts in the Milwaukee area from six to seven. However, the high court rejected a separate challenge on different grounds to the state's new congressional map.

As a result, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will now have to either pick new legislative maps or provide further evidence in support of the plans it originally selected, which were submitted by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. But as election law expert Rick Hasen noted, in a piece calling Wednesday's ruling "bizarre on many levels," the U.S. Supreme Court is using the Wisconsin case to "chip away at the Voting Rights Act." That suggests the justices would be hostile to the Evers maps no matter what additional arguments the Wisconsin court might adduce.

The decision also showcases the high court's stark hypocrisy: Six weeks ago, the Supreme Court blocked a lower federal court ruling ordering Alabama to redraw its congressional map in order to create a second Black congressional district, as mandated by the Voting Rights Act—the same law the Wisconsin Supreme Court cited as motivating its choice of maps. At the time, Justice Brett Kavanaugh explained in a concurring opinion that the lower court's order in the Alabama case had come too close to the election for the state to revise its existing map, which included only a single district with a Black majority.

Now it's late March, yet the Supreme Court has nevertheless seen fit to send Wisconsin back to the drawing board. There's simply no legitimate reason for the differing outcomes: The original lower court ruling in Alabama came down four months before the state's primary, while the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision was issued just five months ahead of the primary there. In both cases, however, Republican interests benefit, and the cause of Black representation suffers.

Senate

NC-Sen: Rep. Ted Budd, aka the far-right congressman running for Senate that Trump still backs, is running a spot for the May primary based around his support for finishing Trump's border wall.

NH-Sen: Bitcoin millionaire Bruce Fenton tells Politico that he's considering entering the September Republican primary to face Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan and would self-fund $5 million if he gets in. Felton adds that he'll decide early next month after, naturally, the Bitcoin 2022 gathering.

NV-Sen, NV-Gov: The Club for Growth has released a WPA Intelligence survey of the June Republican primary that gives its endorsed Senate candidate, former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a wide 57-19 lead over Army veteran Sam Brown.

The Club also takes a look at the race for governor, where it has yet to take sides: WPA shows Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo leading former Sen. Dean Heller 28-22, with North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee at 13%. A recent PPP survey for the Democratic Governors Association had Lombardo ahead with a similar 26%, while Heller and Lee tied with 13% each.

Governors

GA-Gov: Newt Gingrich has waded into his home state's May Republican primary for governor by backing former Sen. David Perdue's intra-party bid against incumbent Brian Kemp.

MD-Gov: Former Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker has publicized a GQR internal of the twice-delayed Democratic primary, which is now set for July, that shows him trailing state Comptroller Peter Franchot 23-15; former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez and former nonprofit head Wes Moore aren't far behind with 11% and 10%, respectively. Baker, who was the runner up in the 2018 primary, has released these numbers to argue that he's the strongest alternative to Franchot.

On the Republican side, termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan has endorsed former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, whom the Washington Post called his "handpicked candidate" last year.

PA-Gov: State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman's newest spot for the May Republican primary consists of him calling for the impeachment of Larry Krasner, Philadelphia's reform-minded district attorney.

House

CO-08: While Adams County Commissioner Chaz Tedesco initially sought to collect signatures to qualify for the June Democratic primary ballot for this new seat, he didn't end up turning in enough petitions before last week's deadline. Tedesco will instead seek to advance by competing at the April 5 party convention, where he'll need to win the support of at least 30% of the delegates in order to keep his candidacy alive.

The other major Democratic candidate is state Rep. Yadira Caraveo, who did turn in the requisite number of petitions. She's also competing for the party endorsement next month, but she'll make it to the primary ballot as long as she wins at least 10% of the delegates.

FL-07: Longtime congressional aide Rusty Roberts announced this week that he was entering the Republican primary to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy. Roberts previously served as chief of staff for John Mica, the Styrofoam-obsessed Republican whom Murphy unseated in 2016. (Politico wrote during that campaign that Mica "obsessively hordes throwaway coffee cups in his office and home, insisting that his companions reuse the same paper or Styrofoam carries because 'it's recyclable!'")

MO-01: Republican state Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch earlier this month that Democratic state Sen. Steven Roberts wants lawmakers to modify the boundaries of the safely blue 1st District to strengthen his chances for a potential primary campaign against Rep. Cori Bush. Roberts rejected Schatz's claim about his interest in shaping redistricting, though he did not deny he was considering a campaign against the high-profile freshman. "Is this on the record or off the record?" he asked a reporter, and when he was informed he was on the record, Roberts simply said he was focused "on my legislative duties."

Roberts appeared in the news again on Monday when The Intercept reported that someone with an IP address in the Missouri Office of Administration edited Roberts' Wikipedia page to delete a section describing how he'd been accused of sexual assault by two different women in 2015 and 2017, though he was never charged. A spokesperson for Roberts denied any knowledge of the edits and also deflected a question about a possible campaign against Bush. Missouri's candidate filing deadline is still set for March 29 even though the GOP-run legislature hasn't yet passed a new congressional map.

NC-13: Law student Bo Hines uses his first spot for the May Republican primary to talk about his time as a college football player and to inform the viewer that he's Donald Trump's endorsed candidate. The spot features a montage of Hines jumping rope, lifting weights, and, in one weird moment at the 12-second mark, apparently talking to himself in the mirror.

NJ-11: For the second cycle in a row, former Kinnelon Council President Larry Casha has dropped out of the Republican primary to face Democratic incumbent Mikie Sherrill.

TN-05: Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles has announced that he's joining the August Republican primary for the open 5th District, which Republicans recently transformed from blue to red by cracking apart the city of Nashville. Ogles is a former state director for the Koch network's Americans for Prosperity, and he launched a primary bid in 2017 against Sen. Bob Corker days before the incumbent decided to retire. Ogles, though, attracted little attention in the new open seat race from the Kochs or anyone else, and he soon dropped out and launched a successful bid for Maury County mayor.

Ogles, who established himself as a loud opponent of Gov. Bill Lee's pandemic measures, responded to Lee's summer declaration that school districts could decide for themselves if a mask mandate would be required in elementary schools by calling for the legislature to hold a special session to address his "continued abuses of power." Ogles also didn't rule out a primary campaign against Lee before the new congressional maps were unveiled, but he soon shifted his focus to the 5th District.

Ogles joins a contest that includes former state House Speaker Beth Harwell; businessman Baxter Lee; retired Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead; music video producer Robby Starbuck; and Trump's choice, former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus. Ortagus' campaign, though, has attracted scorn from plenty of loud conservatives who have cast the recent Tennessee arrival as an outsider.

Ortagus gave her critics some fresh material last month when, during an appearance on Michael Patrick Leahy's conservative radio show, she bombed the host's quiz about the new district and state. Among other things, Ortagus couldn't answer when asked which "three interstate highways" are in the 5th, the names of the four living former Republican governors (she only got Lee's predecessor, Bill Haslam), and the identity of "[o]ne of the most famous NASCAR drivers living today [who] lives in the 5th District and has a large auto dealership in Franklin." (The answer is Darrell Waltrip.)

Each chamber of the state's GOP-dominated legislature has also passed a bill that would impose a three-year residency requirement on congressional candidates, and while its state House sponsor denied it had anything to do with any specific contender, observers were quick to note that it would keep Ortagus off the ballot. However, while the Senate version would take effect this cycle, the House bill wouldn't come into force this year. It likely wouldn't matter what the legislature ends up agreeing to, though, because of a 1995 Supreme Court decision that ruled that states cannot add further qualifications to candidates for Congress that aren't in the U.S. Constitution.

VT-AL: Sianay Chase Clifford, who is a former aide to Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, announced last week that she was joining the August Democratic primary for Vermont's open House seat and campaigning as "a real progressive option." Chase Clifford, who is 27, moved to the Bay State for college, and she returned to Vermont during the pandemic. The candidate, whose mother is from Liberia, would be the first Black person to represent the state in Congress.

Attorneys General

GA-AG: Donald Trump has endorsed Big Lie proponent John Gordon, who renewed his law license last year to try to help Trump overturn his Georgia defeat, against Attorney General Chris Carr in the May Republican primary. Carr warned his counterparts in other states against joining Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's lawsuit to throw out the results in Georgia and other states Biden won, and Trump lashed out Tuesday by saying the incumbent did "absolutely nothing" to aid him.

Gordon, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "has little statewide profile," though he does have a close connection to another Trump ally. The paper reports that former Sen. David Perdue, who is trying to deny renomination to Gov. Brian Kemp, lives on property owned by Gordon because his own place is undergoing construction, though Perdue denied he had anything to do with this endorsement.

Carr and Gordon are the only Republican candidates, so this contest will be decided without a runoff. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Jen Jordan is the undisputed frontrunner against attorney Christian Wise Smith.

ID-AG: The Club for Growth has dropped a survey from WPA Intelligence that shows former Rep. Raúl Labrador, who was one of the far-right's most prominent members during the tea party era, lapping five-term Attorney General Lawrence Wasden 35-14 in the May Republican primary. The Club hasn't made an endorsement, though it supported Labrador in his unsuccessful 2018 bid for governor.

Prosecutors

Maricopa County, AZ Attorney: Three more GOP candidates have announced that they'll run in this year's special election to succeed their fellow Republican, soon-to-be-former County Attorney Allister Adel: City of Goodyear Prosecutor Gina Godbehere, attorney James Austin Woods, and prosecutor Rachel Mitchell. Republicans need to turn in just over 4,500 valid signatures by April 4 in order to make the primary ballot; Anni Foster, who is Gov. Doug Ducey's general counsel, launched her own bid earlier this week.

Godbehere on Tuesday earned a supportive tweet from former TV anchor Kari Lake, the far-right conspiracy theorist that Donald Trump is supporting for governor. Woods, for his part, is the son of the late Grant Woods, who served as state attorney general from 1991 to 1999. That link may not be helpful with GOP primary voters, though, as the elder Woods was a vocal Trump critic who became a Democrat in 2018.

Finally, Mitchell is a longtime sex crimes prosecutor who attracted national attention during Brett Kavanaugh's 2018 Supreme Court hearings when the all-male Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee brought her in as a "female assistant" to question him and accuser Christine Blasey Ford. She went on to tell the GOP senators that no "reasonable prosecutor" would prosecute Kavanaugh for sexual assault.

The next year Mitchell temporarily served as Maricopa County attorney after Bill Montgomery resigned to join the state Supreme Court: Both she and Godbehere were named as finalists for the appointment for the final year of his term, but Adel was ultimately selected. Mitchell made news again last month when she was one of the five division chiefs to tell their boss to resign due to serious questions about her sobriety and ability to serve as the county's top prosecutor.

On the Democratic side, 2020 nominee Julie Gunnigle said Tuesday that she'd already collected the requisite petitions in less than 24 hours.