Morning Digest: Trump endorses rival to Freedom Caucus chief who schlepped to his trial

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

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VA-05: Donald Trump delivered his long-awaited endorsement on Tuesday to state Sen. John McGuire's campaign to unseat Rep. Bob Good, who chairs the nihilistic Freedom Caucus, in the June 18 Republican primary for Virginia's conservative 5th District.

Trump used a post on Truth Social, which included an obligatory and unfunny pun on the incumbent's name, to make it plain he's out to punish Good for supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the presidential primary.

"Bob Good is BAD FOR VIRGINIA, AND BAD FOR THE USA," Trump wrote. "He turned his back on our incredible movement, and was constantly attacking and fighting me until recently, when he gave a warm and 'loving' Endorsement – But really, it was too late. The damage had been done."

Good's recent trek to New York City to attend Trump's hush money trial doesn't seem to have its intended effect of placating the GOP's overlord, though his hopes for a third term already looked to be in dire shape even before Trump publicly took sides. (Awkwardly, McGuire showed up for the trial on the same day.) A McGuire internal poll conducted at the beginning of the month showed him toppling the incumbent 45-31, and Good has yet to release contrary numbers.

While the congressman's decision a year ago to back DeSantis' already shaky White House bid played a key role in putting him in this unenviable position―and in getting him ejected from a "Trump store" (these apparently exist)―Trump isn't the only powerful Republican he's pissed off. 

Good was one of eight House Republicans who voted to end Kevin McCarthy's speakership in October, and McCarthy's well-funded political network is making central Virginia a key stop on its revenge tour. MAGA world and McCarthy's loyalists often don't align behind the same candidates―Trump days ago endorsed the Floridian who led the charge against McCarthy, Rep. Matt Gaetz―but Good managed to give both factions a reason to want him gone.

Antipathy for the sophomore lawmaker runs deeper still: Good, who has endorsed several far-right primary challenges to his own colleagues, has also alienated major donors who are tired of the Freedom Caucus' antics. 

All of this helps explain why, according to data from the FEC, super PACs have spent more than $3 million attacking Good and promoting McGuire. There's likely even more in store as American Patriots PAC, which is funded by megadonors Ken Griffin and Paul Singer, so far has only used two-thirds of the $3 million in ad time that Bloomberg reported that it reserved early this month.

Good, though, still has some well-heeled allies who are opening their wallets to help him, to the tune of more than $2 million so far. Most of that has come from two groups: Conservative Outsider PAC, which is an affiliate of the Club for Growth, and Protect Freedom PAC, a super PAC aligned with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Paul himself has been starring in the latter's ads, urging Virginians to renominate "a true defender of liberty." But as Kentucky's junior senator learned the hard way in 2016, the man who just backed McGuire has far more pull with GOP primary voters than Paul does.

Election Recaps

TX-12 (R): State Rep. Craig Goldman defeated businessman John O'Shea 63-37 in Tuesday's runoff to succeed retiring Rep. Kay Granger. Goldman had the backing of Granger, Gov. Greg Abbott, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, as well as a huge financial advantage over O'Shea. Attorney General Ken Paxton supported his ally O'Shea over Goldman, who voted to impeach Paxton for corruption a year ago, but it wasn't enough.

Donald Trump carried Texas' 12th District, which is based in western Fort Worth and its suburbs, 58-40 in 2020, so Goldman is now on a glide path to Congress. The Republican nominee would be the second Jewish person to represent Texas in Congress after Martin Frost, a Democrat who lost to Republican colleague Pete Sessions in 2004 after the GOP rearranged his Dallas-area seat as part of the infamous "DeLaymander."

TX-23 (R): Rep. Tony Gonzales scraped by far-right challenger Brandon Herrera 50.7-49.3 to secure renomination in the 23rd District. Gonzales will be favored in the fall against Democratic businessman Santos Limon in a sprawling west Texas seat that Trump took 53-46 four years ago.

While Herrera prevented Gonzales from winning outright in March by holding him to a 45-25 edge, the incumbent and his allies used their massive financial advantage to push their preferred narrative about Herrera, whom Gonzales dubbed "a known neo-Nazi." Gonzales' side also highlighted Herrera's mockery of the Holocaust, veteran suicide, and even Barron Trump, and pointed out that he only relocated to Texas from North Carolina a few years ago.

The Freedom Caucus, including chair Bob Good of Virginia, still held out hope that it could rid itself of Gonzales, whom the Texas GOP censured a year ago. Texas Rep. Chip Roy, who represents the neighboring 21st District, also backed Herrera on Tuesday morning, but as tight as the race was, his belated endorsement wasn't enough to change the outcome.

TX-28 (R): Navy veteran Jay Furman defeated businessman Lazaro Garza 65-35 in the GOP runoff to take on Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, who was indicted on corruption charges earlier this month.

Neither Republican has raised much money, but the GOP is hoping that Cuellar's legal problems will give them an opening in the 28th District, which includes Laredo and the eastern San Antonio suburbs. Joe Biden carried this constituency 53-46 in 2020, but the area has been trending to the right.

TX State House (R): State House Speaker Dade Phelan held off former Orange County Republican Party chair David Covey after an exceptionally expensive GOP primary runoff. With all votes counted, Phelan survived by a margin of 50.7 to 49.3—a difference of just 366 votes.

The victory represented an upset win for Phelan, who trailed Covey 46-43 in the first round of voting for his dark red East Texas seat, which is numbered the 21st District. It's unusual for a top legislative leader to be the underdog for renomination, but Phelan had a vast array of far-right forces arrayed against him.

Covey had the support of Paxton and Donald Trump, who were looking to punish Phelan for supporting Paxton's impeachment last year, as well as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who leads the state Senate. Gov. Greg Abbott, however, remained conspicuously neutral even as he targeted other lawmakers who successfully blocked his plan to use taxpayer money to pay for private schools. (We'll have more on those races in the next Digest, though Phelan was one of just two House GOP incumbents to prevail Thursday; six others lost.)

The speaker fought back by raising money with the help of prominent Republicans from yesteryear like former Gov. Rick Perry, former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Karl Rove, who was one of the most powerful GOP operatives in the country during George W. Bush's administration. The Texas Tribune labeled this effort the "last stand for the Republican Party’s business-minded establishment," and it proved just enough to secure a rare major win over the party's current leadership.

Senate

 MI-Sen, MI-08, MI-10: The Michigan Bureau of Elections on Friday recommended that the Board of State Canvassers disqualify nine congressional candidates from the Aug. 6 primary ballot. The bipartisan Board is scheduled to decide the fates of these candidates, most of whom face trouble for failing to file a sufficient number of signatures, on May 31.

The Bureau, though, gave the thumbs up to the three main Republicans running for the state's open Senate seat: former Reps. Mike Rogers and Justin Amash and wealthy businessman Sandy Pensler. Both the DSCC and the state Democratic Party earlier this month asked the Canvassers Board to look into "potential fraud in the nominating petitions," but officials determined that all three filed enough signatures to make the ballot.

Rogers remains the favorite to advance to the general election, but allies of the leading Democratic candidate, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, insist he still needs to watch his back in the primary. A new Public Policy Polling survey for the Voter Protection Project shows Rogers leading Pensler 30-12, with Amash at 11%. The group's release argues that Pensler can close the gap as more voters learn about him.

However, not all Senate hopefuls were quite so lucky. The Bureau concluded that Democrat Nasser Beydoun, a former leader of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce who is waging a longshot bid for Senate, should be disqualified because he listed a post office box on his petition sheets when state law requires a street address.

Beydoun responded, "We're going to fight it because it's suppressing the vote on a technicality." His involuntary departure would leave Slotkin and actor Hill Harper as the only Democrats on the August ballot.

Further down the ballot, the most prominent name on the Bureau's list of candidates it recommended for disqualification belongs to Wayne State University Board of Governors member Anil Kumar, a self-funder who ended March with a massive cash on hand advantage in the Democratic primary for the right to take on GOP Rep. John James in the 10th District.

The Bureau determined that Kumar and another Democrat, social justice activist Rhonda Powell, both fell short of signature requirements, but Kumar says he plans to contest the finding.

Bureau staff made the same determination about state Board of Education member Nikki Snyder, a Republican who is trying to flip the competitive 8th District. Snyder was also booted from the ballot over signature issues in 2020 during a prior bid for the House. This time, Snyder's team alleges that they fell victim to fraud from a consultant.

 NJ-Sen: The New Jersey Globe reports that indicted Sen. Bob Menendez is collecting signatures for a potential bid as an independent, an option Menendez said he was keeping open in March when he announced he wouldn't campaign in the June 4 Democratic primary.

Menendez, whose corruption trial is still underway, has until the day of next month's primary to submit 800 valid signatures. Any independent who makes the ballot has until Aug. 16 to withdraw their name.

 VA-Sen: Navy veteran Hung Cao picked up Donald Trump's endorsement on Monday for the June 18 GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine. Cao faces four intra-party opponents, including former Club for Growth official Scott Parkinson, ahead of what would be a difficult general election to unseat Kaine.

Governors

 ND-Gov, ND-AL: The media outlet North Dakota News Cooperative has commissioned a survey from the GOP firm WPA Intelligence that shows Rep. Kelly Armstrong far ahead in the June 11 GOP primary for governor, but two Republicans are locked in a more competitive race to fill his House seat.

WPA finds Armstrong outpacing Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller 57-19 in the contest to replace retiring Gov. Doug Burgum, who supports Miller. An early May internal from the Democratic firm DFM Research for the labor group North Dakota United showed Armstrong ahead by an almost identical 56-18 spread, while an Armstrong internal from around that same time gave him an even larger advantage. No one has released any other polls of this contest.

But WPA's House portion has Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak leading former state Rep. Rick Becker by a much tighter 32-25 margin, with 28% undecided. Former Miss America Cara Mund and former State Department official Alex Balazs are well behind, though, with 10% and 5%, respectively.

DFM previously placed Becker ahead of Fedorchak 29-26, with Mund at 14%. No one has released any other polls of the contest to represent this dark red seat in the House. Fedorchak sports endorsements from Burgum and other prominent local Republicans like Sen. John Hoeven, while the far-right Freedom Caucus is pulling for Becker.

 WA-Gov: A new Elway Research survey for KCTS-TV finds Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson and former GOP Rep. Dave Reichert both poised to advance out of the Aug. 6 top-two primary, a matchup that almost everyone in Washington politics has expected for some time. 

Ferguson leads with 22% while Reichert outpaces Democratic state Sen. Mark Mullet 20-6 for second. Another 5% opt for a different Republican, far-right Marine veteran Semi Bird, while 47% of respondents are uncommitted. This release did not include general election numbers.

House

 CO-05: The Colorado Sun reports that a Republican super PAC is spending almost $400,000 on an ad campaign to stop state GOP chair Dave Williams in the June 28 primary for Colorado's 5th District. 

The spot, from America Leads Action, argues that, unlike Donald Trump, Williams doesn't "believe in Made in America." The ad goes on to accuse the candidate's business interests of putting China "ahead of you." It does not mention that Trump is supporting Williams in the contest to replace retiring Rep. Doug Lamborn.

ALA, which is funded by North Carolina businessman Jay Faison and Walmart heir Rob Walton, has devoted itself to stopping hardline candidates who could pose a headache for the House GOP leadership. The party Williams leads has been causing exactly the sort of trouble ALA wants to stamp out, recently endorsing former state Rep. Janak Joshi's longshot bid for the competitive 8th District rather than coalescing around the national party favorite, state Rep. Gabe Evans.  

ALA's foray comes after Americans for Prosperity deployed more than $350,000 to promote conservative radio host Jeff Crank, who has the support of Lamborn and Speaker Mike Johnson. There has been no other outside spending here so far.

But AFP, which unsuccessfully tried to help Nikki Haley win the GOP presidential nomination, may do its candidate more harm than good. Trump wrote in March that he was backing Williams because his "opponent is Endorsed, and works closely with, Americans for Chinese Prosperity, a Charles Koch Disaster."

 NH-02: Wealthy investor Bill Hamlen still won't "confirm on the record" whether he's seeking the GOP nod for New Hampshire's open 2nd District, reports the NH Journal's Evan Lips, even though he's appeared at campaign events and filed paperwork with the FEC last month.

But even Hamlen's efforts at campaigning have been odd, to say the least: Lips notes that his most recent appearance was at a Republican town committee event in the wrong congressional district. (New Hampshire has only two.) "Hamlen's entire candidacy has inspired a lot of head scratching inside state GOP circles," says Lips, who notes that Hamlen voted in the state's Democratic primary for president earlier this year.

The one notable Republican who so far is actually willing to say he's seeking the seat that Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster is leaving behind is businessman Vikram Mansharamani, who took a distant fourth place in last cycle's U.S. Senate primary. 

There are, however, several assorted randos who have put their names forward. These include a former Colorado Libertarian Party chair who took third in the 2022 primary for the 2nd District and a convicted Jan. 6 rioter who also tried to run against Kuster two years ago but struggled on account of being in jail.

 NJ-10: Recordings made public in connection with a new lawsuit feature Linden Mayor Derek Armstead making antisemitic comments about Hasidic Jews, claiming that his community was at risk of "being taken over by guys with big hats and curls."

The audio, which was obtained by NJ.com's Ted Sherman, was recorded by Paul Oliveira, a former Linden school official who filed a lawsuit last week alleging that Armstead and other city leaders had sought to "deliberately exclude Jews" from obtaining employment with the local school district.

Armstead, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the upcoming special election for New Jersey's vacant 10th Congressional District, also called Newark "a hellhole over there from top to bottom" and warned that Linden was headed for the same fate if it did not exercise "full and complete control of who gets hired." (Newark makes up a quarter of the 10th District.)

Armstead called Oliveira's accusations "a whole bunch of hogwash" and said of the recordings, "I'm glad he has me on tape. … Nobody respects someone who comes into a room and starts tape-recording people."

 VA-07, VA-10: Protect Progress, a super PAC supported by the cryptocurrency industry, is spending heavily to air ads boosting two Democrats seeking open House seats in Virginia.

The group is putting almost $900,000 behind a spot in the 10th District that praises Del. Dan Helmer for supporting gun safety laws and reproductive rights. It also mentions his recent endorsement from the Washington Post. The PAC is spending a similar sum to elevate former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman in the 7th District, but no copy of the ad appears to be available online.

Poll Pile

  • MI-Sen: Mitchell Research for MIRS: Elissa Slotkin (D): 40, Mike Rogers (R): 36 (49-47 Trump in two-way, 46-45 Trump with third-party candidates) (March: 37-37 Senate tie)

  • NV-Sen: The Tyson Group (R) for Breaking Battlegrounds: Jacky Rosen (D-inc): 47, Sam Brown (R): 33 (47-44 Trump in two-way, 40-37 Trump with third-party candidates)

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Morning Digest: Ohio Republicans who collaborated with Democrats try to ward off primary challengers

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

Our two big stories at Daily Kos Elections on this Monday morning:

Ohio Republicans have been feuding for more than a year now, but with primaries just weeks away, hostilities between the warring factions have crescendoed to explosive levels. The official campaign arm of the state House GOP is spending heavily to protect a group of lawmakers loyal to Speaker Jason Stephens—who won his post thanks to the votes of Democrats. As you can imagine, the rest of the GOP is still furious and aims to take revenge. Get all the gory details on this major meltdown and how it could impact the next race for speaker.

A party's official endorsement can be a valuable seal of approval, but sometimes it's better not to seek it at all rather than lose badly. That, at least, seems to be the thinking of Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, who is running for North Dakota's open governorship. She's decided to skip the GOP convention and head straight to the primary. Read more about Miller's conundrum—and some informative recent history that suggests she might be making the right choice.

Senate

CA-Sen: A group called Standing Strong PAC, which recently began running ads designed to help Republican Steve Garvey advance to the general election, has now spent at least $5.2 million, per analyst Rob Pyers. The super PAC, which is run by allies of Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, has followed the congressman's lead by ostensibly attacking Garvey as a Donald Trump backer who is "too conservative for California."

IN-Sen: Wealthy egg farmer John Rust's Senate campaign got some ominous news Thursday when the Indiana Supreme Court placed a stay on a December ruling by a lower court that gave him the chance to appear on the May 7 GOP primary ballot.

While the state's highest court hasn't issued an opinion on the merits of Rust's case, his attorney predicted that when it comes, it will be bad for the candidate. Rust's team, though, says it might appeal an unfavorable decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rust, who is waging a longshot primary challenge against Rep. Jim Banks, is in this situation because of a state law that only allows candidates to run with the party they belong to. Because there's no party registration in Indiana, the easiest way for Hoosiers to establish their affiliation is if by casting their last two voters in their party's primaries. But while Rust most recently participated in the 2016 GOP primary, his prior vote was in the 2012 Democratic race.

Rust sued to block this law, and a lower court judge sided with him in December. The state Supreme Court heard the state's appeal on Feb. 12, days after candidate filing closed. No other Republicans challenged Banks.

MI-Sen: Former GOP Rep. Mike Rogers on Friday publicized a list of 110 "financial supporters" that featured multiple members of the wealthy and influential DeVos family, including former Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Also on the list is former Gov. John Engler, who served from 1991 to 2003 and later had a turbulent stint as interim president of Michigan State University that lasted just a year.

MT-Sen: In the first poll we've seen out of Montana this year, SurveyUSA finds Democratic Sen. Jon Tester with a 49-40 lead over his likely Republican foe, wealthy businessman Tim Sheehy. The survey, conducted for KULR-TV, was finished the day that Rep. Matt Rosendale abruptly ended his week-long Senate bid and shows the congressman losing by an identical 49-40 spread.

Nebraska: Thursday was the deadline for sitting elected officials in Nebraska to file for the May 14 primary, even if they're seeking a different post than the one they currently hold. The filing deadline for candidates not currently in office is March 1, though some non-incumbents have already submitted their names to election officials.

WI-Sen: Former GOP Gov. Scott Walker has endorsed wealthy businessman Eric Hovde ahead of his planned Senate launch this coming week.

Governors

NC-Gov: East Carolina University's newest general election poll shows a 41-41 deadlock between Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein and Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, a small shift from Robinson's 44-40 advantage in December. The sample favors Donald Trump 47-44 over Joe Biden.

ECU also looks at both sides' March 5 primaries and finds Stein and Robinson far ahead of their respective intraparty rivals. The attorney general outpaces former state Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan 57-7, while Robinson beats wealthy businessman Bill Graham 53-13.

WA-Gov: The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling shows Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson leading former Republican Rep. Dave Reichert 46-42 in its new survey for the Northwest Progressive Institute. That's a turnaround from PPP's last poll, which put Reichert ahead 46-44 in November.

What hasn't changed, though, is that Ferguson and Reichert appear poised to easily advance out of the Aug. 6 top-two primary. PPP places Ferguson in first with 35% as Reichert leads his fellow Republican, former Richland school board member Semi Bird, 27-9 for the second general election spot. Another 4% opt for Democratic state Sen. Mark Mullet, while the remaining 25% are undecided.

House

CA-20: Republican businessman David Giglio announced Friday that he was ending his campaign and endorsing Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux in the March 5 top-two primary, though Giglio's name will remain on the ballot. Giglio made national news in October when he launched an intraparty challenge to then-Rep. Kevin McCarthy, but he finished the year with just $3,000 in the bank. Giglio also did not file to compete in the March 19 special election for the remainder of McCarthy's term.

CA-47: Jewish Insider's Matthew Kassel flags that AIPAC's United Democracy Project has spent an additional $700,000 in its bid to stop Democratic state Sen. Dave Min from advancing out of the March 5 top-two primary, which brings its total investment to $1.5 million.

NC-13: A woman named Angela McLeod Barbour has accused one of the Republicans competing in the busy March 5 primary for North Carolina's 13th Congressional District, businessman DeVan Barbour, of repeatedly propositioning her for sex through phone calls and text messages, according to a new report from journalist Bryan Anderson.

"He wanted me to drive to his house and have sex with him," she said of the married candidate, whom she also claims was "fully unclothed" and intoxicated in his communications with her on the night in question in 2021. (The two are not related.)

DeVan Barbour, who has promoted himself as a proud husband, told Anderson in response that "[t]hese accusations are 100% false." Last month, Anderson described Barbour as one of the four main Republicans running to succeed Democratic Rep. Wiley Nickel, who did not seek reelection after the GOP legislature gerrymandered his seat. The other three are attorney Kelly Daughtry, former federal prosecutor Brad Knott, and businessman Fred Von Canon.

TN-07: Two Republicans tell the Tennessee Lookout's Sam Stockard that they're interested in running to succeed GOP Rep. Mark Green, who unexpectedly announced his retirement on Wednesday. One prospective candidate for the August primary is former state Rep. Brandon Ogles, whose cousin, Andy Ogles, represents the neighboring 5th District. The other is state Sen. Bill Powers, whom Stockard identifies as a car dealer.

Other GOP candidates Stockard mentions are physician Manny Sethi, who lost the 2020 Senate primary to eventual winner Bill Hagerty, and former Williamson County GOP chairman Omar Hamada. Political scientist Michael Bednarczuk separately name-drops state Sen. Kerry Roberts in a piece for The Tennessean.

Stockard also runs down a further list of Republicans he says were "mentioned on a conservative radio talk show," though some of these options seem completely unrealistic:

  • 2023 Franklin mayoral candidate Gabrielle Hanson
  • Former State Department official Morgan Ortagus
  • Conservative TV host Candace Owens
  • Singer John Rich
  • Singer Kid Rock
  • 2023 Nashville mayoral candidate Alice Rolli
  • Music video producer Robby Starbuck

Kid Rock (real name Robert James Ritchie) spent much of 2017 flirting with a Senate bid in Michigan against Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow, but he never went for it. He later told Howard Stern he wasn't ever serious about the idea either, recounting that he'd informed Eminem's manager, "I've got motherfuckers thinking I'm running for Senate.' People who are in on it are like, 'Are you really doing it?' I'm like: 'Dude, you're fucking in on the joke! Why you asking me if I'm doing it?'"

Meanwhile, both Ortagus and Starbuck tried to run against Andy Ogles in the 5th District last year, only to be denied a place on the ballot by party leaders for failing to meet the GOP's criteria for running in a primary. Starbuck unsuccessfully sued, which is a big problem for his future hopes for office: The state GOP last month passed new by-laws stating that any person who's sued the party cannot appear on a primary ballot for the ensuing decade.

At least one Republican is demurring, though: Stockard writes that state Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson has conveyed to sources that he's not at all interested.

On the Democratic side, former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry began running for this 56-41 Trump seat back in December. Stockard also writes that state Rep. Bo Mitchell is "rumored to be considering." The filing deadline is April 4.

VA-07: Green Beret veteran Derrick Anderson publicized an endorsement on Friday from 2nd District Rep. Jen Kiggans ahead of the GOP nomination contest. Anderson already had the support of Speaker Mike Johnson in his quest to flip the competitive 7th, which Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger is giving up to concentrate on her 2025 bid for governor.

WA-05: Former Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich tells The Inlander's Nate Sanford he'll decide over the next two weeks whether he'll compete in the August top-two primary to succeed retiring Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a fellow Republican. Sanford notes that Knezovich, who did not seek reelection in 2022, relocated to Wyoming after leaving office.

On the Democratic side, both state Rep. Marcus Riccelli and state Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig tell Sanford they won't run for this 54-44 Trump seat.

Ballot Measures

NV Ballot: A Nevada state court has ruled that two proposed constitutional amendments that would establish a bipartisan redistricting commission cannot appear on the ballot because they would fail to raise the needed revenue. One of the proposals would take effect in 2027 and replace Nevada's current Democratic-drawn maps ahead of the 2028 elections, while the other would not come into force until 2031, following the next census.

Supporters have not yet indicated whether they will appeal or revise their proposals. However, they would have only until June 26 to submit the 102,362 voter signatures needed to qualify for November's ballot. Initiated amendments in Nevada must be approved by voters in two consecutive elections to become law.

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Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Freedom Caucus clone sparks bitter primary challenge in South Carolina

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: Republican Rep. William Timmons, who is in his third term representing South Carolina's conservative 4th District, has earned a primary challenge from state Rep. Adam Morgan, who chairs his own chamber's far-right Freedom Caucus.

Morgan avoided leveling criticisms of the incumbent in his launch, but his most prominent endorser didn't hesitate. Ultra-conservative Rep. Ralph Norman, who represents the neighboring 5th District and is one of the most implacable extremists in Congress, castigated Timmons for "protecting former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy," according to the Greenville News' Devyani Chhetri. (Timmons voted to keep McCarthy as speaker in the historic early October vote that ousted him from the job, but Norman did as well.)

Timmons himself fired back at his new opponent in unusually harsh terms. While incumbents often act as though challengers are beneath their notice, Timmons eschewed that approach. "Adam's greatest 'legislative accomplishments' are filing a lawsuit and abandoning the Republican Party to form a third-party caucus that shrank in size under his 'leadership,'" he said in a statement.

Last year, Morgan led several rebel lawmakers in creating the state House's Freedom Caucus, a breakaway group modeled after its congressional counterpart that has accused GOP leaders of failing to pursue a sufficiently conservative agenda. Their accomplishments on the legislative front have been minimal, however, with one establishment Republican dismissing the faction as little more than "a headache on social media."

Chhetri explains that this local version of the Freedom Caucus was the "brain-child" of Mark Meadows, Donald Trump's former chief of staff who was indicted by Georgia prosecutors for attempting to overturn the 2020 election. But before he served Trump, Meadows was a founder of the congressional Freedom Caucus (of which Norman is also a member). Chhetri adds that Morgan's bloc has been funded in part by a nonprofit run by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, another hard-liner who was notorious for feuding with colleagues.

But while Morgan may not have much to show for his efforts to usher in a conservative utopia, Timmons could nonetheless be vulnerable. Last year, he won his primary with just 53% of the vote while three little-known candidates split the remainder. Shortly after that election, he appeared on several radio shows to address rumors that he'd used the powers of his office to conceal an extra-marital affair. While he denied that he'd abused his position, he didn't deny being unfaithful to his wife, who filed for divorce shortly after he won reelection that fall.

With a much higher-profile opponent this time, the outcome could be very different, especially in a one-on-one race. But even if other critics also jump in, Timmons cannot escape with only a plurality of the vote, since South Carolina requires runoffs if no one wins a majority in the primary.

Redistricting

ND Redistricting: A federal court has struck down the legislative maps that North Dakota Republicans enacted after the 2020 census, ruling that GOP mapmakers violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting the voting power of Native Americans.

In North Dakota, legislative districts have traditionally elected one state senator and two state representatives, but following the most recent census, lawmakers split the 4th and 9th districts into two state House "subdistricts" to ostensibly comply with the VRA. However, said the court, the timing of the state's elections rendered the 9th noncompliant.

While the district has a 54% Native majority and went 51-47 for Joe Biden in 2020, its legislative elections are only held in midterm years, when Native turnout is often particularly low compared to that of white voters. (Lawmakers in both chambers serve staggered four-year terms.)

As a result, Republican Kent Weston won the 9th by a 54-46 margin last year, defeating longtime Democratic state Sen. Richard Marcellais. That left the Senate without any Native American members for the first time since 1991.

The House subdistricts were also flawed in another way, the court held. Rather than divide the 9th District in such a way that Native voters would be able to elect their preferred candidates in both subdistricts, Republicans instead deliberately packed Native Americans into just one of them.

That left District 9A with an 80% Native population while 9B was just 32% Native. The former consequently supported Biden 73-26 and elected a Democrat to the legislature, while the latter went for Donald Trump 61-37 and sent a Republican to the statehouse.

The court set a Dec. 22 deadline for North Dakota's Republican-dominated state government to pass a new map to remedy the violation and ordered that new elections be held in November 2024, when Native turnout should be higher. However, it's possible that a GOP appeal could drag out a resolution until after 2024.

Senate

MI-Sen: Actor Hill Harper, who recently filed financial reports saying he has no bank accounts and earned no income during the last two years, now tells the Detroit News' Melissa Nann Burke that he'll submit revised statements. But, adds Burke (who broke the original story), Harper says he may not do so until the end of February, because of "the upcoming holiday season." Harper, who has self-funded a large portion of his campaign for the Democratic nomination for Senate, still has offered no explanation for the apparent omissions.

NJ-Sen: Local Democratic leaders in New Jersey's two largest counties, Bergen and Middlesex, have given their support to former financier Tammy Murphy in next year's Senate primary, joining two other counties, Camden and Hudson, that previously backed her. As a result, Murphy will enjoy favorable placement on the ballot in counties responsible for a third of Joe Biden's total vote in the 2020 general election. Murphy's chief rival for the nomination, Rep. Andy Kim, has yet to win any such "county lines."

Murphy also won an endorsement from Rep. Josh Gottheimer, which makes him the first person in the state's House delegation to weigh in on the race. Gottheimer, a prodigious fundraiser, is considering a bid to succeed Murphy's husband, Gov. Phil Murphy, in 2025.

Governors

WA-Gov: A new survey from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling, taken for the Northwest Progressive Institute, finds former Republican Rep. Dave Reichert and Democratic state Attorney General Bob Ferguson advancing to next year's general election, where Reichert would have a narrow edge. It's the first publicly released poll since Reichert joined the governor's race in Washington, which is an open-seat contest because Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee is retiring after three terms.

In the Aug. 6 top-two primary, PPP shows Reichert and Ferguson tied at 31 apiece; another Republican, far-right Army veteran Semi Bird, is far back at 10%, while state Sen. Mark Mullet, a centrist Democrat, brings up the rear with 5%. In a head-to-head matchup, Reichert leads Ferguson 46-44.

House

IA-01: Local Christian activist David Pautsch has launched a primary challenge against Republican Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks, reports the Quad-City Times' Sarah Watson, complaining that the congresswoman "doesn't have a passion for the relevance of God in our community." Pautsch specifically criticized Miller-Meeks for her vote for the Respect for Marriage Act, which requires the federal government and the states to recognize same-sex and interracial marriages. He also attacked her for voting against Jim Jordan's speakership twice after supporting him on the initial ballot.

Far-right religious figures like Pausch often wage campaigns against GOP incumbents fueled by similar grievances, but it can often be hard to tell whether they have any juice. It's possible, though, that Pausch does have some: Watson says he's the founder of the Quad Cities Prayer Breakfast, an annual event that drew prominent Arizona election denier Kari Lake to its most recent gathering a few months ago.

Last year, Miller-Meeks defeated Democrat Christina Bohannon by a 53-47 margin in Iowa's 1st Congressional District, a swingy seat that Donald Trump carried 51-48. Bohannon kicked off a rematch in mid-August and raised a hefty $657,000 in the third quarter despite campaigning for just half that period. Miller-Meeks brought in $464,000 during that timeframe and ended September with $1.4 million in the bank versus $637,000 for Bohannon.

MI-08: Former Trump immigration official Paul Junge, who lost to retiring Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee 53-43 last year, said he'd wage another campaign for Michigan's now-open 8th District on Friday. We'll have more on this announcement, as well as the developing field for both parties, in the next Digest.

OH-02: Republican Charles Tassell, the chair of the Clermont County GOP, really meant it when he said he'd decide "as soon as possible": Just three days after he said as much to The Hotline's James Downs, he announced a bid for Ohio's open 2nd Congressional District. Clermont, in the Cincinnati suburbs, is by far the largest of the 16 counties that make up the district, with more than a quarter of its population, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections.

PA-03: The Philadelphia Inquirer's Chris Brennan flags that Democratic state Rep. Chris Rabb created a campaign committee with the FEC more than a month ago that would set up a potential primary with Rep. Dwight Evans, though Rabb "declined to comment" about his intentions. Brennan adds that "[r]umors have been swirling" that Evans might not seek reelection, but the congressman, who was first elected in 2016, says he will indeed run again for Pennsylvania's deep blue 3rd District.

There's also some history between the two pols. Last year, Brennan notes, Rabb was drawn into the same House district as fellow state Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, a former aide to Evans who succeeded her old boss when he won his seat in Congress. While Fitzgerald had the support of Evans and many other local elected officials, Rabb, who portrayed himself as an outsider and railed against "machine" politics, won by a 63-37 margin.

VA-07: Former National Security Council official Eugene Vindman says he's already raised over $800,000 in his first 24 hours after joining the Democratic primary for this open seat. Vindman, who is a retired Army colonel, also won an endorsement from VoteVets.

Vindman furthermore has the support of California Rep. Adam Schiff, an exceptional fundraiser himself, who is running for Senate this cycle and has been using his donor list to solicit donations for Vindman. Both Democrats gained national attention for their role in Trump's first impeachment: Vindman helped blow the whistle on Trump's attempt to extort the Ukrainian government into undermining Biden's presidential campaign, while Schiff led the House's effort to impeach Trump over it in 2019.

Timmons himself fired back at his new opponent in unusually harsh terms. While incumbents often act as though challengers are beneath their notice, Timmons eschewed that approach. "Adam's greatest 'legislative accomplishments' are filing a lawsuit and abandoning the Republican Party to form a third-party caucus that shrank in size under his 'leadership,'" he said in a statement.

Last year, Morgan led several rebel lawmakers in creating the state House's Freedom Caucus, a breakaway group modeled after its congressional counterpart that has accused GOP leaders of failing to pursue a sufficiently conservative agenda. Their accomplishments on the legislative front have been minimal, however, with one establishment Republican dismissing the faction as little more than "a headache on social media."

Chhetri explains that this local version of the Freedom Caucus was the "brain-child" of Mark Meadows, Donald Trump's former chief of staff who was indicted by Georgia prosecutors for attempting to overturn the 2020 election. But before he served Trump, Meadows was a founder of the congressional Freedom Caucus (of which Norman is also a member). Chhetri adds that Morgan's bloc has been funded in part by a nonprofit run by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, another hard-liner who was notorious for feuding with colleagues.

But while Morgan may not have much to show for his efforts to usher in a conservative utopia, Timmons could nonetheless be vulnerable. Last year, he won his primary with just 53% of the vote while three little-known candidates split the remainder. Shortly after that election, he appeared on several radio shows to address rumors that he'd used the powers of his office to conceal an extra-marital affair. While he denied that he'd abused his position, he didn't deny being unfaithful to his wife, who filed for divorce shortly after he won reelection that fall.

With a much higher-profile opponent this time, the outcome could be very different, especially in a one-on-one race. But even if other critics also jump in, Timmons cannot escape with only a plurality of the vote, since South Carolina requires runoffs if no one wins a majority in the primary.

Redistricting

ND Redistricting: A federal court has struck down the legislative maps that North Dakota Republicans enacted after the 2020 census, ruling that GOP mapmakers violated the Voting Rights Act by diluting the voting power of Native Americans.

In North Dakota, legislative districts have traditionally elected one state senator and two state representatives, but following the most recent census, lawmakers split the 4th and 9th districts into two state House "subdistricts" to ostensibly comply with the VRA. However, said the court, the timing of the state's elections rendered the 9th noncompliant.

While the district has a 54% Native majority and went 51-47 for Joe Biden in 2020, its legislative elections are only held in midterm years, when Native turnout is often particularly low compared to that of white voters. (Lawmakers in both chambers serve staggered four-year terms.)

As a result, Republican Kent Weston won the 9th by a 54-46 margin last year, defeating longtime Democratic state Sen. Richard Marcellais. That left the Senate without any Native American members for the first time since 1991.

The House subdistricts were also flawed in another way, the court held. Rather than divide the 9th District in such a way that Native voters would be able to elect their preferred candidates in both subdistricts, Republicans instead deliberately packed Native Americans into just one of them.

That left District 9A with an 80% Native population while 9B was just 32% Native. The former consequently supported Biden 73-26 and elected a Democrat to the legislature, while the latter went for Donald Trump 61-37 and sent a Republican to the statehouse.

The court set a Dec. 22 deadline for North Dakota's Republican-dominated state government to pass a new map to remedy the violation and ordered that new elections be held in November 2024, when Native turnout should be higher. However, it's possible that a GOP appeal could drag out a resolution until after 2024.

Senate

MI-Sen: Actor Hill Harper, who recently filed financial reports saying he has no bank accounts and earned no income during the last two years, now tells the Detroit News' Melissa Nann Burke that he'll submit revised statements. But, adds Burke (who broke the original story), Harper says he may not do so until the end of February, because of "the upcoming holiday season." Harper, who has self-funded a large portion of his campaign for the Democratic nomination for Senate, still has offered no explanation for the apparent omissions.

NJ-Sen: Local Democratic leaders in New Jersey's two largest counties, Bergen and Middlesex, have given their support to former financier Tammy Murphy in next year's Senate primary, joining two other counties, Camden and Hudson, that previously backed her. As a result, Murphy will enjoy favorable placement on the ballot in counties responsible for a third of Joe Biden's total vote in the 2020 general election. Murphy's chief rival for the nomination, Rep. Andy Kim, has yet to win any such "county lines."

Murphy also won an endorsement from Rep. Josh Gottheimer, which makes him the first person in the state's House delegation to weigh in on the race. Gottheimer, a prodigious fundraiser, is considering a bid to succeed Murphy's husband, Gov. Phil Murphy, in 2025.

Governors

WA-Gov: A new survey from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling, taken for the Northwest Progressive Institute, finds former Republican Rep. Dave Reichert and Democratic state Attorney General Bob Ferguson advancing to next year's general election, where Reichert would have a narrow edge. It's the first publicly released poll since Reichert joined the governor's race in Washington, which is an open-seat contest because Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee is retiring after three terms.

In the Aug. 6 top-two primary, PPP shows Reichert and Ferguson tied at 31 apiece; another Republican, far-right Army veteran Semi Bird, is far back at 10%, while state Sen. Mark Mullet, a centrist Democrat, brings up the rear with 5%. In a head-to-head matchup, Reichert leads Ferguson 46-44.

House

IA-01: Local Christian activist David Pautsch has launched a primary challenge against Republican Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks, reports the Quad-City Times' Sarah Watson, complaining that the congresswoman "doesn't have a passion for the relevance of God in our community." Pautsch specifically criticized Miller-Meeks for her vote for the Respect for Marriage Act, which requires the federal government and the states to recognize same-sex and interracial marriages. He also attacked her for voting against Jim Jordan's speakership twice after supporting him on the initial ballot.

Far-right religious figures like Pausch often wage campaigns against GOP incumbents fueled by similar grievances, but it can often be hard to tell whether they have any juice. It's possible, though, that Pausch does have some: Watson says he's the founder of the Quad Cities Prayer Breakfast, an annual event that drew prominent Arizona election denier Kari Lake to its most recent gathering a few months ago.

Last year, Miller-Meeks defeated Democrat Christina Bohannon by a 53-47 margin in Iowa's 1st Congressional District, a swingy seat that Donald Trump carried 51-48. Bohannon kicked off a rematch in mid-August and raised a hefty $657,000 in the third quarter despite campaigning for just half that period. Miller-Meeks brought in $464,000 during that timeframe and ended September with $1.4 million in the bank versus $637,000 for Bohannon.

MI-08: Former Trump immigration official Paul Junge, who lost to retiring Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee 53-43 last year, said he'd wage another campaign for Michigan's now-open 8th District on Friday. We'll have more on this announcement, as well as the developing field for both parties, in the next Digest.

OH-02: Republican Charles Tassell, the chair of the Clermont County GOP, really meant it when he said he'd decide "as soon as possible": Just three days after he said as much to The Hotline's James Downs, he announced a bid for Ohio's open 2nd Congressional District. Clermont, in the Cincinnati suburbs, is by far the largest of the 16 counties that make up the district, with more than a quarter of its population, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections.

PA-03: The Philadelphia Inquirer's Chris Brennan flags that Democratic state Rep. Chris Rabb created a campaign committee with the FEC more than a month ago that would set up a potential primary with Rep. Dwight Evans, though Rabb "declined to comment" about his intentions. Brennan adds that "[r]umors have been swirling" that Evans might not seek reelection, but the congressman, who was first elected in 2016, says he will indeed run again for Pennsylvania's deep blue 3rd District.

There's also some history between the two pols. Last year, Brennan notes, Rabb was drawn into the same House district as fellow state Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, a former aide to Evans who succeeded her old boss when he won his seat in Congress. While Fitzgerald had the support of Evans and many other local elected officials, Rabb, who portrayed himself as an outsider and railed against "machine" politics, won by a 63-37 margin.

VA-07: Former National Security Council official Eugene Vindman says he's already raised over $800,000 in his first 24 hours after joining the Democratic primary for this open seat. Vindman, who is a retired Army colonel, also won an endorsement from VoteVets.

Vindman furthermore has the support of California Rep. Adam Schiff, an exceptional fundraiser himself, who is running for Senate this cycle and has been using his donor list to solicit donations for Vindman. Both Democrats gained national attention for their role in Trump's first impeachment: Vindman helped blow the whistle on Trump's attempt to extort the Ukrainian government into undermining Biden's presidential campaign, while Schiff led the House's effort to impeach Trump over it in 2019.

Morning Digest: While Romney dithers, his rivals ramp up their campaigns

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

UT-Sen, UT-Gov: Mitt Romney tells the Wall Street Journal in a new interview that he remains undecided about seeking a second term as Utah's junior senator after spending the last few years as the Republican that MAGA world most loves to hate, and everyone's going to stay in suspense for a while longer. Romney reaffirmed his intention to make up his mind in the fall and added that the verdict could come, in the paper's words, "possibly around October."

As Romney deliberates, another prominent Republican, state House Speaker Brad Wilson, continues to raise money and secure endorsements for his own potential campaign, but Wilson is also keeping the Beehive State guessing as to whether he's actually willing to run against the incumbent. The speaker formed an exploratory committee in April—a move that the Salt Lake Tribune said infuriated Romney's camp—and his spokesperson now says that Wilson is "exploring his own potential race, irrespective of what other potential candidates may or may not do." However, the Journal writes that, according to unnamed sources, Wilson is indeed waiting to see what the senator will do.

Conservative hardliners, though, may not be satisfied if Wilson does end up taking on the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee. The speaker told Fox 13 in April that he was someone who could "get a lot of people with very differing opinions together and get them to work together on hard things and solve hard challenges," which is not what you'd normally expect to hear from a member of Trump's GOP.

Wilson's team does seem to realize that running as a bipartisan problem solver isn't a winning strategy, though: His campaign rolled out endorsements earlier this month from fellow legislators that featured testimonials calling him a "conservative champion" and someone who worked to "advance pro-life legislation." (Altogether, three-quarters of House Republicans and two-thirds of the Senate caucus backed him.) However, while Wilson has indeed helped pass anti-abortion legislation, the Associated Press also noted that he helped stop the legislature from formally rebuking none other than Romney in 2020 for his vote to convict Trump during his first impeachment trial.

Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs offered Romney haters a more ideologically pure option in May when he kicked off his challenge by proclaiming that "the only thing I've seen him fight for are the establishment, wokeness, open borders, impeaching President Trump, and putting us even deeper into debt." Staggs, though, turned in a weak opening fundraising quarter by bringing in just $170,000 through June and self-funding another $50,000; Wilson, by contrast, raised $1 million and threw down another $1.2 million of his own money. (Romney himself only raised $350,000 from donors while bringing in another $710,000 by renting out his fundraising list.)

Two other prominent hardliners have publicly or privately talked about taking on Romney, but neither appears excited about the idea. Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz told ABC News last week that, while he hasn't ruled out running for Romney's Senate seat, he's more interested in a bid for governor at some point. When the Deseret News inquired if he was thinking about waging a GOP primary battle this cycle against Gov. Spencer Cox, who like Romney wants the GOP to move on from Trump, Chaffetz replied, "Not making any decisions yet on anything. Some day, some time I am interested in running for governor."

Attorney General Sean Reyes, meanwhile, once looked like an all but certain Romney foe; Politico even reported in March of 2022 that Reyes was "preparing" a bid and would "make a final decision and likely announce his intentions" two months hence. Reyes, however, still has yet to say anything about his plans well over a year later, and he wouldn't offer a comment when ABC contacted him earlier this month.

But Romney himself may be his own biggest obstacle toward renomination, as a July survey from Noble Predictive Insights gave him an upside-down 43-54 favorable rating with Utah Republicans. (NPI, which sometimes works for conservative groups, sampled 301 Republicans, which is one more than the minimum that Daily Kos Elections requires before we'll write up a survey and analyze it; the firm did not mention a client.) The poll did show Romney beating Reyes 30-13 in a hypothetical seven-way matchup as Wilson grabbed at 5%, but that's still a weak position for any incumbent to find themselves in.

Senate

FL-Sen: State House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell announced Monday she would not challenge GOP Sen. Rick Scott, a move that will come as welcome news to national Democrats who want former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell as their standard bearer. We may be hearing more from Driskell next cycle, though, as the Palm Beach Post reported earlier this month that some prominent party members preferred she run for governor in 2026 rather than take on Scott: State Sen. Bobby Powell said as much to the paper, calling Driskell "the most qualified candidate" to win the party its first gubernatorial race since 1994.

Governors

LA-Gov: Republican Treasurer John Schroder has languished in the polls despite beating all his rivals to TV back in March, but he's hoping to change things with spots blasting each of his two most prominent intra-party rivals. The campaign tells the Shreveport Times this is the start of a $1.3 million TV buy that will last through the Oct. 14 all-party primary.

One ad begins by trashing Attorney General Jeff Landry for sending $420,000 in campaign contributions to the staffing company he owns, a move The Advocate in March called "an unusual arrangement that circumvents the common practice of political figures around the state and ensures the public does not know who he is paying to work on his campaign." The narrator continues by taking former state Chamber of Commerce head Stephen Waguespack to task for his service in then-Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration a decade ago, saying, "Waguespack and Jindal wrecked out public universities and our state budget."

The other piece argues that Landry and Waguespack are "political insiders" who would continue an unacceptable status quo, while Schroder would bring about "change." Schroder himself was elected to the state House in 2007 and won a promotion to statewide office a decade later, but he insists he's different by proclaiming, "As state treasurer, I beat the fat cats for you."

NC-Gov: HuffPost's Jennifer Bendery has unearthed some previously unknown and "unbelievably bonkers" conspiracy theory ramblings from Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, including a 2019 Facebook post declaring, "Beyoncé's songs sound like Satanic chants." Robinson wrote two years earlier on the platform, "I don't believe the Moon Landing was faked and I don't believe 9/11 was an 'inside job' but if I found both were true… I wouldn't be surprised."

WA-Gov: Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson last week gave up trying to contest a new policy from the state's Public Disclosure Commission, which determined earlier this year that the law barring individuals from contributing more than $2,400 to a candidate per election also counts toward donations he'd transferred from his account for past campaigns for attorney general into his new effort. Ferguson, with the permission of each donor, sent $1.2 million of these "surplus funds" to his exploratory campaign for governor just before the PDC's new directive was finalized, and he spent months arguing that those contributors were still free to give $2,400 more to his gubernatorial race.

The PDC disagreed and filed a complaint against him after he wouldn't identify how much money from the surplus fund came from each donor and instead classified the $1.2 million as "miscellaneous receipts." However, Ferguson ultimately provided this information last week: His team told the PDC it was taking this action to apply to its "new interpretation" of campaign finance law, adding that "we trust the [PDC] complaint will be dismissed and this matter concluded."

Ferguson, though, enjoys a massive financial edge over all his rivals ahead of next year's top-two primary. The attorney general, according to the Seattle Times, has taken in $3.6 million total, compared to $610,000 for state Sen. Mark Mullet; a third Democrat, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, has brought in $410,000. On the GOP side, former Rep. Dave Reichert has only taken in $240,000 for his comeback bid, while recently-recalled Richland school board member Semi Bird has raised $140,000.

House

IN-05: Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings announced last week that he was dropping out of the Republican primary for this gerrymandered seat, saying that "on June 15, I experienced a significant health event which has caused me to reconsider my candidacy."

Cummings' departure leaves a pair of self-funders, state Rep. Chuck Goodrich and trucking company owner Sid Mahant, as the only serious contenders running to succeed retiring Rep. Victoria Spartz, though the field may grow again soon. Howey Politics wrote last week that Max Engling, who is a former aide to Speaker Kevin McCarthy, is moving back to Indiana ahead of his own launch, while former state Sen. Mike Delph is also reportedly interested.

NV-03: Republican Assemblywoman Heidi Kasama on Monday announced that she would take on Democratic Rep. Susie Lee for a district in the southern Las Vegas area where the GOP previously lacked a viable candidate. Kasama, who is a former president of the Nevada REALTORS, won her spot in the legislature 54-44 in 2020 as Donald Trump was pulling off a smaller 50-48 victory in the old version of her seat, and she pulled off the same performance two years later in what was still a light red constituency.

Kasama joins a nomination contrast that already included former state Sen. Elizabeth Helgelien and conservative columnist Drew Johnson, but both of them struggled to raise money during their opening quarter. Lee, for her part, finished June with $810,000 banked to defend a seat that Joe Biden carried 52-46.

Legislatures

GA State Senate: Republican state Sen. Shawn Still, a fraudulent elector who was indicted last week alongside Donald Trump for his alleged role in attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, could get suspended from the Senate as a result of his legal woes, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David Wickert.

Under the state constitution, a three-person panel to be convened by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp must decide whether Still's indictment both "relates to and adversely affects the administration" of his office and "that the rights and interests of the public are adversely affected thereby." If the panel concludes the answer to both questions is yes, then Still would be suspended until "the final disposition of the case" or his term expires, whichever happens first.

It's unclear when the matter will be resolved, though legal experts believe the case is unlikely to go to trial in March, as requested by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. As a result, Still could find himself contemplating whether to seek reelection next year while he's under suspension. Undoubtedly, party leaders would prefer he not do so, particularly because his district in the Atlanta suburbs is vulnerable despite extensive GOP gerrymandering.

Incidentally, Still can thank former state Labor Commissioner Sam Caldwell for his latest predicament. In 1983, Caldwell was indicted by Fulton County prosecutors on a variety of charges, including allegations that he'd defrauded the state by demanding his employees perform extensive repairs on boats he owned. He resisted calls to resign and was only removed from office under threat of impeachment following his conviction the next year.

To avoid a similar spectacle in the future, Georgia lawmakers placed an amendment on the ballot in 1984 that would allow for the suspension of indicted public officials. It passed with 93% support. Shortly thereafter, Caldwell was also found guilty in federal court of deliberately sinking his yacht in order to collect insurance proceeds. Ironically, Caldwell's earlier conviction in state court centered around RICO charges—the very same statute Fulton County's current district attorney, Fani Willis, is relying on to prosecute Trump, Still, and their alleged co-conspirators.

NH State House: New Hampshire will hold a special election for the vacant 16th House District in Grafton County on Tuesday, which Democrats should easily hold. The race is significant, though, because it's one of three specials Democrats need to win between now and Nov. 7 in order to strip the GOP's majority in the state House and force the chamber into an exact tie.

At the moment, Republicans hold 199 seats in the House to 196 for Democrats, with two independents (one a former Democrat and one an ex-Republican) and three seats vacant. Those vacancies include Grafton's 16th, which covers the town of Enfield and became vacant in April after Democrat Joshua Adjutant resigned following a serious injury. Joe Biden carried the district by a wide 64-34 margin in 2020, according to Dave's Redistricting App, and Adjutant won without opposition last year, so Democrat David Fracht will be the heavy favorite against Republican John Keane on Tuesday.

If Fracht prevails, Democrats will also need to flip a swingy GOP-held seat in the 1st District in Rockingham County on Sept. 19 and then hold a seat in the solidly blue 3rd District in Hillsborough County on Nov. 7 to create a 199-199 tie in the House. If they do run the table, it's not clear exactly what might happen next, but at the very least, having more Democrats on the floor will make it harder for Republicans to pass their agenda, and it'll better position Democrats to retake the chamber next year.

Obituaries

Al Quie: Minnesota Republican Al Quie, who won his only term as governor in 1978 after spending just over two decades in the U.S. House, died Friday at the age of 99. Quie, who was elected to represent southern Minnesota in a tight 1958 special before quickly becoming entrenched, decided to campaign statewide in what proved to be a horrible year for the dominant Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

Gov. Wendell Anderson had responded to Sen. Walter Mondale's 1976 win as Jimmy Carter's running mate by resigning so that his elevated lieutenant governor, Rudy Perpich, could appoint him to the Senate. Republicans in 1978 were eager to ride the local backlash, which also took place as the nation was struggling with inflation, and the state party debuted a memorable slogan around Halloween, "Something scary is about to happen to the DFL. It’s called an election."

Quie unseated Perpich 52-45 as Republican Rudy Boschwitz was scoring a 57-40 victory over Anderson. The GOP also flipped Minnesota's other Senate seat that same night as David Durenberger, who had originally planned to run for governor himself, decisively won the special election to succeed the late Sen. Hubert Humphrey, and the Minneapolis Star's Austin Wehrwein immediately dubbed the Republican wave year "the Minnesota massacre."

Quie, though, would spend his four years in office dealing with a huge budget deficit, and he eventually made the unpopular decision to raise taxes to confront the crisis. The governor decided not to wage what would have been a difficult reelection bid, and Perpich went on to win back the governorship in a landslide. While Quie never again sought elected office, one of his Democratic successors, Mark Dayton, responded to his death by noting, "After leaving office, he lived his deep faith by mentoring men just released from prison. He accompanied one to the State Pardon Board during my service and personally gained him a pardon by his passionate advocacy."

Morning Digest: Father of anti-trans ‘bathroom bill’ joins race for North Carolina attorney general

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

NC-AG, NC-08: Far-right Rep. Dan Bishop, an election denier who rose to prominence after spearheading North Carolina's transphobic "bathroom bill" in 2016 while in the state Senate, announced Thursday that he'd run for state attorney general next year. The congressman quickly earned an endorsement from the well-funded Club for Growth for his bid to become the first Republican to hold this office since 1975, though he currently faces former state Rep. Tom Murry in the primary.

Bishop, however, may not be the only sitting congressman who ends up running to succeed incumbent Josh Stein, the Democratic frontrunner in next year's race for governor. The very same day, Democratic Rep. Jeff Jackson declined to rule out a bid of his own. Jackson told the News & Observer's Danielle Battaglia that he'd only start thinking about a campaign after the state's Republican-run legislature passes a new congressional map sometime this fall, which could leave the freshman without a seat he can win.

Jackson, however, was quick to make clear how he'd go after Bishop. "I did hear his announcement," he said, "and as a prosecutor, I don't think that anyone who supported overturning an election should be talking about law and order." The Democratic field currently consists of Marine veteran Tim Dunn and Navy Reserve veteran Charles Ingram, but both reported having minimal cash stockpiles at the end of June.

Bishop did indeed vote to overturn Joe Biden's win in the hours following the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, a move the congressman justified by echoing Donald Trump's lies about mail-in votes. "In the 2020 election, the national Democratic Party carried out a highly coordinated, massively financed, nationwide campaign to displace state regulation of absentee ballots by means of a flood of election-year litigation," Bishop wrote just before the riot, and he's continued to spread the Big Lie since then. The congressman fired off an evidence-free tweet last year claiming that Jack Dorsey "and Twitter put their thumb on the scale in the last election to help Biden." (Unsurprisingly, Bishop has a far more favorable view of that site's new owner.)

Before Bishop devoted himself to enabling conservative extremists in Washington, D.C., he was a state lawmaker who indirectly helped cost the GOP the governorship in 2016. That year, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed the Bishop-crafted House Bill 2, which required anyone using bathrooms at schools or public facilities to use the restroom associated with the sex on their birth certificate, regardless of their gender identity. That legislation sparked a national backlash that led several major corporations to cancel planned expansions in the state, and voters responded by narrowly booting McCrory in favor of then-Attorney General Roy Cooper.

Bishop's career, though, survived and thrived even after Cooper signed a law rolling back HB 2. The state senator unexpectedly got the chance to run for Congress in what was then numbered the 9th District in 2019 after the results of the previous year's election were voided because of election fraud carried out to assist Republican nominee Mark Harris. Bishop decisively won the primary and went on to narrowly defeat 2018 Democratic nominee Dan McCready 51-49 after an expensive campaign for a gerrymandered constituency that Trump had taken 54-43 in 2016.

But despite that underwhelming victory, as well as a new court-supervised map that made the 9th District a shade bluer, Bishop turned in an easy 2020 win in a contest that national Democrats didn't target. His constituency was soon renumbered the 8th District following the 2020 census and became safely red turf that Bishop had no trouble holding last year. The congressman then used the first days of the new Congress to cast 11 straight votes against making Kevin McCarthy speaker, but he eventually flipped; McCarthy rewarded Bishop afterward with a spot on the GOP's Orwellian-named "Weaponization of the Federal Government" subcommittee.

Republican legislators were recently given the green light to once again gerrymander to their hearts' content after the newly conservative state Supreme Court overturned a ruling by the court's previously Democratic majority that had banned the practice. They'll likely draw up another safe seat to replace the one Bishop currently represents, and there's already chatter about who could run to replace him.

An unnamed source tells the National Journal's James Downs that Harris and Dan Barry, who took a distant fifth in the 2012 primary for the 9th District several maps ago, are "names to watch." Harris chose not to run in the 2019 special election that Bishop ultimately won, but while the consultant responsible for the fraud that wrecked his campaign went to prison, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman announced the following year that she wouldn't charge the candidate as part of her probe.

P.S. While Bishop would be the first Republican to serve as attorney general in 50 years, the last member of his party to actually win this office was Zeb Walser all the way back in 1896. Republicans last held the attorney general's office in 1974 when GOP Gov. James Holshouser appointed James Carson to fill a vacancy, though Carson lost the ensuing special election a few months later to Democrat Rufus Edmisten.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Noble Predictive Insights, which until recently was known as OH Predictive Insights, has released a poll that finds Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego leading in six different general election scenarios:

  • Rep. Ruben Gallego (D): 33, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb (R): 25, Kyrsten Sinema (I-inc): 24
  • Gallego (D): 40, Lamb (R): 36
  • Gallego (D): 32, Sinema (I-inc): 28, 2022 Senate nominee Blake Masters (R): 24
  • Gallego (D): 44, Masters (R): 36
  • Gallego (D): 34, Sinema (I-inc): 26, 2022 gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake (R): 25
  • Gallego (D): 45, Lake (R): 35

Gallego and Lamb are the only notable candidates who have announced they're running. NPI, which sometimes does work on behalf of GOP groups, is the very first poll we've seen from anyone since April.

ND-Sen: Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer told KUMV this week that he hasn't decided whether he'll seek reelection, though the incumbent sounds like he's leaning strongly towards another campaign. "A second term for me would mean greater clout, probably a chairmanship as well," Cramer said. "Seniority matters in the Senate. That's where my thinking is today without telling you exactly what I intend to do. I guess I would be surprised if I decided not to run for reelection." The senator does not appear to have indicated what factors would push him toward retirement.

WV-Sen: The Washington Post reports that Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to direct money towards positive ads "to help prop up his poll numbers before he decides whether he'll run," but Manchin won't use his own $10.8 million war chest for this purpose because he "doesn't want to spark speculation that he's running for reelection by making an ad buy to boost his image." The Democratic group Duty and Honor did run commercials in the spring to counter a GOP offensive to damage the incumbent, but the paper says that Schumer doesn't want to make a big investment here before he knows if Manchin will actually run again.

Governors

MS-Gov: Republican incumbent Tate Reeves seems to agree with Democrats that the state's $77 million welfare funds scandal could hurt him even in this red state because he's already up with a response spot two days after Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley launched his first commercial on the topic. The challenger may not mind too much, though, because Reeves' ad makers adopt the dubious strategy of repeating some of the very attacks Presley is leveling against him.

"Have you seen this ad attacking our governor, Tate Reeves?" asks the narrator as footage fills the screen of Presley's earlier piece, complete with on-screen text reading, "REEVES … PLAGUED BY WELFARE FRAUD SCANDAL." Reeves' narrator isn't happy, saying, "Tate Reeves had nothing to do with the scandal … it all happened before he was governor." It's rarely a good move to put your candidate's name in the same sentence as "scandal," but Presley's team is also disputing the idea that Reeves isn't to blame for something that occurred while he occupied the powerful lieutenant governor's office.

"[T]he reality is Tate Reeves used to brag about his watchdog responsibilities and overseeing the state budget," the campaign said in a statement, which included a quote from a 2019 ad where Reeves proclaimed he was "managing the government's money like it's your money―because it is."

WA-Gov: Richland School Board member Semi Bird on Thursday pledged to continue his campaign for governor two days after the Republican appears to have lost a recall election along with two colleagues. The trio voted in February of 2022 to defy the state's COVID protocols and make it optional to wear masks in local public schools; school was canceled for two days as a result, and the group ultimately backed down.

Bird hasn't gained much traction ahead of a top-two primary contest where former Rep. Dave Reichert appears to be the GOP frontrunner, but he's hoping his likely ouster will change that. (The state is still counting ballots, but the pro-recall "yes" side was ahead 56-44 in Bird's race as of Thursday; the results were similar in the other two contests.) "The teachers unions and leftest activists may have won the recall battle, pouring 10's of thousands of dollars into the effort," Bird wrote Thursday in a fundraising email, "but when the people of Washington send me to Olympia, we will win the war."

House

DE-AL: EMILY's List on Thursday endorsed state Sen. Sarah McBride in the Democratic primary for this statewide seat, declaring that it "was proud to support McBride when she made history in 2020 as the first openly transgender state senator in the country — and we are thrilled to once again help her make history and become the first openly transgender member of Congress."

NC-??: State House Speaker Tim Moore announced last month that he will not seek another term leading the chamber after the 2024 elections, and he and his team are continuing to evade questions about whether he'd run for the U.S. House after his party passes a new gerrymander. Political advisor Paul Shumaker told the News & Observer, "We don't know what the maps are going to look like. We have all this speculation." Shumaker added that his client could also go into the private sector.

PA-01: Anti-abortion activist Mark Houck announced Wednesday that he'd run to deny renomination to Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in this competitive suburban Philadelphia seat, a declaration that comes months after he was found not guilty of allegedly violating a federal law designed to protect abortion clinics. Houck became a conservative celebrity in the leadup to that January trial, where he was accused of intimidation by twice shoving a 72-year-old Planned Parenthood volunteer in 2021; Houck never denied he'd done this, though he successfully claimed that he'd only become violent after his son was insulted.

Houck launched his campaign by telling the far-right website The Church Militant, "We're running to protect the rights of families and defend traditional family values in our district. Unfortunately, Brian doesn't represent that." Fitzpatrick, who has made a name for himself as a pragmatist, has always run well ahead of the top of the ticket during his four campaigns, and Democrats would be delighted if Houck gave him a hard time in this 52-47 Biden seat. The well-funded congressman turned back a little-known primary foe 66-34 last cycle before pulling off a 55-45 victory against Ashley Ehasz, a Democrat who is running again.

TX-28: Conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar on Thursday unveiled endorsements from House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and the rest of the chamber's Democratic leadership, as well as Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, in what's likely a move to deter another primary challenge from the left. Cuellar narrowly fended off immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros in 2020 and 2022, and her former spokesperson told the Texas Tribune back in March that she hadn't ruled out a third try. The Lone Star State's downballot filing deadline is Dec. 11, which is one of the earliest in the nation.

Attorneys General

TX-AG: Thursday finally brought some action concerning Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton's long-stalled trial for securities fraud, with a state judge agreeing to a request from both prosecutors and the defense to delay scheduling anything until Paxton's separate impeachment trial concludes sometime next month. Both sides agreed that Paxton would be more likely to try to reach a deal concerning the eight-year-old security fraud indictment if two-thirds of the state Senate votes to remove him from office, with one of his attorneys explaining that this outcome would be "a kill shot to his political career, so it opens the door to a resolution that’s not open right now."

Ballot Measures

OH Ballot: A GOP consultant tells cleveland.com that groups looking to beat Issue 1, which would make it much harder to amend the state constitution, have added $2.5 million to their media buys for the final days of the Aug. 8 special election. The story says the conservative pro "yes" side enjoys a small $5.9 million to $5.3 million edge in ad spending for the last week of the race: The GOP firm Medium Buying also tweets that the "no" side has outspent its rivals $12.2 million to $9.7 million on TV and radio for the entire campaign.

Meanwhile, organizers seeking to place a statutory initiative on the November ballot to legalize recreational marijuana say they've submitted 6,500 additional signatures to the secretary of state, and they only need about 10% of them to be valid in order to qualify: The campaign fell just 679 petitions shy of the 124,000 minimum last month, but state law granted them 10 extra days to make up the shortfall.

Because this proposal would not amend the constitution, it would only need to win a majority no matter how the Issue 1 fight ends next week. Issue 1 would also not eliminate the 10-day grace period for statutory initiatives like this, though it would end this rule for future constitutional amendments. Polling from Civiqs shows that two-thirds of Ohio voters believe "the use of cannabis should be legal."