Morning Digest: Vulnerable Washington Republican plays 3D chess to keep career afloat

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

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Leading Off

WA-04: Rep. Dan Newhouse, who is one of the two remaining House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, has launched an ad attacking one of his intraparty foes ahead of Washington’s Aug. 6 top-two primary—but not the one endorsed by Trump.

The congressman's target instead is Tiffany Smiley, who was the GOP’s nominee against Democratic Sen. Patty Murray in 2022. Newhouse's spot, which appears to be his first negative ad of the campaign, does not mention Trump's choice in the conservative 4th District, former NASCAR driver Jerrod Sessler.

Rather, Newhouse's ad features a cast of voters in central Washington arguing that Smiley "deceived" her donors following her defeat last cycle.

"Tiffany Smiley started a PAC claiming to raise money to support conservative candidates," one declares, "but contributions were funneled to pay off her own multimillion-dollar campaign debt."

Smiley raised $20 million for her Senate race, a contest that, according to several conservative pollsters, had a real chance to succeed in an otherwise blue state. Despite those optimistic numbers, though, she finished on the wrong end of a 57-43 landslide and wound up with $1 million in unpaid bills.

Smiley took to conservative media a few months later to announce the launch of a group called Endeavor PAC to aid "political outsiders," and she pledged that "every dollar amount goes directly towards helping candidates." The Seattle Times' Jim Brunner, however, reported that donations to the group were directed toward paying off Smiley’s remaining debts to a Virginia-based consulting firm.

Brunner noted that Endeavor PAC's website did explain how donations would be prioritized—albeit in the "eighth paragraph of tiny print on the PAC's donation page."

"If you are not familiar with this stuff, it all looks like a bunch of gobbledygook," said Brendan Glavin of the campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets, who nonetheless agreed that Smiley appeared to be adhering to the law.

Smiley, for her part, recently debuted her own commercial in which she argues that voters can "secure our border and make life affordable again by picking better people to fight for us in Congress." A different ad explicitly attacks Newhouse for his 2021 impeachment vote and calls Sessler a vegan who “wants to tax our beef.” 

Sessler tells The Spokesman-Review that the claim about him wanting to tax beef is “a complete lie.” He also says that, while he’s tried to eat “a lot of raw, fresh, organic food” after being diagnosed with cancer 25 years ago, he still consumes beef. Sessler does not appear to have launched any TV ads of his own yet.

The only poll we’ve seen is a late June internal for Smiley from Newton Heath, a firm we don’t often come across, that the Tri-City Herald first reported about on Friday. The survey places Smiley in first with 30% as Newhouse beats out Sessler 21-11, with Democrats Mary Baechler and Barry Knowles at 9% each. 

While this is just one survey, there was already reason to think the general election could be an all-Republican affair, just as it was in both 2014 and 2016. In more recent cycles, only a single Democrat has appeared on the primary ballot: This time, however, Baechler, Knowles, and another contender named Jane "Birdie" Muchlinski are each campaigning as Democrats. (This doesn't include John Malan, a perennial candidate who will be listed on the ballot as a "MAGA Democrat.")

With such a crowded field, the vote could be badly fractured, but that's likelier to keep Democrats from advancing rather than Republicans: Given that Trump carried the 4th District 57-40 in 2020, there are simply fewer left-leaning votes to go around.

And not only are we almost entirely flying blind in terms of polling, there hasn't been much money to follow either: So far, outside groups have spent just $50,000 to boost Newhouse and around $75,000 on behalf of Smiley. That could, however, change during the final weeks of the contest.

Newhouse is hoping to avoid the fate of his former Evergreen State colleague, Jaime Herrera Beutler, who made history the hard way two years ago in the neighboring 3rd District. Until her race, no incumbent had ever failed to advance out of a top-two primary since Washington adopted the system in 2008.

But like Newhouse, Herrera Beutler supported impeaching Trump, who responded by endorsing her MAGA challenger, Army veteran Joe Kent. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez consolidated the Democratic vote, while Kent narrowly edged past Herrera Beutler, only to lose to Gluesenkamp Perez in an upset in the fall.

Herrera Beutler was one of eight pro-impeachment Republicans who never returned to Congress, with several losing primaries and several others opting to retire. Just two held their seats: Newhouse and California Rep. David Valadao, who is a top Democratic target this fall.

Governors

DE-Gov: An outside group called Citizens for a New Delaware Way released a poll on Thursday arguing that Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long is beatable in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary for governor and said it would seek deprive her of the nomination.

The survey, conducted by Slingshot Strategies, shows Hall-Long deadlocked 27-27 with New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer while National Wildlife Federation leader Collin O'Mara take 7%. A 34% plurality are undecided, while the remaining 5% opt for "someone else."

Citizens for a New Delaware Way said it would spend "upwards of $1 million" in this year's elections, though it hasn't said how much it plans to commit specifically to the primary to succeed termed-out Democratic Gov. John Carney. The organization, which says it "promotes transparency, accountability, diversity, and inclusion in Delaware's state government and court system," said it was targeting Hall-Long because of what it called her "failure to support judicial diversity." It does not appear to have endorsed Meyer or O'Mara.

House

WA-06: State Sen. Emily Randall has publicized an endorsement from former Gov. Christine Gregoire, a fellow Democrat who led Washington from 2005 to 2013, ahead of the Aug. 6 top-two primary for the open 6th District.

Poll Pile

  • WI-Sen: North Star Opinion Research (R) for American Greatness: Tammy Baldwin (D-inc): 49, Eric Hovde (R): 41 (46-44 Trump in two-way, 38-36 Trump with third-party candidates) (April: 49-40 Baldwin)

  • IL-11: Cygnal (R) for Jerry Evans: Bill Foster (D-inc): 41, Jerry Evans (R): 34 (38-37 Biden with third-party candidates)

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Morning Digest: A Republican worse than Boebert? Colorado Democrats think they’ve found one

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

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Leading Off

CO-03: A Democratic group is now meddling in next month's GOP primary in the hopes of helping underfunded election denier Ron Hanks secure the nomination for Colorado's 3rd District―a maneuver that comes two years after Democrats spent more than $4 million on an unsuccessful attempt to get the very same Republican candidate through a primary for the U.S. Senate.

The Colorado Sun, which first reported the news, says that a super PAC called Rocky Mountain Values has spent at least $84,000 "and counting" to ostensibly attack Hanks, a former state representative.

"Ron Hanks and Donald Trump say they're going to secure the border," the ad's narrator begins before switching to clips of the candidate speaking. "We need to start rounding up people," says Hanks. "We have to stop the immigration." The narrator jumps back in to label Hanks "too conservative for Colorado," which is the very line that Democrats used in their ads in 2022. (The commercials even appear to share the same voice-over artist.)

This new spot doesn't mention any of Hanks' five intra-party rivals, who are all running in the June 25 primary to replace far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert, who is running for the more conservative 4th District rather than defending her western Colorado constituency.

However, the PAC has dipped into other mediums to undermine the best-financed contender, attorney Jeff Hurd, who had been waging a challenge against Boebert before she switched districts. One newspaper advertisement highlighted by the Sun questions whether Hurd voted for Trump in the last two presidential elections and featured a quote from the candidate, who told the Denver Post just last month, "I don't talk about who I vote for."

While both parties often form new super PACs to make it tougher to tell who's behind attempts to influence the other side's primary, Rocky Mountain Values has been active in state Democratic politics for years. Hanks, though, pleaded ignorance when the Sun asked him about the new Democratic effort to select him as their opponent.

"I don't know who they are," he said. "I don't know what their motives are."

The winner will take on 2022 Democratic nominee Adam Frisch, who lost to Boebert by a shockingly small 546-vote margin two years after Trump carried the 3rd District 53-45. While Boebert's singular flaws were a major contributor to that close outcome, Hanks might be an even weaker opponent.

Hanks, who badly lost a 2010 congressional bid—in California—to Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson, quickly established himself as a vocal Big Lie proponent and fierce opponent of reproductive rights after he was elected to the Colorado legislature a decade later. He also attended the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally in Washington, D.C., and marched on the Capitol following Trump's speech, though he claims he did not enter the building. He's further made it clear he opposes abortion under any circumstances.

But what Hanks has not established himself as, though, is an adequate fundraiser: The former lawmaker ended March with a paltry $6,000 in the bank, a far cry from Hurd's $528,000 total and Frisch's eye-popping $5.8 million war chest.

Senate

MN-Sen: Banker Joe Fraser announced Thursday that he'd compete in the Aug. 13 Republican primary against Royce White, a former NBA player and far-right conspiracy theorist who unexpectedly won the state party convention almost two weeks ago. The eventual nominee will be in for an uphill battle against Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has won by at least a 20-point margin in all three of her statewide campaigns.

Minnesota candidates often pledge to, in local parlance, "abide" by the convention endorsement and end their campaigns if someone else wins, and Fraser himself made this promise before Royce's upset win. Fraser, though, said Thursday he was switching course because of Royce's "history of questionable conduct and serious charges leveled against him."

This includes a litany of ugly headlines that have followed Royce since he beat Fraser, such as a recent MSNBC piece titled, "Royce White's resurfaced remark about women being 'too mouthy' shows how MAGA recruits with misogyny.

NJ-Sen: Indicted Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez reportedly has collected the necessary 800 voter signatures ahead of Tuesday's deadline to appear on November's ballot as an independent, according to NBC. New Jersey holds its party primaries that same day, and Rep. Andy Kim is heavily favored to win the Democratic nomination for Menendez's Senate seat.

The incumbent's corruption trial is ongoing, and NBC writes that it's expected to continue into July or longer. Ostensibly continuing to run would enable the senator to keep raising donor money for his legal defense, and it's unclear if he would wage an actual campaign to try to beat Kim and the Republican nominee this fall. Any independent who makes the ballot has until Aug. 16 to withdraw their name.

PA-Sen: The New York Times' Michael Bender reports that a conservative super PAC called Keystone Renewal has reserved $30 million for TV ads to support Republican Dave McCormick against Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, greatly expanding upon the $3.6 million it has already spent. Financial industry billionaires have heavily funded Keystone Renewal to back McCormick, who stepped down as CEO of a major hedge fund before his unsuccessful 2022 Senate campaign.

Bender furthermore reports that Democratic groups have already spent amply, including $8.5 million from Casey and $9 million from his supporters at the DSCC. Both parties have also made large reservations here for the fall.

Governors

ND-Gov, ND-AL: Donald Trump on Thursday endorsed Rep. Kelly Armstrong in the June 11 Republican primary for governor and Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak in the contest to replace Armstrong in North Dakota's lone House seat.

The few polls that have been released of the former contest have shown Armstrong decisively beating Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller, who is retiring Gov. Doug Burgum's preferred choice. Trump's decision to reject Miller comes at a time when Burgum is reportedly a top contender to become the GOP's vice presidential nominee. However, Trump did describe the governor as "my friend" in a separate endorsement message noting their mutual support for Fedorchak.

The House race, by contrast, lacked a clear frontrunner before Thursday. A pair of polls conducted earlier this month found a competitive race between the public service commissioner and former state Rep. Rick Becker, with former State Department official Alex Balazs and former Miss America Cara Mund further behind. However, many Republicans were undecided in those surveys, and Trump's endorsement could tip them toward Fedorchak.

WV-Gov: Retiring Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin told the Charleston Gazette-Mail's Ty McClung on Wednesday that he would not make a late entry into the race for governor and that he's continuing to support Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, the Democratic nominee who faces a very uphill race against Republican state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in what has become a very red state.

Manchin's announcement follows a May 20 report from MetroNews' Brad McElhinny that Republicans seeking a moderate alternative to the far-right Morrisey were encouraging Manchin to join the race, something he didn't fully rule out later that same day. Manchin likely would be the strongest candidate for Democrats thanks to his record of winning several statewide races, but Williams would have to withdraw from the race by Aug. 13 for the senator to replace him as the Democratic nominee.

While Manchin's latest announcement appears definitive, he's spent the last year and a half keeping everyone in suspense about what he might run for in 2024. As recently as March, he didn't rule out seeking reelection as an independent despite announcing his retirement last fall, and that option remains open to him until Aug. 1. Consequently, we may not know for sure what he'll do until the deadlines pass.

House

LA-05: The Republican pollster Victory Insights, which tells Daily Kos Elections it has no client, shows Rep. Garret Graves leading fellow Republican incumbent Julia Letlow 38-35 in a hypothetical Nov. 5 all-party primary matchup for the safely red 5th District, with Green Party candidate Rivule Sykes at 6%. This is the first survey we've seen of a possible battle between Graves, whose 6th District became dark blue under the new map, and Letlow.

This potential contest is difficult to poll, though, and that's not only because Graves is keeping everyone guessing if he'll challenge Letlow, defend the 6th District, or do something else. No Democratic candidates appear to have announced bids yet for the 5th, but that may well change ahead of the July 19 filing deadline.

The presence of a Democratic rival could be a problem for Graves' hopes of making a December runoff, as this survey shows him outpacing Letlow 31-21 among Democrats even as she carries Republicans 55-35. (Unaffiliated voters go for Graves 40-22.) However, it's also possible that multiple Democrats will file and split the vote too much for any of them to deny either GOP representative a spot in a second round of voting.

MI-13: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on Thursday backed Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Waters' uphill campaign to deny renomination to freshman Rep. Shri Thanedar in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary. The Motor City is home to just over half of the residents of the safety blue 13th District, which also contains several nearby communities.

Duggan's move came about a week after Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett determined that former state Sen. Adam Hollier, who was Thanedar's leading intra-party rival, had failed to collect enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot. (Hollier’s appeal of that decision was rejected by state officials on Thursday.)

Waters used her Thursday event with Duggan to argue that majority-Black Detroit needs an African American member of Congress. (Hollier is also Black, while Thanedar is Indian American.) The last Black person to represent Detroit in the House was Brenda Lawrence, who left office at the start of last year.

Duggan, who is white, also echoed Waters' argument that Thanedar has done a poor job serving the city. "We need somebody in Congress who fights for us, and right now, I don't feel like we got any help from our congressperson," declared the mayor.

Waters ended March with just $5,000 in the bank, but she predicted Thursday that Duggan's endorsement will "supercharge" her bid. There's little question, however, that Thanedar, who had more than $5 million at his disposal thanks largely to self-funding, will continue to hold a huge financial edge.

Waters, who previously served in the state House from 2001 to 2006, also argued that her long history in Detroit politics will help her overcome Thanedar, who only moved to the city from Ann Arbor ahead of his successful 2020 bid for a local state House district.

That history, though, contains some incidents she won't be eager to see revisited. Waters pled guilty in 2010 to conspiring to bribe an elected official in nearby Southfield and to falsifying a tax return. However, she eventually returned to elected office when she won a citywide seat on the council in 2021.

VA-10: Former state Education Secretary Atif Qarni has publicized a poll from SurveyMonkey showing him in a close third ahead of the June 18 primary to succeed his fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Jennifer Wexton.

Del. Dan Helmer edges out state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam 17-16, with Qarni and former state House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn at 12% and 9%, respectively. A 26% plurality is undecided, while the balance is split between eight other candidates.

This is the first poll we've seen of this contest in over two months. Qarni's campaign tells Daily Kos Elections that this survey sampled 792 likely primary voters from May 17 through May 23.

Other Races

Miami-Dade, FL Elections Supervisor: Attorney Megan Pearl ended her campaign to become the top elections administrator for Florida's most populous county a month after Donald Trump endorsed her opponent, state Rep. Alina Garcia, in the Aug. 20 GOP primary.

Four Democrats are running including attorney J.C. Planas, who served in the state House as a Republican from 2002 to 2010, and political consultant Willis Howard.

Poll Pile

The Cook Political Report has released more polls jointly conducted by the GOP firm Benenson Strategy Group and the Democratic pollster GS Strategy Group that also include Senate matchups:

  • AZ-Sen: Ruben Gallego (D): 46, Kari Lake (R): 41 (45-44 Trump in two-way, 41-37 Trump with third-party candidates)
  • PA-Sen: Bob Casey (D-inc): 49, Dave McCormick (R): 41 (48-45 Trump in two-way, 43-40 Trump with third-party candidates)
  • WI-Sen: Tammy Baldwin (D-inc): 49, Eric Hovde (R): 37 (45-45 presidential tie in two-way, 41-41 presidential tie with third-party candidates)

Cook also released polls of Michigan and Nevada, but these tested an "unnamed Republican challenger" against named Democratic foes.

Ad Roundup

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Why the field to replace Mitt Romney may soon get a lot smaller

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: The Utah GOP's April 27 convention is coming up quickly, and a newly formed super PAC is trying to make sure Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs' campaign to succeed retiring Sen. Mitt Romney comes to an end at the event well before the June 25 primary.

The Deseret News' Brigham Tomco reports that Hometown Freedom Action Network has spent $17,000 on mailers and text messages to delegates portraying Staggs, who has emphasized his hard-right stances, as disloyal to conservatives. One message faults the mayor for initially supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president, declaring, "Betraying Trump is not MAGA." Another blasts Staggs as "woke" for instituting anti-bias training for police officers. It's not clear who is funding the group.

One delegate told Tomco he considers these kinds of attacks from outside groups "frustrating, annoying, and inappropriate." Staggs is hoping others agree because he needs to perform well with delegates if he's to keep his campaign going.

Utah allows candidates to reach the primary ballot by competing at their convention or by collecting signatures, and while candidates can pursue both routes, Staggs is only going with the first option. This means that, should he fail to win the support of at least 40% of the delegates on April 27, his campaign is over. Another hard-right candidate, conservative activist Carolyn Phippen, is also pursuing a convention-only strategy.

It's not clear yet, however, if a third candidate, attorney Brent Orrin Hatch, needs to rely on delegates to get onto the ballot. Hatch, who is the son and namesake of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch, submitted signatures ahead of the April 13 deadline, but election authorities have not yet verified if he turned in the requisite 28,000 valid petitions.

Hatch himself also sounded uncertain if he'd hit this goal at the start of the month. He previously told Tomco the task was "daunting," and that his status was "up in the air."

The convention is far less important for two other Republicans, Rep. John Curtis and former state House Speaker Brad Wilson. Election authorities have verified that each of them turned in enough signatures to make the ballot, though they're each still taking part in the convention.

Hometown Freedom Action Network sent out texts blasting Curtis, who appears to be the least doctrinaire of the candidates, as someone who was "never with President Trump, and never will be." However, it only spent $2,500 on this messaging against the congressman, who will be on the June ballot no matter how well he does at the April 27 gathering.

The Downballot

It's an old story, but it never gets old: Democrats just whooped Republicans in fundraising—again. This week on "The Downballot" podcast, we're running through some of the most eye-popping numbers Democrats hauled in during the first quarter of the year (Sherrod Brown! Jon Tester! Colin Allred!) and the comparatively weak performances we're seeing from Republicans almost across the board. The GOP hopes to make up the gap by relying on self-funders, but a campaign without a strong fundraising network can be dangerously hollow.

Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also recap the week's electoral action, starting with victories in a pair of special elections in Michigan that allowed Democrats to reclaim their majority in the state House, plus a noteworthy House runoff in Alabama that could lead to a Black Democrat representing Mobile for the first time since Reconstruction.

The Davids also explain why a surprise retirement from the Wisconsin Supreme Court means progressives need to be on guard against a top-two lockout in yet another critical battle for control of the court. And finally, there's the astonishing three-way House race in California that could soon turn into a humdrum two-way affair thanks to an unexpected recount.

1Q Fundraising

Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present brand-new charts rounding up first-quarter fundraising numbers for every incumbent and notable challenger running for the House and the Senate this year. The overarching story is a familiar one: Democrats in key races are outraising their Republican rivals almost across the board, sometimes by astonishing margins.

The lopsided Senate battlefield is particularly noteworthy. Compared to the same quarter six years ago, the two most endangered Democratic senators, Montana's Jon Tester and Ohio's Sherod Brown, raised four times as much as they did for their last campaigns. Meanwhile, in Texas, Rep. Colin Allred managed to exceed the already eye-popping records set by Beto O'Rourle in 2018. Check out our charts for the complete picture in both chambers of Congress.

Senate

MT-Sen: In a follow-up to her absolutely bonkers report about former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy last week, the Washington Post's Liz Goodwin pokes further holes in the Republican's claims about an alleged bullet wound he suffered.

Sheehy claims he lied about getting shot at a national park in 2015 in order to deter a military investigation into what he says was the true source of his injury—a possible incident of friendly fire in Afghanistan three years earlier—but new documents obtained by the Post include a report from an unnamed person visiting the park who reported "an accidental gun discharge" to the National Park Service.

An attorney for Sheehy disputed whether there had in fact been any such report by a park visitor. Sheehy's campaign previously said it was seeking to obtain copies of his hospital records from the 2015 incident, but the same attorney did not directly respond when asked whether those records had been received.

NJ-Sen: A three-judge federal appeals panel has upheld a ruling by a lower court last month that barred the use of New Jersey's "county line" system on the grounds that it violates the Constitution. However, that ruling remains in effect solely for the Democratic primary. Barring further legal action, Republicans will still be able to print ballots that give favorable placement to party-endorsed candidates. That state of affairs is likely temporary, though, as a similar ruling applying to Republican primaries is likely at some point.

Governors

MO-Gov: The Missouri Scout has rounded up campaign fundraising reports covering the first quarter of the year, and the overall story of the Aug. 6 Republican primary for governor remains the same as it's been throughout the entire cycle. Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe continues to dominate financially even though almost every released survey shows him trailing Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft by double digits. State Sen. Bill Eigel also brought in more money during the quarter than Ashcroft even those polls show him with little support.

Kehoe and his joint fundraising committee this time raised a combined $2.5 million and ended March with a total of $6.3 million. Eigel and his committee outraised Ashcroft and his allies $587,000 to $513,000, though it was Ashcroft's side that finished the quarter with a $2.6 million to $1.7 million cash on hand advantage.

On the Democratic side, state House Minority Leader Crystal Quade and her committee together raised $285,000 and had $391,000 available. Businessman Mike Hamra and his allies together brought in $690,000, which includes $250,000 from the candidate, and ended March with $1.1 million banked.  

House

CA-16: NBC Bay Area's Jocelyn Moran reports that a newly formed super PAC called Count the Vote is providing the money to finance the ongoing recount into the March 5 top-two primary. It's not clear who is funding the group, but Moran says that the address on its checks matches that of a law firm that used to work for former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

Liccardo, who is assured a place in the Nov. 5 general election, has continued to deny he has anything to do with the recount even though the person who requested it, Jonathan Padilla, worked for his 2014 campaign and served in his administration. Two of Liccardo's fellow Democrats, Assemblyman Evan Low and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, tied for second place last month, and they'd both advance to the general election unless the recount changes the results.

The recount process began Monday, and it's not clear how long it will take to conclude. While election officials in Santa Clara County, which makes up over 80% of the 16th District, initially told KQED they believed this would be a five-day undertaking, Moran writes that they now think it could last between one and two weeks. Personnel in San Mateo County, which forms the balance of the seat, separately tell ABC 7 they believe their retabulations will be done around April 24.

Officials in Santa Clara and San Mateo tell The Daily Journal that the daily cost in their respective counties is $16,000 and $5,000, though they add it would change depending on exactly what Padilla requests. The process would come to an end if Padilla missed a day's payment, and an incomplete recount would leave the certified results unchanged.

MD-02: AIPAC, the hawkish pro-Israel group, has endorsed Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary, where his main rival for this open seat is Del. Harry Bhandari. Olszewski has been the frontrunner ever since he launched his bid in January, and he previously earned endorsements from retiring Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, longtime Rep. Steny Hoyer, and organized labor.

Olszewski also enjoys a large financial advantage over Bhandari. The executive raised $726,000 in the first quarter and finished March with $499,000 on hand, while Bhandari took in $134,000 during this time and ended the period with only $68,000 left to spend.

MD-03: Retired Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn has publicized an internal poll from Upswing Research and Strategy that shows him leading state Sen. Sarah Elfreth by 22-18, while a 44% plurality of voters undecided ahead of the May 14 Democratic primary for this safely blue open seat. State Sen. Clarence Lam was further back with 8%, while no other candidate in the crowded race exceeded 3%.

Dunn gained national visibility after he helped protect Congress during the Jan. 6 insurrection, and that fame helped him dominate the rest of the field in fundraising. Dunn raised a massive $3.7 million in the first quarter and finished March with $1.7 million on hand. That haul was the third-largest of any House candidate nationwide, and it also was more than the rest of his primary rivals combined.

By contrast, Elfreth raised $502,000 and had $569,000 left to spend. However, Elfreth has also received $1.4 million in outside support from the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, while none of the other candidates have benefited from major outside spending.

Lam, for his part, raised $284,000 and had $505,000 remaining in the bank. Further back, Del. Mike Rogers raised $140,000 and had $171,000 left over, while labor lawyer John Morse raised $116,000 and finished March with $94,000. None of the other candidates took in six-figure sums.

ME-02: State Rep. Austin Theriault has unveiled an internal poll from Public Opinion Strategies that finds him leading fellow state Rep. Mike Soboleski by 30-7 ahead of the June 11 Republican primary, though a large majority of respondents are undecided. The poll's sample size was just 300 respondents, which is the bare minimum that Daily Kos Elections requires for inclusion in the Digest.

Donald Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson are supporting Theriault for the nomination to take on Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, and their preferred candidate raised $655,000 in the first quarter to Soboleski's $43,000. Theriault also had $831,000 on hand compared to $48,000 for his rival. However, Golden's haul was even larger at $1 million raised, and he had $2.2 million on hand at the start of April.

NJ-10: The New Jersey Globe reports that Democratic Rep. Donald Payne has been unconscious and on a ventilator ever since he suffered a heart attack on April 6. The congressman's office on April 9 put out a statement that did not indicate Payne was not conscious, saying instead that his "prognosis is good and he is expected to make a full recovery."

NY-16: Politico's Jeff Coltin has obtained an internal for Rep. Jamaal Bowman that shows him edging out Westchester County Executive George Latimer 44-43 in the June 25 Democratic primary. The pollster, Upswing Research and Strategy, tells us the survey was conducted March 5 through March 10.

The only other numbers we've seen for this contest came from a late March poll for Latimer's allies at Democratic Majority for Israel, and it showed the executive with a wide 52-35 lead. Both DMFI and its pollster, the Mellman Group, are led by Mark Mellman.

SC-01, VA-05, AZ-02, OH-09: American Prosperity Alliance, a dark money group that is close to Kevin McCarthy, has begun running TV ads against three Republican incumbents who voted to oust McCarthy from the speakership last year. The ads, which, are focused on immigration, are also running against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in Ohio's 9th District.

According to AdImpact, the group has spent at least $330,000 against Rep. Nancy Mace, who is trying to fend off former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton in the June 11 primary for South Carolina's 1st District. AdImpact has also tracked another $160,000 that APA is deploying in Virginia's 5th District against Rep. Bob Good, who faces state Sen. John McGuire in the following week's primary.

Meanwhile in Arizona's 2nd District, the group has spent $218,000 so far to weaken incumbent Eli Crane ahead of his July 30 nomination battle against former Yavapai County Supervisor Jack Smith. APA additionally has dropped $150,000 on ads against Kaptur, who she faces a competitive general election against Republican state Rep. Derek Merrin.

Mayors & County Leaders

Raleigh, NC Mayor: Democratic Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin announced Tuesday that she would not seek reelection this year and would instead lead a nonprofit. Baldwin, who was successfully treated for breast cancer last year, added that her husband also had multiple surgeries, and that all this convinced her it was "time to devote my energies to myself and my family and to find other ways to serve."

The nonpartisan general election to succeed Baldwin will take place on Nov. 5, and since there's no runoff, it only takes a plurality to become mayor of North Carolina's capital city. Three notable candidates were already running, and they each identify as Democrats.

City Councilman Corey Branch, who describes himself as a "moderate Democrat," launched his campaign in October. He was joined in January by former state Treasurer Janet Cowell, who was once a rising star in North Carolina Democratic politics.

Terrance Ruth, a North Carolina State University professor who lost to Baldwin 47-41 in 2022, also kicked off a second bid a month before the incumbent announced her departure. Ruth argued last cycle that the mayor's administration hadn't done enough to make housing affordable or to listen to residents.

The field also includes mortgage broker Paul Fitts, who is the only Republican in the contest, and two other candidates. The candidate filing deadline is July 19.

Obituaries

Bob Graham: Bob Graham, a Florida Democrat who rose to prominence during his 26 years as governor and senator, died Tuesday at the age of 87. In our obituary, Jeff Singer recounts the many elections of Graham's long career, including how his famed "Workweeks" helped transform him from relative obscurity into a statewide powerhouse.

Poll Pile

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Morning Digest: Alabama poised to have two Black Congress members for first time thanks to new map

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

AL Redistricting: A federal court on Thursday chose a new congressional map to impose in Alabama for the 2024 elections, finally creating a second district where Black voters can elect their preferred candidate. You can see the new map here, and click here for an interactive version.

The court had previously found that the map Republicans enacted in 2021 violated the Voting Rights Act, though the map was still used in last year's elections while the GOP appealed. Consequently, a Black Democrat will likely replace a white Republican after 2024, which would give Alabama two Black House members (out of seven total) for the first time in its history, roughly matching the 27% of its population that is Black.

Compared with the previous map, the new map significantly reconfigures the 1st and 2nd districts in southern Alabama to turn the latter district from a majority-white, safely Republican constituency into one that is 49% Black and just 44% white. To do so, the new map gives the 2nd the rest of Montgomery and most of Mobile—two cities that both have large Black populations—while the 2nd sheds the heavily white rural areas along the Florida border and exurbs north of Montgomery. (Changes to the other five districts were relatively limited.)

Consequently, the redesigned 2nd District would have favored Joe Biden 56-43 in 2020, making it a likely Democratic flip in 2024. Current 2nd District Rep. Barry Moore, a Republican who is a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus, is now at significant risk of losing his seat, though Moore recently indicated he could bail on the 2nd District and instead run against fellow GOP Rep. Jerry Carl in the primary for the 1st. However, Moore would likely be starting at a disadvantage there since our calculations indicate Carl currently represents 59% of the new district compared to Moore's 41%.

The new map is the culmination of multiyear litigation that saw the lower court strike down the GOP's 2021 map last year because it packed Black voters into the heavily Democratic 7th District while dispersing them elsewhere to ensure that the other six districts would remain heavily white and safely Republican. The Supreme Court put that ruling on hold for the 2022 elections while Republicans appealed, but it subsequently upheld the lower court's ruling in a landmark decision this past June, preserving a key protection of the Voting Rights Act.

Following the Supreme Court's ruling, the lower court gave the Republican-controlled legislature a second chance to draw a compliant map, instructing them to draw two districts that were either majority-Black or "something quite close to it." But in July, Republicans brazenly defied the courts, enacting a new map with just one majority-Black district and another that was only 39.9% Black—well short of a majority and therefore safely Republican.

Last month, the lower court blocked this new Republican map, and the Supreme Court also rejected the GOP's last-ditch attempt to keep it in place. Republican Secretary of State Wes Allen subsequently dropped the state's appeal to the high court earlier this week. This ensures the new map adopted by the lower court will be used in 2024, though state Republicans could still sue to invalidate the court-imposed map later this decade.

election recaps

Memphis, TN Mayor: Downtown Memphis Commission CEO Paul Young defeated Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner 28-23 Thursday to succeed their fellow Democrat, termed-out Mayor Jim Strickland, in a 17-way contest where it took only a simple plurality to win. Young, who outspent each of his opponents, was long involved in city government but had never before run for office, and he argued he'd be the most prepared mayor in history while also representing change.

The winning candidate, who is the son of two well-known pastors, also focused on turning out younger voters. Young, when questioned why he'd voted in two GOP primaries since 2016, argued this was "strategic crossover voting to ensure that we have good people on both sides of the ledger." "I'm a Democrat," he said at one debate, "but I'm gonna get the job done."

3Q Fundraising

  • AZ-Sen: Ruben Gallego (D): $3 million raised, $5 million cash on hand
  • NV-Sen: Jacky Rosen (D-inc): $2.7 million raised, $8.8 million cash on hand
  • PA-Sen: Bob Casey (D-inc): $3.2 million raised, $7.3 million cash on hand
  • WI-Sen: Tammy Baldwin (D-inc): $3.1 million raised, $7 million cash on hand
  • CA-27: George Whitesides (D): $400,000 raised, additional $300,000 self-funded, $1.7 million cash on hand
  • CA-41: Will Rollins (D): $830,000 raised
  • CO-03: Adam Frisch (D): $3.4 million raised, $4.3 million cash on hand
  • NY-17: Mondaire Jones (D): $1.15 million raised, $840,000 cash on hand
  • WI-03: Rebecca Cooke (D): $400,000 raised

Senate

CA-Sen: Politico relays that Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff have all made it clear they'd continue to run for the Senate even if their fellow Democrat, appointed incumbent Laphonza Butler, sought a full term.

NJ-Sen: Rep. Andy Kim's allies at End Citizens United are out with an internal from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling that shows the congressman beating First Lady Tammy Murphy 42-19 in a hypothetical Democratic primary, with indicted Sen. Bob Menendez taking all of 5%. The firm also finds Kim, who remains the only major declared candidate, defeating the incumbent 63-10 in a one-on-one fight. This is the only primary poll we've seen other than a Data for Progress survey that showed Kim beating fellow Rep. Mikie Sherrill 27-20 in a crowded contest, but that survey was largely conducted after Sherrill said she wouldn't run.

Another Democratic House member, Rep. Frank Pallone, sounds unlikely to seek a promotion, though he didn't quite rule it out to Politico. Pallone, who has served in the lower chamber since 1988, instead says he wants to regain the top post on the Energy and Commerce panel under a new Democratic majority. He said of the Senate chatter, "I’m flattered by the suggestions."

The story also adds that Rep. Josh Gottheimer is continuing to prepare his likely 2025 gubernatorial bid and isn't "planning to change course and run for Senate," though he hasn't said this publicly. (See our NJ-11, NJ-Gov item below for more on both Gottheimer and Sherrill's 2025 deliberations.)

WV-Sen: The Tarrance Group's late-September poll for the Senate Leadership Fund, a GOP super PAC tied to Mitch McConnell, shows GOP Gov. Jim Justice leading Sen. Joe Manchin 49-43 in a hypothetical general election scenario where the senator runs as an independent rather than as a Democrat. The memo did not mention Rep. Alex Mooney, who is waging an uphill primary battle against Justice.

Governors

MS-Gov: The conservative Magnolia Tribune has released a survey from Mason-Dixon that shows GOP Gov. Tate Reeves leading Democrat Brandon Presley 51-43, which is only a little smaller than the 52-41 advantage that Siena College found in late August. Mason-Dixon does not appear to have asked respondents about independent Gwendolyn Gray, whose presence on the ballot could conceivably prevent anyone from taking the majority needed to avert a Nov. 28 runoff; Siena, though, found just 1% opting for "someone else."

House

AZ-01: Former TV news anchor Marlene Galán-Woods has publicized an endorsement from former Gov. Janet Napolitano, who served from 2003 to 2009, in the Democratic primary to face GOP incumbent David Schweikert.

MI-08: Saginaw police officer Martin Blank, who served as an Army trauma surgeon in Afghanistan, on Thursday became the first notable Republican to launch a bid against Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee. Joe Biden would have carried this seat, which is based in the Flint and Tri-Cities areas, 50-48, but Kildee won an expensive race 53-43 two years later.

Blank has twice run for the state legislature, but he came nowhere close to securing the nomination either time. He lost his 2020 bid for the state House 50-31 against Timothy Beson, who went on to win the seat. Black campaigned for the upper chamber last year in a four-way primary, but he finished dead last with 18%. (Annette Glenn won that nomination contest with 41% only to lose to Democrat Kristen McDonald Rivet in the fall.)

MN-03: DNC member Ron Harris tells Punchbowl News he's considering running for the seat currently held by Rep. Dean Phillips, and he didn't rule out challenging the would-be Biden primary foe. Harris sounds more interested in running for an open seat, however, even though Minnesota's June filing deadline means that Phillips wouldn't need to choose between humoring his longshot presidential dreams and seeking reelection. "As Dean considers a run for President, I'm exploring a run for Congress to ensure this district stays in Democratic hands," Harris tweeted Thursday.

Harris, who is currently the DNC's Midwestern Caucus chair, previously served as Minneapolis' chief resilience officer from 2019 until last year. (Minnesota's largest city is located entirely in Rep. Ilhan Omar's 5th District.) Harris would be the first Black person to represent the 3rd, a seat in the western Minneapolis suburbs that favored Biden 60-39.

NJ-11, NJ-Gov: Politico relays chatter that New Jersey Rep. Mikie Sherrill could retire this cycle to prepare for a potential 2025 bid to succeed her fellow Democrat, termed-out Gov. Phil Murphy, though there's no word from the congresswoman about her thinking. The current version of Sherrill's 11th District, which includes New York City's western suburbs and exurbs, would have backed Joe Biden 58-41, and Democrats would be favored to keep it no matter what.

The congresswoman would be free to seek a fourth term in the House in 2024 and even remain in Congress should she lose a bid for governor, but Sherrill could decide instead that she'd prefer to focus on a statewide campaign. Indeed, Politico previously reported in July that another Democrat who flipped a seat during the 2018 blue wave, Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, has decided against running for reelection so she can commit all of her time towards her own 2025 gubernatorial bid: Spanberger herself says she'll reveal her plans after the Nov. 7 legislative elections. (New Jersey also holds its state House and Senate contests that day.)

If Sherrill were to run for governor, she'd be in for an expensive primary battle. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop launched his campaign all the way back in April, and he announced Thursday that he'd raised enough money to receive all $7.3 million from the state's matching funds program, which provides $2 in state funds for every dollar raised. Anyone participating in the program can only spend $7.3 million during the primary, though super PACs like the pro-Fulop Coalition for Progress, which had $6.5 million available at the end of June, can deploy as much as they want.

Sherrill also isn't the only Democratic House member who might try to be the next inhabit of Drumthwacket, the governor's delightfully named official residence. An advisor for Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a prominent centrist who represents a neighboring seat to the north, confirmed the congressman's interest back in July to the New Jersey Globe. However, Politico relays that unnamed "Democrats close to Gottheimer" anticipate he'll also seek reelection next year to the 5th District, which favored Biden 56-43.

Plenty of other Democrats have also been talked about as potential candidates to replace Murphy in this blue state, and we'll take a closer look at the many potential contenders after the Nov. 7 elections. On the GOP side, former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli announced he was in days after he lost the 2021 general election to Murphy by a surprisingly narrow 51-48 spread.

VA-10: Axios' Hans Nichols reports that former National Security Council advisor Eugene Vindman, the whistleblower who attracted national attention in the leadup to Donald Trump's first impeachment, is considering running to succeed his fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Jennifer Wexton. Vindman didn't deny anything to Nichols when asked at an event for the Democratic group VoteVets, saying instead, "I'm focused on Ukraine funding. I'm focused on war crimes now. That's all I'm focused on."

Nick Minock of the local ABC affiliate 7News, meanwhile, writes that Loudoun County Supervisor Juli Briskman discussed campaigning for the Democratic nod after Wexton announced that she wouldn't run following her diagnosis with Progressive Supra-nuclear Palsy. Briskman, who was photographed flipping off Donald Trump's motorcade while biking in 2017, divulged last week that she was being treated for breast cancer, and she said doctors are optimistic about her prospects. The supervisor, who is up for reelection on Nov. 7, did not respond to 7News' inquiry about her 2024 plans.

Minock also mentions state Sen. Jennifer Boysko, Del. Elizabeth Guzman, and former Attorney General Mark Herring as possible Democratic candidates. Nichols additionally names Jessica Post, who announced last week that she would step down as president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee after this year's races; like the aforementioned trio, Post does not appear to have said anything publicly about participating in this contest. But Del. Danica Roem, who is seeking a promotion to the state Senate, told 7News she wouldn't run herself; Roem previously ruled out a bid for the neighboring 7th District.

On the GOP side, attorney Mike Clancy on Thursday became the first declared candidate for this 58-40 Biden seat. Clancy, whom Minock describes as a "business executive with a global technology company," ran here last year and self-funded the majority of his campaign's $400,000 budget, but he didn't come close to winning the party-run "firehouse primary."

Minock also supplies a few names of possible GOP contenders:

  • 2020 nominee Aliscia Andrews
  • Loudoun County Supervisor Caleb Kershner
  • 2022 candidate Caleb Max
  • state Sen. Jill Vogel

Kershner is up for reelection next month, while Vogel is retiring from the legislature.

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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.