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

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governors

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

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ballot Measures

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

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

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

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

Obituaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ad Roundup

GOP nominee in Santos special has unique biography but one troublesome photo

Multiple media outlets reported Thursday that Republican leaders have chosen Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip to be their nominee for the Feb. 13 special election to succeed expelled GOP Rep. George Santos, with an official announcement set for the following day.

Pilip would take on former Rep. Tom Suozzi, who was awarded the Democratic nomination last week. (Primary voters in New York do not select nominees in special elections.) The Long Island-based 3rd District, which includes northern Nassau County and a small portion of Queens, supported Joe Biden 54-45 in 2020, but it's swung hard toward the GOP following the president's inauguration.

While Suozzi has spent more than two decades as one of the most prominent Democrats on Long Island, his rival is a relative newcomer to local politics. Pilip was airlifted from Ethiopia to Israel as a child refugee and went on to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. She immigrated to the United States in 2005 and won a seat on the County Legislature during the 2021 GOP sweep by unseating Democratic incumbent Ellen Birnbaum 53-47.

Pilip went on to secure reelection last month 60-40 against Democrat Weihua Yan during what was another strong night for Long Island Republicans. In one odd detail recently reported by Politico, however, Pilip has remained a registered Democrat during her years as a Republican elected official.

But Pilip's unusual biography could make her a formidable nominee, a belief some Democrats may share. "There is an undercurrent out there that Suozzi is concerned about running against Mazi," an unnamed source told Jewish Insider earlier this month. "He keeps calling around to find out, ‘Is it going to be her, is it going to be her?’"

However, Pilip's detractors have already found one potentially damaging item from her recent past. In September, Yan posted a photo on social media of the legislator smiling alongside Santos. The New York Times reported that this photo was shared with reporters this month through "an unsigned, untraceable email" in an apparent attempt to convince party leaders to pick someone else.

One of the Republicans those leaders passed over for the nomination, Air Force veteran Kellen Curry, seemed to have had this picture in mind last week when he shared the results of an internal poll. The survey showed Suozzi leading Pilip and Curry 43-40 and 43-39, respectively, but the memo also found 58% of respondents said they were "less likely" to support someone who has backed Santos in the past. In a possible reference to Pilip, pollster Brian Wynne added, "Thankfully, my understanding is that you did not endorse Santos and no photographs of you exist with him."  

However, it was a different topic that gave Pilip trouble when she spoke to the New York Times' Nicholas Fandos on Thursday afternoon. "When Ms. Pilip was asked to state her position on a national abortion ban," Fandos writes, "a spokesman for the Nassau County Republican Party cut in to say that the candidate did not intend to 'get through the whole platform here.'" Fandos says that, in addition to abortion rights, Pilip has expressed "no known public opinions on major issues" like gun safety and Donald Trump's indictments.

Fandos also notes that, unlike Suozzi, Pilip has "almost no experience raising money." National Republicans, however, are likely to ensure that she has access to as much cash as she needs in what will be a closely watched special election.

Suozzi, for his part, is making use of his head start to go on the air early. The Democrat's first ad, which debuted Thursday morning, touts him as a bipartisan figure who knows the area well.

P.S. New York's highest court this week ordered the state's bipartisan redistricting commission to draw a new congressional map to be used in next year's elections, but this special election will take place under the existing lines. The contest for a full term, however, will be conducted using the new boundaries.

Campaign Action

Morning Digest: Nancy Mace may get a new district and an old primary foe

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-01: Former state Rep. Katie Arrington tells The Hill that she's considering seeking a GOP primary rematch against South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace, who shocked her colleagues last week when she voted to terminate Kevin McCarthy's speakership. Things could become still more volatile in the Palmetto State, though, because the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Wednesday for a lawsuit that seeks to strike down Mace's 1st District as a racial gerrymander.

We'll start with Arrington, who told reporter Caroline Vakil that "all options are on the table" for another campaign against an incumbent who is no stranger to making enemies within her own party. Mace, who unseated Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham in 2020, broke with Donald Trump in the days after she was forced to barricade in her office during the Jan. 6 attack, saying, "I hold him accountable for the events that transpired." Although the congresswoman, who was an early 2016 Trump supporter, never backed impeachment and soon stopped trying to pick fights with him, her party's master endorsed Arrington as part of an effort to purge critics.

But while Arrington did all she could to try to frame the primary as a battle between pro-Trump and anti-Trump forces, Mace used her superior financial resources to advance a different narrative. The congresswoman reminded voters that Arrington had denied renomination in 2018 to another Trump critic, then-Rep. Mark Sanford, only to suffer an upset loss against Cunningham. The GOP legislature had already done what it could to make sure that no Republican could lose this coastal South Carolina seat by passing a map that extended Trump's 2020 margin from 52-46 to 54-45, but Mace still argued that Arrington could once again cost the party the general election.

The incumbent prevailed 53-45 before easily winning the general election, but Mace wasn't done refashioning her public image. This summer she became a prominent Trump defender on cable news, and Politico reported he passed on his compliments to the congresswoman he'd previously castigated as a "grandstanding loser." But Mace's biggest moment in the spotlight came last week when she joined Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, whom she'd called "a fraud" earlier this year, and six other Republicans to oust McCarthy.

Observers, including Arrington, were quick to highlight how McCarthy's allies had deployed millions to help Mace in 2020, and the former speaker's backers were also quick to blast the congresswoman's perceived disloyalty. Mace, for her part, argued McCarthy had broken his word to her by refusing to advance her priorities, including a balanced budget amendment and a bill to test more rape kits, and she predicted his backers would seek revenge. "I do need help, because they are coming after me," she said last week to Steve Bannon, the former Trump strategist whom she'd voted to hold in contempt of Congress in 2021.

However, not everyone agrees that Mace will need much help to win renomination in 2024. "When you look at the voting base there, they're not your typical party-line Republican," longtime GOP strategist Dave Wilson told Vakil of the local GOP primary electorate. "They're a little bit more independent in the way that they think." Arrington, though, dismissed Mace's actions as a "political stunt" and predicted that if she doesn't run, "[T]here will be many others." South Carolina requires a primary runoff if no one secures a majority in the first round.

Complicating things further is that no one knows yet just what Mace's district will even look like next year. In January, a federal court ruled that Republican lawmakers intentionally discriminated against Black voters when they redrew Mace's 1st District by packing too many African Americans into the neighboring 6th District. However, it's up to the nation's highest court to decide if the legislature needs to rework the 1st or if the current boundaries will stand.

Even if the Supreme Court strikes down the current map, though, Republicans may still be able to keep their hold on six of the state's seven congressional districts. As we explained in January, the lower court's ruling hinged on the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause rather than the Voting Rights Act; while the latter can require states to draw districts that empower Black voters to elect their chosen candidates, the former has been interpreted to mandate only that map-makers don't let race predominate over other factors without a compelling justification when crafting lines.

For now at least, Mace is behaving like she has more to worry about on her right flank than from Democrats. The congresswoman announced Sunday that she was joining Trump in endorsing Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, an election conspiracy theorist, for speaker. CBS' Margaret Brennan followed up by asking Mace about the accusations from several former Ohio State University wrestlers alleging that Jordan, who was an assistant coach in the 1980s and 90s, knew their team doctor was sexually assaulting them but didn't intervene. "I'm not familiar or aware with that," said Mace. "He's not indicted on anything that I'm aware of. I don't know anything and can't speak to that."

Redistricting

WI Redistricting: On Friday, the new progressive majority on Wisconsin's Supreme Court ruled 4-3 along ideological lines to hear a lawsuit that's challenging the GOP's legislative gerrymanders, setting oral arguments for Nov. 21.

The court's ruling limited its review to only the claims over non-contiguous districts and whether map' adoption by the court's previous conservative majority violated the separation of powers, setting aside the plaintiffs' partisan gerrymandering claim for now because resolving it would require extensive fact-finding. A trial to conduct that fact-finding could have delayed new maps until after the 2024 elections, and the court noted it would become unnecessary if it strikes down the maps over contiguity or the separation of powers anyway.

Earlier on Friday, progressive Justice Janet Protasiewicz rejected the GOP's calls for her to recuse herself because of how she had called the maps "rigged" during her election campaign earlier this year and received campaign funding from the state Democratic Party. Protasiewicz's recusal decision cited a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling where that court's conservative majority overturned a Minnesota law that had barred judicial candidates from declaring their views on legal and political issues, and she noted that the Wisconsin Democratic Party was not involved with the redistricting case.

Nonetheless, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos responded on Monday by claiming precedent by the federal high court "compels her recusal, and the United States Supreme Court will have the last word here," implying the GOP could appeal her recusal decision to the federal court. Vos and his party have repeatedly threatened to impeach Protasiewicz if she didn't recuse in this case, though he notably did not mention that in Monday's statement.

3Q Fundraising

Governors

WA-Gov, WA-03, WA Public Lands Commissioner: The Seattle Times' Jim Brunner reports that former GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler told the conservative group Future 42 on Monday that she'll run for state public lands commissioner rather than for governor or for her old 3rd District. This post, which oversees the Washington Department of Natural Resources, is currently held by Democrat Hilary Franz, who is campaigning for governor next year.

The former congresswoman, who was one of the 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump after Jan. 6, lost her seat last year after she came in third against far-right foe Joe Kent in the top-two primary; Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez went on to flip the seat that November. While Politico reported the next month that Herrera Beutler was interested in another House bid, she announced in late January that she'd signed on to become a strategic advisor for the Children's Hospital Association―a decision that some observers believed meant she wouldn't be running for any office in 2024.

Those assumptions were premature, and The Dispatch reported just a month later that Herrera Beutler was thinking about running for governor. However, while she didn't rule out the idea shortly after Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee announced his retirement in May, she never again showed any obvious sign of interest after her former House colleague, Dave Reichert, became the GOP frontrunner in July. We hadn't previously heard Herrera Beutler mentioned for a different statewide office until Brunner reported Monday that she would campaign for public lands commission.

Five Democrats are currently running to replace Franz: state Sens. Rebecca Saldaña and Kevin Van De Wege; former state Sen. Mona Das; King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove; and DNR manager Patrick DePoe. The only Republican who declared before Herrera Beutler was Sue Kuehl Pederson, who lost to Franz 57-43 in 2020.

House

CO-04: Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams on Wednesday told conservative radio host Dan Caplis that he was interested in waging a primary bid against Rep. Ken Buck in an interview that took place the day after Buck became one of the eight Republicans to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker. Another local GOP elected official, state Rep. Richard Holtorf, formed an exploratory committee last month after the congressman trashed his party's drive to impeach Joe Biden. Buck, for his part, has not committed to running again.

NY-03: Former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi announced Tuesday morning that he was entering the race to retake the seat still held by indicted GOP Rep. George Santos, and the new contender dispelled any talk that he'd only run if there were a special election by declaring he was filing "to run for Congress in November of 2024." We'll have more on this kickoff in our next Digest.

Judges

PA Supreme Court: The Associated Press writes that Republican Carolyn Carluccio outspent Democrat Dan McCaffery $2.8 million to $900,000 through Sept. 18, though outside groups have also been aiding him in this statewide race. However, it's not quite clear how much other organizations have been spending on the Democrat's behalf: The AP says that Planned Parenthood and Pennsylvanians for Judicial Fairness have deployed "hundreds of thousands more, with more spending coming," while the ACLU and Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee have promised to deploy resources here.

McCaffery ended Sept. 18 with a $1.2 million to $600,000 edge in cash on hand, though Carluccio likely has access to far more money. The story says that she received a total of $2.1 million through that date in donations from Commonwealth Leaders Fund, a group funded by conservative billionaire Jeff Yass. McCaffery, for his part, has benefited from large contributions from unions and trial lawyer organizations.

Mayors and County Leaders

Allegheny County, PA Executive: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Republican Joe Rockey continues to enjoy a huge advertising edge over Democrat Sara Innamorato as he tries to score an upset win next month in this 59-39 Biden county. Rockey has deployed $700,000 on TV ads through Friday promoting him as a moderate and pledging to oppose county tax reassessments. His allies at Save Allegheny County, meanwhile, have thrown down another $480,000; the group has gotten about a quarter of its budget from Commonwealth Leaders Fund, which is largely funded by conservative billionaire Jeff Yass.

Innamorato herself spent $140,000 on the general election, while super PACs have not aired their own ads to aid her. Her opening commercial debuted Oct. 1 and begins by touting her as a candidate who "shares our values" on public safety and reproductive rights. The narrator then goes after Rockey as someone who "bankrolled Trump, supporting extremists, backed Republicans repealing reproductive rights, and said he won't stand up for the right to choose."

Obituaries

Ted Schwinden: Former Montana Gov. Ted Schwinden, a Democrat who served from 1981 to 1989, died Saturday at the age of 98. Schwinden famously kept his number listed in a public phonebook even after he became the state's chief executive and answered callers himself; radio hosts throughout the country also would call him at home without warning and speak to the governor on the air. Schwinden's openness and directness won him many fans: A Republican rancher supposedly said, "I don't agree with Ted, but I trust the son of a bitch!"

Schwinden was elected lieutenant governor on a 1976 ticket led by Tom Judge, which marked the first time that both posts were elected together rather than separately. Schwinden decided to challenge Judge for renomination four years later, though, arguing the two-term governor had "run out of steam." (Montana voters wouldn't approve term limits until 1992.) The challenger won 51-42 and went on to defeat Jack Ramírez, the GOP's leader in the state House, 55-45 even as Ronald Reagan was carrying the state 57-32.

Schwinden, who famously turned down a chance to watch the Super Bowl with Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie because it would have conflicted with his planned talk to a Montana high school class, proved to be popular in office and won reelection 70-26 during Reagan's 1984 landslide. Schwinden kept his two-term pledge and retired in 1988, and Republican Stan Stephens' victory over Judge that year ended 20 years of Democratic governors.

Schwinden never again sought office and later moved to Arizona, though he remained a useful sounding board for at least one prominent Montana Democrat. Brian Schweitzer recounted that he spoke to the former governor ahead of his ultimately successful 2004 bid to become the state's first Democratic leader since Schwinden himself left office: "The best advice he gave me was be good with money," Schweitzer told the Billings Gazette. "A Dem that is good with money is unassailable, so that's where I always was."

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: These departing House members are already mulling comeback bids for 2024

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

Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast

Leading Off

House: Several outgoing House members from each party are showing at least some openness in trying to return to the lower chamber or run for a different office, though some soon-to-be-former representatives have already closed the door on a comeback. We'll start with a look at the Democrats and Michigan Rep. Andy Levin, who isn't dismissing talk about challenging Republican Rep.-elect John James in the 10th District.

"I'm definitely not shutting the door to running for office again, whether for Congress or something else," Levin told Politico's Ally Mutnick. This year the congressman turned down his party's pleas to run in the 10th, a suburban Detroit seat that Trump took by a tiny 50-49 margin and where Levin already represented two-thirds of the residents, and instead campaigned for the safely blue 11th. That was a bad decision for both him and for national Democrats: Levin ended up losing his primary to fellow Rep. Haley Stevens 60-40, while James beat Democrat Carl Marlinga just 48.8-48.3 a few months later in a race that Democratic outside groups spent nothing on.

Mutnick also relays that unnamed Democrats are urging New York Rep. Tom Suozzi to challenge Republican Rep.-elect George Santos in the 3rd District. There's no word, though, if Suozzi is interested in trying to regain the constituency he gave up to wage a disastrous primary bid against Gov. Kathy Hochul. While Biden prevailed 54-45 here, the GOP's strong performance on Long Island last month helped power Santos, who lost to Suozzi in 2020 and later attended the Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, to a 54-46 win over Democrat Robert Zimmerman.

Another outgoing New York congressman, Mondaire Jones, also responded to questions about his future by telling Bloomberg, "I'm not closing the door to anything, other than doing nothing, these next two years … I'm always going to be fighting for the communities that I represent, even if I'm not formally their elected in the United States Congress these next two years."

Jones, though, did not elaborate on if he has a specific office in mind or where he'd run. Jones, who represents the Hudson Valley, decided to run in New York City in order to avoid a primary against DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney: Jones ended up taking third place in the 10th District primary won by Dan Goldman, while Maloney lost his general election to Republican Mike Lawler.

But New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires, who was not on the ballot anywhere this year, has made it clear he wants to run for a very different sort of office in May 2023. While Sires says he won't make an announcement until his term ends in early January, the congressman has said he's looking at a bid for mayor of West New York, which is the job he held from 1995 until he joined Congress in 2006; the New Jersey Globe reports that he'll enter the contest sometime next month.

However, there's no direct vote at the ballot box to determine who gets to succeed retiring Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez, a fellow Democrat who will likely campaign for the state Assembly next year, as leader of this 52,000-person community. Candidates will instead run on one nonpartisan ballot for a spot on the five-person Town Commission, and the winners will select one of their members for mayor. Anyone who wants the top job, though, will lead a slate of allied commission candidates, something that Commissioner Cosmo Cirillo has already put together.

We've also previously written about a few other departing House Democrats who may run for something in 2024. New Jersey Rep. Tom Malinowski hasn't ruled out another campaign against GOP Rep.-elect Tom Kean Jr. in the 7th, while retiring Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy likewise hasn't dismissed talk she could take on Republican Sen. Rick Scott. There's also been some chatter that Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb, who lost his primary for Senate, could campaign for attorney general, though he hasn't said anything publicly about the idea.

There is one Democrat who has already closed the door on a comeback, though. Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, who refused to back Jamie McLeod-Skinner after she beat him in their primary, dismissed talk he could go up against GOP Rep.-elect Lori Chavez-DeRemer by telling Mutnick, "I've been there, done that—time for a young American to step up." Characteristically, the Blue Dog Democrat added, "It can't be a far-lefty. It has to be someone that cares about rural America."

We'll turn to the Republicans, where another Michigan congressman is keeping his options open after a primary defeat. When Politico asked if he was thinking about trying to regain the 3rd District, Rep. Peter Meijer responded, "I'm thinking about a lot of things." Meijer narrowly lost renomination to far-right foe John Gibbs after voting to impeach Donald Trump, while Democrat Hillary Scholten went on to defeat Gibbs in the fall.

Mutnick writes that another pro-impeachment Republican whom the base rejected, Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, is also considering a bid to get back her own 3rd District against Democratic Rep.-elect Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez. Extremist Joe Kent kept Herrera Beutler from advancing past the top-two primary, but he failed to defend the constituency against Gluesenkamp Pérez.

One member who could run for local office in 2023 is New York Rep. Chris Jacobs, a Republican who in October didn't rule out the idea that he could challenge Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a Democrat, in next year's general election. Jacobs instead put out a statement saying he would "always give serious consideration to any opportunity to serve" the Buffalo area. The congressman decided not to seek a second full term to avoid a tough primary over his newfound support for an assault weapons ban and related gun safety measures in the wake of recent mass shootings, including one in Buffalo.

There are also a few other outgoing Republicans who previously have been talked about as contenders in 2024. The most serious appears to be New Mexico's Yvette Herrell, who filed new paperwork with the FEC for a potential rematch against Democrat Rep.-elect Gabe Vasquez; Herrell soon told supporters she was considering, though she didn't commit to anything.

Retiring Indiana Rep. Trey Hollingsworth also hasn't ruled out a Senate or gubernatorial bid, though Sen. Mike Braun was recently overheard saying that Hollingsworth would instead support him for governor. (See our IN-Gov item.) There's been some speculation as well that Lee Zeldin, who was the GOP's nominee for governor of New York, could run next year for Suffolk County executive, though Zeldin hasn't shown any obvious interest.

One person we won't be seeing more of, however, is Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot. While Chabot regained his seat in 2010 two years after losing re-election to Democrat Steve Driehaus, the congressman told Spectrum News last week that he wouldn't try the same maneuver against Democratic Rep.-elect Greg Landsman. "I was 26-years-old when I first ran for Cincinnati City Council. When this term ends in January, I'll be turning 70 in January," Chabot explained, adding, "Twenty-six to 70, that's long enough. It's somebody else's turn."

The Downballot

What better way to wrap up the year than by previewing the biggest contests of 2023 on this week's episode of The Downballot? Progressives will want to focus on a Jan. 10 special election for the Virginia state Senate that would allow them to expand their skinny majority; the April 4 battle for the Wisconsin Supreme Court that could let progressives take control from conservatives; Chicago's mayoral race; gubernatorial contests in Kentucky and Louisiana; and much, much more.

Of course, we might've thought we were done with 2022 after Georgia, but Kyrsten Sinema decided to make herself the center of attention again. However, co-hosts David Nir and David Beard explain why there's much less than meets the eye to her decision to become an independent: She can't take away the Democratic majority in the Senate, and her chances at winning re-election are really poor. In fact, there's good reason to believe she'd hurt Republicans more in a three-way race. The Davids also discuss the upcoming special election for Virginia's dark blue 4th Congressional District, where the key battle for the Democratic nomination will take place in less than a week.

Thank you to all our listeners for supporting The Downballot in our inaugural year. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts to make sure you never miss a show, and you'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by noon Eastern Time. We'll be taking a break for the holidays, but we'll be back on Jan. 5 with a brand new episode.

Governors

IN-Gov: While retiring Rep. Trey Hollingsworth has hinted that he's interested in campaigning for governor, one would-be Republican primary rival is going around saying he'll instead have the congressman's support. Politico's Adam Wren overheard Sen. Mike Braun on Tuesday night telling other Hoosier State notables, "Trey is gonna support me. I had a conversation with him first." While there's also been talk that Hollingsworth could run for the Senate, Braun also said he might give him a place in his administration should he win.  

KY-Gov: The biggest question looming over next year's Republican primary is whether former Gov. Matt Bevin gets in before filing closes on Jan. 6, and at least one would-be rival believes the answer will be yes. State Auditor Mike Harmon, who was the first notable candidate to launch a bid against Democratic incumbent Andy Beshear, tells the Lexington Herald Leader he's 90-to-95% sure Bevin runs, explaining, "Multiple times I've heard people say he's polling."

Harmon continued, "I can't say for sure 'oh, yes, he's getting in.' But I've had some conversations with different people and it's my belief he's going to." We could be in suspense for a while longer: Bevin in 2015 launched his ultimately successful bid on the very last day possible, and he only kicked off his failed 2019 re-election campaign days before the deadline.

If Bevin does dive in, he would be joining a crowded contest where it takes just a simple plurality to win the nomination. There's no obvious frontrunner, but there are arguably two candidates who may qualify for that distinction: Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who has Donald Trump's endorsement, and self-funder Kelly Craft, who is Trump's former ambassador to the United Nations. In addition to Harmon the field also includes state Rep. Savannah Maddox, who is an ally of Rep. Thomas Massie; state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles; and Somerset Mayor Alan Keck.

There was some speculation that the legislature could pass a bill to require primary candidates win at least 40% to avoid a runoff, which was the law until 2008, but key lawmakers tell the Herald Leader there's no real energy behind this idea. "We did not talk about it at the (House GOP caucus) retreat, and I'm the chairman of [the] elections committee," said state Rep. Kevin Bratcher.

LA-Gov: Attorney General Jeff Landry on Wednesday unveiled an endorsement from Rep. Clay Higgins, a fellow far-right politician with a base in Acadiana, for next year's all-party primary. Higgins is the first member of the state's congressional delegation to take sides as everyone waits to see if another Republican, Sen. John Kennedy, enters the contest next month. Another one of his colleagues, Rep. Garret Graves, also has been considering running for governor, though he hasn't shown much obvious interest since he learned he'd be in the majority.

House

AZ-02: Outgoing Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, who lost re-election last month to opponent Buu Nygren 53-47, is not ruling out seeking the Democratic nomination to go up against Republican Rep.-elect Eli Crane, though Nez acknowledged a bid would be tough. "Of course, you keep your options open, you never say no to anything," he told Source NM before adding, "I hate to say it, but it's going to be very difficult for any Democrat to run for that position."

Trump carried this sprawling Northeastern Arizona seat 53-45, and Crane ousted Democratic incumbent Tom O'Halleran 54-46 in November. According to Bloomberg's Greg Giroux, Republican Blake Masters also beat Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly 51-47 here even as he was losing statewide by an identical margin.

VA-04: Sen. Tim Kaine has endorsed state Sen. Jennifer McClellan ahead of Tuesday's firehouse primary to select the Democratic nominee to succeed the late Rep. Donald McEachin.

The short contest leaves candidates essentially no time to raise the money they'd need to run TV ads, but another Democratic contender, Del. Lamont Bagby, is taking to radio to emphasize his own endorsements. Bagby's commercial features testimonials from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and Henrico County Supervisor Tyrone Nelson, who praise his record in the legislature and tout him as a worthy successor to McEachin.

Stoney also informs listeners, "Voting is at a special location, not your normal polling place," and advises them to go to Bagby's site to find out where to cast their ballot.

House: Politico's Ally Mutnick takes a detailed early look at the 2024 House battlefield and what candidates could end up running for key seats. For the Republicans, many of the names are familiar ones from the 2022 cycle. Mutnick relays that some strategists want a pair of defeated Senate nominees, Colorado's Joe O'Dea and Washington's Tiffany Smiley, to run for competitive House seats.

The only realistic target for O'Dea would be the 8th District, where Democratic Rep.-elect Yadira Caraveo pulled off a tough win, but Smiley is harder to place: She lives in Richland in the south-central part of Washington, which is located in GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse's 4th District and is at least a two hour drive from either the Democratic-held 3rd or 8th.

The Republican wishlist also includes a few candidates who lost House primaries this year to some disastrous nominees. One prospective repeat contender is Ohio state Sen. Theresa Gavarone, whose bid to challenge longtime Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in the 9th ended with her taking third to QAnon ally J.R. Majewski. Kaptur beat Majewski 57-43 after national Republicans gave up on him, but the GOP's victories in this year's state Supreme Court contest could allow Gavarone and her colleagues to draw up a more favorable map for the state senator should she try again.

Another potential repeat is Keene Mayor George Hansel, a self-declared "pro-choice" candidate who wanted to take on Democratic incumbent Annie Kuster in New Hampshire's 2nd District. National Democrats very much didn't want that happening, though, as they ran ads promoting Hansel's underfunded opponent, former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns. The strategy worked as intended: Burns won the nomination 33-30, while Kuster defeated him 56-44 two months later.

Mutnick also writes that some Republicans are hoping to see another try from Derrick Anderson, a Green Beret veteran who wanted to challenge Rep. Abigail Spanberger in Virginia's 7th but lost the primary 29-24 to Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega. Democrats went on to focus on Vega's far-right views, including her comments falsely suggesting that it's unlikely for rape to result in pregnancy, and Spanberger prevailed 52-48.

Republicans have their eyes on a few Republicans who didn't run for Congress in 2022, too. Mutnick says that one possible recruit against Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee in Michigan's 8th is state Rep.-elect Bill Schuette, who is the son and namesake of the GOP's 2018 nominee for governor.

And while the GOP will soon be able to gerrymander North Carolina's new congressional map, Mutnick writes that some Republicans would prefer state Rep. Erin Paré go up against Democrat Wiley Nickel in the 13th rather than see another campaign by Bo Hines. Indeed, Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw trashed both Hines and Karoline Leavitt, who failed to win New Hampshire's 1st, when he told Politico, "We lost races we easily should have won. We elected two 25-year-olds to be our nominees. That's batshit crazy."

Democrats, meanwhile, have a few 2022 nominees they would like to run again:

  • AZ-01: Jevin Hodge
  • AZ-06: Kirsten Engel
  • CA-41: Will Rollins
  • CA-45: Jay Chen

There is no word from any of the once and potentially future candidates from either party about their 2024 plans.

Legislatures

PA State House: Allegheny County election officials say they plan to hold a trio of special elections in Democratic-held state House seats on Feb. 7, declaring, "While we await action by the Court, we will move forward with preparation and other work necessary to conduct the special elections, including confirming polling locations, scheduling poll workers and other administrative work."

Democrat Joanna McClinton scheduled these three contests for early February after she was sworn in as majority leader last week, citing the fact that Democrats won 102 of the 203 state House seats on Nov. 8. Republicans, though, have filed a lawsuit arguing that she did not have the authority to do this because the GOP will have more members when the new legislature meets Jan. 3 because of those vacancies.

VA State Senate: Democrat Aaron Rouse touts his time in the NFL and Virginia Beach roots in his opening TV ad ahead of the Jan. 10 special to succeed Republican Rep.-elect Jen Kiggans. Rouse faces Republican Kevin Adams, a Navy veteran and first-time office-seeker, in a contest that gives Democrats the chance to expand their narrow 21-19 majority in the upper chamber to a wider 22-18 advantage.

Rouse's spot opens with footage of the candidate in action as an announcer proclaims, "What a break on the football by Aaron Rouse!" The Democrat himself then appears on a football field where he talks about the Virginia Beach neighborhood he grew up in by saying, "Before I was Aaron Rouse, the NFL player… I was just Aaron, from Seatack. Mom raised us on her own."

Rouse, who now serves on the City Council, continues, "My granddad told me: I was man of the house. So I did whatever it took. Mowing lawns, pumping gas, cleaning buses." He concludes, "It's time for Richmond to get to work making life more affordable for Virginia families."

Mayors and County Leaders

Austin, TX Mayor: Former state Sen. Kirk Watson on Tuesday narrowly regained the office he held from 1997 to 2001 by defeating state Rep. Celia Israel 50.4-49.6 in the runoff to succeed their fellow Democrat, termed-out Mayor Steve Adler. Watson will serve an abbreviated two-year term because voters last year approved a ballot measure to move mayoral elections to presidential cycles starting in 2024.

Israel overcame Watson's big spending edge on Nov. 8 to lead him 41-35 in the first round of voting, but observers speculated that his base would be more likely to turn out for the runoff. Israel did best in South and East Austin, areas that have large populations of younger and more diverse voters, while Watson performed strongly in Northwest Austin, a more affluent and whiter area that's home to more longtime residents who were around when he was last mayor.

Watson also worked to appeal to supporters of conservative Jennifer Virden, who took 18%, by emphasizing tax cuts and crime. Virden never endorsed anyone for round two, but she did fire off some tweets favorable to Watson.

The city's high housing costs were one of the main issues in this contest. Watson argued that each of the 10 City Council districts should adopt their own plans, an approach Israel compared to the old racist practice of "redlining." Watson defended his plan, though, saying that there would still be citywide standards each district would need to meet and that individual communities are "going to be able to tell us where greater density can be used." He also argued that he'd have an easier time working with GOP legislators who have long had a hostile relationship with Austin's city government.

Morning Digest: Trump dumps on anti-Greitens alternative while hinting he might endorse Greitens

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

Leading Off

MO-Sen: Show Me Values PAC, a group that has spent $2 million so far to stop disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens from winning the Aug. 2 Republican primary, released an internal Friday from the Tarrance Group that found Attorney General Eric Schmitt leading Rep. Vicky Hartzler 28-24 as Greitens lagged in third with 16% and Rep. Billy Long struggled with just 6%. But if the super PAC was hoping that these numbers might inspire Donald Trump to join them in trashing Greitens, it quickly got a rude shock when the GOP master both declared that he won't back Hartzler and left open the possibility he'd endorse Greitens sometime in the next three weeks.

Trump, seemingly out of the blue, wrote that Hartzler "called me this morning asking for my endorsement, much as she has on many other occasions." He continued, "I was anything but positive in that I don't think she has what it takes to take on the Radical Left Democrats, together with their partner in the destruction of our Country, the Fake News Media and, of course, the deceptive & foolish RINOs." And in case that message was too subtle, he concluded, "I was very nice to Vicky on the call, but will NOT BE ENDORSING HER FOR THE SENATE!" Still, in perhaps a small relief to the congresswoman, the MAGA boss didn't actually implore his legions to vote against her in the race to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt.

Trump didn't elaborate on exactly what Hartzler, who sports an endorsement from Sen. Josh Hawley, had done to offend him, but a March Politico story sheds some light into their relationship. Trump, the story said, was told how she responded to the Jan. 6 attack by accusing him of "unpresidential remarks" and noting that "many" of the rioters "supported President Trump." Hartzler still joined the majority of her GOP colleagues in objecting to Joe Biden's victory, but that may not have been enough to get her back on Trump's good side.

Trump, though, has been far more forgiving when it comes to the scandal-plagued Greitens, whose ex-wife has accused of physically abusing both her and their children in 2018. Trump spoke to the far-right OAN over the weekend, where a host encouraged him to endorse Greitens because of the former governor's opposition to their shared intra-party nemesis, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump, in a very rare nod to political reality, acknowledged that Greitens is "the one the Democrats legitimately want to run against," but he quickly added, "Eric is tough and he's smart. A little controversial, but I've endorsed controversial people before. So we'll see what happens."

McConnell is one of those people who is waiting to see what happens, though the Kansas City Star notes that, despite his past aggressive efforts to stop unacceptable candidates from winning their primaries, he's "made no indication he would get involved" here. Indeed, McConnell has refrained from even discussing Greitens publicly even though the candidate can't stop talking about his would-be leader: Greitens has accused McConnell of being behind the abuse allegations, and he's also claimed that Show Me Values, which is funded largely by Schmitt ally Rex Sinquefield, is linked to McConnell.

Hartzler, for her part, is trying to make the best of her situation with a new commercial that dubs her two main foes, "Eric and Eric," as "too weak on China." The congresswoman then makes the case that "if you want a senator who fights China like President Trump did, stand with me," a statement that's accompanied by a photo of her shaking hands with Trump back in happier days. Both Schmitt and Greitens' allies have previously run commercials using anti-China messaging against the other, though they've yet to seriously target Hartzler this way yet.

Hartzler and the Erics, however, are united in ignoring Long, whose best moment in the race came in March when Trump not-tweeted, "Have the great people of Missouri been considering the big, loud, and proud personality of Congressman Billy Long for the Senate?," a question he added was "not an Endorsement, but I'm just askin'?" Every poll, though, has found that the answer to be a resounding no, which may be why Trump has stopped talking about Long. The congressman, who made news in 2019 by giving his colleagues fake $45 bills bearing Trump's face, hasn't given up trying to get his actual endorsement even as his campaign has struggled to raise real money.

2Q Fundraising

  • MO-Sen: Lucas Kunce (D): $1.1 million raised
  • NH-Sen: Don Bolduc (R): $85,000 raised
  • WA-Sen: Tiffany Smiley (R): $2.6 million raised, $3.5 million cash-on-hand
  • CA-45: Jay Chen (D): $980,000 raised, $2.1 million cash-on-hand
  • NC-14: Jeff Jackson (D): $650,000 raised, $1.2 million cash-on-hand
  • NY-17: Sean Patrick Maloney (D-inc): $850,000 raised, $2.5 million cash-on-hand
  • NY-18: Colin Schmitt (R): $340,000 raised, $600,000 cash-on-hand
  • VA-02: Elaine Luria (D-inc): $1.8 million raised, $4.3 million cash-on-hand

senate

OH-Sen: Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan's newest ad will not only air exclusively on Fox News, it features multiples clip of high-profile Fox figures offering what passes for praise of the congressman, including Maria Bartiromo, Brett Baier, Peter Doocy, and even Tucker Carlson.

The chyron shown during the Carlson segment reads, "NOT EVERYONE IN THE DEM 2020 FIELD IS A LUNATIC," a reference to one of Ryan's two debate appearances during his short-lived presidential campaign. During that debate, Ryan agreed that Sen. Bernie Sanders' proposals would "incentivize undocumented immigrants to come into this country illegally" and said, "[I]f you want to come into the country, you should at least ring the doorbell."

OK-Sen-B: On Saturday, Donald Trump provided his "Complete and Total Endorsement" to Rep. Markwayne Mullin ahead of the August 23 Republican primary runoff. Mullin lapped former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon 44-18 in the first round of voting in late June.

Governors

AZ-Gov: The Republican firm HighGround Public Affairs, which says it sponsored this poll itself, finds former TV anchor Kari Lake leading Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson just 39-35 in the Aug. 2 Republican primary, while 4% went for another option. The survey was conducted July 2-7, with termed-out Gov. Doug Ducey backing Robson on that final day.

Lake, meanwhile, appears to be running the first, though probably far from the last, negative TV ad of the contest. After telling the audience that she's Trump's endorsed candidate, Lake goes on to label Robson, "a real RINO." Lake insists, "She gave illegals tuition discounts and made us pay for it. She voted for abortion and gun control and refused to vote to end vax and mask mandates on our children."

LA-Gov: New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno did not rule out a 2023 bid for governor over the weekend after state Democratic Party chair Katie Bernhardt mentioned her as a possible candidate. Moreno instead told NOLA.com, "People have been encouraging me for a statewide run for some time, but since last week the calls have increased from people, mostly women, who are liberal and conservative." Moreno has been talked about for years as a likely candidate for mayor in the 2025 race to succeed termed-out incumbent LaToya Cantrell, though she'd still be able to campaign for the Crescent City's top job if a statewide bid failed.  

NH-Gov: State Sen. Tom Sherman, who has the Democratic field to himself, has released an internal from Public Policy Polling that shows him trailing Republican Gov. Chris Sununu 43-33, with Libertarian Karlyn Borysenko grabbing 8%. This result, while still not close, is considerably better for Sherman than his 55-29 deficit in an April poll from the University of New Hampshire, which is the most recent survey we've seen until now. Sherman's poll also argues he'll make up ground once voters are reminded that Sununu signed an anti-abortion bill in 2021.

OR-Gov: Legislative Republicans have publicized numbers from Cygnal that show Republican Christine Drazan edging out Democrat Tina Kotek 32-31, with independent Betsy Johnson grabbing 24%. The survey comes days after Johnson released her own internal from GS Strategy that put Kotek ahead with 33% as Johnson and Drazan took 30% and 23%, respectively.

House

NE-02: Democrat Tony Vargas has released an internal from GBAO that shows him with a 48-47 edge over Republican incumbent Don Bacon in an Omaha-based seat Biden would have carried 52-46; the National Journal, which first publicized the poll, says it sampled 500 likely voters. The last survey we saw was a Change Research survey for Vargas' allies at 314 Action done days before his May primary win, and it found the Democrat ahead 42-39.

NY-03: Rep. Tom Suozzi has endorsed Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan in the five-way Aug. 23 Democratic nomination contest to succeed him, though the incumbent's influence at home may not be as strong as he'd like it to be. According to Newsday, Gov. Kathy Hochul defeated Suozzi 57-37 in the new boundaries of the 3rd District in last month's primary for governor; Suozzi lost by a slightly smaller 56-39 in the existing incarnation of this Long Island seat.

Ballot Measures

MI Ballot: Michigan activists seeking to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall that would guarantee the right to an abortion submitted more than 753,000 signatures to the secretary of state's office on Monday—far more than the 425,000 required by law, and the most collected for a ballot initiative in state history. Officials must first verify the petitions, but given the huge cushion of extra signatures, it's all but certain the measure will go before voters in November.

Ad Roundup

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

     

Morning Digest: The top GOP candidate to run Nevada’s elections is an antisemitic Big Lie proponent

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

Subscribe to our podcast, The Downballot!

Leading Off

NV-SoS: Both parties will be fighting hard to win the race to succeed termed-out Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who was the only Nevada Republican to prevail statewide during the 2018 Democratic wave, and with the close of candidate filing on Friday, we now know who all the contenders are. However, while former state Athletic Commission member Cisco Aguilar faces no opposition in the June 14 Democratic primary, Republicans have a seven-way contest that includes a well-connected election denier.

That conspiracy theorist is former Assemblyman Jim Marchant, who challenged Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford last cycle in the 4th District and lost by a 51-46 margin. Marchant, though, responded to that incontrovertible defeat by baselessly claiming he was the "victim of election fraud" and unsuccessfully suing to overturn the results. The ex-lawmaker, who has repeatedly addressed QAnon gatherings, has also said that he would not have certified Joe Biden's victory in the state had he been secretary of state at the time. And as for the endless string of courtroom losses Trump allies were dealt when they sought to undo the 2020 election, Marchant has an explanation for that, too: "A lot of judges were bought off too—they are part of this cabal."

Marchant continued to embrace the far-right last week by letting loose an antisemitic rant against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. "We need to support the people in Ukraine that are not the Biden, the Clintons, the cabal," said Marchant, continuing, "They have patriots like us … that have been oppressed by the cabal, the central bankers for centuries. And that's who we need to support people that were oppressed by the Soros cabal." Yet Marchant is anything but a pariah in today's GOP, as he has the backing of former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is the frontrunner to take on Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.

Republicans have several other contenders, with the most formidable looking like Reno-area developer Jesse Haw. The Nevada Independent reported in January that Haw, who was appointed to fill a vacant state Senate seat for a few months in 2016, was "expected to bring at least half a million of dollars in campaign cash in the bank." The GOP field also includes Sparks City Councilman Kristopher Dahir, former TV anchor Gerard Ramalh, and former District Court Judge Richard Scotti.

Further below we'll be taking a look at Nevada's other competitive races now that filing has closed. Candidates running statewide or in constituencies containing multiple counties were required to file with the secretary of state, while candidates running for single-county seats, such as the 1st and 3rd Congressional Districts in Clark County, had to instead file with their local election officials.

Redistricting

OH Redistricting: A group of Ohio voters, with the support of Eric Holder's National Democratic Redistricting Committee, filed a new lawsuit on Monday challenging the replacement congressional map that Republicans passed earlier this month. The suit comes after the state Supreme Court ruled on Friday that it could not entertain plaintiffs' objections to the map in a pair of pending cases because it had issued a "final judgment" when it invalidated the GOP's original district lines in January.

In its decision, however, the court noted that plaintiffs were free to bring a new suit targeting the remedial map, which remains heavily gerrymandered in favor of the GOP. Meanwhile, the ACLU of Ohio, which served as counsel in the second case, said that it is "considering next steps."

Senate

IA-Sen: Candidate filing closed Friday for Iowa's June 7 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders here. The Hawkeye State has an unusual law that requires party conventions to select nominees in races where no candidate receives over 35% of the vote in the primary, but that provision is unlikely to come into play this year in any of the contests we'll be watching.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is one of the two longest-serving members of Congress following the death of Alaska Rep. Don Young (Grassley is tied with Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is retiring), is seeking an eighth term in a state that swung hard to the right during the Trump era. The incumbent's only primary foe is state Sen. Jim Carlin, a pro-Trump die-hard who has baselessly claimed the 2020 election was stolen and spouted antisemitic conspiracy theories blaming wealthy Jews like Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros for the outcome. Trump himself, though, is supporting Grassley over Carlin, who barely raised any money in 2021.

The frontrunner on the Democratic side looks like former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, who lost a tight battle for a second term last cycle in northeast Iowa. Also in the running are retired Vice Admiral Mike Franken, who lost the 2020 primary for the state's other Senate seat, and Minden City Councilman Glenn Hurst.

MO-Sen: Former Gov. Eric Greitens' ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, accused him of physically abusing both her and their children in 2018, as well as threatening to kill himself, in a court affidavit released Monday in the couple's ongoing child custody dispute. The former governor, who is competing in the August Republican primary for Missouri's open Senate seat, responded by calling the allegations "completely fabricated." His campaign manager also characterized the account as "clearly a politically-motivated attack against him."

In her filing, Sheena Greitens attested, "Prior to our divorce, during an argument in late April 2018, Eric knocked me down and confiscated my cell phone, wallet and keys so that I was unable to call for help or extricate myself and our children from our home." When her mother confronted the then-governor, Greitens continued, her husband said he'd sought "to prevent me from doing anything that might damage his political career."

The alleged incident occurred the month before Eric Greitens resigned as governor while under indictment for purportedly sexually assaulting a woman he was having an affair with and blackmailing her into silence, as well as unrelated charges of computer tampering involving his charity. The tampering charge was dropped in exchange for Greitens’ resignation, while Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker later abandoned the assault and blackmail case saying that, while she believed Greitens' accuser, she did not think she could prove the charges.

Sheena Greitens further said in her affidavit that, during "the spring and early summer of 2018," her husband had threatened to kill himself "unless I provided specific public political support." She continues that "multiple people other than myself were worried enough to intervene to limit Eric's access to firearms on at least three separate occasions, in February, April, and May 2018."

She also added that in June of 2018, the month following his resignation, "I became afraid for my safety and that of our children at our home, which was fairly isolated, due to Eric's unstable and coercive behavior. This behavior included physical violence toward our children, such as cuffing our then three-year-old son across the face at the dinner table in front of me and yanking him around by the hair."

Eric Greitens is currently competing against several other Republicans in the August primary. Donald Trump last week said, in the words of the Washington Examiner, that "Greitens is still in the running for his seal of approval."

NV-Sen: Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto will be a top GOP target in a state that both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden narrowly won, and eight Republicans have filed to go up against her.

The undisputed frontrunner is former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who lost the 2018 gubernatorial race 49-45 against Democrat Steve Sisolak and now touts endorsements from Donald Trump and the Club for Growth for his latest bid. Laxalt so far has shown no interest in tacking to the center, and he's repeatedly accused Democrats and the media of exaggerating the Jan. 6 attack, saying in September, "What the media and their left wing allies have done to weaponize this against Republicans and Trump voters is reprehensible."

However, Laxalt still faces a surprisingly well-funded intra-party challenge from Army veteran Sam Brown, though it remains to be seen whether Brown will be able to put up a serious fight. None of the other six Republicans have attracted much attention.

PA-Sen: Self-funding attorney George Bochetto's new commercial for the May Republican primary is entirely devoted to attacking TV personality Mehmet Oz for his "pro-abortion views." Bochetto, who earned all of 1% in a recent Fox News survey, doesn't even appear at all except to provide the legally required "I approve this message" disclaimer at the very end.

WI-Sen: In her second commercial ahead of the August Democratic primary, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski bemoans how prescription drug costs keep rising and declares that it's "[b]ecause Republicans like [Sen.] Ron Johnson—and let's be honest, too many Democrats—don't have the guts to stand up to the pharmaceutical companies. I'm Sarah Godlewski and I will."

Governors

IA-Gov: Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds' sole Democratic foe is Deidre DeJear, who lost the 2018 general election for secretary of state 53-45 against incumbent Paul Pate. DeJear would be the first Black person elected statewide, but a recent poll from Selzer & Company gave Reynolds a 51-43 advantage.

NV-Gov: Steve Sisolak's 2018 win made him the Silver State's first Democratic governor in 20 years, and 16 different Republicans are campaigning to unseat him this year. Most of the field has little money or name recognition, but the Republican side does include a few familiar names.

One prominent contender is former Sen. Dean Heller, who lost re-election to Democrats Jacky Rosen during the 2018 blue wave. Heller, however, has struggled to raise money for his gubernatorial bid. There's also Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who is the top lawman in a county that's home to about three-quarters of Nevada's residents and was the field's best fundraiser in 2021.

Another notable candidate is North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, a longtime conservative Democrat who switched parties just before he launched his new bid. Other contenders to watch are venture capitalist Guy Nohra and attorney Joey Gilbert, who has bragged that he was "definitely on the Capitol steps" on Jan. 6. The only recent primary poll we've seen was an early March survey from the Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling on behalf of the DGA that gave Lombardo the lead with 26%, while Heller and Lee tied for second with 13% each.

NY-Gov: Empire Results, a dark money group run by a longtime consultant to Rep. Tom Suozzi, is running a new commercial for the June Democratic primary that once again amplifies the congressman's attacks against Gov. Kathy Hochul. This time it faults the incumbent for using "state aircraft to travel to fundraisers."

PA-Gov: Pennsylvania Works, which is funded by a DGA affiliate, recently began airing ads touting Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the size of the buy is $1 million.

House

FL-07: Democratic state Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil has announced that she'll run for the state Senate rather than for the open 7th Congressional District.

FL-22: Attorney Chad Klitzman, state Rep. David Silvers, and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis have each announced that they won't compete in the August Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Ted Deutch. The only notable contender remains Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz, who earned Silvers' support.

IA-01: Freshman Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican who won the old 2nd District by all of six votes last cycle, faces Democratic state Rep. Christina Bohannan in a southwestern Iowa seat that Trump would have carried 50-48. Bohannan has no opposition in the primary, while Miller-Meeks should have no trouble getting past her one intra-party opponent.

IA-02: Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson, who unseated Democratic incumbent Abby Finkenauer last cycle in a close race for the old 1st District, now faces Democratic state Sen. Liz Mathis in a northeast Iowa seat that Trump would have taken 51-47. Neither Hinson nor Mathis, who were once coworkers at the TV station KCRG (Hinson was a morning news anchor while Mathis hosted the evening news program) have any primary opposition.

IA-03: Three Republicans are competing to take on Rep. Cindy Axne, who emerged from the 2020 elections as Iowa's only Democratic representative, in a district based in Des Moines and southwestern Iowa that Trump would have carried by a tiny 49.2-48.9 edge. The only elected official in the primary is state Sen. Zach Nunn, who is going up against businesswoman Nicole Hasso and Gary Leffler; Leffler, who took part in the Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, didn't report any fundraising during his first quarter in the race.

IL-01: While former 3rd District Rep. Dan Lipinski thankfully will not be on the ballot this year, he's endorsing pastor Chris Butler, who shares his anti-abortion views, in the June Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Bobby Rush. Lipinski represented about 10% of the new 1st until he left Congress early last year following his 2020 primary loss to Marie Newman.

NV-01: Democratic Rep. Dina Titus is defending a seat in the eastern Las Vegas area where her party, in order to make the 3rd and 4th Districts bluer, cut Biden's margin of victory from 61-36 to 53-45, and eight Republicans are now running against her. The most prominent name belongs to former 4th District Rep. Cresent Hardy, who launched a surprise bid just before filing closed on Friday; only 4% of the new 1st's residents live in the old 4th, but, because both seats are located in the Las Vegas media market, he should be a familiar presence here.

Hardy was a state assemblyman in 2014 when he waged what appeared to be a longshot campaign against Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in a seat that Barack Obama had carried 54-44. However, the GOP wave hit Nevada hard, and with a little-known Democrat leading the statewide ticket against popular Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, Team Blue's turnout was a disaster. Both parties began spending serious amounts of money in the final weeks of the race, but it was still a bit of a surprise when Hardy won 49-46.

Hardy was immediately a top Democratic target in 2016, and state Sen. Ruben Kihuen ended up unseating him 49-45 as Hillary Clinton was taking the 4th 50-45. Kihuen, though, didn't seek re-election after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, and both Hardy and Horsford ended up campaigning for the unexpectedly open seat. Both parties spent huge amounts of money for their rematch, but this time, a favorable political climate helped Horsford prevail 52-44.

Both Titus and Hardy have primaries ahead of them before they can fully focus on one another. Titus' only intra-party foe is progressive activist Amy Vilela, who also ran in the 4th in 2018 and took third place in the primary with 9%. The GOP field includes conservative activist David Brog, who previously ran a group funded by the late casino magnate Sheldon Adelson; Army veteran Mark Robertson; and former Trump campaign staffer Carolina Serrano.

NV-02: Republican Rep. Mark Amodei learned Friday that he'd have the pleasure of a primary fight against Douglas County Commissioner Danny Tarkanian, who ended his legendary losing streak last cycle after relocating from the Las Vegas area. Three other Republicans are also running for this northern Nevada constituency that would have backed Trump 54-43, and while none of them look formidable, they could cost Tarkanian some needed anti-incumbent votes.

Tarkanian previewed his strategy in a video posted just before he filed, saying that the incumbent has "voted for amnesty for illegal immigrants, for giving your money to Planned Parenthood, for voting for the $1.5 trillion budget which gave him a 20% increase." The challenger continued, "Mark Amodei was the first GOP congressman to join the Democrats in support[ing] President Trump's first impeachment inquiry, and he also blamed President Trump for Jan. 6."

Amodei, of course, never voted to impeach Trump, but he did piss off conservatives nationwide in September of 2019 when he became the first House Republican to identify as impeachment-curious, saying of the inquiry into Trump, "Let's put it through the process and see what happens." Hardliners immediately called for his ouster, and while the congressman soon protested that "[i]n no way, shape, or form, did I indicate support for impeachment," Trump's campaign notably snubbed the Silver State's only GOP member of Congress by leaving him off its list of state co-chairs for 2020.

Amodei avoided a serious primary fight, but he wasn't done inflaming Trumpists. Right after the Jan. 6 attacks, the congressman told Nevada Newsmakers, "Do I think he (Trump) has a responsibility for what has occurred? Yes." The congressman, though, this time used his interview to say upfront that he'd oppose any impeachment effort, and he soon joined most of his party colleagues in voting against impeachment. Tarkanian, however, is betting those anti-impeachment votes won't actually matter to a base looking to purge the party of anyone who's shown even a hint of disloyalty toward Trump.

NV-03: Democratic legislators sought to protect Rep. Susie Lee in this southern Las Vegas area seat by extending Joe Biden's margin of victory from just 49.1-48.9 to 52-46, but five Republicans are still campaigning against her. The frontrunner appears to be attorney April Becker, who narrowly failed to unseat state Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro by a 50.5-49.5 margin last cycle; Becker then tried to challenge her 631-vote loss in court and demanded a "revote," but she failed to get what she wanted. None of the other four Republicans have generated much attention yet.

NV-04: Three Republicans are challenging Democratic incumbent Steven Horsford in a northern Las Vegas area seat where Democratic legislators doubled Biden's margin from 51-47 to 53-45. The only elected official of the trio is Assemblywoman Annie Black, who attended the Jan. 6 Trump rally the preceded the attack on the Capitol. She was later censured by her colleagues on a party-line vote for refusing to comply with the chamber's COVID mitigation rules.

Also in the running is Chance Bonaventura, who works as an aide to another far-right politician, Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore (Fiore herself recent ditched a longshot gubernatorial bid to run for state treasurer instead). Finally, there's Sam Peters, an Air Force veteran and businessman who took second place in the 2020 primary to face Horsford. However, while professional boxer Jessie Vargas announced he was running last year, the secretary of state doesn't list him as a candidate.

NY-01: 2020 2nd District nominee Jackie Gordon has earned an endorsement in the June Democratic primary from 4th District Rep. Kathleen Rice, who represents a seat on the other end of Long Island.

NY-04: Retiring Rep. Kathleen Rice has backed former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen in the June Democratic primary to succeed her in this Nassau County-based seat. The congresswoman's endorsement comes not long after Jay Jacobs, who chairs both the state and county parties, publicly talked down Gillen's chances, though he did not explain his rationale. Rice, though, has made it clear she's not at all a fan of Jacobs: Earlier this month, after the chair implored donors to refrain from contributing to anyone "until we have had an opportunity to discuss the complexities of the race," she responded by tweeting, "No wonder Democrats in Nassau county lose with this kind of leadership."

NY-16: Pastor Michael Gerald last week ended his nascent Democratic primary bid against freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman, telling Jewish Insider, "Rather than crash-landing, I think it was the best thing for me to do." Little-known opponent Manuel Casanova exited the race days later and endorsed Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi, who is now Bowman's only intra-party foe.

SC-07: On Monday, the State Law Enforcement Division confirmed it was investigating allegations leveled by former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride, who said that a blogger named David Hucks tried to bribe him to quit the June Republican primary at the behest of another candidate, Horry County school board chair Ken Richardson. Both McBride and Richardson are trying to deny renomination to Rep. Tom Rice, though they've each been overshadowed in recent weeks by Trump-endorsed state Rep. Russell Fry.

McBride claimed in early March that Hucks told him in a call, "There's an opportunity for you, there's a $70,000 job opportunity for you to step out of this race and support another candidate." Hucks responded both by denying the bribery allegation and that he'd "taken a cent from Ken Richardson." Richardson himself was asked about McBride's claims at a March 7 candidate forum and declared, "I didn't know anything about this until you dropped your bomb. I didn't know anything about it."

Attorneys General

IA-AG: Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat who is already the longest-serving state attorney general in American history, is seeking an 11th term this year. (Miller was elected in 1978, left in 1994 to unsuccessfully run for governor, and regained the post in 1998.) The one Republican taking him on is Guthrie County Attorney Brenna Bird, who previously worked as chief counsel to then-Gov. Terry Branstad.

NV-AG: Democrat Aaron Ford made history in 2018 when he became the first Black person elected to statewide office in Nevada, and two Republicans are now campaigning to unseat the attorney general. Until last month the only contender was Sigal Chattah, an attorney who has sued to try to undermine the state's pandemic response measures and who has complained that the attorney general has done a poor job investigating (baseless, of course) voter fraud allegations. February, though, saw the entrance of Tisha Black, who lost a 2018 race for Clark County Commission and whom the Nevada Independent identified as a former head of a cannabis industry trade group.

Secretaries of State

IA-SoS: Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate has no primary opposition in his bid for a third term, while the Democratic contest is a duel between Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker and Linn County Auditor Joel Miller.

Prosecutors

Maricopa County, AZ Attorney: Republican Allister Adel announced Monday that she was resigning as the top prosecutor of America's fourth-most populous county, effective Friday, a move that the Arizona Republic writes came after negative attention "over her sobriety and absences from the office, which prompted investigations by the State Bar of Arizona and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors." Her situation grew worse last week when Attorney General Mark Brnovich asked her to provide more information about 180 misdemeanor cases that were dropped because Adel's office failed to file charges before it was too late.

The Board of Supervisors, which appointed Adel in 2019, must choose a fellow Republican to replace her. Adel herself won a four-year term in a close 2020 contest, but it's not clear if her soon-to-be-vacant post will be on this year's ballot or if voters will need to wait until 2024. The paper says that normally an appointed incumbent would be up whenever an election next takes place, but the deadline to turn in signatures for the 2022 cycle is fast approaching on April 5.

Suffolk County, MA District Attorney: Sen. Ed Markey on Monday endorsed Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo in the September Democratic primary, a development that came a week after Markey's home-state Senate colleague, Elizabeth Warren, also backed the city councilor. Arroyo is campaigning as a criminal justice reformer against appointed incumbent Kevin Hayden in a heavily blue county that's home to Boston and the nearby communities of Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop.

Morning Digest: Ann Kirkpatrick, who served in the House three different times, announces retirement

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

Leading Off

AZ-02: Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick announced Friday that she would not seek re-election in Arizona's 2nd Congressional District, a once swingy Tucson-area seat that has trended hard to the left over the last few years but could look quite different next year.

Kirkpatrick is the first House member from either party to announce her retirement this cycle; Texas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson said in 2019 that she was running for "one last term" in 2020 but hasn’t confirmed those plans since her most recent victory in November. For now, Kirkpatrick is the first name on the 2022 Daily Kos Elections open seat tracker, a bookmark-worthy resource that we'll be updating throughout the cycle as new seats open up.

Kirkpatrick's departure will set off an open-seat race for the new district that emerges from her southern Arizona district turf, which, in its current form, started the decade as competitive but is now decidedly blue.

Campaign Action

The 2nd District, which includes about 60% of Tucson's Pima County and all of conservative Cochise County to the east, backed Mitt Romney 50-48 in 2012 and hosted incredibly tight House races that year and in 2014. Things started to change in 2016, however, when Hillary Clinton carried the seat 50-44, but Republican Rep. Martha McSally, who had narrowly prevailed two years before, was nonetheless decisively re-elected that year. Kirkpatrick, though, convincingly flipped the 2nd in 2018 when McSally left to run for the Senate, and she had little trouble holding it in 2020 as Joe Biden was romping to a 55-44 victory here.

Redistricting is an especially unpredictable affair in Arizona, though, and no one knows what the map will look like next year, since the Grand Canyon State’s congressional and legislative maps are drawn by an independent commission. However, Republicans have done everything they can to sabotage the commission and have stacked the board that appoints its members with GOP partisans.

There’s even a danger the commission could vanish altogether: In 2016, the Supreme Court upheld the body's constitutionality by just a 5-4 margin, and since then, the court has moved to the right. If the commission is struck down, Arizona’s Republican-controlled state government would control the mapmaking process, and they’d be inclined to try to make the 2nd District red again.

But while the district's future shape is unknown, it didn't take long for Politico's Ally Mutnick to put together a list of potential Kirkpatrick successors. On the Democratic side, an unnamed source says that state Rep. Randy Friese is "likely" to run. Friese was a trauma surgeon who operated on then-Rep. Gabby Giffords and others after a gunman sought to assassinate the congresswoman in 2011. Friese got into politics soon after and narrowly unseated a GOP incumbent to win a Tucson-area state House seat in 2014, convincingly winning re-election ever since. Mutnick also mentions Pima County Supervisor Matt Heinz, who has unsuccessfully run here in the past, and state Reps. Andrés Cano and Daniel Hernández as possibilities.

For the Republicans, Mutnick says that state Sen. T.J. Shope "has been in contact with House Republicans about a 2022 bid." Shope's 8th Legislative District, as she notes, doesn't overlap at all with the 2nd Congressional District, though that could change under the new map. Mutnick also name-drops Corporation Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson, who was the GOP’s 2018 nominee here and lost 55-45 to Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick's departure ends a long career that, in a rarity, included three non-consecutive stints in Congress, including in two different congressional districts under the current map. Kirkpatrick, who grew up on the White Mountain Apache Nation reservation, got an early start in politics, campaigning for her uncle's successful bids for the state legislature, and she later sought a state House seat herself in 2004. Though Kirkpatrick is white, she ran in a northern Arizona seat that had long been represented by Native Americans and prevailed despite initial skepticism about her prospects, bolstered in part by her ability to speak Apache.

She soon sought a promotion in 2007 when Rep. Rick Renzi, a Republican who would be indicted for public corruption months later, announced that he would retire from the sprawling 1st Congressional District in the northern part of the state. The 1st had supported George W. Bush 54-46 in 2004, but Republicans struggled to recruit a strong candidate in what was rapidly turning into an ugly election for the party nationwide.

The eventual GOP nominee, Arizona Mining Association president Sydney Hay, had a hard-right record that made her unappealing to many swing voters. National Republicans abandoned Hayes to her fate in September and Kirkpatrick won 56-39 even as home state Sen. John McCain was carrying the 1st by a 54-44 margin.

The new congresswoman was in for a far more difficult campaign two years later, though, in the face of a political climate that was the reverse of the one she’d enjoyed two years earlier. Dentist Paul Gosar, a tea partier who had not yet become the nationally infamous figure he is now, thwarted a Hayes comeback in the 2010 primary and focused his general election campaign on healthcare and immigration. This time, outside groups on both sides spent heavily throughout the race, but Gosar unseated the incumbent 50-44.

Kirkpatrick's time away from Congress would be brief, though. Arizona’s redistricting commission drew up a new 1st District that, at 51-48 McCain, was considerably less conservative than the version Kirkpatrick had just lost. Gosar opted to run in the safely red 4th District while Kirkpatrick campaigned in the open 1st against former Republican state Sen. Jonathan Paton. The campaign proved to be very competitive, but Kirkpatrick, who again benefited from her long ties to American Indian communities in a seat that was more than 20% Native American, won 49-45 as Romney was taking the district 50-48.

Kirkpatrick would have to defend herself again in 2014 in the midst of what turned out to be another GOP wave year, but things worked out very differently for her than they had in 2010. National Republicans anticipated that state House Speaker Andy Tobin would be a formidable candidate, but it was Kirkpatrick who ran the stronger race. In part, she was once more buoyed by her ties to Native communities, enjoying a turnout boost thanks to a simultaneous race for president of the Navajo Nation (she even recorded radio ads in the Navajo language). Kirkpatrick ended up prevailing 53-47, making her one of just five Democrats left in a Romney seat after the dust settled.

Kirkpatrick's win under difficult conditions for her party made her a sought-out Senate candidate, and Democrats were delighted when she launched a campaign to unseat McCain in 2016. However, while Team Blue hoped that McCain could lose to a far-right primary foe, the race became less appealing after he won renomination against state Sen. Kelli Ward. Prominent outside organizations on both sides largely directed their resources towards other contests, and McCain beat Kirkpatrick 54-41 even though Donald Trumps’ 48-45 win was the weakest for a GOP presidential candidate in two decades.

At that point, Kirkpatrick's congressional career seemed to be over, especially since fellow Democrat Tom O'Halleran had held on to the 1st District, but she soon began talking about challenging Republican Rep. Martha McSally in the neighboring 2nd District. Kirkpatrick, who’d said in 2017 that she was moving to Tucson for family reasons, received public encouragement from former Rep. Ron Barber, who had lost to McSally in 2014, and launched a bid that July. She didn't get the chance to take on McSally, though, as the congresswoman decided to mount an ultimately unsuccessful campaign for the Senate the next year.

Heading into 2018, both parties initially saw the 2nd as a major battleground, though in a break from the past, Kirkpatrick had to first get through a crowded primary. Her main opponent was the party's 2016 nominee, former state Rep. Matt Heinz, who tried to portray Kirkpatrick as an outsider and drew unfavorable headlines when he compared her to a meth addict.

Kirkpatrick won that ugly race 42-30, but she had an easier time in the general election. National Republicans had touted their eventual nominee, Lea Márquez Peterson, but she ended up winning her own primary with an unimpressive 34% of the vote against weak opposition. GOP groups initially aired ads against Kirkpatrick but triaged the race in mid-October as the political climate worsened for them, and Kirkpatrick won her new seat 55-45.

In 2020, for once, Kirkpatrick did not face any serious opposition either from her own party or the GOP. The congresswoman spent six weeks on a leave of absence from Congress that winter as she underwent treatment for alcoholism, but she made it clear she would continue to run for re-election. Kirkpatrick won what would be her final term by the same 55-45 margin she’d earned two years earlier.

Senate

GA-Sen: While acknowledging skepticism among the political class that Donald Trump favorite Herschel Walker might actually run for Senate in Georgia, the Washington Examiner's David Drucker reports that the former NFL running back "appears interested" and has been "making calls into the state." That preposition is the key word there, though: While Walker was raised in the Peach State and was a star on the University of Georgia's football team, he's resided in Texas for many years.

Trump's fulsome support for Walker—he not-tweeted "Run Herschel, run!" in a Wednesday press release—is also causing another issue. One unnamed Republican operative says that other candidates are avoiding the race "because they heard about the Trump-Herschel combo," and Drucker even suggests that Trump's obsession with Walker played a role in former Sen. David Perdue's decision not to wage a comeback bid.

A Walker candidacy still remains highly speculative, however, particularly since the one thing no one has managed to acquire so far is any sort of statement about his interest directly from him.

Governors

NY-Gov: In a flurry of coordinated announcements, almost every Democrat in New York's congressional delegation called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign on Friday morning, with the state's two senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, joining in later that evening. Cuomo has steadfastly insisted he will not leave office, even though the Democratic-run Assembly has begun an impeachment investigation into allegations of misconduct.

With Cuomo's political future in grave peril, more of his fellow Democrats are hinting that they might run for governor themselves, though it's not clear whether anyone actually wants to challenge Cuomo in a primary—he has yet to abandon his re-election bid—or if folks are just hoping for an open-seat race. Either way, CNBC's Brian Schwartz reports that state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Rep. Tom Suozzi have both been discussing bids with supporters and, through spokespeople, have not denied doing so. DiNapoli has unambiguously said that Cuomo should step down, while Suozzi stopped just short, saying Cuomo should resign "[i]f he cannot effectively govern."

On the GOP side, former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said in a new interview that he's thinking about a second bid for governor, though he added that it "likely would be several months" until he announces a decision. Astorino was the Republican nominee against Cuomo in 2014 and lost 54-40. He also tried to unseat Democratic state Sen. Pete Harckham last year but fell short by a 52-48 margin.

VA-Gov: The GOP nomination for Virginia's gubernatorial election this year will be decided by just a few thousand party delegates, but two wealthy businessmen are nonetheless taking the blunderbuss approach to winning support. According to the Republican media tracking firm Medium Buying, private equity mogul Glenn Youngkin has spent just shy of $1 million to air TV and radio ads while "angel investor" Pete Snyder has forked out over three quarters of a mil. And what kind of ads are they running? The usual racist and xenophobic crap.

House

OH-11: SEIU 1199, which represents 30,000 healthcare and public sector workers in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia, has endorsed former state Sen. Nina Turner in the Democratic primary for the special election in Ohio's 11th Congressional District.

SC-01, SC-07: Former Fox talking head Eric Bolling, a vocal Trump supporter who left the network in 2017 after his show was cancelled when sexual misconduct allegations were levied against him, is reportedly weighing a bid for Congress in South Carolina, though exactly where is unclear. Politico's Alex Isenstadt says that Bolling could run in the GOP primary in the 7th District against Rep. Tom Rice, who voted to impeach Trump in January, or in the 1st District against Rep. Nancy Mace, who opposed impeachment but offered a few remarks critical of Trump following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Bolling himself wouldn't confirm or deny the report, saying only, "South Carolina is conservative, and South Carolinians deserve conservative representation in D.C." Bolling only moved to South Carolina in 2018 and lives in Charleston, which might put him in Mace's district, or it might not—and definitely not in Rice's. Angry MAGA primary voters, however, are liable to care far more about loyalty to Trump than geographic ties.

TX-06: Republican Brian Harrison, a former Trump HHS official, is the first candidate to go on the airwaves in the May special election for Texas' 6th Congressional District. The spot is devoted to scurrilous lies about Planned Parenthood. There's no word on the size of the buy.

Prosecutors

Manhattan, NY District Attorney: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced Friday that he would not seek a fourth term this year, a decision that New York’s political world has been expecting for some time. Vance had raised very little money over the last year, and eight different Democrats have been running for months to succeed him in this extremely blue borough.

Vance’s replacement will take over as head of one of the most prominent prosecutor's offices in America—one that’s frequently made headlines, both positive and negative. One such occasion (on the plus side of the ledger) came last month, when, after a lengthy legal battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Vance finally received Donald Trump's tax returns as part of his long-running investigation into Trump's financial dealings.

Vance’s 12-year tenure, while relatively long by many standards, turned out to be quite short compared to his predecessors’. When Vance won the race to succeed Robert Morgenthau in 2009, he was replacing a venerated prosecutor who took over the office all the way back in 1975 after beating appointed Republican incumbent Richard Kuh. The last person elected before Morgenthau was fellow Democrat Frank Hogan, who served from 1942 until he resigned in 1973, just months before his death.

Hogan's predecessor was the last Republican to win this post, Tom Dewey, who was elected to a single term in 1937. Dewey went on to become governor of New York and serve as the GOP's presidential nominee in both 1944 and 1948 (you may recall a certain newspaper headline about that).

The Democratic primary for this office will be held June 22, and the winner should have little trouble in November. Note, though, that while New York City voters backed a 2019 referendum to institute instant-runoff voting in primaries for many local offices, the measure does not apply to state-level posts like this one. Instead, it will just take a simple plurality to win the nod.

The field currently consists of:

  • Civil rights attorney Tahanie Aboushi
  • Former State Chief Deputy Attorney General Alvin Bragg
  • Attorney and former prosecutor Liz Crotty
  • Former prosecutor Diana Florence
  • Former prosecutor Lucy Lang
  • Public defender Eliza Orlins
  • Assemblyman Dan Quart
  • Former prosecutor Tali Farhadian Weinstein

There is no clear frontrunner at this point. Most of the contenders have pitched themselves as progressives who will bring much needed changes to the post. The exception is Crotty, who calls herself a centrist and is the one candidate who has not refused to take donations from police unions.

Grab Bag

Demographics: The Texas Democratic Party released an an in-house analysis at the end of February looking at why Democrats fell short in the state in 2020, inspiring Daily Kos Elections contributing editor David Beard to take a deep dive into the report’s findings and what its implications might be for Democrats going forward.

The first part includes a summary of the report, a look at why field work isn't necessarily the answer to every problem in politics, and why the task of persuading voters is so difficult to talk about and analyze. The second part looks specifically at the shifts in the Rio Grande Valley and examines three potential explanations: a focus on unpopular social issues, a lack of investment and voter contact, and the fact of Donald Trump’s status as an incumbent seeking re-election.

You can sign up for Beard’s free weekly newsletter, The Roaring 2020s, for more analysis on this and other topics.