Morning Digest: Federal judges let Ohio GOP run out the clock and use illegal gerrymandered maps

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

Subscribe to our podcast, The Downballot!

Leading Off

OH Redistricting: A three-judge federal court has hijacked Ohio's legislative redistricting process and rewarded Republican obstructionism by announcing on Wednesday that if the state's GOP-dominated redistricting commission fails to produce constitutional maps by May 28, it will implement maps that the state Supreme Court previously ruled were unconstitutional instead.

The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected four different sets of maps in a row for the state House and state Senate drawn by the commission, all for the same reason: They violated a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution barring partisan gerrymandering. That same amendment, however, forbid state courts from ordering the adoption of judicially crafted maps, leaving the Supreme Court with the power merely to order the commission—which consists of five Republicans and just two Democrats—to keep trying again.

But now Republicans have no incentive to try a fifth time, as the Supreme Court recently ordered, because if they fail to do so, the federal court will simply impose their third set of maps. In a 2-1 decision, two judges appointed by Donald Trump said they'd adopt those maps—despite the fact the Supreme Court found they violated the state constitution "beyond a reasonable doubt"—simply because Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who is one of the five Republicans on the commission, told local election officials to prepare to use them before the justices had a chance to rule on their validity.

Federal courts cannot be barred by the Ohio constitution from imposing their own maps to remedy violations of the U.S. Constitution, and in fact they must do so in the event of an impasse to ensure that elections can be held using legal maps. (The GOP-drawn maps the state used for the last decade are now badly malapportioned in addition to being gerrymandered.) But in a dissent, Judge Algenon Marbley, who was named to the bench by Bill Clinton, castigated the majority for failing to "respect[] state policies to the maximum extent" by settling on plans that are "irredeemably flawed."

Instead, said Marbley, the state should use a plan crafted by a pair of outside map-drawers hired by the commission, which expert witnesses who testified before the federal court said "satisfies all constitutional requirements" with minor changes. The commission claimed it abandoned that plan because it was incomplete—a reason the majority cited for spurning it—but Marbley noted that an expert for opponents of the GOP's maps completed the necessary adjustments in a matter of hours.

Yet with the majority's decision, "Republican Commissioners will benefit directly from a crisis they created," wrote Marbley, "and which the Ohio Supreme Court has attributed squarely to them." And because the GOP's maps would only take effect for 2022, the same situation could unfold in future years. As Marbley explained, "The 2024 Commission, faced with the options of ceding political power or simply waiting out adverse court decisions, likely will be tempted to take the same course."

Unmentioned by the dissent is that Republicans are trying to wait out the state Supreme Court in another way as well: Republican Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, who sided with the court's three Democrats over her three GOP colleagues to strike down the maps, cannot run again in November due to age limits. If Republicans who oppose the redistricting ruling win her open seat and hold onto the other two GOP-held seats up this year, they would gain a 4-3 majority willing to uphold future GOP gerrymanders.

Democrats and redistricting reformers are essentially out of options for 2022 at this point. While an appeal of the federal court's ruling is possible, any such appeal would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, where challengers would expect a very unfriendly reception. The Ohio Supreme Court, meanwhile, has contemplated holding commissioners in contempt. To date it's declined to do so, but even if it does, there's no reason to think Republicans would produce constitutional maps since they'll get exactly what they want as long as they hold out until May 28.

Redistricting

FL Redistricting: Florida's Republican-run state House approved Gov. Ron DeSantis' new congressional map in a party-line vote on Thursday, following a similar vote in the state Senate a day earlier. The map, which would establish 20 districts Donald Trump would have carried and just eight that would have gone for Joe Biden, now goes to DeSantis for his signature, though litigation challenging the plan is a certainty.

Senate

MO-Sen: Marine veteran Lucas Kunce has released a Public Policy Polling survey of the August Democratic primary that finds him leading philanthropist Trudy Busch Valentine by 25-18 with a substantial 56% of voters undecided. This is the first publicly available poll we've seen from anyone so far.

NH-Sen, NH-Gov: The University of New Hampshire has tested some potential matchups between Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan and a few of her Republican challengers, and their new poll finds Hassan in a very tight race this fall:

47-46 vs. 2020 candidate and retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc

44-46 vs. state Senate President Chuck Morse

45-44 vs. former Londonderry town manager Kevin Smith

46-40 vs. Bitcoin millionaire Bruce Fenton

UNH also tested the Republican primary in September and found Bolduc with a large 33-4 lead over the nearest contender, but with 58% of voters undecided and Bolduc having significantly higher name recognition than his rivals thanks in part to his 2020 bid, that advantage could dwindle as his opponents become better known and more voters pick a candidate to support.

The GOP primary grew larger still on Thursday when author and investor Vikram Mansharamani kicked off his campaign. Vikram, who is also a lecturer at Harvard and the son of Indian immigrants, does not appear to have run for office before.

The UNH poll above also surveyed the election for governor, but the results are much less competitive than in the Senate contest. They have Republican Gov. Chris Sununu cruising to a 55-29 lead over state Sen. Tom Sherman, who is the only notable Democrat challenging the three-term incumbent so far.

OH-Sen: Protect Our Values PAC, which is supporting venture capitalist J.D. Vance in the May 3 Republican primary, has publicized a Fabrizio, Lee & Associates poll that finds Vance pulling into a 25-18 lead over former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, with investment banker Mike Gibbons taking 13%, former state party chair Jane Timken earning 11%, and state Sen. Matt Dolan winning 9%. Those numbers are an improvement for Vance since their March survey, which had Vance, Mandel, and Gibbons in a three-way tie with 18% each followed by Timken at 11% and Dolan at 9%.

This is Fabrizio, Lee & Associates' first poll since Donald Trump endorsed Vance on April 15, and it's undoubtedly intended to support the idea that Trump's support is helping put Vance ahead. However, it's worth noting that nearly every other poll here in recent months has found Vance stuck further back in third or fourth place, though no other pollster has released a survey yet since Trump made his endorsement.

Meanwhile, Buckeyes for a Strong Ohio PAC, which is supporting Gibbons, has released a new ad calling Mandel a career politician and a "total fraud." The spot disingenuously blasts Mandel for having supported Mitt Romney and former Gov. John Kasich without noting that Mandel did so when Romney at least was the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, not more recently when both he and Kasich have been among the few Republican Trump critics. The ad finishes by praising Gibbons as a businessman.

OK-Sen-B: Friday was also the filing deadline for Oklahoma's June 28 primaries, and the state has its candidate list here. A runoff would take place Aug. 23 for any contest where no one earned a majority of the vote.

Longtime Sen. Jim Inhofe announced in late February that he would resign, effective ​​when the current Congress ends, and 13 fellow Republicans are competing for the final two years of his term in this dark-red state. Inhofe is pulling for his former chief of staff, Luke Holland, and a new super PAC called OkieWay has spent $475,000 on ads starring the outgoing senator praising his would-be successor. The GOP side, though, includes several contenders who start out with more name recognition than Holland, who is a first-time candidate.

One familiar name is Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who represents a seat in the eastern part of Oklahoma. There's also former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, who ran in the 2014 special election for the Sooner State's other Senate seat but lost the primary to then-Rep. James Lankford by a surprisingly wide 57-34 margin: Both Mullin and Shannon would be the first Native Americans to serve in the upper chamber since Colorado Republican Ben Nighthorse Campbell retired in 2005, while Shannon would also be Oklahoma's first Black senator. Another prominent contender is former state Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who later served as Trump's first head of the EPA and resigned in the face of numerous scandals.

Also in the running is state Sen. Nathan Dahm, who took a close fourth in the 2018 primary for the Tulsa-based 1st Congressional District; Dahm, who was waging a longshot bid against Lankford before Inhofe announced his departure, has benefited from about $155,000 in TV ads so far from Protect Freedom PAC, which is allied with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Rounding out the field is former Trump White House staffer Alex Gray, while the other seven contenders don't appear to be serious.

Pruitt only entered the race just before filing closed last week so there are no fundraising reports available for him, but we have first quarter numbers from the rest of the GOP field:

  • Holland: $620,000 raised, additional $200,000 self-funded, $773,000 cash-on-hand
  • Mullin: $385,000 raised, additional $1 million self-funded, $1.96 million cash-on-hand
  • Shannon: $245,000 raised, additional $150,000 self-funded, $392,000 cash-on-hand
  • Dahm: $147,000 raised, $170,000 cash-on-hand
  • Gray: $132,000 raised, additional $200,000 self-funded, $299,000 cash-on-hand

The only Democrat in the race is former Rep. Kendra Horn, who raised $343,000 and had $369,000 available.

Governors

AZ-Gov: First quarter fundraising reports are available for candidates seeking to replace term-limited GOP Gov. Doug Ducey, with the primaries for both parties taking place in August:

  • Former TV news anchor Kari Lake (R): $970,000 raised, $701,000 cash-on-hand
  • Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson (R): $718,000 raised, additional $2 million self-loaned, $357,000 cash-on-hand
  • Former Rep. Matt Salmon (R): $469,000 raised, $703,000 cash-on-hand
  • Businessman Steve Gaynor (R): $35,000 raised, $4.1 million cash-on-hand (thanks to prior self-funding)
  • Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D): $748,000 raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand
  • Former homeland security official Marco López (D): $305,000 raised, additional $150,000 self-loaned, $450,000 cash-on-hand
  • Former state Rep. Aaron Lieberman (D): $275,000 raised, $759,000 cash-on-hand

FL-Gov: Sachs Media has conducted a Democratic primary poll on behalf of Florida Politics that shows Rep. Charlie Crist holding a 35-20 lead over state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, while state Sen. Annette Taddeo is far behind with 4%. This is Sachs' first publicly available poll; the few other pollsters who have released surveys here in recent months have also found Crist ahead but with a large share of voters still undecided with four months to go until the August primary.

GA-Gov: Former Sen. David Perdue is running a new GOP primary ad, which is backed by a modest $320,000 buy that his campaign says will grow to $500,000, that embraces the Big Lie and various other far-right themes. Perdue hits Gov. Brian Kemp for letting radicals "steal the election," by which he really means Kemp not helping Trump to actually steal it, and because of this he blames Kemp for inflation and other problems under Biden. Perdue touts Trump's endorsement and vows to eliminate the state income tax.

IL-Gov: Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin's latest GOP primary ad tries to portray state Rep. Darren Bailey as a phony conservative by highlighting how Bailey said last month that, "I might have voted for Biden," while the rest of the spot hits Bailey for having supported property tax increases while he was on a local school board.

However, the ad omits how Bailey was speaking about voting in the 2008 Democratic primary, which he claimed he had done as a way to stop Hillary Clinton, not the more recent 2020 general election. The Chicago Tribune noted that Irvin himself had refused to say whether he voted for Trump shortly after joining the race and that he had voted in the 2016 and 2020 Democratic primaries, which Irvin justified by saying he was voting for conservative Democrats in local races.

MD-Gov: The filing deadline for Maryland's July 19 primary passed Friday, and the state has a list of contenders available here. (Both dates were twice postponed because of legal challenges to congressional and legislative maps.) The congressional and state legislative lists aren't quite final, though, as the State Board of Elections says, "These candidates are listed in the district where they live now. After election officials make changes to County, State, and Congressional districts based on final redistricting plans, some candidates may be assigned to a different district." The BoE adds that this will be finished "in late May or early June."  

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is termed out, and 10 Democrats and four Republicans are competing to succeed him in a state that Joe Biden carried 65-32. The only sitting elected official on either side is state Comptroller Peter Franchot, a moderate Democrat who has enjoyed a good relationship with Hogan. Team Blue's field also includes two former members of the Obama cabinet: former Secretary of Education John King and former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, who later went on to head up the Democratic National Committee.

The Democratic side also consists of two contenders who took second place in primaries for governor during the last decade: former Attorney General Doug Gansler, who lost in 2014, and former Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, who unsuccessfully campaigned four years later and is now the only candidate taking part in Maryland's public financing system. Also in the contest are former nonprofit leaders Jon Baron and Wes Moore as well as Ashwani Jain, a one-time Obama administration official who lost a 2018 primary for the Montgomery County Council; two little-known candidates round out the list.

The only recent poll we've seen was a March internal for Baker that showed him trailing Franchot 23-15, with Perez and Moore at 11% and 10%, respectively. New campaign finance reports aren't due until mid-June (the last available numbers are from mid-January), so it will be a while before we get a fresh look at everyone's financial strength.

On the GOP side, Hogan is backing Kelly Schulz, whom he previously appointed as state Commerce Secretary. Donald Trump's endorsed candidate, meanwhile, is Del. Dan Cox, who played a role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by organizing a busload of people to attend the rally that preceded it. Also in the race are wealthy perennial candidate Robin Ficker, who decided to continue his bid despite getting disbarred, and Some Dude Joe Werner.

NE-Gov: State Sen. Brett Lindstrom's newest ad ahead of the May 10 Republican primary shows the candidate talking up his record of cutting taxes, and he says he's "just getting started."

OK-Gov: Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt has three intra-party foes, with Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Director Joel Kintsel looking like the most serious of the challengers. The Trump-endorsed incumbent's biggest threat, though, likely comes from a pair of dark money groups that together have spent at least $3.3 million on negative ads. Stitt has fired back with his own messaging arguing he's the victim of a smear campaign by "insiders and casino bosses," and he's also received $577,000 in help from the RGA. The Democratic side is a duel between Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who left the GOP last year, and former state Sen. Connie Johnson, who lost the 2018 primary for this office.

House

AZ-06: EMILY's List has endorsed state Sen. Kirsten Engel ahead of the August Democratic primary.

Engel raised $225,000 in the first quarter and finished March with $639,000 on hand compared to her other notable primary opponent, state Rep. Daniel Hernández, who raised $154,000 and had $447,000 in the bank. On the Republican side is Juan Ciscomani, a former senior advisor to Gov. Doug Ducey, who raised $443,000 and had $1.1 million in cash-on-hand.

FL-04, FL-05: Republican state Senate President Pro Tempore Aaron Bean says he is "still exploring" a congressional run, which Florida Politics indicates would likely be in the new 4th District.

Republican legislators passed a new congressional map this week (see our FL Redistricting item above) that carves up Jacksonville to create two Republican-leaning districts by dismantling the existing 5th District, which is a predominantly Black and safely Democratic seat stretching to Tallahassee, but the redrawn 5th District corresponds more closely to GOP Rep. John Rutherford's existing 4th District and contains most of his current turf. Florida Politics treats it as a given that Rutherford would run there instead, meaning the new 4th is effectively the closest successor to the old 5th even though it's a very different constituency.

State Rep. Jason Fischer and Jacksonville City Councilman Rory Diamond have both previously said they were also considering running, and Florida Politics says they would also run in the 4th if they join the August GOP primary. One Republican who won't be running for either seat, though, is term-limited Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, who said he will finish out the rest of his term through 2023.

IL-01: SEIU Local 1, which says it represents 30,000 members across Illinois, has endorsed Chicago Alderman Pat Dowell ahead of the crowded Democratic primary in June.

Dowell led the pack in fundraising, raising $382,000 in the first three months of 2022, and he held $297,000 on hand at the start of April. Close behind was businessman Jonathan Swain, who reported $356,000 in donations, an additional $19,000 in self-funding, and $322,000 in cash-on-hand. Former Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves raised $291,000 and had $237,000 leftover to spend, while construction company owner Jonathan Jackson raised $145,000 and had $130,000 in the bank.

Four other candidates reported raising less than $100,000: Real estate executive Nykea Pippion McGriff raised $85,000, self-funded an additional $3,000, and had $79,000 remaining; former Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority official Charise Williams took in $83,000 and had $44,000 left in the bank; state Sen. Jacqueline Collins raised $69,000, self-funded an additional $10,000, and had $62,000 left to spend; and Pastor Stephany Rose Spaulding, whom we hadn't previously mentioned, raised a mere $50,000, self-funded $23,000, and had $27,000 on hand.

IL-15: Rep. Mary Miller has launched an ad going after fellow GOP Rep. Rodney Davis for voting to create the Jan. 6 investigation committee. The spot calls Davis a "RINO" while noting that Miller has Trump's endorsement.

Davis held a sizable edge over Miller in first quarter fundraising, though, raising $923,000 and finishing March with $1.9 million in cash-on-hand. By contrast, Miller brought in just $335,000 and had $511,000 left over at the start of April.

IN-01: Air Force veteran Jennifer-Ruth Green has debuted a GOP primary ad that portrays former LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo as a "Never Trump liberal" who refused to back Trump in 2016 and criticized his immigration policies. Green touts her own support from Indiana Right to Life and her top rating from the NRA.

Milo led Green $208,000 to $155,000 in first quarter fundraising, but she had just $111,000 on hand compared to Green's $151,000 at the end of the quarter. The primary is on May 3.

IN-09: American Dream Federal Action, a cryptocurrency-aligned PAC on the Republican side, has reported spending at least $387,000 on GOP primary ads for former state Sen. Erin Houchin.

Houchin raised the most money of any Republican candidate from donors in the first quarter, having brought in $377,000 and holding $250,000 on hand. Army veteran Stu Barnes-Israel raised $264,000, self-funded an additional $101,000, and had $232,000 left to spend. Former Rep. Mike Sodrel took in just $38,000 from donors but self-funded an additional $429,000, almost all of which he spent to end up with only $58,000 on hand. Lastly, businessman Jim Baker, whom we hadn't previously mentioned, raised $64,000 and had $40,000 remaining on hand.

MD-01: Rep. Andy Harris, who is one of the Republican party's ​​leading election deniers, is defending a seat along the Eastern Shore that would have backed Donald Trump 56-42, which is considerably more conservative than the seat Democrats drew up last year for a map that was ultimately struck down in state court.

Harris still faces a well-funded Democratic challenger in the form of former Del. Heather Mizeur, who took third place in the 2014 primary for governor and would be the first lesbian to represent the state in Congress. Harris outraised Mizeur $468,000 to $372,000 during the first quarter of 2022, and he finished March with a $1.88 million to $1.12 million cash-on-hand edge. Foreign policy strategist Dave Harden is also competing in the Democratic primary, but he's raised little so far.

MD-04: Democratic Rep. Anthony Brown is leaving this safely blue seat, which is based around Prince George's County in the D.C. suburbs, to run for attorney general, and three notable candidates from the county are competing to succeed him.

One well-established contender is Brown's predecessor, former Rep. Donna Edwards, a progressive who left the House in 2016 to unsuccessfully run for the Senate; Edwards later waged a 2018 comeback campaign for county executive, but she lost that primary by a wide 62-24 margin to Angela Alsobrooks. Another familiar name is former county State's Attorney Glenn Ivey, whom Brown beat 42-34 in the 2016 primary to replace Edwards. Another person to watch is former Del. Angela Angel, who lost her 2018 primary for a state Senate seat 55-37.

Edwards, who entered the race this year and has EMILY's List's support, raised $612,000 during her opening quarter and self-funded another $13,000, and she finished March with $460,000 on hand. Ivey, meanwhile, took in $294,000 from donors and provided another $150,000, which left him with a larger $584,000 war chest. Angel, finally, raised $54,000, self-funded $45,000 more, and was left with $95,000 on hand.

MD-06: Democratic Rep. David Trone faces a potentially tough general election now that redistricting has cut Joe Biden's margin of victory from 61-38 to 54-44 (Hillary Clinton would have carried this version of the 6th just 47-46), though the extremely wealthy incumbent has proven in the past that he's more than willing to make generous use of his own wealth. Indeed, Trone self-funded $2 million during the first quarter, which was far more than the $41,000 he took in from donors, and ended March with just over $2 million on hand.

The most prominent Republican in the contest for this redrawn constituency, which includes western Maryland and the D.C. exurbs, is Del. Neil Parrott, whom Trone turned back 59-39 last cycle. Parrott raised just $25,000 during the first three months of 2022 and had $262,000 in the bank, though contributors may take more of an interest in this race now that the 6th has become more competitive. State House Minority Leader Jason Buckel briefly considered running here as well before filing closed, but he decided to seek re-election instead.

NC-01: The state AFL-CIO has endorsed state Sen. Don Davis in the May 17 Democratic primary for this open seat.

NC-04: Protect Our Future PAC, the group funded by crypto billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, is spending at least $771,000 to boost state Sen. Valerie Foushee in next month's Democratic primary for this safely blue seat.

NH-02: Brewery owner Jeff Cozzens announced Thursday that he was exiting the August Republican primary to take on Democratic incumbent Annie Kuster.  

OK-02: Republicans have a huge 14-person lineup to succeed Senate candidate Markwayne Mullin in an eastern Oklahoma seat that Trump would have carried 76-22, and there's no obvious frontrunner at this point. One contender, though, ended March with a big financial lead over their many foes:

  • Economy Pharmacy CEO Chris Schiller: $257,000 raised, additional $250,000 self-funded, $501,000 cash-on-hand
  • State Sen. Marty Quinn: $106,000 raised, additional $27,000 self-funded, $129,000 cash-on-hand
  • State Rep. Dustin Roberts: $83,000 raised, additional $25,000 self-funded, $105,000 cash-on-hand
  • Muskogee Chief of Police Johnny Teehee: $42,000 raised, additional $210,000 self-funded, $250,000 cash-on-hand
  • State party chair John Bennett: $27,000 raised, $23,000 cash-on-hand
  • State Rep. Avery Frix: $15,000 raised, additional $200,000 self-funded, $215,000 cash-on-hand

The race includes several other politicians who joined the race after the new fundraising quarter began:

  • businessman Guy Barker
  • former state Sen. Josh Brecheen
  • former state Rep. David Derby
  • former defense contractor Pamela Gordon
  • Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor Wes Nofire

The remaining three Republicans don't appear to be serious contenders, though it's always possible one of them could advance to a runoff in this outsized field.

OR-06: Protect Our Future PAC has dropped an additional $1.9 million to aid economic development adviser Carrick Flynn in the May 17 Democratic primary for this newly created seat, which brings its total investment here to a staggering $7 million.

PA-08: 2020 Republican nominee Jim Bognet has launched the first ad for his rematch against Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright, and he quickly makes it clear what kind of campaign he'll be running when he opens, "In 2020, President Trump endorsed me for Congress. But that election was stolen from us."

RI-02: Former state Rep. David Segal declared Wednesday that he was joining the September Democratic primary for this open seat, an announcement that came almost two months after he began raising money for a potential campaign to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Langevin.

Segal, as we've written before, was active in Providence progressive politics in 2002 when he was elected to the City Council as a member of the Green Party, and he briefly served as the chamber's minority leader. After joining the Democrats and winning a seat in the state House, Segal ran for the 1st District in 2010, which was the last time Rhode Island had an open-seat race for Congress. He campaigned to the left of his many primary foes and ended up in third place with 20%; the winner, with 37%, was Providence Mayor David Cicilline, who still holds the district today. Segal didn't seek elected office in the ensuing decade, though he did found the national liberal organization Demand Progress.

SC-01: Big Lie enthusiast Katie Arrington has earned an endorsement from 2nd District Rep. Joe Wilson, who infamously shouted, "You lie!" at Barack Obama during a 2009 presidential address to Congress, for her campaign to beat incumbent Nancy Mace in the June Republican primary.  

VA-02: Candidate filing closed on April 7 for Virginia's June 21 primaries, and we'll be taking a look at the state of play in each competitive congressional race now that first quarter fundraising numbers are in; you can find a list of contenders here.

Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria is defending a Virginia Beach-based seat where, following redistricting, Joe Biden's margin of victory was halved from 51-47 to 50-48. National Republicans, including the deep-pocketed Congressional Leadership Fund, have consolidated behind state Sen. Jen Kiggans, who won her seat in a close 2019 general election campaign. Luria outraised Kiggans $1.2 million to $435,000 during the first three months of 2022 and ended March with a huge $3.16 million to $593,000 cash-on-hand.

Before she can go up against Luria, Kiggans needs to get past high school football coach Jarome Bell, a Big Lie fanatic who has the backing of 5th District Rep. Bob Good. Bell, who earned last place in the 2020 three-way primary with 23%, had a mere $9,000, though, so he may not be much of an obstacle for Kiggans, who has been happy to entertain election conspiracies herself.

VA-07: While some Northern Virginia Democrats initially expressed interest in waging a primary bid against Rep. ​​Abigail Spanberger after the new congressional map replaced much of her suburban Richmond base with turf in populous Prince William County, Spanberger will face no intra-party opposition. Those dramatic changes boosted Biden's margin from just 50-49 to 52-46, but six Republicans are hoping to take her on.

Both state Sen. Bryce Reeves and Green Beret veteran Derrick Anderson were running against Spanberger before the remap, and they've continued their campaigns here: Reeves outraised Anderson $269,000 to $232,000 during the most recent fundraising quarter, and he finished March with a small $390,000 to $371,000 cash-on-hand lead.

Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega, meanwhile, entered the race shortly after redistricting was completed, and she raised $357,000 in her first three months and had $294,000 to spend. Another new arrival, Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chair Crystal Vanuch, took in $82,000 but self-funded $402,000, which left her with $468,000 to spend. Spotsylvania County Supervisor David Ross, likewise, raised $42,000 and provided $101,000 more, which left him with a $121,000 war chest. The final Republican, 2021 state House nominee Gina Ciarcia, had less than $15,000 to spend. Spanberger herself raised $1.13 million to defend herself, and she finished March with $3.89 million in the bank.

ECU: The progressive group End Citizens United has endorsed six Democratic House contenders:

Attorneys General

ID-AG: While the Club for Growth doesn’t appear to have endorsed its old ally, former Rep. Raúl Labrador, in the May 17 Republican primary for attorney general, the group is spending nearly $300,000 to weaken five-term incumbent Lawrence Wasden. The commercial attacks Wasden for refusing to join 13 other GOP attorneys general in suing to overturn the Biden administration’s COVID relief bill, with the narrator arguing he “allowed Washington to shove their woke agenda down our throats.” The ad also goes after him for refusing to join the 2020 lawsuit aimed at overturning Biden’s win, saying he “looked the other way when election integrity hung in the balance.”

MD-AG: The Democratic primary to succeed retiring Democratic incumbent Brian Frosh is a duel between two well-connected candidates: Rep. Anthony Brown, who was the party's 2014 nominee for governor, and former Baltimore Judge Katie Curran O'Malley, who is the wife of former Gov. Martin O'Malley. The winner will be the heavy favorite in November for an office that the GOP last won in 1918.

MI-AG, MI-SoS: Michigan Republicans will hold a convention Saturday to choose their candidates to take on Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, races that Donald Trump has intervened in as he seeks to install adherents of the Big Lie into key offices like these nationwide. However, the weekend's results may not bring about a definitive resolution because the party's endorsement can be overturned in August with an affirmative vote of three-fourths of delegates, and at least one candidate hasn't ruled out pursuing this option if he loses.

MLive.com explains this strange state of affairs came about because, as GOP consultant John Sellek puts it, these springtime gatherings are "completely made up by the parties." Indeed, state law requires that the parties, rather than primary voters, pick their nominees for these offices (as well as for lieutenant governor) at conventions that take place in the "fall" (which has been interpreted, for some reason, to include August).

Democrats, though, decided several years ago that they wanted to choose their candidates far earlier in order to give them a head start for the general election. That's why they came up with the idea of the April endorsement convention, with the later event serving only to make the results official. (Michigan voters will select nominees in all other races in the state's Aug. 2 primary.)

Republicans decided to try this approach out themselves for the first time this cycle, but Trump's interventions have, unsurprisingly, complicated things. While many GOP leaders want their nominee for attorney general to be former state House Speaker Tom Leonard, who lost to Nessel by a close 49-46 margin in 2018, Trump has instead backed Matthew DePerno, an attorney who's made a name for himself advancing the conspiracy theories about the 2020 elections and recently called for the arrest of Nessel, Benson, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The GOP field also includes state Rep. Ryan Berman, who has tried to position himself as an alternative to Leonard and DePerno but has been willing to call out DePerno's lies. In the race for secretary of state, Trump is similarly pulling for Kristina Karamo, who has called the Jan. 6 insurrectionists "​​totally antifa posing as Trump supporters," to beat state Rep. Beau LaFave and Chesterfield Township Clerk Cindy Berry.

Sellek predicted that DePerno, who earlier this month called for his supporters to "storm" the county-level meetings where party activists pick delegates for the endorsement convention, would respond to a defeat on Saturday by trying to get the results overturned in August. Berman, though, was the only one who publicly addressed the idea, telling MLive, "It depends on what happens this weekend. We'll see how it plays out." Still, it would take quite a lot to convince 75% of the August delegates to adopt what Sellek called a "smash-glass-in-case-of-emergency" option.

And the glass may remain intact no matter what these insurgents might want. GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock, who backs Trump's picks, predicted, "The party as a whole is going to coalesce around this team, starting Saturday afternoon," adding, "I will work my tail off for whatever candidates come out of this convention."

Former state party executive director Jason Roe, though, struck a very different tone when describing the stakes of the endorsement convention. "We're going to find out if we're going to be held hostage to second-tier candidates who can't win general elections in pursuit of genuflecting to the dear leader," he said, "or if we're going to focus on winning elections and making sure that conservatives control state government and make the policies that we all have to live under."

Morning Digest: New House fundraising reports shed light on incumbent-vs.-incumbent races

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.

Leading Off

Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present our comprehensive roundups of fundraising data for the final three months of 2021 for both the House and the Senate.

With redistricting underway—and complete in many states—many sitting representatives have now found themselves paired with colleagues in redrawn House districts. These new reports are the first to give us insight into these incumbent-vs.-incumbent matchups, which at the moment number seven in total.

The first to come online was the contest in the deeply conservative 2nd District in West Virginia, which completed the remapping process in October. Thanks to the loss of a seat in reapportionment, two Republicans, Alex Mooney and David McKinley, got thrown together in the northern half of the state. McKinley swamped Mooney in the fourth quarter, outraising him $599,000 to $199,000 and self-funding another half-million for good measure. But because Mooney had stockpiled much more money prior to the start of most recent fundraising period, he still finished with a cash lead of $2.4 million to $1.6 million.

Campaign Action

McKinley, however, has an important advantage: He currently represents two-thirds of the new district, with Mooney representing the remaining third. Mooney, conversely, won Donald Trump's seal of approval in November … but he's under investigation for allegedly misusing campaign funds. How these factors will all balance out is hard to say, though, as the two sides have released competing polls showing them each with fairly modest leads. It'll all get settled soon enough, though, as the primary is on May 10.

Here's how things stack up in the other half-dozen similarly situated races:

  • GA-07: Lucy McBath beat out Carolyn Bourdeaux $736,000 to $400,000 and had $3.2 million on-hand versus $2.4 million in this safely blue seat in the Atlanta suburbs. A third candidate in the Democratic primary, state Rep. Donna McLeod, raised just $22,0000. Bourdeaux represents 57% of the district and McBath just 12%. The primary is May 24, with a June 21 runoff if no one takes a majority. Polling for McBath and her allies has found her leading by about 10 to 20 points.
  • IL-06: Sean Casten more than doubled up fellow Democrat Marie Newman, taking in $699,000 to her $337,000. He also has almost twice the bankroll: $1.9 million to $1 million for Newman. But Newman represents 41% of this solidly blue seat in the Chicago area while Casten represents 23%. However, she also faces an ethics investigation into charges she sought to keep a potential primary opponent out of the race when she ran in 2020 by offering him a job as a top aide if she won. The two will face off on June 28.
  • IL-15: Rodney Davis, the more moderate of the two Republicans running in this deep red district in central Illinois, raised $410,000 compared to $164,000 for Mary Miller, who has Trump's endorsement. Davis also has $1.8 million saved up while Miller had just $783,000 at her disposal. Both are encountering a lot of new turf, though: Miller represents 31% of the new district and Davis 28%.
  • MI-04: This matchup hasn't yet firmed up: Bill Huizenga, a Trump loyalist, has said he'll seek re-election in this red-tilting district in southwestern Michigan, but Fred Upton, who voted for impeachment, has yet to announce his plans. Upton certainly keeps bringing in the bucks like he expects to run again, though: He raised $719,000 to Huizenga's $396,000 and has a $1.6 million to $1.2 million cash edge. A third candidate, state Rep. Steve Carra, recently switched districts to run here but raised just $129,000. However, Trump did endorse him when he was running one-on-one against Upton, who represents 64% of this seat; Huizenga represents 25%. The primary is not until Aug. 2.
  • MI-11: Haley Stevens outraised Andy Levin $627,000 to $335,000 in this blue district in the Detroit suburbs, and also has much more money to spend: $2.6 million versus $1.3 million. In addition, Stevens represents 45% of the district while Levin represents 25%. Levin could still change course and run in the open 10th—a much swingier seat, but one he already represents two-thirds of. A recent Stevens internal showed her up 7 points.
  • NC-11: This solidly red district in the Greensboro region is the only one that's lumped together members of opposite parties: Democrat Kathy Manning, who raised $280,000 and had $1.1 million left over, and Republican Virginia Foxx, who took in $231,000 and finished with $957,000 in her war chest. Manning represents 42% of the redrawn 11th and Foxx 30%, but it would have voted 57-42 for Trump, making Foxx the overwhelming favorite. Manning, however, hasn't yet said whether she'll seek re-election, likely because a lawsuit challenging the GOP's new map is pending before the state Supreme Court.

The number of intramural battles could grow or shrink in the coming months as the remapping process continues to unfold and various members settle on their plans or alter them. In the meantime, you can dig deeper into all of these numbers and many, many more for both the House and the Senate by checking out our new charts.

Redistricting

FL Redistricting: Both chambers of Florida's Republican-run legislature have passed new legislative maps, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis does not have the power to either sign or veto. However, the state constitution requires the new maps to first be reviewed by the state's conservative Supreme Court to determine their "validity" before they can become law. Whatever the justices decide, litigation is likely, as critics have charged that the maps fail to adequately increase representation for communities of color even though most of the state's growth has come from Black and Latino residents.

Meanwhile, congressional redistricting is now paused as DeSantis has asked the Supreme Court for an advisory opinion as to whether a new map can legally dismantle the plurality-Black 5th District, held by Democrat Al Lawson. A map that ignored DeSantis' wishes and left the 5th largely intact passed the state Senate last month, but the House says it will wait until the justices rule before proceeding further.

NY Redistricting: Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed new congressional and legislative maps on Thursday evening, just hours after lawmakers in the Democratic-run legislature completed work on new districts for their own chambers. The congressional plan, if it works as Democrats intend, could bump their advantage in the state’s delegation from 19-8 to 22-4.

WA Redistricting: Washington's Democratic-run state House approved congressional and legislative maps drawn by the state's bipartisan redistricting commission with minor tweaks in a wide bipartisan vote on Wednesday. The plans now head to the state Senate, which must act by Feb. 8.

Senate

AZ-Sen: The radical anti-tax Club for Growth has endorsed Blake Masters, a top aide to conservative megadonor Peter Thiel who also has the support of a super PAC funded by his boss, in the crowded August Republican primary to face Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.

Ohio: Candidate filing closed on Wednesday for most of the offices that will be on Ohio's May 3 primary ballot, but the legislature previously moved the deadline for U.S. House races to March 4. That delay came about because the state Supreme Court struck down the Republican-drawn congressional map as an illegal partisan gerrymander in mid-January, and new boundaries have yet to be approved.

But the situation is also unclear for candidates for the state legislature, who still had to file Wednesday. The state's highest court likewise threw out the GOP's legislative maps last month, and Republicans on Ohio's bipartisan redistricting commission approved new ones on Jan. 22―just eight days before the filing deadline. The court has said it would "retain jurisdiction for the purpose of reviewing the new plan adopted by the commission," so no one knows yet if these new districts will be final.

Some legislative candidates responded to the uncertainty by simply ending their campaigns, though one congressional contender tried something different. Attorney Shay Hawkins, a Republican who last year announced a bid for the 13th District, filed Tuesday for a seat in the legislature and said he'd make an ultimate decision about which office to seek once congressional districts are in place. (Based on state deadlines, that might not be until March or later.)

A list of statewide candidates can be found at the secretary of state's site, but anyone looking for a list of legislative candidates won't be able to find them all from a single official source. That's because candidates for district-level office file with the county that makes up the largest proportion of their district rather than with the state, so lists of contenders can only be found on county election sites. Below we'll run down the fields in the Buckeye State's marquee statewide races for Senate and governor.

OH-Sen: On Thursday evening, one day after candidate filing closed, wealthy businessman Bernie Moreno announced that he was dropping out of what’s now an eight-person Republican primary to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman. Moreno, who kicked off a $4 million TV ad campaign in December, said, “After talking to President Trump we both agreed this race has too many Trump candidates and could cost the MAGA movement a conservative seat.” 

The development came one day after another Republican contender, former state Treasurer, Josh Mandel, released a WPA Intelligence poll arguing that he has the lead in this extremely expensive primary. The toplines are below, with the numbers from an early January WPA survey for Mandel's allies at the Club for Growth in parenthesis:

former state Treasurer Josh Mandel: 28 (26)

Businessman Mike Gibbons: 17 (14)

Venture capitalist J.D. Vance: 13 (10)

former state party chair Jane Timken: 9 (15)

Businessman Bernie Moreno: 6 (7)

State Sen. Matt Dolan: 5 (4)

Three other Republicans are also in, but none of them have been making a serious effort.

Timken, Moreno, and Gibbons have themselves released polls this year, each arguing that neither Mandel nor anyone else has a decisive lead. (Though Moreno’s subsequent departure indicates that he didn’t feel good about his own path to victory.) What every survey we've seen agrees on, however, is that Dolan is in last place. That's not a surprise, though: In September, Donald Trump blasted the state senator, who co-owns Cleveland's Major League Baseball team, over its plans to change its name, snarling, "I know of at least one person in the race who I won't be endorsing."

Dolan is trying to better his fortunes by using personal wealth to go on TV, but he's far from alone: The Republican firm Medium Buying reports that close to $24 million has already been spent or reserved to air ads. The GOP primary will likely get far more expensive still, as all six of these contenders ended 2021 with at least $1 million in the bank. Their fourth quarter fundraising numbers are below:

  • Timken: $595,000 raised, additional $1.5 million self-funded, $3.6 million cash-on-hand
  • Vance: $530,000 raised, $1.1 million cash-on-hand
  • Mandel: $370,000 raised, $6 million cash-on-hand
  • Dolan: $360,000 raised, additional $10.5 million self-funded, $10.4 million cash-on-hand
  • Gibbons: $70,000 raised, additional $3.5 million self-funded, $6.4 million cash-on-hand

Things are far less chaotic on the Democratic side, where Rep. Tim Ryan is the likely nominee. He faces Morgan Harper, a former advisor to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Joyce Beatty for renomination in 2020, as well as two little-known candidates. Ryan outraised Harper $2.9 million to $335,000 in the most recent quarter, and he held a $5 million to $435,000 cash-on-hand edge.

Team Blue's eventual nominee will face a tough task in November in a longtime swing state that lurched hard to the right in the Trump era, but Democrats are hoping that a bloody GOP primary will give them a larger opening.

Governors

FL-Gov: Rep. Charlie Crist has released a GBAO Strategies survey giving him a 54-28 lead over state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in the August Democratic primary, with state Sen. Annette Taddeo at 7%. We haven't seen any other surveys of the contest to face Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis since well before Taddeo entered the race last October.

GA-Gov: Democrat Stacey Abrams announced she raised a massive $9.2 million in the month since she kicked off her second bid for governor and says she ended January with $7.2 million in the bank. Her red-hot pace outstripped Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who brought in $7.4 million in the second half of 2021, though he has a considerably larger $12.7 million war chest. Kemp, however, will have to spend much of that money in his already bitter primary feud with former Sen. David Perdue, who has yet to say how much he's raised and "has tried to downplay expectations," according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Greg Bluestein.

HI-Gov: Hawaii News Now has gathered the fundraising reports for the second half of 2021, and the numbers for the three major Democrats are below:

  • Lt. Gov. Josh Green: $775,000 raised, $1.1 million cash-on-hand
  • Businesswoman Vicky Cayetano: $475,000 raised, additional $350,000 self-funded, $655,000 cash-on-hand
  • former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell: $345,000 raised, $720,000 cash-on-hand

None of the Republicans currently in the race have reported raising a notable amount.

IA-Gov: The Des Moines Register's Brianne Pfannenstiel relays that some Iowa Democrats are seeking an alternative to Deidre DeJear, the 2018 secretary of state nominee who ended last year with less than $10,000 on-hand, though there's no sign anyone else is looking to take on Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. Pfannenstiel writes that some of "the names being floated" are 2018 nominee Fred Hubbell, state Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, and state Reps. Chris Hall and Todd Prichard, but none of them have shown any obvious interest in getting in ahead of the March 18 filing deadline.

ME-Gov: Former state Sen. Tom Saviello said this week that he would not run as an independent. That's probably welcome news for Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, whom Saviello backed in 2018.

MD-Gov: The Democratic Governors Association is out with new numbers from Public Policy Polling arguing that Del. Dan Cox, a Trump-endorsed candidate who played a role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by organizing a busload of people to attend the rally that preceded it, is well-positioned in the June Republican primary in this dark blue state.

Cox leads former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who has termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan's backing, 20-12, with a huge 68% majority undecided. (The poll did not include Robin Ficker, a perennial candidate who has self-funded $1.1 million.) But after respondents are told that Trump is supporting Cox while Schulz is backed by termed-out Gov. Larry Hogan, the delegate's margin balloons to 52-18. This is the very first poll we've seen of this primary.

MN-Gov: SurveyUSA, polling on behalf of a trio of Minnesota TV stations, tests Democratic Gov. Tim Walz against six different Republican foes, and it finds things considerably closer than when it went into the field in December. The results are below, with the firm's earlier numbers in parentheses:

  • 43-40 vs. former state Sen. Scott Jensen (48-36)
  • 42-37 vs. state Sen. Paul Gazelka (47-34)
  • 45-37 vs. state Sen. Michelle Benson (47-35)
  • 43-35 vs. healthcare executive Kendall Qualls
  • 44-35 vs. Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy (47-36)
  • 45-34 vs. physician Neil Shah (48-31)

The earlier numbers did not include Qualls, who launched his bid last month. Former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, who announced this week, was also not asked about in either poll.

Even though SurveyUSA shows Walz losing ground since December, he still posts a 45-37 favorable rating, which is the same margin as his 47-39 score from last time. His many opponents, by contrast, remain pretty anonymous: Even Jensen, who comes the closest in the head-to-heads, only sports a 18-12 favorable image.

NE-Gov: The Nebraska Examiner has collected all the 2021 fundraising numbers for the Republicans competing in the May primary to succeed termed-out Gov. Pete Ricketts:

  • University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen: $4.4 million raised, additional $1 million self-funded, $4.2 million cash-on-hand
  • State Sen. Brett Lindstrom: $1.6 million raised, $1.4 million cash-on-hand
  • Agribusinessman Charles Herbster: $200,000 raised, additional $4.7 million self-funded, $637,000 cash-on-hand
  • former state Sen. Theresa Thibodeau: $106,000 raised, additional $7,000 self-funded, $87,000 cash-on-hand

Amusingly, Ricketts, who poured $12 million of his money into his unsuccessful 2006 campaign against Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson, pooh-poohed Herbster's personal investment to the Examiner, saying that self-funding looks like "you're trying to buy the race." Ricketts, who is backing Pillen, added, "You want to engage Nebraskans across the state to invest in your campaign. And clearly Charles Herbster is not getting Nebraskans to invest in his campaign."

The only notable Democrat in the race, state Sen. Carol Blood, took in $76,000 and had $37,000 to spend.

NY-Gov: Rep. Lee Zeldin's first TV spot ahead of the June Republican primary features several photos of Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul with her disgraced predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, as the narrator argues that the state is in poor shape. The ad goes on to exalt Zeldin as a veteran who has "won seven tough elections" and a "tax-fighting, trusted conservative." There is no word on the size of the buy.

OH-Gov: Republican Gov. Mike DeWine faces three intra-party foes, but only former Rep. Jim Renacci appears to have the resources to make trouble for him. Renacci has filled his coffers with millions from his own wallet, though skeptical Republicans remember that he barely used any of the money he loaned himself for his 2018 Senate campaign, which ended in a 53-47 loss to Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown. Also in the running are farmer Joe Blystone and former state Rep. Ron Hood, who badly lost last year's special election primary for the 15th Congressional District.

Renacci, who has spent his time trashing DeWine's handling of the pandemic, last week dropped a poll showing him leading the incumbent 46-38 in a two-way race. A Renacci win would represent a major upset, but no one else has responded with contradictory numbers.

The Democratic primary is a duel between two former mayors who each left office at the start of the year: Cincinnati's John Cranley and Dayton's Nan Whaley. The only poll we've seen was a Whaley internal she publicized last week giving her a 33-20 edge, but with a 48% plurality undecided. The former mayors both ended 2021 with close to $2 million to spend apiece.

OK-Gov: Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt outraised Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, a Republican-turned-Democrat, $1.2 million to $540,000 during the fourth quarter, and he ended 2021 with a $2.3 million to $435,000 cash-on-hand lead.

House

IL-03: State Rep. Delia Ramirez has picked up the support of the Illinois Federation of Teachers in the June Democratic primary for this safely blue open seat. Ramirez's main intra-party opponent is Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas, who outraised her $385,000 to $115,000 during the fourth quarter of 2021 (the first in the race for both candidates) and ended December with a $375,000 to $110,000 cash-on-hand.

MI-10: Eric Esshaki, who was the 2020 Republican nominee in the old 11th District, announced Thursday that he was dropping out of the August primary for the new (and open) 10th District and would instead endorse two-time Senate nominee John James. James, who launched his House bid on Monday, currently is the only notable Republican seeking this suburban Detroit seat, which Donald Trump would have carried 50-49.

OR-06: Carrick Flynn, who has worked as a University of Oxford associate researcher, announced Tuesday that he was entering the Democratic primary for Oregon’s brand-new 6th District. Flynn filed FEC paperwork on Jan. 21 and said he had $430,000 banked after 10 days.

RI-02: State Rep. Teresa Tanzi said Thursday that she would not compete in the September Democratic primary for this open seat.

TX-08: The March 1 Republican primary to succeed retiring Rep. Kevin Brady has turned into what the Texas Tribune's Patrick Svitek characterizes as an expensive "proxy war" between retired Navy SEAL Morgan Luttrell, who has the House GOP leadership in his corner, and Christian Collins, a former Brady campaign manager backed by Sen. Ted Cruz and his allies in the nihilistic House Freedom Caucus.

Luttrell far outraised Collins during the fourth quarter, $1.2 million to $335,000, and ended 2021 with a $1.6 million to $290,000 cash-on-hand lead. Collins, however, is getting some serious reinforcements: Svitek reports that three super PACs almost entirely funded by a Cruz ally, banker Robert Marling, have spent $800,000 for Collins while Luttrell has yet to benefit from any outside money.

The story notes that the two leading candidates for this safely red suburban Houston district don't seem to actually disagree on anything substantive, but Collins has been trying hard to frame the race as a battle between D.C. power players and "those who are the tip of the spear." He's also been seeking to use Luttrell's connections against him, including the $5,000 donation the SEAL veteran received from the PAC of Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who voted to impeach Donald Trump. Luttrell distanced himself from the congressman in January, saying he "didn't know the check was cashed," but a Kinzinger spokesperson told the Tribune that the donation was made "because it was solicited."

Luttrell, who is a close ally of former Gov. Rick Perry, has been focusing far more on his own military background, with his first ad talking about his recovery after a devastating helicopter crash. Luttrell also enjoys the backing of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who is one of the most powerful far-right politicians in Texas, as well as 13th District Rep. Ronny Jackson, who was Trump's failed nominee for secretary of veteran's affairs in 2018. Nine other candidates are on the ballot, and while none of them have attracted much attention, they could keep Luttrell or Collins from winning the majority of the vote needed to avert a runoff.

TX-15: Insurance agent Monica De La Cruz's newest TV ad for the March 1 Republican primary features her flying over the border with Mexico as she bemoans how "socialists are ruining our border security, our values, and our economy." She concludes by pledging to "finish what Trump started."

VA-07: Spotsylvania County Supervisor David Ross said this week that he was joining the June Republican primary to take on Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger.

Mayors

Los Angeles, CA Mayor: Los Angeles Magazine has summarized fundraising reports spanning the second half of 2021, which show Rep. Karen Bass went into the new year with a sizable financial edge over her many opponents in the June nonpartisan primary to lead this very blue city:

  • Rep. Karen Bass: $1.9 million raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand
  • City Councilmember Kevin de León: $1.2 million raised, $1.2 million cash-on-hand
  • Central City Association head Jessica Lall: $405,000 raised, $265,000 cash-on-hand
  • City Councilmember Joe Buscaino: $375,000 raised, $575,000 cash-on-hand
  • City Attorney Mike Feuer: $245,000 raised, $525,000 cash-on-hand
  • Businessman Ramit Varma: $180,000 raised, additional $1.5 million self-funded, $1.7 million cash-on-hand
  • Real estate broker Mel Wilson: $141,000 raised, $37,000 cash-on-hand

Perhaps the biggest question looming over the race ahead of the Feb. 12 filing deadline is whether real estate developer Rick Caruso, who has flirted with running before, gets in this time. Caruso recently changed his voter registration from unaffiliated to Democratic, a move that came almost a decade after he left the GOP. The developer now describes himself as a "pro-centrist, pro-jobs, pro-public safety Democrat."

Morning Digest: Ohio Supreme Court strikes down GOP’s legislative gerrymander

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

Leading Off

OH Redistricting: The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the new Republican-drawn state House and Senate maps as an unconstitutional gerrymander and ordered the state's Ohio Redistricting Commission to adopt new lines within 10 days. This decision does not apply to the Republican-drafted new congressional map, which is the subject of a separate case that the justices have yet to issue a decision in.

Republican Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor joined the three Democrats in Wednesday's 4-3 ruling, which blasted just how much the lines drawn by the GOP majority on the bipartisan Redistricting Commission benefited Republican candidates. As we've written before, a voter-approved constitutional amendment requires maps to not unfairly benefit one party or the other compared to their statewide support, which Republicans acknowledged was roughly 54% Republican and 46% Democratic according to an average of the last decade's statewide elections.

The justices, though, noted that the state House map favored GOP candidates in 67 of the 99 seats―which would give Team Red the edge in 68% of the districts―while Republicans likewise enjoyed an advantage in 23 of the 33 state Senate constituencies.

Campaign Action

The Redistricting Commission, which has a 5-2 GOP majority, will now need to redraw the lines, and the justices said they retained jurisdiction "to review the plan that the commission adopts for compliance with our order." Ohio's candidate filing deadline is currently set for Feb. 2, though lawmakers can alter that date.

Redistricting

MO Redistricting: The state House's redistricting committee voted Wednesday to advance a congressional map aimed at preserving the Republicans' current 6-2 majority in the delegation.

MS Redistricting: The state Senate on Wednesday approved a new GOP-drawn congressional map, which now goes to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves for his signature.

NC Redistricting: The Wake County Superior Court on Tuesday upheld the new Republican-drawn congressional and legislative maps. Plaintiffs immediately made it clear that they'd appeal the decision to the North Carolina Supreme Court, where Democrats have a 4-3 majority.  

PA Redistricting: The Republican-controlled state House has passed a new congressional map that would almost certainly be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf should it reach his desk.

SC Redistricting: The GOP-run state House Judiciary Committee has advanced a new congressional map aimed at shoring up Republican Rep. Nancy Mace in the 1st District. Last month, the chamber introduced a different map that would have actually made the 1st more competitive, but Republicans seem to have reversed course since then. State Senate Republicans previously proposed boundaries that also would have strengthened Team Red in the 1st District.

TN Redistricting: The state House's redistricting committee on Wednesday advanced a congressional map that, as Democrats have long feared, aims to turn the 5th District red. The blue bastion of Nashville, which is coterminous with Davidson County, is currently entirely located in longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper's 5th District, but these proposed boundaries would split the city between the 5th, 6th, and 7th Districts. This map would leave the Memphis-based 9th District as the only Democratic-friendly seat in Tennessee.

4Q Fundraising

  • CO-SenMichael Bennet (D-inc): $2.1 million raised, $4.7 million cash-on-hand; Gino Campana (R): $450,000 raised, additional $500,000 self-funded, $760,000 cash-on-hand
  • NE-GovJim Pillen (R): $5.4 million raised (since April), $4.1 million cash-on-hand
  • FL-10Maxwell Frost (D): $407,000 raised
  • IL-14Michael Koolidge (R): $100,000 raised (in six weeks)
  • MN-02Angie Craig (D-inc): $875,000 raised, $2.9 million cash-on-hand
  • NH-01Matt Mowers (R): $400,000 raised, $600,000 cash-on-hand
  • NJ-05Nick De Gregorio (D): $403,000 raised, $375,000 cash-on-hand
  • NV-04Steven Horsford (D-inc): $478,000 raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand
  • OR-06Matt West (D): $600,000 raised, $480,000 cash-on-hand

Senate

MD-Sen: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan once again declined to rule out a bid against Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen on Wednesday one day after the Associated Press detailed national Republicans' ongoing efforts to convince him to run. Hogan downplayed his interest when asked but didn't do anything to take his name out of contention, saying, "I don't have much desire to be in the US Senate." The filing deadline is Feb. 22.

OH-Sen: The radical anti-tax Club for Growth has launched what NBC's Henry Gomez reports is a $750,000 TV and digital buy attacking former state Republican Party chair Jane Timken ahead of the May primary. The Club, which backs ex-state Treasurer Josh Mandel, had been training its fire on venture capitalist J.D. Vance, but it recently released a poll finding that Timken is now Mandel's main threat.

The narrator declares, "Timken claimed she didn't know how she would have voted on Trump's impeachment while passionately defending her RINO congressman after he voted to impeach Trump." That last bit is a reference to retiring Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who was one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump last year. Timken initially said that the congressman had a "rational reason why he voted that way. I think he's an effective legislator, and he's a very good person." While she soon backtracked and called for Gonzalez's resignation, she didn't do it fast enough to insulate her from attacks like this one.

VT-Sen: Former U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan last week filed paperwork with the FEC for a potential run for the Republican nod, and she now tells VTDigger, "I am definitely exploring the possibility, but I am not yet ready to announce a formal decision or make a formal announcement."

The last time Green Mountain Republicans won a federal election was 2000, when moderate Sen. Jim Jeffords easily secured another term; Jeffords famously abandoned the GOP (and his all-Republican barbershop quartet, the Singing Senators) the following year to caucus with the Democrats as an independent, a move that handed Team Blue control of the upper chamber.

PA-Sen: Ad Impact tells Politico that American Leadership Action, a super PAC set up to aid TV personality Mehmet Oz in the Republican primary, has booked $550,000 in TV time for a negative campaign aimed at former hedge fund manager David McCormick that will begin this month. McCormick is still officially in exploratory mode, but there's little question that he's planning to run especially now that he's resigned from the hedge fund giant Bridgewater Associates.

House

CA-15: While Redwood City Mayor Giselle Hale had mulled campaigning for this safely blue open seat last year, the Democrat announced this week that she would run for the state Assembly instead.

CA-37: Former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry has filed FEC paperwork for a potential campaign to succeed Rep. Karen Bass, a fellow Democrat who is leaving to run for mayor of L.A., in the June top-two primary for this safely blue seat. Perry would be the first member of Congress who is both Black and Jewish.

Perry ran for the city's top job in 2013 and ultimately placed fourth in the nonpartisan primary with 16%. She went on to endorse Eric Garcetti in the second round, who named her head of his administration’s Economic Development Department following his victory. Perry stepped down in 2018 and ran for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors two years later, but she took a distant third with just 12%.

The only notable Democrat who has announced a campaign for the 37th District, which includes Central Los Angeles, is Culver City Vice Mayor Daniel Lee. State Sen. Sydney Kamlager, who decisively won her current post last year by beating Lee in a special election, also filed FEC paperwork in late November, but she still hasn't said if she's running.

FL-07: Businessman Scott Sturgill, who lost the 2018 Republican primary for the old version of this seat, has announced a bid to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy in a state where redistricting is still underway. Sturgill self-funded $150,000 for his last campaign but still lost the primary 54-30 to state Rep. Mike Miller, whom Murphy beat months later.

FL-20: Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick pulled off a 79-20 victory over Republican Jason Mariner in this 77-22 Biden seat in a contest that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis infamously scheduled to take place a whole nine months after the death of longtime Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings. Cherfilus-McCormick, who beat now-former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness by five votes in the very crowded November primary, will be the first-ever Haitian American member of Congress.

The new congresswoman, though, will likely need to prepare for another serious nomination fight. Holness, who never conceded defeat, filed paperwork for another bid last month, and The Sun Sentinel reported at the time that he planned to seek a rematch. Former Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief, who earned third place, also told the paper for that article that she was "more than likely" to run again but was "waiting to see what the districts look like."

IN-09: Republican Rep. Trey Hollingsworth announced Thursday that he would not seek a fourth term in Indiana's safely red 9th District in a very unexpected move that bookends what has been a short but surprising congressional career. The revised version of this southeastern Indiana seat, which includes Bloomington, backed Donald Trump 63-35, and Republicans should have no trouble holding onto it.

Hollingsworth had given no obvious indication that he was looking to hit the eject button, especially since he had no serious primary or general election opponent on the horizon. The congressman, though, used an op-ed for IndyStar to remind readers that he'd pledged to only serve four terms total, continuing, "I want to be the change I want to see in this world, so, as I contemplate how I can work for you in new and better ways in the future, I won't run for reelection this year." Hollingsworth added, "I ran for Congress to return this government to the people from the career politicians who had broken it, and I will be damned if I become one in the process."

Hollingsworth began running for Congress in the 2016 cycle very soon after the Tennessee businessman, who had ties to several other states that weren't named Indiana, moved to the Hoosier State. He initially seemed like an afterthought in the Republican primary to succeed now-Sen. Todd Young, but he attracted attention after he used his personal fortune to finance a huge early ad campaign at a time when his more established but cash-poor rivals couldn't get on TV. He also got help from his wealthy father, who financed a super PAC that aired commercials praising the younger Hollingsworth and attacking the presumed frontrunner, Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Another candidate, state Sen. Erin Houchin, saw where things were going and eventually went up with her own spot warning viewers that Hollingsworth was "a Tennessee millionaire who just moved here to try and buy our seat in Congress," but she lacked the resources to sufficiently blast her opponent. Republicans said just before the primary that Hollingsworth had little ground game and few, if any, local allies, but that didn't stop him from defeating Houchin by a convincing 34-25.

Republican gerrymandering and southern Indiana's continued shift to the right made Hollingsworth the clear favorite in a district that had supported Mitt Romney 57-41 in 2012, but Democrats hoped that a weak GOP nominee would give Monroe County Councilor Shelli Yoder an opening. And for a long time, it seemed like it was possible that Hollingsworth's flaws could indeed sink him, especially after the DCCC released an October poll giving him just a 44-42 edge.

National Democrats backed up their talk with action in the final weeks, and they ultimately spent $1.8 million compared to $1.3 million from their GOP counterparts. Hollingsworth also earned some ugly headlines in the final days when the Associated Press reported that legal papers he filed to serve as a "registered agent" for his real estate business obligate him to simultaneously reside in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Ohio. The Republican blamed it all on a clerical error, though he didn't help things when, after acknowledging he'd lived in South Carolina, he refused to say where else he'd resided.

All of this, though, was far from enough in a seat as red as the 9th District. Donald Trump carried the seat 61-34, and while Hollingsworth badly trailed the top of the ticket, his 54-40 victory was still far from close. Democrats still hoped that the new congressman could be vulnerable in a very different political climate, but he won by a similar 56-44 spread in 2018 and had no trouble taking what would ultimately be his final term.

MO-04: Retired Navy SEAL Bill Irwin announced this week that he was joining the crowded Republican primary for this safely red open seat.

NE-01: The Omaha World-Herald's Don Walton recently asked state Sen. Mike Flood if he had anything to do with a reported poll testing him in a hypothetical May Republican primary against indicted Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, to which Flood notably responded, "No comment."

Flood previously served as speaker of Nebraska's unicameral state legislature from 2007 until he was termed out in 2013, and he returned to the chamber last year. (Nebraska forbids legislators from serving more than two consecutive terms, but they can come back after a break.) The senator is also the owner of News Channel Nebraska, which Walton describes as "a network of radio and television stations that combine into a statewide media network."

Fortenberry, whom federal prosecutors have charged with lying to investigators as part of a probe into a foreign billionaire who used straw donors to illegally funnel $180,000 to four different GOP candidates, has a trial date tentatively set for Feb. 15, which coincidentally is the day that Flood would need to make a final decision by. That's because Nebraska has a unique law that sets up two filing deadlines, one for current elected officials and one for everyone else. All office-holders who want to be on the 2022 ballot need to file by Feb. 15, even if they're seeking a different post than the one they currently have, while the deadline for everyone else comes two weeks later on March 1.

Whoever emerges with the GOP nod will likely go up against state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, a Democrat who currently faces no serious intra-party opposition. The new version of the 1st District, which includes Lincoln and rural areas in the eastern part of the state, supported Donald Trump 54-43.

NJ-07, NJ-11: Phil Rizzo, a Republican who took a distant second in last year's gubernatorial primary, announced Wednesday that he was switching from the 11th to 7th Districts following redistricting and would now take on Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski. Rizzo will have a very tough task ahead of him, though, if he's to defeat the local and national establishment favorite, former state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., in a June nomination contest that also includes Assemblyman Erik Peterson.

VA-07: The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Del. Elizabeth Guzman and Prince William School Board Chair Babur Lateef are each considering challenging Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger for renomination now that redistricting has relocated a majority of populous Prince William County to the new 7th District. However, two other Northern Virginia Democrats, state Sen. Jeremy McPike and Del. Luke Torian, say they won't campaign here, while county party chair Tonya James relays that former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy has also told her she won't run.

On the Republican side, 2020 candidate Tina Ramirez announced this week that she was ending her campaign now that redistricting has moved her out of the 7th. Ramirez will instead challenge state Sen. Amanda Chase, who also dropped out of the congressional race this month, for renomination in 2023.

Ballot Measures

San Jose, CA Ballot: The San Jose City Council on Tuesday voted to place a measure on the June ballot that would move mayoral contests from midterm to presidential years. This year's open seat mayor race would only be for a two-year term if voters approved this measure, but the winner would be allowed to seek two additional four-year terms.

The City Council is also reviewing other ideas, such as adopting instant-runoff voting, that could go on the November ballot. However, an earlier proposal to greatly enhance the mayor's power appears to be off the table for now.

Legislatures

Special Elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's contest in Maine:

ME-HD-27: Former state Sen. James Boyle held this seat for the Democrats by beating Republican Timothy Thorsen 57-38. Hillary Clinton won 53-40 here, and preliminary numbers from Daily Kos Elections have Joe Biden prevailing by a larger 60-37 spread in 2020.

Democrats are back to a enjoy an 81-64 majority in a 151-person chamber that also includes three independents, one Libertarian, and one member of the Independent for Maine Party; one Republican-held district, the very red HD-145, is open.

Mayors

Austin, TX Mayor: Democratic state Rep. Celia Israel announced Tuesday that she would compete in this year's race to succeed termed-out Mayor Steve Adler as the head of Texas' famously liberal capital city; Israel would be Austin's first gay or Latina mayor.

Milwaukee, WI Mayor: Candidate filing closed Tuesday for the special election to succeed Tom Barrett, who resigned last month to become ambassador to Luxembourg. All the candidates will face off on one nonpartisan ballot on Feb. 15, and the top-two vote-getters will advance to the April 5 general; the winner will be up for a regular four-year term in 2024.

The only surprise on filing day came when Milwaukee City Attorney Tearman Spencer, who had previously announced a campaign, did not submit any signatures. The candidates who turned in the required amount of petitions are:

  • Alderman Marina Dimitrijevic
  • Former Alderman Bob Donovan
  • Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson
  • Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas
  • Businessman Michael Sampson
  • State Sen. Lena Taylor

Most of the field to lead this very blue city identify as Democrats, though Donovan, who badly lost to Barrett in 2016, is active in conservative groups.

Morning Digest: Ever heard of a ‘top-four’ primary? It could be coming to a state near you soon

Leading Off

Election Reforms: This November, as many as five states will vote on ballot measures that could dramatically change how their elections are conducted.

In Florida, voters will decide whether to institute a top-two primary system, while Massachusetts could implement instant-runoff voting. Alaska, meanwhile, could become the first state in the nation to adopt a "top-four" voting system, which, as we'll explain, is something of a hybrid between top-two and instant-runoff.

Top-four ballot measures have also been certified for the ballot in Arkansas and North Dakota. However, there's still ongoing litigation in each state that could impact whether or not these referendums would take effect if they won.

Campaign Action

We'll start with a look at the Florida top-two ballot initiative, Amendment 3, which needs to win at least 60% of the vote in order to pass. If this measure takes effect, starting in January of 2024, all the candidates in races for governor; the other three state cabinet offices (attorney general, chief financial officer, and commissioner of agriculture); and for the state legislature would each compete on one primary ballot rather than in separate party primaries.

The two contenders with the most votes, regardless of party, would then advance to the general election. Candidates would not be able to avert the general election by taking a majority of the vote in the primary. Amendment 3 would not apply to federal elections such as the presidential or congressional contests due to limitations on the scope of any single initiative.

California and Washington already use the top-two primary (Louisiana also uses a similar all-party primary system that does allow candidates to avoid a second round of voting if they win a majority), and as we've written before, it's notorious for producing outcomes that don't reflect the desires of the electorate. One chief reason why: A party can win a majority of votes cast in the primary, yet get shut out of the general election simply because it fields a large number of candidates while the minority party only puts forth a few, or even just two.

Furthermore, primary electorates often feature very different demographic compositions than higher-turnout general elections, producing greater partisan and racial dissonance between the two rounds. These distortions have seen one party or the other get shut out of general elections in recent years in California and Washington, including in contests they likely would have won if the parties had gotten to nominate candidates through traditional primaries.

Indeed, if the top-two had been in place in 2018 when both parties had competitive primaries for governor, Democrats would have been locked out of the general election. That year, Republican Ron DeSantis would have taken first place with 29%, while fellow Republican Adam Putnam would have beaten Democrat Andrew Gillum 19-17 for second, even though Republicans outvoted Democrats just 51-49.

The only poll we've seen all year of Amendment 3 was a late May survey from St. Pete Polls, which found the "no" side ahead 44-35. However, Amendment 3's backers have received at least $6.2 million from conservative billionaire Mike Fernandez, who has been leading the effort to get the top-two implemented, which gives the campaign the resources to put up a serious fight.

Over in Massachusetts, meanwhile, supporters of instant-runoff voting (also known as ranked-choice voting), are trying to pass Question 2 this November. If Question 2 receives a majority of the vote, then starting in 2022, instant-runoff would be used in both primaries and general elections for governor and other statewide offices; U.S. Senate and House seats; the state legislature; and countywide posts such as district attorney and sheriff. The measure would not impact presidential elections or races for city and town offices.

The only poll we've seen this year was an early August survey from MassINC that showed voters deadlocked 36-36 on whether to adopt Question 2. If the measure passes, then Massachusetts would become the second state after Maine to use this method to decide many of its elections.

Finally, voters in Alaska, Arkansas, and North Dakota each will have the opportunity to become the first states to adopt a top-four primary. This system would require all the candidates to face off on one primary ballot, and the top four vote-getters would advance. In the general election, voters would then be able to rank their choices using instant-runoff voting. Each of these referendums only needs to win a majority of the vote to pass, but there are some key differences between them.

While each would apply to all congressional, legislative, and statewide races, only Alaska's Measure 2 would also institute instant-runoff voting for the presidential contest. North Dakota's Measure 3, meanwhile, would additionally remove the legislature's unfettered control over legislative redistricting and put it in the hands of a bipartisan commission.

North Dakota's top-four law would also take effect 30 days after approval, Arkansas' would start Jan. 1, 2021, and Alaska's measure would begin in 2022. The only poll we've seen from any of these three states was a mid-July survey from the Arkansas League of Women Voters, which supports the top-four measure, from Mercury Analytics that showed respondents agreeing by a 60-28 margin that they support "[a]llow[ing] voters to rank their top four candidates when voting in the general election so voters can have more say in their second choice candidate."

Senate

MA-Sen: The Sept. 1 Democratic primary has become particularly heated on the airwaves in recent days.

Sen. Ed Markey is running a commercial accusing Rep. Joe Kennedy of running a desperate campaign, while a spot from Kennedy's allies at New Leadership PAC features audio from the congressman's recent speech declaring that Markey was questioning his family's integrity. The ads come at a time when Markey has been trying to use Kennedy's membership in what is arguably America's most prominent political family (the congressman is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy) against him.

In an Aug. 11 debate, Markey took aim at New Leadership PAC, which Kennedy's twin brother and other relatives have been raising money for. Markey also brought up speculation that the congressman's father and namesake, former Rep. Joe Kennedy II, could fund the PAC with the $2.8 million in campaign funds he still has available almost 22 years since he left Congress. "Tell your father and tell your twin brother you don't want any money to be spent on negative ads," Markey said in a clip that generated plenty of attention and quickly made it into the senator's digital advertising.

Markey also generated headlines with an online commercial that didn't mention Kennedy or his family directly, but concluded with the senator putting his own spin on the famous 1961 inaugural address delivered by the congressman's great uncle. "With all due respect," Markey said, "it's time to start asking what your country can do for you."

On Monday, Kennedy responded with the speech that was used in New Leadership PAC's new commercial. Kennedy declares, "I'm here today to talk about my family, because Sen. Markey is questioning their integrity, weaponizing their history." The congressman goes on to talk about his grandfather's record as U.S. attorney general during the civil rights era before saying he understands that "a legacy is earned." Kennedy continues by describing his own work in Congress and declares, "We deserve a senator who will not stand by."

Kennedy's campaign is also running a commercial where the narrator says he "knows how a legacy is earned." The spot goes on to show footage of RFK and the congressman's two legendary great uncles, JFK and Ted Kennedy, and says that for the younger Kennedy, battles for racial justice and healthcare for all are "a fight in his blood."

Markey's campaign, meanwhile, is airing their own commercial that contrasts the senator with Kennedy. After decrying how Kennedy is attacking the incumbent, the narrator quotes from the Boston Globe's Markey endorsement. The narrator reads how the senator has "been ahead of the curve championing progressive causes," while Kennedy "lacks the chops and track record Markey brings."

Markey's allies at United for Massachusetts are also up with a spot that also quotes the Globe endorsement, though it doesn't mention Kennedy. The ad extols Markey as "a progressive champion with chops" who has been "achieving real results on healthcare and the environment." The commercial also features images of Markey with two of his most prominent supporters, fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

This has been a very expensive contest. From July 1 to Aug. 12 (the time the FEC defines as the pre-primary period), Markey outraised Kennedy $1.4 million to $930,000, while Kennedy outspent the incumbent $4.3 million to $2.8 million during this time. Markey had a $3.5 million to $1.4 million cash-on-hand edge for the homestretch.

NH-Sen: Saint Anselm College's new poll of the Sept. 8 GOP primary finds wealthy attorney Corky Messner, who is Donald Trump's endorsed candidate, with a 31-29 edge over retired Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc. A late June Remington Research poll for Bolduc had Messner up 17-8, while a mid-July Tarrance Group internal for Messner had him ahead 39-27. The winner will be the underdog against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Gubernatorial

MT-Gov: Campaign finance reports are in covering June 15 to Aug. 15. Democrat Mike Cooney outraised Greg Gianforte $725,000 to $582,000, while the wealthy Republican threw down an additional $1 million of his own money. Gainforte outspent Cooney by a lopsided $1.7 million to $209,000 during this time, though it was Cooney who ended the period with $670,000 to $330,000 a cash-on-hand lead. However, Gianforte likely can afford to do much more self-funding over the next few months.

NH-Gov: Saint Anselm College has released the first poll we've seen of the Sept. 8 Democratic primary, and it gives state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes a narrow 22-19 lead over Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky; an additional 13% say they'd back "someone else," though there aren't any other candidates on the ballot.

Feltes, meanwhile is using his second TV spot to go right after Republican Gov. Chris Sununu over his handling of school reopenings. Feltes appears with his wife and young children and says, "As parents, we just want to know our kids will be safe. That's why it's so distressing that Chris Sununu refuses to even put forward a plan." Feltes continues, "He says nobody has to wear masks. There are no clear guidelines. Teachers are afraid. Why shouldn't they be?"

House

CA-08: The general election for this open 55-40 Trump seat hasn't generated much attention, but Democrat Chris Bubser has released a poll from Global Strategy Group to try to change that. The survey gives Republican Assemblyman Jay Obernolte a 48-38 lead, which Bubser, who is a first-time candidate, argues will dramatically narrow once she gets her name out. The sample also finds Donald Trump ahead only ahead 49-44 in this seat, which contains northern San Bernardino County and the geographically vast, but sparsely populated, High Desert to the north.

Bubser ended June with a small $325,000 to $300,000 cash-on-hand edge over Obernolte, but she'll need much more to effectively communicate her message: Almost all of this seat is located in the Los Angeles media market, where it costs quite a lot of money to air TV commercials.

FL-18: Immediately after Pam Keith decisively won the Democratic primary for Florida's 18th Congressional District, Republican Rep. Brian Mast launched a $150,000 TV buy against her. The commercial, like so many Republican ads we've seen this cycle, ties Keith to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

The narrator alternates between praising Mast's record and portraying Keith as an extremist, declaring at one point that the Democrat "called all Republicans 'traitors,' 'racist,' 'stupid,' and 'white supremacists.'" Parts of Keith tweets going after Donald Trump and his allies fill the screen, including an October 2019 message written during the House's impeachment inquiry into Trump where she asked, "I wonder if the GOP realizes that an entire generation of Americans is growing up knowing no other version of Republicans than the racist, white supremacist, bigoted, woman-hating, anti-science, delusional, gun-worshiping, treasonous greed-mongers currently on display."

Mast held a huge $1.8 million to $100,000 cash-on-hand lead over Keith on July 29, and he's likely going negative now to weaken her before she can effectively respond. Still, it's a bit surprising that Mast feels he needs to do this, since he's looked safe for a long time.

This seat, which includes the Palm Beach area and the Treasure Coast to the north, moved from 51-48 Romney to 53-44 Trump, and it remained tough turf last cycle. Mast won re-election 54-46 against a well-funded opponent, and according to analyst Matthew Isbell, both Republicans Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis carried it 52-47 as they were narrowly winning the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial contests statewide.

Still, this district could be worth watching this fall, especially if 2020 turns out to be a better year for Florida Democrats than 2018 did, which may be why Mast has decided he needs to take action now.

GA-07: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the far-right Club for Growth has booked $900,000 on TV to attack Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, though there's no copy of the spot yet. The Club is backing Republican Rich McCormick, who badly trailed Bourdeaux $760,000 to $106,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of June.

MA-01: Democratic Majority for Israel recently launched a $100,000 ad buy against Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse ahead of the Sept. 1 Democratic primary, and their newly released commercial attacks him over the condition of the local school system. American Working Families, a PAC supported by labor, also began airing commercials earlier this month going after Morse on this.

DMFI's new campaign is the latest in what has become a very expensive intra-party battle for this safely blue western Massachusetts seat. OpenSecrets reports that, as of Friday, outside groups supporting Rep. Richie Neal have spent a total of $1.3 million, while organizations like the Justice Democrats and Fight Corporate Monopolies have dropped $995,000 to oppose the incumbent.

Neal's campaign also maintains a huge financial edge over Morse, though the challenger has been bringing in a credible amount of money. Morse outraised Neal $470,000 to $360,000 during the pre-primary period, while the incumbent outspent him by a $1.8 million to $490,000 margin during this time. Neal held a $2.8 million to $295,000 cash-on-hand edge for the final weeks of the race.

MA-04: Newton City Councilor Jake Auchincloss uses his new commercial for the Sept. 1 Democratic primary to contrast his time in the Marines, where he says leadership was "on you," with Donald Trump's refusal to take responsibility for his many failures.

NY-01: In the previous Digest, we wrote that an internal poll for Democrat Nancy Goroff found Donald Trump leading Joe Biden 46-42 in New York's 1st Congressional District. However, those numbers were transposed by the outlet that originally reported the poll. Goroff's poll, conducted by Global Strategy Group, in fact found Biden ahead 46-42.

Ads: The conservative Congressional Leadership Fund is spending $2.5 million on August advertising in seven Democratic-held seats that Donald Trump carried in 2016. Politico provides a breakdown:

  • ME-02 (Jared Golden): $200,000
  • NM-02 (Xochitl Torres Small): $500,000
  • NY-11 (Max Rose): $260,000
  • NY-22 (Anthony Brindisi): $650,000
  • OK-05 (Kendra Horn): $500,000
  • SC-01 (Joe Cunningham): $200,000
  • VA-07: (Abigail Spanberger): $200,000

It is not clear if these buys come from CLF's existing reservations in these seats, or if it's new money. The only spot that is available right now is the group's ad against Horn, which ties her to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Other Races

PA-AG: Josh Shapiro, a rising star in Pennsylvania Democratic politics, won his bid for attorney general 51-49 in 2016 as Donald Trump was carrying Pennsylvania 48-47, but Republicans are hoping to unseat him this fall and regain a seat they'd previously held for decades. Shapiro is only the second Democrat to win this post since it became an elected office in 1980: The first was Kathleen Kane, who decisively won in 2012 but resigned in disgrace in 2016.

Republican nominee Heather Heidelbaugh recently launched what her campaign says is a $200,000 opening ad campaign. Heidelbaugh doesn't mention Shapiro directly in her spot as she talks about her tough upbringing, but her pledge to "serve my full term" was very much a dig at the incumbent, whom politicos widely expect to run for governor in 2022. Indeed, when Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who will be termed-out, was asked last year about the contest to succeed him, he pointed at Shapiro and said, "That's my guy right there."

Shapiro held a massive $4.1 million to $210,000 cash-on-hand lead over Heidelbaugh on June 22, but the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a group called Commonwealth Leaders Fund has booked a total $435,000 to help the Republican. The PAC, which the paper says has already spent $144,000, has been running commercials that ditch Heidelbaugh's subtlety and tear into Shapiro as "a career politician already looking to run for governor."

Shapiro responded in mid-August with what the Inquirer writes is his first TV spot. The ad says Shapiro is being attacked by dishonest commercials "paid for by people backing the insurance companies' candidate, hack lawyer Heather Heidelbaugh." The narrator goes on to praise the incumbent's service as attorney general, including his high-profile role in "holding Catholic Church officials accountable for covering up sexual abuse."

Ad Roundup

Morning Digest: Coronavirus leaves Virginia GOP unsure how to hold House nominating conventions

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

Public Service Announcement: If you haven't yet filled out the 2020 census, please do so by clicking here to do it online, by mail, or by phone. This way, census workers won't have to come to your door. The Census Bureau advises completing the census now even if you haven't received your 12-digit census ID by mail.

Leading Off

VA-05, VA-07: Republicans in Virginia’s 5th and 7th Congressional Districts had planned to pick their nominees at April 25 party conventions, rather than in June's primary, but Republicans leaders are still deciding how to proceed in light of the coronavirus.

All of this uncertainty is causing plenty of angst in the 5th District, where freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman faces a challenge from the right from Campbell County Supervisor Bob Good. Riggleman even speculated to Roll Call that, if the process gets out of hand, Team Red won’t even have a nominee in this 53-42 Trump seat. National Republicans will also be keeping a close eye on the 7th District, where plenty of candidates are competing for the right to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger.

Campaign Action

For now, the only things that anyone knows are that the April 25 conventions won’t be happening as planned, but that Republican voters in these two seats still won’t be selecting their candidates through a primary. The 5th District GOP recently posted a memo saying that it's not permissible at this point to switch from nominating candidates at a convention to the state-run primary, which is on June 9.

Ben Slone, who runs the 7th District GOP, told Roll Call’s Stephanie Akin that his group would discuss what to do on Thursday. All he would say about alternatives to the convention, though, was, “We have a set of contingency plans that will be invoked depending on guidance and government health dictates.”

Melvin Adams, who runs the 5th District GOP committee, also told Akin that they would be talking next week about moving the convention date, and he was more forthcoming with his plans. Adams said that he’d hoped to move the event to June 6, which is the weekend before the statewide primary.

However, Riggleman and his supporters say that Adams has been promoting another option if it’s still not safe to hold a convention by then, and it’s not one they like at all. Riggleman said the 5th District Republican Committee, which has fewer than 40 members, could end up picking the party’s nominee, and Adams didn’t deny that this was a possibility. Indeed, this is how Riggleman got chosen as Team Red’s candidate two years ago after Rep. Tom Garrett ended his campaign after winning renomination. That was a very different set of circumstances, though, and an unnamed Riggleman ally on the committee said that, if this ends up happening this year, “I think it would be unfair. It’s a very undemocratic process.”

There’s another huge potential drawback to using this method. Riggleman said that party rules require a candidate to earn the support of at least two-thirds of the district committee, which raises the possibility that no one could end up with the GOP nod. And even if someone claims a supermajority, the congressman argued, it’s possible that the state Republican Party won’t recognize this person as the rightful nominee. Indeed, an unnamed former state party official told Roll Call that the committee only picked the candidate last cycle because their nominee had dropped out, and that “[c]hanging to a process where Republican voters don’t have a voice would be against the party plan and potentially against state law.”

Riggleman himself sounds quite unhappy with this whole state of affairs, saying that he wanted a primary instead of “a convoluted convention process that is collapsing under the weight of this crisis.” Riggleman already had reasons to be wary about party leaders, rather than voters, choosing the nominee here. The congressman infuriated plenty of social conservatives at home in July when he officiated a same-sex wedding between two of his former campaign volunteers. This quickly resulted in a homophobic backlash against him, and local Republican Parties in three small 5th District counties each passed anti-Riggleman motions. It also didn’t escape notice that the convention was supposed to be held at Good’s church.

Riggleman’s path to a second term could be even more perilous if the 5th District Committee ends up choosing the nominee, especially since its chairman sounds very frustrated with him. “I know the congressman and some of his staff and other people have been putting out false information, or at least implying this committee is trying to rig things,” Adams said. “This committee is not trying to rig things.”

Democrats, by contrast, opted to hold a traditional primary in June, and so Team Blue doesn’t have anything like the mess that’s haunting the 5th District GOP. Democrats have several notable contenders running here, and while it will still be tough to flip a seat that Trump won by double digits, GOP infighting could give the eventual nominee more of an opening.

Election Changes

Alaska: Alaska's Republican-run state Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would allow Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer to order that the state's Aug. 18 downballot primaries be conducted entirely by mail. (The lieutenant governor is Alaska's chief election official.) However, Republicans blocked an attempt by Democrats to require that the state provide dropboxes where voters can return their ballots, an option that is very popular in states that have adopted universal voting by mail, in part because it obviates the need for a postage stamp and avoids the risk of delayed mail return service.

The bill now goes to the state House, which is controlled by a Democratic-led coalition that includes Republicans and independents. The Alaska Daily News says that Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy is "expected" to sign the measure "speedily" if both chambers pass it.

Indiana: Indiana's bipartisan Election Commission has unanimously waived the state's requirement that voters who wish to vote absentee in June's presidential and downballot primaries provide an excuse in order to do so.

Nebraska: Election officials in Nebraska say there are no plans to delay the state's May 12 presidential and downballot primaries, but at least half a dozen counties—including the three largest—will send absentee ballot applications to all voters, while a number of other small counties had previously moved to all-mail elections prior to the coronavirus outbreak. In all, more than half the state will either receive absentee applications or mail-in ballots, including all voters in the state's 2nd Congressional District, a competitive district that features a multi-way Democratic primary.

Nevada: Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and local election officials from all 17 Nevada counties have announced plans to conduct the state's June 9 downballot primaries almost entirely by mail. Every active registered voter will be sent a postage-paid absentee ballot that they can return by mail or at an in-person polling site, of which each county will have at least one. Importantly, these voters will not have to request an a ballot. At least one in-person polling place will also be available in each county.

Ballots must be postmarked or turned in by Election Day, though they will still count as long as they are received up to seven days later. Officials will also contact any voter whose ballot has an issue (such as a missing signature), and voters will have until the seventh day after the election to correct any problems. Cegavske's press release wisely cautions that, under this system, final election results will not be known until well after election night, though this is a point that officials across the country will have to emphasize loudly and repeatedly as mail voting becomes more widespread.

One potential issue with Cegavske's plan, though, is that registered voters who are listed as "inactive" on the voter rolls will not be sent ballots. However, as voting expert Michael McDonald notes, these voters are still eligible to vote, and every election, many do. While they can still request absentee ballots on their own, they now face an obstacle that active voters will not. Approximately 14% of Nevada's 1.8 million registered voters are on inactive status.

Ohio: Lawmakers in Ohio's Republican-run legislature unanimously passed a bill extending the time to vote by mail in the state's presidential and downballot primaries until April 28, and Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has said he will sign it "soon." There would be limited in-person voting only for people with disabilities or special needs, and voters would also be able to drop off absentee ballots in person on that day, but ballots would have to be mailed by April 27 and be received by May 8 in order to count. However, voting rights groups have expressed serious reservations about the plan and say they may sue.

Under the bill, the state would send postcards to voters explaining how to request an absentee ballot application. Voters would then have to print out applications on their own, or request one be mailed to them, and then mail them in—they cannot be submitted online. They would then have to mail in their absentee ballots (though these at least would come with a postage-paid envelope).

Voting rights advocate Mike Brickner notes that there is very little time left to carry out this multi-step process, particularly because each piece of mail would be in transit for several days. In addition, printing all of these materials, including the postcards that are designed to kick off this effort, will take considerable time, especially since government offices, the postal service, and print shops "may not be operating optimally," as Brickner observes.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania's Republican-run legislature has unanimously passed a bill to move the state's presidential and downballot primaries from April 28 to June 2. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has said he will sign the measure.

Wisconsin: The city of Green Bay has filed a lawsuit asking that a federal judge order Wisconsin officials to delay the state's April 7 elections until June 2 and to extend its voter registration deadline to May 1. (The deadline for registering by mail has already passed, but voters can still register online through March 30 thanks to an earlier order by a different judge.) Green Bay has also asked that it be allowed to cancel in-person voting and mail ballots to all registered voters.

Senate

MI-Sen: The GOP firm Marketing Resource Group is out with a new survey giving Democratic Sen. Gary Peters a 42-35 lead over Republican John James, which is an improvement from the incumbent's 43-40 edge in October. The only other poll we've seen this month was an early March survey from the GOP firms 0ptimus and Firehouse Strategies that gave James a 41-40 advantage.

ME-Sen: The Democratic group Majority Forward has announced that it's launched a new six-figure ad campaign supporting state House Speaker Sara Gideon. The spot praises Gideon's work securing millions for coronavirus testing, as well as workers and small businesses.

SC-Sen: Democrat Jaime Harrison is out with a poll from Brilliant Corners that shows GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham leading him by a small 47-43 margin. The only other survey we've seen in the last few weeks was a late February Marist poll that showed Graham up 54-37.

Gubernatorial

WV-Gov: The GOP firm Medium Buying reports that GOP Gov. Jim Justice launched his first ad of 2020 last week, and we now have a copy of his commercial. The ad begins with a clip of Donald Trump at a rally saying, "My good friend, and your governor, Jim Justice," before the narrator jumps in and praises the incumbent as a conservative Trump ally.

Former state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher, by contrast, has been running commercials since June of last year, and he's out with another one ahead of the May GOP primary. Thrasher tells the audience that the coronavirus is creating hardships for West Virginia, and that the state "needs to be proactive in terms of its reaction to this crisis, not reactive the way we have been so many other times." Thrasher then lays out his plan for helping the state economically during the pandemic.

Thrasher doesn't mention, much less directly criticize, Justice's handling of the situation, but he still argues that the state isn't doing enough. "Our president is being very proactive in terms of dealing with those issues," Thrasher says, "We need to follow suit and be proactive as well." He concludes, "It's time for the state of West Virginia to get something done."

House

IN-05: In an unusual move, retiring Rep. Susan Brooks' office publicly told businesswoman Beth Henderson to stop saying that Brooks had recruited her or even given her any special encouragement to run at all. "Susan talked with all Republican candidates who called her and expressed an interest in running in the 5th District to share her insights about representing this district," a Brooks aide said. "Some candidates did not call her." Brooks has not taken sides in the crowded June GOP primary to succeed her.

However, Henderson made it sound like the congresswoman was pulling for her back in February when she declared, "Susan Brooks encouraged me to run." The candidate put out a statement this week insisting that she and Brooks "have had a couple conversations regarding the Fifth district. She has been encouraging throughout my campaign, as I imagine she has been with other candidates as well."

The Indianapolis Star also obtained a voicemail from an unidentified person raising money for the Henderson campaign who said, "Susan actually recruited Beth to run for her, and we are working hard to raise funds to ensure that that happened." Henderson's team acknowledged that this person was affiliated with the campaign but insisted that none of that was included in the script that caller was given.

MI-13: Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones announced Wednesday that she would seek a primary rematch against Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who is one of the most high-profile members of the House freshman class. Jones, who briefly held this seat for a few weeks in the lame-duck session of the last Congress (more on that later), kicked off her campaign with a video declaring that she was “running for re-election” to this safely blue seat.

While Jones didn’t mention Tlaib in that message, she argued in a new interview with the Detroit News that her opponent has “spent a lot of her energy in places other than the 13th District.” Jones said that, unlike the congresswoman, “I will be totally focused on the 13th District, being the third-poorest district in the United States.”

Jones and Tlaib have a lot of history. Thanks to some very unusual circumstances, they even faced off three separate times in 2018. That August, Michigan held two different Democratic primaries on the same day for this seat: one for a special election for the final months of former Rep. John Conyers' term, and one for the regular two-year term. Jones had the support of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and some unions, but she had trouble raising money. Tlaib, by contrast, didn’t have as many prominent local endorsements, but she decisively outraised each of her many opponents.

Tlaib narrowly beat Jones 31-30 in the six-way primary for the full term. However, there were only four candidates on the ballot in the special election primary, and in that race, it was Jones who edged Tlaib 38-36.

The two candidates who were only on the ballot for the regular term, state Sen. Coleman Young II and former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson, took a combined 18% of the vote, so their absence in the special primary likely had an impact. Jones, Young, and Jackson, along with more than half the district's residents, are black, while Tlaib is of Palestinian descent (only 4% of residents identify as Arab American). It's therefore probable that the presence of two additional African American candidates in the regular primary but not in the special primary made the difference between the two close outcomes.

Jones, however, didn't relish the idea of serving just a few weeks in the House and wound up launching a last-minute write-in campaign against Tlaib for the general election. It was a misguided move, though, as she took just 0.32% of the vote. Jones and then-Speaker Paul Ryan ended up working out an apparently unprecedented agreement that allowed Jones to serve a few weeks in the House without resigning as head of the Detroit City Council, letting her take a hiatus from that post until Tlaib was sworn in in January of 2019.

Tlaib immediately earned national attention on her first day in office when she said of Donald Trump, "[W]e're going to impeach the motherfucker," and she’s been in the headlines plenty since then. Most notably, Trump targeted Tlaib and the three other women of color who make up “The Squad” with a racist tweet in July. Thanks to her celebrity, Tlaib has done well in raising money from progressives across the country, ending last year with a hefty $1.2 million on-hand.

Tlaib, who has been a prominent Bernie Sanders surrogate, has her share of intra-party critics and recently inflamed some of them when she booed Hillary Clinton at a Sanders campaign event in January in Iowa. Jones, however, has her own issues, particularly as a longtime supporter of Louis Farrakhan, the anti-Semitic head of the Nation of Islam, even sharing the stage with him at a 2017 event in Detroit.

If Jones has any reservations about Farrakhan—whose lowlight reel includes gems like, “The Jewish media has normalized sexual degeneracy, profanity, and all kinds of sin,” and, “In Washington right next to the Holocaust Museum is the Federal Reserve where they print the money. Is that an accident?"—she hasn't put them on display. Rather, just last month, her chief of staff said that Jones was sponsoring a resolution commending Farrakhan’s newspaper, which ran a piece Farrakhan wrote in 2016 saying that the Sept. 11 attacks were “a false flag operation,” for its “truthful articles.” For his part, Farrakhan himself singled Jones out for praise in a speech in Detroit two years ago.

TN-01: State Rep. Timothy Hill announced on Tuesday that he was joining the August GOP primary for this safely red open seat. Hill has served in the state legislature for four terms, and he's risen to become chair of the Commerce Committee.