Morning Digest: Trump-backed rich guy wins close primary to take on Wisconsin’s Democratic governor

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

Leading Off

 WI-Gov: Self-funding businessman Tim Michels, who had Donald Trump’s endorsement, defeated former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch 47-42 in the Republican primary to take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Michels was last on the ballot all the way back in 2004 when he lost the Senate race to Democrat Russ Feingold 55-44 as John Kerry was only narrowly carrying Wisconsin 50-49. Team Red, though, is counting on a much better performance from him this time against Evers in what will be one of the biggest races of 2022.

Kleefisch, who was Scott Walker’s running mate in each of his campaigns and had his backing for the top job, looked like the clear frontrunner until April when Michels jumped in seemingly out of nowhere. The construction executive, however, immediately used his wealth to reintroduce himself to voters, and he wound up decisively outspending his opponent after investing at least $12 million into his comeback.

Michels went on to earn Trump’s endorsement in June; the GOP's leader reportedly was infuriated about a 2019 picture of Kleefisch's daughter going to her high school prom with the son of Brian Hagedorn, a conservative state Supreme Court justice who sided against Trump’s attempts to steal the 2020 election. Kleefisch and her allies began airing negative ads a month before Election Day, but Michels spent weeks insisting he wouldn’t do the same.

As recently as last Monday, the businessman proclaimed, “I've never had a negative ad run by my campaign in this race,” explaining, “And the reason is we've never had a single piece of business by talking bad about the competition.” However, while Michels continued, “And the reason is, it's just bad policy, and if you get a reputation of doing that in my industry … people immediately disrespect you,” he decided to risk that disrespect on Thursday by indeed going negative. That belated response, as well as the Club for Growth’s earlier anti-Kleefisch ad campaign, may have made the difference in Tuesday’s close primary.

Election Recaps

Primary Night: Below is a state-by-state look at where Tuesday’s other major contests stood as of 8 AM ET Wednesday, and you can also find our cheat-sheet here.

 CT-Sen (R): Former Ambassador to Chile Leora Levy beat former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides 51-40 for the right to face Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Biden won Connecticut 59-39, and there was little indication that the senator was vulnerable even before the Trump-endorsed Levy took the GOP nomination.

Klarides spent years as a GOP rising star in a state where the party desperately needed one, and she had been widely expected to challenge Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont. In January, though, Klarides kicked off a Senate bid instead after wealthy businessman Bob Stefanowski announced that he would seek a rematch with Lamont, who beat him 49-46. However, while Klarides likely believed she’d avoid a tough primary by choosing to go after the entrenched Blumenthal, Levy proved her very wrong.

 MN-01 (special): The Associated Press has not yet called the special election to succeed the late Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn, but Republican Brad Finstad leads Democrat Jeff Ettinger 51-47 with 118,000 votes in; the AP estimates that this is represents 99% of the total vote. Trump carried this southern Minnesota constituency 54-44 in 2020, while Hagedorn won his second and final term that year 49-46

 MN-01 (R): Finstad easily turned back state Rep. Jeremy Munson 76-24 in the Republican primary for a full two-year term, while Ettinger secured the Democratic nod 92-6 against a little-known foe. Trump would have carried the new version of the 1st, which largely resembles the constituency Hagedorn represented, by a similar 53-44 spread.

Finstad beat Munson just 38-37 in the May special primary, and while Munson filed to run for a full term days later, it initially looked like he was just raising money to pay back a $200,000 campaign loan. Munson announced in July that he would indeed try once more to beat Finstad, but that effort badly collapsed on Tuesday.

 MN-04 (D): Longtime Rep. Betty McCollum pulled off a landslide 83-15 win against party operative Amane Badhasso in the primary for this safely blue St. Paul-based seat.

 MN-05 (D): In arguably the biggest surprise of the evening, Rep. Ilhan Omar fended off former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels just 50-48 to win renomination in this heavily Democratic constituency in the Minneapolis area. We’ll take a closer look at this near upset in our next Digest.

MN-AG (R): Attorney Jim Schultz, who earned the state party’s endorsement in May, beat 2018 nominee Doug Wardlow 53-35. Schultz will now take on Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison, who defeated Wardlow 49-45 four years ago.

Hennepin County, MN Attorney: Former Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty took first place in the seven-way nonpartisan primary with 36%, while retired judge Martha Holton Dimick edged out state House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler 18-16 for the second spot in the November general election.

Both Moriarty and Dimick are Democrats, but they’ve been running very different campaigns. Moriarty, who has the backing of Rep. Ilhan Omar, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and the state Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, has pitched herself as a reformer, saying there needs to be “accountability both for people who violate the law and police.”

Dimick, who has both Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association in her corner, has in turn argued, “We have to send messages that we will prosecute violent criminals … With that effort to defund the police, people sent the wrong message.” Dimick would be the state's first Black county attorney.

 VT-Sen (R): First-time candidate Gerald Malloy scored a 43-39 win against former U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan, who generated some attention when she launched her campaign; Nolan also had the support of Gov. Phil Scott, who is one of the few prominent Republicans in this very blue state. The result makes little difference for the general election, though, because Democratic Rep. Peter Welch should have no trouble winning the contest to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Leahy in a state Biden took 66-31.

VT-AL (D): State Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint beat Lt. Gov. Molly Gray 61-37 in the primary to replace Welch as Vermont’s only House member. Balint, who had endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders and the LGBTQ Victory Fund, is now set to end Vermont’s status as the only state in America that has not elected a woman to Congress; Balint would also be the Green Mountain State’s first gay representative.

WI-03 (D): State Sen. Brad Pfaff defeated businesswoman Rebecca Cooke 39-31 in the primary to succeed retiring Rep. Ron Kind, who is Pfaff’s former boss and top supporter. Pfaff will now go up against 2020 Republican nominee Derrick Van Orden, who lost to Kind 51-49 in the closest race of the congressman’s career. Trump carried both the old and new versions of this southwestern Wisconsin constituency 51-47.

 WI-AG (R): Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney holds a 37.5-36.9 edge over former state Rep. Adam Jarchow in a contest that the Associated Press has not yet called; 595,000 ballots have been tabulated, and the AP estimates they represent 99% of the total vote. The winner will go up against Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, who won his post in a tight 2018 contest.

WI State Assembly (R): Speaker Robin Vos won renomination 51-49 against Adam Steen, who was very much a longshot until Trump endorsed him last week. No Democrats are running for this seat in the Racine area.

Trump made his move after Vos said that the GOP’s master had recently called him and urged him to retroactively decertify Joe Biden's victory in the state—a move the speaker said was legally impossible. Trump retaliated by trashing Vos for using an old photo of the two of them together in his campaign literature as he endorsed the previously little-known Steen.  

Senate

GA-Sen, GA-Gov, GA-LG: Charlie Bailey, who is Team Blue's nominee for lieutenant governor, has released an internal from Research Affiliates that shows his party doing well in competitive contests. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock edges out Republican Herschel Walker 49-46, while GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams are deadlocked 47-47. Bailey also posts a 43-43 tie in his own race against Republican Burt Jones, who was the rare member of Donald Trump's Big Lie slate to win a statewide primary this year.

OK-Sen-B: The Republican pollster Battleground Connect last week found Rep. Markwayne Mullin leading former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon 46-38 ahead of the Aug. 23 Republican primary runoff. This survey, which did not mention a client, is the first poll we've seen of the second round of voting. Mullin outpaced Shannon 44-18 in late June and picked up Trump's endorsement soon after, so it would be a surprise if the runoff is close.

Battleground Connect did depart from the consensus in July when it released a trio of polls in the GOP primary for Arizona's U.S. Senate seat that showed wealthy businessman Jim Lamon narrowly leading the Trump-endorsed Blake Masters at a time when every other firm had Masters well ahead. (Its final poll in late July put Lamon up 30-28.) But that iconoclasm didn't work out well for Battleground Connect or Lamon, and Masters prevailed 40-28 last week.

UT-Sen: Republican incumbent Mike Lee's team has dusted off a WPA Intelligence Poll from July 12-14 that shows him beating independent Evan McMullin 49-35, with 10% going to unnamed other candidates. A survey taken around that same time by Dan Jones & Associates showed Lee up by a considerably smaller 41-36.

Governors

OK-Gov: Oklahoma's Children Our Future, a group that very much does not like Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, has publicized an internal from the Democratic firm Change Research that shows him leading Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister only 42-34. Libertarian Natalie Bruno takes 6% while independent Ervin Yen, who is a former Republican state senator, grabs another 4%.

The memo, which begins, "As scandal after scandal plagues the Kevin Stitt administration," says that the governor posted a 58-32 advantage in an unreleased January poll. The last survey we saw was in early June when the GOP firm Amber Integrated gave Stitt a 47-29 edge over Hofmeister, who left the Republican Party in October.

House

CA-13, OR-04, OR-06: Politico’s Ally Mutnick has obtained a trio of polls sponsored by the NRCC and the seat’s respective Republican nominee that show Team Red in competitive races in constituencies Biden decisively carried:

CA-13: Moore Information (R): Adam Gray (D): 47, John Duarte (R): 43

OR-04: Moore Information (R): Val Hoyle (D): 46, Alek Skarlatos (R): 41

OR-06: Cygnal (R): Mike Erickson (R): 47, Andrea Salinas (D): 40

These are the first numbers we’ve seen from any of these contests.

NY-24: Rep. Claudia Tenney has unveiled an internal from Public Opinion Strategies that has her taking 52% in the Aug. 23 GOP primary while her two opponents, attorney Mario Fratto and perennial candidate George Phillips, grab just 6% each. Trump would have won 57-40 in this constituency, which is based in the Finger Lakes region.

The Trump-endorsed Tenney currently represents less than 6% of this revamped district, but neither of her foes have generated much attention. Fratto did finish June with $230,000 on-hand thanks mostly to self-funding, but Tenney was still well ahead with $1 million banked. Phillips, writes The Citizen, "has not been actively campaigning for the seat and did not file a fundraising report."

WA-03: On Tuesday evening Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who was one of the 10 House Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump last year, conceded last week’s top-two primary one day after she dropped into third place. With 218,000 ballots tabulated Democrat Marie Perez leads with 31% while Trump's candidate, Army veteran Joe Kent, edged out Herrera Beutler 22.8-22.3 for the second general election spot. Trump would have carried this southwestern Washington seat 51-46.

WY-AL: Sen. Cynthia Lummis endorsed attorney Harriet Hageman over the weekend for the Aug. 16 GOP primary almost a year after Donald Trump declared that the senator was already supporting Hageman's bid against Rep. Liz Cheney. Lummis' spokesperson said back in September, "While Senator Lummis is not making an endorsement at this time, she believes President Trump has made an inspired choice in backing Harriet Hageman."

secretaries of state

 WA-SoS: The AP has called a special general election between appointed Democratic incumbent Steve Hobbs and Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who does not identify with either party. Hobbs, who is the first Democrat to hold this office since the 1964 election, took first in last week’s top-two primary with 40%, while Anderson edged out Republican state Sen. Keith Wagoner 13-12 for second. The winner will be up for a full four-year term in 2024.

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Morning Digest: Trump-backed rich guy wins close primary to take on Wisconsin’s Democratic governor

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

Leading Off

 WI-Gov: Self-funding businessman Tim Michels, who had Donald Trump’s endorsement, defeated former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch 47-42 in the Republican primary to take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Michels was last on the ballot all the way back in 2004 when he lost the Senate race to Democrat Russ Feingold 55-44 as John Kerry was only narrowly carrying Wisconsin 50-49. Team Red, though, is counting on a much better performance from him this time against Evers in what will be one of the biggest races of 2022.

Kleefisch, who was Scott Walker’s running mate in each of his campaigns and had his backing for the top job, looked like the clear frontrunner until April when Michels jumped in seemingly out of nowhere. The construction executive, however, immediately used his wealth to reintroduce himself to voters, and he wound up decisively outspending his opponent after investing at least $12 million into his comeback.

Michels went on to earn Trump’s endorsement in June; the GOP's leader reportedly was infuriated about a 2019 picture of Kleefisch's daughter going to her high school prom with the son of Brian Hagedorn, a conservative state Supreme Court justice who sided against Trump’s attempts to steal the 2020 election. Kleefisch and her allies began airing negative ads a month before Election Day, but Michels spent weeks insisting he wouldn’t do the same.

As recently as last Monday, the businessman proclaimed, “I've never had a negative ad run by my campaign in this race,” explaining, “And the reason is we've never had a single piece of business by talking bad about the competition.” However, while Michels continued, “And the reason is, it's just bad policy, and if you get a reputation of doing that in my industry … people immediately disrespect you,” he decided to risk that disrespect on Thursday by indeed going negative. That belated response, as well as the Club for Growth’s earlier anti-Kleefisch ad campaign, may have made the difference in Tuesday’s close primary.

Election Recaps

Primary Night: Below is a state-by-state look at where Tuesday’s other major contests stood as of 8 AM ET Wednesday, and you can also find our cheat-sheet here.

 CT-Sen (R): Former Ambassador to Chile Leora Levy beat former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides 51-40 for the right to face Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal. Biden won Connecticut 59-39, and there was little indication that the senator was vulnerable even before the Trump-endorsed Levy took the GOP nomination.

Klarides spent years as a GOP rising star in a state where the party desperately needed one, and she had been widely expected to challenge Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont. In January, though, Klarides kicked off a Senate bid instead after wealthy businessman Bob Stefanowski announced that he would seek a rematch with Lamont, who beat him 49-46. However, while Klarides likely believed she’d avoid a tough primary by choosing to go after the entrenched Blumenthal, Levy proved her very wrong.

 MN-01 (special): The Associated Press has not yet called the special election to succeed the late Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn, but Republican Brad Finstad leads Democrat Jeff Ettinger 51-47 with 118,000 votes in; the AP estimates that this is represents 99% of the total vote. Trump carried this southern Minnesota constituency 54-44 in 2020, while Hagedorn won his second and final term that year 49-46

 MN-01 (R): Finstad easily turned back state Rep. Jeremy Munson 76-24 in the Republican primary for a full two-year term, while Ettinger secured the Democratic nod 92-6 against a little-known foe. Trump would have carried the new version of the 1st, which largely resembles the constituency Hagedorn represented, by a similar 53-44 spread.

Finstad beat Munson just 38-37 in the May special primary, and while Munson filed to run for a full term days later, it initially looked like he was just raising money to pay back a $200,000 campaign loan. Munson announced in July that he would indeed try once more to beat Finstad, but that effort badly collapsed on Tuesday.

 MN-04 (D): Longtime Rep. Betty McCollum pulled off a landslide 83-15 win against party operative Amane Badhasso in the primary for this safely blue St. Paul-based seat.

 MN-05 (D): In arguably the biggest surprise of the evening, Rep. Ilhan Omar fended off former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels just 50-48 to win renomination in this heavily Democratic constituency in the Minneapolis area. We’ll take a closer look at this near upset in our next Digest.

MN-AG (R): Attorney Jim Schultz, who earned the state party’s endorsement in May, beat 2018 nominee Doug Wardlow 53-35. Schultz will now take on Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison, who defeated Wardlow 49-45 four years ago.

Hennepin County, MN Attorney: Former Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty took first place in the seven-way nonpartisan primary with 36%, while retired judge Martha Holton Dimick edged out state House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler 18-16 for the second spot in the November general election.

Both Moriarty and Dimick are Democrats, but they’ve been running very different campaigns. Moriarty, who has the backing of Rep. Ilhan Omar, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and the state Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, has pitched herself as a reformer, saying there needs to be “accountability both for people who violate the law and police.”

Dimick, who has both Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association in her corner, has in turn argued, “We have to send messages that we will prosecute violent criminals … With that effort to defund the police, people sent the wrong message.” Dimick would be the state's first Black county attorney.

 VT-Sen (R): First-time candidate Gerald Malloy scored a 43-39 win against former U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan, who generated some attention when she launched her campaign; Nolan also had the support of Gov. Phil Scott, who is one of the few prominent Republicans in this very blue state. The result makes little difference for the general election, though, because Democratic Rep. Peter Welch should have no trouble winning the contest to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Leahy in a state Biden took 66-31.

VT-AL (D): State Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint beat Lt. Gov. Molly Gray 61-37 in the primary to replace Welch as Vermont’s only House member. Balint, who had endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders and the LGBTQ Victory Fund, is now set to end Vermont’s status as the only state in America that has not elected a woman to Congress; Balint would also be the Green Mountain State’s first gay representative.

WI-03 (D): State Sen. Brad Pfaff defeated businesswoman Rebecca Cooke 39-31 in the primary to succeed retiring Rep. Ron Kind, who is Pfaff’s former boss and top supporter. Pfaff will now go up against 2020 Republican nominee Derrick Van Orden, who lost to Kind 51-49 in the closest race of the congressman’s career. Trump carried both the old and new versions of this southwestern Wisconsin constituency 51-47.

 WI-AG (R): Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney holds a 37.5-36.9 edge over former state Rep. Adam Jarchow in a contest that the Associated Press has not yet called; 595,000 ballots have been tabulated, and the AP estimates they represent 99% of the total vote. The winner will go up against Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, who won his post in a tight 2018 contest.

WI State Assembly (R): Speaker Robin Vos won renomination 51-49 against Adam Steen, who was very much a longshot until Trump endorsed him last week. No Democrats are running for this seat in the Racine area.

Trump made his move after Vos said that the GOP’s master had recently called him and urged him to retroactively decertify Joe Biden's victory in the state—a move the speaker said was legally impossible. Trump retaliated by trashing Vos for using an old photo of the two of them together in his campaign literature as he endorsed the previously little-known Steen.  

Senate

GA-Sen, GA-Gov, GA-LG: Charlie Bailey, who is Team Blue's nominee for lieutenant governor, has released an internal from Research Affiliates that shows his party doing well in competitive contests. Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock edges out Republican Herschel Walker 49-46, while GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams are deadlocked 47-47. Bailey also posts a 43-43 tie in his own race against Republican Burt Jones, who was the rare member of Donald Trump's Big Lie slate to win a statewide primary this year.

OK-Sen-B: The Republican pollster Battleground Connect last week found Rep. Markwayne Mullin leading former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon 46-38 ahead of the Aug. 23 Republican primary runoff. This survey, which did not mention a client, is the first poll we've seen of the second round of voting. Mullin outpaced Shannon 44-18 in late June and picked up Trump's endorsement soon after, so it would be a surprise if the runoff is close.

Battleground Connect did depart from the consensus in July when it released a trio of polls in the GOP primary for Arizona's U.S. Senate seat that showed wealthy businessman Jim Lamon narrowly leading the Trump-endorsed Blake Masters at a time when every other firm had Masters well ahead. (Its final poll in late July put Lamon up 30-28.) But that iconoclasm didn't work out well for Battleground Connect or Lamon, and Masters prevailed 40-28 last week.

UT-Sen: Republican incumbent Mike Lee's team has dusted off a WPA Intelligence Poll from July 12-14 that shows him beating independent Evan McMullin 49-35, with 10% going to unnamed other candidates. A survey taken around that same time by Dan Jones & Associates showed Lee up by a considerably smaller 41-36.

Governors

OK-Gov: Oklahoma's Children Our Future, a group that very much does not like Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, has publicized an internal from the Democratic firm Change Research that shows him leading Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister only 42-34. Libertarian Natalie Bruno takes 6% while independent Ervin Yen, who is a former Republican state senator, grabs another 4%.

The memo, which begins, "As scandal after scandal plagues the Kevin Stitt administration," says that the governor posted a 58-32 advantage in an unreleased January poll. The last survey we saw was in early June when the GOP firm Amber Integrated gave Stitt a 47-29 edge over Hofmeister, who left the Republican Party in October.

House

CA-13, OR-04, OR-06: Politico’s Ally Mutnick has obtained a trio of polls sponsored by the NRCC and the seat’s respective Republican nominee that show Team Red in competitive races in constituencies Biden decisively carried:

CA-13: Moore Information (R): Adam Gray (D): 47, John Duarte (R): 43

OR-04: Moore Information (R): Val Hoyle (D): 46, Alek Skarlatos (R): 41

OR-06: Cygnal (R): Mike Erickson (R): 47, Andrea Salinas (D): 40

These are the first numbers we’ve seen from any of these contests.

NY-24: Rep. Claudia Tenney has unveiled an internal from Public Opinion Strategies that has her taking 52% in the Aug. 23 GOP primary while her two opponents, attorney Mario Fratto and perennial candidate George Phillips, grab just 6% each. Trump would have won 57-40 in this constituency, which is based in the Finger Lakes region.

The Trump-endorsed Tenney currently represents less than 6% of this revamped district, but neither of her foes have generated much attention. Fratto did finish June with $230,000 on-hand thanks mostly to self-funding, but Tenney was still well ahead with $1 million banked. Phillips, writes The Citizen, "has not been actively campaigning for the seat and did not file a fundraising report."

WA-03: On Tuesday evening Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who was one of the 10 House Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump last year, conceded last week’s top-two primary one day after she dropped into third place. With 218,000 ballots tabulated Democrat Marie Perez leads with 31% while Trump's candidate, Army veteran Joe Kent, edged out Herrera Beutler 22.8-22.3 for the second general election spot. Trump would have carried this southwestern Washington seat 51-46.

WY-AL: Sen. Cynthia Lummis endorsed attorney Harriet Hageman over the weekend for the Aug. 16 GOP primary almost a year after Donald Trump declared that the senator was already supporting Hageman's bid against Rep. Liz Cheney. Lummis' spokesperson said back in September, "While Senator Lummis is not making an endorsement at this time, she believes President Trump has made an inspired choice in backing Harriet Hageman."

secretaries of state

 WA-SoS: The AP has called a special general election between appointed Democratic incumbent Steve Hobbs and Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who does not identify with either party. Hobbs, who is the first Democrat to hold this office since the 1964 election, took first in last week’s top-two primary with 40%, while Anderson edged out Republican state Sen. Keith Wagoner 13-12 for second. The winner will be up for a full four-year term in 2024.

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Morning Digest: Trump’s candidates faceplant again in Georgia’s House runoffs

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

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Leading Off

GA-02, GA-06, GA-10: Georgia held its primary runoffs on Tuesday, and all three of the House candidates endorsed by Donald Trump―including one he backed at almost the last moment―went down in defeat. The bad results for Trump’s contenders came a month after his Big Lie slate of statewide candidates unsuccessfully tried to deny renomination to Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and Attorney General Chris Carr on May 24 (Georgia requires runoffs in any primaries where no one earned a majority of the vote).

In southwestern Georgia’s 2nd District, Air Force veteran Chris West edged out Army veteran Jeremy Hunt, the recipient of that belated Trump endorsement, 51-49 on Tuesday for the right to take on 15-term Democratic incumbent Sanford Bishop. Meanwhile in the 6th District, physician Rich McCormick triumphed 67-33 against former state Ethics Commission Chair Jake Evans in a newly-gerrymandered seat in the Atlanta suburbs. Finally in the open 10th District in the northeastern part of the state, trucking company owner Mike Collins walloped former state Rep. Vernon Jones, a prominent, conservative Democrat-turned-Republican, 74-26 in another safely red constituency.

We’ll start in the 2nd District, where Republicans are hoping that, despite Joe Biden’s 55-44 win here in 2020, Bishop might be vulnerable against the right opponent. Hunt seemed to have a good chance to be that opponent after leading West 37-30 in the first round of voting on May 24. Hunt, who was the subject of a detailed Washington Post profile a day ahead of Election Day titled, “A Black Republican tries to bring in Black voters to the GOP,” also benefited from numerous Fox News appearances as well as outside spending from a super PAC funded by conservative megadonor Ken Griffin.

However, while Hunt largely avoided bringing up Trump on the campaign trail, Trump waded in over the weekend in a truly odd way. The MAGA master used an address at the national Faith & Freedom conference to give a shoutout to Bishop Garland Hunt, who backed him in 2020, by saying, “Bishop Hunt, I know your son, I just endorsed your son and he won big…what a great son.”

That statement left observers scratching their heads both because Trump had made no such endorsement of his son, Jeremy Hunt, and the runoff had not even taken place yet. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that Trump had endorsed Texas’ Wesley Hunt, who did win his GOP primary in March; the two candidates do not appear to be related.) However, Jeremy Hunt’s campaign seized on those confusing words by broadcasting them in a text message, though even his team seemed a little confused by what was happening. “We were just going based on what the President said, speaking about Jeremy’s father, and then we took it as referring to our big win, coming in first place in the primary,” Hunt’s campaign manager said.

West, though, worked hard to portray his opponent as an outsider by attacking his weak ties to southwestern Georgia, saying at one debate that Republicans needed a nominee “who is going to go up and represent middle and southwest Georgia, not someone who has just moved here three months ago, who has been bought and paid for by Washington, D.C., special interests.” West also earned an endorsement from businessman Wayne Johnson, who finished third in the first round with 19% and went on to launch a lawsuit against Fox News for supposedly giving Hunt (whom he’s also suing) an unfair amount of positive coverage.

Trump, meanwhile, went all-in for Evans and Jones well before the May 24 primaries only to see them each wind up in second place: McCormick outpaced Evans last month 43-23 in the 6th, while Collins edged out Jones 26-22. McCormick, who narrowly lost last cycle’s race in the prior version of the 7th District to Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, likely benefited from name recognition from that campaign; Evans, by contrast, had plenty of connections through his father, former Ambassador to Luxembourg Randy Evans, but he wasn’t such a familiar name to voters. It didn’t help that a Club for Growth affiliate spent heavily in the runoff on messaging using Evans’ old writings to portray him as “woke.”

Finally in the 10th, Collins, who picked up an endorsement from Kemp days ahead of Election Day, also had plenty to attack Jones with. While Collins’ late father, Mac Collins, used to serve this area in Congress, Jones never represented any part of this district either in the legislature or as the chief executive of DeKalb County. (The younger Collins also unsuccessfully ran here in 2014 only to lose the runoff to Jody Hice, who gave up this seat to wage a failed bid against Raffensperger.)

Jones earned Trump's support after he ended his long-shot campaign for governor to run here instead, but that hardly stopped Collins from portraying his Black opponent as an outsider and “radically anti-white racist.” Things intensified in the final days when Collins sent out a tweet that featured a picture of a rape whistle emblazoned with the web address for an anti-Jones site, an item that references an accusation of rape leveled against Jones in 2004​ (he was never charged), alongside an image of a gun.

However, while McCormick and Collins each turned back Trump’s candidates, both of them still ran as ardent Trump allies themselves: Collins notably launched his campaign with a video where he drove a truck labeled “Trump Agenda” that sported a Trump bobblehead on the dashboard. The results, while embarrassing for Trump, are another reminder what, while the GOP leader may lose some battles to nominate his favored candidates, Trumpism remains alive and well in the GOP.

election recaps

 Primary Night: We had another busy primary night on Tuesday outside of those three Georgia contests, and below is a summary of where things stood as of 8 AM ET in the big contests.

  • AL-Sen (R): Former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Britt defeated Rep. Mo Brooks 63-37 in the contest to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, who ardently supported her, in this safely red state. Trump himself endorsed Britt ahead of Election Day two months after he abandoned Brooks’ flailing campaign.
  • AL-05 (R): Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong outpaced former Department of Defense official Casey Wardynski 63-37 to claim the GOP nod to succeed Brooks in this heavily Republican constituency in northern Alabama. Wardynski’s allies at the nihilistic House Freedom Caucus ran ads portraying Strong as a politician who "caved to the woke liberals" and "shunned President Trump," but it was far from enough.
  • VA-02 (R): State Sen. Jen Kiggans, who was the candidate of the GOP establishment, scored a 56-27 victory over Big Lie fanatic Jarome Bell despite a late ad campaign from Democrats designed to help Bell capture the Republican nod. Kiggans will go up against Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in a Virginia Beach-based seat where, under the new court-drawn map, Joe Biden’s margin of victory was halved from 51-47 to just 50-48.
  • VA-07 (R): Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega, who was backed by the House Freedom Caucus, beat Green Beret veteran Derrick Anderson 29-24 in the six-way GOP primary. Vega will now face Democratic Rep. ​​Abigail Spanberger in a constituency that dramatically transformed under the new map from a district anchored in the Richmond suburbs seat to one largely based in Northern Virginia’s Prince William County; Biden would have won the new seat 52-46, compared to just 50-49 under the old lines.
  • GA-SoS (D): State Rep. Bee Nguyen defeated former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler 77-23 for the right to go up against Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
  • Washington, D.C. Mayor (D): Mayor Muriel Bowser won renomination by turning back Councilmember Robert White 50-39, a win that all but guarantees her a third term in this dark blue city.

Redistricting

LA Redistricting: Louisiana's Republican-run legislature has failed to meet a court-ordered June 20 deadline to draw a new congressional map, meaning a federal judge will now be responsible for crafting her own map that would allow Black voters to elect their preferred candidates in a second district. However, Republicans have asked the Supreme Court to block a recent ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed the case to proceed. Earlier this year, the justices barred a similar decision in Alabama from taking effect.

Senate

AK-Sen: Alaskans for L.I.S.A.—oh, you thought that was just "Lisa," as in Murkowski? nope, it stands for the almost recursive, very nearly tautological "Leadership In a Strong Alaska," and yes, it includes those periodsis spending $2 million to air ads boosting … you'll never believe it … Lisa Murkowski. The super PAC's spot, which is the first outside TV advertising of the race, touts the Republican senator's local roots and her advocacy on behalf of the state. There's no word yet as to whether the Man from U.N.C.L.E. plans to get involved.

FL-Sen: Candidate filing closed Friday for Florida's Aug. 23 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders available here.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's only serious opponent is Democratic Rep. Val Demings, whose one notable intra-party foe, former Rep. Alan Grayson, announced last month that he'd instead run to succeed her in the House. Demings has been a very strong fundraiser, but she faces a difficult campaign in a longtime swing state that has been trending right in recent years. Major outside groups have also so far avoided reserving ad time on either side in this extremely expensive state.

The most recent survey we've seen was a late May internal for the congresswoman's allies at Giffords PAC, and it gave Rubio a 47-41 edge.

UT-Sen: A new WPA Intelligence poll for Republican Sen. Mike Lee finds him leading conservative independent challenger Evan McMullin by a 52-33 margin, a very different result from a recent independent survey from Dan Jones & Associates that gave Lee just a 41-37 edge. Earlier this year, Utah Democrats declined to put forward their own nominee and instead gave their backing to McMullin in the hopes that an alliance between Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans would give both factions the best chance to boot Lee, a notorious Trump sycophant.

SMP: The Senate Majority PAC and its affiliated nonprofit, Majority Forward, have booked $38 million in airtime to run ads this summer in six key battleground states: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and New Hampshire, where Democrats are on defense, as well as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the party's two best shots to pick up seats. The PAC previously reserved $106 million for the fall, though this is the first time its target list has included New Hampshire, where it now has $4 million in spending planned.

Governors

FL-Gov: St. Pete Polls, working on behalf of Florida Politics, shows Rep. Charlie Crist beating his one serious intra-party foe, state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, 49-24 in the Democratic primary to take on GOP incumbent Ron DeSantis. Fried herself recently publicized an internal that founds things far closer, but she still trailed Crist 38-34.

The ultimate winner will be in for an uphill battle against DeSantis. We haven't seen any reliable polling here in months, but the governor and his PAC ended May with a gigantic $112 million at their disposal. Crist, who was elected governor in 2006 as a Republican and narrowly lost the 2014 general election following his party switch, by contrast led Fried $6.3 million to $3.9 million.

NM-Gov: Two new polls of November's race for governor in New Mexico both show a close contest. A survey from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling, taken on behalf of the independent news site New Mexico Political Report, finds Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham leading Republican nominee Mark Ronchetti 45-42, with Libertarian Karen Bedonie taking 9% of the vote, while a Ronchetti internal from Public Opinion Strategies has him edging out the incumbent 46-45.

Ronchetti's poll doesn't appear to have included Bedonie, whose share of the vote is unusually high for a third-party candidate but not quite out of the realm of possibility: Former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson took 9% in New Mexico's presidential race in 2016 while running as a Libertarian, then followed that up two years later with a 15% showing in a bid for Senate. Bedonie of course lacks the name recognition of Johnson, and her ultimate Election Day performance is likely to be in the low rather than high single digits, but Democrats will be pleased so long as she draws votes away from Ronchetti.

House

AK-AL: In a surprise development, independent Al Gross announced Monday that he was dropping out of both the special election and regular contest for a two-year term for Alaska's lone House seat, a decision that came a little more than a week after he earned a spot in the Aug. 16 instant runoff special by finishing third with 13% of the vote. But Gross' hopes that his spot might be filled by another candidate were quickly dashed by election officials.

Gross, who was the 2020 Democratic nominee for Senate, urged his supporters to back either former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola or Republican Tara Sweeney, a former state Interior Department official who is in fifth place with most ballots counted in the June 11 top-four primary. Gross did not indicate a preference between the two or even mention either by name, saying only that there are "two outstanding Alaska Native women in this race" and urging his supporters to "consider giving their first-place vote to whichever of them best matches their own values."

However, Gail Fenumiai, Alaska's director of elections, said that state law only allows the fifth-place finisher to replace a candidate who drops out if there are at least 64 days until the general election; in a Tuesday letter to an attorney for second-place finisher Nick Begich, she noted there were only 56 days left. Fenumiai did say that Gross' name would be removed from the ballot, though she urged anyone who might disagree with her decision to "file suit immediately," citing a June 28 deadline to finalize the August ballot for printing.

It’s not clear whether Sweeney intends to challenge Fenumiai's ruling. Sweeney's campaign manager responded to the news late on Monday by saying the candidate had been in an area without cell phone reception and promised that a statement would be "forthcoming once she is back in communication"; Sweeney was still incommunicado on Tuesday afternoon, per her campaign. Gross himself explained Tuesday he'd decided to quit because he'd decided "it is just too hard to run as a nonpartisan candidate in this race."

With most of the votes counted, Sweeney holds a 6-5 edge over North Pole City Council member Santa Claus, a self-described "independent, progressive, democratic socialist" who is not running for the full two-year term, for what might be a suddenly important fifth-place spot. Two Republicans, former reality TV show star Sarah Palin and Begich, took first and second place in the top-four primary, respectively, with the Associated Press calling the fourth spot for Peltola late on Friday.

FL-01: Rep. Matt Gaetz, the far-right icon who reportedly remains under federal investigation for sex trafficking of a minor and other alleged offenses, has three opponents in the Republican primary for this safely red constituency in the Pensacola area.

Gaetz's most serious foe appears to be former FedEx executive Mark Lombardo, who pledged to spend $1 million of his own money when he launched his bid last week against the incumbent, whom he labeled "a professional politician who has dishonored his constituents with unnecessary drama, childish gimmicks, and is reportedly entangled in a federal investigation for sex-trafficking a 17-year-old girl to the Bahamas." Air Force veteran Bryan Jones and Greg Merk, who took 9% in Gaetz’s uncompetitive 2020 primary, are also in, but they've generated little attention.  

FL-02: Democratic Rep. Al Lawson decided to take on his Republican colleague, Neal Dunn, after the new GOP gerrymander transformed Lawson's reliably blue and plurality-Black 5th District into a very white and conservative constituency. Neither congressman faces any intra-party opposition ahead of what will almost certainly be one of only two incumbent vs. incumbent general elections of the cycle (the other is in Texas' 34th District, where Republican Mayra Flores will take on Democrat Vicente Gonzalez).

The new 2nd, which includes Tallahassee and Panama City, would have supported Trump 55-44. Dunn, for his part, already represents 64% of the redrawn constituency, while another 31% are Lawson's constituents.

FL-04: Three Republicans and two Democrats are campaigning for the new 4th District, an open constituency that includes part of Jacksonville and its western suburbs and would have supported Trump 53-46.

The only elected official on the GOP side is state Senate President Pro Tempore Aaron Bean, who recently began running ads here. Navy veteran Erick Aguilar, meanwhile, earned just 20% of the vote in 2020 when he challenged incumbent John Rutherford in the primary for the previous version of the 4th (Rutherford is now running for the new 5th), but he appears to be running a far more serious operation this time: While Aguilar brought in just $16,000 two years ago, he ended March with $810,000 on-hand thanks to both stronger fundraising and self-funding. The final Republican, Jon Chuba, has raised almost nothing.

The Democratic contest is a duel between former state Sen. Tony Hill and businesswoman LaShonda Holloway. Hill left office in 2011 to take a job in then-Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown's administration, while Holloway took 18% of the vote in the 2020 primary against incumbent Al Lawson in the old 5th District.

FL-07: Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy announced her retirement months before Republicans transformed her suburban Orlando from a 55-44 Biden seat into one Trump would have taken 52-47, and Republicans have an eight-way primary to replace her.

The only sitting elected official in the race is state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a far-right zealot who has a terrible relationship with his chamber's leadership. The field also includes former DeBary City Commissioner Erika Benfield, who lost a competitive state House primary in 2020, and former Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwards, who entered the race last week pledging to balance gun safety with respect for the Second Amendment.

There are several other Republicans worth watching. One contender who has been trying hard to get attention is Army veteran Cory Mills, a self-funder who recently aired an ad bragging how his company manufactures the tear gas that's been used on left-wing demonstrators. There's also Navy veteran Brady Duke, whom we hadn't previously mentioned but who has raised a notable amount of money through March. Rounding out the GOP field are former congressional staffer Rusty Roberts; businessman Scott Sturgill, who lost the 2018 primary for the old 7th 54-30; and Al Santos, another businessman who has yet to earn much notice.    

There are four Democrats running here as well. The early frontrunner appears to be party official Karen Green, who has endorsements from a number of local elected officials.

FL-10: Ten Democrats are campaigning to succeed Senate candidate Val Demings in a contest that completely transformed in the final days of candidate filing.

Until then, the frontrunners for this safely blue Orlando constituency were state Sen. Randolph Bracy and gun safety activist Maxwell Alejandro Frost, who each ended March with a credible amount of money. Several other candidates, including pastor Terence Gray, have also been running since last year, but they've struggled to bring in cash. Things took a dramatic turn last week, though, when former 9th District Rep. Alan Grayson decided to end his little-noticed Senate campaign to run here, while former 5th District Rep. Corrine Brown jumped in days later. (Brown's launch came about a month after she accepted a deal with federal prosecutors where she pleaded guilty to tax fraud.)

Both former House members have experience running in this area. Grayson, according to political data expert Matthew Isbell, would have carried the new 10th 40-39 in the 2016 Senate primary against national party favorite Patrick Murphy even as the bombastic Grayson was badly losing statewide. (Grayson in 2018 went on to badly lose the primary to take the old 9th back from his successor, Rep. Darren Soto.) And while Brown's longtime base is from Jacksonville, she spent 24 years representing a seat that snaked down about 140 miles south to Orlando.

FL-11: Six-term Rep. Dan Webster faces Republican primary opposition from far-right activist Laura Loomer, a self-described "proud Islamophobe" who has been banned from numerous social media, rideshare, and payment services for spreading bigotry, in a constituency in the western Orlando area that Trump would have won 55-44. Webster only represents 35% of this new district, but he's still a far more familiar presence here than Loomer, who ran a high-profile but doomed 2020 bid against Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel in South Florida. Two other Republicans also filed here.

FL-13: Five Republicans are competing to replace Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, who is leaving to try to reclaim his old job as governor, in a newly gerrymandered St. Petersburg-based district that flipped from 52-47 Biden to 53-46 Trump. The frontrunner is 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna, who sports endorsements from Donald Trump and the Club for Growth for her second try. Team Red's field also includes Amanda Makki, whom Luna beat last time; attorney Kevin Hayslett; and two others. The only Democrat on the ballot, by contrast, is former Department of Defense official Eric Lynn.

FL-15: Each party has five candidates campaigning for a new suburban Tampa constituency that Trump would have won 51-48.

On the GOP side, the two elected officials in the running are state Sen. Kelli Stargel, who is an ardent social conservative, and state Rep. Jackie Toledo, who has prevailed in competitive turf. Another notable contender is former Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who recently resigned to run and was previously elected as a local judge before Gov. Ron DeSantis chose her as Florida's top elections administration official. Rounding out the field are retired Navy Capt. Mac McGovern and Demetrius Grimes, a fellow Navy veteran who lost the 2018 Democratic primary for the old 26th District in South Florida.

For the Democrats, the most familiar name is arguably Alan Cohn, who was the 2020 nominee for the previous version of the 15th. Also in the running are political consultant Gavin Brown, comedian Eddie Geller, and two others.

FL-20: Freshman Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick faces a Democratic primary rematch against former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, whom she beat by all of 5 votes in last year's crowded special election, in a safely blue constituency that includes part of the Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach areas. Holness doesn't have the anti-incumbent lane to himself, though, as state Rep. Anika Omphroy is also in.

FL-23: Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch is retiring from a Fort Lauderdale-based seat that's very similar to the 22nd District he currently serves, and six fellow Democrats are running to succeed him in this 56-43 Biden constituency. The frontrunner from the beginning has been Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz, a well-connected former state representative who later served in Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration as director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Moskowitz's two main rivals appear to be Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Ben Sorensen and former prosecutor Hava Holzhauer.

FL-24: While former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson announced in March that she'd challenge Rep. Frederica Wilson in the Democratic primary, Edmonson never filed to run here before qualifying closed last week. Wilson now only faces one little-known opponent for renomination in this safely blue Miami-based seat.  

FL-27: Republican map makers did what they could to insulate freshman GOP Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar by shifting her Miami-area seat from a 51-48 win for Joe Biden to a 50-49 margin for Donald Trump, but Team Blue is still betting she's beatable. National Democrats, including the DCCC, have consolidated behind state Sen. Annette Taddeo, who dropped out of the governor's race earlier this month to run here. Taddeo's main intra-party rival is Miami Commissioner Ken Russell, who abandoned his own long-shot Senate bid, while progressive activist Angel Montalvo rounds out the field.

FL-28: Freshman Republican Rep. Carlos Giménez picked up a notable Democratic rival just before filing closed Friday when former state Rep. Robert Asencio launched a campaign. Trump would have carried this exurban Miami seat 53-46, which makes it a tad redder than Giménez's existing 26th District.

HI-02: Former state Sen. Jill Tokuda earned an endorsement earlier this month from both the Hawai'i Government Employees Association, which is the largest union in the state, and the AFL-CIO ahead of the August Democratic primary.

IL-01: Two crypto-aligned groups, Protect Our Future and Web3 Forward, are dropping just shy of $1 million total to support businessman Jonathan Jackson in next week's Democratic primary, a crowded contest that saw little outside spending until now. Only the latter's spot is currently available, and it reminds the audience that Jackson is the son of civil rights leader and two-time presidential candidate Jesse Jackson. "Jonathan Jackson knows we are in the fight for our lives now," says the narrator. "Jackson is running for Congress to get guns off our streets, tackle inflation, and protect our right to vote."

Meanwhile, another organization called Forward Progress is deploying $160,000 to help former Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves, who has retiring Rep. Bobby Rush's backing.

IL-15: Far-right Rep. Mary Miller has publicized an internal from Cygnal showing her edging out fellow incumbent Rodney Davis 45-40 ahead of next week's Republican primary, which is an improvement from their 41-41 tie in an unreleased survey from two weeks ago. We haven't seen any other recent polling of the contest for this dark-red seat in downstate Illinois.

MD-04: The hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC last week began a $600,000 ad campaign against former Rep. Donna Edwards through its United Democracy Project super PAC, which was the first major outside spending of the July 19 Democratic primary. AIPAC, which supports former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey, argues that Edwards did a poor job with constituent services during her first stint in the House: The narrator claims, "Her congressional office was widely regarded as unresponsive to constituents who needed help and Donna Edwards was rated one of the least effective members of Congress, dead last among Democrats."

Edwards quickly responded by releasing a video message from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who supports her comeback campaign, praising her as "one of the most effective members in Congress" and someone who "fought hard for Prince George's County—for jobs and investments in her community, to help constituents in need, and to deliver results."

MD-06: Matthew Foldi, a former staff writer for the conservative Washington Free Beacon whom we hadn't previously written about, has unveiled an endorsement from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ahead of next month's GOP primary to face Democratic Rep. David Trone.  

Foldi, who previously worked for McCarthy's allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund, faces five intra-party opponents including Del. Neil Parrott, the 2020 nominee who lost to Trone 59-39 as Biden was carrying the old 6th 61-38. However, the new map, which the Democratic-dominated legislature passed after their original draft was struck down in state court, halved Biden's margin to 54-44.

TX-15: The Texas Democratic Party announced Friday that a recount has confirmed that businesswoman Michelle Vallejo won the May 24 runoff by defeating Army veteran Ruben Ramirez by 35 votes, which was five more than she started with. Vallejo will now go up against 2020 Republican nominee Monica De La Cruz in a Rio Grande Valley seat that, under the new GOP gerrymander, would have supported Trump 51-48.

WI-03: Former CIA officer Deb McGrath has released an attention-grabbing spot for the August Democratic primary that features the candidate skydiving. McGrath, who is campaigning to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, explains that, as the one woman in her Army jump school, "The guys thought I'd chicken out. I was the first out the door." Following her jump and before deploying her parachute, McGrath explains through a voiceover, "I'm running for Congress because of the sky-high cost of everything. Wisconsin needs a representative who thinks for herself, works with both parties, and fights for women's rights."

Other Races

SD-AG: Republican Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who was impeached in April for fatally striking a pedestrian named Joe Boever with his car in 2020 and lying about the crash to investigators, was convicted on both counts and removed from office on Tuesday. Twenty-four members of the GOP-dominated state Senate—exactly the two-thirds supermajority necessary for conviction—voted in favor of the first count, with 9 opposed, while the second count was backed by a wider 31-2 margin. In addition, in a unanimous 33-0 vote, the Senate barred Ravnsborg, who recently announced he would not seek re-election, from ever holding public office in South Dakota again.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who had long called for Ravnsborg's resignation, will now appoint a replacement. Noem has not yet said whom she might pick, but she previously endorsed former Attorney General Marty Jackley's bid to reclaim his old post. Jackley faces a top Ravnsborg aide, David Natvig, for the GOP nomination, which will be decided at the state party's convention that begins on Thursday.

Mayors

Oakland, CA Mayor: Former City Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente announced last week that he was joining November's instant-runoff contest to succeed termed-out Mayor Libby Schaaf, which makes him the 16th candidate to enter the officially nonpartisan race to lead this loyally blue city. De La Fuente, who mulled a 2018 bid against Schaaf, launched his new effort by pledging to hire more police officers and saying he "will not tolerate" homeless encampments.  

De La Fuente ran for mayor twice during his long tenure on the City Council, which spanned from 1992 to 2013, but he badly lost both campaigns to prominent figures. In 1998 he took just 7% in a contest that resulted in former Gov. Jerry Brown beginning his second stint in elected office (Brown reclaimed his old job as governor in 2010). De La Fuente tried again in 2006 but lost 50-33 to former Rep. Ron Dellums; De La Fuente himself left the City Council six years later when he unsuccessfully campaigned for a citywide seat.

The field already included a trio of councilmembers: Loren Taylor, Sheng Thao, and Treva Reid. Schaaf has not yet endorsed anyone, but Taylor has often supported her on key votes. Thao, by contrast, has run to Taylor's left and sports endorsements from several unions and state Attorney General Rob Bonta, while the San Francisco Chronicle identifies Reid as a Taylor ally. Also in the running is Allyssa Victory, who works as an attorney for the regional ACLU and Communications Workers of America Local 9415.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Former Rep. David Rivera's latest comeback bid may have ended before it could begin, as elections authorities say that he didn't actually qualify for the ballot in state House District 119. Rivera responded Tuesday by insisting that the matter wasn't settled and that he'd "let the lawyers in Tallahassee handle that," though there's no word on what the problem is. The former congressman, though, didn't hold back on attacking the Miami Herald's coverage of the many corruption scandals he's been linked to.

Ad Roundup

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

Morning Digest: A pair of Republican congressmen stumble into tough runoff campaigns in Mississippi

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.

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Leading Off

 MS-03, MS-04: Two Mississippi Republicans―3rd District Rep. Michael Guest and 4th District Rep. Steven Palazzo―posted surprisingly weak showings in Tuesday’s primaries, and they each are in for a tough fight going into June 28 runoffs in their safely red constituencies.

Guest appeared secure before the votes started coming in, but with 45,000 ballots tabulated as of Wednesday morning, he trails his unheralded intra-party rival, Navy veteran Michael Cassidy, 48-47; another challenger named Thomas Griffin is taking the remaining 5%. A second round of voting would take place if neither Cassidy nor Guest earned a majority of the vote, though the Associated Press has not yet projected a runoff. Palazzo, however, is definitely going to be fighting it out on June 28, as he’s taking just 32% of the vote. The AP hasn’t called the second runoff spot, but Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell posts a 25-22 edge over banker Clay Wagner with 51,000 votes in.

Guest, a self-described “conservative Christian leader” and former district attorney, has almost entirely been a reliable Trumpist during his two terms representing the 3rd District, an east central Mississippi seat that’s also home to many of Jackson’s suburbs. The congressman, though, risked MAGA outrage last year when he became one of the 35 Republicans to vote in favor of a Jan. 6 commission last year, something that Cassidy zeroed in on.

However, while Cassidy worked hard to court more far-right outrage by pledging, as he puts it on his website, to “hold the Establishment's feet to the fire on numerous America First issues, including election integrity and the removal of all COVID mandates and restrictions,” he didn’t look like much of a threat for almost the entire campaign. Cassidy raised a mere $32,000 from donors through late May, though he also threw down $230,000 of his own cash.

Guest himself didn’t appear at all worried, and no outside groups got involved to aid either him or Cassidy. The congressman, though, seemed to acknowledge on election night that he’d run a complacent campaign, arguing, “I think people are confused about who we are and what we stand for. We’ve allowed our opponent to define that.” Guest continued, “So if this does go to a runoff, then we are going to make sure that people of the 3rd District know who we are, they know our conservative values, and when they have the chance to go back to the polls, we hope that we’re going to be able to better convince people that we are the right person to represent our state in Washington D.C.”

Palazzo, by contrast, was in more obvious danger in the neighboring 4th District along the Gulf Coast, though it was still startling to see him perform so poorly. The incumbent is the subject of a long-running ethics investigation into charges that he illegally used campaign funds for personal purposes, and he attracted six different intra-party opponents.

There have been no public developments about the probe in over a year, however, so it was unclear if this matter would end up hurting Palazzo with voters. His many challengers seemed to think he had even bigger vulnerabilities, because they largely focused on portraying the six-term incumbent as uninterested in doing his job. That’s not a new criticism, as Palazzo, writes Mississippi Today’s Adam Ganucheau, “notoriously holds few public events since he was first elected to Congress in 2010.”

However, the congressman gave his critics more fodder this year when he abruptly canceled a campaign forum for what his staff said were “meetings dealing with national security.” Hours later, Palazzo posted a picture on Facebook of himself and his son at a restaurant in Mississippi; “It is unclear,” Ganucheau writes, “if national security was among the topics Palazzo discussed with his college-aged son over dinner.”  

Palazzo’s rivals took him to task for missing multiple candidate events and casting numerous proxy votes that didn’t require him to be in D.C. (Palazzo previously filed a lawsuit trying to end those proxy vote rules that were set up early in the pandemic.) Ezell himself went after Palazzo’s absenteeism by holding an “I’ll Show Up” tour of the district, arguing, “South Mississippi needs a Congressman who will show up, speak up and stand up for our conservative values—every day.”

Like Guest, though, Palazzo didn’t seem to have any idea how much trouble he was in for much of the campaign, and he hadn’t even run any TV ads going into the final month of the contest. Indeed, Ganucheau wrote in early May, “One month from Election Day, it’s difficult to see signs he’s actually running.” Palazzo now has just three weeks to put together a viable campaign to turn his underwhelming 32% of the vote into the majority he needs to secure renomination.

More primaries also took place Tuesday in California, Iowa, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. You can find the results at the links for each state; we’ll have a comprehensive rundown in our next Digest.

Redistricting

LA Redistricting: A federal court in Louisiana has struck down the state's new Republican-drawn congressional map, ruling that lawmakers' failure to create a second district where Black voters can elect their preferred candidate violates the Voting Rights Act. Judge Shelly Dick ordered the legislature to pass a remedial plan by June 20, and to that end, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has called a special session for June 15. But Republicans have already appealed the decision, and the arch-conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is likely to block it, much as the Supreme Court did with a very similar case out of Alabama earlier this year.

Senate

AK-Sen: Candidate filing closed June 1 for Alaska's Aug. 16 top-four primaries, and the state has a list of contenders available here. The four candidates who take the most votes, regardless of party, will face off in an instant-runoff general election on Nov. 8.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who has long had an uneasy relationship with state and national conservatives, faces eight Republicans, three Democrats, and eight independent or third-party foes in August. The only opponent who has attracted much attention, though, is former state cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka, a Republican hardliner who has Trump's endorsement. The most prominent Democrat is arguably Pat Chesbro, a Matanuska-Susitna Borough Planning Commission member and former high school principal who badly lost a 2014 race for state Senate.

AL-Sen: Politico reports that the Club for Growth's Conservative Outsiders PAC is spending $800,000 on what reporter Natalie Allison characterizes as the Club's "final" buy in support of Rep. Mo Brooks for the June 21 GOP runoff. The spot comes days after the Club reportedly cut $500,000 in ad time meant to help Brooks.

The narrator argues that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's allies are attacking the congressman because they "prefer a lobbyist" like his opponent, former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Britt, over a "proven conservative" like Brooks. The voiceover continues, "Britt ran a special interest group that worked with D.C. lobbyists backing amnesty for over 1 million illegal immigrants. And, Britt's group opposed making it harder for businesses to hire illegals."

AZ-Sen: The Republican firm Data Orbital, polling the August GOP primary on behalf of an unidentified client, finds wealthy businessman Jim Lamon edging out Attorney General Mark Brnovich 20-18, with former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters at 15%. Trump endorsed Masters on Thursday, which happened to be the second day that this three-day poll was in the field.

PA-Sen: Democratic nominee John Fetterman has been off the campaign trail since he suffered a stroke on May 13, and his wife told CNN Monday, "I think he deserves a month break to come back as strong as ever." However, when Giselle Fetterman was asked if the candidate would be back in July, she responded, "Maybe. I think so. That's my hope."

That same day, John Fetterman's campaign began its first general election ads with a $250,000 buy on Fox News, which is usually not a venue where Democrats like to promote themselves. Unsurprisingly, though, the spots (here and here) focus on the lieutenant governor's blue collar image while highlighting him as an untraditional politician: In one commercial filmed before his health emergency, the 6 '9 tattooed candidate tells the audience, "I do not look like a typical politician. I don't even look like a typical person."

WI-Sen: Wednesday was also the deadline for Wisconsin's Aug. 9 primary, and you can find a list of candidates here.

Democrats have a competitive nomination contest to take on Sen. Ron Johnson, a far-right Republican who represents one of the swingiest of swing states. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who would be Wisconsin's first Black senator, has led in every primary poll that's been released and recently picked up an endorsement from the prominent union AFSCME Council 32.

The field also includes Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, who recently released an internal showing him only narrowly behind Barnes, and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski. Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson and nonprofit head Steven Olikara are also in, but they've each struggled in the polls and with fundraising. Two others, Milwaukee Alderwoman Chantia Lewis and administrator of Wisconsin Emergency Management Darrell Williams, announced last year but never filed to run.

Governors

AK-Gov: GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy is going up against four Republicans, four unaffiliated contenders, and one Democrat, former state Rep. Les Gara. The prominent challenger in this lot is former Gov. Bill Walker, an independent who was elected to his only term in 2014 with Democratic support but abandoned his re-election campaign four years later in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Dunleavy from winning. The incumbent also faces intra-party opposition from state Rep. Christopher Kurka and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, who are each positioning themselves to the right of the ardently conservative governor.  

AZ-Gov: The Republican pollster Data Orbital's newest look at the August GOP primary shows former TV news anchor Kari Lake with a small 27-23 edge over Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, with former Rep. Matt Salmon well behind with 12%. While no other firm has released numbers showing things this close, Data Orbital finds Lake's lead expanding to 35-21 once respondents are informed she's Trump's choice. Still, even if those numbers are on target, it hardly guarantees that Lake only has room to grow as more voters learn about the Trump endorsement.

Georgia Republican David Perdue found that out the hard way after a December survey from Insider Advantage showed his 41-22 primary deficit against Gov. Brian Kemp transforming into a 34-34 tie after the pollster followed up, "As you may have heard, President Trump is planning to endorse David Perdue in the Republican Primary for Governor. Knowing this information, how would you vote?" Perdue spent the next months doing everything he possibly could to let the base know he was Trump's guy, but primary voters ended up rewarding him with a landslide 74-22 defeat.

Robson, like Kemp, is doing what she can to make sure this primary turns into anything other than a choice between a Trump-backed candidate and everyone else, and she's turning to former Gov. Jan Brewer to make her case that Lake isn't actually a loyal conservative. Brewer, who left office in 2015, begins a new ad for Robson by recounting her battles with the Obama administration over immigration before a picture flashes by of Lake with Obama. The former governor tells the audience, "Kari Lake? She donated to Obama and published a radical plan that even the liberal Arizona Republic called 'mass amnesty.'" Brewer spends the rest of the spot touting Robson as "a fighter, like me."

GA-Gov: Republican Gov. Brian Kemp uses his opening general election commercial to attack Democrat Stacey Abrams for labeling Georgia the "worst state in the country to live" because of its poor rankings in mental health, maternal mortality, and incarceration rates. Kemp's narrator, unsurprisingly, leaves out exactly why Abrams is so unhappy with the status quo, as well as her argument that "Georgia is capable of greatness. We just need greatness to be in our governor's office," and instead dismisses her with a "Bless her heart." The spot goes on to praise Kemp for having "reopened Georgia first" and for cutting taxes to "deal with Biden's inflation."

KS-Gov: State Sen. Dennis Pyle, a conservative hardliner who recently left the GOP to become an independent, announced Tuesday that he would challenge Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly without a party affiliation, a move that could ease Kelly’s path to victory against Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt. Pyle, who needs to turn in 5,000 valid signatures by Aug. 1 in order to qualify for the general election ballot, explained his decision in a statement arguing, “Due to the continual gross negligence in protecting and assisting citizens, my family and I have decided it is in the best interest of our state that I pursue running for Governor to enact solutions to stop the hardship of Kansans.”

Pyle himself has made a name for himself for trying to make it more difficult to vote in Kansas and for trying to hobble the state government’s response to COVID, but Republicans quickly sought to portray him as anything but a right-winger. Schmidt, who faces no serious opposition in the Republican primary, labeled Pyle a “fake conservative.” Kansans for Life also blasted the new candidate for “playing games with the lives of preborn babies and their mothers,” a reference to his missed vote for a proposed anti-abortion constitutional amendment (Pyle says he was absent for personal reasons).

Pyle himself has come into conflict numerous times with his now-former party’s leadership long before this. In 2010, he tried to ride the tea party wave to D.C. by challenging Rep. Lynn Jenkins for renomination in the 2nd Congressional District, but he lost 57-43. (He also took fifth in the 2018 primary to replace the retiring Jenkins.) Pyle this year opposed the legislature’s successful drive to pass a new congressional gerrymander, which resulted in him losing most of his committee assignments.

KY-Gov: State Rep. Savannah Maddox announced Tuesday that she was joining next year's Republican primary to take on Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. Maddox, who once labeled Beshear's pandemic health measures "tyranny," is a close ally of 4th District Rep. Thomas Massie, and the duo last month backed three successful primary challenges against Maddox's colleagues. The state representative launched her campaign for governor this week by framing the nomination contest as between "moderate Republicans" and "an authentic conservative who has a proven track record of fighting every day for our freedoms."

WI-Gov: Four notable Republicans are competing to take on Democratic incumbent Tony Evers in what will be one of the most competitive governor contests in the nation.

The early frontrunner was former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who has the backing of her old boss, former Gov. Scott Walker, but she may be in for a tougher nomination battle than she expected. A mid-May survey from Public Policy Polling showed her narrowly trailing wealthy businessman Tim Michels, who badly lost the 2004 Senate race to Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold, 27-26, and Trump has since endorsed Michels. The field also includes businessman Kevin Nicholson, a former College Democrats of America president who lost a competitive 2018 Senate GOP primary, and state Rep. Timothy Ramthun, an ardent Big Lie proponent, though PPP showed them each badly lagging.

P.S. Amusingly, while Michels launched his bid for governor in late April by pledging, "I will never ask anyone for a donation," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice notes that Michels almost immediately began … asking people for donations. Michels this week also argued he'd remained a Wisconsinite despite owning multi-million dollar homes in Connecticut and New York, where his three children graduated high school, insisting, "I'm not going to apologize for my success."

House

AK-AL: Most of the 48 candidates running in Saturday's special top-four primary to succeed the late GOP Rep. Don Young filed to seek the full two-year term, but a few notable contenders decided to only compete in the special.

Both former state Rep. Andrew Halcro, who is a Republican-turned-independent, and Emil Notti, a Democrat who narrowly lost to Young in 1973, pledged to only run for the remainder of Young's term, and they kept that promise by not filing on June 1. North Pole City Council member Santa Claus, a self-described "independent, progressive, democratic socialist" who previously had his name changed from Thomas O'Connor, also will not be continuing on.

Altogether, 31 candidates are campaigning for a seat in the next Congress. The regular top-four primary will take place Aug. 16, which is the same day as the special general election for the final months of Young's term.

FL-15, FL-14: The August Republican primary for the new 15th District got smaller this week when former Rep. Dennis Ross and wealthy businessman Jerry Torres each dropped out. Ross, who unexpectedly retired in 2018 from a previous version of the 15th, said that he was abandoning his comeback bid because of "limited resources." By contrast Torres, who pledged to self-fund up to $15 million, announced that he would run instead against Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor in the 14th District even though, at 59-40 Biden, it's far tougher turf than the 51-48 Trump constituency he had been seeking.

FL-27, FL-Gov: Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo announced on Monday that she'd drop her bid for governor and would instead seek to run against freshman GOP Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar in south Florida's 27th Congressional District. Republicans made this seat several points redder in redistricting, shifting it from a 51-48 win for Joe Biden to a 50-49 margin for Donald Trump, but it remains one that Democrats are eager to target.

Last year, Taddeo had entered the gubernatorial primary behind two much better-known opponents, Rep. Charlie Crist and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and failed to gain any traction, with every recent poll showing her in the low single digits. But by switching races, Taddeo brings a high profile to a contest for a swingy seat that Democrat Donna Shalala picked up in 2018 but lost two years later.

After several unsuccessful bids for office, Taddeo flipped a Republican seat in the state Senate in an attention-grabbing 2017 special election, a perch that means she represents about a quarter of the congressional district she's now running for. The Colombia-born Taddeo also gives Democrats, who've lost serious ground with Hispanic voters in the region, the chance to put forward a Spanish-speaking Latina candidate.

First, though, Taddeo faces a matchup in the Aug. 23 primary with Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell, a one-time professional yo-yo player who reiterated his commitment to the race after Taddeo's entry. But Taddeo immediately hoovered up a series of major endorsements, with Shalala (who herself had still been considering a bid), Crist, and a couple of nearby congresswomen, Lois Frankel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, all giving her their backing.

The final name on that list represents quite the irony. In 2008, when Taddeo first ran for the House against Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Shalala's predecessor), Wasserman Schultz infamously refused to endorse Taddeo despite the fact that she was co-chair of the DCCC's Red to Blue program—the Democrats' campaign arm devoted to flipping Republican seats. Wasserman Schultz's absurd excuse that she couldn't get involved because of her supposed friendship with Ros-Lehtinen sparked immense outrage online and among Florida Democrats (we covered the scandal extensively at our predecessor site, the Swing State Project here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), but she never budged and Taddeo went on to lose 58-42.

Wasserman Schultz remains in office but her career has soured badly: She was greeted with widespread hostility when she floated the possibility of a Senate bid in 2015, and a year later, she was forced to resign as DNC chair after hackers released emails stolen from the committee. Taddeo, by contrast, is being hailed as a strong recruit at a time when Democrats could very much use one.

IL-15: Mary Miller is going up with an attack ad against fellow Republican Rep. Rodney Davis weeks after the better-funded Davis went on the offensive himself. Miller's narrator labels her colleague a "RINO" on guns before the ad makes use of old footage of Davis saying, "That's why the red flag law is so important and should be put on the floor." The second half of the spot reminds the audience that Trump is in Miller's corner in the June 28 primary and that she's "A-rated by the NRA, unlike Rodney Davis."

MO-04: Gov. Mike Parson has endorsed cattle farmer Kalena Bruce in the packed August Republican primary for this safely red seat, a contest that has lacked an obvious frontrunner. Parson, who now resides in the 4th District thanks to the new congressional map, explained he was taking sides because of his longtime friendship with Bruce's parents, saying, "I am going to return those favors at times like this."

NY-17: State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi on Tuesday unveiled an endorsement from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the prominent national progressive who represents the 14th District, for her August primary campaign against DCCC chair Sean Patrick Maloney.

AOC last month took Maloney to task for choosing to campaign for the new 17th District rather than the 18th, a more competitive seat that contains most of his current turf, a decision that threatened to instigate a primary battle against Rep. Mondaire Jones. Jones ultimately decided to run for the 10th, but Biaggi herself highlighted Maloney’s move when she launched her own campaign against him days later.

SC-07: With a week to go before the Republican primary, Rep. Tom Rice’s allies at Grand Strand Pee Dee PAC, which so far is responsible for all of the $260,000 in outside spending here, are doing everything they can to portray Trump-endorsed state Rep. Russell Fry as a secret liberal. Its commercial does not mention Rice, who is one of the 10 House Republicans who voted for impeachment, or any of the other challengers hoping to force the incumbent into a June 24 runoff.

The minute-long spot begins by faulting Fry for supporting gas and car sales taxes as well as the “largest tax increase in South Carolina history” before it attacks him for not stopping America from turning into a conservative nightmare. The narrator argues that Fry “hasn’t done enough to protect our borders,” “has done little to push back against woke radical left ideas like critical race theory,” and “hasn't done enough to keep these dangerous ideologies from poisoning the minds of our kids,” though the ad never actually goes into detail on what exactly the state representative should be doing.

TX-34 (special): House Majority PAC is spending $110,000 on a Spanish-language ad campaign against Republican Mayra Flores, which makes this the first TV ad on the Democratic side for the June 14 all-party primary. The commercial ties Flores to the Jan. 6 attack, arguing, “Mayra supported the conspirators and conspiracy theories that were part of the armed attack on Jan. 6, leaving 150 police officers injured and 5 dead, all thanks to criminals who promote the same lawlessness that Mayra Flores supports.”

VA-07: The NRA has endorsed state Sen. Bryce Reeves ahead of next week’s Republican nomination contest to take on Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger. The organization itself has dramatically diminished in recent years and it rarely spends much in primaries, but its stamp of approval can still give Republican office seekers a boost with conservatives.

WI-01: The new congressional map adopted by the state Supreme Court shrunk Donald Trump's margin of victory in this southeastern Wisconsin district from 54-45 to 50-48, but Republican incumbent Bryan Steil still doesn't look vulnerable this year. Businesswoman Ann Roe, who is the only Democrat who appears to have filed, ended March with only $80,000 on-hand. Still, even if Steil skates by this time, he could be in for a much tougher race in a better political climate for Democrats.

WI-03: Longtime Rep. Ron Kind is retiring from a southwestern Wisconsin district that, just like the constituency it replaces, would have supported Trump 51-47, and at least four fellow Democrats have filed to succeed him. Kind is backing state Sen. Brad Pfaff, who is his former chief of staff. Two other Democratic contenders, former CIA officer Deb McGrath and businesswoman Rebecca Cooke, also brought in a notable amount of money through the end of March.

The only Republican is 2020 nominee Derrick Van Orden, whose 51-49 defeat was still the closest race of Kind's congressional career. Months later, Van Orden used leftover campaign funds to attend the Jan. 6 insurrectionist rally in D.C., where, it appears, he went inside a restricted area on the Capitol grounds.

Attorneys General

MD-AG: OpinionWorks, working on behalf of the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore, finds Rep. Anthony Brown beating former Judge Katie Curran O’Malley 42-29 in the July 19 Democratic primary for attorney general.

WI-AG: Three Republicans are competing to take on Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. The most full-throated election denier is Karen Mueller, who founded a conservative legal organization and has declared that “the 2020 presidential election results must be decertified to restore the integrity and transparency of Wisconsin’s future elections.” Former state Rep. Adam Jarchow and Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney, writes NBC, “haven’t denied the results of the 2020 election.”

Ad Roundup

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

Morning Digest: 17 districts flipped from Trump to Biden in 2020, while only two went the other way

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.

Leading Off

House: Thanks to the recent completion of Daily Kos Elections' effort to calculate the 2020 presidential election results by congressional district, we now know that Joe Biden won 224 districts to Donald Trump's 211, a net increase of 15 seats for Democrats compared to the 2016 results under the same district lines. In a new story, Stephen Wolf has created maps and a chart showing the geography and electoral stats of the 19 districts that changed parties at the presidential level in 2020. Of those districts, 17 flipped from backing Trump in 2016 to Biden last year, while two districts switched from supporting Hillary Clinton four years ago to voting for Trump in 2020.

The districts that changed hands share some demographic commonalities, and many were competitive at the House level in November. Those that went from Trump to Biden include many historically red suburban seats with high levels of college education and voters who have grown increasingly hostile to the Republican Party under Trump. That's an extension of the pattern seen in 2016, when Clinton also flipped many historically red suburban seats.

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Unlike four years ago when Trump flipped many districts with large populations of white voters without a college degree, the two districts that Trump picked up this time both have large populations of Latino voters, a demographic that shifted sharply back toward Republicans in 2020 after giving Clinton historically high levels of support four years earlier.

Governors

CA-Gov: Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, a vocal proponent of the effort to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, isn't so sure about running himself if the recall makes the ballot. "I'm not planning on it now," he told Politico this week, adding that he'll "look at how the field shapes up."

CO-Gov: Businessman Greg Lopez, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018, has announced that he'll try for the Republican nod to take on Democratic Gov. Jared Polis again next year. The little-known Lopez finished a surprising second at the state GOP's convention three years ago, which allowed him to move on to the party's primary, but his campaign was badly underfunded and he ended up a very distant third with just 13% of the vote.

KS-Gov: Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who'd reportedly been looking at a bid against Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, now confirms that he's "seriously considering" a campaign, though he did not offer a timetable for a decision.

MN-Gov: Unnamed GOP operatives tell the Minnesota Reformer that Republican state Sen. Michelle Benson could be a candidate for governor next year, when Democratic Gov. Tim Walz is up for re-election, though there's no word on whether she's interested. So far, no major Republican names have entered the race.

PA-Gov: The Cook Political Report adds former Lackawanna County Commissioner Laureen Cummings to the long list of Republicans who could run for governor next year, though she doesn't appear to have said anything publicly. Cummings briefly ran for the Senate in 2012 before dropping down to challenge Democrat Matt Cartwright for what was then the newly redrawn 17th Congressional District and got smooshed.

House

LA-02: Democratic state Sen. Troy Carter has released a mid-February internal survey conducted by veteran New Orleans pollster Silas Lee that finds him leading the March 20 all-party primary with 28% of the vote, which is below the majority he'd need to avoid an April runoff. The poll finds that Carter's most likely opponent is fellow state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who edges out a third Democrat, activist Gary Chambers, 19-6 for second place.

The only other poll we've seen of the contest for this safely blue seat was a late February survey conducted for Trust the People PAC, a group opposed to Carter, that also found the two state senators advancing. Unfortunately, the PAC did not reveal the name of its pollster, which is information we require for inclusion in the Digest.

NC-11: Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara just kicked off a bid against freshman Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn, making her the first notable Democrat to do so. Beach-Ferrara, who described herself "a gay woman who's a Christian minister" in her announcement video, won a second four-year term on the commission last year. Buncombe, which is home to the college town of Asheville, makes up about a third of North Carolina's 11th District and is its bluest bastion. The district overall is quite red, though: According to new calculations from Daily Kos Elections, it supported Donald Trump 55-43 last year.

OH-01: Ohio's 1st Congressional District may already be represented by a member of his own party, but Franklin Mayor Brent Centers is eagerly trying to elbow aside Republican Rep. Steve Chabot ahead of next year's midterms. That may not go so well, however: Centers says "my assumption and the assumption of a lot of people who are endorsing me" is that Chabot will retire, but a spokesperson for the congressman says he's running for a 14th term and pointed to an op-ed Chabot wrote immediately after winning his second straight difficult re-election campaign in November saying he'd be on the ballot in 2022.

According to Centers, though, that hasn't stopped a whole host of officials in his home base of Warren County from backing his would-be candidacy, which he says he plans to launch in early May. It's possible that some of these local pols think they're avoiding a direct conflict with Chabot because Warren could be drawn into another neighboring district, and Centers even hinted that could set him on a collision course with two other Republicans: Reps. Warren Davidson and Brad Wenstrup. But redistricting is still a long ways away, so if Centers is serious about kicking off a bid in just two months' time, he'll have to make it clear whether or not he's actually going to primary Chabot.

TX-06: There was a surprise less than an hour before candidate filing closed Wednesday when Dan Rodimer, who was the Republican nominee for Nevada's 3rd District last year, filled out paperwork to run in the May 1 special all-party primary. Rodmier's campaign didn't come completely out of nowhere, as the Dallas Morning News' Gromer Jeffers mentioned him as a possible contender last week, but the former WWE wrestler hadn't said anything publicly until now.

Rodimer, whose Twitter account still listed his location as Las Vegas even as he was filing to run in the Lone Star State, said, "We need fighters in Texas, and that's what I'm coming here for. I'm moving back to Texas." We'll have more about Rodimer and the rest of this crowded field in our next Digest.

Meanwhile, former Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson tweeted on Tuesday night that she'd be sitting the contest out. A third Republican, party activist Susan Wright, also earned an endorsement this week from 21st District Rep. Chip Roy in her quest to succeed her late husband, Rep. Ron Wright.

TX-13: The Department of Defense on Wednesday released its long-awaited inspector general’s report into allegations against freshman Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson from his time as chief White House physician, and it concluded that he displayed egregious behavior during his tenure.

The report concluded that Jackson “engaged in inappropriate conduct involving the use of alcohol” during two presidential trips; “disparaged, belittled, bullied, and humiliated” subordinates, which included “sexual and denigrating” comments against one; and “took Ambien during official travel, raising concerns about his potential incapacity to provide medical care during his travel.”

Jackson, who represents one of the most Republican seats in the nation, responded by once again declaring, “Democrats are using this report to repeat and rehash untrue attacks on my integrity.”

WA-04: Far-right ex-cop Loren Culp, who lost a bid for governor by a 57-43 margin to Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee last year, suggested this week that he might run against Rep. Dan Newhouse in Washington's 4th Congressional District next year. Newhouse, of course, is one of just 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, earning him the ire of local GOP officials and conservative activists alike.

However, a Culp campaign could actually benefit him. That's because Republican state Rep. Brad Klippert already launched a challenge in January, meaning that the high-profile Culp might only help fracture the disaffected Trumpist vote on the right. Klippert does have one advantage, though: His entire legislative district is contained in the 4th, while Culp, notes NCWLIFE's Jefferson Robbins, doesn't even live in Newhouse's district but rather in the 5th.

WI-03: Republican Derrick Van Orden, who previously had not ruled out a rematch against Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, says he is "very seriously considering" another bid, though he did not say when he might decide.

Legislatures

Special Elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's special elections:

AL-SD-26: Democrat Kirk Hatcher defeated Republican William Green 78-22 to hold this seat for his party. Hatcher's win was right in line with past Democratic performances in this district. According to FiveThiryEight's Nathaniel Rakich, Hillary Clinton won this district 77-20 in 2016 and former Sen. David Burkette won here 80-20 in 2018.

Republicans now have a 27-7 majority in this chamber with one other seat vacant.

CA-SD-10: As of early Wednesday, Democrat Sydney Kamlager was leading in this South Los Angeles-area district and is on track to easily avoid a runoff. Kamlager declared victory and was leading her closest competition, fellow Democrat Daniel Lee, 68-13.

As the likely outcome of this race is a Democratic hold, the composition of this chamber would return to a 31-9 lead for Team Blue.

CT-SD-27: Democrat Patricia Miller defeated Republican Joshua Esses to hold this seat for her party. The state of Connecticut has not released vote totals for this race yet, but according to the Stamford Advocate, Miller was leading by approximately 100 votes and Esses had conceded the race.  

This chamber will return to a 24-12 advantage for Democrats.

MA-HD-19th Suffolk: Former Winthrop Town Council president Jeffrey Turco won the Democratic primary in this reliably blue seat in the Winthrop area. Turco came out ahead of union representative Juan Jaramillo 36-30 in a contest where there were very sharp ideological contrasts between the two top contenders.

Jaramillo was endorsed by notable progressives such as Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and also had the backing of several labor groups, such as the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Turco, meanwhile, voted for Donald Trump in 2016, was supported by several police unions, and received backlash from groups such as NARAL for his stance on reproductive rights. Turco's support of GOP candidates extended into the 2020 cycle as well, when he donated to the re-election campaign of Maine Sen. Susan Collins.

Former Massachusetts House staffer Alicia DelVento, meanwhile, took third with 26% while Valentino Capobianco, who is chief of staff to state Sen. Paul Feeney, took 7%. Capobianco had the backing of establishment figures such as state Attorney General Maura Healey and former Rep. Joe Kennedy but lost their support when sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against him.

Turco will begin as the favorite over Republican Paul Caruccio in the March 30 general election in this district that supported Hillary Clinton 60-36 in 2016.

Mayors

 New York City, NY Mayor: On Wednesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams earned an endorsement from the Hotel Trades Council, which is one of the major unions in city politics, for the June instant-runoff Democratic primary.

St. Louis, MO Mayor: St. Louis on Tuesday became the first large city in America to host a race using an "approval voting" system, which allows voters to cast as many votes in the primary as there are candidates, and City Treasurer Tishaura Jones and Alderman Cara Spencer advanced to next month's nonpartisan general election.

Tishaura Jones, who narrowly lost the 2017 Democratic primary to retiring incumbent Lyda Krewson under the old system, won support from 57% of voters, while 46% selected Cara Spencer as a choice. A third Democratic contender, Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, earned the backing of 39% of voters, while 19% selected Republican Andrew Jones.

Tishaura Jones and Cara Spencer will compete again in the April 6 general election, where voters will only be able to select one of them. Tishaura Jones would be the city's first Black leader since 2001.

St. Petersburg, FL Mayor: St. Pete Polls, working on behalf of Florida Politics, surveys the August nonpartisan primary of its namesake city and finds three Democrats in a close fight for the two spots in a likely general election, though with a large plurality of voters still undecided. City Councilwoman Darden Rice leads with 15%, while former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch and former state Rep. Wengay Newton are each just behind with 14%; another five candidates were tested, but none of them took more than 5% of the vote.

St. Pete also tests a hypothetical November matchup between Rice and Welch and finds Welch ahead 31-24.

Data

Pres-by-CD: We've made some minor adjustments to our calculations of the 2020 presidential election results by congressional district in Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York based on more precise data we've received since we initially published our findings for each state.

The largest shift came in New Jersey, which resulted in 427 votes moving between the 5th District to the 9th, with Donald Trump's margin increasing by that sum in the former and Biden's growing a corresponding amount in the latter. We also corrected a minor error in Oklahoma that resulted in a total of 484 votes shifting from the 4th District to the 5th with no change to the raw vote margin between the two candidates.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: The district attorney’s office in Shawnee County, Kansas announced this week that it had reached a diversion agreement with former Republican Rep. Steve Watkins that would allow him to avoid trial over voter fraud charges. If Watkins follows the conditions, avoids breaking the law, and pays a $250 fine, the charges against him would be dropped in September.

Back in late 2019, the Topeka Capital-Journal first reported that Watkins may have committed voter fraud by listing a UPS store in Topeka as his home address on his voter registration form and then proceeding to cast a ballot the previous month as though he lived there. Watkins’ team insisted he’d made an "inadvertent" error and insisted he had "no improper purpose" because the UPS store and his supposed residence are both in the same county and congressional district. However, the locations are in different city council districts, and the contest Watkins cast his ballot in was decided by just 13 votes.

Local authorities began investigating Watkins for potential voter fraud soon afterwards, and they charged him the following July with three felonies, including lying to law enforcement. Watkins, who was already facing a tough intra-party challenge from state Treasurer Jake LaTurner even before the UPS story broke, argued he was the victim of a “hyper-political” attack, but LaTurner beat him by a blistering 49-34 margin that following month and went on to prevail in November. As part of Watkins’ diversion agreement, he acknowledged that he’d lied to a detective by claiming he hadn’t voted in that tight city council contest.

Morning Digest: Our new data shows the Trumpiest district in the nation is also the most evangelical

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.

Leading Off

Pres-by-CD: Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 House seats nationwide heads down to Alabama, which is home to the Trumpiest congressional district in America. You can find our detailed calculations here, a large-size map of the results here, and our permanent, bookmarkable link for all 435 districts here.

The constituency that gave Donald Trump both his highest percentage of the vote and widest margin of victory in the nation is Alabama's 4th Congressional District, which has been represented by Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt since 1997. Trump defeated Joe Biden in this seat, which is located in the north-central part of the state, 81-18, which was almost identical to his 80-17 performance against Hillary Clinton four years before.

The 4th gave Trump his best showing in any of the 411 congressional districts we've released 2020 data for so far, and we're confident there's no chance that it'll get displaced when we finish calculating results for our two remaining states, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. And the result is no surprise: In 2016, Trump also earned his biggest share of the vote nationwide in the 4th, though his net margin was just a touch higher in Texas' 13th.

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There are a few reasons why Alabama's 4th is so deeply conservative. The district is both extremely rural and heavily white, but what makes it singular is that it has the highest percentage of evangelical residents in America, with approximately 54% of residents identifying as such. It's also in the bottom quintile in the nation both in terms of diversity and its level of educational attainment, a category exclusively occupied by deeply Republican districts.

However, while it's now impossible to imagine Aderholt being threatened by a Democrat, he only barely won his first election for a previous version of the 4th nearly a quarter century ago. In 1996, Aderholt ran to succeed retiring Rep. Tom Bevill, who was a prominent member of a powerful bloc of conservative Democrats nicknamed the "boll weevils." Bevill himself had won his final term two years before without any opposition even as Republicans were flipping numerous Southern districts en route to taking their first House majority in 40 years, and local Democrats still demonstrated strength further down the ballot.

The Democrats nominated former state Sen. Bob Wilson, who had narrowly lost re-election in 1994 but was still capable of putting up a strong fight. Wilson argued he'd secure needed appropriations for his seat "in the Tom Bevill tradition," but he also focused on his opposition to abortion and his membership in the NRA.

Aderholt, who was a local judge at the time, tied Wilson to the national Democratic leadership and argued that he'd be no substitute for Bevill. Both parties saw the race as a priority, and Speaker Newt Gingrich stumped for Aderholt in a cycle where his newly minted majority seemed to be on the line. Ultimately, Aderholt pulled off a 50-48 victory as Bob Dole was defeating Bill Clinton 48-43 in the district.

Wilson sought a rematch in 1998 but lost his primary to Donald Bevill, the son of the former congressman. The general election wasn't so competitive this time, though, as Aderholt won 56-44. That didn't quite bring an end to Democratic attempts to win back their old turf, but the next cycle did: Former Alabama First Lady Marsha Folsom lost the 2000 election to Aderholt by a punishing 61-37 spread as George W. Bush was pulling off a 59-39 victory. Team Blue didn't field a challenger two years later, and Aderholt has been completely safe ever since.

Trump didn't come close to matching his high-water mark elsewhere in Alabama, but he still won at least 63% of the vote in the state's five remaining GOP-held districts. Biden, meanwhile, scored a 71-28 victory in Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell's 7th District, a constituency that Republican map makers drew to take in as many African American voters as possible.

Finally, there's one methodological issue we want to address in Alabama, which, like many other states, does not assign every vote to a precinct. This is not a new issue, and we have techniques that estimate how to divvy up unassigned votes like these between districts.

However, the coronavirus pandemic led to a major expansion in the number of votes cast before Election Day, and in Alabama, that meant that a much larger than usual proportion were not assigned to a congressional district: In 2016, these unassigned votes only made up 4% of the total vote in the seven counties that are split between multiple districts, but that figure swelled to 14% in 2020.

Even with this issue, there's no question which presidential candidate won each of the state's House seats; still, we strive to make our estimates as precise as possible. Luckily, Alabama does include the total number of unassigned votes cast in each district in each county (though not their breakdowns by candidate), which is important information that is rarely available.

For example, in Jefferson County, which is the largest in the state, approximately 327,000 ballots were cast, with about 50,000 not assigned to any precinct. However, thanks to the state's data, we do know that 26,000 of these unassigned ballots were cast in the 6th Congressional District and the balance cast in the 7th.

We use this information to more accurately assign these votes by congressional district. We start by assuming that how a candidate's supporters choose to cast their ballots is similar no matter where they live. For example, if 30% of Biden voters choose to vote absentee in District A, we assume somewhere around 30% of Biden voters will also choose to vote absentee in District B. (We've validated this assumption by testing it in other states that make more detailed vote breakdowns available.) This assumption is then used to calculate an initial estimate of votes for each candidate in each district in a county.

We then use the total number of unassigned votes cast in each district in each county to adjust our initial estimates so the totals match. Finally, we adjust the number of votes again so the number of unassigned votes for each candidate in the whole county matches the official results.

These estimates are not perfect, and they do introduce some error into our final numbers; we suspect the error for Alabama districts is about one percentage point or less for a candidate's vote share district-wide, based on calculations in other states where vote count by type of ballot is known. However, we believe this method allows us to assign these previously unassigned votes as precisely as possible to their proper congressional district.

Senate

GA-Sen: Former Republican Sen. David Perdue confirmed on Tuesday that he's exploring a comeback bid against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who captured Georgia's other Senate seat in last month's legendary special election. Perdue filed paperwork with the FEC on Monday ahead of a possible run, which an unnamed advisor said he’s “leaning heavily toward.” Another aide said Perdue would make a decision in March followed by a formal kickoff in April if the answer is yes.

Whatever unfolds, Perdue certainly hasn't gotten over his stunning loss to Democrat Jon Ossoff, whose name he's still incapable of uttering. In a statement, he took loser-speaker to new heights (depths?) in declaring that the only poll that counts is the one on Election Day—i.e., the Nov. 3 election he failed to win. "Five million Georgians, the most ever, voted in that General election and it is the best poll of where Georgia is right now," claimed Perdue, despite the fact he lost the only election that actually mattered: the one on Jan. 6, when a rather impressive 4.5 million voters cast ballots.

He also argued that "[m]ore than 52% of Georgians rejected my opponent and the liberal Democrat agenda" in November, but the problem there is that 50.3% of Georgians also rejected Perdue and his far-right Trumpist agenda (oh, plus, did we mention that he lost the one race that actually mattered?). Perdue even went so far as to suggest that the runoff itself was unfair, carping that Ossoff and Warnock "do not fairly represent most Georgians."

Perdue's complaints about the runoff process are particularly rich coming from a Republican, since it was Republican lawmakers themselves who reinstituted general election runoffs in 2005 after Democrats had repealed them a decade earlier, knowing that Black voters—who disproportionately favor Democrats—tend to turn out at lower rates whenever there's a second round of voting. That pattern of low Black turnout hurting Democrats held true in every statewide runoff from 2006 to 2018, but of course now that the first and only runoff has happened that favored Democrats, Perdue has suddenly found flaws in the process.

As the New York Times' Alex Burns put it, Perdue is undoubtedly "among the best-known candidates Republicans could plausibly field and money wouldn't be a problem." But, added Burns, he's also "one of very few living republicans who has proven capable of losing a senate race in [G]eorgia." The other, of course, is Kelly Loeffler, who, along with former Rep. Doug Collins, is reportedly waiting to see what Perdue does before deciding whether to run.

IA-Sen: Far-right state Sen. Jim Carlin, who just launched a Senate bid even though fellow Republican Chuck Grassley hasn't yet announced his re-election plans, says he'll stay in the race no matter what the incumbent decides. "I appreciate [Grassley's] service, as anybody does," Carlin told Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register. "But I didn't get in the race to drop out."

OH-Sen: Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty, who'd reportedly been considering a bid for Ohio's open Senate seat, announced on Tuesday that she would not join the race.

PA-Sen: Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb, who'd long been mentioned as a possible candidate for either Senate or governor, says he "will look at" a possible bid to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. Lamb didn't offer any sort of timeline for a decision but did tell MSNBC's Kasie Hunt that he had not spoken to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Meanwhile, Republican businessman Jeff Bartos, who was the GOP's nominee for lieutenant governor in 2018, has filed paperwork with the FEC and also just stepped down as board chair of a new nonprofit founded last year to help small businesses during the pandemic. Bartos previously promised an announcement would come in mid-March.

Governors

IL-Gov: Politico's Shia Kapos reports that Republican Reps. Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood both have not ruled out bids against Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, depending on how redistricting shapes up for them, though neither man is directly quoted. Kapos also says that another Republican, state Sen. Darren Bailey, "is expected to announce his candidacy next week." Meanwhile, attorney Richard Porter, an RNC member who's previously been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate, says he'll decide this summer whether to run.

PA-Gov, PA-Sen: Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, a Trump die-hard who was censured last year by his fellow commissioners for calling Black Live Matters "a radical left-wing hate group," announced a campaign for governor on Tuesday. Gale, however, seems to be more interested in running for governor of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, since he declared that his first priority would be to "hold bad Republicans accountable not just by naming names, but by supporting primary challenges against those who undermine a common-sense conservative agenda."

Gale previously had not ruled out a bid for Republican Sen. Pat Toomey's open seat, but his brother, attorney Sean Gale, said on Tuesday that he would run for Senate instead. The siblings previously ran together for spots on the Montgomery board in 2019, but Sean Gale failed to make it out of the primary while Joe secured re-election only because one of its three slots is always reserved for the minority party. Joe Gale also tried to run for lieutenant governor in 2018 but was booted off the ballot for being under the required minimum age of 30.

House

LA-02: In her special election bid for Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District, State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson has been endorsed by the state Democratic Party, which she chaired for many years before stepping down last September. The all-party primary for this dark blue seat in New Orleans is on March 20, with a possible runoff on April 24.

MA-04: The Boston Globe reports that progressive activists are trying to recruit former Brookline Selectwoman Jesse Mermell for a rematch with freshman Rep. Jake Auchincloss, who beat her just 22-21 in last year's jam-packed Democratic primary. Mermell notably declined to provide any sort of comment to the paper.

NC-09: Democratic state Rep. Charles Graham announced a challenge to Republican Rep. Dan Bishop over the weekend, though redistricting's impact on North Carolina's 9th Congressional District won't be known for some time. The Associated Press describes Graham, who is the lone Native American member of the legislature, as "among the more conservative Democrats" in the state House, with a history of voting for Republican bills.

NV-03: Republican attorney April Becker, who lost a close race for Nevada's 6th State Senate District last year, has filed paperwork with the FEC for a possible bid against Democratic Rep. Susie Lee in the 3rd Congressional District. However, just 4% of the Senate seat she sought in 2020 overlaps with Lee's district.

TX-06: Communications consultant Jana Lynne Sanchez announced her entry into the special election for Texas' 6th Congressional District on Tuesday, making her the first notable Democrat to do so. Sanchez ran here in 2018 and lost 53-45 to Republican Ron Wright, whose death due to COVID-19 earlier this month left this seat vacant. Sanchez's campaign says she's already raised $100,000, putting her on a much faster pace compared with her prior campaign, when she brought in $730,000 all told.

According to new calculations from Daily Kos Elections, Donald Trump carried this district by a fairly slender 51-48 margin, potentially making for a competitive special election (whose date has yet to be set).

WI-03: Republican Derrick Van Orden declined to rule out a rematch with Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, telling the Badger Project, "Nothing is off the table." Kind held off Van Orden by a narrow 51-49 margin last year.

Mayors

Fort Worth, Arlington, & Plano, TX Mayor: Candidate filing closed over the weekend for the May 1 nonpartisan primaries in several large Texas cities; a runoff would take place on a later date in any election where no one takes a majority of the vote. We recently ran down the race for mayor of San Antonio, and we'll now take a look at three open seat contests in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

We'll start with Fort Worth, which is the largest of the three cities. Republican Mayor Betsy Price is not seeking a sixth two-year term, and Democrats are hoping to score a pickup. Eleven candidates have filed here, and there appear to be two serious contenders from each party.

On the Democratic side, the contenders to watch are City Councilwoman Ann Zadeh and Tarrant County Democratic Party Chairwoman Deborah Peoples, who ran against Price in 2019 and lost 56-42. The two main Republicans are nonprofit head Mattie Parker, who served as chief of staff for the mayor and council under Price, and City Councilman Brian Byrd, who has the support of local Rep. Kay Granger.

There's also a crowded race for a two-year term next door in Arlington, where eight candidates are running to succeed termed-out Republican incumbent Jeff Williams. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes that most of the contenders are people of color, and one longtime observer called this the most diverse local race he's ever seen here.

Jim Ross, who is a business owner and former police officer, has the support of Williams and former Mayor Richard Greene. The field also includes City Councilman Marvin Sutton; former City Councilman Michael Glaspie; and five others.

Finally in Plano, three Republicans make up the field running for a four-year term to replace another-termed out incumbent, Harry LaRosiliere. (LaRosiliere is also a Republican, though he's been an ardent supporter of LGBTQ rights.)

City Council member Lily Bao lost to LaRosiliere 52-42 in 2017 but was elected to her current post two years later with Gov. Greg Abbott's endorsement. We also have John Muns, who unsuccessfully challenged Collin County Judge Keith Self in the 2010 GOP primary and recently finished a stint as chair of the Plano Planning & Zoning Commission, and former economics professor Lydia Ortega, who ran for lieutenant governor of California in 2018 and took 6% in the all-party primary.

New York City, NY Mayor: 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang's campaign announced that he'd collected enough small donations to qualify for the city's matching-funds program. The city Campaign Finance Board still needs to verify that Yang has raised at least $250,000 from city residents who contributed between $10 and $250 before he can receive any public financing, though, and one of Yang's intra-party opponents learned the hard way on Tuesday just how complicated this process can be.

Attorney Maya Wiley said a month ago that she'd raised enough to unlock matching funds, which would have allowed her to collect at least $2 million at Tuesday's meeting. The Board, though, announced this week that it could not confirm that she'd hit the necessary threshold.

The New York Daily News notes that it's possible that the denial is due to "technical issues in data her campaign submitted to the Campaign Finance Board" that Wiley could correct. However, even if Wiley did raise the requisite $250,000 from small donors and fixed any issues, she would not be able to receive any public money until March 15. The only two contenders who have officially qualified for public financing so far are City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

Meanwhile, Republican billionaire John Catsimatidis made a slight concession to reality this week when he announced that he would not switch parties to seek the Democratic nomination for mayor. We say slight because Catsimatidis, who is an ardent Trump supporter, did not rule out running for Team Red as a "Republican-Liberal." That "Liberal" refers to the Liberal Party, which infamously endorsed Rudy Giuliani in 1993 and went on to lose its automatic spot on the ballot nearly a decade later.

Morning Digest: Former GOP congressman runs bigoted ad highlighting that his top GOP rival is gay

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.

Leading Off

CA-50: Former California Rep. Darrell Issa is standing by a new TV spot that repeatedly highlights the fact that his top rival, former San Diego City Councilman and fellow Republican Carl DeMaio, is gay.

Issa's ad came just after DeMaio launched his own commercial that argued that the former congressman hadn't done enough to support Donald Trump. Issa's spot responds by featuring a DeMaio tweet calling Trump "a disgusting pig" and arguing that he supported citizenship for "illegal aliens" while he was on the San Diego City Council. The ad also showcases the same shot of three shirtless and tattooed men taken in a Latin American prison that has become a staple of racist GOP ads during the Trump era.

Campaign Action

The spot then highlights a large headline from the Los Angeles Blade that reads "Carl DeMaio: California's gay GOP kingmaker" and a considerably smaller excerpt from the article quoting DeMaio saying, "My job isn't to support Donald Trump." The image then switches to an article from The Hill titled "Gay GOP Candidate: Party Must Change" with some text reading, "DeMaio said some illegal immigrants should be given a path to citizenship."

The ad drew quick condemnation from two local Republicans, San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate and county party chair Tony Krvaric, for emphasizing DeMaio's sexual orientation. Meanwhile, a spokesman for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who is one of Issa's most high-profile endorsers, also declared, "Campaigns should focus on people's positions on the issues, not people's sexual orientation." However, Issa's intra-party critics were silent about the ad's blatant racism, and Faulconer's team also made sure to note that the mayor is still backing the former congressman.

Unsurprisingly, Issa dug in and defended himself. On Thursday, when local ABC reporter Jon Horn asked him about the spot, Issa initially responded, "I have no idea what you're talking about." After Horn elaborated, Issa responded, "You're talking about some headlines from actual newspapers" and continued, "I certainly think you should talk to The Hill and The Blade and ask them why they use those words."

Issa continued to insist the next day that his ad was free of homophobia. The former congressman told Politico that DeMaio "made no public statements complaining about [The Blade] or The Hill" at the time the articles were originally published, adding that he doesn't consider the word "gay" to be a slur (how enlightened of him).

Issa went even further, saying he has gay staffers, and protesting, "This ad is not about anything related to that term." Issa did not, however, explain why he chose to use two large headlines about DeMaio's sexual orientation if he didn't want viewers to clearly see them.

4Q Fundraising

AK-AL: Alyse Galvin (I): $350,000 raised, $600,000 cash-on-hand

FL-19: Dan Severson (R): $4,000 raised, additional $103,000 self-funded, $103,000 cash-on-hand

NJ-05: Mike Ghassali (R): $560,000 raised, $728,000 cash-on-hand

NY-02: Jackie Gordon (D): $260,000 raised, $289,000 cash-on-hand

WI-03: Ron Kind (D-inc): $292,000 raised, $3 million cash-on-hand

Senate

KS-Sen: Former Red State director Bryan Pruitt announced Friday that he was dropping out of the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate and running instead for the state Senate.

ME-Sen: Democratic state House Speaker Sara Gideon's latest TV ad is a minute-long spot that shows Gideon embarking on a "supper with Sara" tour and meeting with voters across the state. Gideon is filmed telling voters that "we have to take the pharmaceutical companies on," while supporters argue it's time for new blood in the Senate.

House

FL-26: On Thursday, Donald Trump tweeted out his endorsement for Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez's campaign against freshman Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Giménez famously backed Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016, so the White House's seal of approval could help the mayor avoid any problems in the August GOP primary. However, Trump's support is unlikely to be such an asset for the mayor in November in this 57-41 Clinton seat.

GA-14: Dallas Mayor Boyd Austin announced Thursday that he would run for the state Senate rather than seek the GOP nod for this open congressional seat.

MI-06: GOP Rep. Fred Upton just can't seem to make up his mind about seeking a 18th term this year, even with Michigan's filing deadline looming—and a competitive race for his 6th District in the offing no matter what he chooses to do. Here's his latest statement about his timeline for making a decision, made during a radio interview on Thursday:

"We'll make a decision in the next couple of weeks, for sure."

You know … that sure sounds familiar. In fact, it sure sounds identical. This is what Upton had to say on Jan. 7—you know, about two weeks ago:

"We'll make that decision in the next couple of weeks, for sure."

Okay, here's something even funnier, though: Fred Upton from Sept. 9:

"[W]e'll make a decision in a couple months."

A couple of weeks, a couple of months, a couple of whatevers. But hey, if he wants to wait until April 22 to decide, we'd be quite happy with that—for sure.

NJ-03, NJ-02: On Friday, wealthy businessman David Richter told the Press of Atlantic City that he was considering dropping his GOP primary bid against Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who left the Democratic Party last month, and challenging freshman Democratic Rep. Andy Kim in the 3rd District instead. Richter added that he would make up his mind in the next week.

Indeed, Richter may want to make up his mind very quickly. The New Jersey Globe's David Wildstein writes that former Gov. Chris Christie has told Richter that if he endorses Van Drew, the candidate could wind up on the same stage as Donald Trump on Tuesday when Trump holds his rally in the 2nd District.

Wildstein adds that if this happens, it could make it easier for Richter to secure the important party organization line in Ocean County, which is home to 55% of the 3rd District's Trump voters. (The balance of the district is in Burlington County, where party leaders are supporting former Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs.)

Richter is the only notable Republican challenging Van Drew in the June GOP primary, and his departure from the 2nd District would clear the way for the defector to win his new party's nomination.

It's also possible that Richter could improve the GOP's chances against Kim in the 3rd District. While party leaders were reportedly excited about Gibbs, she had a mere $138,000 on-hand at the end of December after five weeks in the race. That's not an impressive figure in any competitive seat, and it's especially underwhelming in a district that's split between the pricey Philadelphia media market and the ultra-expensive New York City market. Richter had a considerably larger $515,000 to spend, though almost all of that was self-funded.

However, Richter does have one big potential liability. The candidate grew up in the 3rd District in Willingboro, but he doesn't appear to have lived there in a while. Richter was residing in Princeton, which is located in the safely blue 12th District, when he announced his campaign against Van Drew over the summer, and he soon relocated to Avalon in the far southern point of the 2nd District.

Avalon is about 56 miles away from the nearest community in the 3rd District, and Richter said Friday that he'd move to Kim's seat if he ran there. However, it wouldn't be hard for Richter's political foes to portray him as a carpetbagger if he relocates for the second time in the space of a year to run for another office.

PA-08: Republican Jim Bognet, who served in the Trump administration as a senior vice president for communications for the Export-Import Bank, announced on Thursday that he would run in the April primary to take on Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright. Bognet joins a crowded field that includes Army veteran Earl Granville, who recently picked up an endorsement from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

TX-12: Protect Freedom PAC, which is allied with the anti-tax hardliners at the Club for Growth, is putting at least $547,000 behind a new TV ad attacking Rep. Kay Granger ahead of the March 3 Republican primary. The spot starts off by asking if voters can trust Granger to support their values as she's shown in a 2007 MSNBC clip saying, "I am a pro-choice Republican," and they note she has voted repeatedly against defunding Planned Parenthood in recent years. However, the ad of course makes no mention that Granger earlier this month signed onto an amicus brief along with more than 200 other Republican members of Congress urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

TX-17: Businesswoman Renee Swann is launching her first Republican primary ad with a spot that blasts Obamacare and claims that Democrats want a "government takeover" of health care, which she attacks as "socialism."

TX-24: Former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne is up with her first TV spot of the March GOP primary for this open seat. Van Duyne walks through a prison and says, "There's one thing we can all agree on: When criminal illegals commit crimes and hit these doors, they should be deported." The candidate goes on to say that under her leadership, Irving was one of the top-ten safest cities in America. Van Duyne then decries "liberal elites" who "want sanctuary cities."

WI-03: Republican Jessi Ebben, a public relations professional and first-time candidate, announced on Friday that she would compete in the August primary to challenge Democratic Rep. Ron Kind.