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.
● Senate: The NRSC has announced it has reserved a total of $33 million in TV ads for seven states. The bookings come weeks after the GOP super PAC Senate Leadership Fund and the Democratic group Senate Majority PAC made their first reservations. However, while both those groups will start going on the air just after Labor Day, the NRSC will start advertising in some contests as early as June.
The NRSC's reservations by state, as well as the planned ad start dates, are below. All the seats are held by Republicans except for Michigan, which is represented by Democratic Sen. Gary Peters:
- Arizona (Martha McSally): $5.7 million, starts June 1.
- Colorado: (Cory Gardner): $6.4 million, starts July 8
- Iowa: (Joni Ernst): $2.6 million, starts June 9
- Maine: (Susan Collins): $5.1 million, starts June 3
- Michigan: (Gary Peters): $3.1 million, starts June 1
- Montana: (Steve Daines): $2.8 million, starts Sept. 8
- North Carolina: (Thom Tillis): $7.3 million, starts July 3
The NRSC is the first major outside group to book time in Michigan and Montana, while SMP and SLF each reserved time in the other five states. So far, though, SLF is the only group to reserve airtime in Kentucky, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faces an expensive fight. The DSCC, which is the other major spender on the Democratic side, has not yet announced its opening wave of TV reservations.
Please bookmark our statewide 2020 primary calendar and our calendar of key downballot races, both of which we're updating continually as changes are finalized.
● District of Columbia: Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser has signed legislation to have election officials send absentee ballot applications with postage-paid return envelopes to all D.C. voters for the District's June 2 presidential and local primaries.
● Florida: Officials in populous Broward County, Florida say they plan to send every registered voter an absentee ballot request form ahead of the state's Aug. 18 downballot primaries. Voters who ask for an absentee ballot for the primary will also automatically receive one for the general election. Two other large southeastern Florida counties, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, are also considering similar measures. Collectively, these three counties are home to 27% of Florida's 13.7 million registered voters.
● Illinois: Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he'd like officials to send every voter an application to request an absentee ballot ahead of the November general elections, but according to Crain's Chicago Business, he "stopped short of endorsing" a bill proposed by Democratic state Sen. Julie Morrison to mail every voter an actual ballot. Pritzker previously said Illinois might have to "move to a significant amount or all mail-in ballots."
● Kentucky: Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has vetoed a measure that would have required sign-off from Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams before the governor could use his emergency powers to make changes to elections.
Adams had focused on a small tweak the law would have made to an existing statute by clarifying that the governor could change the "manner" in which an election during a state of emergency can be held; state law currently specifies that only the "time" and "place" may be altered. However, in a statement explaining his veto, Beshear said that "the existing statutory process for ordering changes to an election is effective." Kentucky's Republican-run legislature could override Beshear's veto with a simple majority.
● Louisiana: Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has postponed Louisiana's presidential primaries a second time, from June 20 to July 11; originally, they'd been scheduled for April 4. On the same day as the primary, the state is also holding some municipal elections that have their own runoff. Edwards also delayed those runoffs once more, moving them from July 25 to Aug. 15; previously, they had been set for May 9.
● Maryland: Maryland's Board of Elections has now authorized limited in-person voting for the April 28 special election in the state's 7th Congressional District, a reversal of its previous plan to eliminate in-person voting entirely. While all active registered voters have been sent ballots in the mail, some voters are unable to vote by mail for a variety of reasons, including the simple fact that some such as those registering on Election Day will inevitably not receive mail ballots. Had the board not changed course, it could have faced litigation for violating the rights of disabled voters.
● Nevada: Lawyers for the Nevada Democratic Party have sent a letter to Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske threatening litigation if she does not make changes to her plan to conduct the state's June 2 downballot primaries by mail. In their letter, the attorneys identify what they say are a number of deficiencies in Cegavske's plans that could be unconstitutional.
Most notably, they say that having only one in-person voting site per county is insufficient—for instance, Clark County (home of the Las Vegas area) has 1.3 million of Nevada's 1.9 million registered voters and would have just one voting site while the other 16 county equivalents have just roughly 600,000 voters but would collectively have 16 voting sites. They also say that the state must mail ballots to all registered voters, not only those who are listed as "active" in the state's files.
● Wisconsin: Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is considering postponing the special election in Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District, which is set for May 12. While Evers was blocked by the conservative majority on the state Supreme Court when he sought to delay last week's statewide elections, it appears he has the power to move the special election on his own. However, both candidates in the race, Democrat Tricia Zunker and Republican Tom Tiffany, oppose changing the date, with Zunker calling for the election to be conducted by mail.
● ME-Sen: The progressive group 16 Counties Coalition (its name is a reference to the number of counties in Maine) has launched what Politico reports is a $600,000 ad campaign against GOP Sen. Susan Collins. The commercial features a retired clinical social worker identified as Louise taking Collins to task for siding with "Mitch McConnell by voting for billions in tax breaks for big corporations" instead of supporting her constituents during the coronavirus pandemic.
● UT-Gov: State election officials said Monday that former Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman had submitted enough valid signatures to appear on the June 30 GOP primary ballot, an announcement that came on the final day that candidates could turn in petitions.
Businesswoman Jan Garbett, though, only handed in a total 21,000 of the requisite 28,000 signatures. Garbett filed a lawsuit the next day to get on the ballot, arguing that the state had not done enough to make it easier for candidates to collect signatures during the coronavirus pandemic.
Because Garbett decided to skip the April 25 virtual party convention, which is the only other way that candidates can reach the primary ballot in Utah, her campaign will be over if she doesn't prevail in court. Garbett is pitching herself as the one Republican contender who doesn't back Donald Trump, though, so the former Democrat would have a difficult time winning the GOP nod no matter what.
Two other Republicans, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and former state party chair Thomas Wright, turned in their signatures earlier this year, and state election officials said several weeks ago that they'd each made the ballot. Over half of Huntsman's petitions, though, were rejected in late March, and the former governor had only about two-and-a-half weeks left to collect the remaining 11,500 signatures. Social distancing made this task especially difficult, though the state took some steps to allow voters to sign petitions at home. In the end, however, Huntsman got the necessary signatures in time.
While Cox, Huntsman, and Wright are each guaranteed to be on the primary ballot, they're also competing at the party convention. Four other Republicans, though, need to perform well with delegates the weekend after next if they want to be in the primary.
Former state House Speaker Greg Hughes announced in January that he would only go through the GOP convention route, while Salt Lake County Council chair Aimee Winder Newton said the following month that she would do the same thing because of the high cost of gathering petitions. Businessman Jeff Burningham was also collecting signatures, but he announced in March that he'd only compete at the convention because of the dangers of the coronavirus. Perennial candidate Jason Christensen is also restricting his efforts to the convention.
At least two, and potentially more, of those four campaigns will come to an end at the party gathering. State GOP rules say that, in races with three or more contenders, the convention may opt to either use multiple ballots or preference voting to gradually eliminate candidates from consideration; according to Utah Policy, the party has decided to use ranked-choice voting this year. If one contender ends up taking more than 60% of the delegate vote, they will be the only candidate to reach the primary ballot.
If, however, no one hits this threshold, then the two competitors left standing will advance to the primary. (Utah Democrats' rules work the same way.) While Cox, Huntsman, and Wright will reach the primary no matter how good or bad they do on April 25, they still may benefit from doing well at the convention and knocking out more of their opponents.
Utah Policy also reports that Burningham and Hughes have spent the most on advertising in the leadup to the convention: Burningham had deployed $673,000 so far to Hughes' $294,000, while Cox was in third with $193,000 spent. While recent polls show Burningham and Hughes badly trailing both Huntsman and Cox in the primary, their advertising could help them appeal to the delegates who will be deciding their fate later this month.
● CA-11: Democratic Rep. Mark DeSaulnier's office announced Monday that the congressman's condition had improved and that he had moved out of the intensive care unit. DeSaulnier is still in the hospital while he's being treated for complications with pneumonia.
● CA-25: Republican Mike Garcia and the NRCC are out with another spot from their joint ad buy ahead of the May 12 special election that claims Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith did "nothing" to respond to the coronavirus epidemic. Smith's campaign quickly put out a fact-check noting that she'd introduced legislation in January that "would create a temporary sales tax exemption for emergency preparation items."
Smith's team also said that, among other things, she "immediately reached out to all in-district hospitals, city officials, school officials, and others to ensure they have the resources needed" and "personally secured 500 face masks and is distributing them throughout the district." The statement also said that the assemblywoman "is personally involved with case work centered on getting people their unemployment claims, information on rental protection, and where and how to access additional support."
● HI-02: State Sen. Kai Kahele has had the race for Hawaii's open 2nd Congressional District largely to himself since mid-autumn, and he just secured some major endorsements that suggest things are likely to stay that way. Both Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Ed Case, along with several current and former leaders in the state Senate, have given their backing to Kahele, who only faces minor opposition in the Aug. 8 Democratic primary.
These announcements coincide with another important development: Kahele, an officer in the Hawaii Air National Guard, was just called up to active duty to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. The candidate filing deadline is not until June 2, so there's still a chance Kahele could draw a serious opponent, especially now that he's been taken off the campaign trail. However, it's been almost six months since Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced she wouldn't seek re-election and no notable contenders have taken even the smallest public steps toward a bid.
Kahele has also used his time as the only candidate in the race to amass a sizable war chest: His campaign says it raised $124,000 during the first quarter of the year and has $498,000 cash-on-hand, so anyone who were to get in now would likely face a sizable financial deficit.
● NY-17: Wealthy Republican Josh Eisen temporarily suspended his campaign for this open 59-38 Clinton seat in February after City & State unearthed lawsuits full off accusations that he'd "harassed legal opponents and their families over email, and has a documented use of racial slurs." Eisen, who has self-funded at least $500,000 so far, rejoined the race the following month but soon announced that, because the coronavirus prevented him from getting enough signatures to make the primary ballot, he would run as an independent.
● SC-01: State Rep. Nancy Mace is up with her first TV spot ahead of the June GOP primary to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham.
The narrator notes that Mace was the first woman to graduate from The Citadel military academy and that she was part of Donald Trump's 2016 campaign in South Carolina, and he goes on to describe Mace's conservative record in the legislature. The ad concludes with footage of Mike Pence praising her as "an extraordinary American with an extraordinary lifetime of accomplishments—past, present and future." Mace's campaign says that this commercial will run for six figures.
Election Result Recaps
● Milwaukee, WI Mayor: Mayor Tom Barrett won a fifth four-year term on April 7 by defeating state Sen. Lena Taylor, a fellow Democrat, 63-37.
● Milwaukee County, WI Executive: Votes from the April 7 nonpartisan general election were released Monday evening, and state Rep. David Crowley defeated his fellow Democrat, state Sen. Chris Larson, 50.3-49.7—a margin of 1,039 votes. Larson conceded the following afternoon.
Crowley had the support of outgoing Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, a Democrat who has often worked with the GOP legislature, while Larson had unsuccessfully challenged the incumbent in 2016. While Larson outraised Crowley $267,000 to $131,000, Abele's Leadership MKE group spent a total of $767,000 on Crowley's behalf. Crowley's win will make him Milwaukee County's first elected black executive.