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.
● SC-07: After making national headlines for his surprising vote to impeach Donald Trump last week, South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice has, rather less surprisingly, come in for attack from fellow Republicans and may just net a primary challenge for his trouble.
Horry County School Board chair Ken Richardson, whom the Post and Courier describes as "a well-known former Mercedes-Benz car dealer" in the 7th District, says supporters have asked him to run and promised, "I know one thing for sure. He will be primaried." Meanwhile, it sounds like former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride is considering a bid, and though he hasn't yet announced anything, he has called on Rice to resign.
Rice's district, which stretches from Myrtle Beach across the northeastern part of the state, is not only staunchly conservative—it voted for Trump 59-40 last year, according to new calculations from Daily Kos Elections—it's also extremely Trumpy. As the Post and Courier points out, the 7th was Trump's best district in South Carolina in the 2016 GOP primaries, giving him a 43-20 win over Ted Cruz (Trump took just 32% statewide).
● AZ-Sen, CO-Sen, GA-Sen: In a brief aside in a longer piece on Republican infighting as the post-Trump era looms, the New York Times reports that unnamed GOP operatives are worried that three of the party's most notorious extremists in the House could run for higher office next year: Andy Biggs in Arizona, Lauren Boebert in Colorado, and Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia. Democratic senators in all three states will go before voters in 2022, with Arizona's and Georgia's races likely to be especially competitive. The governorship will also be up in this trio of states, with Arizona's open due to term limits and Georgia's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, a target of Donald Trump's attempts to recruit a challenger. Hold on to your butts.
● CA-Sen, GA-Sen-A, GA-Sen-B: Kamala Harris resigned from the Senate on Monday, just ahead of her swearing-in as vice president, opening the way for former California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (who also resigned Monday) to take her place. NBC's Mike Memoli reports that after Harris takes her new oath of office on Wednesday, she will swear in Padilla, as well as Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, whose elections were certified on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, California's legislature now has 90 days to confirm Gov. Gavin Newsom's pick to replace Padilla as secretary of state, Democratic Assemblywoman Shirley Weber. A simple majority in both chambers is required. According to the secretary of state's office, Weber's confirmation could come early next month.
● FL-Sen: The latest member of the Trump family to get talked up as a potential candidate for public office is Ivanka Trump, who supposedly is the target of "machinations behind the scenes" promoting her as a challenger to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, according to Politico. However, a spokesperson for Tom Barrack, the GOP megadonor allegedly involved in these "machinations," denies there's anything afoot, and "one person close to Trump" says Ivanka's not interested in running for anything.
● NJ-Gov: Former Somerset County Commissioner Brian Levine just entered the Republican primary for governor, though he'll face a seriously uphill climb against former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, who's already locked up the support of a wide array of county GOP chairs. This type of backing plays a crucial role in Jersey primaries because winners of the so-called "organization line" doled out by each county get preferential treatment on the ballot.
This unique system also explains the unusual "campaign" that longtime Ocean County Commissioner Joseph Vicari just launched. Vicari says he plans to seek the organization line in his home county, which gave more votes to Donald Trump in November than any other in the state, "as leverage for issues related to Ocean County," priorities he identified vaguely as "senior citizens, veterans and middle-class families." He adds that he doesn't plan to campaign elsewhere in the state, so presumably he'd intend to trade the endorsement in exchange for some sort of promise from Ciattarelli—just the kind of transactional politics you'd expect from a guy in office for 40 years.
Ciattarelli might not need the boost, though. One of the many counties lining up in his corner is Monmouth, which is not only another big source of GOP votes but also the home of a potential rival, County Sheriff Shaun Golden. Golden previously hadn't ruled out a bid but he took himself out of contention the other day when he gave his backing to Ciattarelli.
● VA-Gov: An effort to reverse last month's decision by Virginia Republicans to choose their nominee for governor via a convention collapsed in acrimony over the weekend after convention backers succeeded in adjourning a meeting of the state party's governing board before a vote could be held on switching to a primary. GOP leaders will reconvene Saturday to once again consider the proposal. (Democrats will hold a traditional primary on June 8.)
Meanwhile, campaign finance reports covering the second half of 2020 were due on Friday for all candidates who declared prior to Jan. 1. On the Democratic side, Gov. Terry McAuliffe swamped all comers, raising $5.8 million and finishing the period with $5.5 million in the bank. Former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy was second, taking in $1.1 million and ending with $1.3 million cash-on-hand, while state Sen. Jennifer McClellan brought in $722,000 and had about $630,000 left over. Two other Democrats, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Del. Lee Carter, raised very little.
The top Republican contender, Del. Kirk Cox, trailed both of the two leading Democrats, with $775,000 raised and $691,000 on-hand. His only declared rival, state Sen. Amanda Chase, took in $471,000 and finished with $235,000. Full details on all reports are available at the Virginia Public Access Project.
● CO-03: Two Democratic state legislators, whom the Colorado Sun describes as "big-name" and "well-known," are both considering bids against Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, one of the most notorious freshmen in the 117th Congress. State Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail and state Rep. Dylan Roberts say they're consulting with supporters about the possibility, though Roberts suggested they'd try to avoid running against one another, citing "some divisive primaries in CD3 over the last couple of cycles." (The Sun's Jesse Paul describes the two lawmakers as "close friends.") Donovan considered a bid for Senate in 2019 but ultimately deferred to the eventual winner, John Hickenlooper.
State Senate President Leroy Garcia is another Democrat whose name has come up, though he told Paul that he's "not actively in the process of working on it or pursuing it" but did add that he "would never completely rule it out." Meanwhile, Diane Mitsch Bush who lost to Boebert 51-45 last year and also unsuccessfully ran for this seat in 2018, says, "I doubt very much I would run" again but also cautioned, "I'm not totally ruling it out, no." According to new calculations from Daily Kos Elections, Donald Trump won the 3rd District 52-46 in November, four years after carrying it 52-40.
● LA-02: Democratic state Sen. Troy Carter earned an endorsement over the weekend from former Rep. Cedric Richmond, whose resignation took effect on Friday.
Carter and Richmond were opponents in 2008, when Louisiana briefly experimented with using partisan primaries in place of its all-party primary system. They both unsuccessfully challenged scandal-ridden incumbent Bill Jefferson for the Democratic nomination: Richmond took third with 17%, while Carter placed sixth with 8%. Jefferson would go on to lose the general election to Republican Joe Cao, whom Richmond defeated two years later.
● MD-01: Republican Rep. Andy Harris announced over the weekend that he would break his promise to serve no more than six terms in Congress and would run for a seventh next year, claiming "no one would have anticipated that we have the pushback from liberals and socialists that we have then" when he was first elected to the House in 2010.
Harris vocally campaigned on term limits during that race and backed a constitutional amendment to impose them on members of Congress in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2016. In more recent years, though—no doubt mindful that his pledge was coming due—Harris ceased supporting such measures, even though resolutions proposing a term-limits amendment are regularly introduced.
Conservative die-hards occasionally try to punish violators, but Harris' biggest problems lie elsewhere. Harford County Executive Barry Glassman blasted Harris for his role in fomenting the Jan. 6 attack on Congress—"I am embarrassed that our Congressman Harris was part of such a[n] act of sedition," he said—and says he might challenge him in next year's Republican primary. If Glassman goes for it, it would be an interesting test of the GOP's ability to police itself, though everything we've seen in recent years suggests that taking on Trumpism from within Republican ranks is doomed to fail.
● AK State Senate, AK State House: Eleven weeks after Election Day, and just ahead of the start of the new legislative session on Tuesday, the 13 Republicans in Alaska's Senate have finally settled on state Sen. Peter Micciche as their new leader. GOP infighting had delayed the selection and led the chamber's seven Democrats to hope they could form a new bipartisan coalition with more pragmatic colleagues across the aisle, but Republicans managed to hammer out their differences—though the harmony may not last.
At the heart of the dispute lay a demand by extremists that they not be required to vote for their own party's budget, a rule known as the "binding caucus." Reportedly, Republicans recently agreed to waive this rule, but that could still place them in a bind by leaving them without enough votes for their budget, either because their far-right flank can't be placated or because more moderate members balk at supporting a budget they view as too austere.
The House, meanwhile, remains deadlocked between Democrats and their independent and Republican allies, who together make up 20 seats, and hardline Republicans, who control that exact same number. Two years ago, a similar impasse left the chamber without a leader for 30 days, a full third of the way through the session, so we could see a similar interregnum this year.
● Birmingham, AL Mayor: Democratic incumbent Randall Woodfin earned two opponents over the last week ahead of this year's nonpartisan race: businessman Chris Woods, who unsuccessfully sought this post in 2017, and Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales. The filing deadline is July 10, and all the candidates will face off on Aug. 24: A runoff would take place Oct. 5 should no one earn a majority of the vote.
Woods, who previously played as a wide receiver for the Raiders and Broncos, argued that Woodfin had poorly handled a protest in May of last year that tried to remove the Confederate Sailors and Soldiers Monument from a city park. The mayor promised demonstrators he would have the obelisk taken down and called for the crowd to disperse before the police arrived: The event ended, but authorities went on to arrest 24 people for vandalism that took place in the city afterwards. Days later, the city removed the Confederate monument.
Woods ran here in 1995 and took third place, and he waged another campaign in 2017 against then-Mayor William Bell. Woodfin ended up taking first in the nonpartisan primary with 41%, while Bell beat out Woods 37-18 for second place; Woods went on to endorse Woodfin, who unseated Bell 59-41.
The other new contender is Scales, who like Woodfin and Woods is Black. Scales did not say in her kickoff why voters should fire Woodfin, declaring instead, "I'm not into being in a fight with anyone … We're here to serve people and not our own interests." Scales, who would be the first woman elected to this post, was elected to the City Council in 2009 and successfully challenged a fellow Democrat to win a seat on the five-person County Commission in 2018.
● Fort Worth, TX Mayor: City Councilor Ann Zadeh and nonprofit head Mattie Parker have each announced that they'll run to succeed retiring Republican incumbent Betsy Price in the May 1 nonpartisan primary. Zadeh, who identifies as a Democrat, was elected to the City Council in 2014, while Parker previously worked for a number of Texas Republicans, including Rep. Kay Granger and Price.
The pair join a field that includes Tarrant County Democratic Party Chairwoman Deborah Peoples, who ran against Price in 2019, and Republican City Councilor Brian Byrd. The filing deadline is Feb. 12.
● Pres-by-CD: Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide hits Indiana, where Republicans managed to hold on to a suburban seat that, like so many others, has been moving to the left during the Trump era. 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.
Donald Trump won Indiana 57-41 against Joe Biden, a result that wasn't too different from his 57-38 showing against Hillary Clinton four years earlier, and he once again carried seven of the state's nine congressional districts.
Democrats had hoped that Trump's toxicity in the suburbs would allow them to flip the open 5th District, which includes the northern Indianapolis area. Mitt Romney had taken this seat 57-41 in 2012, but Trump turned in a weaker 53-41 performance in 2016 even though he performed better statewide. Trump continued to lose ground in this historically red area last year, but he still won it 50-48, while fellow Republican Victoria Spartz ran slightly ahead of the ticket and beat Democrat Christina Hale 50-46. Republicans will control the redistricting process, and they'll likely try to shore up Spartz.
House Republicans had no trouble holding the other six Trump seats. The closest in the presidential race was the 2nd District in north-central Indiana, where Trump's 59-39 victory was only slightly smaller than his 59-36 performance last time, while Rep. Jackie Walorski won her fifth term 61-39. Trump exceeded 60% of the vote in his remaining five seats in both 2016 and 2020.
Biden, by contrast, won the two Democratic-held seats that Clinton had taken in 2016. The 1st District in the northwest corner of the state backed Biden 54-45, which was a little narrower than Clinton's 54-42, but Frank Mrvan won his open seat race by a stronger 57-40. Rep. Andre Carson's Indianapolis-based 7th District, by contrast, went in the opposite direction and supported Biden 63-35 after going for Clinton 59-36.
● Site News: We're extremely excited to announce that longtime Daily Kos Elections contributing editor David Beard has started a new weekly newsletter! It'll feature a healthy dose of domestic and international politics of the sort that you've seen him dissect here, but it will cover a host of other topics as well. You can check out his first post about the future of the GOP and sign up to get future installments—for free—right here.