West Virginia Senate President and GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Cole
• WV-Gov: On Tuesday, state Senate President Bill Cole became the first credible Republican to enter the race to succeed termed-out Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin. Cole may not have the field to himself though. State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has been flirting with a bid for months, and he reaffirmed that he's still interested even if he'll need to get past Cole.
Things are also unsettled on the Democratic side. Billionaire Jim Justice currently has the primary to himself but state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler has filed pre-candidacy papers, while U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin hasn't ruled anything out. Neither party can take anything for granted next year: West Virginia is a conservative state where the GOP is on the upswing, but Team Blue is still strong in state-level contests.
• CO-Sen: Rep. Mike Coffman's decision to stay in the House leaves the NRSC without an obvious fallback candidate against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. We recently went over some Centennial State Republicans who might be interested, and we can add state Senate President Bill Cadman to the list. Cadman has not yet publicly expressed interest but multiple media outlets have name-dropped him, so we should at least keep an eye out.
• IL-12: Democrats finally have a candidate against freshman Republican Mike Bost, but he's going to have a bit to prove. Labor lawyer C.J. Baricevic formed an exploratory committee in April, and he recently confirmed that he'll challenge Bost in this swingy St. Louis-area seat.
Baricevic has never run for office but his father, Judge John Baricevic, is a powerful figure in local party politics. A few other Democrats have been mentioned as possible Bost foes, but only Baricevic has stepped up so far. International aid worker Edward Vowell recently formed an exploratory committee, but he's also an untested politician. While Bost's temper drew him some bad headlines last cycle, he proved to be a tough candidate, and we'll need to see if Baricevic has what it takes to beat him.
• IN-09, Sen: With Republican Rep. Todd Young considering a Senate bid, attention is turning to who might succeed him in his 57-41 Romney seat. Somewhat surprisingly, state Attorney General Greg Zoeller didn't rule out a bid when asked, and GOP sources tell Brian Howey that Zoeller will definitely run if Young goes.
It's very unusual to see a state attorney general run for the House in a medium size state: The (unfunny) joke is that "AG" stands for "aspiring governor." Zoeller also never showed any real interest in a Senate campaign when Dan Coats announced his retirement, even though he probably would have had a good chance at victory. But Zoeller may think he can clear the field if he seeks IN-09, while he'd probably need to go through a crowded primary for Senate or for governor in 2020. Zoeller is eligible to run for another term as attorney general, so he has some options if Young stays put.
• NH-01: On Tuesday, the FEC released documents relating to their investigation of GOP Rep. Frank Guinta, and they're certainly embarrassing. According to these files, Guinta claimed that $355,000 in mystery money he spent on his first campaign for Congress back in 2010 came from a "family pot" held in his parents name but which he and his siblings all had access to. (At the time, Guinta said the money was his own, but his own financial disclosure forms showed he didn't have anywhere near that kind of cash.)
However, Guinta's sister, Christine Guinta Raymond, told the FEC she'd never heard of this supposed "family pot," and Guinta's mother, Virginia Guinta, wrote "loan" in the memo line on nine separate checks she made out to her son, totaling $359,000—and then deducted each amount from the "$1 million of wealth" that she and her husband said they intended to make "available to each of their three children." That led the FEC to conclude that this "family pot" notion was bogus and that the money had indeed been a loan, which is why the commission ordered Guinta to repay the money and pay a $15,000 fine.
Of course, Guinta's already taken a sizable hit from this whole ordeal, but so far, he's hung on in spite of calls from top Republicans than he resign. Sure, the new FEC materials make him look worse—there are also details like the fact that his parents paid his credit card bills and mortgage at one point—but most of the damage is probably already done. If Guinta can at least keep a modicum of money flowing into his campaign coffers (you know, actual donations, not fake ones), then by September of 2016, which is when the GOP primary will take place, it's very possible that enough voters will have moved on.
• Nashville Mayor: Wealthy real estate businessman Bill Freeman has won over another useful endorsement ahead of the crowded Aug. 6 primary. This time it's from the Metro Nashville Education Association, which joins the local SEIU and International Association of Firefighters in his corner. Two recent polls (one from Freeman, one from rival Howard Gentry) show Freeman in a good position to advance to the runoff, and these groups seem to agree that he's emerged as one of the frontrunners.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, and Taniel.