Florida's current 5th Congressional District, in all its snake-like glory
• FL-05: While we know much less than we don't know as far as the fate of Florida's congressional map is concerned, one thing's for sure: Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown is hosed. Long before the state Supreme Court's decision this month that struck down the current district lines, Brown's serpentine abomination of a district had drawn heaps of scorn, as well as derision from every Democrat not named Corrine Brown. That's because the 5th takes in just about every black voter it can find along an absurd 200-mile corridor from Jacksonville to Orlando, "bleaching" neighboring districts and making them safer for Republicans.
Brown's tried to hang on for dear life, though, and even joined with Republicans in an unsuccessful lawsuit to strike down the anti-gerrymandering "Fair Districts" amendments Florida voters passed into law back in 2010. (How's that for good government?) Predictably, she's lambasted the latest ruling, and now, unnamed operatives in both parties tell Roll Call's Emily Cahn, she may even file a lawsuit to delay implementation of a new map (but on what grounds, who can say?).
Yet no matter what she tries, Brown's time is up. If the 5th instead is drawn to sprawl west from Jacksonville toward the state capital of Tallahassee, that wouldn't just screw Democratic Rep. Gwen Graham, whose 2nd District currently covers that turf. It would also devastate Brown, who would almost certainly face a primary challenge from another black politician out of Tallahassee. Cahn cites Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is just 35, as a possibility. That would set up a generational battle with the 68-year-old Brown, who has less than $22,000 in her campaign account.
We'll see what happens in just a couple of months: The court just bumped up its deadline by a month, meaning it now expects the legislature to produce new maps by Sept. 25 or else it'll whip out its own cartographic crayon. While it would suck to see Graham get the shaft, particularly after her impressive against-all-odds win during last year's GOP tsunami, if Brown also falls victim to the same forces, most Democrats won't be too unhappy.
• AK-Sen: Lisa Murkowski (R-inc): $1.1 million raised, $2.3 million cash-on-hand
• FL-Sen: Jeff Miller (R): $650,000 raised, $675,000 cash-on-hand
• KS-Sen: Jerry Moran (R-inc): $914,000 raised, $2.3 million cash-on-hand
• NH-Sen: Kelly Ayotte (R-inc): $1.5 million raised, $4 million cash-on-hand
• PA-Sen: Pat Toomey (R-inc): $2.2 million raised, $8.3 million cash-on-hand
• IN-Gov: Glenda Ritz (D): $30,000 raised (in first six months of 2015), $112,000 cash-on-hand
• WA-Gov: Bill Bryant (R): $422,000 raised (in two months)
• CA-Sen: If Rep. Xavier Becerra is really still thinking about a Senate bid, he ought to think again. Though he's a top-ranking member of the Democrats' House leadership team, Becerra's never been a strong fundraiser, and he's shown that little has changed with his very weak $218,000 haul in the most recent fundraising quarter. That would be soft for a House campaign, were he not in a safely blue seat; for a Senate primary in California, it's less than a joke. Becerra has previously said he'd make a decision by August, but it sure seems like his decision has already been made.
Meanwhile, Rep. Loretta Sanchez has finally published her quarterly haul, and it totes up to an unimpressive $618,000. She does have almost $1.1 million in the bank, but that's thanks to a $516,000 transfer from her House account. By contrast, state Attorney General Kamala Harris, the leading Democrat in the race, took in $1.6 million in the same time period and has $3 million in cash-on-hand. But since Sanchez's take is a lot more than she'd typically raise in a quarter were she running for re-election, it now seems less likely that she'll drop back down and run for another term in the House. Still, it ain't enough to run with the big dogs on the Senate track.
• FL-Sen: As longtime Digest readers know, one of our biggest pet peeves in politics is when would-be candidates insist on pre-pre-pre-announcing that they're thinking about possibly forming an exploratory committee (after the legislative session ends, of course), according to a source close to whichever schmuck is stringing us along that day. Now, we're not puffed-up Beltways hacks who think politicians should care when we whine that they're making our jobs difficult, but it's also weak politics to drag things out like this. It's much better to make a big splash and garner a bunch of media attention with a guns-blazing announcement rather than play games and dribble out tea leaves for months.
Of course, Carlos Lopez-Cantera had to choose door number two, which is why we're busy complaining once again today. CLC, as Florida's Republican lieutenant governor is known, got name-checked by none other than the guy he's hoping to replace, Sen. Marco Rubio, as long ago as January, and he's been telegraphing his announcement for what feels like forever.
Well, forever finally happened on Wednesday, when Lopez-Cantera kicked off his campaign for Senate at a ... box factory. And not just any box factory, or even the Simpsons' box factory, but, as Democratic operative Max Steele points out, a box factory whose owners were once indicted on 18 counts of tax evasion and ultimately earned three years' probation and paid a $92,000 fine. (Mitt Romney was tight with these dopes, too.)
But, box felons aside, there actually was one good reason CLC waited as long as he did to enter the race: By not declaring as an official candidate, he was able to help a super PAC raise money—a super PAC that will now, in turn, try to help him win the GOP primary. In total, he pulled in $741,000, though he can no longer co-ordinate with that super PAC. He also raised another $140,000 for a regular old PAC-type PAC which he can still work hand-in-hand with. It's nothing spectacular, though, especially compared to Rep. Ron DeSantis' $2 million haul, so maybe Lopez-Cantera would have been better off jumping in feet first months ago, just like we said.
• IL-Sen: Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, "moderate" Republican, running for re-election in a blue state in a presidential year, has utterly lost his shit:
Under the Bob Corker legislation that recently passed, Congress can do a resolution of disapproval and the president can veto it. The only reason why the president supported the Corker legislation is because it allows him to get what he wants on Iran, which is to get nukes to Iran.
That's from a brand-new interview with Boston's WRKO and shared by Buzzfeed
. But this wasn't just one blurry throwaway line that Kirk can try to excuse away by claiming he misspoke. Oh no. The entire discussion focused on the Iran nuclear deal, which Kirk histrionically freaked over as two fawning hosts, enraptured by Kirk's previous service as a military intelligence officer, challenged exactly zero of his lunatic assertions, such as:
• This is the greatest appeasement since Chamberlain gave Czechoslovakia to Hitler.
• This agreement condemns the next generation to cleaning up a nuclear war in the Persian Gulf. It condemns our Israeli allies to further conflict with Iran.
• Because the president can veto it, he will turn this into a vicious partisan issue where his allies will all be forced to stand for Iranian terrorism and hopefully lose the next election.
• Bob Menendez has just been indicted maybe on the crime of being against the Iran deal, has been pretty much effectively silenced.
• My guess is they'll have nukes in a couple of years under this agreement, with the $100 billion Obama's going to give to the Iranians. They'll go on to the market as the most well-funded terrorists in history and buy whatever they want.
Kirk's grown increasingly unhinged in recent months. There was his "joke"
that Lindsey Graham is a "bro with no ho, as we'd say on the South Side"; his statement
that he wants to ensure "that the black community is not the one we drive faster through"; and his idea
for some guerilla political theater: "If there is a successful attack during a DHS shutdown, we should build a number of coffins outside each Democratic office and say, 'You are responsible for these dead Americans.'"
And he's said all of this in just the last five months. Who knows what the next 15 months will bring?
• NC-Sen: Democrats mentioned state Sen. Josh Stein as a potential Senate candidate after ex-Sen. Kay Hagan declined to challenge Republican incumbent Richard Burr, but he never showed any interest. Stein explicitly ruled out a bid on Tuesday, though we'll likely be seeing his name on the 2016 statewide ballot for attorney general.
• NV-Sen: So this is how it goes now: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce releases a poll from Fabrizio Lee showing a swing-state Republican up by double digits while the Senate Majority PAC responds with a PPP survey finding the Democrat ahead by one point. We saw this recently in New Hampshire, and now we're seeing it again in Nevada, where PPP has former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto edging Rep. Joe Heck 42-41; Fabrizio had Heck ahead 50-36.
Jon Ralston, who is nobody's partisan, called PPP's poll "much more credible" than the Chamber's, saying the latter's had "questionable demographics." Ralston also says that he asked the Chamber for more information about its poll but was refused.
One thing to note as well is that PPP included presidential numbers (Fabrizio didn't), finding Hillary Clinton up anywhere from 48-43 (on Marco Rubio) to 49-37 (on Jeb Bush). For swingy Nevada, that's pretty good, and if it holds—as it should—it means Republicans will have to go hunting for Clinton-Heck voters. That's not impossible, as Dean Heller showed three years ago, but he was an appointed incumbent running against a flawed opponent and still only escaped with a 1-point victory. As demographic change marches on, the GOP's margin for error just keeps shrinking.
And that's why the Chamber is already running a bland positive spot on Heck's behalf that emphasizes his "bipartisan" achievements and stresses his military and medical background (Heck's a physician and, as of last year, a brigadier general in the Army Reserve). They're spending a decent $350,000, but that's just the first drop in what will eventually be a Yucca Mountain-sized bucket of ad spending in the Silver State next year.
The Chamber can well afford it, of course, and they can also afford to turn their attention to the general election without worrying they'll define Heck as a squish to GOP primary voters. That's because the entire establishment is rallying around his candidacy, with all three of Heck's Republican colleagues on the Hill endorsing him: Heller, plus Reps. Mark Amodei and Cresent Hardy. It would take a mighty tea party effort to stop Heck at this point, and with the Club for Growth generally behaving much more pragmatically than they used to a decade ago, it's unlikely we'll see one.
• VT-Gov: Ex-state Sen. and 2010 candidate Matt Dunne hasn't announced if he'll run to succeed retiring Gov. Peter Shumlin, but that hasn't stopped him from raising $134,000. As Paul Heintz of Seven Days reminds us, Dunne only brought in a total of $349,000 during his last bid for the Democratic nomination, and this haul seems to be his way of demonstrating that this time will be different. State House Speaker Shap Smith also looks ready to run in the Democratic primary, while Secretary of Transportation Sue Minter is also eyeing this contest.
• CA-25: After raising an embarrassing $29,000 during the first three months of the year, freshman Republican Steve Knight vowed to step it up. And sure enough, Knight hauled in $403,000 during the last quarter, which is about as much as he raised during the entire 2014 campaign. We'll see if Knight can sustain this or if he goes back to his old ways, but GOP leaders will definitely be happy to hand Knight the "most improved fundraiser" award (most improved odor is still up for grabs). Romney won this Antelope Valley seat 50-48.
• FL-02: To no one's surprise, state Department of Elder Affairs' general counsel Mary Thomas has confirmed that she'll seek this North Florida seat. But Thomas should expect some competition in the GOP primary. Neal Dunn, a retired urologist who sounds well-connected, has confirmed that he's considering a bid here. But Dunn does not have a good relationship with plenty of local activists over his past donations to Democrats (he most recently gave to Sen. Bill Nelson during the 2012 cycle).
And there's a good chance we'll see more Republicans coming out of the woodwork soon. Many would-be candidates were pessimistic that they could defeat freshman Democrat Gwen Graham in what's currently a 52-47 Romney seat, and they were content to just wait for her to run for statewide office in 2018. But now that the Florida Supreme Court has ordered the GOP legislature to redraw the state's congressional districts, there's a very good chance that this will transform into a safely red seat after heavily Democratic Tallahassee is moved to the nearby 5th. That should definitely speed up some Republicans' plans, though no one's completely sure what the final map will look like.
• IA-01: Monica Vernon's efforts to intimidate Pat Murphy out of joining her for a second bite at Iowa's 1st District don't quite seem to be working. Murphy, the former state House speaker who lost a terribly disappointing race in this district last year, just released a poll of the Democratic primary from Myers Research that has him up 43-34 on Vernon, a Cedar Rapids city councilor, with Saturday Night Live alum Gary Kroeger at 12 and the remaining 12 percent undecided. And in a two-way matchup with just Vernon, Murphy leads 51-40.
Murphy, who says he'll make a decision about a bid "next week," also hints that he's ready to go negative if he does get in. In his polling memo, he says he conducted negative message testing against both himself and Vernon, "simulating likely attacks against each of them." It's that word "likely" that's trouble—does he expect the campaign to turn nasty if he runs? Murphy doesn't say what, exactly, his pollster asked voters about, but he almost certainly told respondents that Vernon used to be a Republican; whatever the attacks were, Myers claims they "prove devastating" to Vernon among women. If Murphy takes on Vernon over issues of equality and especially reproductive choice, expect EMILY's List, which has endorsed Vernon, to fire back hard. This could get very ugly.
• IN-09: It didn't take state Sen. Erin Houchin very long to go from "having those conversations" about whether to run for Congress to actually running for Congress. Houchin joins fellow state Sen. Brent Waltz in the GOP primary for this safely red Southern Indiana state; state Attorney General Greg Zoeller hasn't announced his plans, but he's also opened up a campaign committee.
• NH-02, Sen, Gov: At the beginning of the cycle, Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster declined to rule out a Senate or gubernatorial bid. But Kuster has finally announced that she'll seek a third term, so she seems to have finally closed the door on a statewide campaign. Of course, national Democrats could reach out to her if Gov. Maggie Hassan decides not to challenge Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, but it sounds like Kuster's comfortable in the House. Obama carried the 2nd 54-45 and Kuster decisively won re-election despite last year's GOP wave (albeit against an almost criminally overhyped opponent) so she should be favored here, though New Hampshire is nothing if not unpredictable.
• NV-04: It looks like "DOOM!!!" didn't work after all. Democrat Lucy Flores, who modeled her fundraising asks after the DCCC's notoriously apocalyptic emails, raised a woeful $106,000 in the second quarter of the year. That compares with $213,000 for Ruben Kihuen and $280,000 from Susie Lee, her main rivals. It might also explain why Harry Reid recently declined to endorse her, and why Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman just gave her backing to Kihuen, a state senator.
The good news for Team Blue, Flores included, is that GOP Rep. Cresent Hardy, the man this field is trying to unseat, performed pitifully himself. He managed to pull in just $194,000, an utterly unacceptable sum for a heavily targeted incumbent. Hardy may have already given up hope of winning a second term, or perhaps his donors have. But sometimes candidates who suck at fundraising can win, though sometimes shortstops with .205 batting averages hit game-winning home runs, too. The key word here is "sometimes."
• PA-08: Team Blue is hoping to retake this open seat, but neither Democratic candidate is raising the type of money they need to win in an expensive swing district like this. Businesswoman and 2014 candidate Shaughnessy Naughton brought in only $179,000 in the last three months, and she has $242,000 on hand. But that's better than state Rep. Steve Santarsiero, who took in just $116,000 (he loaned himself an extra $40,000) for $283,000 on hand. It's not cheap to air TV ads in the Philadelphia media market, and hauls like this just aren't going to cut it.
• SC-01: GOP state Rep. Jenny Horne made national news last week for her speech calling for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the state House grounds, and she doesn't sound ready to step out of the spotlight yet. Horne says she's considering a primary campaign against Rep. Mark Sanford for this safely red seat, though she also didn't rule out a gubernatorial bid for 2018.
Sanford is also nationally known, but for a very different reason. While serving as governor, Sanford went missing for several days in 2009 when he secretly visited his mistress in Argentina. Sanford left office a punch line (and forever tainting the phrase "hiking the Appalachian Trail"), but he resurrected his career when he won a 2013 special election. Voters hadn't forgotten Sanford's sordid past, but it wasn't enough to deny him the GOP nomination or keep him from prevailing in the general election in this Romney 58-40 seat.
We'll see if Horne can get any mileage out of this if she runs, but the whole scandal will be seven years old by Election Day. Sanford will also have incumbency on his side, and there will be plenty of voters unhappy with Horne's role in the Confederate battle flag debate.
• Indianapolis Mayor: On Wednesday, the Rev. Charles Harrison announced once and for all that he would not run as an independent this November. Harrison is quite prominent and he would have added some unpredictability to the duel between Democrat Joe Hogsett and Republican Chuck Brewer. Harrison has emphasized gun violence and he likely would have taken votes from Hogsett.
The reverend had his chance to make the ballot after an anonymous group gathered signatures on his behalf. Harrison says he has nothing to do with this group and doesn't even know who they are, but he did take a few days to consider the opportunity they gave him before declining. The deadline for independents to file was July 15, so things are finally set here. Hogsett has looked like the clear frontrunner for a long time, and he should remain the favorite.
• Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso gives us the results from the Peach State:
Georgia HD-48: This was a hold for the Republicans; Betty Price won the seat outright with 51 percent of the vote, defeating her fellow Republican, Dave McCleary, who got 34 percent. Democrat Jimmy Johnson came in a distant third with 15 percent. Price is the wife of Rep. Tom Price, and this will be the first time a husband and wife have served in Congress and the Georgia legislature at the same time.
Georgia HD-80: This will go to a runoff between Democrat Taylor Bennett and Republican Max Davis, who scored 37 and 31 percent, respectively. Republican Catherine Bernard came in a close third with 30 percent, while Republican Loren Collins pulled in a mere 2 percent of the vote. Romney won this seat 56-43 and Davis has been accused of sexually harassing Brookhaven city workers, so a Democratic pickup isn't completely out of the question.
Another congressional spouse also had a good night in Georgia. Attorney Mereda Davis Johnson, who is married to Rep. Hank Johnson, defeated a fellow Democrat for a seat on the DeKalb County Commission.
It's no secret that minorities are under-represented in Congress. But it doesn't need to be this way: In a new piece, Stephen Wolf creates new maps that demonstrate how almost every Southern state could easily elect at least one additional non-white House member.
• VA Redistricting: Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has called the legislature back for a special session starting Aug. 17 in order to redraw Virginia's congressional lines, which were tossed out by a federal appellate court last month for packing too many black voters into the state's 3rd Congressional District. The court has set a Sept. 1 deadline for the lawmakers to produce a new map, which means the timing is tight, but that might be by design: Since Republicans control both the state House and Senate, McAuliffe may prefer a stalemate that would lead to the court taking matters into its own hands.
Indeed, Republicans have asked the appeals court to extend its deadline until Nov. 16, in part because they sound likely to appeal its ruling to the Supreme Court. However, it's hard to see them prevailing: The appeals court based its own decision on a related case out of Alabama where, with a 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court issued a similar opinion—and in fact directed the lower court to revisit the Virginia case with the Alabama ruling in mind. So unless one justice finds a way to distinguish the two cases, nothing is likely to change and we'll be right back to the redraw.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, and Daniel Donner.