Republican Rep. Ted Yoho is reportedly mulling a Senate campaign
• FL-Sen: Thanks to Donald Trump, it's been hard for GOP primaries at any other level of politics to earn the distinction of being batshit hilarious, but Florida's Senate race might just stand a chance. That's because Rep. Ted Yoho, the large animal veterinarian who unexpectedly birthed his way into Congress via a primary challenge to an incumbent Republican back in 2012, is reportedly considering a bid. That's not from the horse's mouth (an orifice Yoho undoubtedly has great familiarity with), but rather a "supporter close to Yoho" who gave several quotes to Sunshine State News.
If Yoho were to enter, he'd join Reps. Ron DeSantis, David Jolly, and (probably) Jeff Miller, plus Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. But it's the matchup with DeSantis that would really send the feathers flying: DeSantis is a Club for Growth golden child, while Yoho's demonstrated his free-range qualities by voting for himself as speaker of the House. (Even though the supporter speaking on Yoho's behalf insists redistricting isn't prompting this newfound interest, Matthew Isbell speculates that's exactly what's at play here.)
However, as enjoyable as it would be to see these two bighorn sheep crash heads, it would likely diminish the chance that either would earn the Republican nomination. That would make it tougher for Democrats to pick up this seat (they'd rather not face the likes of Jolly), but in politics, there's only so much that's under your control. For all the rest that's not, all you can do is sit back and chuckle at the barnyard antics.
• CO-Sen: We haven't seen much polling out of Colorado, because the GOP still doesn't really have a legit candidate to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet next year, but Quinnipiac did just test the incumbent's job approval rating. Bennet manages a decent 41-34 score, but oddly, only 32 percent of the same respondents say they think he deserves re-election while 40 percent say he doesn't. Why voters would say they approve of a guy but don't think he should win another term is very puzzling, but Quinnipiac has often shown strange gaps like this.
• DE-Gov: Termed-out Gov. Jack Markell has pretty much pre-endorsed the guy he narrowly beat in the 2008 Democratic primary, Rep. John Carney, to succeed him. Markell didn't use the magic words that connote "formal endorsement" (which is a meaningless notion anyhow), but he did call Carney "a terrific candidate" should he decide to run. Carney hasn't launched a campaign yet, but everyone in Delaware politics expects him to. His likeliest rival for the nomination would be New Castle County Executive Tom Gordon, who's faced corruption charges in the past. Republicans will be hard-pressed to make this race interesting.
• KY-Gov: The Republican Governors Association has rolled out an incredibly unsurprising ad attacking Democrat Jack Conway as an "Obama liberal" who loves that horrid Obamacare somethin' fierce! The narrator does get credit, though, for correctly pluralizing the phrase "attorneys general."
Conway's running his own spot, saying he sued Barack Obama when the president "tried to change the rules and hurt coal"—"the only Democratic attorney general in the country to do that." (Singular, sorry.) The ad's production values aren't exactly cutting edge, and the editing is less-than-crisp, but sometimes that sort of thing is intentional, especially when a politician is trying to avoid looking like a slickster—and that may well be on Conway's mind.
• LA-Gov: Campaign finance reports were due Monday night covering the period between April 18 and July 16, and unsurprisingly, GOP Sen. David Vitter still has a massive financial lead over his opponents. Vitter raised $1.3 million during this period and has $5 million on hand. The Fund for Louisiana's Future, Vitter's allied super PAC, also has $4.4 million available (a good portion of that came from Vitter's Senate account).
Polls consistently show Vitter and Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards securing the top two spots in the October jungle primary. Edwards won't have an easy time beating Vitter in a November runoff in this conservative state, and it doesn't help that he's not raising much money. Edwards took in $246,000 over this time and has a little more than $1 million in the bank.
Two Republicans, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, are trying to secure a spot in the runoff at Edwards' expense. Dardenne raised $408,000 during the last three months and has $1.9 million on hand. However, his allied super PAC Now or Never only has $97,000 on hand, so it doesn't look like Dardenne will be able to count on much outside help.
Angelle has been spending the most of any of the candidates, with him dumping $922,000 since mid-April in a bid to boost his name recognition. Angelle has had the airwaves to himself, and while polls show him picking up support, he's still nowhere close to making the runoff. That's a problem, since Angelle only raised $413,000 during the last three months: While he loaned himself $375,000, two-thirds of that came from a bank loan rather than his own pockets. Angelle has $1 million on hand and he's going to need a lot more if he wants to stay on TV when crunch time comes.
• VT-Gov: Lt. Gov. Phil Scott is the one Republican who could really put Vermont's open governorship in play, but even he would face the normal headwinds you'd expect in a presidential year in a blue state. It does sound like he's gearing up, though: Scott says he's "getting more serious" about a bid and he's spending real money to send out fundraising letters. He also adds that he'll make a decision about his plans "internally" by Labor Day but says he won't reveal what they are until later in the fall. So far, no candidates from either party have officially joined the race.
• AZ-02: Democrats already have a candidate in Arizona's 2nd District, but another one might be on the way. State Rep. and former TV news anchor Victoria Steele launched a bid against freshman GOP Rep. Martha McSally a little while back, and now ex-state Rep. Matt Heinz has filed paperwork with the FEC. However, Heinz did not make any formal announcements, and he also performed terribly the previous time he ran in this district. Heinz insisted on waging a primary challenge to then-Rep. Ron Barber, right after Barber won a special election to succeed ex-Rep. Gabby Giffords. But Barber predictably mashed him, winning by an 82 to 18 margin.
• FL-02: Former two-term GOP Rep. Steve Southerland originally sounded uninterested in a rematch with the woman who defeated him last year, Democrat Gwen Graham, but then his ears perked up when the Florida's Supreme Court invalidated the state's congressional map in such a way that his old 2nd District is all but sure to get redrawn in a much redder fashion. Alas, though, it's not to be: Southerland, who is best-known for wondering aloud whether Graham had attended as many "lingerie showers" as he claims to have, says he won't run for Congress this cycle.
• NC-03: Hrm. Not even two months ago, Anthony Tata announced that he wouldn't run for Congress because he wanted to stay on as North Carolina's transportation secretary. But now, Tata's abruptly gone and resigned his government job—so abruptly, in fact, that he didn't even mention he'd be quitting on Tuesday morning in an interview he did late Monday afternoon with the News & Observer.
Weirdly, Tata now isn't ruling out a GOP primary challenge to Rep. Walter Jones, who's long irked his own party with his isolationist streak and occasional public rebukes of fellow Republicans. But Tata claims that his side gig penning action thrillers is taking up a lot of his time, and he also said serving as secretary took a "personal toll" on him. That really doesn't seem too stressful for a retired Army brigadier general, but if he can't hack all that, he's not going to find running for office much more relaxing.
But Jones definitely would get to chill a bit if Tata did enter the race after all. Jones' 2014 primary opponent, Taylor Griffin, is already waging a rematch, and if both he and Tata run, they'd be apt to split the anti-incumbent vote. It's a story we've seen play out many times before, and given how close Griffin came last time, Republican leaders might not appreciate it if Tata crumbs their play.
• LA-AG: A few years ago, Republican Jeff Landry's political career looked very over. Landry's House seat was eliminated in the 2012 round of redistricting, and fellow GOP incumbent Charles Boustany beat him 61-39. But Landry soon announced that he would challenge Republican Attorney General Buddy Caldwell this fall, and this campaign is going far differently so far.
Landry has picked up endorsements from House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Rep. John Fleming, and the Louisiana Republican Party formally backed him on Tuesday. Landry also holds a $1.4 million to $1.1 million cash on hand lead over Caldwell. The incumbent's initially slow fundraising finally picked up and he narrowly outraised Landry over the last three months, but he's still not in a great place.
So why is Caldwell in such danger? The attorney general is quite conservative, and he's made headlines over the last few months for his ultimately unsuccessful attempt to keep same-sex marriage out of Louisiana. Caldwell was elected as a Democrat in 2007, but he joined the GOP in 2011 and had no trouble winning re-election months later. But Caldwell's problem may be that he never made real connections with his new party over the last five years, and powerful Republicans just aren't in any hurry to help him in his time of need.
• FL Redistricting: Florida legislators are already preparing for a special session next month to redraw the state's congressional map after the state Supreme Court ruled it violated the state constitution, and now they've called another special session starting on Oct. 19 to redo the state Senate's lines.
Interestingly, the session comes as part of an agreement with the plaintiffs in a case challenging the Senate map: While no court had invalidated that map just yet, Republican lawmakers were rightly concerned it would get struck down in a trial that had been scheduled for the end of September, thanks to the precedent set by the Supreme Court in the federal case. That trial has now been set aside, but presumably, the plaintiffs have reserved the right to challenge whatever new lines the legislature produces if they're insufficiently compatible with state law.
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.