Kentucky GOP nominee Matt Bevin
• KY-Gov: Well, this is just absolutely nuts. With barely a month to go until Election Day, the Associated Press reports that the Republican Governors Association has stopped airing ads on behalf of businessman Matt Bevin—who is, you know, the Republican nominee in what's supposed to be a hotly competitive race down in Kentucky.
Usually moves like this only come when a party committee is forced to triage a hopeless candidate in the midst of a big election cycle. But there's almost no way that's the case here: There are no other gubernatorial contests the RGA has to worry about this year, and what little polling we've publicly seen has netted out to a tossup between Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway, the state's attorney general.
Now, there's no arguing that Bevin's run a shit campaign. He's constantly alienated fellow Republicans, he's done no fundraising, he waited until just a week ago to even start airing TV ads, and a super PAC formed on his behalf has less money in the bank than Donald Trump's annual comb budget. But still, this is Kentucky. While Democrats have continued an unlikely string of success here in non-federal races, it's impossible to imagine that an open-seat contest for governor could simply fall out of reach for the GOP, no matter how lousy their candidate is.
So what on earth is going on here? Bevin, bizarrely, seems to think he has this one in the bag: Earlier this month, Bevin claimed he was already "vetting" new hires for his administration because, he told a group of business owners, "the odds are I'm going to be your next governor." No one else seems to agree.
Could it simply be that the RGA despises Bevin so much that they're willing to shove him overboard—if only because they can't keel-haul him? Or are they maybe trying to instill the fear of the devil in him and force him to shape up (and self-fund) while there's still a little time left? Boy, it's awfully late to send your nominee to Humiliating Republican Boot Camp.
But Bevin is an unusually fucked-up piece of work: On Friday afternoon, he personally stopped in at Democratic Party headquarters in Frankfort to complain about a nearby billboard that reads, "You still can't trust Matt Bevin"—and, say Democrats, he even yelled at the receptionist. This is not made up. This is Matt Bevin. And maybe, just maybe, Republicans have had enough.
• AZ-Sen: Rep. David Schweikert seemed to rule out a primary bid against GOP Sen. John McCain back in February, but he may be reconsidering. Schweikert recently told reporter Brahm Resnik that he's convinced that McCain can't beat Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick in the general election. Schweikert is still being vague about his plans: When asked if he'll challenge McCain, he said that while "[i]t's nice being flattered," it isn't his "life's priority right now." That's far from a no and indeed, an anonymous source close to Schweikert says that he's still thinking about getting in.
A May PPP survey gave McCain just a 40-39 lead against Schweikert in a hypothetical primary, and McCain's intra-party foes are actively looking for a candidate. State Sen. Kelli Ward is running, but outside groups don't think she can beat McCain. Rep. Matt Salmon, a close friend of Schweikert's, has occasionally made noises about running and has refused to close the door on a bid, but it sounds like McCain's detractors have decided he's going to stay in the House. We may need to wait a while for Schweikert to say something more definitive but Team Blue would welcome a messy primary, and the more tea party flavored Schweikert could give them a much better chance at a pickup next year.
• MD-Sen: Republicans aren't very optimistic that they'll flip this open seat in a presidential year, but Team Red may land a candidate who's a few steps above Some Dude. Del. Kathy Szeliga, who serves as minority whip, says she's "seriously looking at getting into this race and gauging support, and it's really been actually overwhelming," and plans to decide this fall. Several Maryland Republicans are encouraging her to run including Rep. Andy Harris, ex-Gov. Robert Ehrlich, and former RNC head Michael Steele.
Harris' support is the most notable. Harris flirted with running for this seat back in March and as recently as last week, he didn't rule out a statewide bid. But Harris sounds excited about Szeliga, who used to serve as his chief of staff, touting her as someone who "will be able to put together a coalition that will carry her to victory." It never seemed very likely that Harris would give up his safely red seat for a longshot Senate bid, and we can probably cross his name off the potential candidate list once and for all.
• PA-Sen: Unsurprisingly, seeing as she briefly served as his chief of staff earlier this year, Gov. Tom Wolf has endorsed Katie McGinty's bid in the Democratic primary for Senate. Most of the major figures in Pennsylvania's Democratic establishment have done the same, either because they're butthurt over ex-Rep. Joe Sestak beating Arlen Specter in the primary five years ago, or they're concerned that Sestak's amateurish antics will put a winnable seat at risk. A third candidate, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, is also in the race to unseat GOP Sen. Pat Toomey.
• LA-Gov: On behalf of The Advocate and WWL, Clarus Research Group gives us our first independent poll of this contest in a long time. First up, we have a look at the rapidly approaching Oct. 24 jungle primary:
David Vitter (R): 24
John Bel Edwards (D): 24
Scott Angelle (R): 15
Jay Dardenne (R): 14
Most polls show Vitter and Edwards taking the top two spots they'll need to advance to the Nov. 21 runoff, and this survey is no different. However, while Angelle and Dardenne are around 10 points back of Vitter, a few other polls have shown a much closer race for the second slot and an upset is by no means impossible.
The problem, though, is that Angelle and Dardenne are splitting the large bloc of Republican voters who want an alternative to Vitter. The senator knows that if one of his two intra-party foes loses too much support the other could capitalize, so he and his super PAC have been attacking them both about equally. If the two remain similarly competitive, it'll be easier for Vitter to reach the runoff.
Vitter obviously is hoping for this outcome, but so is Edwards, as you can see from the hypothetical runoff scenarios Clarus also tested:
• Vitter (R) 41, Edwards (D): 45
• Vitter (R): 35, Angelle (R): 40
• Vitter (R): 35, Dardenne (R): 42
Clarus didn't pair Edwards with the other two Republicans, but a PPP survey last week for an anti-Vitter group gave Edwards an eye-popping 50-38 lead
over the senator while he tied Angelle and only narrowly trailed Dardenne. Edwards' 4-point edge on Vitter in this latest poll isn't quite so gaudy, but it's still surprising to see him do this well in a state that's become so hostile to Democrats over the last few years. Vitter's own flaws, which long appeared to be dormant or even forgotten, almost certainly are playing a role: He's trailing his Republican rivals as well.
But as we noted last week, Edwards is also getting a boost due to the fact that no one's bothered to attack him yet. Team Red's contenders believe that they'll have a better shot in a runoff against Edwards than against a fellow Republican, so it's in their collective interest to leave Edwards be for now. But in a November runoff, we can count on the GOP spending big to link Edwards to Obama, who has long been extremely unpopular in the Deep South.
Indeed, Edwards should be aware of the cautionary tale of independent Greg Orman, who ran for the Senate in Kansas last year. Orman faced GOP Sen. Pat Roberts, who had worn out his welcome with voters, as Vitter may have. After the Democratic nominee dropped out of the contest in early September and gave Orman a clear shot, polls initially gave Orman a decisive lead against Roberts, who had just survived a nasty primary. But Roberts and his allies relentlessly tied an Obama-shaped anvil around Orman's neck. Voters still weren't enamored with Roberts in November but they decided they preferred him to someone they came to view as an Obama proxy, and Roberts won 53-43.
We also saw similar scenarios unfold in the 2013 special election in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District and the 2014 Kentucky Senate race. Republicans Mark Sanford and Mitch McConnell were very unpopular, and they initially trailed Democrats who were largely blank slates to voters. But both Republicans turned their contests into referendums on the Obama presidency, and they each won by double digits.
If Vitter and Edwards both make it to the November runoff, we're likely to see a repeat. Vitter, like Roberts, Sanford, and McConnell, has deep liabilities, including his association with an absolutely despised Congress and his 2007 prostitution scandal, which opponents have reintroduced to voters via a series of TV ads. But once the primary is over, whichever Republican emerges has a simple and effective playbook to rely on.
Gubernatorial races do tend to be somewhat less partisan than federal contests, but in order to win, Edwards will first need Vitter to join him in the runoff, then he'll need to convince anti-Vitter Republicans who voted for Dardenne or Angelle to look past party labels and go with Edwards in the second round. It could happen, but right now, the polls showing this possibility simply can't account for the inevitable onslaught Edwards will face. Once the real battle begins, then we'll have a much better sense of whether Democrats can pull off an extremely unlikely victory.
• MO-Gov: On Saturday, retired Navy SEAL Eric Greitens finally announced that he would seek the GOP nod for governor. Greitens has never run for office (though as his rivals will remind you, Democrats tried to convince him to run for the House in 2010), but the former White House fellow is very well-connected and has plenty of wealthy allies.
Businessman and 2012 Senate candidate John Brunner is the only Republican contender left who hasn't officially declared, but that's about to change. Brunner says he'll make an announcement Oct. 5, and there's little doubt what he'll say. Greitens and Brunner will join former state House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, and state Sen. Bob Dixon in the GOP primary. Former state Rep. Randy Asbury pulled the plug on his quixotic campaign on Friday, and while state Rep. Bart Korman has filed, he says he only did it as a tribute to a deceased friend who always wanted him to run for governor. Democrats have consolidated behind state Attorney General Chris Koster.
• ND-Gov: GOP state Rep. Rick Becker just became the first candidate in either party to enter the race for next year's open gubernatorial contest in North Dakota. But Becker, whose signature issue is curtailing the use of surveillance drones by police, is small fry compared to the other Republicans considering bids of their own, a group that includes statewide officials like Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, and Treasurer Kelly Schmidt.
• NJ-Gov: It's really unusual to see a major TV buy almost two years before a primary, but former Goldman Sachs executive and ex-Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy is a go-getter. Murphy's group, New Way for New Jersey, is out with what they're describing as a "multi-million dollar television, mail and field organizing campaign." Their spot contrasts Murphy, a Democrat, with the GOP candidates for president, including outgoing Gov. Chris Christie. The ad then features Murphy talking about his middle-class upbringing and plan for "growing our economy by growing our middle class."
The Democratic race to succeed Christie has been taking place behind-the-scenes for a while, and this ad seems to be Murphy's way of showing party elites that he's serious. Murphy claims he's still deciding on his 2017 plans, but you don't run this kind of ad unless you're dead serious about running. Murphy is likely to face several rivals in the primary including Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and Assemblyman John Wisniewski, and there are several other potential contenders.
• VA-Gov, AG: On Monday, Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain, who lost his bid for attorney general in 2013 by just 165 votes in a race that went to a recount, announced that he would not run for governor in 2017. (Virginia, alone in the nation, has a strict one-term limit for its governors, so every gubernatorial race is an open-seat race.) Instead, reports the Washington Post, former RNC chair Ed Gillepsie, who unexpectedly came very close to toppling Democratic Sen. Mark Warner last year, will run for the GOP, but that's based only on two unnamed "people close to" Gillespie.
It seems plausible, though. Obenshain said he wants to see Gillespie go for it, and in a Facebook post, Gillespie claims he would have deferred to Obenshain had he decided to seek the governorship. Democrats, meanwhile, have already settled on a gubernatorial candidate of their own, barring an unexpected entry by an outsider. Attorney General Mark Herring, the guy who beat Obenshain two years ago, decided he would seek re-election, clearing a path for Lt. Gov Ralph Northam. Incidentally, Obenshain said that while he might run statewide again some day, he won't do so in '17, meaning that Republicans will have to look elsewhere for a challenger to Herring.
• IA-03: Army vet Jim Mowrer just earned the endorsement of the only Democrat left in Iowa's congressional delegation, 2nd District Rep. Dave Loebsack. Mowrer, who unsuccessfully challenged GOP Rep. Steve King in the 4th District last year, is now trying to earn the Democratic nomination to take on freshman Republican David Young in the 3rd. It's a much more winnable seat, but Mowrer also faces a primary against businessman Desmund Adams. In addition, some local Democrats are also still hoping that U.S. Attorney Nick Klinefeldt will make the race, and ex-Gov. Chet Culver still has yet to rule out a bid, though he's been impossible in recent years when it comes to making his electoral plans clear.
• OH-08: A horde of Republicans are publicly considering running for Speaker John Boehner's soon-to-be-vacant House seat, and two more have expressed interest. State Sen. Chris Widener, who is termed out, confirms he's looking at this safely red seat. Widener is the number two Republican in the state Senate so he could have some powerful support if he gets in. However, his boss, state Senate President Keith Faber, has also been mentioned as a possible contender.
State Sen. Bill Coley also hasn't ruled anything out, though he doesn't sound particularly excited about a congressional bid. Coley is eligible to run for the state Senate again and he says his "preference is to stay here," though he won't make a decision until he's spoken to Boehner. Ohio law usually prohibits candidates from running for Congress and for the legislature at once, though the secretary of state's office isn't sure if things will be different in a special election. However, the state may end up scheduling the special for the same day as the regular March primary, so the point may be moot.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones has expressed interest in getting in, and he now says he'll decide by Friday. Jones is known for his hardline stances on immigration and he's bragged that he's a pain in the ass for the GOP establishment, so he's probably the Republican that Boehner would least like to see succeed him. But Jones' seat is also up next year, and he may decide to stay put rather than sacrifice his post for a tough campaign.
• Charlotte, NC Mayor: Ex-Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts looks like the favorite in the Oct. 6 Democratic primary runoff against interim Mayor Dan Clodfelter, whom she outpaced 36-26 in the first round. However, Clodfelter got a useful endorsement from third-place finisher David Howard on Monday. Howard took 24 percent and performed well in the African American precincts. The Democratic nominee will face Republican Edwin Peacock in November.
• Demographics: You probably have a sense that immigration is a major reason the country has become more diverse the last few decades, but a new study from Pew Research shows just how big that impact is. For starters, the percentage of the nation's population that is foreign-born is near an all-time high of 13.9 percent, only slightly behind where it was during the waves of immigration around 1900 (14.8 percent), and it's only projected to go up from here (17.7 percent, or 78.2 million persons, in 2065). And by 2055, Asians are projected to exceed Hispanics as the nation's largest immigrant group.
The U.S. population would remain flat in projections for future decades if it weren't for immigration. In addition, if it hadn't been for the 1965-2015 wave of immigration, the U.S. would currently be 75 percent non-Hispanic white, rather than its current 62 percent. (You can imagine what that would do to the electorate in that alternate timeline.)
This being Pew, there are interesting data visualizations galore of the data (which also includes people's current attitudes toward immigration, and details like educational attainment and English proficiency for current immigrant groups). Maybe most interesting, though, is their interactive map, which covers which country provided the most immigrants to each of the states over the decades from 1850 to 2010. Surprisingly, Germany kept dominating until as recently as 1990, when Mexico clearly moved into first place in the majority of states.
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 Stephen Wolf.