It's judgment day for Kentucky Republican Matt Bevin
• Election Night: Tonight will be a very busy night. While the Kentucky gubernatorial race will take center stage, we have the battle for the Virginia state Senate, a redistricting amendment in Ohio that actually is too good to be true for Democrats, three Pennsylvania Supreme Court races that could very well decide if Team Blue can retake the state legislature in the next decade, and mayoral races galore.
To help keep track of everything, Jeff Singer has put together an hour-by-hour guide to this evening, arranged by each races' poll closing time. Polls start to close in Kentucky at 6 PM ET, and we'll be liveblogging the results every step of the way.
We also have a number of special elections tonight, and Johnny Longtorso has put together a post to give us the lowdown. The biggest race of the night is in Washington state, where appointed state Rep. Carol Gregory is trying to hold onto her seat against Republican Teri Hickel. If Team Red flips this district, they'll only need one more pickup to tie the Democrats in the chamber, and only two more seats to take control. Check out Johnny's post for much more.
• CO-Sen: Ex-Aurora Councilor Ryan Frazier is one of those Republican rising stars who never rose, but it looks like he's taking another shot at glory. Last week, Frazier resigned from his job as a local TV political analyst, and confirmed that he was considering challenging Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet next year.
National Republicans aren't impressed with their current crop of candidates, but Frazier has a lot to prove. Frazier ran for this seat in 2009, but he ended up dropping out and targeting Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter instead. The race for the Democratic-leaning 7th District (Obama beat McCain 59-40 there, but John Kerry had only narrowly carried it in 2004) was seen as competitive, and Frazier raised a credible amount of money. But despite the GOP wave, Perlmutter won 53-42.
Frazier ran for mayor the next year, but lost 38-30. It's unlikely that the NRSC will stop searching for a candidate if they get Frazier, but they may settle on him over conservative state Sen. Tim Neville or rich guy Robert Blaha if they can't find anyone better.
• NH-Sen: Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte has always positioned herself as a moderate in order to win in this swing state, and some elements on the far right have had enough. WMUR's John DiStaso reports that ex-state House Speaker Bill O'Brien has convened a meeting to find someone willing to challenge Ayotte in the primary, and he didn't rule out running himself.
Many Republicans blamed O'Brien's ultra-conservative agenda for costing them the state House in 2012, and several renegade Republicans sick of his bullying behavior joined with Democrats to keep O'Brien from returning to the speaker's chair. In other words, he's exactly the type of guy the Democrats would love to run against.
O'Brien's odds of actually beating Ayotte are not great, but he could at least force her to fight for renomination. A recent PPP poll gave Ayotte an unremarkable 59-25 approval rating with Republicans so while she's probably not in danger of actually losing a primary, a well-funded foe could at least do some damage. The primary is Sept. 13 so if Ayotte actually has to spend some real money, she wouldn't have much time to refill her coffers before she needs to focus on Democrat Maggie Hassan. Democrats would also be happy if a conservative foe forced Ayotte to move to the right.
A few other Republicans haven't ruled out bids, though none of them are as notable as O'Brien. Andrew Hemingway, who took 37 percent in last year's gubernatorial primary, only said "No comment," when asked if he were interested. Ex-state Sen. Jim Rubens, who won 23 percent in the 2014 Senate primary, is also not saying no.
• LA-Gov: Democrat John Bel Edwards is out with two new spots. In the first ad, Edwards speaks to the camera and ties Republican David Vitter to unpopular outgoing Gov. Bobby Jindal. Ironically, Vitter and Jindal utterly hate each other, and Vitter has even run ads bashing Jindal. But Vitter memorably supported Jindal in 2011, and the endorsement supplies Team Blue with some juicy quotes to use to link the two Republicans. The second commercial features Edwards' wife Donna, a teacher, praising him on education.
• UT-Gov: Overstock.com chairman Jonathan Johnson, who's running an uphill fight against incumbent Gary Herbert in the Utah Republican gubernatorial primary, came out with an interesting admission that might make him seem even more out-there than before. Among Overstock.com's assets are $10.9 million in precious metals ($6.3 million in gold, $4.6 million in silver), along with a three-month freeze-dried food supply for each of its employees. That's in preparation for keeping the company running during a "bank holiday" in the event of a serious financial crisis, which apparently Johnson thinks is on its way.
The eyebrows, however, are likelier to be raised in the national, rather than local, press. Having a three-month supply of food at home is a part of the Latter-Day Saints worldview. In addition, in 2011, Utah passed a law making gold and silver legal tender for transactions, so "prepping" isn't as fringey a concept there as it is elsewhere.
• AZ-09: On Monday, former GoDaddy counsel Christine Jones announced that she would not challenge Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. While Obama only carried this Phoenix-area seat 51-47, the GOP couldn't find any particularly formidable recruits in either 2012 and 2014. Sinema pulled off a decisive win during last year's GOP wave and she has a hefty $1,329,000 in the bank. Unless Sinema leaves for a surprise Senate bid, it's hard to see Team Red putting this seat into play next year.
• CA-07: Republicans are hoping to target Democratic Rep. Ami Bera once again in this swingy suburban Sacramento seat, but they're still looking for a viable candidate. The Sacramento Bee's Christopher Cadelago talks to some possible candidates, but it sounds like we'll need a little more time for this race to develop. Ex-Rep. Doug Ose narrowly lost to Bera last year, and he's still considering another try. The NRCC has also spoken to Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, who also reaffirmed that he's considering.
There are a few other local Republicans who could go for it. The NRCC has met with ex-Sheriff John McGinness, a mentor to Jones. McGinness has previously said he isn't interested in returning to elected office, but he told the Bee he'd consider a campaign against Bera. Cadelago mentions Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan and ex-Assemblyman Roger Niello as possibilities if the others say no, but they haven't said anything publicly about their plans.
• FL-11: On Monday, Republican Rep. Rich Nugent announced his retirement from the House in 2016. Nugent is 64, and he sounds genuinely ready to spend more time with his family. The Nuge was also booted off the House Rules Committee earlier this year after voting against John Boehner for speaker, so that may have factored into his departure too.
Perhaps the most momentous day in Nugent's largely unremarkable congressional career was actually before he was even elected. Nugent's predecessor, Ginny Brown-Waite, sneakily dropped out on filing day and there wasn't any time for any serious Republican to mount a challenge against Nugent, her handpicked successor. The local media briefly misidentified the candidate as Ted Nugent, which would have been a lot more exciting.
Florida's 11th district is reliably red turf, giving Romney 58 percent of the vote in 2012. The district stretches from Ocala in the north to Tampa's suburbs in its south. But its real center of gravity is The Villages, a conservative and very restrictive master-planned community for retirees that has become an important campaign stop for Republican presidential candidates. Thanks to The Villages, the 11th is the nation's oldest congressional district, with 52 percent of its households containing at least one person 65 or older.
Justin Grabelle, Nugent's chief of staff, wasted no time announcing his bid. Roll Call's Emily Cahn also gives us some more names to watch and the most notable is Rep. Dan Webster, whose current seat is about to become safely blue. According to Cahn, the new version of the 11th would include about half of Webster's current district, so this is probably Webster's best (and perhaps only) chance to stay in the House. Some other possible GOP contenders include state Sen. Wilton Simpson, state Rep. and current state party chair Blaise Ingoglia, and state Sen. Charlie Dean. Like Webster, none of them have said anything about their plans for this seat.
• NV-03: If Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann met at a convention in Vegas and hatched a plan to meld their political DNA into a terrifying and hilarious hybrid, you'd wind up with Michele Fiore, a Republican assemblywoman from Nevada who loves guns and crazy in equal amounts. Fiore had reportedly been considering a bid for the open 3rd Congressional District, and late last week, she filed a "statement of organization" with the FEC to prepare for a possible bid. However, would-be candidates often fail to follow through after submitting this sort of paperwork, and ace Silver State reporter Jon Ralston is quite convinced that Fiore will "chicken out."
That would be both too bad and probably good news for Democrats at the same time. Fiore's the kind of candidate who makes the entire Republican Party look awful: She's on record wanting to castrate pimps and believes that cancer victims can "flush" tumors out of their bodies with the magic of baking soda. Most recently, unveiled a "pin-up" wall calendar that features a dozen photos of her prancing around with assault weapons. (It's not the first time that Fiore, a wannabe actress, has circulated racy pics of herself online.)
But while she'd make a great (i.e., disastrous) standard-bearer for the GOP, there are already too many lunatics running in this district, including well-known perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian and former conservative think-tank head Andy Matthews. Democrats really need Tark (who at least is good at raising money) to beat state Senate President Michael Roberson in the primary, but a Fiore entry would make that task much tougher. Roberson is the strong favorite to begin with, and Democratic recruiting here has come up double-zero so far, so a split in the nutbar vote is not what Team Blue needs.
• OH-08: Now that John Boehner has officially resigned from the House, Gov. John Kasich has set the dates for the special election to succeed him. As expected, the primary will coincide with the regular March 8 statewide primary. The general election will be June 7, but it should be an afterthought in this Romney 62-36 seat. Right now, three notable Republicans are running: state Sen. Bill Beagle, state Rep. Tim Derickson, and Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds. A number of other Republicans have also expressed interest in jumping in.
• PA-02: On Monday, state Rep. Dwight Evans announced that he will challenge indicted Rep. Chaka Fattah in the Democratic primary.
Evans is Fattah's fourth intra-party foe but unlike state Rep. Brian Sims, ward leader Dan Muroff, and Lower Merion Township Commissioner Brian Gordon, Evans is black. African Americans make up 58 percent of this Philadelphia seat, and Evans may have an easier time toppling an African American incumbent like Fattah than Sims, Muroff, or Gordon. However, while Fattah has virtually no money to spend, the four candidates could definitely split the anti-Fattah vote enough to secure the congressman renomination in this safely blue seat.
• Campaign Finance: The FEC just launched a new beta version of its website, which you can find (appropriately enough) at beta.fec.gov. Sunlight Foundation has details on all the changes and improvements.
• Deaths: On Saturday, ex-Rep. Gus Savage, a Chicago Democrat, died at the age of 90. Savage, a former newspaper publisher, had a habit of earning some ugly headlines. The congressman frequently attacked Jews, once predicting that African Americans were in "danger of genocide" in large part because "the Jewish population is contributing to this pending disaster."
Savage was also investigated by the House over accusations that he'd made sexual advances toward a Peace Corps volunteer in Zaire. While the House's report condemned his behavior, they determined that he shouldn't be punished since he apologized to the volunteer. Savage never won more than 53 percent of the vote in a Democratic primary. In 1982, he only took 39 percent of the vote, but won after two state representatives split most of the remaining vote.
In 1992, redistricting moved several unfriendly suburbs into Savage's seat, and he lost the primary to Mel Reynolds by 25 points. (Reynolds had his own myriad of issues.) Savage blamed his defeat on "white racist press and the racist, reactionary Jewish misleaders."
• Deaths: Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, a Republican who unsuccessfully sought his party's nomination for president in 2008, died on Sunday from a recurrence of lymphoma at the age of 73. As a young man, Thompson had served as counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, then became an actor who often portrayed government officials in movies like The Hunt for Red October.
In the Gingrich wave of 1994, Thompson won a special election to fill the final two years of Al Gore's Senate term, but he only ran for one full term after that before retiring in 2002. Thompson returned to the screen with a truly forgettable run as a Southern conservative who somehow wound up as the Manhattan district attorney on Law & Order. He quit that role for an even more forgettable run for president, in which his most notable moment came when he wore Gucci loafers to the Iowa state fair and was escorted around on a golf cart. Thompson disputed who manufactured his shoes, but there's no disputing the golf cart.
• Demographics: Pew Research has some interesting new details on the scope of African immigration to the United States, a topic they researched at length last April. Increasingly, Africans are a larger and larger share of the people immigrating to America. While not all immigrants fall under the scope of "refugee," Africans are especially represented among refugee arrivals. If the ten nations that are providing the most refugees to the U.S., five are in Africa: Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.
While African immigrants are still more likely to settle in the south and northeast, they're more noticeably changing the face of certain states in the Midwest, by virtue of how white those states used to be. For example, 28 percent of South Dakota's foreign-born population is African, mostly Sudanese and Somalis. Similarly, 21 percent of Minnesota's foreign-born population is African.
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.