● MD-Sen: Rep. Donna Edwards faces a big financial disadvantage against Rep. Chris Van Hollen in Maryland's Democratic Senate primary, but EMILY's List is helping her make up the gap. The group just announced it would spend $1 million on Edwards' behalf, to air a positive ad touting her life story as a divorced single mother who at one point went without health insurance but "persevered" to "protect women from domestic violence" and "tak[e] on the NRA." The narrator concludes: "Powerful interests don't want Democrat Donna Edwards. That's a powerful reason why we do." The message dovetails closely with Edwards' own, but every few seconds, the spot features some very jarring bright flashes as it cuts between images.
● LA-Sen: LaPolitics' Jeremy Alford reports that former state Sen. Troy Hebert "is being encouraged" to run for David Vitter's Senate seat next year, per unnamed "sources." Hebert served in both the state House and Senate as a Democrat, but in 2010, he dropped his party affiliation and became an independent; later that year, he resigned from the Senate to accept an appointment from Gov. Bobby Jindal to serve as head of the state's Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control. Giving Alford's claims some credence, Hebert recently announced that he would step down from his post by the end of the year (though it's possible he simply expected that the new governor would replace him).
Hebert could conceivably make it to next year's runoff if he were to become the de facto Democratic candidate, which could happen if bigger Democratic names stay out. And as an independent, it's possible he might have some greater crossover appeal. But this strategy failed last year in Kansas, when Democrats didn't run a candidate and instead put their weight behind independent Greg Orman, who lost by more than 10 points. Of course, it was a GOP wave year, but even if 2016 turns out to be solid for Team Blue, Louisiana Democrats would still have to contend with a runoff that would take place a month after the presidential election.
Meanwhile, outgoing Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne's name rather implausibly came up a few days ago as a potential Senate option for the GOP next year, but he quickly shot down that notion, saying simply "I am not going to run." After Dardenne crossed party lines to endorse Democrat John Bel Edwards for governor, it was pretty impossible to envision him having a future in Republican politics. But that doesn't mean he plans to quit politics altogether: Dardenne also said that he'd been talking with Edwards about joining his administration in some capacity, potentially a high-powered one.
● DE-Gov: Republican state Sen. Colin Bonini recently suggested he might abandon the governor's race and run for lieutenant governor instead, but he's decided to stay where he is. He offers the GOP the barest modicum of credibility, but he will almost certainly get flattened by Democratic Rep. John Carney next year.
● AZ-01: Last week, Democratic state Sen. Carlyle Begay announced he would switch parties and join the GOP. On one level, the move was pretty unsurprising, as Begay had long feuded with Democrats and had crossed party lines earlier this year to cast the deciding vote in favor of a Republican budget bill. On another, more important level, it looked like a deeply bizarre decision, since Begay's Senate district voted for Barack Obama by a heavy 63-35 margin, meaning he'd be doomed if he tried to run for re-election next year.
But according to "rumors" relayed by the Arizona Republic, Begay might instead run for Arizona's open 1st Congressional District, which is much more hospitable to Republicans. He'd still face a difficult task there, though, as four credible contenders are already seeking the GOP nomination. What's more, while Begay is a member of the Navajo Nation, and while his tribe's territory is part of his enormous legislative district (geographically the largest in the continental U.S., per Wikipedia), American Indians are overwhelmingly Democrats and therefore would not be able to vote for Begay in a Republican primary.
● FL-02: Ex-Rep. Steve Southerland, who briefly considered a comeback for his old House seat earlier this year, has now endorsed surgeon Neal Dunn in the GOP primary over attorney Mary Thomas. Dunn has earned brickbats from conservatives over his past support for Democrats, but he's managed to win plenty of establishment support. Thomas, meanwhile, is positioning herself as the outsider, even though she only just stepped down from her government job as general counsel for the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. Whoever wins the Republican nomination will be a lock next November, as this seat is about to get a whole lot redder just as soon as the state Supreme Court signs off on new congressional lines.
● FL-06: Former GOP Rep. Sandy Adams, who'd been hoping to make a comeback to Congress after redistricting bounced her out in 2012, says she will "reassess" her campaign "[o]ver the next several weeks" in light of discovering an unspecified "significant health issue." Just about every media outlet has described Adams as "suspending" her campaign, but she never used the word in her brief statement on the issue. A few other Republicans are running for this open seat, but everyone, including Adams, has raised pitiful sums.
● MN-02: Several Republicans whose names surfaced as possible contenders for Minnesota's open 2nd Congressional District have now given their backing to former radio host Jason Lewis, including state Sen. Dave Thompson and state Rep. Steve Drazkowski. Several other Republicans are also running, among them former state Sen. John Howe and former state Rep. Pam Myhra. Two well-funded women with healthcare background are squaring off for the Democrats: Angie Craig and Mary Lawrence.
● NJ-02: For the sixth straight cycle—dating all the way back to 2006—Democratic state Sen. Jeff Van Drew has considered a bid against GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo, and for the sixth straight cycle, he's said no. It's rare for the same person to top one party's recruitment wishlist for such a long time, but after 10 years of this routine, Van Drew is now 62 and would be quite old for a freshman if he ever did choose to run in the future. Democrats would still very much love to challenge LoBiondo, who sits in one of the bluest districts held by a Republican, but they'll probably have to wait for him to retire to pick this seat up.
● NY-19: Local Democratic leaders have long been begging Ulster County Executive Mike Hein to run for New York's open 19th Congressional District, but only now has he publicly acknowledged he's considering a bid. Hein, who just won a third term by 13 points in November, says he plans to spend the holidays "reflecting on this important decision" and won't decide until after Christmas. Several Republicans are already in the race for this seat, which Barack Obama carried by a 52-46 margin. (Via Politico.)
● PA-08: While the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania's open 8th District has long been underway, Republicans have only just now scored their first legitimate contender. On Monday, state Rep. Scott Petri, who had previously said he was exploring a bid, finally kicked off his campaign for Congress. A few other Republicans have been poking around this race, but no one looks particularly serious. Democrats, meanwhile, are choosing between state Rep. Steve Santarsiero and 2014 candidate Shaughnessy Naughton for this swing seat.
● Deaths: Olene Walker, who was Utah's first and only female governor, died on Saturday at the age of 85. Walker, a Republican, had served as the state's lieutenant governor but was elevated to the top spot when George W. Bush tapped Gov. Mike Leavitt to run the EPA. Only 27 states have ever had a woman serve as governor (and many, like Walker, were not directly elected to the job), and just seven have seen more than one woman governor.
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.