● IL-Sen: Republicans had been hoping—rather desperately—that a long-running lawsuit brought by two former employees against Rep. Tammy Duckworth back when she was head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs would yield explosive and damaging testimony when the case finally proceeded to trial. But alas, now it shan't. The dispute, which had twice been thrown out of court in the past, was settled on Friday for just $26,000, an amount the state attorney general's office called "nuisance value." As is typical in such settlements, there was no finding or admission of any wrongdoing.
Republican Sen. Mark Kirk's campaign, refusing to accept the reality that this issue is now off the table, howled and insisted it would too still matter. Said Kirk's campaign manager, "We now know that there are 26,000 reasons why Tammy Duckworth was guilty. The simple truth is that if Tammy Duckworth was innocent, she would not have settled this case." And if you're counting in pennies, why, that's 2.6 million reasons proving Duckworth is a fiend! Get over it, bub.
● FL-Sen: Florida's long-awaited filing deadline finally closed on Friday, and you can find a complete list of all the candidates running in the Aug. 30 primary at the Department of State's website. The state's marquee Senate race was upended last week when Sen. Marco Rubio decided to seek re-election after insisting for a year that he wouldn't. His re-entry inspired all but one of the notable Republicans who'd been running in his stead to drop out of the primary: wealthy businessman Carlos Beruff, aka the Donald Trump of Florida politics.
The Democratic primary, meanwhile, is a battle between two members of the House: Rep. Patrick Murphy, the establishment choice, and Rep. Alan Grayson, a self-styled progressive outsider. A third candidate, attorney Pam Keith, has raised very little money. While Democrats are not thrilled that Rubio's back in the race given how feeble his would-be replacements were, his candidacy doesn't alter the bottom line all that much: The contest is still very much a tossup.
● NV-Sen: The Koch-backed Freedom Partners is dropping $1.2 million against Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, and they actually have a different line-of-attack than usual. The ad's narrator argues that working Nevadans needed Uber to get to their jobs, but as state attorney general, Cortez Masto went after Uber after taking $73,000 from Taxi companies and eventually drove them out of the state. Cortez Masto's team argues that Uber and other ride-sharing companies were simply acting without a license at the time, and that they've now gone through the legislative process and can operate legally in Nevada.
● OH-Sen: Freedom Partners is spending another $2.7 million on an ad against Democratic ex-Gov. Ted Strickland and surprise! they blame Strickland for Ohio's economic problems during the Great Recession without mentioning that whole Great Recession part. A woman identified as a small business owner named "Tricia" bemoans that "Ohio had a rainy day fund, and Ted Strickland ran it into practically nothing," and charges that he "left the state in a $6 billion shortfall, and he did that while raising taxes." The spot even makes it sound like Strickland trashed the state and decided to abandon it, even though he did seek a second term during the economic crisis but lost.
● PA-Sen: The Democratic group Senate Majority PAC has made an unsurprising, but welcome, $9 million TV reservation for the fall. The contest between Republican Sen. Pat Toomey and Democrat Katie McGinty has already drawn millions of dollars in outside spending, and it will likely be one of the most expensive Senate races of 2016.
● NC-Gov: Another North Carolina PPP poll, another close gubernatorial race. This time, they have Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper tied 41-41, with Libertarian Lon Cecil taking 6. Last month, the two were also tied 41-41 and in April, Cooper led 43-42. Or as PPP itself puts it: "Polling the North Carolina Governor's race gets kind of boring. It's been more or less a tie every month for the last year and a half now. Nothing's ever happened to cause either candidate to break away, even momentarily." It's been over a month since we've seen numbers from another pollster.
● VT-Gov: Lt. Gov. Phil Scott is the clear favorite in the August GOP primary, but former Wall Street executive Bruce Lisman has enough money to at least make things interesting. Until now, Lisman has trained his fire exclusively at retiring Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, but he's out with a new spot trying to link Scott and Shumlin. Lisman notes that "Phil Scott stood next to Peter Shumlin at a press conference for the failed health exchange," and that "Phil went along with Shumlin's reckless budgets, and called Shumlin 'fiscally prudent,'" both actions Lisman says he certainly wouldn't do!
Instead of employing a scary-voiced narrator, Lisman does the attacking himself, and the spot is filled with some upbeat music instead of the usual ominous soundtrack that tends to accompany negative commercials, which, along with some weird animations, gives the whole thing a strange zany vibe. In fact, after Lisman says that the ad was paid for by "Lisman for Vermont," his campaign treasurer emerges from the bottom of the screen and waves at the audience.
● AZ-01: On Monday, state Sen. Carlyle Begay suspended his campaign for the GOP nod and endorsed Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. Begay had raised very little cash and he only joined the GOP last year, so his departure probably won't have much of an impact on the race.
● FL-01: GOP Rep. Jeff Miller is retiring from this safely red Pensacola-area seat, and the primary looks like it will be a duel between state Rep. Matt Gaetz and state Sen. Greg Evers. Gaetz hails from a wealthy and well-connected family, while Evers represents about two-thirds of this seat in the legislature (Gaetz represents only about a quarter of the 1st in the other chamber). There are two other Republicans who may be worth keeping an eye on: James Zumwalt, a former aide to Miller, and real estate developer Cris Dosev, who recently earned an endorsement from ex-Marine Corps Commandant James T. Conway.
● FL-02: Court-ordered redistricting turned this North Florida seat safely red, and three notable Republicans are competing for it. Physician Neal Dunn has the support of some notable establishment figures like ex-state House Speaker Will Weatherford, but he's been running ads promoting himself as a political outsider. Dunn had the most cash at the end of March.
Dunn faces Mary Thomas, a former general counsel to the state department of elders affairs. Thomas is backed by tea party-friendly groups like the Club for Growth, and she also has Gov. Rick Scott's implicit endorsement. Thomas, a first-generation child of immigrants from India, has been channeling Donald Trump in her commercials: She recently claimed she "led the fight against Obama's plan to bring dangerous Syrian refugees to Florida," and pledged to "put America first." The third notable candidate is Ken Sukhia, a well-connected lawyer who served as a U.S. attorney under George HW. Bush. Tea partier Jeff Moran was running until last week, but he dropped out and threw his support behind Sukhia.
The new version of this seat backed Romney 65-34, and it's very tough to see a Democrat winning it. Walt Dartland, a former deputy state attorney general, did enter the contest at the last minute. But Dartland used to serve as a state's attorney in South Florida, so it's unlikely he starts with much name recognition here.
● FL-04: Republican Rep. Ander Crenshaw is retiring from this safely red Jacksonville seat and despite some early hype, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is not running to succeed him. The early primary frontrunner looks like ex-Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford, who is backed by Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and several prominent local businessmen. Standing in his way is attorney Hans Tanzler III, the son of a former Jacksonville mayor. Tanzler says he's already raised a credible amount of money, and the wannabe cowboy has been airing some ads set at his ranch. State Rep. Lake Ray and St. Johns County Commissioner Bill McClure are also in the mix.
● FL-05: Redistricting split Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown's seat, and she waged a long and unsuccessful campaign to save her old district. However, Brown eventually decided to seek re-election in the safely blue 5th District, which includes both her Jacksonville base and the Tallahassee area, where she isn't well-known. Brown faces a primary challenge from ex-state Senate Minority Leader Al Lawson, who hails from Tallahassee.
Geography may give Lawson a boost here. While there are more registered Democrats in the Jacksonville area than around Tallahassee, Florida redistricting expert Matthew Isbell has argued that more primary votes will still be cast in the Tallahassee region. Neither Brown nor Lawson has much money, so neither of them may be able to boost their name recognition much in the opposite part of the district. An April poll gave Brown a 42-37 lead.
Brown also earned some bad headlines after the head of a non-profit known as One Door for Education pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Brown improperly used the House seal for solicitations for One Door, even though the group used almost none of the money it took in for scholarship in furtherance of its supposed mission. However, while Brown is the subject of a House Ethics inquiry, the story hasn't attracted much attention in months, and it's unclear if it will play a role in this race.
● FL-06: While Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis spent over a year running for the Senate, he jumped back into this House race after Sen. Marco Rubio decided to seek re-election. Most of the GOP candidates quickly deferred to DeSantis, but state Rep. Fred Costello decided to continue running here. However, Costello hasn't raised much cash, while DeSantis has a huge warchest and the support of the powerful Club for Growth. DeSantis beat Costello 39-23 in 2012 when this was an open seat.
Romney only carried this Volusia County seat 52-47, but it doesn't look like it will be a Democratic target. State Rep. Dwayne Taylor has been running for months, but he's raised very little money. Daily Kos Elections rates this as Safe Republican.
● FL-07: Longtime Republican Rep. John Mica hasn't faced a serious Democratic challenger in a very long time, but redistricting gives Team Blue an opening. Obama and Romney ran almost evenly in Mica's new suburban Orlando seat, and Democrats landed former Defense Department official Stephanie Murphy just before filing closed. The DCCC sounds excited about Murphy, and they quickly added her to their Red to Blue list for top candidates. Daily Kos Elections currently rates this contest as Safe Republican, but a good fundraising report from Murphy in mid-July would likely change that.
● FL-09: Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson is leaving this Orlando seat behind to run for the Senate, and three notable Democrats are competing to succeed him. Unions appear to be split between state Sen. Darren Soto and former Grayson district director Susannah Randolph. However, Dena Grayson, a biomedical researcher and the congressman's wife, is also in the hunt for this seat. This area has a large Puerto Rican population, which could give Soto the edge, but it's too early to say. This seat is safely blue in presidential years.
● FL-10: Redistricting made this once-conservative Orlando seat safely blue, and three notable Democrats are competing for it. Ex-Orlando Police Chief Val Demings almost won the old version of this seat in 2012 even as Romney was easily carrying it, and national Democrats, local unions, and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer are backing her. However, wealthy ex-state party chair Bob Poe has far more resources than Demings. A third candidate, state Sen. Geraldine Thompson is also in, though she's raised little money. The 10th was drawn to elect a black or Hispanic candidate but while Demings and Thompson are both black, Poe is white.
● FL-11: Redistricting turned Republican Rep. Dan Webster's 10th District safely blue, and he launched a campaign for the 11th District after GOP Rep. Rich Nugent decided to retire. However, Webster barely represents any of this safely red seat. Nugent also is backing Justin Grabelle, his former chief of staff. Webster ran for speaker in 2013 against both John Boehner and Paul Ryan, so he doesn't have too many friends in the party establishment. However, Webster also spent decades in the Florida state legislature, so he can't convincingly pass himself off as a political outsider either.
● FL-13: Obama won the new version of this St. Petersburg seat 55-44, and Republican Rep. David Jolly spent months running for the Senate rather than facing a tough re-election campaign. However, Jolly recently announced that he would seek another term after all. Jolly's Democratic opponent will be ex-Gov. Charlie Crist. While Crist carried this seat 54-39 during his unsuccessful 2014 gubernatorial campaign, Crist's own campaign recently released a poll giving him just a 46-43 edge over Jolly. But Jolly is a weak fundraiser and he has an awful relationship with the NRCC, so he'll likely be badly outspent. Daily Kos Elections rates this seat as Lean Democratic.
● FL-18: Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy is giving up this 52-48 Romney seat to run for the Senate, and both parties have primaries to succeed him. On the Democratic side, wealthy businessman Randy Perkins, the DCCC's preferred candidate, faces attorney Jonathan Chane. Perkins has donated to Republicans in the past and he only recently joined the Democratic Party, which could give Chane an opening.
The GOP has a six-candidate fight, with physician Mark Freeman and Martin County School Board member Rebecca Negron looking like the early frontrunners. Freeman has been self-funding his campaign, and he's been channeling Donald Trump in his ads and rhetoric. Negron is the wife of Joe Negron, the powerful incoming state Senate president, and she has more money than anyone but Freeman. The other GOP candidates are ex-state Rep. Carl Domino, who ran a very weak campaign against Murphy in 2014; attorney Rick Kozell; veteran Brian Mast, who lost both his legs in Afghanistan; and pundit Noelle Nikpour, who only recently moved to Florida from Arkansas. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as a Tossup.
● FL-19: The GOP has a three-way primary to succeed retiring Rep. Curt Clawson in this safely red seat. Wealthy businessman Francis Rooney, a major GOP donor and former ambassador to the Vatican, has spent $300,000 on ads in June, and he's out with another commercial. Rooney invokes the Orlando shooting and pledges to fight Obama's defense cuts "to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth." Unsurprisingly, Rooney's spot doesn't frame the Pulse shooting as anything other than an attack by a global Islamic terrorist organization.
Rooney's main primary foe is likely Chauncey Goss, a former aide to Paul Ryan and the son of ex-Rep. Porter Goss. The younger Goss ran for this seat in 2012 and lost 30-22. The third candidate is ex-Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, who ran for Congress in 2012 and 2014 in Maryland, and moved to a different Florida community located far from this seat just last year.
● FL-21, FL-22: Redistricting dramatically redrew Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel's seats, but the two quickly decided to essentially swap seats: Frankel is running in the new 21st while Deutch is seeking the new 22nd, even though a plurality of their constituents live in the opposite district. However, the arrangement makes sense: The new 21st includes much of Frankel's Palm Beach County base while Deutch is well-known in Broward County, which dominates the 22nd. Neither incumbent faces a primary challenge, and both seats are reliably blue.
● FL-23: Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the head of the DNC, faces a primary challenge from law professor Tim Canova in this safely blue South Florida seat. Supporters of Bernie Sanders and the senator himself are enraged with Wasserman Schultz, whom they argue unfairly helped Hillary Clinton during the presidential race, and Canova has raised massive sums of money. However, Wasserman Schultz is also a strong fundraiser, and she has the support of the White House. The 23rd gave Clinton nearly 70 percent of the vote in March's presidential primary, so Canova will need to convince a significant number of Clinton supporters to dump Wasserman Schultz, which won't be easy.
● FL-26: Freshman Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo was already a top Democratic target, and that was before redistricting made his 53-46 Obama seat into a district that the president carried 55-44. The DCCC is backing businesswoman Annette Taddeo, but that didn't stop ex-Rep. Joe Garcia from jumping into the primary.
Garcia, who lost to Curbelo during the 2014 GOP wave, still has plenty of friends in DC, and he raised a credible amount of money in his opening quarter. Taddeo's own campaign released a poll showing her badly losing to Garcia and unsurprisingly, she decided to replace much of her senior staff. While Curbelo won't have an easy time holding on, especially with Trump leading the ticket, both parties have reserved airtime here, a sign that they're prepared for a tough fight. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as a Tossup.
● FL-27: It's very tough to see entrenched GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen losing even in a 53-46 Obama seat with Trump on the ballot. Still, Team Blue is preparing in case lighting strikes, and fruit juice company owner Scott Fuhrman is in, and says he'll self-fund $250,000. Fuhrman has had some legal issues in the past, but he's arguing he's changed and that unlike other politicians, he's being transparent about his past. Daily Kos Elections rates the general as Safe Republican, though we'll see if any major outside groups make a move here.
● GA-03: This week, retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland endorsed dentist Drew Ferguson's campaign to succeed him. Ferguson faces state Sen. Mike Crane in the July 26 runoff for this safely red seat, and Ferguson has also earned the support of Jim Pace, who took a close third in the first round of the primary in May; Crane also has a poor relationship with local sheriffs and business groups. However, if there's one guy who can relate to being disliked by his own party, it's Ted Cruz, and the Texas senator is endorsing Crane. Crane also has the backing of the Club for Growth, which has started airing an ad for him.
● KS-01: Last week was not a good one for physician Roger Marshall. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, whom Marshall is trying to unseat in August's GOP primary, released a spot utilizing audio from a 911 call that was made against Marshall in 2008. Marshall responded with an ad that seemed to feature local newspapers denouncing Huelskamp's commercial as desperate and dirty, but that actually relied on fake headlines from completely unrelated editorials to make its point. But Marshall is arguing that there's no cause for panic, and he's out with a Public Opinion Strategies poll from this weekend that gives the incumbent just a 42-41 edge. The POS memo says that an unreleased poll from early April showed Huelskamp up 64-25. While both candidates have aired a few ads since then, it seems unlikely that the contest could have shifted that much in Marshall's favor in just a few months, especially since we still have a while to go before Election Day.
● ME-02: In an unpredictable world, there's one thing we can always rely on: The University of New Hampshire will release House polls with tiny sample sizes. This time, they survey Maine's 2nd Congressional District on behalf of the Portland Press-Herald, and give Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin a 41-40 edge against Democrat Emily Cain. Those numbers, which aren't very different from a recent Cain internal, are actually plausible.
However, the sample size is just 227, which is simply unacceptable and creates a massive margin of error. As Daily Kos Elections' Daniel Donner demonstrated in 2014, polls like this with few respondents are prone to massive shifts, something UNH in particular is infamous for. In other words, there's a good chance that the next UNH poll of Maine's 2nd District will show either Cain or Poliquin surging ahead, even if nothing has actually changed in this race. UNH could fix this by sampling more people, but we're not betting that they'll change their methods: As far back as 2008, David Jarman lambasted UNH for this very issue.
● MI-08: A month ago, actress Melissa Gilbert dropped her campaign against freshman GOP Rep. Mike Bishop, leaving Democrats without a candidate in this 51-48 Romney seat. The good news is that Democrats can field a substitute candidate, but no one has stepped up to the plate yet. Still, Politico reports that locals Democrats are meeting with potential candidates this week. Suzanna Shkreli, an assistant prosecutor in Macomb County (which isn't in the 8th) and veteran Kate Logan, who served as Michigan director for Veterans for Bernie, were both named. However, neither woman has said anything publicly, and there's no word on how interested they are.
● NY-19: Siena College takes one more look at both parties' Tuesday primaries in this swingy seat, and they find blowouts on each side. In the Democratic contest, law professor Zephyr Teachout leads Livingston Deputy Town Supervisor Will Yandik 62-23; earlier this month, Siena gave Teachout a 53-23 edge. Teachout performed very well in the Hudson Valley during her unsuccessful 2014 primary campaign against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and she has the support of both New York's senators as well as Bernie Sanders.
On the GOP side, ex-Assembly Minority Leader John Faso leads businessman Andrew Heaney 58-28; Siena gave Faso a 50-28 lead earlier in June. Heaney immediately disputed the results, arguing that Siena has had some big misses in the past, which is true. However, a Heaney poll from earlier this month still gave Faso a 37-28 lead, and Heaney didn't release any contradictory polls this time around. Heaney's team instead argued that "[p]olls go up. [P]olls go down, and the only poll that matters is on Election Day," which is basically an admission that they don't have any better numbers. The rest of their response is also unconvincing.
● NY-22: Defending Mainstreet, a group friendly to the GOP establishment, is spending $140,000 on one last spot ahead of Tuesday's GOP primary. The group, which is backing businessman Steve Wells, hits Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney for being an "Albany insider" who was too close with ex-Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Another group, Grow the Economy, launched the same attack against Tenney a few weeks ago.
● NC Redistricting: On Monday, the Supreme Court announced it would hear an appeal from a lower-court ruling that found North Carolina's congressional map constituted an impermissible racial gerrymander earlier this year. That ruling forced the Republican-held legislature to come up with a revised set of lines, but in practice, the new map is the same as the old map, as it's almost certain to main the GOP's 10-to-three margin the state's congressional delegation. (And that new map raises a different set of questions about partisan, rather than racial, gerrymandering.) Election law expert Rick Hasen says he expects the North Carolina case to be considered alongside an appeal from an unsuccessful challenge to Virginia's state House map along similar lines.
● Primaries: Tuesday brings us our last big election night for the next month, with primaries to watch in Colorado, Oklahoma, New York, and Utah. As always, Jeff Singer gives us our preview of what to watch. The first polls close at 8:00 PM ET in Oklahoma, and we'll be live-blogging the results at Daily Kos Elections, as well as live-tweeting.
● Where Are They Now?: On Monday, a unanimous Supreme Court vacated former Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's 2014 conviction for bribery, ruling that the "officials acts" necessary to support a corruption charge had been defined too broadly. While in office, McDonnell had accepted gifts worth more than $175,000 from businessman Jonnie Williams, who was hoping for favorable consideration of a bogus diet supplement his company was marketing. The gifts themselves were permitted under state law, but prosecutors had alleged that they'd been given so that McDonnell would in exchange use his official powers to help Williams.
Under this theory, McDonnell was found guilty by a jury, and his conviction was upheld on appeal. But the Supreme Court ruled that the kinds of official acts that prosecutors had called out, such as "setting up a meeting, calling another public official, or hosting an event," didn't meet the requirements of the bribery statute. However, the court did say that McDonnell could potentially be retried under the new, narrower definition of official acts.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir and Jeff Singer, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and Stephen Wolf.