● NC Redistricting: Late on Friday afternoon, a federal court hearing a challenge to North Carolina's congressional map found that Republicans drew two districts, the 1st and the 12th, in violation of the constitution because they'd impermissibly used race as the "predominant consideration" in creating both seats. (The full opinion is available here.) The court ordered that this year's elections cannot take place under the current lines and gave lawmakers until Feb. 19 to enact a remedial plan, but Republicans are going to appeal. Rick Hasen thinks the Supreme Court is likely to stay the ruling, since absentee voting has already begun for the state's March 15 primary, though he believes it's "fairly likely" the decision will ultimately be upheld.
But for partisan purposes, will it matter either way? Stephen Wolf concludes the answer is no. Tar Heel Republicans drew the most fiendish gerrymander in the nation this cycle, giving them 10 of North Carolina's 13th congressional districts, even though the state virtually split its vote in the last two presidential elections. But the public record they left behind made it clear that race was their foremost—indeed, only—consideration in constructing the 1st and 12th Districts, and that was their undoing in court.
However, as Wolf explains, Republicans can simply redraw the map along strictly partisan lines (which is perfectly legal) and retain their 10-3 advantage. (Rick Hasen agrees.) Democrats were able to prevent this from happening after a similar redistricting ruling in Virginia because they hold the governor's mansion; in North Carolina, however, Republicans control all the levers of power, thanks to huge majorities in the legislature—which they also secured thanks to some diabolically clever gerrymandering. So while this ruling curbs one form of anti-democratic excess on the part of the GOP, other, equally pernicious avenues are still open to them.
● AL-Sen: Even though the March 1 GOP primary is looking very uncompetitive, Sen. Richard Shelby is still sparing no expense on his ad campaign. Shelby's latest spot, which aired just before the Super Bowl, stars Johnny Spann, the father of Marine who was killed in Afghanistan. Spann praises the senator for quickly cutting through the red tape and ensuring that his son was buried at Arlington. There's no word how much Shelby spent on this spot, though airtime just before the game probably was not cheap. Another Shelby ad, which is part of a $6 million buy he launched late last year, focuses on his opposition to abortion.
● IN-Sen: Filing closed Friday for Indiana's May 3 primary, and the state has a candidate list available here. The GOP Senate primary will be the big race to watch. We have a duel between Rep. Todd Young, who is from the establishment wing of the party, and tea partying Rep. Marlin Stutzman. While a third GOP candidate, former state party chair Eric Holcomb, filed, he dropped out of the race on Monday. Holcomb, who was also a top aide to retiring Sen. Dan Coats, never raised much money, though he could have taken some non-tea party votes away from Young.
As of the end of December, Young holds a $2.6 million to $1.1 million cash-on-hand edge. Stutzman's campaign has also been plagued by internal chaos, and he's replaced most of his senior staff over the past few months. Stutzman does have the support of well-funded groups like the Club for Growth, but there are signs that they aren't particularly enthusiastic about the congressman.
The Republican nominee will take on ex-Rep. Baron Hill, who has no Democratic primary opposition. Hill has just $382,000 in the bank, which is far from what he needs to win in a conservative state like Indiana. If Hill goes up against Young, who unseated him in 2010, there probably won't be much to watch here. But if the more conservative Stutzman makes it through the GOP primary, then national Democrats will likely take more of an interest in Hill.
● NC-Sen: High Point University takes a look at both party's primaries. Republican Sen. Richard Burr attracted some unwelcome attention last month after he reportedly told a roomful of donors, without any sarcasm, that he'd vote for Bernie Sanders over Ted Cruz if it came down to it. Burr demanded a retraction from the AP, but they stood by the story. In any case, Burr leads tea partying physician Greg Brannon 46-10; PPP gave Burr a 55-10 lead before the Cruz story became public. Burr's High Point number isn't impressive, and it's a lot lower than Gov. Pat McCrory's 75-3 primary lead, but the senator doesn't seem to be in any real danger in the March 15 primary.
In the Democratic side, undecided leads with 66 percent. Among actual candidates, ex-state Rep. Deborah Ross leads businessman Kevin Griffin 19-6; Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey and Some Dude Ernest Reeves bring up the rear. Ross has the support of EMILY's List, and it should be able to boost her name recognition in the next month. None of the other contenders have much money or outside support between them.
● IN-Gov: After last year's debacle over the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, a number of Republicans made noises about challenging Gov. Mike Pence in the primary. Several business conservatives were disgusted at the prospect of increased discrimination against gays and lesbians, and the national boycotts over the law alienated others. However, the filing deadline passed Friday, and Pence faces no intra-party opposition whatsoever.
Pence will face a rematch with ex-state House Speaker John Gregg, who also has no primary opponent. Pence defeated Gregg 50-47 last time, but Gregg's fundraising has noticeably improved since 2012. Pence's once-solid approval ratings took a huge hit after the RFRA controversy, but no polls have been released in months. It remains to be seen if Pence's standing will improve once memories over the RFRA fade, or if he's done himself enough damage to cost the GOP the governor's mansion.
● NC-Gov: GOP Gov. Pat McCrory came out with the first ad of the campaign over the weekend and unsurprisingly, it's Super Bowl themed. The spot features McCrory talking about all the progress North Carolina has made, before he laments that the state doesn't "always get the respect we've earned." But according to McCrory, "there is one solution. Keep Pounding, Panthers! And have a Super day!" I guess North Carolina is doomed to be the Rodney Dangerfield of states now. There's no word on the size of the buy.
● CA-16: It's a shame it took a near-loss to a Some Dude, but Democratic Rep. Jim Costa seems to taking his re-election campaign seriously at long last. Costa hauled in $295,000 for the fourth quarter, and he has $1.1 million on hand. Republican Johnny Tacherra, who almost beat him last cycle, brought in only $4,000 during this time, and he has just $2,000 to spend. Madera County Supervisor David Rogers is doing better, with a $106,000 warchest thanks to self-funding. Obama carried this Fresno-area seat 59-39, and it should be safely blue in a presidential year.
● IL-01: The good news for Chicago Alderman Howard Brookins is that he's one of the rare congressional primary challengers to have more money in the bank that the incumbent. However, that's because neither he nor Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush has much cash at all: At the end of December, Brookins had a $58,000 to $40,000 cash-on-hand lead. Rush doesn't appear to have done anything to alienate voters in this safely blue seat, and if Brookins doesn't have the resources to get his message out, voters are unlikely to dump the longtime incumbent.
P.S: This is the second time Rush has attracted a notable primary challenger. In 2000, Rush beat state Sen. Barack Obama 61-36: At this time in the 2000 cycle (that primary was also held in mid-March), Rush had a $156,000 to $16,000 cash-on-hand lead over Obama. Obama eventually got better at fundraising.
● IL-12: Obama narrowly carried this suburban St. Louis seat but so far, Democratic efforts to oust freshman Republican Rep. Mike Bost are not going well. Lawyer C.J. Baricevic only raised $88,000 from October to December, and he trails Bost $738,000 to $118,000 in cash-on-hand.
Baricevic is the only Democrat running here, and maybe donors will open their wallets for him now that there are no other options. It's also worth noting that Bost's initial fundraising last cycle was terrible, but he picked up steam in the spring. Still, there doesn't seem to be any indication that national Democrats are going to make this contest a priority.
● IL-13: Democrats almost won this downstate Illinois seat in 2013, but it looks like sophomore Republican Rep. Rodney Davis has nothing to worry about. Ex-Macon County Board Member Mark Wicklund has raised virtually nothing, and it's too late to find another candidate. If that wasn't bad enough, 2012 nominee David Gill is running as an independent, and he actually has more money in the bank than Wicklund (though he has just $5,000 to spend). Romney only narrowly carried this district, but everything's coming up Milhouse for Davis.
● IL-15: Well, GOP state Sen. Kyle McCarter isn't going to be winning the Profiles in Competence Award anytime soon. McCarter is challenging Rep. John Shimkus in the March 15 primary for this safely red seat, and he only raised $79,000 during the fourth quarter of 2015. That's a very low number, and it gets much worse: McCarter had to refund about half his meager haul due to some very sloppy errors.
Most notably, McCarter took a $40,000 contribution from a single donor, only to find out the hard way that donations are capped at $2,700. McCarter also needed to return thousands in illegal corporate contributions. McCarter has the support of the Club for Growth, and he's going to need them to spend big if he wants to get his message out, since he's not in a position to do it himself.
For his part, Shimkus raised $386,000 over the quarter, and he has a hefty $1.37 million in the bank. Shimkus is also out with his first spot, where he declares that "most politicians in Washington just make excuses." Shimkus lays out a laundry list of problems America is facing, including unemployment and terrorism, before calling for "bold reform." It's a very weird move for a 10-term incumbent to remind voters about all the shit that's happening under his watch while calling for reform, but given the quality of his opposition, he can afford a few own goals.
● IN-01: While Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott spent months flirting with a bid for higher office, the Democrat will not be on the 2016 ballot. After ruling out Senate and gubernatorial campaigns, McDermott considered challenging Rep. Pete Visclosky in the primary. However, McDermott didn't file, and Visclosky will only face minor opposition in this safely blue seat.
● IN-02: Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski is a longshot Democratic target in this South Bend-area seat. While Walorski only narrowly won in 2012 as Romney was carrying the district 56-42, she hasn't turned out to be the ultra-conservative bomb thrower her detractors thought she would be. Democrats are fielding Lynn Coleman, a former investigation division chief for the South Bend police. Coleman kicked off his bid in mid-December and he raised a total of $55,000, and we'll need to see if he's capable of hauling in the type of money he'll need to prevail in a tough district like this. Both Walorski and Coleman face only minor primary opposition.
● IN-03: We have a crowded race to succeed Senate candidate Marlin Stutzman in this safely red Fort Wayne-area seat. State Sen. Jim Banks is the favorite of influential tea party groups like the Club for Growth, and he also has the support of state Senate leader David Long.
Farmer Kip Tom looks like Banks' main GOP primary opponent. Tom only trails Banks in cash-on-hand $359,000 to $354,000, and he went up with his first TV spot over the weekend. Tom's ad promotes his background in farming, with the narrator praising him as someone with "40 years of real world experience." There's no word on the size of the buy, though it first aired during the Saturday GOP presidential debate.
A few other Republicans are running here. The most notable is state Sen. Liz Brown, though she only has $167,000 in the bank. Ex-Wisconsin state Sen. Pamela Galloway is also in, but she's struggled with fundraising. Former Allen County Councilor Kevin Howell, who used to work for Stutzman, jumped into the race about a week ago.
● IN-04, AG: A few months ago, there were reports that Republican Rep. Todd Rokita was interested in giving up his safely red seat to run for state attorney general. However, Rokita kicked off his re-election bid in January, and he only faces minor opposition in the primary.
● IN-08: It's tough to see Republican Rep. Larry Buchson losing the general in this southern Indiana seat, though he did only win his 2012 campaign 53-43 while Mitt Romney was carrying the district 58-40. Democrats are fielding ex-state Rep. David Orentlicher; Orentlicher kicked off his bid in December and he raised $102,000, which is better than you'd expect for a race that's gotten very little attention. Buchson has a $446,000 to $101,000 cash-on-hand lead, which isn't particularly impressive.
Still, if all else fails, Buchson has one ready-made line of attack. Orentlicher hails from Indianapolis, which is very different territory than this area, and he won't be hard to label as a carpetbagger. While Orentlicher taught at the local Terre Haute campus for the University of Indiana, he only moved to this seat recently.
● IN-09: We have a four-way GOP primary in this red southern Indiana seat. While businessman Trey Hollingsworth attracted little attention when he entered the race, he has $510,000 on hand thanks to self-funding. Additionally, an allied super PAC has been running ads on his behalf that both praise him and hit primary rival Greg Zoeller, the state attorney general. Indy Star says the Indiana Jobs Now ads are running for $200,000, which is a lot more than the small $36,000 amount that was reported last month.
Zoeller himself actually trails another candidate, state Sen. Erin Houchin, $177,000 to $135,000 in cash-on-hand. State Sen. Brent Waltz has struggled with fundraising, and he only has $86,000 on hand. Former congressional aide Jim Pfaff originally planned to run here, but he decided to campaign for the state House instead.
The GOP nominee is likely to face Monroe County Councilor Shelli Yoder, who only has minor primary opposition. Yoder lost to departing incumbent Todd Young 55-45 in 2012 as Romney was winning this seat 57-41. Yoder has $223,000 in the bank, which is better than everyone except Hollingsworth. However, she's going to need a whole lot more if she's going to pull off an upset in a seat as red as this. Even as disastrous 2012 GOP Senate nominee Richard Mourdock was losing statewide 50-44, he still narrowly carried the 9th District.
● MD-08: Rich guy David Trone is out with another spot in the April primary for this safely blue seat. The narrator highlights Trone's humble origins, before promoting his business background. The spot also mentions that Trone won't take "a dime from lobbyists, PACs, or corporations," as a picture of Trone and President Obama flashes by. Trone's ad, which aired just before and after the Super Bowl, is part of a $1 million buy.
Former hotel executive Kathleen Matthews, one of Trone's many primary rivals, is also taking to the airwaves. The commercial opens with shots of an ambulance approaching the aftermath of a tragedy as Matthews, a former TV anchor, says that for "too many nights I led the 11 o'clock news with stories of gun violence." Matthews notes that she and her family lived through the Beltway Sniper crisis, before promoting her gun control agenda. Politico reports the spot is running for $125,000.
● MN-02: There's a crowded GOP race to succeed retiring Republican Rep. John Kline in this swingy suburban Twin Cities seat, but Kline isn't particularly happy with most of the candidates. Kline said that he wanted former First Lady Mary Pawlenty to run, and he isn't impressed with any of the actual contenders' fundraising.
And he has a point. Former radio host Jason Lewis raised the most cash over the final three months of 2015, and his $102,000 haul wasn't great. Thanks to some generous self-funding, ex-state Sen. John Howe has $607,000 in the bank, far more than Lewis' $90,000. Conservative gadfly David Gerson, who had challenged Kline for renomination before, has $101,000, while former state Rep. Pam Myhra only has $21,000 available to spend. By contrast, wealthy health care executive Angie Craig, who has the Democratic field to herself, has $988,000 on hand.
But Kline does like one other Republican candidate. Businesswoman Darlene Miller entered the race last month; while Kline said that she needs to prove she can raise money, he seems to like what he's seen so far. It doesn't hurt that Miller's campaign manager is Kline's former political director.
● MO-01: State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal launched her primary campaign against Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay in October and so far, it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Chappelle-Nadal raised just $28,000, and Clay has a massive $423,000 to $25,000 cash edge.
Both candidates are black, but Clay has the support of several notable white St. Louis politicians, including Mayor Francis Slay. Chappelle-Nadal has also made her share of enemies: Among other things, she spent $20,000 against an old political rival in a race that didn't otherwise involve her. Chappelle-Nadal is arguing that Clay didn't do enough during the 2014 Ferguson protests, but there doesn't seem to be many signs that enough voters agree with her. The primary for this safely blue seat is Aug. 2.
● NY-03: Two more Democrats have taken their names out of the running for this open swing seat. Newsday reports that businessman Todd Richman and former Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer have said no. Three Democrats have entered the race and two more have formed exploratory committees: If Team Blue doesn't hold this Long Island district, it won't be for lack of candidates.
● VA-02: After keeping us in suspense for quite some time, Republican Rep. Randy Forbes announced on Monday that he'd seek re-election in Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, which is now open thanks to fellow GOP Rep. Scott Rigell's retirement. A new court-ordered congressional map had made Forbes' home seat, the 4th, far too blue for him (or any other Republican) to win, but he did have a few other options, though none of them were particularly good.
Part of Forbes' old turf was moved into the neighboring 7th District, where establishment Republicans have been eager to take Eric Cantor's loss out on freshman Rep. Dave Brat's hide. But Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade beat Forbes to the draw, issued a primary challenge to Brat while Forbes' gun was still in its holster. Not long after, another Republican congressman, Rob Hurt, announced he was calling it quits, but despite sitting right next door, his 5th District shared little in common with the 4th-even their media markets barely overlap.
But Rigell to the rescue! The 2nd District, centered in Virginia Beach, is contained entirely within the Norfolk media market. As luck would have it, the Norfolk market also covers half of the old 4th. The new 2nd doesn't contain any of Forbes' old seat, but the district's denizens should be used to seeing Forbes, who has served in Congress since 2001, on TV. He'll also be running with at least tacit support from Rigell, whose campaign office he used to deliver his re-election announcement.
Some local Republicans, though, aren't happy about Forbes carpetbagging into their neighborhood, and one notable pol, state Del. Scott Taylor, had already kicked off a bid of his own. Another, Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle, paid for robocalls urging people to tell Forbes he should stay put. That effort obviously didn't work, and as an incumbent whose built up lots of seniority, Forbes should be able to bring some considerable firepower to bear on this race. But as we've seen on the Democratic side elsewhere this year, locals can get testy when faced with interlopers.
Speaking of Democrats, they're still looking for a candidate here. The 2nd was redrawn a bit, too, though not as dramatically as the 4th, flipping it from a seat Barack Obama carried 51-49 to one Mitt Romney won 51-49. That shift certainly helps Republicans, but as an open seat, this district remains competitive on paper, especially since Democrats will be fighting win Virginia on the presidential level this year. A few names have circulated, but no one has affirmatively expressed interest yet.
● International: Over the weekend, we launched our newest feature, the Daily Kos International Elections Digest. Every month, we'll recap recent elections from around the world and preview upcoming contests as well. While most countries' electoral systems differ considerably from our own, you'll find us discussing many familiar topics: polls, parties, and the key issues driving every race. There are dozens of elections coming up this year that will impact the lives of hundreds of millions, so if you're interested in global politics at all, check out the International Digest and sign up here to receive it by email.
● New Hampshire Primary: The first in the nation primary is tonight, and Daily Kos will be liveblogging both parties' contests! Most polls will close at 7:00 PM ET, and we'll begin our liveblog at Daily Kos Elections then; we'll also be live tweeting from our Daily Kos Elections account. Join us for what should be an exciting night!
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.