● GA-Gov: A number of politicians have been mulling a run to succeed termed-out Georgia GOP Gov. Nathan Deal, and we can add a familiar name to the list. Ex-state Sen. Jason Carter, a Democrat who lost to Deal 53-45 in 2014, recently said that "Trump's victory certainly makes it more likely for me to run." Carter, who is a grandson of Jimmy Carter, raised a credible amount of cash during his last bid and probably did about as well as any Democrat could have done during the GOP wave. (Democrat Michelle Nunn, a heavily touted candidate and strong fundraiser, lost her Senate race that year by the exact same margin.)
So far, the only other Democrat we've heard is interested in a 2018 gubernatorial bid is state Senate Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. While Abrams hasn't said much publicly about her plans, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently wrote that she was "all but certain to run." Abrams would start out less-well known than Carter if both ran, but she could have an edge if race plays a role in the primary. Abrams is African-American while Carter is white, and in recent years, black voters have made up a larger proportion of the Democratic primary electorate: In the 2016 presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, 51 percent of voters were black and 38 percent white, according to exit polls.
● CA-Sen: Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has always been taciturn about her re-election plans, and this cycle she's been no different. In a new interview with Scott Shafer of KQED, a local public radio station, Feinstein was very cagey about her plans for 2018:
Q: You have a big decision to make next year about whether to run for re-election. There are a lot of younger Democrats in California itching to run for your seat, as you know. What would you say to them?
A: Well …
Q: And have you made up your mind about it?
A: No … I will, but I haven't right at the moment. And what I've said is, as long as I feel I can get things done—and I can—then I think I benefit the people of my state, as opposed to someone new coming in. And that's—I realize—is in anyone's mind—is different, but this is … you asked me what I think. And if I can produce—and I can produce—and I can continue to produce, then I will continue to produce. If I believe I can't, either by health or any other way, I won't. But as long as I believe I can, I will. That pretty clear?
Q: That's clear. And to me, it sounds like you're ready to run for re-election.
A: Well, that's sort of true.
Q: And, you'll make it formal next year?
A: I'll make it formal at an appropriate time.
Feinstein is 83 years old, making her the oldest member of the Senate, and she's served in office since 1992. She also recently was outfitted for a pacemaker, and her husband was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. All this has led a lot of California Democrats to wonder—and some to hope—that she'll retire next year.
Feinstein obviously isn't ready to say just yet, though she's been raising money and has two more fundraisers scheduled for March. No doubt plenty of ambitious Golden State politicians would clamber into the race to succeed Feinstein if she calls it quits, but we'll only know what her plans are when it suits her to tell us—and no sooner.
● ND-Sen: While Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was reportedly considered by Trump to be secretary of agriculture, Trump nominated ex-Georgia GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue on Thursday instead. It's unclear if Heitkamp actually was seriously considering taking the job, or if she just went through the audition process in order to earn some positive headlines back home. But if Heitkamp had resigned from the Senate, there would have been a special election to succeed her. North Dakota backed Trump 63-27, and Team Blue would have had an extremely difficult time holding the seat without Heitkamp.
Heitkamp hasn't said if she'll seek a second term next year, but she can expect a very tough race if she does. Rep. Kevin Cramer, who represents the entire state in the House, is considering challenging the senator and has reportedly met with the NRSC about a campaign. State Sen. Tom Campbell has also talked about getting in, though he made it clear he wouldn't run against Cramer. The GOP has plenty of other politicians who could also eye the seat, especially if Cramer doesn't run.
P.S.: Back in November, Perdue was mentioned in passing as a possible 2018 candidate for governor of Georgia. There was never any sign that Perdue was interested in running for his old job again, but we can certainly take his name off the list now.
● IA-Gov: A few days ago, the well-connected blog Iowa Starting Line reported that Democratic state Rep. Todd Prichard, an Iraq War veteran, was "sounding like he's likely to run," though we hadn't heard him express interest before. Prichard has now told the Des Moines Register that he is considering, but he probably won't decide until after the legislature adjourns early this summer.
State Sen. Liz Mathis recently announced she would not seek the Democratic nod, but she did suggest that fellow state Sen. Janet Petersen could run instead. This was the first time we'd heard Petersen mentioned for this race, and she's now told the Register that she's "keeping an open mind." State Sen. Joe Bolkcom sounds much less interested, declaring "I have no plans, no," which still isn't quite a no. Right now, ex-Department of Natural Resources head Rich Leopold is the only Democrat in the race, but Starting Line says that outgoing state party head Andy McGuire is planning to jump in soon. The eventual Democratic nominee will likely face Republican Kim Reynolds, who will become governor assuming incumbent Terry Branstad is confirmed as ambassador to China. However, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett is openly considering challenging Reynolds in the primary.
● IL-Gov: Every time we check, it seems like at least one new Illinois Democrat is talking about challenging GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner next year. State Sen. Daniel Biss had only been mentioned as a possible contender before, but he confirmed this week that he is considering. Last year, Biss was the lead elected official publicly involved with a well-funded labor-funded super PAC that aided Democrats in state legislative races.
Since there are so many Democrats flirting with challenging Rauner, we've put together a summary of who is publicly or reportedly looking at running, and their status:
Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar: Running
State Sen. Daniel Biss: Considering
Rep. Cheri Bustos: Considering
Rep. Robin Kelly: Considering
Businessman Chris Kennedy: Considering
State Sen. Andy Manar: Considering
Venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker: Considering
Chicago City Treasurer Kurt Summers: Reportedly considering
Ex-Gov Pat Quinn: Hasn't ruled it out
State Sen. Kwame Raoul: Hasn't ruled it out
State Treasurer Mike Frerichs: Hasn't ruled it out, but sounds unlikely to get in
And it's only January.
● NV-Gov, NV-AG: On Wednesday, GOP Rep. Mark Amodei announced he would not run for governor next year. In recent weeks, Sen. Dean Heller and Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison have also announced they won't run. While Attorney General Adam Laxalt hasn't said he's in, he's certainly raising money like he plans to run for the GOP nod. At this point, there don't seem to be any credible Republicans left who are seriously considering facing Laxalt.
Amodei added in his interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal that he hasn't decided whether he'll seek another term in the House or if he'll run to replace Laxalt as attorney general. Amodei's northern Nevada 2nd Congressional District backed Trump 52-40, so Team Red would be favored to hold it without him.
● CA-34: State Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez has earned endorsements from plenty of state and local elected officials in the crowded special election for this safely blue Los Angeles seat. This week, the labor group AFSCME also publicly sided with Gomez. Gomez used to be political director for the United Nurses Association of California, though two other Democratic candidates also worked for labor groups.
● FL-07: Freshman Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy pulled off a 51.5-48.5 win against ultra-complacent GOP incumbent John Mica last year, and Team Red is likely to make her a top target in 2018. State Sen. David Simmons tells Florida Politics that he's considering challenging Murphy, but says he could also run for state attorney general or for nothing at all. Clinton carried this suburban Orlando seat 51-44, while Obama and Romney fought to a draw here four years before.
● Site News: Daily Kos Elections will be taking off on Friday, so that means there won't be a Live Digest that day or a Morning Digest on Monday. The Live Digest will be back on Monday, and the next Morning Digest will be published on Tuesday.
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, and James Lambert.