● VA-10: This Northern Virginia seat did not react well to Trump last year, swinging from 51-49 Romney all the way to 52-42 Clinton. However, GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock still defeated Democrat LuAnn Bennett 53-47 in an expensive race, and she won't be easy to beat in 2018. While it's possible that Comstock leaves this seat behind to challenge Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, Comstock hasn't shown much interest publicly in a Senate bid, and Team Blue will need to plan to face her for now.
So far, no Democrats have stepped up yet, but that may change soon. The local blog Blue Virginia says that the DCCC is trying to recruit state Sen. Jennifer Wexton, and they also report that she's being encouraged by EMILY's List and members of Virginia's congressional delegation. Patsy Brown, the chair of the Tenth Congressional District Democratic Committee, also tells The Winchester Star that she's spoken to Wexton about a possible bid, but she didn't give any indication about what Wexton is thinking. Wexton was also mentioned for this seat in early 2015, and she didn't rule anything out at the time. However, Wexton was also running for re-election in November of that year, and she never showed much public interest in running for the House. Wexton's Senate seat isn't up again until 2019 so if she wants to challenge Comstock, she won't have another campaign to get through first.
Wexton attracted national attention in early 2014 when she was the Democratic nominee for a special election to the state Senate that would help decide control of the chamber. While Obama had carried that seat 59-39, Team Blue was worried that weak turnout in a January special election would give the GOP the chance to flip it. In the end, Wexton won 53-38, and she was re-elected decisively the next year.
If Wexton says no to a House bid, Team Blue will keep looking for a candidate, but no other names have surfaced. Brown, the local Democratic chair, says she's interviewed 11 potential candidates (but not Wexton) and that they're all "exploring" a run, but she didn't give any clues about who she spoke to.
● MS-Sen: Last week, state Sen. Chris McDaniel expressed interest in challenging Sen. Roger Wicker in the GOP primary, arguing that Wicker wasn't "championing conservative reform in D.C." McDaniel doesn't seem to be in much of a hurry to decide, since he told a local Fox affiliate that he hopes to make up his mind by October.
McDaniel launched his campaign against Thad Cochran, Mississippi's other GOP senator, in October of 2013, and McDaniel only narrowly lost the runoff. However, while Cochran dithered about whether to seek re-election and began his eventual campaign with relatively little money, Wicker has already kicked off his bid for another term and had $1.6 million in the bank at the end of 2016. More importantly, Wicker doesn't appear to have made many enemies within the GOP.
● CA-Gov: Back in November, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer didn't rule out running for governor, but he sounded much more likely to redirect his efforts to opposing Donald Trump's policies outside of elected office. Still, it's seems that it's far too early to cross Steyer off the potential Democratic candidate list, since he recently told Calbuzz that he doesn't "think I have to make a decision right now." The race to succeed termed-out Gov. Jerry Brown is already well underway, with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, state Treasurer John Chiang, and ex-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in for Team Blue. Steyer wouldn't need to worry about raising campaign cash if he ran, though as other wealthy California candidates have learned the hard way, spending a ton of money doesn't guarantee victory even in this very expensive state.
● MI-Gov, MI-AG: This week, EMILY's List endorsed ex-state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed termed-out GOP Gov. Rick Snyder.
It doesn't look likely that another prominent female candidate will join the primary. A few days ago, Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon told Politico that plenty of people would like ex-U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade to run for governor or attorney general. But on Tuesday, the University of Michigan Law School announced that McQuade would become a professor in practice starting in May, and that she would teach in three separate legal areas. It's very unlikely she would take a new job if she had any interest in running for governor in a state as expensive as Michigan with the primary already underway, so we'll cross off her name for at least that race.
● NY-Gov: Back in 2010, wealthy ex-hedge fund manager Harry Wilson impressed GOP leaders when he only lost the comptroller's race to appointed incumbent Thomas DiNapoli 51-46, and he's been mentioned as a potential candidate against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Wilson says he's considering and will decide in the fall. A few other Republicans are also talking about getting in. It will be very tough to beat Cuomo in this very blue state, especially since midterms rarely go well for the party that holds the White House. But if nothing else, the GOP will want a credible gubernatorial nominee who can motivate voters to turn out and help them win races further down the ballot. (Nevada Democrats in particular learned the hard way in 2014 what can happen when the party only fields a weak candidate for governor.)
● SC-Gov: Team Blue hasn't controlled the governor's office since Democratic incumbent Jim Hodges lost his seat in 2002, and not many potential candidates are clamoring to face Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, who was elevated to the office after Nikki Haley became UN ambassador. State Rep. James Smith, who served in Afghanistan, is the rare Democrat who says he is considering facing McMaster and, in the words of The Post and Courier, he says he is "preparing for a run." Smith tells the paper that he hasn't made a final decision, and he didn't say when he expects to.
Ex-state Rep. Bakari Sellers, who lost the 2014 lieutenant governor race 59-41 to McMaster, said last year before Haley was appointed that he was considering, but when the Courier contacted him this week, he only said that he has nothing to announce. State Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell also didn't rule out a bid, though she says she's leaning against it. However, despite a report over the weekend that he was considering, departing state party head Jaime Harrison says he won't run.
● WI-Gov: This week, businessman Andy Gronik expressed interest in seeking the Democratic nod to face GOP Gov. Scott Walker. Gronik, who runs a non-profit advocating for "out-of-the-box solutions to improve the quality of life in our state," told the Associated Press he hopes to decide "fairly soon," saying that it wouldn't be in the next two weeks but he wouldn't keep people waiting for months. The Democratic field to take on Walker, who is very likely to run for re-election, has been developing slowly, though things may speed up now that Rep. Ron Kind has announced he won't run.
● GA-06: The anti-tax group the Club for Growth, which has a history of spending heavily in GOP contests, has endorsed wealthy businessman Bob Gray in the April 18 all-party primary. The dystopian Club used to be a big intra-party Trump foe, but they didn't seem to have much of a problem backing Gray, who attempted to drain a swamp in his latest ad. Ex-Secretary of State Karen Handel seems to be the GOP frontrunner at this early date, though that could change once more ads start flying.
● SD-AL: This week, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs announced that she would seek the GOP nomination for this open seat, which takes up all of South Dakota. So far, the only other GOP candidate is Dusty Johnson, a former public utilities commissioner who also used to serve as Gov. Dennis Daugaard's chief of staff. Johnson, who has Daugaard's endorsement, doesn't appear to have officially announced that he's in, but his website identifies him as a candidate, which is good enough for us. So far, no other Republicans have talked about getting in. Democrats haven't shown any interest in targeting this conservative seat, though Democrat-turned independent Mike Huether, the mayor of Sioux Falls, has talked about running for the House or for governor.
● Deaths: On Monday, ex-Texas Democratic Rep. Eligio "Kika" de la Garza died at the age of 89. De la Garza represented a Rio Grande Valley seat from 1965 to 1997, and he rose to become House Agriculture Committee chairman from
1991 1981 until the GOP took control of the House in 1995. De la Garza, who was only the second Hispanic person to represent Texas in the House and the first Hispanic House member to lead a standing committee since 1945, was also a cofounder of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
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.