● WV-Sen: Republicans finally landed their first high-profile challenger to moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin when Rep. Evan Jenkins kicked off his bid on Monday. Located in the heart of coal country, Jenkins became the first Republican to win the area comprising southern West Virginia's contemporary 3rd District in roughly 84 years when he decisively ousted a longtime Democratic incumbent in 2014. Jenkins had previously served as a Democratic state senator for over a decade until switching parties in 2013 to run for House. However, in a state still dominated by conservative registered Democrats who typically vote Republican, that party switch might not be nearly as big of a problem for him in a possible Republican primary as it would be elsewhere.
West Virginia has been ancestrally Democratic ever since the Great Depression, but the heavily white working-class and coal-dependent state has galloped toward the Republican Party over the last two decades as Democratic fortunes have waned with that demographic in central Appalachia and the Rust Belt. Donald Trump's 68-26 thrashing of Hillary Clinton was the best margin for a Republican presidential nominee in state history and made West Virginia his second-best state nationally, but Democrats still do much better downballot. Even as Trump cruised to victory, Democrat Jim Justice won the open governor's race by a comfortable margin in 2016, giving Democrats hope for success in 2018.
Although Trump is likely still adored here and national Democrats decidedly hated, Manchin is unlikely to go down without a bruising fight. The former two-term governor won his current Senate term in 2012 by a 61-36 landslide even as Mitt Romney romped to a 62-35 victory, meaning the personally popular senator is no stranger to distancing himself from the tarnished national party brand. Manchin brought in a relatively small $566,000 during the first quarter and finished it with $2.2 million on hand, but that still far outpaced Jenkins, who raised $368,000 over the same time period and had $1 million on hand at the end of March.
Although Jenkins is reportedly the NRSC's preference, there's a good chance he'll face a primary. State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey previously refused to rule out running, and Roll Call reports that he is expected to announce his own campaign soon, but Morrisey hasn't said anything publicly recently. A former executive director of the RGA has already launched a super PAC to support Morrisey, while the attorney general has already come under fire over his wife's lobbying for Planned Parenthood, which could possibly be an effort to deter him from running. Meanwhile, fellow Rep. David McKinley also said last week that he would likely reveal his plans about a Senate bid sometime this week.
● AL-Sen: Tea partying Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks has been considering a primary bid against appointed GOP Sen. Luther Strange in this year’s special election, and he tells the Montgomery Advertiser’s Deborah Barfield Berry that he expects to make his “firm decision” around May 15, two days before the filing deadline.
Brooks also says he’s been polling a hypothetical six-way August GOP primary testing himself against Strange, ex-state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, and three unnamed other candidates. Brooks didn’t reveal any more information (not even the name of the pollster), except that Brooks says Moore was in first with about 30 percent of the vote, Strange had about 20, Brooks as in the low double-digits, and the other three were taking single digits. That’s very little information to go off of, but it’s certainly unusual for a politician to volunteer that he’s polling that far behind. If no one takes a majority in the first round of the primary, there will be a September runoff.
Meanwhile, Strange’s allies in the Senate GOP leadership are doing their best to ensure that the new senator’s primary is as easy as possible. On Monday, the Senate Leadership Fund, which is close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, announced that they had reserved $2.6 million in ad time to help Strange ahead of the primary. SLF’s spokesman claims the buy is a fraction of what they’re planning to spend, and given how well-funded the group is, he probably isn’t bluffing. Their moves comes a few days after Politico reported that SLF is “very openly digging up dirt on Alabama state Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh’s ties to unpopular ex-Gov. Robert Bentley.” Marsh has been flirting with a Senate bid for a while and sounded likely to get in last week. Politico previously reported that the NRSC threatened to blacklist any consulting group that worked for any of Strange’s opponents.
● AL-Gov: On Monday, Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington announced that he would seek the GOP nomination. Carrington began making noises about running in December, long before termed-out GOP Gov. Robert Bentley resigned in disgrace and Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey was elevated to the governorship. At the time, Carrington sounded ready to pick a fight with the GOP establishment, saying that "I was told by a representative of the GOP establishment that I was 'cutting into the front of the line,' and that I needed to 'wait my turn.' My response was that the others are in the wrong line."
At his campaign kick-off, however, Carrington insisted he wouldn't emphasize Bentley or ex-state House Speaker Mike Hubbard, who resigned because of a different scandal. Instead, Carrington said he would run on his record as county president of Jefferson, which includes Birmingham. In 2011, Jefferson filed for what was at the time the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. The county has exited bankruptcy since then, and Carrington is arguing that his leadership is a big reason why. Carrington joins Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle in the GOP primary, and several others are considering. Ivey, a Republican who has been governor for about a month, hasn't said if she'll seek a full term next year.
● CT-Gov: Until recently, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman had said nothing publicly about her interest in running to succeed retiring Gov. Dan Malloy. However, Wyman recently told a local Fox affiliate that she is considering entering the Democratic primary, saying that she'll decide in "a month or so." Two Democrats, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo and ex-Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris, formed exploratory committees in recent weeks while saying that they would defer to Wyman if she ran for governor. However, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew and former federal prosecutor Chris Mattei have also formed committees, and they don't appear to have said anything about getting out of the way for Wyman.
● ID-Gov: Idaho's GOP primary is about a year away, but developer Tommy Ahlquist is already running TV spots statewide. In fact, according to The Spokesman-Review's Betty Russell, Ahlquist started running his ads in the Boise area in the first week of March. However, while Russell writes that it's "pretty much unheard-of for statewide TV ads in an Idaho governor's race" to start this early, she notes that, at least for now, Ahlquist's spots in North Idaho are only airing on cable and satellite rather than on broadcast TV in the relatively expensive Spokane media market. (The Spokane market is home to about 20 percent of the state.)
So far, Ahlquist has two biographical commercials up. In his first ad, the candidate delivers some platitudes about how awesome Idahoans are and how he believes in "the strength of the individual, personal responsibility, and the limited role of government." In his other spot, Ahlquist talks up his business background and pledges to "get rid of overreaching regulations and reform our tax code to spur job creation and stand up for our small businesses." Not exactly riveting stuff, but Idaho TV viewers better get used to seeing them over the next year. And sorry, people in Spokane who don't care whom Idaho Republicans nominate in 2018: You're coming along for the ride. Ahlquist faces Lt. Gov. Brad Little and ex-state Sen. Russ Fulcher in the GOP primary, while Rep. Raul Labrador is considering jumping in.
● OH-Gov: On Sunday, Ohio's Republican secretary of state, Jon Husted, kicked off his long-planned bid to succeed termed-out GOP Gov. John Kasich. The next day, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley announced that she would seek the Democratic nomination, and both candidates face competitive primaries next year.
We'll start with Husted, a former state House speaker and state senator who was elected statewide in the 2010 GOP wave. Since then, he's repeatedly attracted scorn from voting rights advocates for trying to cut the availability of early voting. Ohio Democrats made a serious attempt to unseat him in 2014, but another GOP wave and the collapse of Team Blue's gubernatorial nominee helped propel Husted to a 60-36 win over then-state Sen. Nina Turner.
Cleveland.com has described Husted and Kasich as old foes, but the governor's enmity hasn't hampered Husted's fundraising: He reported a healthy $2.5 million war chest to start the year. Husted joins Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who has Kasich's support; state Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is a former U.S. senator; and wealthy Rep. Jim Renacci in the primary.
Whaley, meanwhile, was first elected in 2013, and she won a second four-year term earlier this year unopposed, the first time that's ever happened in Dayton. Whaley has been described as a rising star in the state Democratic Party, but she, too, needs to get through a crowded field. Ex-Rep. Betty Sutton, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni, and ex-state Rep. Connie Pillich are already running, and it's far too early to say who, if anyone, might be the frontrunner. Democrats in Ohio have taken repeated beatings in recent election cycles, including last year, when Donald Trump won the state by decisive 51-43. Flipping the governor's mansion would go a long way towards revitalizing Buckeye State Democrats, who also need to defend Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2018.
A few other Democrats also are considering running for governor, including Turner, while ex-Rep. Dennis Kucinich (unfortunately) seems interested as well. Former state Attorney General Richard Cordray, who currently serves as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, could dramatically shake up the Democratic primary if he got in, but as we've noted before, he's in a very tough spot.
If Cordray resigns his post, Trump would have a much easier time destroying or at least severely weakening the CFPB, so Cordray can't voluntarily leave without dismaying liberals. However, while some Republicans have publicly called for Trump to try to fire Cordray, BuzzFeed's Henry Gomez noted last month that several Ohio Republicans fear that if he's sacked, he'll just go home and run for governor, which gives them a reason to want to keep him in his current job. It's also not even clear if Trump can legally get rid of him, so for the foreseeable future at least, Cordray can't feasibly run for governor in 2018 even if he wants to. Cordray's term expires in July of 2018, which is well after the Democratic primary.
● OK-Gov: On Monday, Oklahoma state Auditor Gary Jones announced that he would seek the GOP nomination to succeed termed-out Gov. Mary Fallin next year. When Jones started expressing interest at the end of March, he seemed pretty lukewarm about the idea, saying he could instead run for state Senate or "maybe that best position for me is going home and feeding cows and spending time with grandkids." Even now, Jones, who previously declared that "I'll have significantly less money than anybody," seems pretty meh about the whole idea of running for governor, saying he'll wait until the fall to formally launch his campaign. But Jones has said that he's "not enamored with the idea of being governor," so maybe he really doesn't care about being outspent.
Jones joins wealthy attorney Gary Richardson, who has said he's willing to self-fund at least $2.5 million, in the GOP primary. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb recently filed to run, and while he didn't announce he was in, his website and social media pages all have "Lamb Governor" banners, so we can safely treat him as a full-fledged candidate. Oklahoma is a very red state, but two potentially strong Democrats entered the race in recent weeks: state House Minority Leader Scott Inman, a vocal Fallin critic, and ex-state Attorney General Drew Edmondson, who narrowly lost the 2010 primary.
And Team Blue may have good reason to think that they have an opening next year. As we've noted before, thanks in large part to falling oil prices, Oklahoma's budget is an utter mess. News OK recently noted that 97 of the state's 500-some school districts have transitioned to a four-day week, and more could join them. The legislature is currently involved in intense budget negotiations, and the four-day school week could be the status quo for a while in many parts of the state. Voters seem to be taking their anger out on Fallin, with a new survey from SoonerPoll.com giving Fallin a horrific 31-61 favorable rating. If Democrats can convincingly make the argument that the eventual GOP nominee will essentially continue Fallin's governorship, they may be able to pull off an upset.
However, the Republicans likely will try to distance themselves from Fallin. Indeed, Lamb resigned from his post as small business advocate in Fallin's cabinet back in February, arguing that he couldn't support tax increases that Fallin was pushing, declaring that they'd "harm Oklahoma's small businesses and families, especially those in our service industry." Jones, a former state GOP party chair, has feuded with Fallin over fiscal decisions for even longer. Richardson ran for governor in 2002 as an independent and almost certainly cost the GOP the win, so he's not exactly a party loyalist.
● CA-34: Democrat Maria Cabildo, a non-profit founder who took third place in the top-two primary last month, endorsed Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez on Friday. Gomez faces ex-Los Angeles Planning Commissioner Robert Lee Ahn, a fellow Democrat whom he outpaced
28-19 25-22, in the June 6 general. (Update: Thank you to Quinn McCord for the catch.)
● FL-27: On Friday, Politico reported that both national and Miami-based Democrats were trying to convince Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of the Miami-Dade County school district, to run for this open seat. Carvalho, who is currently not registered with either party, soon confirmed his interest to a local ABC affiliate, arguing that Trumpcare would harm vulnerable children. However, Carvalho told Politico that he wasn't ready to join a party, and called himself "politically a free agent."
● GA-06: A new poll of next month's runoff in Georgia's 6th Congressional District finds Republican Karen Handel with her first lead since the primary. The survey, which was conducted by Republican pollster Landmark Communications on behalf of local news station WSB-TV, shows Handel up 49-47 on Democrat Jon Ossoff. An earlier Ossoff internal had him ahead 48-47, while a poll for the pro-Democratic House Majority PAC put Ossoff up 50-48. Neither Handel nor her allies, though, have released any data of their own.
And that's not the only thing that's gone missing: So, apparently, has Handel herself. On Monday, the Ossoff campaign said it had confirmed three debate appearances, but Handel's team claimed in response that they hadn't agreed to any debates yet, saying only that they would "continue to work through debate invitations" and would "release our debate schedule soon."
That's a far cry from Handel's initial posturing a couple of weeks ago, after Ossoff challenged her to six debates. A Handel flack snorted back, "We welcome any chance to highlight Jon Ossoff's inexperience and are excited to have a robust debate on the issues." Not that excited, evidently. In fact, according to one debate organizer, the Handel campaign only began claiming it had a scheduling conflict once he informed them that the debate would be open to the public. Seriously, how can you be afraid to debate in front of the very same people you're hoping to represent? So weak.
● KY-06: Last week, state Democrats said that Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath is considering challenging Republican Rep. Andy Barr in a Lexington-area seat that backed Trump 55-39 but still supported Democrats in recent statewide races. Indeed, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray carried the 6th 52-48 while he was losing his 2016 Senate bid to GOP incumbent Rand Paul 57-43. Just after that race, Gray didn't rule out a House bid. Gray has said nothing publicly since then, but local Democrats tell Spectrum News' Kevin Wheatley that the DCCC is trying to recruit Gray. However, Gray could also run for re-election as mayor next year, and he may also be interested in challenging GOP Gov. Matt Bevin in 2019.
● MN-03: GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen comfortably defeated a high-profile Democratic challenger by 57-43 in 2016, but after his well-educated suburban Minneapolis district lurched from 50-49 Obama to 51-41 Clinton, Democrats are eager to target him again next year. Following Paulsen's vote in favor of the House GOP health care bill last Thursday, wealthy businessman and philanthropist Dean Phillips told the local CBS affiliate that he was moving up his timeline and expects to officially announce in the coming week. Local Democratic leaders have reportedly been recruiting Phillips, who is the heir to the locally well-known Phillips Distilling Company and the grandson of famous advice columnist Pauline Phillips (AKA Dear Abby), as well as a potential self-funder.
● MT-AL: This seems like the kind of revealing mistake that could be incredibly damaging. Publicly, wealthy Republican businessman Greg Gianforte has kept his distance from the health care repeal bill the caucus he's looking to join just passed last week, but privately, it turns out he's said something quite different. Here's the mealy-mouthed hedge his campaign's been offering up:
"Greg has repeatedly said he will not support a bill until he knows it reduces premiums, preserves rural access and protects Montanans with pre-existing conditions."
But here's Gianforte himself, on a phone call with GOP-friendly lobbyists the very day the AHCA passed:
"The votes in the House are going to determine whether we get tax reform done, sounds like we just passed a health care thing, which I'm thankful for, sounds like we're starting to repeal and replace."
This is the kind of flub that you'd have thought modern politics—what with its widely available audio recording technology and all—would have more or less eliminated, but perhaps Gianforte is unfamiliar with such marvels. (He did, after all, make a major donation to a creationist museum that tells visitors that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time.) We'll have to see, though, if Gianforte's Democratic opponent, musician Rob Quist, can draw any blood.
Meanwhile, a new poll from Garin-Hart-Yang does indeed confirm GOP Sen. Steve Daines' recent claim that the race is in "single digits," though it's not necessarily the best of news for Quist. The survey finds Gianforte up 49-43, which puts him awfully close to outright victory if it's accurate—and in this case, that's a particularly big "if."
The reason has to do with the electorate the poll examined. GHY's client in this case was the Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC that supports Democrats who, obviously, are running for Senate. In this case, SMP was undoubtedly interested in checking in on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, who's up for re-election next year, so GHY naturally tested "midterm election voters." But the Montana special election is in just two weeks, and the voters who show up then could look very different from what we see in November of 2018.
It's certainly possible, though, that this could actually work in Quist's favor, since we know Democrats are unusually fired up throughout the country thanks to Donald Trump. But that's a tricky thing to guess at, and we're better off waiting for polls that actually try to survey the special election voter pool.
● NJ-07: National Democrats haven't seriously targeted Republican Rep. Leonard Lance since Republicans redrew his northern New Jersey district to become redder in redistricting ahead of 2012, but after the extremely well-educated suburban seat flipped from 52-46 Romney to 48-46 Clinton, Team Blue might be giving it a second look. Lance himself won by a relatively modest 54-43 against Bernie Sanders-endorsed social worker Peter Jacob last year, and he recently voted against the House's Trumpcare bill, an indication that he might indeed be feeling vulnerable in 2018.
NJ.com reports that Jacob has filed to run again and said back in February that he was "pretty positive" he would launch a campaign, although there has been no official announcement since then. Additionally, teacher Lisa Mandelblatt, attorney Scott Salmon, and bank vice president Linda Weber are also all running. Although those latter three are each first-time candidates whose skills as candidates are unknown, Mandelblatt and Salmon have both previously worked on other campaigns.
● NJ-11: Longtime senior Democratic Assemblyman John McKeon hadn't ruled out a bid against Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen back in March, and on Saturday he did little to hide his interest when he tweeted out a New York Times story with an excerpt about how Democrats are "wooing" him to run. Like other New Jersey legislators interested in higher office, McKeon might just not want to say anything more direct until after his re-election bid is over this November.
Frelinghuysen comes from a legendary political family and chairs the House Appropriations Committee, so the 12-term incumbent will be a well-funded and formidable foe in this expensive and historically Republican seat. However, after the Morris County-centered 11th swung from 52-47 Romney to 49-48 Trump and Frelinghuysen recently flip-flopped to support the House GOP's health care bill, Democrats might find him to be a much more appealing target in 2018 than in previous elections.
● NY-11: Retired professional boxer Boyd Melson recently announced that he intends to challenge Republican Rep. Dan Donovan as a Democrat in 2018 in the Staten Island-based 11th District. Melson also serves as a captain in the Army Reserves, does work as a motivational speaker, and is involved with various charitable activities, which could mean the first-time candidate has the skills and connections needed to wage a strong campaign.
Donovan trounced an unheralded Democratic foe in 2016 as this historically Republican seat returned to its roots at the top of the ticket, flipping from 52-47 Obama all the way to 54-44 Trump, meaning he likely will be tough to dislodge. Another potential impediment to Melson's candidacy is that he currently lives in Manhattan, although he originally hails from Brooklyn, which makes up roughly just one-third of the district compared to Staten Island. Republicans have previously capitalized on Staten Island's notoriously parochial politics against recent Brooklyn-based Democratic nominees.
● NY-19: Republican Rep. John Faso dispatched stalwart progressive Democrat Zephyr Teachout by a surprisingly solid 54-46 margin in a heavily contested race to win his first term in 2016 as this Hudson Valley district flipped from 52-46 Obama to 51-44 Trump, but Democrats are optimistic that Trump's struggles and Faso's support for the GOP's unpopular health care bill will leave him vulnerable in 2018. A former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Gareth Rhodes became the latest and so far most prominent Democrat to jump into the race. Reportedly well-connected in New York politics, the 30-year-old Rhodes is currently a Harvard Law student, but says he plans to take a leave of absence to return to the district where he grew up in order to campaign.
A couple of other Democrats are also already running or eying a campaign against Faso. Businessman Brian Flynn entered the race a few months ago and had raised $175,000 in the first quarter, while attorney Antonio Delgado launched an exploratory committee and had already raised $301,000 as of the end of March.
● NY-24: Last cycle, New York Republican Rep. John Katko decisively won his second term 60-39 in a race that attracted spending from national groups on both sides, even as Trump was narrowly losing this Syracuse-based seat 49-45. However, while Katko voted against Trumpcare on Thursday, national Democrats hope the unpopular bill will hurt him in his competitive seat.
Last cycle, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner considered running but decided to stay put. Miner is termed-out this year, however, and she seems interested in being on the 2018 ballot. A month ago, the Times Union's Chris Bragg reported that Miner was being encouraged to run for the state Senate against a local member of the GOP-aligned Independent Democratic Conference. However, the New York Times' recently reported that state and national Democrats have approached Miner about challenging Katko. It's unclear how interested Miner is, though she did tell the Times that the energy in the 24th Congressional District "is much, much different" than it was in 2016, so it sounds like she's thinking about it.
● NY-27: New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins has been one of Trump's most avid supporters in the House, and it's tough to see him losing his 60-35 Trump Buffalo-area seat under any circumstances. Still, Collins seems intent to find out just how safe he actually is. Collins has championed Trumpcare, and he drew bad headlines at home when he went on CNN and admitted he hadn't actually read the whole bill. Collins made things worse when the Buffalo News asked him if he was aware that Trumpcare would severely cut New York's Essential Health Plan and he responded, "Explain that to me."
It's going to most likely take a perfect storm to make Collins vulnerable in an area this red, and Democrats need to find a viable candidate. There's probably only one person who could give him a tough general election, and the New York Times reports that she is indeed being "approached by supporters" about a campaign. Kathy Hochul pulled off an improbable 2011 special election win for the previous version of this seat, and after redistricting gave her a seat that was almost half new to her, she lost to Collins just 51-49 as Mitt Romney was winning the 27th Congressional District 55-43.
Hochul was elected lieutenant governor in 2014, and she has yet to say anything publicly about her interest in seeking a rematch with Collins instead of running for re-election next year. However, Hochul has taken shots at her old rival throughout the healthcare debate, and after Trumpcare passed the House on Thursday, she took another swipe at him.
Hochul should have little trouble winning re-election next year if she decides to stay on the ticket with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and running for Congress would definitely be a huge risk for her. Lieutenant governor of New York isn't a particularly powerful post, but Hochul would get a huge promotion if Cuomo left early for whatever reason. And if Cuomo retired in 2022, a Lt. Gov. Hochul would be a contender to succeed him. Still, nothing is guaranteed, and Hochul would almost certainly face a tough primary for the governor's office.
If Hochul is truly interested in facing off with her old nemesis Collins, she may be able to dust off the playbook she used in 2011. Hochul focused her attention on then-House Budget Chair Paul Ryan's draconian budget, and framed the race as a battle to protect Medicare. Jane Corwin, the Republican Hochul defeated 47-42, couldn't come up with a compelling counter-message, and Collins seems even less capable.
Hochul addressed the speculation over the weekend, but while she doesn't sound incredibly excited about running against Collins, she didn't exactly say no. Hochul told Spectrum News that "It is flattering, there is speculation in the New York Times that my supporters would like me to run, but I have to say that representing the entire state, including my home base of Western New York has been a privilege and I really want to continue doing that work." That's a statement that feels less Shermanesque than Sinemaesque.
● OK-01: Another Republican has jumped in the race to succeed Rep. Jim Bridenstine in this safely red Tulsa seat. The newest contender is state Sen. Nathan Dahm, whom the Tulsa World's Randy Krehbiel describes as "probably best-known to the public for sponsoring legislation on guns and abortion." In 2010, Dahm ran for this seat by challenging Rep. John Sullivan in the primary and grabbed third place with 14 percent of the vote, far behind Sullivan's 62 percent; two years later, Bridenstine successfully beat Sullivan, while Dahm won elected office for the first time. Dahm joins former Army intelligence officer Andy Coleman, businessman Kevin Hern, and ex-Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris in the primary.
● SC-05: On Monday, ex-state Republican Party Chair Chad Connelly endorsed ex-state Rep. Ralph Norman ahead of next week's primary runoff. State House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope narrowly led Norman 31 to 30 in the first round of the primary last week, with Connelly taking fourth place with 14 percent. The endorsement isn't a surprise, since Connelly and Norman both hail from the tea party friendly wing of the party while Pope is close to business groups. South Carolina Guard Commander Tom Mullikin, who took 20 percent of the vote, has yet to back anyone.
● UT-03: State House Speaker Greg Hughes never sounded very likely to run in this dark-red Provo-area district to succeed Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a fellow Republican, though he previously said he wasn't "a firm no." Well, Hughes is now a firm no.
● El Paso, TX Mayor: Mayor Oscar Leeser, a Democrat, announced last year that he would not seek a second term, and the non-partisan primary to replace him was held on Saturday. While El Paso is reliably blue in state elections, two candidates who identify as Republicans advanced to the June 10 runoff.
Dee Margo, who was elected to his single term in the Texas state House in 2010 before being ousted two years later, took first with 45 percent of the vote. After his defeat, Margo was appointed president of the El Paso Independent School District after the state suspended the elected school board following a cheating scandal.
David Saucedo, the owner of a locksmith company, defeated city Rep. Emma Acosta 24-16 for the second runoff spot in what the El Paso Times characterized as a sign that voters "wanted a change in city leadership." According to El Paso Inc, Saucedo is also a Republican. Saucedo distanced himself from other Texas Republicans and argued he was running on a "populist platform," explaining that "Trump is a populist Republican and Bernie is a populist independent, and I am a populist El Pasoan."
The major issues in the runoff contest are likely to be the city's budget woes, a controversial downtown arena, and border security. During the primary, Margo's opponents attacked him for voting for the 2011 state budget that made huge cuts to public education, though it's unclear if this did him any real damage.
● San Antonio, TX Mayor: America's seventh-most populous city held its non-partisan primary on Saturday, and Mayor Ivy Taylor and city Councilman Ron Nirenberg will fight it out in the June 10 runoff. Taylor led Nirenberg 42-37, while Bexar County Democratic Party head Manuel Medina took third place with 15 percent.
Taylor and Medina both identify as Democrats while Nirenberg doesn't align with either party. However, as we've noted before, this contest doesn't break down well along party lines. Taylor is an ardent social conservative who has a solid base of support in the conservative North Side, while Nirenberg, who has emphasized ethics reform and public transit, appeals more to liberal voters. And despite his post as a local Democratic leader, Medina ran a Trumpesque campaign that attracted support from some local prominent fiscal conservatives. Medina railed against six bond issues on the mayoral ballot that totaled to $850 million, which voters overwhelmingly approved on Saturday, and even tweeted out, "DRAIN THE LOCAL SWAMP!"
This contest briefly attracted national attention in the final weeks when a video of Taylor declaring that the "deepest systemic causes of generational poverty" are "broken people" who are not "in relationship with their Creator" surfaced from a forum a few weeks earlier. The event's moderator, San Antonio Express-News columnist Gilbert Garcia, argued that Taylor wasn't attacking atheists, though he agrees that even at the time, "it sounded like she was blaming the victims for their own hardships." Still, the event doesn't seem to have done much to spike turnout. Turnout in Bexar County was 11 percent, barely better than El Paso County's 8 percent.
● Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso checks in on Tuesday's contest in Oklahoma:
Oklahoma HD-28: This is an open Republican seat containing parts of Pottawatomie and Seminole Counties, located east of Oklahoma City. The candidates are Democrat Steve Barnes, an attorney; Republican Zach Taylor, an oil and gas operator; and Libertarian Cody Presley, a municipal employee. This seat went 69-31 for Mitt Romney in 2012, while Daily Kos Elections' preliminary numbers have Donald Trump winning 73-23 here.
● International Digest: Europe and the world are breathing a sigh of relief after France has finally elected its next president in one of 2017's marquee international elections. Centrist Emmanuel Macron trounced far-right Marine Le Pen by a 66-34 landslide, exceeding the polls as French voters emphatically rejected Le Pen's brand of Putin-friendly Islamophobic authoritarian nationalism. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has decided to hold early parliamentary elections in June, Turkey slid further away from democracy in a pivotal referendum, and South Korea will soon choose its next president. See all these stories and more in the May edition of Daily Kos Elections' International Digest.
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.