● AL-Gov, AL-Sen: Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley's long-running sex scandal finally came to an end on Monday, when he resigned from office. Bentley, a Republican who was facing almost-certain impeachment and conviction at the hands of his state's GOP-dominated legislature, reportedly made his move as part of a deal with prosecutors. And adding to the indignity, Bentley was also booked at the Montgomery County jail on two misdemeanor charges related to using his campaign contributions for his own gain, and failing to report contributions. Bentley's deal supposedly required him to resign and never again hold public office, as well as plead guilty to both misdemeanors.
Bentley's departure puts Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, a fellow Republican, in the governor's office. Ivey will serve the rest of Bentley's term, which ends in early 2019, and she may run in her own right next year, when Bentley otherwise would have been term-limited out of office. Bentley's fall, though, may not just affect next year's gubernatorial race. It could also spell trouble for Sen. Luther Strange, whom Bentley recently appointed to the U.S. Senate to replace now-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. We have a lot to discuss in this long, sordid saga, so strap in.
We'll start back in 2014, when Bentley won re-election with ease and looked like he had little to worry about politically in this very red state. But in 2015, First Lady Dianne Bentley shocked Alabama's political establishment when she filed for divorce after 50 years of marriage, and rumors immediately sprang up that the governor had been carrying on an affair with an influential staffer named Rebekah Mason. Soon after, two Republicans state legislators asked Strange, who at the time was the state's attorney general, to investigate whether Bentley had used state resources to conceal his relationship with Mason.
The story soon faded from the headlines, but it clawed its way back with a vengeance in March of last year, when some very not-safe-for-work audio recordings of Bentley and Mason that were recorded by Dianne Bentley were leaked. The governor conceded that he was the man on tape, but he denied anything "physical" had happened between him and Mason.
However, the man Bentley had just fired as the state's chief law enforcement officer, Spencer Collier, quickly turned up the heat. Collier claimed that the governor had leased private planes to avoid having to list Mason's name on the passenger manifests (as he would have to if he used state planes) and alleged that Bentley asked him to lie in a separate, unrelated investigation.
Soon thereafter, the Alabama Ethics Commission announced that it would investigate Bentley, while GOP state Rep. Ed Henry filed articles of impeachment. However, while Bentley had few allies in the legislature, especially after he passed a huge tax hike to close a budget deficit, impeachment proceedings were slow to get off the ground.
Bentley also got some outside help in staving off his judgment day. Just before Election Day last November, Strange sent a letter to the state legislature, asking it to halt its inquiry into Bentley's activities "until I am able to report to you that the necessary related work of my office has been completed." Lawmakers did as Strange asked, explaining in a responsive letter of their own that the attorney general was conducting "a separate investigation of the governor"—a characterization Strange didn't dispute.
But after Donald Trump unexpectedly won the presidency and nominated Sessions to serve as his attorney general, Strange's calculations seemed to change, since he coveted an appointment to Sessions' Senate seat—to which Bentley alone held the keys.
Strange understood, though, that accepting an appointment from the guy he was investigating would look bad, so in late December, he belatedly insisted that he never actually said he was investigating the governor, and claimed he had only asked the legislature to suspend its impeachment proceedings because there were "some common players involved" in another investigation.
Strange got his appointment to the Senate, and Bentley named prosecutor Steve Marshall to replace him. Marshall soon acknowledged that the state attorney general's office had been looking into Bentley all along, and Strange soon admitted that yeah, he was investigating Bentley when, in a perfectly Trumpian display of ethics, he accepted that juicy Senate appointment from him.
Bentley went ahead and scheduled the special election for the final two years of Sessions' term for November of 2018, and Strange will need to face primary voters come June. A number of fellow Republicans have already complained about the circumstances of Strange's elevation to the Senate, and in a state that's seen more than its share of corruption in recent years, Strange could be vulnerable.
But Bentley's problems remained much more immediate and dire. Last week, the ethics commission found that there was probable cause that Bentley had violated campaign finance and ethics laws by allegedly using state money "to further his personal interest" and referred his case to the Montgomery County district attorney's office. Both of the state's top legislative leaders publicly called for the governor to resign—and that was all before, Jack Sharman, the special counsel hired by the House Judiciary Committee to oversee its probe of Bentley, released his bombshell report on Friday.
The report not only included page after page of Bentley and Mason's amorous texts to one another, including the revelation that the governor had once answered the door at his D.C. hotel in his boxers under the mistaken belief that Mason was on the other side. Collier also testified that Bentley had told him to "be prepared to arrest" people who possessed recordings of those explicit conversation with Mason. Heather Hannah, the chief of staff to Dianne Bentley, also testified that the governor had tried to intimidate her to keep the recording under wraps, and sought to punish her for testifying. The report further said that Bentley had used state personnel to try to find the audio. Well, it got found, alright.
On Monday, the first day of the House Judiciary Committee's hearings, everything came to a head. Throughout the day, reports came that Bentley would resign before the week was out. But it was still a surprise when Bentley was booked first. However, Bentley resigned as part of his deal before the end of Monday, and Ivey became governor.
Bentley's political life is over, but Ivey's 2018 fate is up in the air. A number of Republicans have been preparing to run for governor next year, but now that Ivey is the incumbent, it may be a while before things come into focus. Alabama elects governors and lieutenant governors separately, so voters may not punish Ivey for Bentley's sins. Ivey did alienate Republicans after presiding over the collapse of the state's Prepaid Affordable College Tuition program during her tenure as state treasurer. Still, Alabama's second female governor is reportedly respected in the state capitol, so power players may give her a chance.
Bentley's resignation ends one of the most chaotic and messy chapters in Alabama politics, but for Ivey, Strange, and plenty of other politicians, the 2018 cycle is only beginning.
● IN-Sen: Joe Donnelly (D-inc): $1.3 million raised, $2.5 million cash-on-hand
● PA-Sen: Bob Casey (D-inc): $2.7 million raised, $3.8 million cash-on-hand
● TX-Sen: Ted Cruz (R-inc): $1.7 million raised, $5.2 million cash-on-hand
● VA-Sen: Tim Kaine (D-inc): $2.9 million raised, $5.5 million cash-on-hand
● VA-Gov: Ralph Northam (D): $1.5 million raised (in 46 days), $3.3 million cash-on-hand
● CT-Sen: Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy appears strongly favored to win a second term in 2018 thanks in large part to Connecticut's decidedly blue lean at the federal level. Republicans lack a bench of any House members or statewide officials who could run, but the state GOP chairman is reportedly trying to recruit former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson into the race, and her spokesperson didn't quite rule anything out. Carlson was one of the Fox's stars until being forced out in 2016. She subsequently sued network founder Roger Ailes for sexual harassment, leading to a torrent of other allegations against him, his eventual resignation as CEO, and a $20 million dollar settlement, so Carlson likely has some name recognition with Republican primary voters.
Former professional wrestling magnate and now-Small Business Administration chief Linda McMahon spent over $100 million of her own money on two failed bids as Team Red's standard bearer in 2010 and 2012, so another run by a conservative quasi-celebrity wouldn't be that unusual. However, liberal-leaning ex-GOP Sen. Lowell Weicker was the last Republican to win a Senate race in the Nutmeg State all the way back in 1982, and that streak seems unlikely to end regardless of whom Republicans nominate against Murphy.
● MO-Sen: Sen. Claire McCaskill is likely one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents heading into the 2018 elections after Donald Trump carried Missouri by 56-38 last year. Republican state Attorney General Josh Hawley only assumed office in January, but several prominent Republicans have signed an open letter calling for him to run, including former Sen. John Danforth, ex-Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, and mega-donor David Humphries. Via a statement, Hawley refused to rule anything out, saying "It is far too early to be thinking about any future election with so much pressing work to do." That's not a no, of course, and it's exactly the sort of thing a prospective candidate will say if they're trying not to appear too eager to seek a promotion so soon after taking office.
Many observers see three-term GOP Rep. Ann Wagner as a likely candidate, although she hasn't said anything publicly beyond refusing to rule out the race. Wagner's history as a former RNC co-chair and NRCC deputy chair means she should have no trouble raising money for what could become a very expensive race, but it's noteworthy that prominent Republicans appear to favor Hawley instead despite his much shorter tenure in public office. Indeed, Hawley himself benefitted from his ties to Wagner when she helped him raise money from D.C. Republicans during last year's attorney general primary, so his possible candidacy would be quite the rebuke to his one-time ally.
● PA-Sen: On Friday, GOP state Rep. Jim Christiana announced that he would challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. Christiana drew some attention from GOP leaders when he was first elected to the legislature in 2008 in his mid-20s. However, it remains to be seen if he has the connections to raise the type of money he'll need to be competitive in this very expensive state. Fellow Western Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone is also in, while a few other Republicans, most notably Trumpesque Rep. Mike Kelly, are considering.
● UT-Sen: Longtime Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch has said several times before that he was leaning toward seeking an eighth term in 2018, but he has refused to issue an ironclad declaration. On Monday, Hatch inched a little closer to a firm statement, asserting that "right now, yes, I'm going to run," but that he could still reverse course "if my wife gets sick, or I get sick, or something like that." That's somewhat firmer than Hatch's past comments, but it still isn't as definitive if he had said "I'm running" without qualification.
If the 83-year-old does decide to finally hang it up, there will undoubtedly be a flood of interest to succeed him in this deeply red state. Indeed, it's possible Hatch himself could just be jockeying to get an acceptable successor into place before pulling the plug on re-election. Hatch said recently that he might step aside if the "perfect" replacement would run, like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is reportedly considering the race. As the first Mormon major-party presidential nominee, Romney would likely be a popular option with Utah's GOP primary voters even though he had only previously won elected office in Massachusetts.
While Hatch would be a formidable candidate for renomination as the longtime incumbent, even that would be no guarantee. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman and World Trade Center Utah leader Derek Miller have both previously said that they were considering the race, and the Beehive State certainly doesn't lack for ambitious Republicans, many of whom might feel that Hatch's four decades in the Senate are more than enough.
● AK-Gov: Gov. Bill Walker was a former Republican who left the party to successfully run for governor in 2014 as an independent with the support of Democrats, but after tumbling oil prices forced a severe state budgetary crisis, he hasn't committed to running for a second term in 2018. We now have a new name as a possible challenger: Republican state Sen. Mike Dunleavy, who recently left the GOP majority caucus over his opposition to their budget plan. Dunleavy rejected the notion that this move precipitated a run for governor, but he also refused to rule out a campaign as well. Given Alaska's typical red lean and Walker's struggles, we can likely expect more potential challengers to surface too.
● AZ-Gov: Gov. Doug Ducey doesn't look like one of the more vulnerable Republican governors up next year, but Democrats would love to score a big win in this light-red state. Last week, Ducey signed a bill that expands eligibility for school vouchers, and that seems to have motivated Arizona State University professor David Garcia to oppose him. Garcia spoke against Ducey's move, and reporter Brahm Resnik says that Garcia is planning to announce he's in this week.
Garcia ran for school superintendent in 2014 and narrowly lost to Republican Diane Douglas. 2014 was a horrible year for Democrats almost everywhere, but Resnik says that Garcia's defeat surprised local Democrats, who felt Douglas was weak. State Sen. Steve Farley has also expressed interest in challenging Ducey, the wealthy former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery, and Farley said back in February that he'd decide "probably fairly soon" after Arizona's legislative session ends on April 22.
● CO-Gov: Two more Colorado Democrats have kicked off bids to succeed termed-out Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper. On Sunday, Rep. Ed Perlmutter announced he was in, and ex-state Treasurer Cary Kennedy jumped in the next day. Two other Democrats have been running for months: Ex-state Sen. Mike Johnston reported raising a credible $625,000, while businessman Noel Ginsburg's fundraising or self-funding capabilities are still unknown.
Perlmutter was first elected to the House during the 2006 Democratic wave in what was a competitive suburban Denver seat. Perlmutter decisively won re-election during the 2010 GOP wave, which was no small accomplishment, and he hasn't been seriously challenged since then. Kennedy also first won her office in 2006, but she narrowly lost re-election four years later to Republican Walker Stapleton, who is also a potential gubernatorial candidate. Kennedy went on to serve as Denver's chief financial officer and deputy mayor.
It may be a while before the Democratic field is set. Wealthy Rep. Jared Polis is considering getting in, and he recently said that a serious contender would need to decide by the summer. State Department of Regulatory Agencies Executive Director Joe Neguse, who lost a close 2014 bid for secretary of state, is also reportedly considering. Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne has also been repeatedly mentioned as a possible candidate, though she seems to be keeping her plans to herself. However, we can cross one possible Democratic candidate off the list. While state Sen. Michael Merrifield expressed interest in running last year, he's said little since. Merrifield appeared at Perlmutter's kickoff, so he's presumably decided not to run. The GOP has their own crowded primary for governor.
● IA-Gov: On Monday, ex-state Democratic Party Chair Andy McGuire announced that she would run for governor. McGuire, who stressed her background as a medical doctor and time as a health management executive, entered the race with endorsements from ex-Rep. Leonard Boswell and longtime state Senate Democratic leader Mike Gronstal, who lost re-election last year; Gronstal was mentioned as a potential candidate last year, but he never showed any interest publicly.
McGuire is well-connected, and she should be able to raise a credible amount of money. But several Iowa Democrats are not happy with her from her tenure as state chair. McGuire angered Bernie Sanders supporters during last year's tight presidential caucus over her perceived favoritism for Hillary Clinton (notably, McGuire drove a car with "HRC 2016" license plates). In January, prominent labor leader Danny Homan also publicly blamed McGuire for the party's poor showing last year.
In the Democratic primary, McGuire joins ex-Department of Natural Resources head Rich Leopold and ex-Des Moines School Board President Jonathan Neiderbach, who lost the 2014 general election for state auditor 57-43. However, state Rep. Todd Prichard, a veteran who also has the support of some influential Iowa Democrats, has set up an exploratory committee and sounds likely to run, while other Iowa Democrats are considering. There's a good chance that McGuire will be the only female candidate on the ballot, which could be a huge asset especially in a crowded field.
Under Iowa's current election law, if no one takes more than 35 percent of the vote in a primary, the nomination will be decided by a convention of party delegates. However, the state Senate recently unanimously passed a bill that would instead require a runoff if no one cleared 35 percent.
● IL-Gov: This week, Democratic state Rep. Scott Drury expressed interest in joining the crowded and expensive primary to face GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner. This year, Drury was the one Democrat to vote against giving powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan another term, essentially ensuring that he won't have any support from the state's powerful Democratic establishment.
In his email to supporters announcing his interest, Drury also came out swinging against Madigan, who is also the head of the state party, declaring that "Rauner's approval rating is dreadful, and Mike Madigan's is even worse," and that his vote against the speaker "represented the majority view of Democrats, Republicans and Independents, alike. While entrenched politicians did not like my actions, I sided with the public." That could be a winning message in a primary and in a general election, but Drury is going to need a lot of resources to broadcast it, and it's unclear if there are enough Madigan detractors on the left to help him gain traction.
● OK-Gov: GOP Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb has made it no secret that he's interested in running to succeed termed-out fellow Republican Gov. Mary Fallin. Lamb filed papers with the state last week to set up a campaign account, though he insists that he's still "strongly considering." Lamb is unlikely to have the field to himself if he makes his bid official. Wealthy attorney Gary Richardson has also filed to run, and he says he'll make his decision in a few weeks. State Auditor Gary Jones is also considering and says he'll decide "by summer," though he doesn't seem incredibly enthusiastic.
● TN-Gov: On Friday, the White House announced that GOP state Sen. Mark Green had been nominated to become secretary of the Army. Green had been running for governor of Tennessee, but unless his nomination fails in the U.S. Senate, we can take him off the candidate list.
● CO-07: With Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter leaving Congress to run for governor (see our CO-Gov item), local politicians are eyeing his open suburban Denver district. This seat, which includes the communities of Arvada, Westminster, and Lakewood (the home of the real-life Casa Bonita, Eric Cartman's favorite restaurant on South Park), was competitive territory when Perlmutter first was elected in 2006. The area has become much more Democratic since then, and the 7th District backed Hillary Clinton 51-39, a small drop from Obama's 56-41 win four years before. The 7th did back Republican Cynthia Coffman 47-45 while she was winning the 2014 attorney general race 51-42 statewide, but it also supported Democratic Sen. Mark Udall 50-43 while he was losing re-election 48-46 that year, so it will take a lot to turn it red in 2018.
Two Democratic state legislators made it clear that they were looking at this seat if Perlmutter didn't seek re-election, and they both quickly announced. State Rep. Brittany Pettersen, who serves as majority whip, kicked off her bid hours after Perlmutter made his intentions public. State Sen. Andy Kerr, who won a tight race to keep his seat during the 2014 GOP wave, also confirmed he was running.
There are plenty of other Democrats who could get in here. State
Rep. Sen. Dominick Moreno told the Colorado Statesman that, in the words of reporter Ernest Luning, he was "strongly leaning toward a run and will announce plans in a couple weeks." Colorado Politics says that state Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp is considering, though she hasn't said anything publicly. Roll Call also says that ex-state Sen. Jessie Ulibarri could be interested, but he also hasn't said anything.
The GOP won't have an easy time flipping this seat, though Perlmutter's departure could give them as good an opening as they've had in 12 years. 2014 GOP nominee Don Ytterberg, who served as Jefferson County Republican Party chair, is considering another go, but his 55-45 loss wasn't impressive. Roll Call's Simone Pathé reports that Jefferson County Commissioner Libby Szabo has national Republicans excited, and they believe she could win over local Hispanic voters. Pathé also says that state Rep. Lang Sias is looking at running, though neither Szabo nor Sias has said anything about their plans yet.
Colorado Politics' Peter Marcus says that businessman Jerry Natividad is considering, though he also hasn't said anything yet. Natividad, who served on Mitt Romney's Hispanic leadership team in 2012, is a self-described moderate, which wasn't an asset during his 2016 Senate bid. Natividad did not get nearly enough support from GOP delegates to advance out of the state convention, which ended his campaign before the primary. Pathé also speculates that ex-Aurora City Councilor Ryan Frazier could run again. Frazier was once a rising star in the state GOP, but he lost to Perlmutter 53-42 during the 2010 GOP wave. Frazier lost a bid for mayor the next year, and he won just 9 percent of the vote in the 2016 Senate primary.
● HI-02: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard firmly established herself as a stooge for murderous Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad when she secretly visited his regime in January and came back spouting pro-Assad nonsense that blamed Syria's brutal civil war on the U.S. Now she's descended fully into the land of lunatic conspiracy theories to try to take the heat off her favorite dictator, claiming she's "skeptical" that Assad was responsible for using poison gas against his citizens. Whatever you think about how the U.S. should respond to this attack, this is an insane thing to say.
And it seems like Hawaii Democrats may finally have had enough of Gabbard's nonsense: For the first time, we're hearing about potential primary challengers. Honolulu Civil Beat's Chad Blair reports that state Reps. Chris Lee and Kaniela Ing "are among the names bandied about" as potential opponents to Gabbard, "whose shine has been dulled by all that business with Syria."
And it's more than just Syria: Gabbard has put together a bizarre crypto-conservative profile that mixes Islamophobia, isolationism, and a soft spot for assault weapons, Sheldon Adelson, and Donald Trump. While Gabbard comfortably won a primary last year and has long been assumed to be popular, any Democrat in a dark blue seat like this one who refuses to stand up to Trump is courting political oblivion.
So far, neither Lee nor Ing appear to have said anything publicly (and maybe not even privately), but it's good to see the conversation advancing. It's important, though, that progressives unite around a single challenger to avoid splitting the anti-Gabbard vote. If they can, then she could be very vulnerable.
● IA-01: Democratic state Rep. Abby Finkenauer has been talking about challenging sophomore GOP Rep. Rod Blum for a while, and she set up a campaign with the FEC over the weekend. Finkenauer tells the Des Moines Register that she's still considering whether to run, and "will spend the next few weeks" talking to her family and Iowans in the district. Several other Democrats have talked about facing Blum in this northeastern Iowa seat, which swung from 56-43 Obama to 49-45 Trump.
● IL-03: Marketing consultant Marie Newman formed an exploratory committee last month to scope out a potential primary challenge against Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress relative to his district, and she announced on Monday she would run. Newman, who has ties to anti-Trump groups like Indivisible, made it clear from the onset that she would challenge Lipinski from the left, noting that he was one of the few remaining Democrats to vote against Obamacare in 2010. Illinois' 3rd District, which includes part of Chicago and some of its southwestern suburbs, backed Barack Obama 56-43 and supported Hillary Clinton 55-40.
Newman has plenty of other things to attack Lipinski on. As recently as 2014, Lipinski responded to a candidate questionnaire by saying that he would support an amendment in the constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Lipinski hasn't gotten any better in the age of Trump: This year alone, Lipinski was one of just three Democrats who voted in favor of a GOP bill to ban federal funding for abortion services. Lipinski has also voted to overturn an Obama-era Health and Human Services rule that prevented states from withholding funds to Planned Parenthood and other healthcare groups that also provide abortions.
And it turns out, Lipinski found a way earlier this month to be even worse than we already thought. Last week, prominent local and state Democrats made a serious move to oust Republican Roger Claar, the longtime mayor of the village of Bolingbrook. Claar attracted progressive scorn when he hosted a fundraiser for none other than Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, and Sen. Dick Durbin and several labor groups lined up behind Democrat Jackie Traynere. However, Claar appears to have won re-election by only about 100 votes. And according to the local tipsheet Capitol Fax, Lipinski sent some of his precinct workers to help Claar, a move that could have made all the difference in this tight race.
But as we've noted before, beating Lipinksi won't be easy. Back in 2008, Lipinski faced a well-funded primary challenge from Mark Pera, but Lipinski defeated him 54-25. Lipinski has been an ally of Chicago's powerful Democratic machine, and he's also close to local labor groups. Lipinski and his father Bill Lipinski have represented this area for a combined 18 terms, and plenty of voters are still loyal to the family. There are also still many local Democratic primary voters who share Lipinski's views on abortion and won't see them as a liability at all. It's also possible that more Democrats will run and split the anti-Lipinski vote enough to let the incumbent win with just a plurality. Still, at a time when progressives are fired up against the Trump administration and looking to oppose Democrats who cooperate with it, primary voters may be a lot less interested in ignoring Lipinski's apostasies than they have been in the past.
● MN-02: Republican Rep. Jason Lewis just narrowly won his initial election 47-45 in 2016 over Democratic former health care executive Angie Craig, disappointing Democrats who had hoped to capitalize on Lewis' history of extremely repugnant comments from his tenure as a conservative radio host. Undeterred, Craig said last week that she is "strongly considering" running again in 2018 and will likely decide sometime this summer, while the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune reports that she is indeed leaning toward another run.
Craig was a wealthy first-time candidate who raised a considerable amount of money, partly through substantial self-funding, which could be a valuable asset if she seeks the Democratic nomination a second time. Located in the suburbs south of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Trump won this seat 47-45 just like Lewis did, which probably helped pull the latter over the finish line, but it's likely the kind of historically GOP suburban swing district that Democrats will need if they're to flip the House next year.
● MN-07: Rep. Collin Peterson is almost certainly the one Democrat who can hold this rural seat, which went from a tough 54-44 Romney to a brutal 62-31 Trump. Peterson, who will be 74 on Election Day, recently said he wasn't sure if he'd run next year, though he added that he's "actually having fun" in Congress, so he "might hang around." Peterson's office says the congressman will decide early next year, but the GOP isn't waiting that long. Last week, state Rep. Tim Miller kicked off his campaign, and other Republicans may be interested regardless of what Peterson does.
● MT-AL: Democratic nominee Rob Quist is out with his third TV ad ahead of the May 25 special election, which hits the same economic-populist themes as the previous two. Quist appears with his trademark guitar and cowboy hat to bash the "300 millionaires" in Congress who just want to cut taxes for the rich, sell off Montana's public lands to developers, and turn Social Security over to Wall Street. There's no word on the size of the buy.
● PA-07: Republican Rep. Pat Meehan has never won by less than 19 points after his party heavily gerrymandered the Philadelphia suburbs-based 7th District to protect him following his initial 2010 victory. However, Hillary Clinton's 49-47 edge in this highly educated seat make it a tempting reach target for Team Blue if they hope to retake the House in 2018, especially if Trump sparks a backlash against Republicans downballot, and Democratic lawyer Dan Muroff has announced he will challenge Meehan. Muroff is the 9th Ward party leader in Philadelphia and took 10 percent in the crowded 2nd District primary in 2016, but he says he will move into the 7th District to run there instead next year.
Meanwhile, bioengineer Molly Sheehan entered the race for the Democratic nomination in the 7th on Monday as well. Sheehan is a political novice, but she has ties to 314 Action, a political committee founded by former 8th District Democratic candidate and chemist Shaughnessy Naughton to encourage more scientists to run for office against anti-science Republicans. It remains to be seen whether the first-time candidate has the necessary skills to run against an entrenched incumbent, but she wasted no time trying to tie Meehan to Trump, who is likely not too popular here.
● Omaha, NE Mayor: Last week, Republican incumbent Jean Stothert outpolled Democrat Heath Mello, a former state senator, just 43.7-41.4 in the non-partisan primary, foreshadowing a competitive May 9 general election. Taylor Royal, a 27-year-old Republican whose father gave his campaign $240,000, took 11 percent, and he threw his support behind Stothert on Monday. Royal attacked both candidates for not supporting Donald Trump enough, so it's possible his voters were more inclined to back another Republican like Stothert.
● International: Voters in the Netherlands resoundingly rejected the far-right in widely anticipated March parliamentary elections, but record political fragmentation and the mainstream right's overtures toward nativism make it an open question just what sort of victory they won. Meanwhile, South Korea will hold its presidential election in May after removing its embattled president from office over corruption, while Ecuador's leftists narrowly retained power in their own recent presidential race. Check out these stories and more in the April edition of the Daily Kos Elections International Digest, which covers key electoral developments around the globe.
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.