● MT-AL: Well, this is interesting. None other than Mike Pence is headed to Montana in the coming week to stump on behalf of Republican Greg Gianforte, according to Sen. Steve Daines in a call with Gianforte's financial backers. The Washington Post's Dave Weigel suggests that Pence's trip is a signal that Republicans are "[b]roadcasting confidence," but usually bringing out the big guns in a race you ought to be winning handily is anything but.
What's more, on the same call (a recording of which made its way to the Post), Daines also said that Republicans are seeing poll numbers "in the single digits," which also doesn't sound like they're operating from a position of strength. Now of course, a 45-44 race and a 49-40 race are both "single digits," and this may well have been Daines trying to put the fear of God (or the resistance) into donors. But it's the kind of admission that could also fire up Democrats on behalf of Rob Quist, especially in light of the Thursday's passage of the GOP's healthcare repeal.
In fact, Gianforte seems worried about that, too. Despite running in a state that Donald Trump won by 20 points, Gianforte is refusing to declare whether he supports his party's signature piece of legislation, saying in a statement that "he will not support a bill until he knows it reduces premiums, preserves rural access and protects Montanans with pre-existing conditions." Well, guess that's a no, then, because we know people with pre-existing conditions are fucked under this bill! There's no reason why Quist, who has vocally opposed the proposal, can't make hay of Gianforte's attempt to dodge—in fact, he can and likely will.
The NRCC, meanwhile, is not slacking off its TV barrage against Quist. They're out with a new ad once again hitting Quist over his financial woes, including unpaid taxes and liens. It's now up to Quist to forcibly change the subject and make this race about the GOP trying to steal health insurance from Montanans.
● FL-Gov: Eccentric rich businessman "Alligator" Ron Bergeron, who'd been looking at the race, says he'll decide whether to seek the GOP nomination to succeed term-limited Gov. Rick Scott "somewhere around August." Bergeron sounds pretty enthusiastic, though, and he's portraying himself as simpatico with Scott, who, like Bergeron, never held public office before winning the governorship in 2010. Scott's also made it clear that he's not fond of the current Republican field and seems unusually determined to coronate a successor who's to his liking, so Bergeron may just wisely be sucking up to the outgoing incumbent, who is as vindictive as he is wealthy.
● NJ-Gov: State Assemblyman John Wisniewski is airing his first TV ad ahead of next month's Democratic primary for governor, a boring spot he narrates himself, offering a mild jab at the frontrunner, former Goldman Sachs exec Phil Murphy. Says Wisniewski, "I'm not a Wall Street executive. I haven't made hundreds of millions of dollars, outsourcing jobs." In one of the wonkier catchphrases ever attempted, Wisniewski concludes by saying that "New Jersey deserves the kind of leadership that's not transactional but is transformative." The spot is reportedly airing for "six figures," which is a drop in the bucket in New Jersey, a very expensive place to advertise in, especially compared to the sums that the wealthy Murphy can afford.
● VA-Gov: In a new TV ad released right after the GOP's vote to repeal health care, Democrat Tom Perriello stands in front of an ambulance that's getting squished by one of those car-crusher thingies you find at junkyards. The symbolism is obvious, but the effect is a bit jarring: Perriello has to shout to be heard above the din, and watching the vehicle get smashed to bits is kind of distracting. (Spoiler alert: The ambulance loses.)
● FL-27: We have our first Republican candidate in the race to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: On Friday, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro announced that he's "definitely running" for this newly open seat in the Miami area. The Miami Herald describes Barreiro as someone who has "sometimes bucked Republican orthodoxy and sided with labor unions," which could be helpful in a general election but likely wouldn't be in a GOP primary. Two Democrats, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and businessman and 2016 nominee Scott Fuhrman, are also in, while a host of other candidates are looking at bids for this seat that Hillary Clinton carried by a 59-39 margin.
● GA-06: We have a second new poll of the special election runoff in Georgia's 6th Congressional District next month. This latest survey comes from GBA Strategies on behalf of the pro-Democratic House Majority PAC and finds Democrat Jon Ossoff narrowly edging Republican Karen Handel by a 50-48 margin. The margin is very similar to the one we saw in a recent Ossoff internal from Anzalone Liszt Grove that had him up 48-47, with one key difference: GBA has Ossoff increasing his share of the vote from the 48 percent he took in last month's primary and has reached the all-important 50 percent mark.
Perhaps more interesting is the fact that the GOP still has yet to release a single poll of its own. Do they also show Handel down? They very well might.
● SC-05: Rep. Trey Gowdy just endorsed state House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope over former state Rep. Ralph Norman in the May 16 GOP runoff for South Carolina's vacant 5th Congressional District. Pope led Norman by just a 31-30 margin in the first round of the Republican primary. The winner will face Democrat Archie Parnell in the special election on June 20, the same day as the runoff in Georgia's 6th District.
● TX-23: Democrats are seeking a candidate to take on sophomore GOP Rep. Will Hurd, who represents a giant district along the Mexico border that voted for Hillary Clinton 50-46, but so far, no one's taken a bite. The latest name to surface belongs to Judy Canales, who served as the state-level executive director for the USDA under Barack Obama. Canales is only briefly mentioned in a lengthy and glowing Politico profile of Hurd ("a phenom"), which says that EMILY's List is "said to be" interested in recruiting her. A few other current and former local elected officials are looking at the race, including ex-Rep. Pete Gallego, whom Hurd ousted in 2014, then defeated in a rematch two years later.
● WA-05: Even though GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' Spokane-based 5th District along Washington's eastern border with Idaho voted for Trump by a solid 52-39 margin, Democrats seem interested in making a play for it. Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart, who'd said he was planning to run for the seat when it looked like McMorris-Rodgers might get a job in Trump's cabinet, has since confirmed that he is in fact running and says he recently met with the DCCC.
He might also be joined on the Democratic side by Washington State University Chancellor Lisa Brown, who just stepped down from her post and says that "running for Congress is a possibility." Brown previously served as a state legislator for twenty years, first in the House and then in the Senate where she served as Majority Leader from 2005 to 2013; as Chancellor, she helped bring a medical school to WSU's Spokane campus. Either Democrat would have a difficult time unseating the incumbent, but McMorris-Rodgers' prominent leadership position in the House GOP ensures she can be closely tied to anything that Paul Ryan and Donald Trump do (or try to do).
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.