The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard.
● LA-01: In a horrific attack early Wednesday morning, a gunman opened fire at a batting practice session being held by the congressional Republicans' baseball team, badly wounding GOP Rep. Steve Scalise. Four others—two Capitol Police officers, a congressional staffer, and a lobbyist—were also injured. Doctors treating Scalise, the third-ranking Republican in the House, say he remains in critical condition after being operated on and will require further surgery.
The shooter, James Hodgkinson, was shot by police and died from his wounds. Hodgkinson, a home inspector from Belleville, Illinois, frequently wrote letters to the editor and posted on social media about his liberal political views, including his support for Bernie Sanders and his hostility toward Donald Trump. Law enforcement officials have not commented on a possible motive yet.
Lawmakers also announced that the annual Congressional Baseball Game, a bipartisan tradition dating back over a century that pits a team of Republicans against a squad of Democrats, would be played as scheduled on Thursday.
● AL-Gov: Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb jumped into the 2018 gubernatorial race on Tuesday, giving Democrats their first high-profile candidate against recently elevated Republican Gov. Kay Ivey. Cobb's name came up as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2010 and 2014, but she refused to run in both of those races. She previously won election statewide to serve on to Alabama's Court of Criminal Appeals from 1994 to 2006, and Cobb narrowly ousted appointed GOP state Supreme Court Chief Justice Drayton Nabers by 51-48 during the 2006 Democratic wave year in what became an expensive race.
However, Cobb chose not to seek another term on the state's high court in 2012 and even resigned early in 2011, allowing then-Gov. Robert Bentley to appoint a Republican replacement. She later authored an editorial unloading on the unseemly role that fundraising played in judicial elections in which she bashed trial lawyers and labor. Cobb more recently backed then-Sen. Jeff Sessions' nomination to become attorney general. Those actions could make Democrats reluctant to support Cobb, but their weak bench in this deep-red state doesn't leave many alternatives.
It's unclear if Ivey will seek a full term as governor or if she'll make it past her many primary foes if she does run, but Alabama Democrats are nonetheless hopeful that they can gain traction thanks to disgraced ex-Gov. Bentley's scandals and corruption elsewhere in the GOP-dominated state government. Ex-state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, who was the 2010 Democratic nominee, and party-switching former Rep. Parker Griffith, who was Team Blue's 2014 nominee, have both said that they're thinking about running again too.
● FL-Gov: South Florida's 20th District Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings has thrown his backing to Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum ahead of next year's Democratic gubernatorial primary. Back in 1992, Hastings was one of the first three African Americans to get elected to Congress in Florida since Reconstruction, and while Gillum is the only prominent black candidate in the race so far, his geographic base in the Panhandle is far removed from more voter-rich South Florida, where Hastings' endorsement could help raise his profile.
● IL-Gov: State Sen. Daniel Biss earned his first major endorsement for next year's Democratic gubernatorial primary after Illinois' 10th District Rep. Brad Schneider announced his support. Like Biss, Schneider represents a district in Chicago's affluent and well-educated North Shore suburbs, and his support could help the state senator build up his name recognition and fundraising as he competes with wealthy rival J.B. Pritzker's substantial self-funding, as well as other Democratic candidates.
● NJ-Gov: Quinnipiac gives us the first poll of New Jersey's November general election since last week's gubernatorial primary, and they have nothing but stellar news for Democrats. Democratic ex-Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy trounces Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno by a brutal 55-26 margin, which is a very modest improvement for Murphy from their May survey, where he led 50-25.
Donald Trump's abysmal 66-28 disapproval rating and outgoing GOP Gov. Chris Christie's even more horrific 81-15 disapproval spread in Quinnipiac's latest survey are undoubtedly doing Guadagno no favors in this Democratic-leaning state. Murphy has so far dominated in every poll, but no other outfits aside from Quinnipiac appear to have released any surveys here.
● AZ-02: Physician Matt Heinz announced on Wednesday that he will run for House against Republican Rep. Martha McSally once more after he was the unsuccessful 2016 Democratic nominee. Heinz, who served in the state House from 2009-2013, previously ran for this seat in 2012 in a primary challenge to Democratic then-Rep. Ron Barber, but fell far short. National Democrats largely left Heinz to fend for himself last year as his relatively modest fundraising did not appear to inspire confidence. His 57-43 loss to McSally even as the 2nd District flipped from 50-48 Romney to 50-45 Clinton could consequently leave Democrats inclined to look elsewhere.
Nonetheless, Heinz did release a PPP survey last month to argue for his campaign's viability that had him beating McSally 48-44, while the incumbent sported a poor 53-40 disapproval rating. That poll came hot on the heels of another PPP release in May that gave McSally a truly awful 56-35 disapproval rating. If these numbers are accurate, it's possible that Heinz could reverse his fortunes in 2018 with Trump's unpopularity weighing down congressional Republicans and McSally's gung-ho approach to passing Trump's health care bill.
McSally is a prodigious fundraiser and seen as a GOP rising star, but her nascent vulnerability appears to have sparked far more Democratic interest in challenging her next year compared to 2016. Ex-state Rep. Bruce Wheeler and Tucson Hotel Congress operations manager Billy Kovacs had previously joined the race, while former 1st District Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick and ex-Defense Department assistant secretary Mary Sally Matiella have both said that they're considering it. Several other noteworthy Democrats are reportedly interested too.
● CO-02, CO-Gov: On Tuesday, Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Executive Director Joe Neguse, who narrowly lost the 2014 race for secretary of state, jumped into the Democratic primary for the open and reliably blue 2nd Congressional District. Neguse, who reportedly was considering running for governor a few months ago, also announced that he was resigning from his current post.
Neguse ran a credible statewide campaign in 2014, and he should have the resources to run a competitive race for this Boulder-area seat. He entered the race with endorsements from Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs and state Sen. Stephen Fenberg, both of whom had been mentioned as possible candidates to succeed gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis. Neguse's parents came to the United States as refugees from Eritrea; if Neguse wins this contest, he will be the first Eritrean-American member of Congress, as well as Colorado's first black member of Congress.
Several other notable Democrats are also eyeing this district, which also includes Fort Collins. Shaun McGrath, who served as the regional Environmental Protection Agency administrator until Trump took office and previously was deputy director for the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, said on Tuesday that he expects to decide "next few days or so." McGrath was also a Boulder city councilor from 2003 to 2009, and he spent the final 18 months of his tenure as mayor. Two prominent gun-safety advocates, Ken Toltz and Shannon Watts, have also expressed interest in running, and other local Democrats may be eyeing this seat.
Clinton carried this seat 56-35, and it's tough to see the GOP winning it anytime soon. However, several non-Some Dude Republicans have expressed interest in running here. Ex-Fort Collins Councilor Gino Campana, ex-state House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, and ex-state Rep. B.J. Nikkel all tell the Coloradoan that they're considering.
● NJ-11: Another Democrat is showing interest in challenging veteran GOP Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen in this ancestrally red North Jersey seat. Passaic County Freeholder John Bartlett told the Observer that he's "strongly considering," and that he's met with the DCCC about a possible bid. Passaic County only makes up about 18 percent of this seat, though the Observer's Salvador Rizzo says Bartlett "has a reputation as a tough campaigner." Navy veteran Mikie Sherrill is already seeking the Democratic nod, while Assemblyman John McKeon says he'll consider after this November's state elections. This seat went from 52-47 Romney to 49-48 Trump.
● Specials: Via Johnny Longtorso, Tennessee will hold a state House special election on Thursday:
Tennessee HD-95: This is an open Republican seat in the Memphis suburbs. The candidates are Democrat Julie Byrd Ashworth, an attorney, and Republican Kevin Vaughan, a member of the Collierville School Board. Also on the ballot are independents Robert Schutt and Jim Tomasik. This seat went 76-23 for Mitt Romney in 2012, and Daily Kos Elections' preliminary calculations have it voting for Trump by 68-29 in 2016.
● Where Are They Now?: Democratic ex-Maine state Sen. Emily Cain, who got elected to the state House at age 24 back in 2004 and served in the legislature until 2014, will become the next executive director for EMILY's List, which is an influential group devoted to electing pro-choice Democratic women. Cain was the unsuccessful 2014 and 2016 Democratic nominee against Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin in two fiercely contested races in northern Maine's 2nd Congressional District, which had lurched from 53-44 Obama in 2012 to 51-41 Trump in 2016.