Click here for our chart rounding up all Senate fundraising numbers. We're also going to link to some roundups for fundraising for gubernatorial races, with the period covered noted.
● AZ-Sen: Kelli Ward (R): $350,000 cash-on-hand
● ND-Sen: Heidi Heitkamp (D-inc): $1.3 million raised, $4.5 million cash-on-hand; Tom Campbell (R): $450,000 raised
● UT-Sen: Jenny Wilson (D): $125,000 raised $124,000 cash-on-hand
● CA-Gov: Second half of 2017.
● HI-Gov: Second half of 2017.
● ID-Gov: All of 2017.
● MI-Gov: Fourth quarter of 2017.
● PA-Gov: All of 2017.
● RI-Gov: Final quarter of 2017.
● TN-Gov: Second half of 2017.
● Fundraising: Thanks to the extended deadline the FEC gives campaigns to file their year-end reports, we've had to wait an extra-long time for this, but here it is: The Daily Kos Elections House fundraising roundup for the fourth quarter of 2017! Befitting this crazy election cycle, we have data on 569 candidates running in a whopping 179 different races—fully 41 percent of the entire House. Click here for all the goods.
● AZ-Sen: Even though GOP Rep. Martha McSally finally kicked off a bid for Jeff Flake's open Senate seat last month, there's still a possibility that she could get appointed to serve out the remainder of John McCain's term should he leave office early. However, there are now two good reasons why McSally might get passed over in such a scenario: Kelli Ward and Joe Arpaio.
In a deep dive on Arpaio's candidacy for Politico Magazine, Ben Strauss says that in the event that Republican Gov. Doug Ducey were to pick a successor to McCain, he "gathered in off the record scuttlebutt" that Ducey wouldn't go with McSally for fear that would leave the GOP with just Ward and Arpaio in the Flake race. That would be a bit like Alien vs. Predator: Neither would make a very effective general nominee. To stretch the scifi metaphor a bit further, Arizona Republicans are looking up at McSally and shouting "Save us!" She might not have any choice but to say "I guess I'll try."
● MO-Sen: Missouri was supposed to be the one state this year where Republicans hadn't screwed up their Senate recruitment: They landed their top choice in state Attorney General Josh Hawley, and they managed to avoid a messy primary—things they can't really say about any other race. But even this one apparent success might yet slip from the GOP's fingers. According to three unnamed Republican sources cited in a Friday report from Politico's Kevin Robillard, Rep. Ann Wagner is reconsidering her decision not to run against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill following some Hawley stumbles.
The first concerned his fourth-quarter fundraising, which at $958,000 wasn't bad for a challenger but which was far behind McCaskill's monster $2.9 million haul, the best in the nation (not including California Sen. Dianne Feinstein's $5 million in self-funding) and one that left McCaskill with a wide $9 million to $1.2 million advantage in cash-on-hand. (Somewhat amazingly, it's February of an election year and Hawley's campaign website is nothing more than a single splash page.) The second was a more vividly self-inflicted wound: Hawley's own comments blaming the sexual revolution for human trafficking, which traumatically invoked the specter of Todd Akin for Missouri Republicans.
Robillard says his sources all say the odds of a Wagner reversal are "low," but a campaign spokesperson would only offer the classic dodge that the congresswoman "is focused on her important and pressing work in the U.S. House." Perhaps more tellingly, after Hawley's recent remarks came to light, Wagner tweeted—or perhaps we should say subtweeted—several times about sex trafficking. Hawley does still have hefty support from the GOP establishment, and he also just got a nod of support from Missouri's other senator, Roy Blunt. But while Blunt did say he thinks Hawley would "be a great colleague," he also rather amusingly made a point of saying that he "was not particularly involved in recruiting him to the race." In other words: Don't blame me for this guy's shortcomings.
● MN-Sen-B: We just can't top Right Wing Watch's headline: "Michele Bachmann Has Decided That God Does Not Want Her To Run For The Senate."
● CO-Gov: State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman recently announced that she would collect signatures to appear on the June GOP primary ballot rather than try to get the support of at least 30 percent of delegates at the state convention. However, Colorado Politics' Joey Bunch notes that Coffman is taking a big risk here.
As we've written, signature gathering in Colorado is a very cutthroat process. Candidates need to collect 1,500 valid signatures in each of the state's seven congressional districts, which the Denver Post says can cost more than $200,000. A voter can only sign one petition for each race: If a voter signs petitions for multiple contenders, it only counts in favor of the first candidate to turn in their signatures. This means that GOP candidates will find themselves fighting over the small pool of Republican voters in the very blue 1st Congressional District.
Coffman has a few problems. State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, investment banker and Mitt Romney nephew Doug Robinson, and wealthy businessman Victor Mitchell all announced that they would collect signatures weeks ago. This gives them a strong head start over Coffman ahead of the March 20 deadline in a race where speed very much matters. The attorney general also had just $85,000 the bank at the end of the year, so she could have a tough time paying for a strong petition operation. It's not too late for Coffman to also try to get enough support at the April 14 party convention to advance to the primary (which has its own risks), but she hasn't given any indication that she's interested in trying that.
● GA-Gov: Wealthy businessman and retired Navy SEAL Clay Tippins has barely registered in any of the GOP primary polls we've seen, but he's starting to advertise early to get his name out before the May contest. Tippins has begun what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports is an opening $250,000 ad buy; Tippins began advertising in the Atlanta media market on Monday, but he began airing his spot during the Super Bowl in cheaper markets.
The minute-long ad extols Tippins as a championship swimmer, before showing a bunch of guys in suits in a pool doing a synchronized move as the narrator declares, "Clay's opponents for Georgia governor also swim." The ad then goes back to talking about Tippins and talking about his time as a Navy SEAL, and the narrator proclaims that his opponents "watch seals." (And yep, they show that.) After mentioning Tippins' business experience, and showing one of his foes in a weird suit (but one that's now dry), the candidate questions how the greatest state in America can have so much childhood illiteracy, a large sex trade, and a government that is still run the same way as it was 50 years ago.
● IL-Gov: There are really no words to describe this new ad from state Rep. Jeanne Ives, who is challenging Gov. Bruce Rauner in next month's GOP primary. You're just going to have to click through and see for yourself. Suffice it to say that so offensive is the ad that the chair of the Illinois Republican Party has called on Ives to take it down. Ives, of course, is enjoying the attention and has refused to comply, claiming "it's a policy ad. It's not a personal attack on Rauner." Sadly, Ives is probably right that this kind of utter trash will appeal to the GOP base.
And even as her fellow party members have been condemning her, she just got a much more important vote of confidence in the form of a $2 million donation from GOP megadonor Dick Uihlein, who was once a major supporter of Rauner's. That comes on top of a $500,000 contribution Uihlein made to Ives just a week earlier. Illinois' campaign finance system is truly something out of the Wild Wild Midwest, and it'll allow Ives to peddle her hate-filled toxic waste for even more to see.
● LA-Gov: Sen. Bill Cassidy essentially pre-endorsed a GOP candidate to take on Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards next year, and it wasn't Senate colleague John Kennedy. Instead, Cassidy told a state GOP event how great Rep. Ralph Abraham is, and concluded, "If he stays in the House of Representatives, he'll do great. If he does something different, he may be even greater." Attorney General Jeff Landry, a frequent Edwards foil, also said last year that "Ralph Abraham would make a great governor." For his part, Abraham said he'd decide in the first half of 2018 what he'd do. Kennedy and a few other Republicans have also made noises about running.
● MI-Gov: In the wake of a report from Bridge Magazine, a nonpartisan publication, laying out why former Detroit Health Department director Abdul El-Sayed might not be eligible to run for governor, the chair of Michigan's Democratic Party has asked El-Sayed to clarify the matter by taking "appropriate legal action, including asking the courts for a ruling on his eligibility as soon as possible." It's not exactly clear whether El-Sayed intends to follow this advice, though a spokesman (continuing the campaign's spurious argument that it's some sort of victim) said in response, "We'll take whatever step is necessary to put these shameless political attacks to rest."
The frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, has said she won't challenge El-Sayed's eligibility, while businessman Shri Thanedar, the third main candidate, claimed that the dispute "is not really an issue for us." Both, however, may be leery of alienating El-Sayed's supporters. The "nightmare scenario," as Michigan Radio puts it, would be if El-Sayed won the primary and only then got knocked off the ballot. With that Damoclean sword looming, someone is going to have to step forward and resolve all this. Hopefully it'll be El-Sayed himself.
Thanedar, meanwhile, who's been spending a bunch of money on ads, just forked out another $150,000 on a spot that aired during the Super Bowl. The ad features a whole bunch of people mispronouncing Thanedar's name ("Free Darth Vader?" is the best), but the last one is very odd: A woman wonders if it's "Rick Snyder," to which Thanedar responds, "That's closer, closer." But, um, Snyder is Michigan's deeply unpopular outgoing Republican governor, so that's definitely not the guy you want to say you're "closer" to, especially since Thanedar is billing himself as "the most progressive candidate for governor." Don Cazayoux's ad pulled off this trick better.
● NY-Gov: Last month, actress and activist Cynthia Nixon, one of the most high-profile critics of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said that "maybe" she'd challenge Cuomo in this year's Democratic primary, though she hasn't taken any concrete steps toward running. Still, she recently stepped up her rhetoric, saying that "we don't just need to elect more Democrats, we also need better Democrats" at a gala for the Human Rights Campaign on Saturday. Nixon, most famous for starring in HBO's "Sex and the City," didn't mention Cuomo by name, but she did add, "If we had bluer Democrats, New York wouldn't have the worst [income] inequality in the country." Time's running out to mount a serious race, though.
● WY-Gov: Over the weekend, physician Taylor Haynes entered the GOP primary to succeed termed-out Gov. Matt Mead. Haynes ran a write-in campaign in the 2010 general election and scored 7 percent of the vote. Haynes challenged Mead for renomination four years later (his name was on the ballot this time) and held him to a 54-32 win. Haynes, who would be the state's first black governor, looks like a longshot in the August primary, but unexpected things can happen in crowded races.
● AR-02: On Monday, state Rep. Clarke Tucker announced he would seek the Democratic nomination to take on GOP Rep. French Hill. The DCCC reportedly has been trying to recruit Tucker for a while for this central Arkansas seat. Tucker, who represents a seat in the Little Rock area, recently beat cancer, and he says the GOP's attempts to undermine Obamacare inspired him to run.
This district, which includes Little Rock, went from 55-44 Romney to a similar 52-42 Trump, and while beating Hill won't be easy, he could be vulnerable in a good political climate for Team Blue. But before Tucker can focus on the incumbent, he needs to win the May 22 primary. Paul Spencer, whom local columnist John Brummett described as a high school teacher "who has distinguished himself in recent years pushing for ethics reform initiatives," raised a credible $135,000 during the final quarter of 2017, and he ended December with $128,000 in the bank. Hill, who was a banker before he was elected in the 2014 GOP wave, had a $1.3 million war chest.
● CA-49: Democrat Sara Jacobs, a former campaign aide for Hillary Clinton, just received an endorsement from Rep. Susan Davis, who represents the nearby 53rd District. That makes her the second member of Congress (along with Rep. Juan Vargas) to get behind Jacobs' campaign for California's 49th District. Jacobs is also going up on TV with a new ad in which she says that even though GOP Rep. Darrell Issa is retiring, "we" still need to hold Donald Trump accountable. Jacobs then touts her work in Barack Obama's State Department before finishing by making a virtue of her age (28), saying, "It's time for a new generation to change Washington."
Jacobs also has the resources to make sure this spot gets seen. A granddaughter of Irwin Jacobs, the billionaire founder of Qualcomm, Sara Jacobs has heavily self-funded her campaign. In the most recent quarter, she dumped in $1.1 million of her own money into her coffers, but she also proved to be a capable fundraiser, collecting $316,000 from donors, which led the Democratic pack. She also finished with $1.2 million in the bank, also tops.
Second in fundraising was environmental attorney Mike Levin, who brought in $305,000 and ended with $486,000 on hand. Retired Marine Col. Doug Applegate was well behind with $136,000 raised and $249,000 left over, while real estate investor Paul Kerr raised just $58,000. However, Kerr also self-funded another $450,000, on top of $263,000 he'd previously put in, leaving him with $520,000 in cash-on-hand. It'll be a long while before we hear from any Republican contenders, though, because Issa only announced his retirement after the end of the fourth quarter.
● FL-09: In an extraordinary lapse in judgment that prompted an instant firestorm and led to an almost immediate about-face, the purported fact-checking site PolitiFact announced on Friday that it was hiring former Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson to serve as a sort of reader representative who would critique PolitiFact's work. The news was met with incredulity, given Grayson's exceptionally long rap sheet of unsavory behavior, and barely more than two hours later, PolitiFact said it had rescinded the deal.
Oddly, PolitiFact seemed to base its decision to pull the plug largely on the fact that Grayson is a candidate for office—something the organization seemed to be unaware of—rather than his misdeeds. Now, even we're not really sure what Grayson is running for: He filed paperwork to set up a campaign committee in deep red Florida's 11th Congressional District, but he seems much more likely to make a comeback in his old seat, the 9th. Still, he's raising money for something, and this wasn't exactly a difficult, ah, fact to check.
Speaking of money, though, the multi-millionaire Grayson is nevertheless going to get a bit richer: Despite the arrangement's implosion, PolitiFact is still going to pay him.
● House: Candidates drop out of races all the time, but sometimes, we only learn about it when they've closed their FEC campaign committees. Here are some now-former House candidates who recently pulled the plug on their campaigns:
CA-25: Former Department of Defense staffer Diedra Greenaway, a Democrat, dropped out of the crowded top-two primary to face GOP Rep. Steve Knight.
MN-01: Businessman Colin Minehart exited the Democratic primary to hold Rep. Tim Walz's seat.
NM-02: Former Las Cruces fire chief Adolf Zubia left the Democratic primary for this open 50-40 Trump seat.
VA-10: Former Fairfax Education Association president Kimberly Adams dropped out of the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Barbara Comstrock.
● IL-03: Add one more big endorsement for Marie Newman in a short stretch that's been full of 'em: On Monday, Planned Parenthood also gave its backing to Newman, who is challenging anti-choice Rep. Dan Lipinski in next month's Democratic primary. That means Newman has now locked up the support of three of the biggest pro-choice organizations: Planned Parenthood, EMILY's List, and NARAL.
● IN-06: Wealthy businessman Jonathan Lamb is running in the May primary for this safely red seat against businessman Greg Pence, the older brother of Vice President Mike Pence, and he's hoping to get his name out by advertising early. And we'll say this: His commercial, which ran during the Super Bowl, is going straight to the Daily Kos Elections Weird Ad Hall of Fame.
Lamb begins by telling the audience right off the bat that he's the "Republican outsider" who is running "against the vice president's brother." After that, the ad takes a strange, strange turn. Lamb says that what his opponent doesn't know "is that the Lamb family has been close to the White House for over a century." As lambs (the animals) are shown on the screen on the White House lawn in old-timey photos, the candidate declares, "President Woodrow Wilson had Lambs working for him in 1918 as a cost-cutting measure to keep the White House lawn looking it's best." Yes, really. Watch the ad if you don't believe us.
Lamb then (presumably) ventures back to reality and says he's "an eighth generation Hoosier," and then declares, "The Lamb family has a proven track-record of getting things done in D.C," which … we assume is part of the joke? Lamb then concludes by baaaing his last name ("I'm Jonathan Laaaamb, and I approve this message"). This may be the first campaign commercial we've ever seen that left us knowing less about the candidate than we thought we knew before we watched it.
Thanks to some generous self-funding, Lamb does have the resources to get his name out. He loaned his campaign $500,000 before the end of 2017, and he had $468,000 on-hand on Dec. 31. That's slightly more than the $437,000 that Pence (who has done no self-funding) had. Of course, Pence isn't the one running spots saying his family ate grass for Woodrow Wilson, though the campaign is young.
● MN-01: Minnesota candidates from both parties often drop out of the primary if someone else secures the party endorsement first (we recently explained that process), but one Republican has declared she'll proceed to the August primary no matter what. State Sen. Carla Nelson announced Monday that, while she'll compete for the party endorsement, she'd take her case to primary voters if she didn't get it.
Businessman Jim Hagedorn, who was Team Red's 2014 and 2016 nominee, said in response that he was focused on winning the April district convention, though he doesn't seem to have ruled out also advancing to the primary if he doesn't get the party endorsement. Back in 2014, Hagedorn actually dropped out of the race after rival Aaron Miller won the GOP endorsement, but he got back in and beat Miller in the primary a few months later.
This southern Minnesota seat swung from 50-48 Obama to 53-38 Trump, and with Democratic Rep. Tim Walz leaving to run for governor, this is perhaps the GOP's best House pickup opportunity in the nation. Hagedorn lost to Walz 54-46 during the 2014 GOP wave, but he held him to a 50.3-49.6 victory two years later in a campaign that received little outside attention. However, Hagedorn has several flaws that make him a not-so-compelling nominee now that the GOP actually thinks they can win here. In 2014, Hagedorn attracted bad headlines when his old writings denigrating … well, almost everyone, surfaced. (Sample: In 2002, he called Washington's two female U.S. senators, "undeserving bimbos in tennis shoes.")
The NRCC reportedly spent months trying to recruit Nelson, even though state Republicans were afraid that if she won, they could lose her state Senate seat in a special election, and with it, control of the chamber. Nelson did outraise Hagedorn $162,000 to $100,000 during her opening quarter, and she also threw in $55,000 of her own money. Hagedorn, who has been running pretty much non-stop since the 2014 cycle, held a $282,000 to $169,000 cash-on-hand edge over Nelson at the end of December.
Democrats also have a competitive race, and the party's upcoming endorsement convention also makes handicapping the primary tough. Dan Feehan, a former Defense Department official who recently moved back, had $287,000 in the bank at the end of 2017, far more than anyone else. Attorney Joe Sullivan was further behind with $129,000; both Feehan and Sullivan have said that they plan to abide by the party endorsement. Army Reserves veteran Rich Wright, who has badly lost past races for the legislature, had $87,000 on-hand, while former state Sen. Vicki Jensen, who lost re-election in 2016, had just $1,000 to spend.
● MI-11: This month, state Sen. Mike Kowall announced he was joining the GOP primary to succeed retiring Rep. Dave Trott in this 50-45 Trump seat. Kowall had expressed interest in the fall and said in mid-September that he'd make an announcement "in the coming days," but he went quiet after that until now. Kowall, who represents about 30 percent of the 11th in the legislature, currently serves as the Senate's majority floor leader (which is a different post than the majority leader).
A number of other Republicans are running in the early August primary for this suburban Detroit seat, but so far, none of them have raised much money from donors. State Rep. Klint Kesto took in just shy of $100,000 during the last quarter, which was more than anyone else in the GOP field, but he only had $101,000 in the bank. Businesswoman Lena Epstein, who has been mostly self-funding her campaign, ended December with $1.04 million in the bank, far more than her rivals. Former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski, who lost a tight 2010 bid for a swing seat, had $141,000 on-hand, while Plymouth Township Supervisor Kurt Heise had $112,000 to spend. Reindeer farmer Kerry Bentivolio, who accidentally served one term in the House from 2013 to 2015, did not report raising anything.
The GOP drew this seat to be as tough as possible for Team Blue, but several credible Democrats are running. Businessman Suneel Gupta, the brother of CNN's Sanjay Gupta, entered the race in early December, and he quickly amassed a $468,000 war chest. Haley Stevens, the former chief of staff to Barack Obama's Auto Task Force, has been running since late April, and she had $465,000 on-hand at the end of December.
State Rep. Tim Greimel jumped in in October and ended 2017 with $286,000, while former Detroit Director of Immigration Affairs Fayrouz Saad, who has been running since July, had $251,000 to spend. Businessman Dan Haberman brought up the rear with $41,000 in the bank. Impressively, none of these candidates contributed more than $7,000 of their own money during the last quarter.
● MI-13: Last week, state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo said she was "exploring a run" for this safely blue open seat, and would make her final decision after talking with residents of each of the district's municipalities. Gay-Dagnogo is one of several Democrats hoping to succeed John Conyers, who resigned in December after over 50 years in the House after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment. While he didn't exactly leave Congress under favorable circumstances, Gay-Dagnogo is running as a Conyers ally.
Gay-Dagnogo spoke at a rally in defense of Conyers just before he decided to call it quits, and she seemed to argue that white Democrats were treating him unfairly. Gay-Dagnogo declared back then, "We're calling on the moral core of this nation to not treat us differently than anyone else," and, "We will not to be used only as a mule to carry the vote. We are entitled to elect our own leaders." Gay-Dagnogo also said last week that she had "put my name and face on the line" to stand with Conyers when so many others were running away from him "because I knew I was standing up for a man that Dr. King stood up for."
But while Gay-Dagnogo seems to be doing her best to portray herself as Conyers' natural successor, the former congressman already has decided who he wants filling the seat. As Conyers was resigning last year, he endorsed his son, hedge fund partner John Conyers III. The younger Conyers, who has never run for office, has since filed with the FEC, but he has not announced he's in yet. State Sen. Ian Conyers, the former congressman's nephew, entered the race last year, while Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and state Sen. Coleman Young II, who badly lost last year's race for mayor of Detroit, are also in.
The filing deadline isn't until late April, and other Democrats have made noises about running here; The Detroit News also reports that Detroit NAACP executive director Donnell White is "reportedly mulling a run." The primary is in early August.
● NJ-07: GOP Rep. Leonard Lance is a top Democratic target, and several Democrats are competing in the June primary to face him. However, this is a tough one to handicap. The seat is located in the New York City media market, where it's expensive to air TV ads. At the end of December, former State Department official Tom Malinowski had by far the largest war chest of the Democratic field, so he should have a considerable advantage on the air. Malinowski, who only entered the race in October, quickly amassed a $446,000 war chest entirely from donors; in second place was teacher Lisa Mandelblatt, who has been doing some self-funding, who had $414,000 on-hand. Behind her was attorney Goutam Jois (who won the title of "America's Funniest Attorney" in 2012 at the Gotham Comedy Club), who had $259,000 in the bank.
But as we've written before, things can get a bit more complicated in Garden State primaries. On both sides of the aisle, county party endorsements are typically very important. That's because endorsed candidates appear in a separate column on the ballot along with other party endorsees, a big deal in a state where party machines are still powerful. (This designation is known colloquially as the "organization line.") And while former bank executive Linda Weber had just $133,000 on-hand at the end of December, she's been doing considerably better when it comes to winning over the 7th District's county parties.
Most importantly, Weber has the ballot line in Somerset County, the largest county in the seat. Somerset makes up about one-third of the district, and makes up an even greater share of the Democratic primary vote. Weber also has the ballot line in Essex, which is small (it only contains about 3 percent of the seat), but very blue.
However, Malinowski recently won the line in Hunterdon, which makes up about 18 percent of the seat, but is pretty red (Trump won the county, which is entirely in this seat, 55-41). That came as a surprise, since the county party chair was backing Weber. However, the county party opted to decide their endorsement through an open convention, where delegates could vote, while only party leaders had a say in Somerset.
Malinowski's win seems to have given him some momentum, and attention will now turn to Union County, which is the largest and most Democratic of the three remaining counties in the 7th. (Morris and Warren are also up, but community member Trosk says that Warren, which only makes up about 5 percent of the seat, doesn't have a line.) An unnamed "early Weber backer" told Insider NJ's Max Pizarro that if Weber can't secure the Union line, "we may have to go in another direction." However, Pizarro writes that Union Democrats have an intense fight to lead the county party, and it could be hard for anyone to win enough support there. As we said earlier, New Jersey politics is complicated.
This district went from 53-46 Romney to 49-48 Clinton, and Lance is facing his first tough campaign since his first 2008 win. Lance has been a surprisingly underwhelming fundraiser so far, and he had $608,000 on-hand at the end of December. That's more than any of the Democrats, but it's not great for a five-term incumbent in a tough race in an expensive seat.
● NJ-11: The June GOP primary for this open 49-48 Trump seat is starting to take shape. Over the weekend, Assemblyman Jay Webber announced he would seek the nomination to succeed longtime Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen. And while state Sen. Joseph Pennacchio had announced days ago that he had formed an exploratory committee to run here, he said on Monday that he'd stay out. Businessman Joe Caruso had also formed an exploratory committee, but the conservative blog Save Jersey says that he announced on Thursday he also would sit this one out.
Pennacchio was blunt about why he wouldn't run, saying he was unsure about getting "the line" in Essex and Passaic, adding that without it, "Why go through all this trouble?" As we've noted before, those two counties carry a great deal of weight in GOP politics in this seat. As we wrote about in our NJ-07 item, candidates want a county party endorsement (also known as the "organization line"), because endorsed candidates appear in a separate column on the ballot along with other party endorsees. Morris County makes up about 60 percent of the GOP primary vote here, but it has no organization line.
Essex and Passaic make up a combined one-third of the vote, and the two men who will essentially decide who gets their county's endorsement, Essex County Republican Committee Chairman Al Barlas and Passaic County GOP power broker Peter Murphy, are close allies. If Barlas and Murphy settle on a candidate while the Morris vote is split, their choice will be tough to stop in the primary, and Pennacchio seems to have decided that candidate wouldn't be him.
It remains to be seen if Webber, who represents a large portion of Morris, will get their blessing, but the former state Republican Committee chairman does seem to have some good connections. Webber has a reputation as an ardent conservative, especially on abortion and access to guns. Webber also notably defied then-Gov. Chris Christie in 2016 when he voted against a gas tax increase, which could also endear him to conservatives. Webber also hugged Trump tight in his campaign announcement, promising he would not "give in to the angry intimidation of the far left who seek to 'resist' every idea that comes from someone who doesn't share their outlier extremism."
Several other Republicans have expressed interest in getting in. Assemblyman Anthony Bucco set up a campaign with the FEC, and he said on Monday that he would make a final decision soon. Bucco said he hoped the party could avoid a nasty primary and choose a candidate early, and "Hopefully, that candidate can be me." Sussex County Freeholder Deputy Director Sylvia Petillo also recently said she was "seriously testing the waters." Sussex makes up less than 10 percent of the 11th, so it's not the best place to launch a campaign from. Last week, Insider NJ also wrote that Morris County Freeholder Tom Mastraneglo was reportedly considering, but we've heard nothing from him since then. Several other Republicans are eyeing this seat.
On the other side, state and national Democrats have consolidated behind Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor. Sherrill faces businesswoman Tamara Harris in the primary; Harris has largely been self-funding her campaign, and she had $455,000 on-hand at the end of December. But Sherrill had a larger $822,000 war chest, and she has the endorsements of all the county parties in the district.
● OK-02: Back in July, Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin announced that he would seek re-election rather follow through with his 2012 pledge to leave the House after three terms. Last cycle, when Mullin started to back away from his old promise, Army veteran Jarrin Jackson challenged Mullin in the primary and lost 62-38. Jackson said over the summer he was thinking about trying again, and at some point, he decided to go for it. That may be news to his donors, too, since Jackson had just $51,000 in the bank at the end of December to Mullin's $434,000. This rural eastern Oklahoma seat is ancestrally blue, but this 73-23 Trump district is unlikely to return to its roots anytime soon.
● TN-01: When Republican Rep. Phil Roe ran for Congress in 2008, he declared that members of the House should serve no more than 10 years in office—a pledge he himself took on. If Roe had been sincere at the time, there'd be no question that this term would be his last, but in January, a spokesman said the congressman had not yet made a decision about whether to seek re-election this year. Instead, he promised an announcement "in the coming weeks."
Well, it's a month later and we're still waiting to hear, but in the meantime, we've chalked up a pretty good piece of evidence that Roe is headed for the exits. In the fourth quarter of 2017, he raised all of $3,700, a sum so low that you almost have to try to bring in that little cash. (If nothing else, corporate PACs love waving checks in incumbents' faces, especially when they're in the majority party.)
Roe does still have $438,000 in the bank, though, and if he did decide to renege on his term-limits promise, he'd be on a glide path for another term in this dark red district. But if he does bail, he would, rather amazingly, become the 10th GOP committee chair—out of 21 total—to call it quits this year.
● Special Elections: We have four contested legislative special elections on Tuesday night, all in the Show Me State, whose Republican governor is hanging by a thread. Johnny Longtorso has the full preview:
Missouri HD-39: This is an open Republican seat located northeast of Kansas City. It was left vacant by Joe Don McGaugh's appointment to a judgeship. The Democratic nominee is Ethan Perkinson, a police officer, while the Republican nominee is Peggy McGaugh, the Carroll County Clerk and Joe Don's mother. This seat voted for Donald Trump by a 71-24 margin in 2016 and Mitt Romney by a 61-37 margin in 2012.
Missouri HD-97: This is an open Republican seat on the southwestern edge of the St. Louis metropolitan area. It was vacated by John McCaherty, who resigned to focus on running for Jefferson County executive. The Democratic candidate here is Mike Revis, a procurement manager for Anheuser-Busch, and the Republican nominee is David Linton, an attorney. This seat went 61-33 for Trump in 2016 and 55-43 for Romney in 2012.
Missouri HD-129: This is an open Republican seat northeast of Springfield. In another case of special election musical chairs, this seat is open due to Sandy Crawford's election to the state Senate last August. The Democrats have nominated Ronna Ford, a retired teacher, while the Republicans have nominated Jeff Knight, the owner of an auction company. This one went 80-16 for Trump in 2016 and 70-28 for Romney in 2012.
Missouri HD-144: This is an open Republican seat in the southeast of the state. This one was left vacant by Paul Fitzwater's appointment to the state parole board. The Democratic nominee is Jim Scaggs, the presiding commissioner of Iron County, while the Republican nominee is Chris Dinkins, a Republican Party state committeewoman. This seat backed Trump by a 78-19 margin and Romney by a 61-36 margin.
No matter what happens Tuesday night, here's something else worth noting: All four of these seats—which as you can see are all in deep red territory—went uncontested by Democrats in 2016. Now, despite the fact that they'll all be lower-turnout special elections rather than regularly scheduled general elections, they all feature Democratic candidates.
● Primaries: The 2018 primary season kicks off March 6 when Texas holds its nominating contests, and we're in for a long and exciting period that runs all the way through September. With so many races in so many states, it can be tough to keep tabs on which primaries are the ones to keep an eye on, which is why Daily Kos Elections has published our new 2018 Primaries to Watch tracker. You'll also want to bookmark our handy calendar of primary dates and candidate filing deadlines.
Our tracker will be regularly updated throughout the year as new races come onto the radar. For instance, in just the last week, we added the GOP primary for NJ-11 after Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen retired, as well as the Democratic primaries in FL-05 and MA-07 when Democratic incumbents Al Lawson and Michael Capuano picked up well-known intra-party opponents. We also may add contests if some otherwise unheralded candidates turn out to be credible contenders. Conversely, we might remove some races as candidates drop out, if it becomes clear that one contender is the overwhelming favorite to win the nomination, or if a race simply looks like a dud.
There's still always a judgment call about which races to include or exclude. We don't want to list primaries in districts where one party has no realistic chance of winning the general election. (You won't see a GOP primary for NY-15, a district Hillary Clinton won 94-5, for instance.) We do lean towards inclusion, though, so we do list some races where we think the party with a contested primary will have a tough, but not impossible, task winning the general election, such as the Democratic primary for governor of Texas or the GOP race to take on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In addition, there are probably some races lurking out there right now that do have contested primaries but don't look like they'll host interesting general elections. Some of them will, however, develop into competitive contests, especially in an election year like this one, so we're always on alert for races like this. And on occasion (though hopefully rarely!), it's even possible we'll miss a race, since there will always be a handful of little-known candidates in seemingly uncompetitive primaries who pull off surprising victories. For all these reasons, we'll be continually revising our list as needed. As always, we welcome reader input on our tracker, which we hope you'll bookmark and put to good use in this busy election cycle.
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