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, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● AZ-Sen: Well, this could become a thing. On Monday, the sleuths at American Bridge busted Republican Senate candidate Martha McSally for posting a fake comment praising her own Facebook video—though McSally made it awfully easy to catch her. That's because McSally's social media team posted the bogus comment—saying, oddly, "Great video quality! Thank you for your service!"—from McSally's own account! (Also, what kind of normal campaign supporter praises a video's production values?) Remarkably, the comment stayed up for nearly 24 hours before getting deleted, even though several (real) commenters had called McSally out over the glaring cock-up.
The reason why this might have legs is, as ShareBlue's Tommy Christopher asks, "[H]ow many fake comments praising McSally were successfully posted on her page"? What's more, this ham-handed sockpuppetry comes at a time when Russian social media bots and trolls are receiving a great deal of attention in the press, and Facebook itself is under tremendous scrutiny over its privacy and security practices. And even if McSally's campaign refuses to answer Christopher's question, from now on, any time anyone says anything positive about McSally online, it'll be suspect.
● ME-Sen: Candidate filing closed last week for Maine's June 12 primary, and the Bangor Daily News has a list of candidates available here. Note that this election marks the first time that instant-runoff voting will be used in a statewide primary anywhere in the country; we'll discuss that in our ME-Gov section.
Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, is seeking a second term, and he remains the heavy favorite. Termed-out Gov. Paul LePage spent years keeping people guessing as to whether or not he'd challenge King, and Trump reportedly encouraged him to jump in back in December. However, now that filing has closed, we can finally definitively say that LePage won't run. State Sen. Eric Brakey actually has been running since April, and he's likely to be the GOP nominee. However, Brakey has attracted little attention from national Republicans, and he ended 2017 with just $85,000 in the bank.
There also will be a Democrat on the general election ballot against King. Educator Zak Ringelstein has some support from several state legislators, though he ended 2017 with only $62,000 on-hand. However, it's unlikely that the general election will be close enough for Ringelstein to do much damage to King. Back in 2012, King beat his GOP opponent 53-31, while a Democrat took just 13 percent.
● MS-Sen-B: Republican Gov. Phil Bryant announced on Monday that he won't appoint Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves to replace GOP Sen. Thad Cochran when the latter resigns on April 1 due to health issues. Reeves is a likely candidate to succeed the term-limited Bryant in the 2019 gubernatorial election, so this decision does not come as a surprise. The Clarion Ledger reports that Bryant's shortlist to replace Cochran is in fact very short. Anonymous insiders tell the paper that Bryant is considering just two Republican names: Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and state Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith, both of whom have previously been mentioned as likely contenders for the appointment
Bryant had previously signaled that he wants to appoint a candidate who will then run in the nonpartisan November special election rather than a placeholder, but whoever that is will first have to get past hard-right state Sen. Chris McDaniel. But speaking of McDaniel, his campaign has so far struggled to consolidate the backing of the same groups that supported him in his narrow loss to Cochran in the 2014 primary. Most notably, the hardline anti-tax Club for Growth and the insurgent Senate Conservatives Fund have held off on endorsing McDaniel despite backing him in 2014. Club for Growth president David McIntosh recently said his organization is waiting to see whom Bryant appoints to fill the seat before making a decision about whether to help McDaniel again.
● NV-Sen: Candidate filing closed on Friday for Nevada's June 12 primary, and the state has a list of candidates available here.
Sen. Dean Heller is the most vulnerable Senate Republican in the country, but he lost his only credible primary foe last week when Danny Tarkanian dropped down to run in the 3rd Congressional District (again). Heller can now concentrate on his general election campaign against his likely Democratic foe, Rep. Jacky Rosen, who beat Tarkanian in a competitive 2016 race. We haven't seen any polling here since the summer.
State and national Democrats have consolidated behind Rosen, and her only noteworthy primary opponent is attorney Jesse Sbaih. Sbaih has loaned his campaign $2 million, but if 2016 is any indication, he may not use most of that money. Back then, Sbaih took on Rosen in the primary in the 3rd and loaned himself roughly $500,000, but he ended up returning $450,000 to himself after he lost the nomination in a 62-13 drubbing.
● UT-Sen: Candidate filing closed last Thursday for Utah's June 26 primary, and the state has a list of candidates available here.
GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch announced at the beginning of the year that he would retire, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney immediately became the heavy favorite to succeed him. Romney is incredibly popular in Utah, and he even received an endorsement last month from Donald Trump. Back in 2016, Romney said that if Trump "had said 4 years the things he says today about the KKK, Muslims, Mexicans, disabled, I would NOT have accepted his endorsement" in 2012, but he didn't seem to have much of a problem accepting it in February.
A few Republican office-holders did express interest in taking on Romney, but the only one who stepped up in the end was state Rep. Mike Kennedy. To say that Kennedy's odds are long would be an understatement, and he may not even make it to June. Kennedy is competing at the April 21 GOP convention, and if he doesn't obtain enough support for delegates to win a place on the ballot, his campaign will be over. Romney will be at the convention as well, but he's also collecting signatures so that he can make the primary ballot in case something goes wrong in April.
Democrats haven't won a statewide race in Utah since Jan Graham was re-elected as attorney general in 1996, and that streak is unlikely to be broken this year. Still, Team Blue does have a credible candidate in Salt Lake County Councilor Jenny Wilson. As Alabama Sen. Doug Jones and Pennsylvania Rep.-elect Conor Lamb would tell you, it's always good to field good candidates for tough races in case lighting strikes.
● WI-Sen: Former Bush administration U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, a neo-conservative hardliner, is out with new TV and radio ads in support of businessman Kevin Nicholson in the GOP primary, backed by $278,000 from Bolton's super PAC. The TV spot features Bolton speaking to the camera and narrating as he praises Nicholson's Marine service and touts him as someone who will take a strong stance against terrorism.
● WV-Sen: State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has released an internal poll from Osage Research that shows him leading the Republican primary for Senate. Morrisey takes first place with 24 percent, followed by disgraced coal baron Don Blankenship at 22 and Rep. Evan Jenkins at 17. This poll comes in response to a recent Jenkins internal from Harper Polling that had the congressman edging Blankenship for first place by a 29-27 margin, while Morrisey was stuck in last at 19 percent.
These dueling internal polls paint a conflicting picture of who is in the lead, but we have little in the way of independent polling to compare them to. Nevertheless, both surveys show Blankenship may not just be a quixotic candidate but could actually stand a very real chance of scoring an upset to win the primary. However, there are still several weeks to go until the May 8 primary, and neither Morrisey nor Jenkins has begun running attack ads against Blankenship over his conviction for violating mine safety laws, which led to the deaths of 29 miners in a 2010 catastrophe.
● CA-Gov: Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has released an internal poll from David Binder Research that shows what every other poll has found: Newsom is the clear front-runner to take one of two general election spots in the June 5 primary. The survey has Newsom at 26 percent while businessman John Cox, a Republican, snags the second slot with 16. Democratic state Treasurer John Chiang is right on Cox's heels at 13, while former Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa takes 12, GOP Assemblyman Travis Allen is at 10, former Democratic state education Superintendent Delaine Eastin is at 7, and former Hillary Clinton campaign national political director Amanda Renteria brings up the rear with 4.
This survey appears to be the first publicly available poll after Renteria launched her surprise long-shot campaign, and it seems as though her candidacy may be hurting Villaraigosa, who is the only other notable Latino candidate in the race. Previously released polls have suggested Villaraigosa could make the top-two alongside Newsom, shutting Republicans out entirely, but Newsom undoubtedly would prefer to face a Republican rather than a fellow Democrat in the general election in this dark-blue state.
Meanwhile, Renteria made waves last week when she called on Newsom to resign as lieutenant governor over an affair with a city hall aide more than a decade ago when he was San Francisco's mayor. However, pretty much no one in California politics has backed Renteria on this, and several women who support Newsom have denounced her call for his resignation as a cheap political stunt; incoming state Senate leader Toni Atkins even argued it "distracts from the real importance and urgency of the #MeToo movement." It's unclear whether this will even be an issue against Newsom, since none of his other rivals has tried to use it against him.
● CO-Gov: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is making a $1 million donation to a super PAC supporting former state Sen. Mike Johnston, who is running in the Democratic primary for governor. Bloomberg has funded candidates in races around the country who support new gun-safety measures, and his spokesperson hailed Johnston for his efforts to combat gun violence while serving in the legislature.
● CT-Gov: On Monday, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart announced she would seek the GOP nomination for governor, a move that came two months after she formed an exploratory committee. The only notable Republican who is still in exploratory mode at this point is state Sen. Toni Boucher. Stewart now enters an extremely crowded August primary. Just how crowded are we talking about? Here are the other noteworthy declared GOP candidates:
- Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton
- Stamford Director of Administration Michael Handler
- Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst
- Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti
- Attorney and 2014 secretary of state nominee Peter Lumaj
- Businessman and 2012 CT-04 nominee Steve Obsitnik
- State Rep. Prasad Srinivasan
- Former business executive Bob Stefanowski
- Hedge fund founder David Stemerman
- Former United States Comptroller General David Walker
The field might be winnowed at the Republican convention, which will be held May 11-12. However, any candidates who don't get the support of at least 15 percent of the delegates can still reach the primary ballot if they can get 9,600 valid signatures from registered Republican voters before the June 12 deadline.
● ID-Gov: Idaho First PAC, which is supporting developer Tommy Ahlquist and is funded partly by Ahlquist's father, is out with a new TV ad attacking his two rivals in the Republican primary for governor. The spot hammers Rep. Raul Labrador and Lt. Gov. Brad Little for being "long-time politicians." It specifically blasts Labrador for voting against school and road funding, while it accuses Little of supporting tax increases.
● IL-Gov: Republican pollster Victory Research is out with their second and final poll of the Democratic primary for governor. However, as we noted last time, there are huge red flags when it comes to the pollster's principle, Rod McCulloch, who once falsified signatures for a candidate seeking to get on the ballot in 2008 and was convicted of perjury in connection with the case, receiving a sentence of probation. While we have no way of saying whether McCulloch has since redeemed himself, his past is worth bearing in mind as you consider the results.
In any event, this new poll has billionaire J.B. Pritzker taking first with 32 percent, businessman Chris Kennedy at 26 percent, and state Sen. Daniel Biss at 22 percent. That actually represents a slight uptick for Pritzker and a major gain for Kennedy compared to Victory's February survey, where Pritzker led Biss just 27-24 while Kennedy took just 17. Notably, both of Victory's polls have given Pritzker narrower leads than he has enjoyed in every other publicly available survey for months. It's possible Victory is onto something that other pollsters haven't caught, but we'll know soon enough who was closest to the mark with the primary finally taking place on Tuesday.
● ME-Gov: Notorious GOP Gov. Paul LePage is mercifully termed-out, and both parties have large fields seeking to replace him. However, the state's new, and perhaps only temporary, instant-runoff voting (IRV) system introduces some extra unpredictability to the June primaries. Voters will be allowed to rank their choices, and if no candidate takes a majority, the last-place candidate gets eliminated and has their votes reassigned to their voters' next preferences. However, June may be the only time Maine votes this way, at least for a while.
The backstory is long, so here is what you need to know about what's happening in June. The state legislature passed a law that effectively repealed a voter-approved IRV law last year, but IRV proponents successfully put a measure on the June primary ballot to undo the legislature's repeal. The new ballot measure freezes the repeal effort, so the primaries will be conducted using instant-runoff voting. If voters in June decide to approve the repeal law, then it will once again take only a simple plurality of the vote to win office in November. And if voters undo the repeal … things could get really complicated in November. But we'll cross that messy bridge only if and when we come to it.
Now, to the actual candidates. On the Democratic side, there are seven hopefuls in total, though the three main contenders appear to be state Attorney General Janet Mills, attorney and renewable energy entrepreneur Adam Cote, and former state House Speaker Mark Eves.
Mills may have the most name recognition, though she's never run statewide before: In Maine, the attorney general is appointed by the legislature rather than elected, and Mills has served continuously since 2013. Mills also has the backing of EMILY's List. However, the attorney general has drawn the ire of some progressive groups, including the state Conservation Voters and ACLU, over what they consider to be her opposition to local Native American fishing rights.
Cote, meanwhile, had the largest war chest of any of the Democrats at the end of 2017. Cote, who earned a Bronze Star in 2014 for his service with the Maine National Guard in Afghanistan, has only run for office once before. He lost a 2008 bid for the U.S. House to eventual winner Chellie Pingree 44-28, but he reportedly impressed party leaders in defeat.
Finally, there's Eves, who was in the news quite a bit in 2015. Back then, LePage threatened to cut off funding for a charter school if it didn't withdraw its job offer to Eves to serve as its president; legislators discussed impeachment, but the idea never went anywhere. Eves filed a civil suit against LePage, but a judge ultimately dismissed it.
A few other contenders are also seeking the Democratic nod, and given how unpredictable this race is, we can hardly rule out any of them winning it. There's state Sen. Mark Dion, who also served as sheriff of Cumberland, the largest county in the state, until 2010. Betsy Sweet has been a lobbyist for progressive caucuses, and she's trying to qualify for public campaign financing. Former state Rep. Diane Russell and former Biddeford Mayor Donna Dion are also in.
Five Republicans are running. LePage hasn't publicly taken sides in the primary, but some of his allies, including his daughter, are backing businessman Shawn Moody. Moody ran for governor in 2010 as an independent and took fourth place with 5 percent of the vote; afterwards, the governor himself appointed his former rival to serve as a trustee for both the University of Maine System and Maine Community College System. Moody has done some considerable self-funding, and he had by far the most money of any of the candidates at the end of December, with $260,000 in the bank.
Former state Health Commissioner Mary Mayhew is also a LePage ally—or at least was. During her time in office, Democrats have criticized Mayhew for pushing for cuts to vital programs, and they blamed her after the Riverview Psychiatric Center lost federal certification. Mayhew's fellow Republicans unsurprisingly see her in a much more favorable light. Given LePageworld's apparent fondness for Moody, though, it's not clear how highly the governor still thinks of her.
State House Minority Leader Ken Fredette has been a loud LePage defender, but his fundraising has been particularly bad. State Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason is close to the state's conservative Evangelical political network, and he was a prominent supporter of Ted Cruz during the GOP primary caucus, which Cruz decisively won. Mason, notably, has qualified for public financing.
The one Republican running who is definitively on the outs with LePage is state Senate President Mike Thibodeau. While the two used to be allies, they came into conflict in a budget fight last year, and LePage hasn't hidden how much he hates Thibodeau. Back in January, LePage said that, while he wouldn't endorse anyone in the primary, he would be sure to oppose Thibodeau.
And what would a Maine race be without some independents? There are just too many third-party and non-aligned candidates to name, but there are two in particular worth keeping an eye on. Businessman Alan Caron has already done some self-funding, and he seems to be pitching himself as a left-leaning contender.
Lastly, state Treasurer Terry Hayes was a Democrat when she was in the legislature, but she had a falling out with the party in 2012 when the caucus picked Eves to serve as speaker instead of her. In 2014 and 2016, she successfully secured enough support from Republicans and a few Democrats in the legislature (the treasurer, like the attorney general, is appointed) to beat the Democratic candidate.
● MI-Gov: The United Auto Workers, which is the largest union in Michigan and has 385,000 members nationwide, has endorsed former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer in the Democratic primary for governor. Whitmer faces wealthy businessman Shri Thanedar and former Detroit Health Commissioner Abdul El-Sayed, but she is the front-runner for the nomination.
● NV-Gov: GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval is termed-out, and Team Red is hoping to win their sixth straight victory for this office. The frontrunner in the June primary is Attorney General Adam Laxalt, the grandson of former Sen. Paul Laxalt.
Not too many voters may remember elder Laxalt, who has been out of office since 1987 (and is now 95), but his son has established a reputation as an ardent conservative. Laxalt is close to the Koch brothers and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and money will not be a concern for him. Laxalt's main primary foe is state Treasurer Dan Schwartz, who has a poor relationship with the party establishment and has been self-funding most of his campaign. Schwartz has portrayed Laxalt as too extreme, which is probably not a winning argument in a GOP primary.
The Democratic side features a matchup between two fellow Clark County commissioners: Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani. Sisolak has been fundraising for a future campaign for years, and he had a huge $5.75 million to $1 million cash-on-hand edge at the end of 2017. Sisolak also has the backing of former Sen. Harry Reid, who still wealds considerable power in Nevada Democratic politics.
However, Giunchigliani may have a few openings against Sisolak. Sisolak has embraced his moderate reputation, arguing in June that he's "not real liberal" and "not real conservative." By contrast, Giunchigliani is well-liked by the party base. It's also possible a controversy over the $1.9 billion football stadium to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas could hurt Sisolak. Sisolak backed a controversial $750 million hotel tax to pay for part of the stadium, while Giunchigliani was the one member of the county commission to vote against it.
A few independents are also running. The most noteworthy is Ryan Bundy, a son and ally of notorious rancher and far-right hero Cliven Bundy. It's unclear if Bundy will have an impact on the race, but if he does, it probably won't be in a way the GOP likes.
● NY-Gov: On Monday, actress and activist Cynthia Nixon announced she'd challenge New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in this September's Democratic primary, giving the incumbent his highest-profile opponent ever. Nixon, calling herself a "strong progressive alternative," immediately went hard at Cuomo, branding the governor "a centrist and Albany insider" whose administration "has been defined by a string of indictments for corruption" and has neglected the New York City subway. She also specifically called Cuomo out for "his support for a backroom deal which handed Republicans control of the state Senate, resulting in the failure of numerous pieces of progressive legislation."
Nixon shot to stardom playing the role of Miranda on the HBO comedy "Sex and the City" from 1998 to 2004, but more recently, she's grown increasingly involved in the political world, particularly in the areas of education and LGBT equality. Nixon came out as gay in 2004 and married her longtime partner, Christine Marinoni, in 2012, which could help neutralize a key accomplishment Cuomo is sure to tout to appeal to liberals: his successful push to legalize same-sex marriage in the state in 2011.
Cuomo will also undoubtedly highlight the SAFE Act, the gun safety measure he passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. But many of his other supposed liberal accomplishments have been half-measures, to which he "has had to be dragged kicking and screaming, coming around only when he realized it might be politically advantageous to do so," as Alan Greenblatt wrote in Governing magazine last year. That includes things like a bill that raises the minimum wage to $15, but that will only be fully implemented after seven years and in the meantime allows employers to pay a lower wage outside of New York City.
And Cuomo's outright sins are many. Chief among them, as Nixon charges, is Cuomo's tacit backing of the GOP's grip on the Senate—with the aid of several turncoat Democrats Cuomo's deliberately never sought to corral—which has resulted in a years-long blockade of a huge array of progressive priorities. That includes a state-level DREAM Act, a bill that would enshrine the rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade in state law, and anything resembling meaningful ethics reform (Cuomo's former top aide, by the way, was just found guilty on corruption charges)—but the full list is miles long.
Yet Cuomo will be as formidable as they come. Despite his open distaste for liberal politics, Cuomo sports a 67-25 favorability rating among Democrats in a new poll from Siena College, and he starts off with a dominant 66-19 lead on Nixon, who, despite her fame, is still unknown to most voters but does have a positive 26-16 score with members of her own party. (The poll was conducted before Nixon announced.)
Cuomo also has an astonishing $30 million war chest, thanks to New York's lax campaign finance regime and his closeness to moneyed interests. Nixon, by contrast, says she won't accept corporate donations. Cuomo also maintains broad support from labor, to whom he's generally been accommodating out of pure expediency (except for the teachers unions, which, as an ally of charter schools, he's spat on throughout tenure).
More than anything, though, Cuomo is known as a savage operator who has few scruples when it comes to thwarting his opponents, whether in the legislature or on the campaign trail. As Michael Caputo, a Republican strategist who advised Donald Trump about a possible gubernatorial bid against Cuomo in 2014, put it last year, "There isn't a counterpunch Andrew Cuomo won't throw."
Nixon, however, represents a very different sort of opponent than Cuomo is accustomed to. Last year, after Nixon hammered the governor on education policy in an appearance on the "Today" show, Cuomo's response was uncharacteristically restrained: A spokesperson would only say, "We know Ms. Nixon is a passionate advocate for education, and we would be happy to sit down with her anytime to talk about it."
It may be that Cuomo understood that the optics of attacking a celebrity who (at least at the time) was not actively seeking office were sub-optimal, so his stance may soon change now that Nixon has joined the race. But Nixon still has some advantages: She has no public record to criticize, she's anything but a career politician, and she undoubtedly knows lots of wealthy people who'll be glad to contribute generously to her campaign. And in the Trump era, she might be able to mobilize angry progressives in a way that simply wasn't possible in previous years.
However, Nixon will also have to convince voters that she's capable of serving as the chief executive of the nation's fourth-largest state with a $163 billion budget. There's also a third Democrat running, former state Sen. Terry Gipson, who could siphon off precious votes if he remains in the race. Cuomo, whatever his liabilities, is the heavy favorite to win the primary, and if he succeeds, to secure a third term against whomever the GOP puts forth in November.
● OK-Gov: The New York Times recently reported that Scott Pruitt is the subject of speculation he might launch a last-minute campaign to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. Mary Fallin in Oklahoma, where he previously served as state attorney general from 2011 to 2017. Pruitt is currently Trump's notoriously anti-science head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and he has turned the agency on its head by protecting polluters while fighting climate regulations.
However, that record may not be much of a negative in deeply conservative Oklahoma, where the fossil fuel industry looms large over the state's economy. Pruitt himself hasn't said anything about his intentions, but a spokesperson said he's focused on his current job, which isn't a "no." Regardless, the filing deadline is April 13, so we'll know soon enough whether he runs.
● WY-Gov: Businessman Sam Galeotos had previously filed to join the GOP primary for governor, and he now reportedly plans to announce he's running on Wednesday. Galeotos is the executive chairman of a data services company and has the backing of former state party chair Matt Micheli, although he doesn't appear to have run for office before.
● AZ-02: Former Sen. Dennis DeConcini, the last Democrat elected to the Senate in Arizona, just endorsed former state Rep. Matt Heinz in his bid for the state's open 2nd Congressional District. Heinz is an underdog in the Democratic primary against former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, but interestingly, DeConcini backed Kirkpatrick's surprise bid for the Senate last cycle very early on, when other Democrats were still considering the race.
● CA-10: Rep. Jackie Speier, who represents California's 14th Congressional District, has endorsed former Riverbank Mayor Virginia Madueno. Speier's seat on the San Francisco Peninsula is just two districts over from the 10th, though geographically and culturally, the seats are very different from one another. Madueno is one of several Democrats hoping to oust GOP Rep. Jeff Denham.
● IA-03: On Monday, Iowa's secretary of state's office announced that real estate company president Theresa Greenfield did not submit enough valid signatures to make the June Democratic ballot. Greenfield said afterwards that she would spend the next few days "talking to all of those incredible people who support my candidacy and gauge their support for a path forward." It is possible Greenfield could seek legal action or mount a write-in campaign, though she didn't say what she was considering.
Until this recent turn of events, Greenfield had arguably been the frontrunner in the primary to take on GOP Rep. David Young. Greenfield handed her petitions in on Wednesday, but two days later, she announced that her campaign manager, Noah Wasserman, had told her the night before that he had forged an unknown number of signatures.
Greenfield says that she fired Wasserman on the spot before she decided to collect all 1,790 signatures all over again on Friday, which was the day they were due. Remarkably, Greenfield's lightning-fast signature gathering campaign was helped by the campaigns of governor candidates Fred Hubbell, John Norris, Nate Boulton, Andy McGuire, and Cathy Glasson. Even Pete D'Alessandro, a longtime party operative who is also running in the 3rd District, lent a hand.
Greenfield didn't have time to count her petitions before she turned them in at the last possible second, and according to the secretary of state, she fell 198 signatures short. Iowa Starting Line's Pat Rynard says that if Greenfield had chosen to do nothing about her original signatures, the state's verification process probably wouldn't have even uncovered any forgeries. However, Greenfield said over the weekend, before she knew if she'd make the ballot or not, that she decided she "was not going to get on the ballot with forged signatures."
For at least the moment, only three Democrats are on the June ballot: D'Alessandro, business consultant Cindy Axne, and insurance company owner Eddie Mauro. One other candidate, former U.S. Treasury Department economist Austin Frerick, dropped out just before the deadline. If no one takes at least 35 percent of the vote in the primary, a party convention will pick the nominee. If there are only three candidates competing in June, it's considerably more likely that the Democratic nomination will be decided in the primary.
● ME-02: GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin won an expensive contest last cycle as his northern Maine seat swung from 53-44 Obama to 51-41 Trump, but Democrats are going to target him again. Four candidates are running in the June primary, and, as we discussed above in our ME-Gov item, the nomination will be decided through instant-runoff voting.
The two main Democratic candidates appear to be businessman Lucas St. Clair and state Rep. Jared Golden. St. Clair, who is close to conservation groups, became well-known for successfully securing federal recognition for former timberland in Maine's North Woods as a national monument. St. Clair was widely credited for convincing initially skeptical local residents to back the project.
Golden, meanwhile, is a Marine veteran who entered the race with a strong announcement video, and he has the support of VoteVets. While Golden's opening fundraising quarter was a bit sluggish, he improved quite a bit at the end of the year. At the end of December, Golden held a $182,000 to $140,000 cash-on-hand edge over St. Clair.
The other two Democrats businessman Jonathan Fulford, who narrowly lost tough state Senate races in 2014 and 2016, and local bookseller Craig Olson. Fulford had $76,000 on-hand at the end of the year, while Olson, who has mainly been self-funding, had $61,000. In October, a poll of the primary for an unnamed group gave St. Clair the lead with 40 percent of the vote, while the other three Democrats were in the single digits.
● MN-08: MinnPost recently took a look at which candidates running for the Democratic nomination to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan say will or won't abide by the result of the April 14 party convention. Former FBI analyst Leah Phifer, North Branch Mayor Kirsten Kennedy, and former state Rep. Joe Radinovich all say they will abide by the convention outcome and drop out if they don't win the party's endorsement.
However, state Rep. Jason Metsa and retired Duluth news anchor Michelle Lee both would not commit to ending their campaigns if they lose at the convention. Consequently, we may still end up seeing a contested primary for this ancestrally Democratic Iron Range-based seat, which backed Trump 54-39.
● ND-AL: Even though he only entered the race for North Dakota's open at-large congressional seat earlier this month, former state Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider won a dominant victory at the state Democratic Party's convention on Saturday, earning the support of 61 percent of delegates. That prompted state Sen. John Grabinger, who took a distant third with just 5 percent, to drop out and back Schneider. However, the second-place finisher, former state Rep. Ben Hanson (who captured 34 percent of the vote), did not rule out continuing on to the June 12 primary, though the West Fargo Pioneer notes that all three candidates "wrapped their arms around each other" on stage after Schneider secured the endorsement.
Schneider also secured the backing of former Rep. Earl Pomeroy, the last Democrat to hold this seat before losing in the 2010 Republican wave. Schneider had previously served as press secretary to Pomeroy, who declared, "We fought the political battles together. Through it all, I always knew one thing: Big Mac had my back." Now Pomeroy has Big Mac's back, too.
Meanwhile, the fight for the GOP nomination is chiefly a contest between two men: state Sens. Kelly Armstrong, who resigned as state party chair to run, and Tom Campbell. Republicans will hold their convention from April 6-8, though as with the Democrats, it may not determine their nominee.
● NJ-05: It's been a while since we've written about the June GOP primary to face freshman Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer and well … let's just say that Steve Lonegan won't be standing down in his war against the party establishment anytime soon. Attorney John McCann's allies control the county party in Bergen, which makes up 72 percent of this competitive seat, and they're going to give McCann the all-important county organization line.
Lonegan, a movement conservative who has lost several high-profile races over the years, is not happy, and he declared that McCann and Bergen GOP chair Paul DiGaetano "are in bed with the Democrats." He went on, "It's either corrupt, Democrat Party politics or a party based on conservative principals. The people will decide." Lonegan also referenced McCann's attempts to paint him as a loser, saying, "He runs around saying 'Lonegan lost, Lonegan lost,' but I took on big battles. I defeated Cory Booker in the 5th District." Lonegan did indeed carry this seat in his 2013 Senate bid, but by just a 50-49 spread.
However, while local party elites may not like him, Lonegan does have one big potential advantage over McCann. At the end of December, Lonegan had a $1 million to $129,000 cash-on-hand edge; the vast majority of the money each Republican has brought in has come from his own wallet, but Lonegan's wallet was obviously a lot fatter. Gottheimer has always been a strong fundraiser, and he ended the year with $2.6 million in the bank.
● NJ-07: While businessman Craig Heard recently formed an exploratory committee for a potential GOP primary bid against Rep. Leonard Lance, he has announced he'll back the congressman rather than run himself.
● NJ-08: Hudson County Democrats are involved in a nasty local war, and it could spill over into the June primary for New Jersey's safely blue 8th District. Insider NJ's Max Pizarro reports that Hudson County Freeholder Tilo Rivas is not only considering challenging Rep. Albio Sires, but that he's going to take out petitions this week. The candidate filing deadline is April 2, so we won't be in suspense for long.
Sires and Rivas are on opposite sides in the conflict for control of Hudson County, which makes up about 60 percent of this district. Rivas is a close ally of Union City Mayor Brian Stack, who is set to become county party chair in June, while Sires is tight with Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise. Stack and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop have announced that they won't back DeGise in his 2019 re-election campaign, but DeGise has declared he's running for a fifth term anyway, and has Sires' support.
As part of this internecine battle, Pizarro writes that pro-Stack forces have been looking for someone to take on Sires this year, and while there was some speculation that Fulop would do it, he's reportedly said no. But Rivas, who is also a Union City commissioner, seems to have emerged as their candidate.
● NV-02: GOP Rep. Mark Amodei had sounded very meh about running for re-election for months, but he did indeed file to seek another term. Amodei faces a well-known primary challenge from former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, whose notorious 2010 Senate campaign helped secure Democrat Harry Reid one last term.
However, Angle's glory days, such as they were, seem to be far behind her. Angle ran for the Senate again in 2016 and lost the primary to establishment favorite Joe Heck 65-23. This bid looks no better: She had less than $4,000 in the bank at the end of 2017.
This northern Nevada seat went from 53-45 Romney to 52-40 Trump, and it could be in play in a Democratic wave year. However, Team Blue may just not have a candidate strong enough to ride a wave to victory. Clint Koble, who served as a state-level Department of Agriculture official during the Obama administration, entered the race in mid-November, but he had less than $1,000 in the bank at the end of the year.
● NV-03: Democratic freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen is leaving to run for the Senate, and both parties are going to work hard to win her suburban Las Vegas seat, which very narrowly backed both Obama and Trump. Local and national Democrats very quickly consolidated behind wealthy education activist and philanthropist Susie Lee, who faces no serious primary opposition and had a hefty $601,000 in the bank at the end of last year.
The Republican primary, by contrast, is as chaotic as the Democrats' is placid. There was a huge last-minute development on the GOP side on Friday when perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian dropped his primary bid against Sen. Dean Heller and announced that he would once again seek this seat. Tarkanian has unsuccessfully run for office five times now (six if you count his aborted bid against Heller), but his wealth and family name—his late father was the legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian—have elevated him above the rank of Some Dude.
And powered by his belligerent brand of conservatism, Tarkanian defeated state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, the choice of the GOP establishment, in the primary for the 3rd District last cycle. Tarkanian ended up narrowly losing to Rosen 47-46 as Trump was taking this seat 48-47.
For the other Republicans who were already running here, Tarkanian's campaign has almost certainly made all their lives harder. In the mix are state Sen. Scott Hammond, former local TV news reporter Michelle Mortensen, former Clark County party chairman Dave McKeon (a son of former California Rep. Buck McKeon), and former Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman. Two Republican operatives (one local, one national) each anonymously told the Washington Examiner that they'd prefer either Hammond or Mortensen.
But despite his huge flaws, it may be very hard to stop Tarkanian from claiming the GOP nomination again, especially in this crowded field. Tarkanian is not only well-known, but he got Trump's blessing when he switched races in the form of a tweet reading, "It would be great for the Republican Party of Nevada, and it's unity if good guy Danny Tarkanian would run for Congress and Dean Heller, who is doing a really good job, could run for Senate unopposed!"
Tarkanian also will likely have a huge financial edge in the primary. Tarkanian's Senate campaign had $451,000 on-hand at the end of December. By contrast, the best-funded candidate of the rest of the lot was Seaman, who has $139,000 available. None of the others had more than $80,000 to spend.
● NV-04: Freshman Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen decided to retire late last year after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, and despite reports suggesting that he might do so, he thankfully did not change his mind before the Friday filing deadline.
Republicans became very interested in targeting this seat after Kihuen's career started to self-destruct, and former Rep. Cresent Hardy faces minimal primary opposition. Hardy won this seat in a 2014 surprise against Democrat Steven Horsford, and he lost to Kihuen 49-45 last cycle as Clinton was carrying this seat by a similar margin. He initially declined a comeback bid but changed his mind after this seat became open.
Things are more crowded on the Democratic side. Horsford is looking to avenge himself for his 2014 loss, and he starts out as the frontrunner in the primary. Horsford likely still has plenty of name recognition from his one term in the House, and perhaps more importantly, the powerful Culinary Union reportedly plans to support him. (Horsford used to be CEO of their training academy.) However, Horsford has acknowledged that his family lives in Northern Virginia, and he's predicted he would be criticized for this choice.
State Sen. Pat Spearman is also in, and she does have some experience winning tough primaries. Spearman, who is a gay Army veteran and minister, made her first run for office in 2012 in a primary against conservative state Sen. John Lee in a safely blue seat around North Las Vegas. Lee decisively outspent her, and even Spearman's allies doubted she had much of a chance, but she unseated the incumbent 63-37.
University of Nevada Regent Allison Stephens, who, like Horsford and Spearman, is black, kicked off a campaign last week. Stephens, who is also one of the state's two Democratic National Committee members, is probably the least known of the three, but she may have the connections to run a serious race. Wrapping up the notable candidates, there's Medicare-for-all advocate Amy Vilela, who was challenging Kihuen in his primary before his scandal and has gotten some media attention. Vilela only had $33,000 on-hand at the end of 2017, but if she can get her name out, she may be able to win if she can do well with Hispanic voters.
● NY-12: Just gross. Longtime Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who faces an unusually well-funded primary challenge from businessman Suraj Patel, scoffed to BuzzFeed in a new interview that her opponent's fundraising reports show "mainly a huge amount of the name Patel, which is his name." Like many Indian-American candidates, Patel has indeed been successful in raising money from other members of the Indian-American community, many of whom also share his last name—which is one of the most common Indian surnames.
Ethnic affinities have always played a role in American politics, and particularly for members of minority groups, the opportunity to support candidates from your own community is often a point of pride. For Maloney to make any of this sound sketchy or even shameful is tremendously dismaying.
Patel shot back sharply, saying, "I guess I didn't realize Rep. Maloney hired Steve Bannon as her campaign strategist" and noting that Donald Trump had once donated to the congresswoman. Maloney will still be hard to beat, but since first winning office, she's never faced a truly competitive race, and if she gets in the habit of making more unforced errors like this one, she might wind up making things a contest.
● NY-25: It's only been a few days since Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter died, and understandably, potential candidates aren't in a hurry to talk about whether they'll run to succeed her. It's also not clear whether Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo will schedule a special election, much less when, for the final months of Slaughter's term. However, the April 12 filing deadline for the regularly scheduled June primary is not very far away, so local politicians will need to decide what they'll do before too long. This seat, which is based in the Rochester area, backed Obama 59-39 and Clinton by a similar 56-39 margin and should remain blue without much trouble.
Speculation quickly began that Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren could seek the Democratic nod, though she said Friday, hours after Slaughter's death was announced, that it wasn't the right time to talk about running. Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle and Assemblyman Harry Bronson also declined to talk about whether they were interested. Politico also mentions Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello, former television journalist Rachel Barnhart, and Brighton Supervisor Bill Moehle as possibilities, though we've heard nothing from any of them. However, former Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who used to be Rochester's mayor, said he wouldn't run.
On the Republican side, local party leaders consolidated behind James Maxwell, the chief of neurosurgery at Rochester General Hospital, before Slaughter died. The chair of the Monroe County GOP told Politico on Friday that his organizations remained committed to Maxwell. (Monroe is the only county in the seat.) Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini had ruled out a bid in January, but he declined to say on Friday whether he was reconsidering. Assini lost to Slaughter by just 871 votes in a shock 2014 squeaker, but she beat him 56-44 in their rematch two years later. Local political science professor Jim Bowers mentions Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo as another possibility, but there's no sign she's considering.
● OH-16: Former football star Anthony Gonzalez recently debuted his first TV ad ahead of the Republican primary to succeed outgoing GOP Rep. Jim Renacci in this northeastern Ohio seat. The spot highlights Gonzalez's background, noting how his father's side of the family fled Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba, and how he achieved success playing football for the Ohio State University and in the NFL. Gonzalez also emphasizes his business experience and pitches himself as a problem-solver.
● OK-01: Democrats haven't won a Tulsa-based House seat since former Rep. James Jones last won re-election all the way back in 1984, but Democrat Tim Gilpin's recent decision to join the race at least gives the party a notable candidate for 2018. Gilpin heads a personal injury and labor law firm, and he previously served on the state Board of Education and as an assistant state attorney general, so he may have some decent connections in state politics.
This district backed Trump by a brutal 61-33, so Republicans are heavily favored in November. However, Gilpin is hoping to score an upset thanks to GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine's retirement this year. Oklahoma has also been seeing an ongoing backlash at the ballot box against unpopular Republican Gov. Mary Fallin's harsh education budget cuts, which have forced many school systems to operate just four days a week while class sizes have skyrocketed.
● PA-05: State Rep. Margo Davidson has jumped into the Democratic primary for the new Delaware County-based 5th District, but Democrats are unlikely be to be enthusiastic about her. In the span of a month earlier this year, Davidson was twice charged with crashing her taxpayer-funded vehicle while her license was suspended. Police said in January that she drove away from the scene after rear-ending a vehicle without providing the legally required documents where the crash took place. And even before that, Davidson only won renomination 54-46 in 2016 after casting some unpopular votes in favor of abortion restrictions and school vouchers.
The primary for this new, safely blue seat has grown incredibly crowded, but the last Democrat to represent this area in the House has made his preference known. Former Rep. Joe Sestak endorsed attorney George Badey, who was the 2012 nominee for the old Delaware County-based 7th District and currently serves as the Radnor Township Democratic committee chair.
● PA-06: Republican Rep. Ryan Costello had been publicly refusing to rule out retirement following the GOP's special election loss in Pennsylvania's old 18th District last week, but he now says he'll file petitions that would allow him to seek a third term in the 6th District when the filing period ends on Tuesday.
This development would seemingly give the GOP a big break after this redrawn Chester County-based district swerved left, going from a narrow from 48.2-47.6 margin for Hillary Clinton to a much wider 53-43 win thanks to court-ordered redistricting. However, Costello did not actually say he's running for re-election, only that he's "filing my petition," and as ABC News' Emily Goodin relays, anonymous insiders aren't certain Costello will end up sticking things out in the tougher seat.
If Costello won the nomination and then decided to drop out at least 85 days before the November general election, the GOP could pick a new nominee. But Republicans would almost certainly would have a much harder time holding this blue-leaning district without an incumbent on the ballot in a midterm environment that's favoring Democrats, especially if their candidate had limited time to prepare a campaign.
● PA Redistricting: On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the GOP's effort to block Pennsylvania's new court-drawn congressional map, and a federal district court did the same. Consequently, the districts drawn by the state Supreme Court to promote partisan fairness will now definitely be the ones used for the 2018 elections, replacing one of the most extreme Republican gerrymanders ever drawn in the modern era.
The candidate filing period ends at 5 PM ET on Tuesday, and we'll take an extensive look at everyone running in each of the newly redrawn districts soon. In the meantime, you can find our calculations of the key electoral results, demographic stats, and more for the new map here.
● UT-03: GOP Rep. John Curtis will face a familiar opponent for renomination in this very red Provo-area seat. Former state Rep. Chris Herrod, who lost a special election primary to Curtis 43-33 last year, will oppose the incumbent at the April party convention. Utah law allows candidates to also collect signatures to reach the June primary ballot in case the convention doesn't go well for them, an option only Curtis has decided to exercise. Last year, Herrod pulled off a surprise win at the convention, but he fell far short in the primary a few months later.
● UT-04: GOP Rep. Mia Love is facing a very well-known Democratic opponent in this suburban Salt Lake City seat: Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, who represents about 85 percent of the 4th District and kicked off a bid in October. At the end of 2017, Love held a modest $576,000 to $460,000 cash-on-hand edge over McAdams. Local pollster Dan Jones & Associates has surveyed this race three times and has consistently given Love a 5- or 6-point edge.
Love has been a tough candidate to get a read on. In 2012, Utah Republicans chewed up Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson's House seat in redistricting in an effort to beat him, and Love gave him his most serious challenge in years. Indeed, by the end of the race, it looked like Mitt Romney's coattails would be too much for Matheson to overcome, but he pulled off a surprise 48.9-48.5 win over Love even as Romney took the seat 67-30.
Matheson opted to retire in 2014, and for almost a year, it seemed that Love, who decided to run a second time, would win this seat without much of a fight. However, Democrat Doug Owens kept things unexpectedly close despite the GOP wave and lost just 51-46. There's always been the uncomfortable possibility that some conservative voters weren't voting for Love because she's black, but 2016 did finally give Love a clear and decisive victory. Owens tried again, and while national Democrats gave him much more attention in his second attempt, Love won their rematch 54-41. Donald Trump carried this seat 39-32, while conservative independent Evan McMullin took 22 percent.
● Illinois: The Land of Lincoln will host the second primary night of 2018, and we've put together a guide for what to watch. National Democrats have made a late attempt to help far-right state Rep. Jeanne Ives take the GOP nod from Gov. Bruce Rauner, while Team Blue has an expensive three-way race. We also have plenty of competitive House primaries, including in the 3rd District, where Blue Dog Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski is facing his first serious challenge in a decade, from businesswoman Marie Newman.
The polls close at 8 PM ET (7 PM local time). We hope you'll join us at Daily Kos Elections for our liveblog of all of the races on the docket. You can also follow us on Twitter, where we'll be live-tweeting the results. And check out our calendar for a look at primary nights to come.