● NC-09: As we recounted in our last Digest, Southern Baptist Pastor Mark Harris unexpectedly defeated Rep. Robert Pittenger 48.5-46.2 in the GOP primary for this suburban Charlotte seat. While this district went for Trump 54-43, Democrats are excited about Marine veteran and solar energy businessman Dan McCready, who has been a prodigious fundraiser. But it's anyone's guess if Harris will be a better nominee for the GOP here than Pittenger would have been.
One thing we do know is that Pittenger, who was the first member of Congress to lose renomination this cycle, doesn't seem to be ready for some old-fashioned party unity. In an email sent out the morning after the primary, he declared the campaign was "blindsided with these baseless attacks and clearly did not respond in an adequate manner." Pittenger also used that morning to cancel a fundraiser with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise he'd scheduled for shortly after his planned primary win.
Harris, who used to serve as president of the Baptist State Convention in North Carolina, was a prominent leader in the successful 2012 constitutional referendum to outlaw same-sex marriage in the state. While that measure passed overwhelmingly, Harris' loud social-conservatism may not be such a good fit for suburban parts of this seat.
Harris unsuccessfully sought a seat in Congress each subsequent cycle, but he never won a primary before Tuesday. He ran in the 2014 Senate primary against national party favorite and eventual winner Thom Tillis, but he took third place with just 18 percent of the vote. Two years later, Harris challenged Pittenger for renomination and lost the three-way primary 34.95-34.45, a margin of 134 votes.
Harris decided to seek a rematch, and until the votes started coming in, he appeared to be the underdog. Back in 2016, Pittenger was running for a redrawn seat that was 60 percent new to him, and he was also dogged by an investigation related to his old real estate company over loans he made to his 2012 congressional campaign.
But redistricting wasn't a factor in 2018 and the investigation ended last year without any charges, so it seemed that Pittenger was in considerably better shape this cycle. And after some initial fundraising problems, Pittenger ended up outspending Harris and running ad after ad accusing him of opposing Trump in 2016. An April poll for Harris even showed Pittenger ahead 38-30, while Pittenger's own survey gave himself a 59-26 edge. A March SurveyUSA poll for the conservative Civitas Institute also found the incumbent ahead 52-20, so it didn't look like primary voters were in the mood to oust him.
But Harris attacked Pittenger as part of the "Washington swamp" and took him to task for voting for the March omnibus spending bill because it "voted to fund sanctuary cities and it gave no money for the president's wall," and that may have resonated with primary voters. Harris also seems to have benefited from his wide network of support among the local Baptist community.
Pittenger also has struggled for years to win over hostile conservative voters who just don't seem to like him at all. His most prominent detractor is Sue Myrick, a former mayor of Charlotte and Pittenger's predecessor in the House, who has constantly endorsed his primary opponents. Myrick was once one of his key allies, but the two had a nasty break in 2008 when she accused him of spreading rumors that they'd "cut a deal" where she would run for governor and endorse him for Congress. Myrick never did run for governor, but while Pittenger insisted that it was only a Myrick aide with a "twisted attitude" who was trying to spread false reports, the two never patched things up.
Myrick retired in 2012 and endorsed Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Pendergraph, who lost to Pittenger in a nasty runoff. Pittenger won the general election just 52-46 as Romney was carrying his seat 56-43, a sign of just how unpopular he was even with GOP-leaning voters. Pittenger also turned in an underwhelming 68-32 primary win in 2014 against an opponent who had taken less than 3 percent of the vote in 2012, and the 2016 round of redistricting only made him more vulnerable. Pittenger got lucky in 2016 when two candidates split the anti-incumbent vote, but his problems finally ended his career on Tuesday.
And it's hard to feel at all sorry for Pittenger. Back in 2016, after protests and violence broke out in Charlotte after police killed Keith Scott, a 43-year-old black man, Pittenger argued that the unrest was due to protestors who "hate white people because white people are successful and they're not." Pittenger offered a weak non-apology, tweeting that what he said "doesn't reflect who I am. I was quoting statements made by angry protesters last night on national TV. My intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African Americans because of failed policies." Good riddance.
● AZ-Sen: Former Gov. Jan Brewer has endorsed Rep. Martha McSally in the GOP primary for Arizona's open Senate seat and will headline a fundraiser for her next week. McSally faces former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and former state Sen. Kelli Ward for the Republican nod, while Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has the Democratic nomination all but locked up. The primary is Aug. 28.
● CA-Sen: Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is out with her first two TV ads (here and here) ahead of the June 5 top-two primary. The first spot features the senator advocating for common-sense laws to promote gun safety and promising to take on the NRA. The second ad showcases her speaking to the camera to tout her support for the "Affordable Care Act" and her opposition to Trump's repeal plan, but she says we need to do more to achieve truly universal health care. Feinstein calls for a public option and expanding Medicare to cover everyone age 55 or older.
● FL-Sen: Florida Atlantic University has returned to survey the Sunshine State, and their latest poll has Republican Gov. Rick Scott defeating Sen. Bill Nelson by 44-40 in the Senate race. Despite Scott actually jumping into the race since their last survey, this result is actually an improvement from their February poll, where Scott led by a noticeably wider 44-34 edge. Nevertheless, this release is yet another survey to find Nelson in a competitive race, even though most polls have typically found a narrow advantage for the incumbent instead of Scott.
● MS-Sen-B: Polling on behalf of the GOP establishment-aligned U.S. Chamber of Commerce, GS Strategy Group has surveyed Mississippi's Nov. 6 nonpartisan Senate special election. They find appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican, leading by 30-22 over former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, a Democrat; ultra-conservative GOP state Sen. Chris McDaniel is not too far behind with 17 percent. If no one takes a majority, there would be a Nov. 27 runoff.
The pollster also had Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton, a Democrat, taking 4 points. However, Shelton announced he was dropping out on Tuesday, making it a little easier for Espy to advance now that he's the only credible Democrat on the ballot. The only other person who filed before the deadline passed last month was little-known Democrat Tobey Bartee.
● CT-Gov: Former business executive Bob Stefanowski is out with the first poll we've seen of the August GOP primary … but it's from the infamous McLaughlin & Associates. And this time, we're not just talking about McLaughlin's awful track record when we're calling them infamous. McLaughlin was the pollster for Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orban, a radical-right anti-Semite who has undermined democracy in his country, during this spring's election.
Oh yeah, there's a poll! McLaughlin shows Stefanowski, who began airing ads back in January, in the lead with 33 percent of the vote. New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart is a distant second with 11 percent, while no one else clears double digits.
● FL-Gov: On Wednesday, state House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced he was endorsing state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the August GOP primary rather than running himself. Corcoran had spent the last year acting like a candidate and raising a serious amount of money, but poll after poll showed him with little name recognition.
Corcoran's PAC tried to change that earlier this year with an inflammatory ad that showed a scary-looking bearded man in a hoodie gunning down a young woman before Corcoran railed that "some Tallahassee politicians" want Florida to be a sanctuary state, However, it didn't do the trick.
Corcoran just didn't seem to have much of a base, either. Donald Trump endorsed Rep. Ron DeSantis in December, while Putnam is preferred by much of the Florida GOP establishment, and there didn't seem to be any room for a third primary candidate. It also didn't help that Gov. Rick Scott had a horrible relationship with the speaker.
Corcoran's decision not to run could be a boost for Putnam. The day before he made his decision, DeSantis' team shared a late April poll with Florida Politics from the firm 1892 (whom we'd never heard of before) showing him with a 30-26 lead over Putnam in a two-way race. When Corcoran was included, DeSantis posted a stronger 30-23 lead, with Corcoran at 7. Florida Atlantic University also is out with a primary poll that did not ask about Corcoran, and it gives DeSantis a 16-15 lead. However, there are so many undecided that it's not very useful.
On the Democratic side, a group called The Collective PAC that aims to help African-American candidates has begun a $211,000 TV ad campaign for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Politico reports that the buy will be in the West Palm Beach media market, where Gillum isn't well-known, and will last until the end of the month. FAU's poll of this primary gives Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine a 16-15 edge over former Rep. Gwen Graham, while businessman Chris King takes 10 and Gillum only has 6. But once again, there are so many undecideds that the poll isn't very informative.
● GA-Gov: Black PAC has launched a new TV ad on behalf of former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams in the Democratic primary. The spot is the first TV ad to go negative on former state Rep. Stacey Evans, the narrator accuses Evans of trying to "confuse and distract." The ad claims Evans supported GOP efforts to "privatize and shutdown" Georgia public schools in favor of expanding charter schools. It closes by arguing Abrams is more trustworthy and notes her endorsement from the Georgia Association of Educators.
Meanwhile in the GOP primary, Secretary of State Brian Kemp's must-watch latest TV ad hilariously solidifies his status as a caricature of Southern Republican toxic masculinity, following a recent commercial where he menacingly pointed a rifle at a young man who was supposedly "interested in one of [his] daughters" while the young man spouted GOP talking points. Kemp's latest spot starts off with the candidate standing on his lawn saying, "I'm so conservative, I blow up government spending," as a very obviously computer-generated explosion and mushroom cloud appear on his grass (that has to leave a mark).
The next scene shows Kemp surrounded by several hunting and assault rifles, while he holds one and claims, "I own guns ... that no one's takin' away." The subsequent shots likewise follow a similar pattern of acting out: "My chainsaw's ready to rip up some regulations [vroom, vroom]," and, "I got a big truck, just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take 'em home myself." Kemp closes by acknowledging, "Yep, I just said that. I'm Brian Kemp, and if you want a politically incorrect conservative, that's me." And to think Republicans claim they don't practice a form of identity politics just like everyone else does.
● ID-Gov: Campaign finance reports are in for all the GOP candidates ahead of next week's open seat primary. Wealthy physician and developer Tommy Ahlquist only raised $326,000 from donors since January, but he self-funded another $1.87 million. Lt. Gov. Brad Little took in $510,000 from donors and threw down another $800,000 of his own money. Rep. Raul Labrador raised $395,000 but didn't do any significant self-funding, leaving him with a big cash disadvantage.
● KS-Gov: On Wednesday, state House Minority Leader Jim Ward abandoned his campaign for governor, saying that he'd instead seek re-election. Ward's move leaves three notable Democrats in the race: state Sen. Laura Kelly, former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, and former state Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty. The primary is not until Aug. 7.
● NV-Gov: With a month to go before the June 12 Democratic primary, Steve Sisolak is up with a negative spot against fellow Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani.
Giunchigliani's allies at the Nevada State Education Association recently aired a commercial charging that her rival was too conservative to deliver the progressive reform the state needs, and Sisolak responds by going after Giunchigliani's ethics. The narrator argues that Giunchigliani voted herself three pay raises and voted to let lobbyists give secret gifts to legislators. He also declares that Giunchigliani "even put her husband on her political payroll," before saying she's not a real progressive, she's what's wrong with politics.
● OH-Gov: Fresh off of Richard Cordray's dominant win in Tuesday night's primary, the Ohio Democratic Party has released a new poll from PPP showing their new nominee with a 44-39 lead over Republican Mike DeWine, who just won a nastier and much more expensive primary of his own. (The survey was conducted just before the election.) The race is almost certain to tighten, though, as butthurt conservative voters who supported DeWine's rival, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, will eventually remember that they hate Democrats infinitely more than they hate DeWine.
Indeed, the race already has closed somewhat—even according to the Ohio Democratic Party's own numbers: A previously unreleased April poll, also conducted by PPP, had Cordray up by a wider 47-38 margin. That earlier sample may have been a bit too optimistic, though, as it showed Trump with a 44-52 job approval rating—comparable to his national numbers, even though Ohio supported him by an 8-point spread. In the newer survey, Trump's approvals stand at a more plausible 48-47, so it's a good sign that Cordray is still ahead even though Trump is, too.
● CA-48: A new poll from Change Research on behalf of 314 Action, a progressive group that helps elect scientists to office and has endorsed biologist Hans Keirstead, finds him in second place in next month's top-two primary. The survey shows GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher out in front, as you'd expect, but he's taking just 27 percent, while Keirstead is at 19.
A big reason that the incumbent is suffering is because of the candidacy of former Orange County GOP chair Scott Baugh, who sits close behind in third with 17. Two other Democrats are further back: Real estate company owner Harley Rouda is at 11 and attorney Omar Siddiqui brings up the rear with 4.
As in CA-49 (see our item just below) and several other California districts, there's a real risk that both Rohrabacher and Baugh could take the top two slots in June, shutting Democrats out of the November general election entirely. 314 is trying to prevent such a disaster and just announced that it will spend $280,000 on mailers to boost Keirstead. That's a bit of a change in strategy for the organization, which had originally reserved $1 million in TV time in the Los Angeles area but has cut that booking by $219,000 and switched some resources to mail instead.
● CA-49: In a new poll from the Benenson Strategy Group, Sara Jacobs argues that she's enjoyed the most momentum in recent months among Democrats seeking California's open 49th District, though the entire field is still packed tightly together. The full numbers, along with previously unreleased data from February listed in parentheses, are below:
Diane Harkey (R): 14 (11)
Rocky Chavez (R): 14 (16)
Doug Applegate (D): 13 (21)
Sara Jacobs (D): 11 (6)
Mike Levin (D): 10 (11)
Kristin Gaspar (R): 7 (7)
Brian Maryott (R): 6 (3)
Paul Kerr (D): 4 (1)
The most notable facet of this poll, though, may be Applegate's apparent drop. While he was the party's nominee in 2016 and nearly beat GOP Rep. Darrell Issa (who's now retiring), Applegate has struggled to raise money and has gotten outspent by both Levin, who just received the endorsement of the influential California Teachers Association, and Jacobs, who's self-funded more than $1 million and has also gotten a comparable amount of help from EMILY's List.
But the real trouble lies in the fact that two Republicans sit at the top of this poll, pointing yet again to the possibility of a Democratic lock-out in next month's primary. Fortunately, very little space separates first and fifth place, so no one's fate has been determined yet.
● MS-03: Investment company owner Perry Parker is up with what we believe is the first TV ad ahead of the June 5 GOP primary. Parker declares he's the "son of a postman in small-town Mississippi" who has run companies all over the world, not a career politician.
● NH-01: Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter has endorsed her former chief of staff to replace her in Congress: Naomi Andrews, who had been with Shea-Porter since the latter took office in 2007 and recently resigned to launch her own campaign. Andrews joins an already-crowded field of eight other Democrats vying for the party's nomination. Shea-Porter is expected follow up her endorsement by actively campaigning for her former staffer in the September primary.
● NJ-11: Assemblyman Jay Webber is out with his first TV ad ahead of the June 5 GOP primary. In what almost feels like a throwback to the pre-Trump era, Webber's ad hugs Ronald Reagan tight and doesn't mention Trump.
● NY-19: On Wednesday, EMILY's List endorsed agricultural economist Erin Collier in the very crowded Democratic primary for New York's 19th Congressional District. Collier is the only woman running in a field that includes six men, but she also has the fewest resources of the bunch, so EMILY's support could help her turn that around ahead of next month's election.
● NY-24: The progressive veterans group VoteVets has endorsed attorney Juanita Perez Williams in the Democratic primary next month, where she faces public policy professor Dana Balter. Perez Williams served in the Navy's Judge Advocate General's Corps for five years.
● PA-04: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has joined much of the state Democratic establishment and endorsed state Rep. Madeleine Dean in next week's primary.
● VA-07: Democrat Dan Ward has dropped his first TV ad in the primary race to take on GOP Rep. David Brat. The spot highlights his impoverished childhood and his Marines service, and it concludes with Ward insisting to the camera that "Washington doesn't give a damn, but I do."
● WA-05: Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has dropped her first TV ad in her bid for reelection this fall. The spot highlights her Washington roots and speaks of restoring the "rule of law" and "trust" in our government. The ad will also run on social media platforms.
● IN-02: Healthcare executive Mel Hall defeated attorney Pat Hackett 47-32 in the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Jackie Walorski; businessman Yatish Joshi, who had self-funded $200,000 and had the backing of former Gov. Joe Kernan, took just 12 percent.
This northern Indiana seat, which contains South Bend and Elkhart, moved from 56-42 Romney to 59-36 Trump, and it won't be easy for Hall to beat Walorski. However, Democrats haven't forgotten about her surprisingly tight 49-48 victory when she won her first term in 2012. This is also Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly's home base, and he might be able to give the ticket a lift here.
Hall, who has been doing some self-funding, should also have the resources he'll need to run a credible race. But Walorski won't be a pushover, and she held a $1 million to $237,000 cash-on-hand edge over Hall in mid-April.
● IN-04: In a surprise, state Rep. Jim Baird defeated former state Department of Workforce Development director Steve Braun 37-30 in the GOP primary for this 64-30 Trump seat; Diego Morales, who served as a senior advisor to then-Gov. Mike Pence, took a distant third with 15 percent. Baird should have no trouble in the general election to succeed unsuccessful Senate candidate Todd Rokita in this seat, which includes Lafayette and some of Indianapolis' western suburbs.
Braun, who is the brother of Senate nominee Mike Braun, and Morales looked like the front-runners for most of the race. Baird had raised barely more than $5,000 during the entire campaign from donors, and while he self-funded $200,000, he had considerably less cash than his two rivals. Braun and Morales also each had help from a well-funded outside group; With Honor Fund aired ads against Braun, while Citizens for a Strong America spent $300,000 attacking Morales.
But Citizens for a Strong America also launched a small buy against Baird that may have backfired very badly. Baird lost his left arm while serving in the Army in Vietnam, so it created a big stir when a CSA mailer argued that Baird had voted for a gas tax that cost Indiana a proverbial arm and a leg. It's very possible that the backlash against the mailer in the final days of the race gave Baird a lift at a critical time and helped him pull off the upset.
● IN-06: In what was very much not an upset, businessman Greg Pence defeated self-funding businessman Jonathan Lamb 65-24 in the GOP primary for this 68-27 Trump seat. Pence, an older brother of Vice President Mike Pence, scared away most potential candidates, who knew that it wouldn't be easy to compete with his family's name recognition and connections. Pence earned some negative attention both for staying largely out of sight on the campaign trail and for some serious business failures, but it didn't do him much harm.
Lamb tried to raise his own profile by airing a truly bizarre Super Bowl ad that poked fun at his last name by insisting that the Lamb family has been close to the White House for over a century. As lambs (the animals) appeared on the screen on the White House lawn in old-timey photos, the candidate declared, "President Woodrow Wilson had Lambs working for him in 1918 as a cost-cutting measure to keep the White House lawn looking its best." But if Lamb (the now-defeated candidate) wants to eat White House grass, he'll need to do it as a tourist and not a congressman.
● IN-09: Indiana University professor Liz Watson, who previously served as a senior Democratic staffer on the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, defeated civil rights attorney Dan Canon 66-31 in the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Trey Hollingsworth.
This southern Indiana seat moved from 57-41 Romney to 61-34 Trump, and it will be a very tough target for Team Blue. But Democrats are hoping that Hollingsworth's very weak ties to the state and unimpressive fundraising will give them an opening. The congressman had a modest $432,000 to $298,000 cash-on-hand edge in mid-April over Watson, who recently picked up an endorsement from EMILY's List.
● NC-02: Former state Rep. Linda Coleman defeated tech executive Ken Romley 56-32 in the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. George Holding. Romley, who had self-funded much of his campaign, outspent Coleman by a wide margin. But Coleman, who lost competitive general elections for lieutenant governor in 2012 and 2016, likely began the race with considerably more name-recognition than Romley. Democratic women also have been performing well in primaries this cycle, which may have helped her offset Romley's considerable spending edge.
This suburban Raleigh seat went from 56-43 Romney to 53-44 Trump, and Democrats are looking to target Holding. Holding doesn't seem to be taking his re-election incredibly seriously, and he had an underwhelming $283,000 war chest in mid-April. But Coleman will want to improve her own fundraising if she's to take advantage of his complacency: She raised a total of $140,000 since she entered the race in the fall, and had only $63,000 on-hand.
● NC-03: Iconoclastic Rep. Walter Jones defeated retired Marine Phil Law 43-29 in the GOP primary for this safely red coastal seat; Craven County Commissioner Scott Dacey, who appeared to be Jones' main rival, took 28 percent. Jones, who first won in 1994, said during the final weeks of the campaign that he would not seek re-election in 2020.
If Jones keeps his word, the GOP leadership won't miss the self-proclaimed "thorn in people's ass." This Congress alone, Jones voted against the House version of Trumpcare and the tax bill, arguing that both were fiscally irresponsible. That was far from the first time that Jones has defied the GOP orthodoxy: While Jones infamously had French fries redubbed as "freedom fries" in the House cafeteria after France opposed the Bush administration's plan to invade Iraq in 2003, he became an ardent opponent of the war. Jones has faced a number of primary challenges over the years, but his 51-45 victory in 2014 was the closest he ever came to losing.
● OH-07: While GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs and the state GOP made a late attempt to help Democrat Patrick Pikus in his primary against Navy veteran Ken Harbaugh, Harbaugh won 80-20, an even higher percentage of the vote than Gibbs' own 78-11 victory. This very gerrymandered seat went from 54-44 Romney to 62-33 Trump, but Harbaugh has been a good fundraiser, and the DCCC added him to their Red to Blue list for top candidates last month.
● OH-12: Each party has chosen their nominee for both the Aug. 7 special election to succeed former GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi and for the November general election for the regular two-year term. On the GOP side, state Sen. Troy Balderson narrowly beat Liberty Township Trustee Melanie Leneghan 29-28 in the primary for the full two-year term, with economist and TV talking head Tim Kane at 17. For the Democrats, Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor won with 40 percent of the vote, while former Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott and farmer John Russell each took 16 percent. There was also a separate primary to pick the nominees for the special election, but the results weren't much different for either party.
This suburban Columbus seat went for Trump 53-42 after backing Romney by a similar margin. While Republicans have done well in this region up and down the ballot for a long time, it's a good bet that Trump's unpopularity will make this another special election to watch. The GOP establishment was reportedly very worried that Leneghan, who was backed by the far-right House Freedom Caucus, was a weak candidate who could cost them victory.
Until the final weeks of the race, establishment-oriented donors fretted that they didn't know whether they should back Balderson, state Sen. Kevin Bacon (who ended up taking 14 percent), or Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O'Brien (who took just 7). But Defending Main Street, a super PAC set up to stop anti-establishment candidates from winning GOP primaries, started airing ads for Balderson, and he became the clear establishment pick after Tiberi endorsed him and used his leftover campaign funds to air ads to support him.
Things were a lot less chaotic on the Democratic side. While O'Connor initially announced he'd stay out of the race, he consolidated support from the local party establishment after he changed his mind. That same establishment had a poor relationship with Scott, who badly lost a 2015 race for mayor of Columbus to Andrew Ginther and narrowly lost renomination the next year against a candidate backed by Ginther and his allies.
● OH-16: The GOP establishment notched up a win in this open red seat when Anthony Gonzalez, who was a football star at The Ohio State University and later went on to play for the Indianapolis Colts, defeated state Rep. Christina Hagan 53-41. Gonzalez had the support of influential donors and local political figures, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a $300,000 buy for him in the final week of the campaign.
Hagan, who was a prominent Trump backer in 2016 when Ohio Gov. John Kasich was also seeking the GOP presidential nomination, pitched herself as the true Trump believer of the race. Hagan had the endorsement of two of the most prominent people to be fired from the Trump administration: Anthony Scaramucci and Sebastian Gorka. Hagan ran commercials touting her support from the NRA and arguing that Gonzalez, who worked in Silicon Valley before he came home to run for office, was an insider.
But Gonzalez outspent Hagan by a wide margin and benefited from considerably more outside spending than Hagan. His ties to his locally popular alma mater also probably made it tougher for Hagan to frame this as a battle between the dreaded establishment and a Trump-flavored outsider.
This very gerrymandered seat, which includes parts of the Akron, Canton, and Cleveland areas, went from 53-45 Romney to 56-39 Trump, and it's going to be a tough nut for Democrats to crack. Team Blue's nominee will be healthcare professional Susan Moran Palmer, who beat retired Marine Grant Goodrich 35-28. Palmer had only raised $14,000 from donors through mid-April and self-funded another $37,000, but we'll see if she gets more donor attention now that she's the nominee.
● WV-01: GOP Rep. David McKinley already looked very secure in this 68-26 Trump seat, but this race is almost certainly off the radar now. While Ralph Baxter, the former head of the law firm Orrick, had access to some money, he lost his primary 47-38 to West Virginia University Law Professor Kendra Fershee. Fershee has raised very little money, and donors and outside groups almost certainly won't be getting involved in a district this red.
● WV-02: Former U.S. State Department official Talley Sergent defeated Army veteran Aaron Scheinberg 62-38 in the Democratic primary to face GOP Rep. Alex Mooney. This central West Virginia seat backed Trump 66-29, and it's very much a long-shot Democratic target. But Mooney, a former member of the legislature and state party chair in Maryland who moved to West Virginia in 2013 just before he began running here, only won his initial race 47-44; his 58-42 win in 2016 against an underfunded former state delegate also did not impress. Mooney had a $1.27 million to $117,000 cash-on-hand edge over Sergent in mid-April.
● WV-03: State House Majority Whip Carol Miller narrowly beat Del. Rupie Phillips 24-20 in the GOP primary to succeed unsuccessful Senate candidate Evan Jenkins. None of the candidates raised much money, but Miller outspent each of her rivals after she loaned her campaign $275,000.
The Democratic nominee is state Sen. Richard Ojeda, who beat Del. Shirley Love 52-25. This southern West Virginia seat backed Trump by a brutal 73-23 margin, but Democrats still do win races down the ballot. Ojeda, an Iraq veteran who was brutally beaten at a campaign event in 2016, also won his first term 59-41 as his state Senate seat was going for Trump 78-19, so he has experience winning some very red turf. Still, it's going to take a lot for Ojeda to win in a federal election in a seat this Trumpy.
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