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.
● WV-Sen: Even though the last several public polls all showed the once-surging Don Blankenship falling back to third place, Republicans are still anxious enough about his prospects in Tuesday's primary that Donald Trump himself tweeted out a plea that GOP primary voters cast ballots for either state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey or Rep. Evan Jenkins instead. ("Remember Alabama" Trump beseeched—invoking, of course, Trump endorsee Roy Moore.)
And rumors of private polls appear to buttress those worries. Politico reports that recent polling shows Blankenship "moving narrowly ahead" of his two rivals, while the Weekly Standard, possibly describing the same surveys, offers specific numbers (but no other details) of two internal polls that both find Blankenship with tight leads.
Morrisey, at least, is also behaving as though he's concerned. After all but ignoring Blankenship for the entire race, Morrisey issued a statement over the weekend claiming he'd be calling Blankenship's parole officer on the grounds that Blankenship's failure to file personal financial disclosure forms amounted to a violation of the terms of his release from prison.
Morrisey also released a robocall and digital ads attacking Blankenship for the deadly 2010 disaster at his coal company's Upper Big Branch mine that sent Blankenship to jail in the first place (and is the reason why he's still on parole). As it happens, Blankenship’s parole ends at midnight on Tuesday, the same day as the primary.
And as is so often the case in nasty GOP primaries, the poison that's been injected into the race is already leaching into the general election. Blankenship now says that if he loses on Tuesday, he might wage a third-party bid out of spite for Morrisey, even though such a campaign appears to be precluded by West Virginia law. (Admittedly, Blankenship's relationship with the law is not a very close one.)
Morrisey, meanwhile, when repeatedly pressed as to whether he'd endorse Blankenship in the general election, would only choke out, "I don't think Don Blankenship is a credible candidate, so this is not a good time to suggest anyone should be endorsing Don Blankenship." As long as you're asking us after Tuesday, we couldn't agree more!
● Primary Day: The Blankenshiping: Tuesday brings us one of the most important primary nights of the year as voters go to the polls in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia, and we've put together our guide of what's on tap.
We have closely watched GOP Senate primaries in Indiana and especially in West Virginia (oh hi, Don Blankenship!), and both parties have expensive contests for governor of Ohio. We also have plenty of House races to watch across these four states; one of the big contests to watch will be in North Carolina's 3rd District, where GOP Rep. Walter Jones could be the first member of Congress to lose renomination this cycle.
Things kick off at 6 PM ET when polls close in most of Indiana, with the small portion of the state in the Central time zone closing an hour later. Polls close in North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia at 7:30 PM ET. We hope you'll join us at Daily Kos Elections on Tuesday 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.
● FL-Sen: Filing closed late last week for federal candidates for Florida's Aug. 28 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders here. Note that the deadline to file for state-level offices isn't until June 22, even though that primary will also be on Aug. 28. Note also that the deadline to run as a major-party candidate has now passed in 366 of the nation's 435 congressional districts.
The Sunshine State has an expensive Senate contest ahead between Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and GOP Gov. Rick Scott, neither of whom face any serious primary opponents. Scott's campaign has already spent $5 million on positive ads in the month since he announced his bid, while a super PAC called New Republican has dropped another $2.4 million against Nelson. This race has been polled many times over the past year, and there's little agreement about which candidate has the advantage.
● IN-Sen: The super PAC Hoosiers for Conservative Values, which is supporting Rep. Luke Messer in Tuesday's GOP primary, has launched a last-minute $350,000 ad buy against Rep. Todd Rokita and wealthy businessman Mike Braun.
● MT-Sen: Air Force veteran Troy Downing's misdemeanor trial has been moved to late July, several weeks after the June GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. So … congrats?
Downing was charged last year with trying to buy hunting and fishing licenses as an out-of-state resident every year from 2011 to 2016, as well as of trying to transfer a license to another person and helping an unqualified applicant get a hunting license. Downing, who has residences in California and Montana, is arguing that he did indeed meet the residency requirements and has tried to get those charges dismissed.
● TN-Sen: On behalf of the progressive group Health Care Voter, PPP is out with a survey giving Democrat Phil Bredesen a 46-43 edge over Republican Marsha Blackburn. This is the third Democratic poll released in the last month giving Bredesen the edge, while Mason-Dixon also found him ahead 46-43; Republicans haven't released any surveys since February.
● WI-Sen: Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin's latest ad touches on a very personal note to relate to struggling Wisconsinites. The minute-long segment features Baldwin speaking to the camera as she relays what it was like to grow up with a mother who struggled with drug abuse and mental illness for much of her life; Baldwin's mother died last August, and the senator only recently opened up about her story. Baldwin emphasizes that she understands just how devastating the opioid crisis is in Wisconsin and the country because of her own experiences with the fallout.
● AK-Gov: On Friday, Gov. Bill Walker announced that he would compete in the August Democratic primary while remaining an independent.
Democratic leaders successfully sued to allow independents to run in party primaries, and it's not a surprise Walker is taking advantage of this new rule. Republicans usually have the edge in Alaska races, and it would be very tough for Walker, who was elected in 2014 with Democratic support, to win a general election with a Democratic nominee taking critical support from him. It would also probably be easier for Walker to win in November as the de facto Democratic candidate while still being listed on the ballot as an independent than as a full-fledged Democrat.
However, there's no guarantee Walker will be the de facto Democratic candidate. Former Sen. Mark Begich has spent months flirting with a bid, and he reaffirmed over the weekend that he's still considering. Begich almost certainly knows that he'd face very tough odds in the general election if he had to face both a Republican and Walker, and maybe he's hoping that if he defeated the governor in a primary, Walker would drop out rather than invite mutually-assured destruction. The filing deadline for the primary is June 1.
● GA-Gov: Former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams' latest Democratic primary ad touts her record of accomplishments in office, arguing she fought to expand Medicaid, opposed tax hikes on working families, and boosted funding for public transportation projects. The ad asserts she'll work toward a more inclusive Georgia where everyone has opportunity.
● ME-Gov: On behalf of FairVote, a group that advocates for instant-runoff voting, SurveyUSA gives us a rare look at Maine's June 12 primaries for governor, but there's a twist. This is the first statewide primary in American history that will be conducted through IRV, where voters will be allowed to rank their choices. If no on takes a majority of first-place votes, the last-place candidate gets eliminated and their voters' next choices get assigned to the remaining candidates, with the process continuing until one candidate wins a majority.
To simulate how this instant runoff might go down, SurveyUSA asked respondents to rank their choices, just as they'll get to on primary day. The poll begins by giving voters a list of candidates (as well as the option of saying they're undecided) and asking them to select their first choice. Afterwards, they're given the same list and asked to select their second choice. The process repeats until voters are asked to pick their last choice candidate: For Democrats, there are seven of these questions (one for each candidate), while the GOP has four.
On the Democratic side, 32 percent of respondents select Attorney General Janet Mills as their first choice, with undecided at 24. Former state House Speaker Mark Eves is at 16, while state Sen. Mark Dion and businessman Adam Cote take 10 and 9, respectively; no other candidate takes more than 5 percent. Mills ultimately takes a majority on the fifth round: The three candidates with little support are gradually eliminated before Cote is knocked out in round four; Mills then beats Eves 55-26, with Dion at 19
For the GOP, businessman Shawn Moody leads with 34 in round one, with undecided second with 22. Former state cabinet official Mary Mayhew takes 19, while state Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason and state House Minority Leader Ken Fredette take 15 and 10, respectively. Moody captures the majority in round three after Fredette and then Mason are eliminated, with Moody defeating Mayhew 65-35. Interestingly, in both primaries, the first-round leader is also the eventual winner.
However, this is the only recent poll of the race—and the only one that's tried to model an instant runoff—so it's tough to know if Mills and Moody are as dominant as SurveyUSA finds them with a little more than a month to go before the primary. Candidates also have only just started advertising, so the state of play can certainly change.
● NM-Gov: The National Education Association New Mexico chapter has endorsed Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham in the Democratic primary for governor.
● AR-02: Talk Business and Hendrix College take a look at the May 22 Democratic primary to face GOP Rep. French Hill, and they give state Rep. Clarke Tucker a wide 41-11 lead over teacher Gwen Combs, with fellow teacher Paul Spencer at 10. Tucker has the support of the national Democratic establishment, and he's been a strong fundraiser so far. If no one takes a majority, there would be a runoff July 19.
● CA-29: Late last week, Democratic Rep. Tony Cardenas confirmed that he's the target of a lawsuit alleging that he'd sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl in 2007, though his attorney called the charges "100%, categorically untrue." (The suit had been filed anonymously, pursuant to California law, but identifying details that pointed to Cardenas prompted him to come forward.) On Saturday, Nancy Pelosi asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate the matter, though she cautioned that Cardenas had "appropriately asked us to withhold judgement until there is a full investigation of the facts."
According to the suit, Cardenas, a devoted golfer, first met the girl at a golf tournament in 2005. The two were playing a game of golf in 2007 when, she alleges, Cardenas gave the girl a cup of water that had a "peculiar taste." Some hours later, the girl collapsed and Cardenas drove her to the emergency room. The girl says that during the ride, Cardenas fondled her breasts and vagina.
The Los Angeles Times, which first reported the lawsuit, says that it "has been unable to corroborate the allegations, and no public evidence has emerged to support them," and a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department says it "has no active investigation into Cardenas." Cardenas, a former Los Angeles city councilman, easily won election to California's 29th Congressional District after redistricting left it open in 2012. This dark blue seat in the northeast San Fernando Valley voted 78-17 for Hillary Clinton and is also majority Latino, at 68 percent.
● CA-39: It's full steam ahead for the DCCC in California's 39th District: The committee, which last month placed Navy veteran Gil Cisneros on its Red to Blue list, will reportedly spend $294,000 on cable TV ads in the coming week. The effort is aimed at avoiding a disaster in next month’s top-two primary, much like a similar operation the D-Trip ran in the 24th District last cycle,
Then as now, Democrats were worried about getting locked out of the general election in an open-seat race—an outcome the NRCC did its best to foment. That race, however, pitted a pair of prominent Democrats against two credible Republicans, leading to Democrat Salud Carbajal (with the DCCC's help) advancing to and then winning the November general election against Republican Justin Fareed.
This time, the math is much dicier. Including Cisneros, who famously won $266 million in a 2010 lottery drawing, there are four serious Democratic candidates but only three legit-looking Republicans. In addition, there are fewer Democratic votes to go around in the 39th, which is historically red turf but swung toward Hillary Clinton last year, than in the 24th, which is considerably bluer.
As such, there's a substantial risk that two Republicans will advance to the November general election. Limited polling confirms this problem, showing a tightly packed field with no obvious front-runners—though there's a non-zero chance that two Democrats could make it past the primary. But the prospect of a lockout is a terrifying one for Team Blue, which explains the DCCC's decision to back a single horse, though it's bound to infuriate supporters of the other hopefuls.
It's also not without risk. Last week, a state Assembly candidate named Melissa Fazli accused Cisneros of behaving inappropriately toward her, claiming he'd invited her to his room after hours at the California Democratic Party convention in February, then later insinuated he wanted to have sex with her in exchange for a donation to her campaign. Cisneros called the accusations "a falsehood" and charged that Fazli was a "surrogate" for rival Andy Thorburn, which she denied.
Thorburn and the two other main Democrats, Mai Khan Tran and Sam Jammal, issued an unusual joint statement saying that Fazli's charges "cannot be ignored," but in fact, they largely have been: So far, not a single traditional media outlet has covered the story. In the #MeToo era, when similar accusations against other politicians have almost always earned some attention, the fact that Fazli's story has not gotten any play stands out, and that absence of coverage may have helped make the DCCC comfortable in moving forward here.
● FL-05: The Democratic primary for this safely blue North Florida seat is a duel between freshman Rep. Al Lawson, and former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. Both men are African-Americans with moderate reputations, and the contest may end up coming down to geography. Lawson is a longtime politician from Tallahassee, while Brown is well-known in the eastern part of the seat around Jacksonville. No other Democrats filed.
Lawson has struggled with fundraising, and he's in real danger of getting outspent. Brown outraised the incumbent $161,000 to $84,000 during his first quarter in the race; while Lawson still holds a $160,000 to $128,000 cash-on-hand edge, that advantage may not last long if he can't ramp up his fundraising efforts.
Lawson also may have made a costly mistake early this year when he was the one member of the Congressional Black Caucus to applaud when Trump declared he was "very proud" of the low rate of African-American unemployment. Trump, who called Democrats who didn't clap for him "treasonous," praised Lawson and said he was "going to send him a letter of thank you." Brown also may have wanted to send the congressman a thank you note, since he already aired an ad in February hitting Lawson over this.
However, Brown has his own vulnerabilities on the left. He angered local Democrats in 2012 when he refused to endorse Obama's 2012 re-election campaign (though he later said he'd vote for him), and he also didn't back Democrat Charlie Crist two years later in his bid to unseat GOP Gov. Rick Scott. And as Tyler Yeargain wrote in a great 2015 piece on the eve of Brown's narrow re-election loss, the mayor also alienated supporters by refusing to push for an ordinance aimed at protecting LGBT residents, and there was a general perception that he hadn't done enough to help the African-American community.
● FL-06: GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis is leaving this seat, which includes all of Volusia County in the Orlando area as well as some of Jacksonville's southern suburbs, to run for governor. This district moved from 52-47 Romney to 57-40 Trump, but both parties are fielding well-funded candidates here.
The GOP has a three-way primary between former state Rep. Fred Costello, wealthy businessman John Ward, and businessman and former Dick Cheney foreign policy adviser Michael Waltz. Costello sought this seat last cycle while DeSantis was running for what had been an open Senate seat, and he stayed in the race after DeSantis decided to seek re-election after Sen. Marco Rubio made the same move. Costello lost 61-25, but this time, a number of local office holders are backing him.
Costello is the only Republican on the ballot from Volusia, which makes up about 70 percent of the seat, which could give him an opening. However, Costello had just $16,000 on-hand at the end of March, which was just a fraction of what his rivals had available.
Ward announced he was running for this seat months before DeSantis made his gubernatorial bid official. That move reportedly very much annoyed DeSantis, but it's unclear if that will hurt Ward at all. Ward, who served in the Navy, has been doing some self-funding, and he had a hefty $709,000 in the bank. Not far behind is Waltz, a retired Green Beret commander who had $653,000 on-hand, much of it from his own wallet.
Waltz is also a former Fox contributor, but his time on the air may do him more harm than good. While Waltz has ardently supported Trump for years, he appeared in an anti-Trump video for the Koch brother's American Future Fund during the 2016 primary. Waltz told viewers, "All Donald Trump has served is himself," and implored them, "Don't let Donald Trump fool you. Look into his record, and stop Trump now." These lines that are likely to haunt him into August.
National Democrats have consolidated behind Clinton-era Deputy National Security Advisor Nancy Soderberg, who had a solid $595,000 war chest at the end of March and is on the DCCC's Red to Blue list for top candidates. Soderberg's only other bid for office was in 2012, when she campaigned for an open state Senate seat over in the Jacksonville area (that seat does not overlap at all with the 6th Congressional District) and lost 62-38, running a little ahead of Obama's 65-34 defeat in the district.
But unexpectedly, two other Democrats whom we hadn't previously mentioned also brought in a credible amount of money during the first quarter of 2018. Radiologist Stephen Sevigny raised $174,000 from donors and self-funded another $76,000, leaving him with $227,000 in the bank. Travel agency owner John Upchurch took in $146,000 during this time and had $124,000 on-hand. Upchurch has the support of a few notable figures including Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood (who is also supporting Costello in the GOP primary).
● FL-07: Democrat Stephanie Murphy unseated longtime Rep. John Mica 51.5-48.5 as this suburban Orlando seat was moving from a very narrow Obama win to a solid 51-44 Clinton. Republicans signaled early that Murphy would be one of their top targets, but they may end up focusing their resources elsewhere this cycle.
State Rep. Mike Miller has Sen. Marco Rubio's support, and he has experience winning in a competitive state House seat. However, Miller had only $271,000 on-hand at the end of March, not great for a candidate who has been running since July. Businessman Scott Sturgill, who has been doing some self-funding and got former Speaker John Boehner to hold a fundraiser for him, had a stronger $366,000 to spend. Former Senate aide Vennia Francois also filed, but she had just $3,000 in the bank.
P.S. While state Sen. David Simmons spent months insisting he was 98 percent sure he would run, he did not run.
● FL-09: Freshman Rep. Darren Soto faces a Democratic primary challenge from his predecessor, former Rep. Alan Grayson, in this reliably blue suburban Orlando seat. Grayson spent over a year raising money for a congressional bid somewhere in Florida, and he led Soto $695,000 to $364,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of March.
Grayson also won't lack name-recognition, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Grayson has had a national following since 2009, when he summed up the GOP's healthcare plan as "die quickly." However, Grayson had a very bad relationship with national Democratic leaders, who sided with then-Rep. Patrick Murphy when they both ran in the 2016 primary for Senate.
During the campaign, Grayson attracted awful headlines on topics ranging from potential ethics violations to alleged domestic abuse. It didn't help him when he was caught on camera shoving a reporter for asking questions about the alleged incidents back in 2016: Grayson then had the temerity to accuse the reporter of assaulting him. Grayson ended up losing to Murphy 59-18, and while he did carry this seat, it was by a weak 39-36 margin.
Soto hasn't made too many enemies, and he's likely the favorite here. Demographics may also give the incumbent a boost: This seat also is home to the state's largest Puerto Rican population, which is unlikely to want to fire Soto, the state's first Puerto Rican congressman. Indeed, this region's Puerto Rican population has almost certainly grown larger since 2016 thanks to the influx of refugees following Puerto Rico's crisis recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017. But unfortunately, we can't quite rule out a Grayson upset no matter how much we want to.
● FL-12: GOP Rep. Gus Bilirakis has never faced serious opposition since he was elected in 2006 to succeed his father, but Democrats are fielding a credible opponent this time. Former FBI agent and federal prosecutor Chris Hunter raised $242,000 during his opening quarter, and he had $195,000 on-hand at the end of March. However, Bilirakis took in $272,000 during this time, and he had $493,000 in the bank. This seat, which includes Tampa and St. Petersburg's northern suburbs, went from an already tough 53.0-45.5 Romney to a nasty 57-39 Trump.
● FL-13: You know it's a bad year for the GOP when they can't find a credible candidate to take on freshman Rep. Charlie Crist, the Florida Democrat they most love to hate. While Crist only unseated GOP Rep. David Jolly 52-48 as this St. Petersburg seat was moving from 55-44 Obama to just 50-46 Clinton, neither of his two GOP rivals look very serious.
● FL-15: GOP Rep. Dennis Ross unexpectedly decided to retire weeks before the filing deadline, and six Republicans filed to succeed him. The seat moved from 52-47 Romney to 53-43 Trump, and while Ross looked safe, Team Blue may now take more of an interest in putting this district into play.
The early GOP frontrunners look like state Rep. Ross Spano and former state Rep. Neil Combee, who hail from different parts of this district. Spano represents a seat in Hillsborough County in the Tampa suburbs, while Combee held a district based in Polk County before he resigned in November to briefly serve as state executive director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service. Spano may be best known for sponsoring a successful resolution this year declaring pornography a "public health risk" and expressing "the need for education, prevention, research and policy change to protect citizens of this state."
For his part, Combee made news last year when he wrote a Facebook post the day a white supremacist in Charlottesville murdered protestor Heather Heyer. Combee wrote that he didn't know much about what had just happened, but proceeded to compare it to how construction worker Reginald Denny was nearly beaten to death during the 1992 Los Angeles riots (which he described in great detail). Combee insisted afterwards that he condemned white supremacy, but he had brought up Denny to argue that innocent bystanders were put in danger when the people protesting the Unite the Right rally showed up.
A few other Republicans are also in, and they may have the connections to run a serious campaign. One of them is Sean Harper, whom the Tampa Bay Times identifies as a prominent homebuilder. Danny Kushmer, the executive director of the International Responsible Farming Council, may also be worth keeping an eye on. Kushmer served as a senior official at the Southwest Florida Water Management District before he went to his current group, which the Tampa Bay Reporter describes as a nonprofit that tells "the American farmer's story through certification and participation in best management practices to ensure use of the latest food safety protocols."
Several Democrats were running against Ross before he retired. The local establishment seemed to prefer Navy veteran Andrew Learned, but he had only $39,000 in the bank at the end of March. Attorney Kristen Carlson, a former General Counsel for the Florida Department of Citrus and self-described "fiscal conservative," entered the race just before the deadline.
● FL-16: GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan was re-elected with little trouble in 2016 as his Sarasota-area seat moved from 54-45 Romney to 54-43 Trump, but he's in for a tougher race this time. National Democrats are excited about personal injury attorney David Shapiro, who has proven to be a strong fundraiser. Team Red also got a scare a few months ago when James Buchanan, who happens to be the congressman's son, lost a high-profile local state House special election by a 52-45 margin in a 51-46 Trump seat.
However, this won't be an easy pickup for Democrats by any means. An April poll for the Democratic group Patriot Majority USA gave Buchanan a hefty 49-37 lead over Shapiro, and the incumbent enjoys a large $2.57 million to $498,000 cash-on-hand edge. Buchanan has already begun airing ads, so it doesn't look like he'll be running a complacent campaign.
● FL-17: GOP Rep. Tom Rooney is retiring from a reliably red seat that includes part of the Sarasota area as well as areas further inland. The GOP primary pits state Sen. Greg Steube against state Rep. Julio Gonzalez, who both represent legislative districts along the coast.
Gonzalez, who has Sen. Marco Rubio's support, ended March with a huge financial edge. Gonzalez outraised Steube $82,000 to $49,000 and self-funded another $150,000 (Steube loaned his campaign $15,000), leaving him with a $230,000 to $56,000 cash-on-hand edge. However, Steube has the support of the anti-tax Club for Growth, which often spends in GOP primaries.
But while this contest may shape up to be an establishment vs. anti-establishment primary, both candidates are very far to the right. Gonzalez pushed for a "religious freedom" bill in 2015 that could have allowed adoption agencies to turn away same-sex couples and let some businesses deny them services, a proposal that infuriated LGBT groups. For his part, Steube has made his name by trying to loosen any restrictions on firearms.
● FL-18: GOP Rep. Brian Mast, an Army veteran who lost his legs in Afghanistan, won an expensive open seat race by a decisive 54-43 as this coastal district was moving from 51-48 Romney to 53-44 Trump. But national Democrats are planning to target this seat, which includes St. Lucie County, Martin County, and the northern part of Palm Beach County. The Democratic group House Majority PAC has reserved $420,000 in fall TV time for this area.
The Democratic primary frontrunner is former State Department official Lauren Baer, who is on the DCCC's Red-to-Blue list for top candidates. Navy veteran Pam Keith, who took 15 percent statewide in the 2016 Senate primary, is also in. Keith has the support of VoteVets, but her fundraising hasn't been impressive: At the end of March, Baer led Keith in cash-on-hand $708,000 to $50,000.
However, Mast is a very strong fundraiser himself, and he had $1.53 million in the bank. Wealthy physician Mark Freeman, who took just 16 percent of the vote in the 2016 primary, is running again. Freeman entered the race with a truly strange ad, and it's unclear if he'll spend heavily here again.
● FL-25: National Democrats spent months trying to recruit a viable candidate against GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, and they got one just before the filing deadline when former state Judge Mary Barzee Flores ended her campaign for the neighboring 27th District and jumped in here.
Barzee Flores, who had just shy of $400,000 in the bank at the end of March, is well-connected. She was nominated by Barack Obama for a federal judgeship, and South Florida's legal community, including many Republicans, strongly supported her and were not happy when Sen. Marco Rubio blocked her.
After a year of silence, Rubio finally said he was holding up Barzee Flores' nomination because she hadn't fully disclosed her ties to the ACLU and EMILY's List. He also pointed to a criminal 2001 trial where Barzee Flores served as a public defender, though not the lead attorney; years later, her client's conviction was overturned after he argued he had ineffective council. One fellow Republican, a former U.S. attorney, berated Rubio for engaging in "extreme political partisanship." While of course Rubio wasn't shamed into lifting his blockade, the whole affair demonstrates that Barzee Flores has some influential allies, which will be important in what will be a tough race.
This seat, which stretches from Hialeah in the Miami area to Florida's Gulf Coast, went from 54-45 Romney to 50-48 Trump. However, this area has a large Cuban-American voting bloc that's reliably supported the Diaz-Balart family for decades (his brother, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, represented much of this turf until he retired in 2010), and usually votes Republican down the ballot. Diaz-Balart also had $1.2 million in the bank, so he's not exactly being caught unprepared.
● FL-26: While this Miami-area seat, which includes Key West, went from 55-44 Obama to 57-41 Clinton, no one thinks that GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo will be a pushover. Curbelo has made sure to criticize Trump at the right times while still supporting much of his agenda, and he's a strong fundraiser. This is also another seat with a large Cuban-American population that often supports Democratic presidential candidates while backing the GOP for almost everything else.
Democrats have consolidated behind businesswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who faces little primary opposition. Mucarsel-Powell lost a 2016 bid to state Sen. Anitere Flores 54-46, but she impressed party leaders even in defeat. While Curbelo held a huge $2.1 million to $702,000 cash-on-hand lead at the end of March, Mucarsel-Powell has the resources to run a serious race. Outside groups on both sides have reserved millions in fall TV time here.
● FL-27: Entrenched GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's retirement gives Democrats one of their best pickup opportunities anywhere in the nation, though it's still not quite a slam-dunk. While this Miami-area seat went from 53-46 Obama all the way to 59-39 Clinton, this is yet another seat where the GOP still does well down ballot. And while the GOP candidates struggled to raise money here for months, that may be changing.
Ros-Lehtinen has spoken well of local Spanish-language TV journalist Maria Elvira Salazar, who entered the race in March. Salazar quickly raised a credible $303,000, and she had $288,000 on-hand after a month in the race. Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, who resigned due to the state's new resign-to-run law, also ramped up his fundraising after several meh quarters, and he had $421,000 on-hand. Several other candidates are running for Team Red, but none of them seem viable. The one exception may be Angie Chirino, a Latin Grammy winning songwriter and the daughter of the well-known Cuban singer Willy Chirino, but she had only $14,000 on-hand.
On the Democratic side, former University of Miami President and longtime Clinton ally Donna Shalala is the frontrunner. Shalala was widely praised for her leadership of the University of Miami when she stepped down in 2015, but she did have some controversies that could cause her trouble on the campaign trail. Perhaps most notably, a prominent donor named Nevin Shapiro provided expensive gifts to football players before he went to jail for a $930 million Ponzi scheme. Environmentalists were also unhappy with Shalala for selling land to a developer for a Walmart rather than setting it aside for preservation. Shalala recently turned 77, and it's unclear if her age will be a factor here.
Shalala won't lack money, though. She raised $640,000 during her first quarter and self-funded another $534,000, leaving her with a $1.1 million war chest. Several of Shalala's other opponents also have plenty of cash, but they may need a lot to go right if they want to break through and emerge as her main foe. State Rep. David Richardson, who has done some self-funding in past quarters, ended March with $1 million in the bank.
Former Miami Herald reporter Matt Haggman, who stepped down as Miami program director for the Knight Foundation before running, also had $870,000 on-hand. Former Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez had a considerably smaller $137,000 to spend. Rosen Gonzalez weirdly told one of her rivals in early April that no one, including her, could beat Shalala in a primary, but she stayed in the race anyway.
● MA-07: Late last week, former Gov. Deval Patrick endorsed Rep. Mike Capuano over Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley in the September primary for this safely blue seat. Patrick is the most prominent African-American politician in the state, and his support could matter in a contest where race is a major theme (Capuano is white and Pressley is black). However, Patrick's endorsement for his old ally isn't a big surprise: Capuano backed Patrick in his 2006 primary when he still looked like a long-shot, and Patrick's wife supported Capuano's unsuccessful 2009 Senate campaign.
● NY-11: What would a Mike Grimm race be without allegations of criminal misconduct? And this one is as bizarrely New York as they come: Last month, New York 1 reported that a Grimm campaign staffer named Joe Shikhman filed a petition with the Board of Elections to get a candidate on the ballot, but that candidate was not his boss. Rather, it was for the man Grimm is trying to unseat in next month's GOP primary, Rep. Dan Donovan, and now the incident has prompted the board to refer the matter to prosecutors. Allow us to explain.
Donovan, it turns out, had filed petitions of his own to place his name on four different ballot lines: those belonging to the Republican, Independence, Conservative, and Reform Parties. Moments before the deadline, though, Shikhman added an additional page of signatures for the Reform line on petitions bearing Donovan's name but his own signature.
That turned Donovan's Reform petitions from a single-volume filing into a multi-volume submission, the latter of which requires a cover sheet—which, of course, Donovan's petitions lacked. Shikhman's shenanigans were therefore designed to knock Donovan off the Reform Party's line (the party had endorsed him earlier this year).
Grimm's campaign responded by calling the "allegations of illegality" "absurd," but of course it couldn't deny that Shikhman had in fact submitted petitions. So with classic Grimm chutzpah, his team snarked that since "Donovan was frantically seeking paid help to get his signatures, we thought we'd help him out for free."
They may not be chuckling for very long, though: The Board of Elections has asked no fewer than six different prosecutors to look into the stunt. There's no word as to whether any are investigating yet, but seeing as the U.S. Attorney's office in Brooklyn sent Grimm to jail for tax fraud a few years ago, they're probably only too happy to reopen their file on him.
● PA-07: NARAL has dropped $52,000 on a media buy in the Democratic primary against Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli over his opposition to reproductive rights. There is no copy of any ad available yet.
● PA-13: The anti-tax Club for Growth hasn't endorsed anyone in next week's crowded GOP primary for this safely red seat, but they're very much opposing physician John Joyce. The Club has spent a total of $350,000, including $260,000 on a TV buy, hitting Joyce. Their spot argues that Joyce donated to a PAC that supports liberal Democrats, and donated to former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.
Meanwhile, a like-minded group is up with an ad for state Rep. Stephen Bloom. House Freedom Action, which is allied with the far-right Freedom Caucus, is up with a 15-second spot arguing that Bloom will be a reliable Trump ally. There is no word on the size of the buy.
● TX-02: A group called American Patriots PAC has launched a $120,000 buy in support of retired Navy SEAL Dan Crenshaw and against state Rep. Kevin Roberts ahead of the May 22 GOP primary runoff. Their spot argues that Crenshaw is a conservative outsider, and praises him for deploying back to Afghanistan twice even after losing an eye. The narrator also argues that Roberts is a typical politician who is just smearing his heroic opponent. A super PAC called With Honor also has been airing ads touting Crenshaw's service, though they haven't gone after Roberts.
Former Gov. Rick Perry, who now serves as secretary of energy, also endorsed Crenshaw this week.
● TX-05: The Club for Growth is taking another whack at state Rep. Lance Gooden ahead of the May 22 GOP runoff. Their new spot argues that while Trump cut taxes, Gooden voted to raise them multiple times.
● TX-21: The Club for Growth says they're spending $250,000 on a TV spot promoting Chip Roy, a former chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz, ahead of the May 22 GOP runoff. The narrator says Roy will fight unelected judges, combat wasteful spending, and stand up to bureaucrats.
● VA-05: As expected, journalist Leslie Cockburn secured the Democratic nomination for Virginia's 5th Congressional District at the party's convention on Saturday, winning 146 votes to 62 for attorney Andrew Sneathern and 28 for Marine veteran Roger Dean Huffstetler, who'd released his delegates. Cockburn will now face GOP Rep. Tom Garrett in the fall, though this district, which went 53-42 for Trump, will be heavy lift for Democrats.
● VA-10: Former State Department official Alison Friedman is the first candidate up with a TV spot ahead of the June 12 Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock. Friedman tells the audience that too many parents know what it's like to hear there's been a lockdown at a local school and worry that it was at their children's school. Friedman pledges to stand up to the NRA and declares that Comstock "sold our kid's safety to the NRA. I'm running to take it back."
● WA-08: After receiving much criticism for releasing a poll of Washington's all-party top-two primary that only featured the opinions of self-identified Democrats, pediatrician Kim Schrier has now shared the full results of that survey, reflecting the entire primary electorate.
Unsurprisingly, it shows the only Republican in the race, former state Sen. Dino Rossi, far out ahead at 48 percent, while Schrier is a distant second at 14. Attorney Jason Rittereiser, who complained loudly about Schrier's poll, takes 6, while former CDC official Shannon Hader, the third notable Democrat, is at 5. Rittereiser's own poll similarly had Rossi at the front with 43 percent but gave Schrier 6 percent and himself 4.
Schrier's survey, which was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, also tested former state GOP chair Chris Vance, who left the Republican Party last year in disgust over Donald Trump. Vance earns 7 percent of the vote, but he's not actually running, though he did recently tell the Seattle Times' Jim Brunner that he's "intrigued" by all the numbers he's seen.
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