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.
● MN-02: CNN has unearthed more of Republican Rep. Jason Lewis' offensive comments from when he used to be a right-wing radio host from 2009 until 2014, and this time it comes in the form of racist statements against African-Americans. Lewis has repeatedly argued black people are "addicted" to government and have an "entitlement mentality" that leads to violence, saying that welfare did more damage to black families than Jim Crow did.
Indeed, Lewis claimed white people are "the real victims of racial violence," and that "the chances today of a gang of KKK members beating up a black kid are remote compared to the opposite. A gang of black on white crime." Furthermore, Lewis asserted, "You simply can't say the same thing about other groups. But when there is a festival, a gathering, call it what you will—June 9, Juneteenth or urban weekend in Miami Beach or Myrtle Beach and Indianapolis. When there is a predominantly black festival, there's trouble." Finally, Lewis used prominent black civil rights activists such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton of "playing the race card" to oppose voter ID.
In response to CNN's story, Lewis called the use of his past statements "an orchestrated attempt at making anyone who supports reducing illegitimacy or crime in minority communities, voter ID laws, and work requirements for public assistance back off their public policy positions." Just like when CNN recently reported on Lewis' misogynistic comments during his radio tenure, the congressman has done nothing to disavow these offensive remarks.
● Primary Day: Casey At the Bat: Tuesday brings us runoffs in Georgia in contests where no candidates took a majority in the May 22 primary. We've put together our preview here, and we'll begin our liveblog after polls close at 7 PM ET.
The bitter GOP race for governor between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp takes center stage, and recent polls find Kemp with the edge over the former frontrunner. Democrats will also choose their nominees in a pair of suburban Atlanta House seats currently held by Republicans.
Will there be any joy in Mudville, or will the once-mighty Casey Cagle strike out? Join us for our liveblog starting at 7 PM ET at Daily Kos Elections to find out. You can also follow our coverage on Twitter as well.
You can bookmark our chart to track the second-quarter fundraising reports in all of the competitive Senate races. Our House fundraising chart can be found here.
● MS-Sen-B: Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-inc): $1.6 million raised, $1.4 million cash-on-hand; Chris McDaniel (R): $272,000 raised, $156,000 cash-on-hand; Mike Espy (D): $308,000 raised, $281,000 cash-on-hand
● OH-Sen: Jim Renacci (R): $1.5 million raised, $4.2 million cash-on-hand
● AZ-Sen: The ACLU is spending $300,000 to air TV ads that calls out the three Republican primary candidates on immigration, with versions in both English and Spanish (here and here). The narrator asserts that the ACLU doesn't "endorse or oppose candidates" but instead "defend[s] civil rights when they are under attack." The spot mainly blasts Republican Joe Arpaio for his human rights abuses of immigrants when he was Maricopa County sheriff, but it also name-checks Rep. Martha McSally and former state Sen. Kelli Ward for joining Apaio's "anti-immigrant bandwagon."
The ACLU previously reported spending $320,000 on "canvassing" last week, but their FEC filing didn't mention anything about ad buys.
● IN-Sen: Turns out Republican and wealthy businessman Mike Braun did a lot more self-funding in the second quarter than he let on. His campaign made it sound like he'd raised $2.1 million from donors and self-funded just $386,000, meaning he would have raised more than Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly's $1.9 million. But in reality, Braun raised $1.5 million and self-funded another $1 million.
● ND-Sen: VoteVets has dropped $270,000 on a new TV ad to oppose Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer on veterans' issues. They attack him for voting against a pay increase for uniformed service members and against a measure to cut down on the Veterans Administration's benefits backlog.
● NV-Sen: The Mitch McConnell-aligned One Nation has debuted another TV ad that praises Republican Sen. Dean Heller for fighting for the interests of veterans. Their spot features footage of Heller touting his efforts to cut the time veterans have to wait to receive health care.
● WI-Sen: State Sen. Leah Vukmir's latest ad ahead of the Aug. 14 Republican primary shows her boasting that she worked with GOP Gov. Scott Walker to take on the "big labor bosses," and she says she'll work with Donald Trump in Congress to "cut wasteful spending," "build the wall," and "drain the swamp."
● CT-Gov: Democratic firm Tremont Public Advisors has conducted an online poll of the GOP primary for governor in Connecticut. Their survey has Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton leading with 34 percent, followed by businessman Bob Stefanowski at 20 percent, hedge fund founder David Stemerman and Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst at 15 percent each, and businessman Steve Obsitnik at 12 percent. This is the first poll we've seen of the Aug. 14 primary since the May convention whittled down the field and gave Boughton the state party's endorsement.
One of those candidates eliminated at the Republican convention was Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, who recently endorsed Stefanowski for his party's nomination. However, Lauretti is still refusing to rule out running as an independent if Stefanowski or Stemerman doesn't win the primary.
Meanwhile, Stefanowski has launched a TV ad to hit back against a recent attack from Stemerman that had dinged him for not voting in the last several elections and for contributing thousands to Democratic candidates. Without repeating Stemerman's attack, Stefanowski's ad blasts Stemerman for being a registered Democrat when he lived in New York City and voting for Obama. He also accuses Stemerman of supporting unpopular Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy's income tax, but Stefanowski says he'll phase out the state's income tax if elected.
Stefanowski is also getting some support from the Protect Freedom PAC, which is spending $107,000 to air a TV ad boosting his candidacy. Their minute-long spot bemoans "higher taxes and spending" for hurting Connecticut. They commend Stefanowski for supposedly having a plan to fix the state's economy by phasing out the state income tax and cutting spending and regulations.
● FL-Gov: The Florida Chamber of Commerce recently commissioned a poll of Florida's GOP primary for governor, which they tell us was conducted by Clear View Research. The survey has Putnam up by 39-38 against Rep. Ron DeSantis when leaners are included, and that's the first poll we've seen in a month that didn't have DeSantis ahead by a sizable margin. However, it's probably not a great sign for Putnam that the best polling his allies at the Chamber can find just barely has him leading his primary foe.
● HI-Gov: Gov. David Ige is out with what we believe is his first negative TV ad of the Aug. 11 Democratic primary. The spot begins with a picture of Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Ige's primary foe, as a narrator declares, "Criticism isn't leadership. Leaders lift us up." The rest of the spot praises the governor for protecting land from developers.
● ID-Gov: The Democratic pollster Clarity Campaign Labs has conducted a survey of Idaho's gubernatorial election for Idaho Voices for Change Now, and their poll gives Republican Lt. Gov. Brad Little a surprisingly modest 38-28 lead over Democrat Paulette Jordan. This is the first general election poll we've seen from anyone this cycle, so there's little to indicate whether this poll is on the mark or not, but election observers widely believe the GOP is heavily favored in this deep-red state.
● KS-Gov: Gov. Jeff Colyer and Secretary of State Kris Kobach are both slugging it out on the airwaves two weeks ahead of the GOP primary. Colyer's spot argues that Kobach "calls more funding for education 'a disaster, and says he wants the power to 'punish schools.'" The narrator then argues Colyer has funded classrooms without increasing taxes.
Kobach originally had a commercial that charged that Colyer "voted against a bill that would stop illegal aliens from receiving welfare benefits and prevent Kansas employers from hiring illegal aliens." However, Kobach ended up taking down the spot last week, with the campaign saying it had to do with Colyer's motivations for voting against the bill, which was changed several times in the legislature and never became law.
Meanwhile, a third GOP candidate is hoping to take advantage of the slugfest by depicting himself as different from the two frontrunners. State Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer's ad begins with him declaring that, "Like two peas in a pod, these two guys have been running for and holding office in Topeka for over a decade." Selzer then pitches himself as someone who can fix a broken system, says he's cut spending in his office while improving services and transparency.
Independent Greg Orman is also going up with his first TV ad now, even though he of course doesn't have a primary on Aug. 7. Orman bemoans that "[w]e never settle for just two lousy choices in anything except politics," and pitches himself as an alternative to the two-party system.
● MD-Gov: GOP Gov. Larry Hogan has aired his first TV attack ad against newly minted Democratic nominee Ben Jealous, claiming his single-payer healthcare proposal is too expensive. The spot relies on a state Department of Legislative Services estimate that single-payer would cost Maryland $24 billion a year, increasing the state's operating budget by just over half and forcing Maryland to raise taxes to pay for it.
Of course, Hogan's ad doesn't note that Marylanders would no longer have to pay rapidly rising health insurance premiums under a single-payer system. Furthermore Jealous has pointed to an estimate from the National Nurses United union that single-payer could save the average person 11 percent a year on healthcare costs.
● MI-Gov: The state chapter of the SEIU has endorsed former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer for the Democratic nomination for governor. Whitmer has won the overwhelming majority of labor support ahead of the Aug. 7 primary.
● MN-Gov: Last week saw unseemly revelations that Rep. Rick Nolan rehired a man for his 2016 campaign who had left his staff in 2015 after being accused of sexual harassment by multiple women and that Nolan had made inappropriate "off-color jokes," but state Attorney General Lori Swanson is firmly standing by the congressman, her ticket mate, ahead of next month's Democratic primary for governor. Swanson issued a statement where she said, "Congressman Nolan has apologized to the women who were harassed by their male co-worker, and for his own comments. ... Sexual harassment will have no place in the Swanson-Nolan administration."
It's unclear just how damaging this story could be, but neither of Swanson's primary rivals has called on her to drop Nolan from her ticket, unlike several progressive groups. Yet even if she wanted to ditch Nolan, a spokesperson for the secretary of state's office said there is no practical way for Nolan to be removed from the ticket under state law, and early voting is already well-underway ahead of the Aug. 14 primary.
● NV-Gov: GOP nominee Adam Laxalt may be hoping that termed-out Gov. Brian Sandoval's popularity will help him keep this seat red, but Sandoval himself isn't doing much to help him. Sandoval has refused to endorse Laxalt, and it doesn't sound like he's open to coming around. Sandoval told the New York Times that he "won't support a candidate that is going to undo anything that I put forward." The governor has not been afraid to criticize Laxalt in the past, declaring last year that Laxalt's plan to repeal his tax on businesses would "irreversibly and permanently harm" the state's children and business climate.
● RI-Gov: Cranston Mayor and 2014 GOP nominee Allan Fung is out with a poll of the September GOP primary from Public Opinion Strategies, and it gives him a wide 62-22 lead over state House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan. This is the first poll we've seen of this contest.
● TN-Gov: Both Rep. Diane Black and businessman Randy Boyd recently began running ads focused on attacking businessman Bill Lee, and a new poll from the Louisiana-based GOP firm JMC Analytics gives Lee his first-ever lead in the Aug. 2 GOP primary. The survey, which JMC says was done independently of any client, gives Lee a small 27-23 lead over Boyd, while Black is just behind at 21. State House Speaker Beth Harwell, whom all the candidates seem to be ignoring, takes 18, which is also her best-ever showing in any released poll.
Two polls from late June each showed Lee in third place, though they disagreed by how much. The Arizona-based GOP firm Data Orbital had Black leading Boyd 24-23, while Lee was just behind at 19 and Harwell took 10. However, the GOP firm Triton Polling & Research gave Boyd a 33-27 edge over Black, while Lee and Harwell take 20 and 7 percent, respectively.
Lee himself is hoping to take advantage of his opponents' attacks by portraying himself as above the fray. His newest TV spot features the candidate telling the audience that "I've got three politicians running attack ads against me right now, and I wanted to tell you why: we're winning, and they're scared."
Lee then tries to address his opponents’ attacks without repeating them, beginning by saying the truth is that he "fully supported" Trump, and even went to his inauguration. Lee adds, "Of course I oppose amnesty and sanctuary cities," and says that 99 percent of his political contributions went to Republicans.
Black's new spot also tries to contrast her against Lee and Boyd. The narrator declares she's the one candidate that helped write Trump's tax bill, and it once again features footage of Trump saying she came through for him and shaking her hand. The narrator then describes Black as the one candidate who voted for Trump's border wall, and it shows footage of Trump calling her up at a conference.
The second half of the spot features pictures of Lee and Boyd as the narrator says the "the others are good men, but they're moderates," adding they're "the kind of Republicans who help Democrats get elected." As usual, the commercial ignores Harwell.
● AZ-01: State Sen. Steve Smith is out with a survey of the Aug. 28 GOP primary from Grassroots Partners that gives him a small 27-23 edge over Air Force veteran and perennial candidate Wendy Rogers, while attorney Tiffany Shedd is a distant third at 15. According to the National Journal, this poll was in the field July 15-16 and sampled 393 voters.
Earlier this month, a group called Defending Rural Arizona PAC released a poll giving Rogers a 22-15 edge over Shedd, while Smith was a distant third at 10. It's not clear whom the PAC rooting for in the primary to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran.
● FL-09: With a little more than a month to go before the Aug. 28 Democratic primary, Rep. Darren Soto is going up with his first negative TV spot against former Rep. Alan Grayson.
The narrator argues Grayson is lying about Soto, saying that the congressman "secured FEMA relief for Central Florida and helped countless families recover" after Hurricane Irma struck last year, adding that he "led the fight for Puerto Rican evacuees and stopped Trump from cutting off food and water aid to the island." The commercial then accuses Grayson of lying "to cover up his double life running a hedge fund in Congress where he tried to profit off natural disasters in a shady Cayman Islands account."
We haven't seen any polls here, but Soto's ad indicates he's worried about Grayson, who represented much of this area until he ran for the Senate in 2016. At the end of June, Grayson held a small $677,000 to $590,000 cash-on-hand edge over the incumbent.
● FL-15: VoteVets has endorsed Navy veteran Andrew Learned ahead of next month's Democratic primary.
● IN-02: Democrat Mel Hall is up with his first TV ad in his general election with GOP Rep. Jackie Walorski. The 60-second spot touts how Hall grew up on a farm and went to seminary and worked as a minister in Detroit. The narrator goes on to tout Hall's business record and pledges he'll "reject every congressional perk, never take lobbyist or corporate PAC money," and serve no more than three terms.
● Louisiana: The final filing deadline to run as a major party candidate for Congress or state-level office passed Friday in Louisiana. The state has a list of candidates here.
All six House members (five Republicans and Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond) are seeking re-election, and none of them face any serious opposition. The only statewide race on the ballot is a special election for secretary of state, and the winner will be up again next year for a regular four-year term. All the candidates, regardless of party, will run together on one ballot on Nov. 6. In races where no one takes a majority, the two contenders with the most votes will face off in a Dec. 8 runoff.
● OH-10: GOP Rep. Mike Turner, who is facing his first serious challenge in a long time, is going up with a positive ad. The spot features a foster parent and a pastor praising the congressman for helping children in the foster care system.
Turner's Dayton-based seat moved from 50-48 Romney to 51-44 Trump, and he could be vulnerable in a bad year for his party. Turner faces Democrat Theresa Gasper, whom he only outraised $262,000 to $224,000 during the second quarter of 2018. However, Turner held a large $711,000 to $187,000 cash-on-hand lead at the end of June. So far, neither national party has made any TV reservations here.
● OH-12: The Columbus Dispatch reports that the NRCC has added about $300,000 to their TV buy over the final two weeks of the Aug. 7 special election, going from about $200,000 to $500,000.
● TN-08: Wealthy perennial candidate George Flinn is seeking a rematch with GOP Rep. David Kustoff in next week's GOP primary for this safely red West Tennessee seat, and his massive spending seems to have the incumbent worried. Flinn has already spent $2.7 million of his own money, including $1 million alone during the first 13 days of July (the time that the FEC defines as the pre-primary period). Kustoff, who defeated Flinn 27-23 last cycle for what was an open seat, has spent $1 million during this campaign, including $277,000 during the pre-primary period.
The incumbent is also going on the offensive with a TV spot against Flinn. The narrator accuses him of lying before saying that his businesses "profited off Planned Parenthood and ran ads promoting Planned Parenthood." The commercial then accuses Flinn of using that money to "smear" Kustoff, and declares Kustoff has a perfect anti-abortion record and voted to defund Planned Parenthood. The commercial comes a few weeks after Flinn ran a spot accusing Kustoff of voting "with Nancy Pelosi to fund Planned Parenthood," and it seems that the congressman felt compelled to respond.
● WA-03: EMILY's List has endorsed political science professor Carolyn Long ahead of the Aug. 7 top-two primary to face GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. Long's main intra-party foe is businessman David McDevitt, who ran in 2016 and took just 10 percent in the primary. However, McDevitt has loaned his campaign $700,000 this time, and he held a $681,000 to $312,000 cash-on-hand lead over Long at the end of June. Herrera Beutler had $1 million in the bank as she prepares to defend a seat that moved from 50-48 Romney to 50-43 Trump.
● WA-08: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched a $200,000 buy on a TV spot praising Republican Dino Rossi on trade. The narrator declares that with over 40 percent of Washington state's jobs relying on trade, "we need someone in the other Washington who gets that." The ad does not mention Donald Trump or tariffs.