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.
● FL-Gov: Just how much does Rep. Ron DeSantis want GOP primary voters to know he's Trump's guy? His new ad shows DeSantis encouraging his young children to "build the wall" out of construction bricks, reading them Trump's book The Art of the Deal, and teaching them to talk using a "Make America Great Again" lawn sign. And if you look closely, you'll see the family also owns a Trump rubber duck. This is all just so depressing we can't make a joke out of it. The commercial is narrated by Casey Black DeSantis, the congressman's wife and a well-known Jacksonville TV host.
On the Democratic side, former Rep. Gwen Graham has picked up an endorsement from Rep. Kathy Castor, who represents Tampa.
● FL-Sen, FL-09: San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who drew several personal attacks from Trump after she criticized his handling of Hurricane Maria, endorsed Rep. Darren Soto and Sen. Bill Nelson over the weekend. Nelson is hoping to do well with Puerto Rican voters in the fall, including those who relocated to Florida after Maria and don't yet know him. Soto, who is the state's first Puerto Rican congressman, is trying to fend off former Rep. Alan Grayson in the Aug. 28 primary in a seat with a large Puerto Rican community.
● MI-Sen: Businessman and veteran John James has put together an ad ahead of next week's GOP primary touting Trump's endorsement. Amusingly, the narrator quotes Trump's tweet declaring that James is "strong on crime and borders, loves our Military, our Vets and our Second Amendment," even though Trump cut-and-pastes that language into pretty much every single one of his endorsement tweets (complete with "Vets" capitalized and a missing Oxford Comma).
● MT-Sen: The Club for Growth has launched their second TV spot against Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, and just like before, they show footage from his initial 2006 campaign to argue that Tester has betrayed his values in Congress. This ad accuses Tester of breaking his promise not to take lobbyist gifts and special-interest paid travel, with the narrator declaring he even took a trip to Cancun. That excursion was a 2016 vacation hosted by Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill that includes Tester, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, and their spouses. McCaskill, who is also a big Club target, paid for it with $15,000 of her own money.
Tester is also up with a spot targeting Republican Matt Rosendale. The ad features a local woman telling the audience that she has cancer, and that Rosendale "pushed to ensure insurance companies deny coverage for pre-existing conditions" and "rubber-stamped" a big increase in premiums.
● ND-Sen: Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips told attendees at the Koch brothers' donor retreat this week that his powerful and well-funded group was not planning to aid Republican Kevin Cramer. Phillips took issue with Cramer for co-sponsoring legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank and called him "inconsistent" on other issues like reducing government spending and backing free trade.
However, Phillips didn't close the door on anything, saying, "We can't support him at this time," (emphasis ours), adding, "to be clear, we've met with his team, explained this, and lobbied him on this to change their ways." He also told attendees to "[g]ive Kevin Cramer a call—urge him to step up and lead." AFP, which almost universally supports Republicans, raised eyebrows earlier this year when they ran a digital ad thanking Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp for supporting the bill to roll back banking reforms, though they'd previously run spots hitting her for opposing the GOP's tax law.
Meanwhile, Cramer is continuing his strategy to try and look really nice while attacking Heitkamp. The ad begins with a veteran declaring, "I like Heidi, who doesn't like Heidi?," before she adds she "doesn't like the way she votes in Washington." Other veterans go on to praise Cramer without mentioning the incumbent. Cramer's allies at the NRSC have also added another $217,000 to their buy.
● AZ-Gov: Both state Sen. Steve Farley and Arizona State University professor David Garcia are up with their first TV ads ahead of the Aug. 28 Democratic primary. The National Journal reports that Farley's spot is backed by $331,000, while we don't have a size of the buy for Garcia.
● KS-Gov: With a week to go before the GOP primary, Secretary of State Kris Kobach is out with a poll from JMC Analytics giving him a 34-25 lead over Gov. Jeff Colyer, with 2006 nominee Jim Barnett at 11. This is the first poll we've seen here since May, when Remington gave Colyer a 29-27 edge. However, Colyer did earn the Bob Dole! endorsement on Monday. Yes, dear readers, for once we actually mean the original Bob Dole! and not the Illinois sequel Bob Dold!.
● MI-Gov: Campaign finance reports are out for all the candidates ahead of next week's primaries. On the Democratic side, former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer raised $3.1 million from January to July 22 and got another $700,000 in public matching funds, and she had $2.9 million on hand. Former Detroit health director Abdul El-Sayed raised $2 million during this time and got another $300,000 in state funds, but he had just $260,000 left. Businessman Shri Thanedar self-funded $4 million this year on top of the $6 million he'd already committed, and he had $500,000 on-hand.
On the GOP side, Attorney General Bill Schuette raised $2 million in 2018 and had $1.5 million on hand, while Lt. Gov. Brian Calley took in $1.7 million and had $127,000 left; neither Republican has received state matching funds. For his part, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck raised just $255,000 and had $31,000 on-hand. Physician Jim Hines self-funded another $2 million, but he's barely registered in the polls. Hines had only $94,000 left on July 22.
● OK-Gov: The dark money group The Foundation for Economic Prosperity has been in hibernation since they helped Republican James Lankford in his successful 2014 Senate primary campaign, but they've awoken to aid former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett in the Aug. 28 GOP primary runoff. The group is re-airing a commercial previously run by another group called Oklahoma Values that touted Cornett as an "outsider to state government" who has been a successful mayor. The Oklahoman reports that they're spending $220,000 to air the spot in the Tulsa area.
● CA-50: Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar is out with a poll from Tulchin Research giving GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter a 51-42 lead. This inland San Diego County seat backed Trump 55-40, but Hunter is currently under FBI investigation for allegedly putting campaign money to his personal use, including a $600 flight for his family's pet rabbit. However, as this poll indicates, it's going to be a challenge for Campa-Najjar to unseat the incumbent in an area this red unless Hunter's legal woes deepen.
● FL-12: St. Pete Polls' new survey for Florida Politics gives GOP Rep. Gus Bilirakis a 49-30 lead over Democrat Chris Hunter, a former federal prosecutor. That would be a considerable drop for Bilirakis from his 69-31 win over a little-known Democrat in 2016, but this isn't exactly a cliffhanger race yet. This seat, which includes Tampa and St. Petersburg's northern suburbs, went from an already tough 53-45.5 Romney to a nasty 57-39 Trump, and national Democrats haven't made it a priority yet. At the end of June, Bilirakis held a $638,000 to $287,000 cash-on-hand lead.
● FL-16: St. Pete Polls also takes a look at this contest for Florida Politics, and they give GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan a 44-35 lead over Democrat David Shapiro. The only other poll we've seen out of this 54-43 Trump seat was an April PPP survey for the Democratic group Patriot Majority that had Buchanan ahead 49-37.
The well-funded incumbent, who began airing TV commercials almost four months ago, certainly is taking the contest seriously, and he recently launched a $500,000 ad campaign against Shapiro. A nonprofit group called Floridians for a Fair Shake has also spent $604,000 on an ad hitting the congressman. Buchanan, who has done some self-funding, held a $2.49 million to $785,000 cash-on-hand lead at the end of June.
● MA-07: On Monday, Attorney General Maura Healey endorsed Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley over Rep. Mike Capuano in the Sept. 4 Democratic primary. Healy is the most high-profile state Democrat to back Pressley's campaign for this safely blue Boston-area seat. Capuano has the support of much of the state and local party establishment, though both Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey have remained neutral.
● NH-01: Former Department of Veterans Affairs official Maura Sullivan, who has by-far the largest war chest of all the Democrats competing in the Sept. 11 Democratic primary, has launched her first two spots, and WMUR reports that she's spending $273,000 on television over the next four weeks. Both commercials tout her time serving with the Marines in Iraq and work helping veterans in the Obama administration.
State Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, the favorite of much of the local Democratic political establishment, also launched his first TV ad, and his campaign says they're putting five figures behind the weeklong buy. The commercial features Pappas talking about fighting to expand health care and fund Planned Parenthood. At the end of June, Sullivan held a hefty $1.09 million to $440,000 cash-on-hand lead over Pappas; state Rep. Mark Mackenzie, a former labor leader who has self-funded most of his campaign, was a distant third with $108,000 in the bank.
● TN-08: On Friday, Donald Trump tweeted out his endorsement for Rep. David Kustoff ahead of Thursday's GOP primary. Kustoff, who faces a challenge from wealthy perennial candidate George Flinn, quickly had an ad ready touting Trump's support.
● Special Elections: We have our first special election in a while on Tuesday, and it involves one familiar Democrat. As with all Texas specials, all the candidates will compete on one ballot. If no one takes a majority of the vote, there would be a runoff between the top-two vote-getters, regardless of party. As always, Johnny Longtorso brings us up to speed:
Texas SD-19: This is an open Democratic seat stretching out west from San Antonio. Carlos Uresti resigned following a bribery conviction. There are eight candidates running, including four Democrats: former Rep. Pete Gallego, who represented about half of this seat in Congress in 2013 and 2014; state Rep. Roland Gutierrez; attorney Charles Urbina Jones; and state Rep. Tomas Uresti, the brother of the former state senator.
Also on the ballot are three Republicans: retired game warden Peter Flores, who recently picked up an endorsement from Gov. Greg Abbott; former Harlandale Trustee Jesse Alaniz; and realtor Carlos Antonio Raymond. The final candidate is Libertarian Tony Valdivia. This seat went 54-42 for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and 55-44 for Barack Obama in 2012.
● Deaths: California Democrat Ron Dellums, who served in the House from 1971 to 1998 and as mayor of Oakland from 2007 to 2011, died Monday at the age of 82.
Dellums, a former Marine who served on the Berkeley City Council, quickly drew attention when he first sought his East Bay seat in 1970. Dellums challenged Rep. Jeffrey Cohelan in the primary and argued that he hadn't done enough to oppose the Vietnam War. Dellums, who rallied labor, students, and people of color, unseated Cohelan 55-45, and his easy general election victory made him the first African American to represent Northern California in Congress. During that campaign, GOP Vice President Spiro Agnew branded Dellums as an "an out and out radical" who had to be "purged from the body politic," and the congressman ended up on Richard Nixon's Enemies List.
Dellums made a name for himself as an ardent and confrontational opponent of the war. Notably, when Dellums' calls for a House investigation into alleged war crimes were ignored, he drew national attention by holding his own informal hearings. He would also advocate for what he knew would be perceived as radical left-wing ideas that had no chance of passing Congress in order to shift the overall debate to the left. However, Dellums was still able to win over allies and rise to serve as chair of the House Committee on the District of Columbia and the Armed Services Committee. Notably, he was both the first black member and first anti-war activist to head Armed Services.
Dellums also played a key role in creating and passing the 1986 Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act to sanction apartheid in South Africa. Congress overrode Ronald Reagan's veto, making this the first time in the 20th century that Congress overrode a president's veto on foreign policy. Dellums decided to resign in 1997, and he endorsed state Sen. Barbara Lee, a former staffer who still represents Oakland and Berkeley today.
Dellums headed a lobbying firm for the next eight years, but he ventured back into politics in 2006 when he ran to succeed once-and-future California Gov. Jerry Brown as mayor of Oakland. Dellums ended up winning 50-33, but while he was credited for enlarging the police department and helping direct key projects to the city, he was later forced to lay off police officers. Dellums was also criticized for not spending enough time at City Hall, and the IRS cited him and his wife for owing $239,000 in income taxes. Dellums ended up not seeking a second term in 2010.
● Demographics: Race and education, especially when taken together, are two of the demographic characteristics that are most predictive of how a place is going to vote. One thing that's missing from the Census Bureau's vast troves of information, though, is a sense of what percentage of the adults in a particular congressional district (or any other geography) are college-educated whites, non-college whites, college-educated non-whites, and non-college non-whites.
David Jarman uses existing census data to calculate those numbers, now available in spreadsheet form for not just congressional districts, but also for states, large counties, and cities. Virginia's 10th congressional district, for instance (notable because a recent poll showed Barbara Comstock losing by double digits overall even though she's winning double digits among non-college white voters), is 37 percent whites with college degrees, 28 percent non-college whites, 18 percent non-whites with college degrees, and 18 percent non-college non-whites.
● Netroots Nation: The Daily Kos Elections team is headed down to New Orleans this week for Netroots Nation, the annual progressive conference, and on Friday at 5:15 PM ET, we'll be hosting our traditional elections Q&A panel. We dispense with the PowerPoints and proceed directly to questions from the audience about the races they're most interested in. And the great news is, if you can't attend in person, you can watch our livestream. We'll also be taking questions online, so please join us. And if you're a regular reader, please come say hello after the panel. See you in the Big Easy!