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.
● MI-Gov, MI-Sen: The Glengariff Group is out with their first general election survey of Michigan's big statewide races for the Detroit News and WDIV-TV, and they give Team Blue some very good news. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer posts a 50-36 lead over Republican Bill Schuette in the race for governor, while Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow leads Republican John James 56-33. A recent poll from the GOP firm Strategic National, which worked for the candidates Schuette and James beat in the primary, had Whitmer ahead 49-39 and Stabenow up 50-35, respectively.
These polls aren't the only sign that Republicans are having trouble in this competitive state. The Republican Governors Association notably cut $1.5 million in planned TV advertising last week; while they still have $5.6 million reserved, it makes sense that they'd redirect some money to more competitive races if they're not feeling good about Michigan.
One small bit of good news for Team Red is that termed-out Republican Gov. Rick Snyder posts a 46-47 approval rating in the Glengariff survey, which is considerably better than what he's posted in other polls. However, Snyder has loudly and repeatedly refused to endorse Schuette, so the governor may still be a big headache for him.
● RI-Gov: We have a very rare primary night on Wednesday as Rhode Islanders go to the polls. The big contest to watch will be the Democratic primary, where Gov. Gina Raimondo is trying to fend off former Secretary of State Matt Brown.
Raimondo has a massive financial advantage, but she's had a long and turbulent relationship with progressives since she pushed through pension reforms as state treasurer. Raimondo has also attracted some bad press during her governorship: Most notably, a digital system that was supposed to deal with food stamp benefits failed, the state has been involved in an expensive court case involving nursing homes, and Rhode Island recently lost its minor league baseball team, the Pawtucket Red Sox, to Massachusetts. Brown has also been trying to portray the governor as too close to corporate interests.
No one has released any polls here, but Raimondo's decision to go up with a negative ad against Brown in the final weeks of the race is a sign she thinks he's a threat. Former state Rep. Spencer Dickinson is also in, and it's possible he could split the anti-incumbent vote enough to allow Raimondo to win with a plurality.
On the GOP side, the front-runner is Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who lost the 2014 contest to Raimondo 41-36. Fung has a huge financial advantage over state House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan, and she even released a poll in early August giving Fung a 44-33 lead.
Polls close on Wednesday at 8 PM ET. We won't be liveblogging this one, but we'll be posting an open thread at Daily Kos Elections for anyone who wants to discuss the results as they come in.
● AZ-Sen, AZ-Gov: Team Blue is hoping that a strong political climate will propel them to victory in this year's two major statewide races, but neither Democratic nominee has endorsed the other yet.
On Tuesday, gubernatorial nominee David Garcia was asked by the local CBS affiliate if he was backing Rep. Kyrsten Sinema for Senate and declared he was focusing on his race, and added, "We are a candidate and we are a campaign. We are a party with a lot of factions and we complement each other." However, Garcia did endorse the rest of Arizona's Democratic congressional delegation for re-election that same day. Sinema, who has been running as much more of a centrist than Garcia has been, also has not yet thrown her support behind him.
● NV-Sen, NV-Gov: Suffolk takes its second look at Nevada, and it gives Team Blue tiny leads for Senate and for governor. Democrat Jacky Rosen posts a 42-41 edge over Republican Sen. Dean Heller, while Democrat Steve Sisolak leads Republican Adam Laxalt 37-35 in the contest for governor. In late July, Suffolk gave Heller and Laxalt leads of 41-40 and 42-41, respectively.
Polling has been very limited in both races, so we don't have a good sense for how on-target Suffolk is. However, there are a few things to note here. Suffolk gives Donald Trump a 46-50 approval rating, which seems high for a state he narrowly lost given his bad numbers nationwide. (HuffPost Pollster's average has Trump underwater with a 42-53 score nationally.)
Suffolk also finds a huge number of undecided voters in the gubernatorial campaign, with just two months to go before Election Day. Even stranger, the percentage of undecided voters has rocketed up since its last poll, more than doubling from 7 percent in late July to 15 percent now. About 9 percent of respondents were undecided in both of its Senate surveys.
● Senate: The Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund has made a new $6.4 million TV ad buy to boost Republicans and attack Democrats in six hotly contested Senate races:
IN-Sen: $1.4 million
MO-Sen: $1.8 million
NV-Sen: $1 million
TN-Sen: $1.1 million
● NM-Gov: Republican Steve Pearce is the underdog this year, but he does enter the final two months of the general election with a $1.9 million to $1.3 million cash-on-hand lead over Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham. Lujan Grisham did outraise Pearce $1.9 million to $750,000 from July 1 to Sept. 3, though. The Albuquerque Journal also writes that $133,000 of Pearce's haul was from court-ordered attorney fees over a dispute about whether he could transfer money from his congressional campaign to his gubernatorial bid; Pearce won the case and transferred $780,000 earlier in the cycle.
● NY-Gov: Actress and activist Cynthia Nixon went up with her first TV spot on Tuesday ahead of the Sept. 13 Democratic primary. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has a massive cash lead in this extremely expensive state, has been advertising for months.
● AR-02: The Arkansas site Talk Business & Politics and Hendrix College are out with the first poll we've seen for this race since February, and they give GOP Rep. French Hill a 50-41 lead over Democratic state Rep. Clarke Tucker. This central Arkansas seat, which includes Little Rock, backed Donald Trump 52-42. The American Bankers Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce have run ads over the summer praising Hill, but as far as we know, other major Democratic and Republican outside groups have yet to reserve air time here.
● IL-06: The DCCC has made a $90,000 TV buy to attack Republican Rep. Peter Roskam. There's no copy of any new ad available yet.
● MN-02: After a series of recordings surfaced this summer revealing his racist and misogynist views, former right-wing radio host Jason Lewis's first TV ad starts off notably on the defensive in the Republican incumbent's campaign for a second term in the House. Lewis claims the "politically correct" politicians "take my words out of context and tell you I'm extreme." In a sign that he's feeling the heat in his suburban swing district, Lewis boasts of how he supposedly "stood up to the Republicans on spending, warrantless wiretaps, and criminal justice reform."
● MN-03: Democrat Dean Phillips' latest ad responds to recent Republican attacks that portray an inaccurate picture of his business practices on the issue of healthcare coverage. Standing in his coffee shop, Phillips blasts GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen for claiming he didn't provide health coverage for his employees, noting that he does for full-time employees, just as he did with his other businesses. Phillips pivots to attack Paulsen for taking millions from insurance and drug companies and then voting to take away Americans' affordable health care and gut protections for pre-existing conditions.
As we've previously noted, Phillips didn't have any full-time employees when he launched his coffee shop business in 2016 and chose to pay part-time workers a $15 hourly minimum wage so they could afford to choose their own healthcare plan. Once the coffee shop brought on full-time workers, Phillips offered them a healthcare plan.
● NY-27: It's been a month since indicted Rep. Chris Collins suspended his re-election campaign so the local GOP could pick a new nominee, but the New York Times reports that Team Red still has no idea how they're going to get him off the ballot. Erie County GOP chair Nick Langworthy, whose county is by far the largest in this upstate seat, admitted that "we went from what we thought was going to be a quick process to what is a more belabored process." Langworthy shouldn't have been surprised, though: As we've written many times before, New York law makes it very tough for a party nominee to exit the race.
The best options to get Collins, who was indicted for insider trading, off the ballot still seem to be nominating him in a race for town clerk or town assessor. Indeed, the Times points out that there are vacancies for those posts in Eden, which is near where the congressman lives. However, Democrats have said they'll sue to block any attempt to swap Collins out for someone else.
Time is running short to figure out a way to make any switch, and it's possible Collins will need to be on the ballot whether or not he wants to be. This seat backed Trump 60-35, but Democrat Nate McMurray could have an opening, especially if he faces Collins after all.
● TX-28, TX-31: If there's one thing we can always count on, it's Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar making life difficult for his fellow Democrats. Politico reports that Cuellar attended and invited his supporters to a fundraiser for Republican Rep. John Carter, who faces a vigorous challenge from Democrat MJ Hegar in Texas's 31st District. Hegar even has the support of the conservative Blue Dog Coalition, where Cuellar is a co-chair.
Sadly, this is far from out of character for Cuellar, who infamously backed George W. Bush in 2000 and is the extremely rare Democrat who has been endorsed by the radical anti-tax Club for Growth. This year alone, Cuellar was the one Democrat who held off on signing a discharge petition to force a vote on a bill to protect Dreamers until the very last day to do so. According to Fivethirtyeight, Cuellar also votes with Donald Trump more than any Democrat in either chamber of Congress. Cuellar represents a Laredo-area seat that went from 60-39 Obama to 58-38 Clinton, so he hardly needs to act like this in order to get re-elected.
Unfortunately, Cuellar has not faced a serious primary challenge in a very, very long time. In fact, 2016 was the only time over the last decade that he faced any primary challenge whatsoever, and he won 90-10. Hopefully, 2020 will be very different.
● VA-07: Democrat and former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger has debuted a response ad to the GOP's fearmongering b.s. attack ad that tried to associate her with terrorism using an ill-gotten copy of Spanberger's federal security clearance application. Spanberger's commercial features the testimonial of retired CIA officer John Sipher, who calls the GOP's association "laughable" and praises her for working on the front lines to protect Americans from threats like terrorism. As newspaper headlines appear on screen that excoriate the GOP over their detestable attack ad, Sipher calls Republican Rep. Dave Brat and those who would make this bogus claim "dangerous" and "unpatriotic."
● WV-03: Siena's latest poll for the New York Times gives Republican Carol Miller a 48-40 lead over Democrat Richard Ojeda. The only other poll we've seen for this ancestrally blue but very Trump-friendly southern West Virginia seat was a June Monmouth survey that had Ojeda up 43-41. However, despite that close result, the only major outside group that seems to have made any TV reservations here is the pro-Trump group America First PAC, which has booked $485,000.
If Siena is on target, Ojeda will need to win over a lot of skeptical voters. The sample gives Donald Trump a 62-32 approval rating, which, while smaller than his 72-23 win here in 2016, is still a lot for a Democrat to overcome. Respondents also prefer a GOP House to a Democratic-led chamber by a 54-37 margin. Ojeda's allies are hoping that his background as an Iraq War veteran and experience winning on tough turf (in 2016, he won his first term 59-41 as his state Senate seat was going for Trump 78-19) will give him a chance to win over voters who otherwise want a Republican in Congress.