The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● LA-Gov: Louisiana held its all-party primary on Saturday, and Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards was forced into a Nov. 16 runoff with wealthy Republican Eddie Rispone.
Edwards took 47% of the vote, a few points short of the majority he needed to win outright, while Rispone edged GOP Rep. Ralph Abraham 27-24 for the second runoff spot. Altogether Rispone, Abraham, and Some Dude Republican Patrick "Live Wire" Landry racked up a combined 51.8% of the vote while Edwards and underfunded Democrat Omar Dantzler took 47.4%. (The balance went to independent Gary Landrieu.)
While Rispone began the race with little name recognition, he got his name out over the summer after he started bombarding the airwaves with TV ads. Polls initially showed Abraham with a big edge over Rispone, but Rispone decisively outspent the congressman during the lead-up to the primary.
Edwards will be in for a difficult five-week campaign against Rispone, who self-funded $11 million to his campaign during the first round of the race. The good news for the governor is that the few polls we’ve seen testing him in a no-longer hypothetical runoff with Rispone have given him a big lead. A Mason-Dixon poll from early October found Edwards leading 51-42, while a survey completed last week for the GOP firm JMC Analytics for the media company Nexstar had the Democrat up 48-39.
However, there are a few reasons to be pessimistic that Edwards will start out the second round with anything like a 9-point edge over Rispone. Both of those polls were taken during the last weeks of the primary while Rispone and Abraham were attacking one another, which could have led some of Abraham’s voters to say they wouldn’t support Rispone. Abraham endorsed Rispone on election night, though, so the GOP will be able to present a united front over the next month.
It’s also worth noting that both of those polls showing Edwards ahead in a runoff underestimated the GOP a bit during the primary. Mason-Dixon found Edwards taking 45% of the vote, close to what he hit on Saturday, but had Rispone and Abraham winning a combined 39%―12 points lower than what they ended up scoring together. This indicates that either Mason-Dixon’s sample wasn’t conservative enough or the undecideds overwhelmingly broke for the Republicans, neither of which is a good omen for Edwards next month. JMC had the combined Democratic primary vote at 48% while the Republicans were at 42%, so they also lowballed Team Red a bit.
All of that said, though, Edwards is still in this fight. While the governor’s allies at Gumbo PAC spent the primary attacking both Rispone and Abraham, Rispone will now bear the full brunt of Team Blue’s attacks for the first time. However, Rispone will also be able to concentrate on going after the Democrat now that he no longer has to worry about Abraham. National Republicans, including Donald Trump, will also spend the next five weeks trying to undermine Edwards in this conservative state.
Daily Kos Elections has rated this contest as a Tossup since the spring, but we’ll be on the lookout for new developments over the next few weeks.
● IA-Sen: Joni Ernst (R-inc): $1 million raised, $4 million cash-on-hand
● KY-Sen: Mitch McConnell (R-inc): $2.3 million raised, $9 million cash-on-hand
● MA-Sen: Shannon Liss-Riordan (D): $2 million self-funded, $2.8 million cash-on-hand
● CA-48: Harley Rouda (D-inc): $564,000 raised, $1.5 million cash-on-hand
● FL-16: Vern Buchanan (R-inc): $356,000 raised
● FL-18: Brian Mast (R-inc): $594,000 raised, $910,000 cash-on-hand
● FL-26: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-inc): $500,000 raised, $1.2 million cash-on-hand
● GA-07: Zahra Karinshak (D): $200,000 raised (in six weeks)
● IA-03: David Young (R): $329,000 raised, $564,000 cash-on-hand
● IL-06: Sean Casten (D-inc): $700,000 raised, $1.4 million cash-on-hand; Jeanne Ives (R): $340,000 raised
● MO-02: Ann Wagner (R-inc): $470,000 raised, $2.2 million cash-on-hand
● NJ-02: Bob Patterson (R): $100,000 raised
● NY-11: Max Rose (D-inc): $730,000 raised, $1.6 million cash-on-hand
● NY-19: Antonio Delgado (D-inc): $630,000 raised, $1.5 million cash-on-hand
● PA-10: Tom Brier (D): $100,000 raised
● TX-22: Sri Preston Kulkarni (D): $350,000 raised
● VA-10: Jennifer Wexton (D-inc): $540,000 raised, $1.1 million cash-on-hand
● AL-Sen: On Thursday, state Rep. Arnold Mooney announced that he was launching a six-figure TV buy well ahead of the March GOP primary. Mooney's opening ad features him sitting with his wife in a church pew as Mooney begins, "Jesus said there's no greater love than giving your life for others. We sure haven't been perfect, but Kelly and I have tried over 37 years, teaching our children to follow Him" Mooney pledges he'll do the right thing in the Senate and adds, "And if I didn't, rest assured, Kelly would whoop me upside the head."
● CO-Sen: Former state House Majority Leader Alice Madden announced Friday that she was dropping out of the Democratic primary. Madden acknowledged that former Gov. John Hickenlooper's decision to run back in August had negatively impacted her campaign, saying, "I had done an analysis that I had a path to victory if I could get progressive women and environmental groups to endorse, but after John got in, those avenues to victory seemed like they were closing." Madden did not endorse anyone on her way out.
● KS-Sen: Former Rep. Nancy Boyda announced Thursday that she was dropping out of the Democratic primary for this open seat. Boyda set up a fundraising committee back in June, and she appears to have quietly announced she was running at some point. Right now, though, the only notable candidates competing for the Democratic nod are former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom and Manhattan Mayor Pro Tem Usha Reddi.
On the GOP side, Kansas Chamber of Commerce President Alan Cobb also said Thursday that he wouldn't run. Cobb is close to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who national Republicans are still hoping to recruit, but Cobb didn't mention Pompeo in his statement.
● MN-Sen: Donald Trump used his Thursday evening rally in Minnesota to endorse former Rep. Jason Lewis, an ex-conservative radio shock jock with a long history of racist, misogynist, and anti-Semitic rants.
Lewis has said, among other things, "If you don't want to own a slave, don't, but don't tell other people they can't," "[A]re we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can't call her a slut," and that the GOP had "dual loyalties" to Israel in part because of "a very strong American Jewish lobby." Lewis currently faces no serious opposition in next year's GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Tina Smith.
● TX-Sen: On Thursday, state Sen. Pat Fallon announced that he would not challenge Sen. John Cornyn in the GOP primary. Fallon said a month ago that he was forming an exploratory committee because he didn't think Cornyn was conservative enough, but he acknowledged on Thursday that a Senate bid would be too expensive for him.
● KY-Gov: GOP Gov. Matt Bevin is out with an ad that tries to connect Democrat Andy Beshear to the ongoing opioid crisis. The commercial begins with a clip of Beshear pledging to take on "big pharma" before a narrator insists, "Fight, Andy? Your law firm defended the maker of Oxycontin." She continues, "You've personally profited from the opioid case that sold out Kentucky," before she switches to praising Bevin's record on combating opioids.
The Courier Journal recently took a look at the background to this attack. Before he was attorney general, Beshear was a partner at the law firm that was defending Purdue Pharma in a lawsuit brought by the state. In 2015, days before Beshear took office, Purdue reached a $24 million settlement with outgoing Attorney General Jack Conway. Beshear has repeatedly said he had no involvement with the case.
Beshear's allies at the DGA-backed Bluegrass Values PAC are also out with a spot going after Bevin. The narrator declares that, while the governor was cutting money for public schools and attempting to take away benefits from first responders, he was also giving large salaries to his friends and contributors.
● MS-Gov: Democrat Jim Hood's newest commercial argues that Republican Tate Reeves is part of "the swamp" in state government. The narrator says, "In the swamp, Reeves gets campaign contributions. We get closed hospitals, underpaid teachers, broken roads and bridges." Hood then appears and tells the audience, "As attorney general, I took on the corporate wrongdoers and recovered $3 billion for the taxpayers." Hood then borrows Donald Trump's well-known tagline by concluding, "As governor, I'll drain the swamp here in Mississippi. I'll work for you."
● CO-01: On Friday, former Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran announced that she was ending her Democratic primary bid against longtime Rep. Diana DeGette. Duran's decision came about two weeks after she had emergency surgery for what her doctor said was a potentially life-threatening ruptured appendix.
Duran, who would have been the first Latina to represent Colorado in either chamber of Congress, surprised political observers in February when she announced that she'd run for this safely blue Denver seat rather than launch her widely anticipated campaign against GOP Sen. Cory Gardner.
However, while Duran argued that it was time for "a new generation of leadership," she didn't seem to have any specific grievances against DeGette. And while Duran soon picked up endorsements from former Sen. Ken Salazar and former Denver Mayor Federico Peña, she struggled to raise money against the 12-term incumbent. With Duran out of the race, DeGette is unlikely to have much of a problem winning renomination in June.
● IL-06: On Friday, former Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti announced that she was dropping out of the GOP primary to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Sean Casten. Sanguinetti's departure leaves former state Rep. Jeanne Ives, who is a far-right social conservative, as the only notable Republican in the race for a suburban Chicago seat that backed Hillary Clinton 50-43. Last year, Casten unseated six-term incumbent Peter Roskam by a wide 54-46 margin in a very expensive race.
Sanguinetti argued on Friday, "There has been enough destruction in the Republican Party from past election cycles, and I choose not to contribute further to it by engaging in a costly and negative campaign against my opponents." However, she raised very little money during her opening fundraising quarter, so the March GOP primary may not have been so costly after all. Illinois' filing deadline is in early December, so Republicans looking for an alternative to Ives don't have too much time to find one.
● LA-05: After losing Saturday’s all-party primary for governor, GOP Rep. Ralph Abraham said during his concession speech that he would decide over the coming weeks if he’d run for re-election to his safely red northeastern Louisiana seat. The Advocate reporter Sam Karlin, though, said Abraham sounded likely to seek a fourth term next year.
Despite his statewide loss, GOP voters at home still backed Abraham on Saturday. According to preliminary calculations by analyst Miles Coleman, Abraham edged Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards 40-39 in the 5th District while fellow Republican Eddie Rispone took third with 19%.
● MI-03: It's been a little more than three months since Rep. Justin Amash left the GOP to become an independent, and he still isn't ruling out a presidential bid. Amash recently told Time, "If I feel like I can go on the national stage and help advance the kind of things I'm talking about, then that's something I'll definitely consider," and added, "I'm not going to rule that kind of thing out."
● TX-11: On Friday, former Midland Mayor J.D. Faircloth announced that he'd seek the GOP nod for this safely red open seat. Faircloth's tenure as mayor lasted only from 1992 to 1994, though the Midland Reporter-Telegram writes that he's been involved in local GOP politics for decades.