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.
● KY-Gov: On Friday, state Senate President Robert Stivers began backing down from his proposal to steal Kentucky's gubernatorial election for fellow Republican Matt Bevin.
In a brief interview, Stivers said that if Thursday's recanvass of last week's election doesn't materially change the results, which show Democrat Andy Beshear leading by 5,189 votes, it would be time for Bevin "to call it quits and go home." Stivers had previously said the legislature could use a provision of the state constitution that hasn't been employed since 1899 to overturn the election and even suggested such a hijacking would be appropriate because 2% of the vote had gone to the Libertarian candidate.
While Beshear and official Democratic Party organizations had stayed mostly quiet, Stivers' climb-down came after ordinary Kentuckians, some Democrats in the legislature, and progressive groups raised a massive outcry over the possibility the GOP would so brazenly seek to subvert democracy. Even Stivers himself acknowledged that he'd "received numerous angry calls and messages from people accusing him of somehow trying to steal the election." You don't say.
The threat has not completely dissipated, though. Later on Friday, after Stivers' new stance became known, Donald Trump himself said that Bevin "almost won, and maybe he will." Trump went on, "I think he's contesting it. Is that right? I think he's contesting it." Since Kentucky's constitution doesn't require any evidence of wrongdoing for Bevin to contest the results, he could still do so—and Stivers' suggestion that he back off might not mean much if Trump continues to egg him on.
● AL-Sen: Though the New York Times reported on Wednesday that Donald Trump had "sent word" to Jeff Sessions that he would "publicly attack him if he ran" for his old Senate seat, Trump now seems prepared to hold his fire. Speaking to reporters on Friday morning, the day after Sessions' campaign kickoff, Trump observed, "I saw he said very nice things about me last night" and claimed that he doesn't "ever think" about Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation—the act that triggered Trump's heretofore undying wrath.
But this is Trump, of course, so there are never any assurances. Sessions' sycophancy may have earned no more than a temporary ceasefire: When asked if he'd endorse his former attorney general, Trump would only say, "We'll have to see."
● LA-Gov: Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has successfully gotten local TV stations to pull yet another ad from a Republican outside group for peddling false information. The ad came from the poorly named group Truth in Politics, which is funded by major GOP donor Lane Grigsby, and claimed that Edwards had given his former roommate at West Point, Murray Starkel, a state contract for coastal restoration work "worth up to $65 million" after he was first elected in 2015. However, that contract was never actually awarded to Starkel's firm or any of the other bidders who qualified, since the project didn't go forward.
Previously, a spot from a super PAC called Make Louisiana Great Again that many conservative groups had criticized also got yanked off the airwaves for including false statements.
● IA-02: State Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who is taking her fourth run at Iowa's 2nd Congressional District, just earned the endorsement of Iowa's top Republican, Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Miller-Meeks only entered the race recently and hasn't filed any fundraising reports yet, but her chief rival for the GOP nod, former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling, hauled in an embarrassingly small $54,000 in the third quarter of the year and had just $49,000 in the bank. The lone notable Democrat running for this open seat, former state Sen. Rita Hart, raised $229,000 during the same timeframe and finished September with $414,000 in her campaign account.
● MN-07: Conservative Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, who always flirts with retirement and always puts off a decision as long possible, says he still hasn't decided if he's going to seek another term next year. According to Politico's Liz Crampton, Peterson is weighing whether or not he wants to work on another farm bill. While the current bill won't expire until 2023, Crampton says discussions on the next iteration will begin "several years in advance." In addition, Peterson is now chair of the Agriculture Committee, where he'd hold great sway over new farm legislation.
And in a move perfectly timed for Okay Boomer Week, Peterson also told Crampton that his decision to sell his apartment in Washington, DC's Wharf neighborhood is not a tea leaf that he might call it quits. "It's too many people," said Peterson. "That's the main reason I got out of there—you can't drive, you can't park, you can't go to the grocery store. There's lines. It's all these millennials."
● OH-01: For the second time this year, a potential intra-party challenger for GOP Rep. Steve Chabot has briefly emerged only to beg off in the end. Former NFL linebacker Rocky Boiman, who played for four different teams during an eight-year career, has declined to run after meeting with him this week and has instead decided to give the congressman his support as he faces "what's going to be a very challenging election."
Boiman is very likely correct in that assessment. Chabot won a difficult race last year by just a 51-47 margin and has drawn two notable Democratic opponents this time out, both of whom turned in their first fundraising reports at the end of September. Former healthcare executive Kate Schroder raised $387,000 during the third quarter, finishing with $319,000 in the bank, while former Air Force pilot Nikki Foster brought in $166,000 and had $100,000 left over.
Chabot, whose campaign finance reports have been a shambles, managed to take in a respectable $420,000 during that time period and has raised almost $1.1 million this cycle. However, he's already spent a big chunk of that and has only $403,000 in his campaign account.
● TX-13: Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley, who last month formed what he termed an exploratory committee ahead of a possible bid for Texas' open 13th Congressional District, has opted not to run for the GOP nomination. (In Texas, the role of county judge is more akin to that of county commissioner in other states, though county judges also perform some judicial functions.)
● VA State House, VA State Senate: Virginia Democrats are claiming victory in the 83rd State House District after the counting of provisional ballots added 12 more votes to Nancy Guy's total on Friday, putting her ahead of Republican Del. Chris Stolle by 26 votes. Stolle, however, had previously said a recount was "highly likely," a stance his campaign stood by after Friday's update.
County election officials in Norfolk and Virginia Beach have until Tuesday to complete their canvass. From there, the state Board of Elections will certify the results, though that won't happen until Nov. 18. At that point, the trailing candidate can ask for a recount as long as the margin between the two is less than one point, with the state paying the costs if it's half a point or less. (Guy is currently up by about one tenth of one percent.)
A couple of other close races that also could have gone to recounts won't, however. In the 7th State Senate District, Democratic Del. Cheryl Turpin conceded to Republican Jen Kiggans late last week, with Kiggans ahead 50.4 to 49.5. Democrat Larry Barnett likewise conceded in his rematch against Republican Del. Roxann Robinson in the 27th House District. Robinson hung on by a 50.3 to 49.6 margin; in 2017, she won by a similarly tight 50.2 to 49.7 spread.
A final contest that at one point had been within recount range no longer is: Democratic Del. Roz Tyler now leads Republican Otto Wachsmann 51-49 in the 75th State House District.
● Aurora, CO Mayor: Late-counted votes have dramatically shifted the margins in the race for mayor of Aurora, Colorado, a contest we prematurely said had been won by former Republican Rep. Mike Coffman the day after Election Day. Coffman still leads Democrat Omar Montgomery according to the final (though unofficial) tally, but by a much narrower 35.8 to 35.4 spread, a difference of 281 votes. On election night, Coffman had been ahead 38-33.
Coffman has so far held off on declaring victory, and Montgomery has not yet conceded. Officials in Arapahoe County say they still have 1,000 uncounted ballots that are awaiting "signature cures," meaning voters still have the chance to fix any problems with their signatures, though it's not clear how many were cast in the mayor's race. Montgomery's campaign says it's reaching out to voters to help them correct their ballots. (The city of Aurora also includes parts of two other counties, Adams and Douglas, though it's not certain whether any outstanding ballots remain there as well.)
As things stand, though, Montgomery would not be able to request a recount, as recounts are only permitted if the margin between the two candidates is 0.5% of the leading candidate's vote total. Coffman currently has 26,516 votes, so his lead would have to fall below 133 votes for a recount to become possible.