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.
● Election Night: Bluegrass and Babka: The big night is just about here, and we have a lot of exciting races in store on Tuesday. Democrats are hoping to flip the governorships in Kentucky and Mississippi, as well as both chambers of the Virginia state legislature.
But that's not all. Team Blue is also hoping to make historic gains in upstate New York and in the Philadelphia suburbs, as well as take back the mayor's office in Kansas' largest city in a race that has gotten incredibly nasty in the final days. We also have on tap a ballot measure to implement instant-runoff voting for New York City primary and special elections, as well as a high-profile four-way race for San Francisco district attorney. You can find all this, as well as a whole lot more, in our hour-by-hour guide to election night.
We've also put together some more resources for election night. David Jarman has released county benchmarks that will help you make sense of returns as they come in for Kentucky and Mississippi by showing what percentage of the vote in key counties Democratic gubernatorial nominees likely need to hit to win their races. In Virginia, we have charts of the key races for the state Senate and House of Delegates to keep track of the battlefield.
We're also pleased to announce that the annual Daily Kos Elections prediction contest is back! Once again, the exceptional Green's Bakery is generously sponsoring our annual prediction contest, and they'll be sending our top four finishers an amazing prize: the lavish, 52-oz Executive Babka! For more details, including contest rules and our submission form, click here.
We'll be liveblogging Tuesday's election results at Daily Kos Elections starting at 6 PM ET, and tweeting as well. We hope to see you there!
● MI-Sen: Restoration PAC, a group funded by conservative zillionaire Richard Uihlein, has launched a $879,000 TV buy against Democratic Sen. Gary Peters a year ahead of Election Day. The narrator begins by attacking Peters for saying earlier this year, “There are many aspects of the Green New Deal I support.” Left out, of course, even though it’s the lead paragraph of the very newspaper article the ad cites: Peters declined to express his support for the plan as a whole.
The spot then repeats the GOP’s favorite lies about the Green New Deal by asking, “Is it the 1.4 million fewer jobs you support or the part where we abolish gasoline cars or airplanes or red meat?” Now that Republicans have fully entered a post-fact world, it also means we've entered a post-fact-check world. How can you possibly fact-check claims as stupid as the idea that Democrats want to ban airplanes, puppy dogs, or sitting by the window with a good book on a rainy weekend afternoon?
This may be exactly what the GOP is counting on, but we’re not going to waste your time or ours with this garbage. Unfortunately, we expect to see plenty more of it over the next year.
● TX-Sen: The University of Texas is out with a poll for the Texas Tribune of the early March Democratic primary to take on GOP Sen. John Cornyn, and they find undecided ruling the day with 57%. Among the actual candidates, Air Force veteran and 2018 House nominee MJ Hegar leads with 12% while Sema Hernandez, who lost the 2018 primary to Beto O'Rourke 64-24, takes second with 6%.
State Sen. Royce West is at 5%, Houston City Councilor Amanda Edwards and nonprofit head Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez are at 4% each, and former Rep. Chris Bell grabs 3%; none of the other candidates named in the poll break 2%. There would be a primary runoff in late May if no one takes a majority of the vote in the first round.
So far, Hegar is the strongest fundraiser in the Democratic field. Hegar outraised Edwards $1 million to $555,000 during the third quarter, and she ended September with an $894,000 to $338,000 cash-on-hand lead. Tzintzún Ramirez raised $459,000 during this time and had $225,000 in the bank while West took in $334,000, self-funded another $206,000, and had $377,000 to spend. Bell only raised $196,000 and had $112,000 on-hand, though that's better than the $4,000 Hernandez had to spend.
Whoever wins the Democratic nod will be in for a very difficult race against Cornyn in an expensive state that still favors Republicans. Cornyn will also be very well funded: The incumbent hauled in $3.1 million during the last fundraising quarter and had $10.8 million to spend at the end of September.
P.S.: While O'Rourke ended his presidential bid on Friday, his team quickly confirmed that he wouldn't enter the Senate race.
● LA-Gov: The RGA is out with an ad tying Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards to Hillary Clinton, who remains one of their favorite red state targets three years after the end of the 2016 election.
● CA-25: Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith picked up an endorsement over the weekend from Rep. Karen Bass, who represents another Los Angeles County seat and serves as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
● CO-03: On Friday, state Rep. Donald Valdez dropped out of the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Scott Tipton. Valdez entered the race over the summer but raised just $25,000 during his opening fundraising quarter.
● FL-19: State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto announced Monday that she would not seek the GOP nod for this open seat. Benacquisto would have likely been one of the most prominent candidates in the race had she run, and a St. Pete Polls survey even gave her the lead in a hypothetical primary. So far, no notable Republicans have announced bids to succeed retiring Rep. Francis Rooney.
● IL-15: GOP Rep. John Shimkus reaffirmed on Monday that he would retire from this safely red seat. Shimkus had said just before Labor Day that he would not seek a 13th term, but he began to backtrack last week after Oregon Rep. Greg Walden's retirement opened up the top GOP spot on the Energy and Commerce Committee. However, while Shimkus was interested in campaigning to succeed Walden, he said Monday he'd stick with his original plans not to run for re-election.
● MA-06: Gun safety activist Angus McQuilken told the Salem News on Friday that he was still considering challenging Rep. Seth Moulton in the Democratic primary, and the paper writes that "he plans to make an announcement in the coming days." However, Governor's Councilor Eileen Duff confirmed that she wouldn't run here.
● MD-07: On Monday, former Rep. Kweisi Mfume announced that he would join February’s special Democratic primary to succeed the late Rep. Elijah Cummings for Maryland’s safely blue 7th Congressional District, making him the most prominent candidate to enter the race so far.
Mfume was elected to a previous version of this Baltimore-based seat in 1986, but he resigned from Congress a decade later to lead the NAACP, and Cummings won the special election to succeed him. During his tenure at the legendary civil rights group, Mfume was credited with erasing the organization’s $3.2 million debt he inherited and generally turning its finances around after years of deficits. He also improved the NAACP’s membership numbers.
Late in 2004, though, Mfume unexpectedly stepped down from his post, saying he wanted to spend more time with his young son. In April of the following year, however, The Washington Post reported on an internal investigation into sexual harassment allegations leveled against Mfume made by a former employee named Michelle Speaks, who accused Mfume of passing her over for raises and a promotion after she declined his advances. Several sources also told the Baltimore Sun that the NAACP’s executive committee had in fact fired Mfume. Mfume denied any wrongdoing and insisted he had not been forced out.
Just before the scandal broke, Mfume had kicked off a campaign for the Senate, immediately after longtime Sen. Paul Sarbanes announced his retirement. Mfume would have been the state’s first black senator, and the first black member of the House to ever win a promotion to the upper chamber. Though he was badly outspent in the primary by then-Rep. Ben Cardin, Mfume lost by a narrow 44-41 margin. While Speaks’ allegations against Mfume emerged shortly after he launched his bid, his primary foes didn’t raise them as an issue during the campaign.
● SC-01: On Monday, the anti-tax Club for Growth endorsed state Rep. Nancy Mace in the GOP primary to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham. Last week, the Club released a poll giving Mace 23% of the vote in the June primary, while Beaufort County Councilman Mike Covert and Bikers for Trump founder Chris Cox were well behind with 8% each.
● TX-21: While freshman GOP Rep. Chip Roy weirdly refused to confirm if he'd seek a second term back in September, he'll be holding his re-election kickoff on Friday. Roy faces a very well-funded challenge from 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis in a seat that moved from 60-38 Romney to 52-42 Trump and supported GOP Sen. Ted Cruz just 49.6-49.5 last year.
● Special Elections: There are 20 special elections across 11 states on tap for Tuesday. While many of these races are taking place in safe districts, a handful of them promise to be competitive, including one very important race in Texas. You can check out our preview of those competitive races here and keep tabs on all Democratic vs. Republican races with our Big Board that will be updated as results come in on election night.
● Demographics: David Jarman takes a look back at the House election in 2018, and what kind of districts gave the Democrats their pickups. For the most part, it was the seats with the highest levels of education that were still held by Republicans, which, not coincidentally, are mostly located in the nation's affluent suburbs. Of the Democrats' 42 gains, 18 were in the top 20% for education, and if you expand to the top two quintiles for education, that covers 29 of Team Blue's 42 pickups.