● NC-Sen: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched what they're calling a "substantial six figure buy in the Charlotte and Greensboro media markets" in support of GOP Sen. Thom Tillis. The commercial declares that Tillis has been "serving the needs of our nation's heroes."
● NM-Sen: On Monday, both Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich backed Rep. Ben Ray Luján in the Democratic primary to succeed Udall. The endorsements came about a week after Luján's only notable intra-party challenger, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, dropped out of the race.
● SC-Sen: Security in Strength PAC, a group supporting Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, is out with a new poll from the GOP firm Benchmark Research that gives the senator a 53-30 lead over former state Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison. A late September survey from Harrison's allies at Collective PAC from the Democratic pollster Change Research found Graham ahead by a considerably smaller 50-43 margin.Democrats haven't won a statewide office in South Carolina since 2006, and it will be very difficult for Harrison to break that streak in this 55-41 Trump state.
However, Harrison will at least have the resources to get his message out next year. The Democrat raised a hefty $2.2 million during the third quarter of 2019, and he ended September with $2.7 million in the bank. Graham still outpaced him with a $3.2 million haul, though, and the incumbent had $8.4 million on-hand.
● AK-Gov: On Monday, the Alaska Division of Elections, citing an option by Republican state Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, announced that they would not allow the campaign seeking to oust GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Recall Dunleavy, to collect the petitions they need to get a recall measure on the ballot. Clarkson wrote that the allegations against the governor listed by Recall Dunleavy "fail[ed] to meet any of the listed grounds for recall—neglect of duty, incompetence, or lack of fitness." Recall Dunleavy quickly announced that they will appeal the decision in state court.
Under Alaska law, an official can only be recalled for "(1) lack of fitness, (2) incompetence, (3) neglect of duties, or (4) corruption." This provision, which recall expert Joshua Spivak calls a "malfeasance standard," differs from the practice in many other states, where only voters' signatures are needed for a recall to go forward.
Recall Dunleavy is focusing on the first three grounds for recall. In their statement putting forward their grounds for a recall, organizers argued that the governor violated state law by refusing to appoint a Superior Court nominee within the legally prescribed 45 days. They also alleged that Dunleavy misused state funds by sending out taxpayer-funded mailers that made partisan statements about his opponents and supporters.
They further wrote that Dunleavy improperly used his line-item veto to "attack the judiciary and the rule of law," a reference to the governor's attempt to retaliate against the state Supreme Court by cutting $335,000 in funding after it upheld a ruling that protected abortion rights. Finally, they charged Dunleavy with mistakenly vetoing $18 million more in funding than he intended to.
Clarkson, who was appointed by Dunleavy last year, saw things differently, though. His opinion argued that Dunleavy's slow appointment of the Superior Court nominee isn't grounds for a recall "because the forty-five day timeframe is merely procedural rather than substantive, the mere failure to comply with it does not amount to neglect of duty."
Clarkson also wrote that there isn't enough information to indicate that Dunleavy used state resources for partisan purposes. He further characterized Dunleavy's budget veto mistake as a "scrivener's error" rather than action by the governor. Clarkson also said that Dunleavy's budget cuts against the state Supreme Court were permitted by the state constitution, which allows the governor to remove "sums of money in any appropriation bill at his discretion."
Recall Dunleavy will appeal the Alaska Division of Elections' ruling, and this will be the second time a recall campaign against an Alaska governor has wound up in state court. In 1992, an attempt to recall Gov. Wally Hickel foundered after the Fairbanks Superior Court "determined that certain grounds for recall were legally sufficient and other grounds were not."
If Recall Dunleavy wins in court, they'll have to collect over 71,000 signatures, which is 25% of the votes cast in 2018, to advance to the ballot. If Dunleavy is removed from office, he would be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, a fellow Republican.
● LA-Gov: Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is out with a TV spot highlighting his time at West Point and service in the Army Rangers. The commercial comes days after Republican Eddie Rispone said of Edwards, "You know, I think he's hurting the reputation of West Point … I don't think West Point wants to turn out a bunch of trial lawyers that will say or do anything to say in power." The ad does not mention Rispone, who has not apologized for his comments.
● HI-02: Former state Rep. Kaniela Ing, who lost last year's Democratic primary for the neighboring 1st District, announced Sunday that he would endorse state Sen. Kai Kahele rather than run himself.
● IL-03: On Monday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky endorsed Marie Newman's Democratic primary campaign against conservative Rep. Dan Lipinski. Schakowsky also backed Newman's 2018 bid, which ended with a narrow 51-49 victory for Lipinski.
Newman is considerably better funded this time than she was at this point in the last election cycle. Newman outraised Lipinski $346,000 to $177,000 during the third quarter of 2019, and the incumbent ended September with a modest $693,000 to $514,000 cash-on-hand advantage. By contrast, Lipinski held a huge $1.5 million to $98,000 cash-on-hand lead two years ago.
Unlike last time, though, Newman isn't Lipinski's only March primary opponent. Activist Rush Darwish is also running, and he also outraised Lipinski by hauling in $211,000; Darwish ended September with $318,000 in the bank. Another candidate, attorney Abe Matthew, had just $58,000 to spend, but he could boost the congressman's re-election prospects by further dividing the anti-Lipinski vote.
● OR-02: The East Oregonian writes that state Rep. Daniel Bonham has been "widely mentioned" as a potential GOP candidate for this safely red open seat, though we have yet to hear anything about his interest.