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.
● AL-Sen: On Saturday, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville announced that he would seek the GOP nod to challenge Alabama Sen. Doug Jones. Tuberville, whose campaign is being aided by none other than former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, joins Rep. Bradley Byrne in the primary, while several other local politicians are also considering getting into the race.
Tuberville should have plenty of name recognition from his tenure leading the Auburn Tigers in this football-obsessed state, but it may not exactly be the type of name recognition that wins him votes. It's pretty accepted that in the Yellowhammer State, University of Alabama fans far outnumber fans of Tuberville's old Auburn Tigers. The rivalry between the Crimson Tide and the Tigers is a very serious matter, and it's very possible that plenty of Bama supporters won't back someone so identified with their hated foes.
It also doesn't help that Tuberville defeated Bama six years in a row and enjoyed trolling them every chance he got. And while Tuberville's reign was mostly a success for Auburn, he resigned in 2008 after a bad season, including a 36-0 loss to Alabama, so not all Tigers fans may want him back either.
There's also the question of Tuberville's ties to Alabama. Tuberville was born and raised in Arkansas and after he left Auburn, he went on to coach at Texas Tech and Cincinnati. He did keep his state home near Lake Martin during his time working at other schools, but it wasn't entirely by choice. In 2015, Realtor.com reported that Tuberville lowered his asking price for his residence four times between 2009 and 2013, before taking it off the market. However, Tuberville tried selling it again in June 2015.
Nevertheless, the Tuberville family still has ties to the state, with his son debuting as an Auburn player in late 2015. The elder Tuberville also mulled a run for governor in the 2018 cycle, when GOP incumbent Robert Bentley was to be termed-out. Tuberville formed an exploratory committee in early 2017 and loaned it $100,000, but his plans changed after Bentley resigned from a scandal and Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey ascended to the governorship. Tuberville spoke well of Ivey, herself an Auburn alum, and decided not to run against her.
● IA-Sen: Real estate executive Theresa Greenfield has been mentioned as a potential Democratic candidate against GOP Sen. Joni Ernst, and she seems to have a future campaign in mind. The Des Moines Register recently asked Greenfield about her "future plans" (it's not clear if they asked specifically about this race), and she responded, "I can't confirm anything at this time."
Greenfield challenged GOP Rep. David Young last year, but her campaign suffered a huge setback when her campaign manager, Noah Wasserman, confessed just before the filing deadline that he'd forged signatures to help her get on the ballot. Rather than submit tainted petitions—even though it's likely they would have gone undiscovered—Greenfield chose to throw out all the signatures she'd already turned in and engaged in a mad one-day dash to gather the 1,790 she'd need to qualify as a candidate in the hours she still had before the deadline. Ultimately, Greenfield fell just short of making the ballot, and primary rival Cindy Axne went on to beat Young.
On Sunday, more than a year after the forgery came to light, Wasserman took out a full-page ad in the Register apologizing for his actions. Greenfield said that, despite how her last campaign went, she "would run for office again, absolutely. This experience did not shake me. In some ways, it inspired me."
● GA-Sen: Over the weekend, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote that Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan had not ruled out running against GOP Sen. David Perdue, though there's no quote from Jordan. Last week, Jordan attracted attention when she delivered a scathing scathing speech against a piece of legislation known as the "heartbeat" bill, which will become one of the most anti-abortion laws enacted in the entire country once GOP Gov. Brian Kemp signs it.
The legislation would forbid a woman from getting an abortion once a doctor has detected a heartbeat inside her womb, something that usually happens only six weeks into a pregnancy and before most women even know they're pregnant. The bill has passed both chambers of the Georgia state legislature, and there's no question that Kemp will sign it. Jordan used her speech to denounce the bill and declared, "The women of this state will reclaim their rights–after they have claimed your seats." Jordan is set to testify at the U.S. Senate on Tuesday against a different anti-abortion bill.
National Democrats are still trying to recruit 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams for this race, but other Peach State Democrats are eyeing this race should she decide not to run. The Ledger-Enquirer writes that Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico, who lost last year's race for lieutenant governor 52-48, is "rumored" to be interested in running if Abrams doesn't.
The AJC also names a few Democrats whom they say have not ruled out getting in, but have signaled that they're unlikely to. They write that allies of pastor Raphael Warnock say he probably won't go for it, while Democratic officials also doubt state Rep. Scott Holcomb will get in. The paper also writes lists 2014 gubernatorial nominee Jason Carter as "[u]nlikely, but he hasn't ruled it out."
● MO-Gov: While 2018 Senate candidate Tony Monetti had been mentioned as a possible GOP primary challenger for Gov. Mike Parsons, he announced on Monday he wouldn't run. Monetti lost last year's Senate primary to eventual winner Josh Hawley 59-10, so he probably wouldn't have been a particularly intimidating opponent for Parsons.
● NH-Gov: GOP Gov. Chris Sununu is mulling giving up this office to challenge Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and the Concord Monitor writes there's some speculation among state Republicans that former Sen. Kelly Ayotte could run to succeed him.
Ayotte, who lost re-election in 2016 to Democrat Maggie Hassan in a very tight contest, has not said anything publicly about her interest, or lack thereof. However, an unnamed source close to her tells the paper that Ayotte's "inner circle of friends and advisers are telling her not to 'rule anything out' at this point." Ayotte has also occasionally been mentioned as a prospective opponent against Shaheen, but the Monitor wrote a few months ago that her allies doubted she would run.
● WA-Gov: Gov. Jay Inslee has not ruled out seeking a third term next year should his presidential bid falter, and right now, two prominent Evergreen State Democrats say they're waiting for him to make up his mind before going forward with any gubernatorial bids of their own.
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson told Crosscut that if Inslee "makes a decision not to run for a third term, then obviously I'd make a decision whether to run for governor or a third term myself." King County Executive Dow Constantine used similar language, saying he was "really obviously waiting to see what ultimately happens with Jay's candidacy," and said of a run for governor, "Of course I would consider it if the opportunity presents itself." State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz is also considering running, but she doesn't seem to have addressed Inslee's potential re-election campaign in her interview with Crosscut.
Republicans will want to target this office, which they last won in 1980, no matter what Inslee does, but no major candidates have jumped in so far. State Rep. Drew Stokesbary, who represents Auburn in the Seattle suburbs, did say he was considering, telling Crosscut that he'd talk to his family after the legislative session ends at the end of this month. State House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox was less interested, saying a campaign for governor was "possible, but unlikely." Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier also said he would run for re-election in 2020 rather than for governor.
● CA-25: Lancaster City Councilor Angela Underwood-Jacobs told Roll Call Monday that she would be announcing a bid against freshman Democratic Rep. Katie Hill within the next week. Underwood-Jacobs was a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention, which could be a liability in a seat Trump lost 50-44. Fellow Republican Suzette Martinez Valladares, the head of a faith-based nonprofit, is also running here.
● IL-14: The NRCC confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times that they met with state Sen. Sue Rezin last week about a possible bid against freshman Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood. Rezin, who is up for re-election next year, has not yet said anything publicly about her interest. The NRCC also spoke to fellow state Sen. Jim Oberweis, who announced he was in back in February.
● MA-06: Democrat Jamie Zahlaway Belsito, who runs a group that brings attention to postpartum depression, set up a campaign committee with the FEC on Monday, but she has not said anything publicly yet.
This seat is currently held by Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton, who has been flirting with a presidential bid. It's not clear if Belsito, whom GOP Gov. Charlie Baker recently appointed to the Salem State University Board of Trustees, is willing to challenge Moulton in a primary if he seeks re-election (Massachusetts allows politicians to run for president and for the House at the same time).
● MI-06: Democratic state Rep. Jon Hoadley, who is term-limited in 2020 and just last week said he was considering a bid against GOP Rep. Fred Upton, decided to forge ahead quickly, launching a campaign on Monday. Hoadley's solidly blue state House district, the 60th, is located entirely in Upton's congressional district and makes up about 13% of its population.
● MN-07: As he usually does in the off-year of an election cycle, Democratic Rep. Colin Peterson has declined to say whether he'll seek re-election next year. But unusually for Peterson, he's been busy raising money as though he would like to seek a 16th term: The National Journal's Ally Mutnick flags Peterson's $282,000 haul for the first quarter of 2019 and notes that he hasn't raised more than $200,000 in the initial quarter of an odd-numbered year in over a decade.
Most of that money, though, came from PACs—$241,000 in total. That's likely the result of Peterson's return in January to the chairmanship of the House Agriculture Committee, which he also led the last time Democrats ran the House in the late 2000s. You can see that reflected in the names of the entities that gave to Peterson, such as the Committee for the Advancement of Cotton, the American Peanut Shellers Association, and the National Sorghum Producers.
Industry PACs typically shower incumbents with cash while ignoring challengers because they're interested in influencing policy-makers. It's therefore quite easy for members of Congress to rake in PAC bucks without trying very hard, especially if you hold a senior leadership position. Peterson's relatively big fundraising take, therefore, might not reflect any increased activity on his part but instead that of munificent corporations. And while many newer members of the Democratic caucus have sworn off corporate PAC money, Peterson is as old-school as they come.
● MT-AL: On Friday evening, former state Rep. Kathleen Williams kicked off a second campaign for Montana's lone seat in the House. Last year, Williams lost to Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte by a 51-46 margin, a respectable showing given that Donald Trump had carried the state 56-35 two years earlier.
This time, though, Democrats may benefit from an open seat, as Gianforte hasn't ruled out a bid for governor. However, Williams, who won a multi-way primary in 2018, will once again have to battle for the nomination, as state Rep. Tom Winter announced his own bid last week.
● NJ-07: The New Jersey Globe reports that state Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. will announce a bid against freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski on April 16.
Kean is the son and namesake of former Gov. Tom Kean, who served from 1982 to 1990 and went on to chair the 9/11 Commission. The younger Kean ran for a previous version of this seat back in 2000 and narrowly lost the GOP primary to future Rep. Mike Ferguson. Six years later, Kean was the GOP nominee against Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. This was a high-profile and expensive race, but Kean lost 53-44 during the Democratic wave year.
● NY-01: Democrat Nancy Goroff, who chairs the chemistry department at Stony Brook University, tells Newsday she's considering a bid for the 1st Congressional District, represented by GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin. Already running is 2018 nominee Perry Gershon, but as Newsday notes, she's "among those weighing whether they have the tools or profile to do better than Gershon did in 2018." Gershon's biggest problem was his lack of ties to the district (he only switched his voter registration from Manhattan to Suffolk County in 2017); Goroff, by contrast, says she's lived on Long Island for over 20 years and has raised her children there.
Last cycle, another scientist, physicist Elaine DiMasi, also sought the Democratic nomination here, but her quest did not go well: She finished fifth in a five-candidate field with just 6% of the vote, though she was shockingly candid after the fact about her poor skills as a fundraiser and a politician generally. Goroff, however, says she's working with 314 Action, a group that helps prepare candidates with science backgrounds for political campaigns but did not appear to show much interest in DiMasi last cycle.
● NY-15: City & State's Maggie Garred takes stock of the broad field of Democrats who could succeed retiring Rep. Jose Serrano and introduces us to a new names. One is nonprofit director Jonathan Ortiz, whom Garred calls a "relative unknown." Ortiz runs an organization to help people improve their financial health and in fact filed to run all the way back in November—just weeks after the midterms and long before Serrano announced he would not seek re-election.
Another potential candidate who's filed with the FEC is Tomas Ramos, the director of the Bronx River Community Center. He only submitted paperwork on April 1, though, and hasn't yet spoken publicly about his intentions. Then there's Marlene Citron, who's president of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. and used to be executive director of the state Senate's Latino caucus. She hasn't filed with the FEC but has said she's "in the exploratory phase."
Finally, Garred mentions two additional possibilities: state Sen. Luis Sepúlveda and activist Hawk Newsome. Almost all of Sepúlveda's Senate district is located in the 15th Congressional District, meaning he represents about 40% of the latter's population.
● NY-27: Republican Rep. Chris Collins, who desperately tried but embarrassingly failed to remove his name from the ballot last year after getting indicted on charges of insider trading, now says he's "debating" whether to seek another term in 2020 and suggested a decision would come "early next year." And there's one person who's very eager to see that debate resolved in favor of "aye": Democrat Nate McMurray, who lost to Collins in this deep red district by just 0.4% last year.
In response to Collins' comments, McMurray tweeted: "PROMISE: If Rep Collins runs again, I will run. And I will make his life miserable. And we will win." We will be eagerly scanning FEC filings for any sign of the COMMITTEE TO MAKE CHRIS COLLINS' LIFE MISERABLE.
● OR-05: Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba has been a sharp critic of Blue Dog Rep. Kurt Schrader from the left, and now he's filed paperwork creating a campaign committee with the FEC. Gamba doesn't appear to have spoken publicly about whether he'll challenge Schrader for the Democratic nomination in 2020, but late last year, when the congressman served as a ringleader in the failed coup to oust Nancy Pelosi, Gamba criticized him for "in essence joining sides with the Republicans." He added, "There's not a progressive Democrat that I speak to that wouldn't love to see him primaried."
Perhaps, then, Gamba will be the one to make it happen, though as a mayor of a 20,000-person city in the Portland suburbs, he may not have the connections to put a real scare into Schrader. What's more, as irksome as Schrader is, Oregon's 5th is a very marginal seat for Democrats: Hillary Clinton carried it just 48-44 and according to one analysis, Democratic Gov. Kate Brown lost the 5th by a 48.5 to 46.5 margin last year. The district therefore may not be as amenable to someone to Schrader's left.
● Baltimore, MD Mayor: On Monday, the entire Baltimore City Council, aside from City Council President and Acting Mayor Jack Young, publicly called for Mayor Catherine Pugh to resign, but she doesn't sound willing to depart.
Pugh took an "indefinite leave of absence" last week as more details emerged about her self-published children's book series "Healthy Holly," which the University of Maryland Medical System purchased from her for a total of $500,000 while she served on its board. Pugh, who said she was temporarily stepping aside because of pneumonia, said in response to the council that she "fully intends to resume her duties," though she didn't say when.
● Dallas, TX Mayor: With less than a month to go before the crowded May 4 nonpartisan primary, campaign finance reports are out for the period covering Jan. 1 to March 25:
- Developer Mike Ablon: $341,000 raised, $58,000 cash-on-hand
- Businessman Albert Black: $112,000 raised, $25,000 cash-on-hand
- City Councilor Scott Griggs: $225,000 raised, $110,000 cash-on-hand
- Democratic state Rep. Eric Johnson: $524,000 raised, $433,000 cash-on-hand
- Philanthropist Lynn McBee: $376,000 raised, additional $350,000 self-funded, $680,000 cash-on-hand
- Attorney and former Clinton administration official Regina Montoya: $332,000 raised, additional $50,000 self-funded, $151,000 cash-on-hand
- Dallas Independent School District Trustee Miguel Solis: $416,000 raised, $265,000 cash-on-hand
- Former GOP state Rep. Jason Villalba: $55,000 raised, $17,000 cash-on-hand
● Special elections: There's one special election on tap for Tuesday.
GA-HD-28: This Republican district located in northeast Georgia is now facing its second do-over election due to a series of voting issues. Most recently, it became vacant after state Rep. Chris Erwin was removed from office in February due to these ongoing problems.
Last May, Erwin challenged incumbent state Rep. Dan Gasaway in the Republican primary. This is a blood red district that voted for Donald Trump 82-15, and, not too surprisingly, no Democrats ran here. Therefore, under state law, the GOP primary acted as the de facto general election.
In that election, Erwin narrowly beat Gasaway 50.5-49.5, a margin of just 67 votes. However, Gasaway filed a suit in June that alleged some voters from the neighboring 10th State House District were erroneously given ballots for the 28th. A judge ruled in his favor and called a redo of the election for Dec. 4.
The plot thickened further in the do-over election. This time around, Erwin edged Gasaway by just two votes. A recount confirmed the results and Erwin took office. However, shortly thereafter, the same judge who voided the results of the first election threw out the re-do after it came to light that three voters from outside the district had voted in the election and another person had cast two ballots. In an election this razor-close, these rare irregularities were more than enough to possibly swing the race.
According to state law, when a new election is ordered, the seat in question becomes vacant. As a result, the last two holders of this seat will face off in a rubber match to (hopefully) decide this year-long election saga once and for all.
Regardless of the winner, this will be a Republican hold and return the makeup of the state House to 105-75 in favor of the GOP.