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.
● TN-Sen: On Saturday, freshman GOP Rep. Mark Green, a favorite of far-right groups, reiterated that he was still considering running to succeed retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander. Green didn't offer a timeline for his decision, but he did insist that he was willing to run in the primary against former Gov. Bill Haslam, who's weighing a bid himself and said on Saturday he'd make up his mind "in the next two or three weeks." Physician Manny Sethi is already seeking the GOP nod.
Green, a former state senator, was only elected to the 7th Congressional District in Middle Tennessee last year, but his ugly history of Islamophobia and transphobia made him a far-right icon long before then. Addressing a group of tea partiers in 2017, Green said that he would "not tolerate" teaching the "pillars of Islam" in textbooks, and he specifically told a man who raised fears of armed violence from people who "don't belong here, like Muslims in the United States" that he'd asked a "great question."
In the legislature, Green sponsored a bill that would have allowed healthcare practitioners to refuse treatment to LGBT patients. He also pushed a measure to force transgender students to use the school bathroom matching their legal gender, explaining he had a responsibility to "crush evil." He even said in 2016, "If you poll the psychiatrists, they're going to tell you transgender is a disease."
Green went on to launch a bid for governor the following year, but he dropped out after Donald Trump nominated him to become secretary of the Army. However, Green's ugly history was too much even for the Republican Senate, and he had to withdraw his nomination.
Unfortunately, the debacle only elevated Green's standing at home. Later that year, when then-Rep. Marsha Blackburn launched what would prove to be a successful Senate campaign, Green quickly announced he would run to succeed her in the 7th District. A few other Republicans talked about running, but in the end, Green had the primary all to himself, and he had no trouble winning the general election for this safely red seat.
Green then proceeded to generate more ugly headlines just before he was sworn in. In December of last year Green, who somehow is a medical doctor, suggested that the Centers for Disease Control was hiding data on a link between vaccines and autism. This purported "link" has been debunked time after time after time, but that didn't stop Green from telling a town hall, "I have committed to people in my community, up in Montgomery County, to stand on the CDC's desk and get the real data on vaccines. Because there is some concern that the rise in autism is the result of the preservatives that are in our vaccines." Green continued, "[I]it appears some of that data has been, honestly, maybe fraudulently managed."
Green's comments panicked Tennessee's Department of Health, which quickly sought to contain the potential damage, and drew an immediate rebuke even from his fellow Republicans. The incoming congressman quickly made a token attempt to backtrack, saying in an interview he "would encourage families to get vaccinated at this time." Still, he persisted, saying, "There appears to be some evidence that as vaccine numbers increase, rates of autism increase."
None of this, of course, gave pause to the radical anti-tax Club for Growth, which backed Green early in his House campaign and quickly called for him to run for Senate days later when Alexander announced his retirement.
Green later said in a May newsletter that his comments came after he heard about an investigation from an alleged whistleblower at the CDC, saying, "I promised to investigate the issue of vaccines and autism further." Months after he publicly tried to spread conspiracy theories, Green wrote, "After discussions regarding the data and an update on the most recent evidence around vaccine safety, it is clear that there is no link with the sequencing or scheduling of the MMR vaccine and autism."
● AL-Sen: 2017 GOP nominee Roy Moore has an event scheduled for Thursday afternoon, and his wife says he'll use it to announce whether or not he'll seek a rematch with Democratic Sen. Doug Jones.
Moore lost the 2017 race 50-48 after multiple women accused him of preying on them when they were teenagers, and Senate Republicans have made it very clear that they don't want him as their nominee ever again. Donald Trump, who still supported Moore during that special election, even tweeted a few weeks ago that, while he had "NOTHING against Roy Moore," the former state Supreme Court chief justice "cannot win, and the consequences will be devastating....Judges and Supreme Court Justices!" Moore quickly said he wouldn't let Trump's opposition deter him.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Merrill filed campaign paperwork with the FEC on Tuesday for a possible bid for the GOP nod to take on Jones. Merrill said later that day that he set up his fundraising committee "due to the excitement, support, & unsolicited financial contributions related to a possible run for the US Senate," and added that "if I run, I'll be making a formal announcement next week." Merrill has served as Alabama's chief elections officer since 2015, and he's been a strong proponent of its strict voter ID law while minimizing its consequences.
● NC-Sen: On Tuesday, former state Sen. Eric Mansfield announced that he was joining the Democratic primary to take on GOP Sen. Thom Tillis. Mansfield joined the race one day after former state Sen. Cal Cunningham launched his own bid.
Mansfield is a military veteran and an ordained Baptist minister, and he also worked as a physician and founded an ear, nose, and throat practice in Fayetteville. He was elected to the legislature in 2010 but left two years later to run for lieutenant governor. Mansfield ended up losing the primary 56-44 to Linda Coleman, who went on to lose a very tight general election.
Back in April, Mansfield formed an exploratory committee for a Senate campaign. Mansfield, who would be the state's first black senator, used his announcement video on Tuesday to highlight how he almost died a year ago when he suffered a heart attack while driving home from a workout and crashed into a tree. Mansfield went on to say, "A year has passed since a Good Samaritan pulled me from the wreck and gave me a second chance at life."
● IN-05: Multiple media organizations reported Tuesday that former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard was considering seeking the GOP nod for this open seat. Ballard, who decided not to seek re-election in 2015, has not yet said anything publicly. Marion County, which is consolidated with Indianapolis, makes up only about a quarter of this seat, but entire 5th District is located in the Indianapolis media market.
Ballard could be a formidable GOP nominee in a seat that's been moving to the left in recent years, but he may have a tough time winning support from the state's powerful social conservatives in a primary. In 2015, Ballard was a loud and early critic of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence that would have made it easier for businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers. The bill led to nationwide boycott of Indiana that only died down when Pence signed a modified version of the law.
Ballard, who went on to serve as grand marshal at that year's Indy Pride parade, even left the door open to challenging Pence for renomination. However, Ballard never went for it, and Pence won his primary without any opposition a few months before he dropped his re-election bid to become Donald Trump's running mate.
Meanwhile on the Democratic side, state Rep. Carey Hamilton announced this week that she would not run.
● MI-03: Attorney Nick Colvin announced on Tuesday that he would seek the Democratic nod for this Grand Rapids-area seat. Colvin, who was raised by a single mother in rural Ionia, attended what the Detroit News characterizes as a "two-room schoolhouse." Colvin went on to work in Barack Obama's Senate office, the White House Counsel's Office, and in Chicago city government before he returned to Michigan at the start of the year.
Democrats haven't made a serious play for this seat, which went from 53-46 Romney to 52-42 Trump, in a long time. However, Rep. Justin Amash has always had an uneasy relationship with national Republicans, and he didn't make things better last month when he declared that Trump deserved to be impeached for obstruction of justice. Amash faces a GOP primary challenge from state Rep. Jim Lower, and their fight could give Team Blue a bigger opening here than they've had in a long time.
Indeed, despite Trump's clear win here in 2016, this seat is hardly safely red. According to Bloomberg's Greg Giroux, the 3rd District backed 2018 GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Schuette by a very slim 48.6-48.2 margin, and GOP Senate nominee John James carried it by a modest 51-47.
Colvin would also offer Democrats the chance to increase the number of African Americans in their caucus. Though Michigan's 3rd is 80% white, a number of Democratic candidates of color had success last year winning heavily white districts that backed Trump by modest margins, including Antonio Delgado in New York, Lauren Underwood in Illinois, and Lucy McBath in Georgia.
● NY-16: Middle school principal Jamaal Bowman, who founded and ran a school in the Bronx meant to empower students of color, announced this week that he would challenge longtime Rep. Eliot Engel. Another candidate, educator Andom Ghebreghiorgis, recently entered the race for this safely blue seat, and he and Bowman could end up splitting the anti-incumbent vote enough to make it difficult for either of them to beat Engel. Bowman used his kickoff to go after Engel for taking donations from lobbyists and voting for the Iraq War, which is also similar to Ghebreghiorgis' pitch for why voters should oust the 16-term incumbent.
● UT-04: GOP state Sen. Dan McCay said this week that he would not challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams. A number of other Republicans have expressed interest in running for this suburban Salt Lake City seat, but no notable candidates have entered the race yet.
● Tucson, AZ Mayor: EMILY's List endorsed Tucson City Councilor Regina Romero on Tuesday in the three-way August Democratic primary for mayor.