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.
● Where Are They Now?: While former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican who resigned in disgrace last year as part of a plea deal with prosecutors, reportedly has been telling friends that he plans to deploy to the Middle East with the Navy this fall, the Washington Post reported Friday that there's one big potential stumbling block: The Navy may not want him back.
Greitens served as a Navy SEAL before he first ran for office in 2016, and he heavily promoted his combat experience in that successful bid for governor. However, Greitens' brief political career began to unravel in early 2018 in the face of allegations that he'd sexually assaulted the woman he was having an affair with and blackmailed her. Greitens ended up getting indicted by local prosecutors twice: Once on allegations of first-degree felony invasion of privacy related to this story, and once for unrelated charges of computer tampering involving his charity.
The GOP-led state legislature, which had little love for Greitens after spending a year feuding with him, also began to move towards removing him from office. The governor eventually resigned in exchange for the tampering charges getting dropped. A short time later, the Jackson County Prosecutor's office also announced that it was dropping the charges in the sexual assault and blackmail case because it believed it was impossible to successfully prosecute Greitens.
Greitens kept a fairly low-profile over the following few months, but in late May, the Kansas City Star reported that he was telling his allies that he planned to deploy to the Middle East as well as publish another book this year. The former governor also doesn't seem to think that his political career is over despite all that's happened. The paper also wrote that, while Greitens showed little interest in running for his old job next year, he was eyeing a 2022 campaign for the Senate seat held by fellow Republican Roy Blunt.
However, while the Navy confirmed to the Star that Greitens had indeed transferred from the reserves back to active status, he may not be getting the post he planned for. Washington Post reporter Dan Lamothe reported on Friday that three unnamed Navy officials said that, while it's possible that Greitens will keep serving, the Navy hasn't decided if he should be allowed to deploy outside of Missouri.
Adm. John Richardson, who serves as chief of naval operations, also sent out an email on May 26 to fellow admirals saying that "recent events involving the transition of Mr. Greitens" have "excited a persistent frustration of mine that I want to address more comprehensively."
Richardson added that the service's methods for addressing personal misconduct are "too cumbersome and slow" and that they lead to the Navy keeping people "we'd rather see dismissed from our ranks." Richardson, who Lamothe writes "call[ed] for a new 30-day review of how the service handles personnel cases involving personal misconduct allegations, including Greitens's," confirmed that he'd sent out the email.
Despite Greitens' fall from grace, he still has some high-profile friends in the government. Lamothe reports that retired Adm. Joseph Kernan, who now serves as an undersecretary of defense, spent January talking to the Navy about a possible return to active service for Greitens. Thanks to Kernan, the top admiral in charge of personnel spoke to the former governor and raised the possibility that Mike Pence himself could request Greitens by name for an assignment. An unnamed official close to Pence denies that he had any interest in helping Greitens revive his military career.
● KY-Sen: Matt Jones, the host of Kentucky Sports Radio, said Thursday that he would decide whether to seek the Democratic nod soon after he takes his vacation in June. Jones has said in the past that he's not inclined to defer to retired Marine pilot Amy McGrath, whom national Democrats reportedly are trying to recruit to take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
● NH-Sen: Attorney Bryant "Corky" Messner confirmed for the first time on Friday that he was considering seeking the GOP nod to take on Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. Messner, who recently hired the former state party executive director, said he was having conversations about his future and that he looked "forward to continuing these conversations over the coming weeks."
Messner is a retired Army Ranger who founded a law firm in Colorado, and unnamed sources tell WMUR's John DiStaso that Messner "has the financial wherewithal to put a substantial amount of his own money into a race." However, as we've noted before, Messner has apparently lived his entire adult life in Denver, and while he's owned a vacation home in New Hampshire for about 12 years, he only became a Granite State resident about a year ago.
Meanwhile another prospective GOP candidate, former state House Speaker Bill O'Brien, told WMUR he was likely to get in himself and would probably announce in early July. Unlike Messner, O'Brien has a long career in New Hampshire politics, but things haven't gone so well for him since he won the speakership in the wake of the 2010 GOP landslide. O'Brien quickly developed a reputation even with some fellow Republicans as an extremist and a bully, and after the Democrats overcame the GOP's gerrymander and retook the chamber in 2012, some members of his party blamed O'Brien for their defeat.
Team Red was back in the majority after the 2014 elections, and it initially looked like O'Brien would return to the speaker's chair. However, a group of renegade Republicans instead sided with the Democratic minority and elected a different Republican, Shawn Jasper, as speaker.
O'Brien and his allies were furious, but they soon tried to direct their wrath in another direction. In November of 2015, O'Brien held a meeting to discuss replacing GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte "with a conservative Republican." However, their movement went nowhere and Ayotte won renomination without much trouble before losing a competitive 2016 general election to Democrat Maggie Hassan. O'Brien ended up retiring from the state House that same year.
● MN-07: Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson filed a statement of candidacy with the FEC on Thursday, but he has not yet announced if he will seek re-election in this 62-31 Trump seat. Peterson, who will be 76 on Election Day, often flirts with retirement, and he declined to discuss his 2020 plans in mid-March.
● NM-03: First Judicial District Attorney Marco Serna announced Thursday that he would join the packed Democratic primary for this open 52-37 Clinton seat. Serna's father, former state Corporation Commissioner Eric Serna, was the Democratic nominee in a 1997 special election for a previous version of this northern New Mexico district, a contest he lost after the Green Party nominee took a hefty 17% of the vote.
Marco Serna's jurisdiction covers Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, and Santa Fe Counties, which together make up a little more than a quarter of the 3rd Congressional District. However, those three counties cast just under half the total vote in the 3rd District during the 2016 primary, which took place on the same day as the presidential primary, so Serna could have a good base here.
The Albuquerque Journal does note that Serna, who was elected district attorney in 2016, has one potential vulnerability from his tenure. Last year, a district court dismissed the murder case against a man named Robert Mondrian-Powell because of what the judge deemed numerous "institutional problems" at Serna's office that prevented the defendant from receiving a speedy trial.
Among other things, the judge blasted the high turnover rate among prosecutors and declared that Serna's team was unacceptably slow when it came to turning over evidence to the defense or responding to their motions. The judge concluded that "none of the negligent or administrative delays were done to intentionally frustrate the Defense, although that was the end result." Serna argued Wednesday that this wouldn't hurt his congressional campaign, saying he'd "appealed that case, and I'm looking forward to getting a decision from the Supreme Court."