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.
● NC-03: On Tuesday night, state Rep. Greg Murphy crushed pediatrician Joan Perry by a 60-40 margin in the Republican primary runoff for North Carolina's 3rd Congressional District, making him the heavy favorite in September's special election for this deeply conservative vacant seat.
But the real story is not who won but rather who lost. Ever since last year's thumpin' that saw the ranks of House GOP women plummet from an already-low 23 to a miniscule 13, Republicans have been desperate to increase their numbers. Perry offered an early opportunity to do just that, prompting groups devoted to electing Republican women to spend more than $1 million on her behalf.
The GOP's problems, however, run far too deep to be fixed by a mere million bucks. It's not just that there were influential factions that opposed Perry—the nihilistic House Freedom Caucus, for instance, backed Murphy—but the very idea of electing women because it's important to elect women is anathema to wide swaths of the Republican Party.
Activist Amy Kremer, who co-founded a group called Women for Trump, encapsulated that view perfectly in a recent interview with the National Journal’s Ally Mutnick where she offered this remarkable quote:
"If these women are saying that they should support women because they have the same body parts just for the sake of having more women in Congress, then they're sexist," she said in an interview. "I'm smarter than that. I vote for brains, not boobs."
At a week-long campaign school for women at Yale University last month that attracted just a dozen Republicans (out of 80 total attendees), one GOP participant, Elana Doyle, lamented, "We are so welcomed in the background to help volunteer, to help spread information, but when it comes time for a woman to really step up into the spotlight, I almost feel like it's crickets." She's so close to understanding what the Republican Party really thinks of women like her: "Brains, not boobs."
Republicans who refuse to grapple with their party's deep-rooted hostility toward women have instead come up with all manner of creative excuses to explain away the tiny numbers of GOP women in Congress. Just this week, Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis trotted out the gonzo argument that the real person to blame is … Nancy Pelosi.
This is actually a retread of a ridiculous assertion made by Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the number two House Republican, back in January: that Pelosi spent millions specifically to defeat Republican women candidates. Leaving aside the obvious stupidity—how dare Nancy Pelosi try to elect Democrats to Congress!—it's nonsense on the "merits," too, such as they are.
Scalise specifically claimed Pelosi "will spend a lot more money—in many cases twice as much more—to defeat Republican female candidates." The numbers show that's not remotely true: In the 53 races where the DCCC played in 2018, 11 featured GOP women, and the committee spent an average of $1.2 million in these contests. In the other 42 elections (all versus Republican men), the DCCC spent an average of $1.4 million. Try again.
Davis, meanwhile, averred that Pelosi "in many cases spent millions of dollars to elect a male Democrat over a female Republican in swing districts." Again, total b.s. The DCCC spent seven figures to help a Democratic man unseat a Republican woman in exactly one race last year: New York's 22nd District, where Democrat Anthony Brindisi ousted GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney.
If Davis in fact felt strongly about the dearth of women in his caucus, he certainly had a chance to do something about it prior to Tuesday night. But the sum he donated to Perry's cause is equal to the number of new Republican women who will be joining the House GOP this year: zero.
● Netroots Nation: The Daily Kos Elections team is heading to Philadelphia, PA, this week for Netroots Nation, the annual progressive conference, and we're running two panels this year!
Our first panel takes place on Thursday at 2:30 PM ET and will feature redistricting practitioners discussing the lessons they've learned from participating in the process to draw fair maps for courts and commissions, and where reform efforts go from here now that the Supreme Court has refused to set limits on gerrymandering.
The panel will include Daily Kos' Stephen Wolf and Carolyn Fiddler, who will be joined by Princeton University's Sam Wang, California redistricting commissioner Maria Blanco, and the Campaign Legal Center's Christopher Lamar.
Our second event is on Friday at 1:30 PM ET, where we'll be hosting our traditional elections Q&A panel. We dispense with the PowerPoints and proceed directly to questions from the audience about the races they're most interested in. And the great news is, if you can't attend in person, you can watch our livestream, which we'll be posting at our Facebook page. We'll also be taking questions via Twitter.
This panel will feature Wolf and Jeff Singer from Daily Kos, along with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee's Claire Low, Sister District's Lala Wu, and longtime Daily Kos Elections contributing editor Arjun Jaikumar.
If you're a regular reader, please come say hello after our panels. See you in Philly!
● AL-Sen: Arnold Mooney (R): $300,000 raised (in 30 days)
● KY-Sen: Mitch McConnell (R-inc): $3 million raised, $7.9 million cash-on-hand
● MA-Sen: Shannon Liss-Riordan (D): $145,000 raised (in six weeks), additional $1 million self-funded, $992,000 cash-on-hand
● AZ-06: David Schweikert (R-inc): $200,000 raised; Hiral Tipirneni (D): $440,000 raised, $445,000 cash-on-hand
● CA-45: Katie Porter (D-inc): $1 million raised, $1.5 million cash-on-hand
● IL-13: Betsy Dirksen Londrigan (D): $500,000 raised
● NC-09: Dan McCready (D): $1.7 million raised, $1.8 million cash-on-hand
● NY-21: Tedra Cobb (D): $357,000 raised, $378,000 cash-on-hand
● TX-10: Pritesh Gandhi (D): $180,000 raised; Mike Siegel (D): $100,000 raised
● GA-Sen: Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry announced Wednesday that he would seek the Democratic nomination to take on GOP Sen. David Perdue. Terry, who also serves as state director of the Sierra Club, leads a small Atlanta suburb with a population of just 13,000, but he and his community have attracted plenty of outside attention over the years.
Clarkston has taken in over 40,000 refugees over the last three decades, earning it the nickname the "Ellis Island of the South." During his tenure as mayor, Terry made Clarkston the first city in Georgia to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, and he's also worked to limit the community's cooperation with immigration officials.
Terry also appeared on a 2018 episode of the show Queer Eye where The Fab Five helped him part with his long and raggedy "Resistance Beard." Terry said this week of his star turn, "If people want to know who I am, watch that 55-minute episode of Queer Eye."
● KS-Sen: Former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius confirmed this week that she would not run for the Senate. Sebelius had shown no obvious interest in becoming a candidate, though some Republicans had worried that she could have won a general election against 2018 gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach, who this week announced his own Senate bid.
● KY-Sen: Marine veteran Amy McGrath, who raised gobs of money during her unsuccessful House bid last year, announced Wednesday that she'd raised $2.5 million during the first 24 hours of her campaign against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
● TX-Sen: State Sen. Royce West has been considering joining the Democratic primary to face GOP Sen. John Cornyn, and he has an announcement set for July 22.
● IN-Gov: On Wednesday, former state Health Commissioner Woody Myers became the first notable Democrat to announce a bid against GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb. Myers was Indiana's first black health commissioner, and he would also be its first African American governor.
Myers was the state's top health official in the second half of the 1980s during the height of the AIDS crisis. In 1985, Myers stepped in when a school district tried to keep a middle school student named Ryan White, who had contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion, from returning to class. The board was not happy when Myers declared that White posed no threat to the public safety because AIDS could not be spread through casual contact, and they called for his resignation. However, Myers remained firm, and he held a press conference with White where the commissioner famously tousled White's hair. White, who went on to promote HIV awareness, died in 1990.
Myers later served as health commissioner in New York City before resigning in 1991 after just over a year on the job. Since then, Myers has largely worked in the private sector as a venture capitalist, though he's run for office once before. In 2008, he challenged Rep. André Carson, who had won a special election to Indiana's 7th Congressional District two months previously, in the Democratic primary. Myers self-funded over $2 million, but he lost 47-24. Myers says he won't self-fund this bid.
A few other Hoosier State Democrats are eyeing the race, but we can cross off former Rep. Baron Hill: He's Myers' campaign chair.
● MS-Gov: The NRA has endorsed Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves in the Aug. 6 GOP primary.
● NC-Gov: As expected, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has announced that he'll run for governor next year. That makes him the first prominent North Carolina Republican to challenge Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, though there are some other potential candidates who could yet join him.
Forest has telegraphed his interest in seeking a promotion for almost a year, but he most recently made headlines for delivering a hate-fueled sermon in which he warned, "[N]o other nation, my friends, has ever survived the diversity and multiculturalism that America faces today, because of a lack of assimilation, because of this division, and because of this identity politics."
Forest also declared that "no other nation has ever been founded on the principles of Jesus Christ," which, well, no. America, as the First Amendment makes quite explicit, enshrines no religion into law, while plenty of other countries, as ThinkProgress' Josh Israel pointed out, are in fact officially Christian.
Of course, this kind of Civics 101 is rejected by fact-denying fundamentalists like Forest, but his attitudes may not serve him well in a general election. Cooper was able to squeak out a 0.2% victory in 2016 not least because his Republican opponent, Gov. Pat McCrory, had vocally supported North Carolina's notorious "bathroom bill." That anti-LGBTQ legislation sparked a fierce backlash and threats of widespread boycotts by major businesses and more, ultimately costing McCrory at the ballot box. If Forest wants to cast himself in a similar role as a social conservatism crusader, he might just experience a similar outcome.
P.S. It's early, but a poll from Democratic pollster PPP found Cooper leading Forest 45-41 last month, while a separate survey from a Republican outfit, Harper Polling, actually had Cooper ahead by an even wider 47-37 margin.
● NJ-07: Former Gov. Chris Christie is backing state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. in the GOP primary, and he'll headline a fundraiser for him later this month. That's quite a shift in their relationship from when Christie was governor: In 2013, the very day after Christie was re-elected to a second term, he unsuccessfully tried to depose Kean as the GOP's Senate leader.
● NV-03: Republicans landed their first notable candidate to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Susie Lee in Nevada's 3rd Congressional District on Tuesday, but former state Treasurer Dan Schwartz does not cut an intimidating figure. Schwartz, a wealthy businessman, ran for the House once before, coming in a distant fourth in the 2012 GOP primary for the neighboring 4th District, then managed to win the treasurer's race during the Republican wave two years later.
But during his time in office, Schwartz developed a sour relationship with his own party. He still could have sought re-election in 2018, but strangely, Schwartz launched a quixotic bid for governor. He predictably got smashed in the primary by well-connected state Attorney General Adam Laxalt by a brutal 72-9 margin.
Trump carried the 3rd by a narrow 48-47 margin, so Lee is potentially vulnerable. However, it's unlikely Nevada's GOP establishment will be pleased to settle for Schwartz, though no alternative names have yet emerged.
● NY-27: Former Trump aide Michael Caputo had been mulling his own bid for New York's 27th Congressional District (currently held by indicted GOP Rep. Chris Collins), but now he says he's working to recruit Army veteran David Bellavia, who recently received the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award.
Bellavia ran for this seat once before but lost the 2012 Republican primary to Collins by a 60-40 margin. Caputo was Bellavia's campaign manager for that race, and he says that Bellavia is back on active duty with the Army and therefore can't take any steps toward a bid, if he even wants to. It's not clear when Bellavia's obligations to the Army will end.
● PA-01: Andrew Meehan, who leads an investment advisory firm, announced Tuesday that he would challenge "anti-Trump, Trump hating RINO" Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in the GOP primary for this competitive suburban Philadelphia seat. Meehan's late grandfather, Philadelphia County Sheriff Austin Meehan, was a Republican power-player in the city in the 1940s and 1950s back when Team Red still had influence in municipal politics. However, the younger Meehan does not appear to be related to former Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan, who resigned in disgrace last year.
Last cycle, Fitzpatrick took pains to publicly distance himself from the Trump administration while still voting with Trump most of the time, and he narrowly held this 49-47 Clinton seat in November. That's a tough tightrope to walk, though, and Fitzpatrick could have trouble in a primary against a credible foe. Last year Fitzpatrick turned back an underfunded challenger named Dean Malik by a 67-33 margin, which wasn't the strongest showing for an incumbent.
● TX-06: Attorney Stephen Daniel announced this week that he would seek the Democratic nod against freshman GOP Rep. Ron Wright. Daniel is business partners with a powerful local Democrat, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins (in Texas, county judge is not a judicial office but rather is the equivalent of county executive), which could give him some useful connections.
This seat, which includes much of Arlington as well as a portion of Fort Worth, backed Trump 54-42, but last cycle, GOP Sen. Ted Cruz carried it just 51-48. Wright won his first term in 2018 by beating Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez 53-45 in a contest that attracted very little outside attention; Sanchez is now Daniel's campaign manager.
Despite his relatively soft showing last time, Wright doesn't seem to be getting ready for a competitive re-election campaign: He raised just $700,000 last cycle—a bit less than Sanchez—and he had just $68,000 in the bank at the end of March. (He has not yet released his second quarter totals.)
Wright also attracted some attention in late May when a pro-choice group called Reproaction released a video in which the congressman was asked if women who gave themselves abortions should go to jail, and he replied, "Of course they should," because, "As far I'm concerned, they committed murder." Wright was then asked, "Women should be punished for having abortions?" to which he responded, "Absolutely."
Wright's office later put out a statement insisting, "My remarks were directed to those who perform abortions. Those who perform the abortions should be held responsible."
● TX-07: Real estate developer Jim Noteware, who is a former director of Houston's housing department, filed with the FEC this week for a possible GOP bid against freshman Democratic Rep. Lizzie Fletcher. Noteware has not yet said anything publicly about his interest in this competitive seat.
● TX-22: Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls announced Wednesday that he would not seek another term, and he very much did not rule out a primary bid against GOP Rep. Pete Olson. Instead, Nehls told the Houston Chronicle, "I will again revisit that over the next four, five months." Texas' filing deadline is in December.
Olson faced an unexpectedly competitive race last year against Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni, who is running again, and the last thing the incumbent needs is a tough primary to distract him. However, there's no guarantee Nehls will run. The sheriff flirted with challenging Olson last cycle and even formed an exploratory committee in February of 2017, but he ultimately announced that December that he'd stay put.
● UT-04: Former GOP Rep. Mia Love has been considering seeking a rematch with freshman Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams, and she said Tuesday that she would "probably make a decision fairly quickly, in the next couple of weeks or so." Love recently insisted, "If I don't have to get in the race, I won't," but said she was willing to run if she felt that none of the GOP's other options could defeat McAdams.