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.
● NY-22: Former GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney spoke for the first time in months about her 2020 plans, and she not only said that she was still considering a rematch with freshman Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi in New York's 22nd District, she added that she was "leaning closer to running." Tenney, who lost the seat to Brindisi 51-49 last year, also said the NRCC encouraged her to run because "[t]hey know that I am the only one who can win it."
That's a truly ludicrous thing for anyone to believe given what happened back in November. This upstate seat backed Donald Trump by a wide 55-39 margin, making it the Trumpiest seat that a House Republican managed to lose in 2018. In fact, of the 235 Democratic-held House seats in the nation, the only Trumpier one is Minnesota's 7th, which has been represented by Rep. Collin Peterson for decades. According to Bloomberg's Greg Giroux, Republican gubernatorial nominee Marc Molinaro also carried New York's 22nd by a wide 56-36 margin as Tenney was losing, so she managed to alienate quite a few conservative voters.
Indeed, Tenney had a knack for attracting plenty of bad headlines for herself during the campaign. In just one of many examples, she hurled hoary anti-Italian slurs at Brindisi last year by saying his father had represented "some of the worst criminals in our community" who were members of "organized crime"—in other words, mafia figures. In September she doubled down on line of attack, a very bad strategy in a seat where one in seven residents are of Italian descent, one of the higher rates in the country.
If Tenney runs, she'll need to get through a primary against Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell, who announced in early July at the start of the new fundraising quarter, before she can get another shot at Brindisi. A few other Republicans are running, but none of them looks particularly formidable right now. Perennial candidate George Phillips had just $54,000 to spend at the end of June, though that's still better than teacher Franklin Sager, who had exactly zero cents on-hand. Brindisi had $771,000 in the bank to defend this seat.
● AK-Sen: Orthopedic surgeon Al Gross, an independent who is running in the Democratic primary, announced that he raised $400,000 in the first two weeks of his campaign against GOP incumbent Dan Sullivan.
● KS-Sen: Bryan Pruitt, the former director of the right-wing site RedState, said this week that he's formed a fundraising committee for this open Senate seat but has not yet decided if he'll seek the GOP nomination. Pruitt is a Wichita native, but he currently lives in D.C.
● MO-Gov: Democratic state Auditor Nicole Galloway reportedly is planning to challenge GOP Gov. Mike Parson next year, but the incumbent would begin the campaign with a huge financial edge. Parson had $1.1 million in his campaign account in early July, while Uniting Missouri, an allied PAC that can accept unlimited donations, had another $2.9 million to spend. Galloway, who won her first full term last year and only began showing interest in running for governor in early June, had $133,000 available.
Parson has not yet announced that he'll seek his first full term in 2020, but local politicos don't seem to have any doubt that he'll be on the ballot. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that Parson, who was elevated from lieutenant governor to governor last year after Eric Greitens resigned in disgrace, is considering launching his campaign after Labor Day.
● MS-Gov: State Attorney General Jim Hood is out with his first TV spot three weeks ahead of the Democratic primary, where he describes a day in his life. Hood begins, "Fix the bush hog. Reload ammunition. Take care of the land. Church on Sunday," and he's shown doing all those things (including riding a tractor).
Hood then talks about his record as attorney general including how he took "on BP to clean our coast." As Hood says that, he's shown standing next to Gov. Phil Bryant, the termed-out Republican he's hoping to succeed. Hood is the clear frontrunner in the Aug. 6 Democratic primary, though it's possible that Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith, who is the top prosecutor in the state's largest county but has almost no money, could cause him trouble.
On the GOP side, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. is out with another positive ad focused on education. So far we haven't seen any negative TV spots from either Waller or Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who is the frontrunner next month.
● AK-AL: 2018 Democratic nominee Alyse Galvin announced Tuesday that she would seek a rematch with longtime GOP Rep. Don Young, and her campaign tells us that she will once again run in the Democratic primary while remaining an independent. Galvin successfully sought Team Blue's nomination this way last year, and she was listed on the general election ballot with both a "U" for unaffiliated and as the "Alaska Democratic Party Nominee."
● CA-21: Former GOP Rep. David Valadao has been talking about seeking a rematch against freshman Democratic Rep. TJ Cox, and Bakersfield.com columnist Robert Price anticipates he'll announce his plans next month. Price writes that Valadao sounds likely to get in, but "he did not quite emphatically declare, 'I'm running.'"
● CA-50: The Marine Corps sent indicted GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter a cease-and-desist letter Tuesday days after he used their official insignia and phrase on his Islamophobic campaign mailers. The letter told Hunter, who served in the Marines, to "immediately remove the Emblem and the Phrase from its mailers, and, without limitation, from all other campaign materials including websites and other instances where the Emblem or the Phrase are being used." The letter did offer an alternative "Marine Veteran" logo for the congressman to use.
● FL-13: This week, businessman Matt Becker announced that he would seek the GOP nod to challenge Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist.
Becker was the chief operating officer of the 2012 Republican National Convention, which took place in nearby Tampa, and he's the past chair of the nonprofit Clearwater Downtown Partnership. Last year, Becker and his group played a prominent role in spearheading a referendum to establish a strong mayor system in Clearwater, but it lost 59-41. Becker will face a few primary opponents, including attorney Amanda Makki, for the right to take on Crist in this 52-48 Clinton seat.
● FL-16: On Wednesday, Florida Politics reported that the DCCC has talked to state Rep. Margaret Good about a possible campaign against GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan. That same day, the Herald-Tribune attempted to contact Good after someone registered a MargaretGoodForCongress.com domain name, but she did not respond for comment.
Good won her Sarasota-area state House seat in an expensive special election by defeating the congressman's son, James Buchanan, by a 52-45 margin in a seat that had backed Donald Trump 51-46. Good won re-election later that year in a close 51-49 contest, and she's now one of just four state House Democrats in a Trump district. Good's 2018 successes did not foreshadow doom for the elder Buchanan, though. Democrats fielded a well-funded candidate named David Shapiro, but the congressman beat him 55-45.
Buchanan will again be very difficult for any Democrat to unseat next year. This seat, which includes much of the Sarasota area, backed Trump 54-43, so it's considerably more conservative than the state House district where his son lost last year. Florida's 16th District was also friendly turf for the rest of the Republican ticket last year: According to analyst Matthew Isbell, all five statewide GOP candidates carried the seat. Even Nikki Fried, whose narrow victory in the race for agriculture commissioner gave Team Blue their one statewide win, lost the 16th District 53-47.
● GA-06: We called out former GOP Rep. Karen Handel back in April for pretending that she'd raised more money in 2019 than she actually raised, so she responded this week by … doing the exact same thing.
Handel, who is seeking a rematch with Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath in Georgia's 6th District, put out a press release claiming that she'd brought "nearly $550,000" in "the first 100 days" of her campaign. However, Handel's own FEC report shows that she's taken in just $448,000 during this entire election cycle, including an unimpressive $210,000 in the second quarter of 2019.
So how is Handel calculating this borked math? Just as in April, she's pretending that the $88,000 she had left over after her 2018 defeat is money she raised in 2019. But as we explained back then, that's not how any of this works. Money raised during the 2018 cycle, which ended well over 100 days ago, is simply leftover cash from a previous race, not money raised during this race.
What's more, even these fake numbers don't add up! You'll notice that $448,000 plus $88,000 equals $536,000. That's not "nearly" $550,000—you don't get to round up to the closest $50,000.
So once again: Karen Handel has not raised "nearly $550,000" this year. She's raised $448,000. McBath, meanwhile, raised $1.3 million during the first six months of this year, which includes almost $550,000 she brought in from April to June, and holds a $929,000 to $488,000 cash-on-hand lead over her old rival. That's a deficit that even Handel's spin doctors can't pretend doesn't exist, though they might want to spend a few bucks to replace those broken calendars and calculators.
● MN-01: Minnesota Morning Take wrote Wednesday, "Reports are that Dan Feehan will run again in 2020" against freshman GOP Rep. Jim Hagedorn, but there's no word on when the 2018 Democratic nominee would announce. Feehan said last month that he was "strongly considering" another campaign against Hagedorn, who beat him by a narrow 50.1-49.7 spread.
● OH-01: This week, former healthcare executive Kate Schroder picked up an endorsement from Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley in the Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Steve Chabot. Schroder worked for Cranley back in 2001 and 2002 when he was still a member of the city council. Schroder also has the support of state Rep. Brigid Kelly, who the local media recently said wouldn't run but had not publicly taken herself out of the running until now.
● Queens County, NY District Attorney: The New York City Board of Elections began a hand recount on Monday of the ballots cast in the June 25 Democratic primary for Queens district attorney, where Borough President Melinda Katz currently holds a 16-vote lead over public defender Tiffany Cabán, but it’s going to be a long time before we have a resolution.
Board of Elections workers are reviewing some 91,000 ballots, and the New York Times’ John Leland writes that the process is expected to take weeks. Small things like a stray mark on a ballot, writes Leland, can be hotly contested by each campaign and can cause a vote not to be counted. Disputes will be adjudicated by Judge John Ingram, whom Leland explains was brought in from Brooklyn in order to “keep the process independent from the Queens Democratic Party,” which is backing Katz and plays a dominant role in electing judges in the borough.
The conclusion of the recount won’t mark the end of this saga, though. Even after all the votes are re-tallied, we can expect more legal challenges, especially over the fate of 2,300 affidavit ballots that city elections officials have ruled invalid. Cabán’s team is currently focusing its efforts on 100 uncounted ballots it argues were disqualified for technical errors. Whoever emerges with the Democratic nod when all is said and done, however, will be the overwhelming favorite in the November general election.
● Suffolk County, NY Executive: Democratic incumbent Steve Bellone begins the general election campaign with a strong fundraising lead over his GOP rival, county Comptroller John Kennedy. Bellone, who is seeking a third term in November as executive of this large Long Island county, has $2 million in the bank, while Kennedy has $205,000 to spend. Perhaps in even better news for Democrats, Newsday reports that Kennedy's largest expenditure over the last six months was $26,000 for polling from McLaughlin & Associates, a firm that is notorious even in Republican circles for its many high-profile misses.