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.
● Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present our second quarterly fundraising charts of the 2020 election cycle for both the House and the Senate!
We've included every race we expect to be competitive in next year's general elections as well as open seats in otherwise safe districts that feature primaries. We also list contests where incumbents potentially face a credible primary challenge, members of Congress who might retire or run for higher office, and under-the-radar contests where a candidate raised or self-funded an unexpectedly large sum.
The big takeaway is that, despite some Democratic fears (and GOP hopes) that Team Blue's crowded presidential primary would divert donors from the congressional battlefield, the House class of 2018 is continuing to raise money at a pace that would have been unthinkable little more than two years ago.
Two of the most astonishing hauls, in fact, came from members who unseated GOP incumbents just last fall: California Rep. Katie Porter hauled in just shy of $1 million for the quarter, while New York Rep. Max Rose raised about $800,000. An additional 28 Democrats who flipped seats last year also raised over $500,000 during the quarter.
Last year, Democratic challengers managed to outraise many Republican incumbents―often quite dramatically. The reverse, however, has not been the case this cycle. It's still early, and the GOP does have some solid fundraisers, but so far, none of them are outpacing Democratic incumbents.
Case in point: Two Republican challengers, Wesley Hunt in Texas and Tom Kean Jr. in New Jersey, did take in over $500,000 from donors during the quarter. Democratic incumbents, however, outraised both of them: Rep. Lizzie Fletcher outpaced Hunt $564,000 to $514,000, while Rep. Tom Malinowski led Kean $560,000 to $505,000.
Of course, we're comparing Democratic incumbents with Republican challengers, but that just reflects the reality of next year's battlefield: The GOP has to go on offense, so the races that will determine control of the House will take place in districts held by potentially vulnerable Democrats. If Republicans can't match resources with Democrats, they're going to have a very hard time taking the 19 districts (or 20 if they lose North Carolina's 9th in the Sept. 10 special) that they need for a majority now that Justin Amash has become an independent.
Meanwhile, over in the Senate, a total of seven non-incumbent Democrats raised over $1 million, while the one Republican challenger to hit this threshold was Michigan's John James. (Democratic Sen. Gary Peters still outraised James, though, $2.4 million to $1.5 million.) Team Blue's Senate fundraising all-star was once again Arizona's Mark Kelly, who outpaced appointed GOP Sen. Martha McSally $4.2 million to $3.3 million and holds a $5.9 million to $4.4 million cash-on-hand lead.
There's a whole lot more to check out, and you'll want to bookmark our House and Senate charts.
● NH-Sen: On Thursday, attorney Bryant "Corky" Messner announced that he would set up a fundraising committee with the FEC, though he did not commit to seeking the GOP nomination. Retired Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc is already challenging Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, while former state House Speaker Bill O'Brien will announce his plans on Tuesday.
● TX-Sen: On Thursday, Houston City Councilor Amanda Edwards announced that she would join the Democratic primary to take on GOP Sen. John Cornyn. Edwards, who would be the first woman of color to represent Texas in the Senate as well as its first black senator, used her campaign kickoff to appeal to "all of the people who have ever been locked out or told that they can't wait or to wait their turn because the status quo or establishment was not ready for change."
Edwards won her first campaign in 2015 when she was elected to one of the city's five citywide council seats by a 62-38 margin. After Hurricane Harvey devastated the city in 2017, Edwards led an effort to identify and contact low-income flood victims who had stopped answering calls from people trying to assist them. Edwards and her volunteers have continued door-to-door efforts to check in with people living in areas that were devastated by the storm who might not otherwise have access to City Hall.
Edwards, who is not seeking re-election this year, joins Air Force veteran MJ Hegar and former Rep. Chris Bell in the primary, and state Sen. Royce West will also announce his plans on Monday. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has met with Edwards, Hegar, and West, and so far, Senate Democrats have not taken sides in this contest.
● NC-Gov: On Thursday, Republican state Rep. Holly Grange announced that she would challenge Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Grange's nascent campaign has been a source of tension for North Carolina Republicans for a while. PoliticsNC wrote back in April about rumors that GOP Sen. Thom Tillis' team was trying to recruit her to try to prevent Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who confirmed this month that he would run, from taking the GOP nod.
While Forest has much of the party establishment on his side, his far-right social conservative rhetoric may end up being a big liability for the entire 2020 GOP statewide ticket, including Tillis. However, Forest's intra-party detractors are holding out hope that Grange is a more electable option.
The pro-Forest grumbling grew louder this week when Rep. Mark Meadows, the head of the nihilist House Freedom Caucus, made it clear that he believed Tillis was out to get his man. Meadows declared, "What will do more damage to Sen. Tillis is his encouragement of trying to get someone to run against Dan Forest and his active involvement, or his so-called active involvement, in that." Meadows continued, "That will do more to create concern among Republican primary voters than perhaps any race right now."
Tillis said in response, "I haven't gotten into that race, probably won't." However, the senator didn't explicitly deny that he had something to do with Grange running. Instead, he declared, "I've got my own primary. There's a lot of people saying that I'm recruiting other people, which is a silly concept when I'm going to have one of the most expensive races in U.S. history just for my own re-election."
The National Journal profiled Grange just before she announced, and she indeed cuts a bit of a different profile than Forest. Grange, who is an attorney and a U.S. Army veteran, was elected to office for the first time in 2016. Forest only won his first race four years before Grange, but he comes from a prominent North Carolina political family: His mother is Sue Myrick, a former mayor of Charlotte who later served in the U.S. House for 18 years.
Perhaps more importantly, Grange also could be a less hardline alternative to Forest. The lieutenant governor is an ardent supporter of the anti-LGBTQ "bathroom bill" HB2, which sparked a backlash and boycott threats by major businesses and thus helped cost GOP Gov. Pat McCrory reelection in 2016 against Cooper.
Forest has shown no interest in reigning himself in, either. Last month, he 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."
By contrast, Grange voted for a compromise that partially repealed that legislation in 2017, and her position on the issue would likely play better in suburban areas like hers that saw Republicans take heavy losses in 2018 thanks to the state GOP's unpopularity there—indeed, Grange won reelection just 53-47 in a Wilmington-area seat Trump carried 56-41 two years before. However, Grange is hardly a progressive herself. Her announcement video highlighted her opposition to abortion rights and called for "tougher state immigration laws, no matter how loud the liberals whine about it."
No other notable Republicans have publicly expressed interest in running for governor in months, but there's still time for another candidate to emerge ahead of the Dec. 20 filing deadline. McCrory, the Republican who lost to Cooper in 2016, expressed interest in a comeback bid as recently as February, but he's said little since then about his 2020 plans. McCrory, who now hosts a conservative radio show, did promise a "big announcement" for his listeners at the start of this month, and he revealed that he would launch … a podcast.
● AZ-01: This week, 2018 House candidate Tiffany Shedd announced that she would launch a second bid for the GOP nod to take on Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran. Shedd, who runs a cotton and wheat farm, raised a total of $350,000 for her last campaign and self-funded another $250,000, but she ended up taking a distant third place in the primary with 19% of the vote.
Shedd's first campaign certainly did not impress, but at least for now, she doesn't have any formidable primary opposition. The only other declared Republican candidate is Safford City Councilor Chris Taylor, but he had a paltry $10,000 war chest at the end of June.
O'Halleran, who was a moderate Republican during his days in the state Senate, does face a primary challenge from former Flagstaff City Councilor Eva Putzova, but she also had just about $10,000 to spend. O'Halleran, by contrast, had just shy of $400,000 in the bank at the end of last month. This seat narrowly backed both Mitt Romney and Donald Trump, but Democrats have held it since the 2012 elections.
● CA-21: Former GOP Rep. David Valadao formed a new fundraising committee this week ahead of a possible rematch against freshman Democratic Rep. TJ Cox.
● IL-06: Former GOP state Rep. Jeanne Ives filed paperwork with the FEC on Thursday for a potential bid against Democratic Rep. Sean Casten. Ives challenged then-Gov. Bruce Rauner from the right in last year's primary and narrowly lost statewide, but according to analyst Drew Savicki, she carried the 6th District 50.2-49.8.
● MN-03: NRCC chair Tom Emmer told reporters on Thursday that healthcare executive Kendall Qualls is preparing to challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips. This suburban Twin Cities seat was quite friendly to GOP candidates down the ballot for years, and Republican Erik Paulsen even won reelection in 2016 by double digits as Hillary Clinton was carrying the district 51-41. However, the bottom finally fell out for Team Red last year, and Phillips unseated Paulsen 56-44.
● NC-09: The political arm of the Environmental Defense Fund is out with the first major outside buy of the Sept. 10 general election. Their TV spot declares that Democrat Dan McCready's "clean energy company helped create hundreds of local jobs" and that he'd work across the aisle in Congress. The commercial then argues that Republican Dan Bishop is "[t]he only Republican voting with big drug companies against a bipartisan bill to lower prescription drug costs." The EDF tells Politico that they'll spend $600,000 on the spot.
● NV-04: Businesswoman Lisa Song Sutton, who was the 2014 Miss Nevada, filed a fundraising committee this week for a potential bid for the GOP nod against Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford. Sutton, who describes herself as a "serial entrepreneur," tweeted on Tuesday, "I'm ready to get to work for the people of Nevada #CD4! Formal announcement coming soon!" This seat, which includes the northern Las Vegas area, backed Clinton 50-45, and Horsford won 52-44 last year.
● OH-01: Cincinnati City Council Member Amy Murray told WVXU this week that she would not challenge Rep. Steve Chabot in the GOP primary. Murray said that she was hoping that Ohio's congressional map would be redrawn and that she could run in a new seat that included all of her Hamilton County base (Hamilton County is divided between this seat and the 2nd District). However, this map will remain in use next year thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling upholding partisan gerrymandering, and Murray said, "I would most likely not run for Congress as long as the district is drawn the way it is."
● TX-21: 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis has not yet announced that she'll challenge freshman GOP Rep. Chip Roy, but national party leaders have already scheduled an event on Tuesday in D.C. "in support of her campaign for Texas CD21." The guest list will include Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as nine of the party's 13 Texas representatives.
● UT-01, UT-Gov: Retiring GOP Rep. Rob Bishop told reporters Thursday that he may not actually retire after all. Bishop said nearly two years ago that this current term would be his last, but he now says that he'll decide at the end of the month if he'll run for a 10th term in his safely red northern Utah seat.
Bishop said that multiple people have asked him to "reconsider for maybe one or two cycles," but added that he may still call it quits to preserve what he called his "personal veracity." The congressman explained, "I already announced I was not going to (run). I would hope people not think of me as another political liar who does not keep his word. That does weigh on me." Bishop has also been flirting with a run for governor, though he does not seem to have addressed his interest in that race on Thursday.
So far, no notable Republicans have entered the race for his (currently) open seat. Bishop claims that some potential candidates have told him that they'd like him to run again so that they can be better positioned to succeed him a few years down the line. Bishop also said that other people want him to stay for one more term because the 2021 round of redistricting will be less complicated if this seat is open next cycle rather than now.
It's pretty rich of Bishop to now care about making redistricting easier for his party: Documents released in late 2012 suggest that Bishop and then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz each pressured state legislators to make their already safe districts even safer during a special session on redistricting. It's not clear how much influence Bishop had over the final map, but the 4th District that GOP legislators drew ended up not being quite red enough to prevent Democrats from narrowly winning it in 2012 and 2018.
● IN-AG, IN-05: While former 4th District GOP Rep. Todd Rokita has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the open 5th District, he has his eyes on returning to statewide office.
Rokita, who served as secretary of state until he was elected to Congress in 2010 and lost last year's primary for Senate, has been mentioned as a possible intra-party challenger to scandal-tarred Attorney General Curtis Hill for a while. Howey Politics asked Rokita Saturday if they should keep listing him as a potential attorney general candidate, and he responded that he was considering returning to state government and might have until October to make his decision. The nomination will be decided at a state party convention next year rather than through a primary.
Last year, fellow Republicans called for Hill to resign after four women accused him of groping them at a March 2018 party. Hill has refused, but while he avoided criminal charges, the state Supreme Court will conduct disciplinary proceedings in October that could lead to the loss of his law license—and thereby his job.