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.
● KS-Sen: On Monday, former U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom became the first notable Democrat to enter the race for Kansas' open U.S. Senate seat. Team Blue hasn't won a Senate race in the Sunflower State since 1932, but two other Democrats expressed interest in running this week. Former Rep. Nancy Boyda filed paperwork with the FEC last week, though she says she hasn't decided to run yet. State Sen. Barbara Bollier, a former Republican who switched parties in December, met with the DSCC about running, and she confirmed that she's also considering seeking the Democratic nod.
We'll start with a look at Grissom, who also has sat down with the DSCC and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Grissom has not run for office before, but he served as Kansas' top federal prosecutor from 2010 and 2016. During his tenure, Grissom oversaw the investigation into planned terrorist attacks against Wichita Mid-Continent Airport and the Army base at Fort Riley, and he successfully prosecuted the perpetrators in both cases. Grissom was also an outspoken opponent of then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's voter suppression tactics.
Grissom faced some controversy from his time at the Justice Department. After he stepped down as U.S. attorney, a federal judge ruled that the for-profit prison operator CoreCivic had illegally recorded calls at one of their Kansas jails between prisoners and their attorneys. The Federal Public Defender's Office has argued that from 2013 to 2016, Kansas' U.S. attorney's office regularly obtained these recordings from CoreCivic. Grissom, who was in charge during most of that period, said this week that he "was not aware of that alleged conduct," and he added, "And if it's true and I was made aware of it those individuals would have been terminated."
Boyda, by contrast, won a conservative Topeka-area House seat in the 2006 Democratic wave but lost it two years later. Boyda hasn't sought office since then, but she said earlier this year that she was considering running for Senate. Boyda told the Kansas City Star this week that, unlike her would-be primary rivals Grissom and Bollier, she has not met with national Democrats, and that she doesn't plan to.
The former congresswoman added, "I don't need Chuck Schumer's permission to do this. I'll spend my time talking to the good people of Kansas, but I don't need his permission." She also doesn't seem to have any illusions that the DSCC will support her: Boyda added that Schumer is "a good guy, but what do they expect when they call?"
As the paper notes, this is hardly the first time Boyda has rejected national Democrats' help. Boyda knew she was going to be one of the House GOP's top targets in 2008, but she still made it clear that she didn't want the DCCC to spend on her behalf. She even convinced them to cancel their $1.2 million TV reservation, arguing, "Kansas voters should control Kansas campaigns" and that the state should be able to "run our election without Washington interference." The NRCC didn't agree, and they ran ads until the end of the contest.
Boyda lost re-election to Republican Lynn Jenkins 51-46 as John McCain was carrying the seat 55-43, making her one of just five Democratic House members to be defeated in this historically blue year. In April of the following year, DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen told a press conference that Boyda had left him a regretful voicemail that she wanted him to play for any vulnerable members who were thinking about rejecting the committee's help. However, it seems that Boyda, who went on to serve in the Obama administration's Department of Defense, has decided that, at least in a primary, she'd still be better off without help from D.C. Democrats.
While Boyda did file with the FEC last week, it may be a while before she decides whether or not to run. The former congresswoman told the Star that the law required her to file because she'd worn a shirt that promoted her possible campaign, explaining, "Once I put that shirt on and wore it outside I had a legal requirement." An FEC spokesperson told the paper that potential candidates for federal office are required to file once they raise or spend $5,000, but they did not address these would-be senators and representatives' wardrobe choices.
Bollier has considerably more experience running for office than either Grissom or Boyda, though not as a Democrat. Bollier was appointed to a state House seat in Johnson County in the Kansas City suburbs as a Republican back in 2010, and she was elected to a full term that year. In 2016, Bollier won an open state Senate seat 54-46 even as Hillary Clinton was winning her district 57-36, which was Team Red's only victory in a Clinton Senate seat.
However, Bollier was hardly an ardent conservative during her near-decade in the GOP’s legislative caucus. She was a prominent opponent of then-Gov. Sam Brownback's tax cuts, which ended up devastating schools in Johnson County, and she stood out as a rare Republican who backed abortion and LGBT rights. In 2018, Bollier also backed Democrat Sharice Davids over local GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder, and she supported Democrat Laura Kelly in the race for governor against Kobach.
In December, a month after strong performances in Johnson County helped carry both Davids and Kelly to victory, Bollier announced that she was switching parties. Bollier declared, "When the party adopted an anti-transgender piece to their platform, that really, as a physician, set me over the edge, because we have more than XX and XY, and gender is a very complicated and important thing." She also hit her old party for opposing Medicaid expansion and gun safety legislation and added, "My moral compass is saying, 'I can't do this anymore,' and you throw that in with Donald Trump, and just from a moral position, I can't be complicit anymore." Two more Republican Kansas legislators soon followed Bollier into the Democratic fold.
It won't be easy for the eventual Democratic nominee to break the party's worst-in-the-nation losing streak here next year, but that doesn't mean that Republicans aren't worried about this race. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies fear that Kobach could run and win the GOP nod, and they've made it clear that they're willing to spend money in the primary to stop him.
It's that time again! The deadline for House and Senate candidates to file their quarterly fundraising reports (covering the period from April 1 through June 30 of this year) is July 15, but it's common for campaigns to leak their numbers early to generate some press. (Deadlines vary by state for gubernatorial contenders and often aren't quarterly.)
We'll be posting numbers as we get them, and we’ll be releasing our House and Senate fundraising chart after the July 15 deadline.
● CO-Sen: Dan Baer (D): $1.35 million raised; Mike Johnston (D): $1.6 million raised
● NY-24: Roger Misso (D): $167,000 raised
● TX-24: Kim Olson (D): $300,000 raised
● VA-10: Jennifer Wexton (D-inc): $500,000 raised
● SD-Sen: On Monday, freshman state Rep. Scyller Borglum launched a primary challenge against GOP Sen. Mike Rounds. Rounds, who previously served as governor of South Dakota, has been a reliable Trump ally, but Borglum argued in her campaign kickoff, “The same group of people who stand in line for the pictures with President Trump were some of his loudest critics not that long ago.” Unsurprisingly, the NRSC quickly made it clear that they were in Rounds’ corner.
● MT-Gov: Democratic Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney has a "special announcement" scheduled for Wednesday, and MTN News writes that he's expected to enter the open seat race for governor. House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner and former state Rep. Reilly Neill are already seeking the Democratic nomination.
● NH-Gov: On Monday, Democratic state Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky announced that he had formed an exploratory committee for a possible bid against GOP Gov. Chris Sununu.
Volinsky was elected to New Hampshire's unique five-person Executive Council in 2016, and he delighted progressives in his first months in office by grilling Sununu's nominees to head the state department of education and for administrative services commissioner. Volinsky, who was a vocal Bernie Sanders supporter in the 2016 presidential primary, is also close to labor.
If he runs, Volinsky is unlikely to have the primary to himself. State Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes has been talking about challenging Sununu, and WMUR writes that he "appears to be on the verge of announcing his own exploratory committee or an outright run." 2018 nominee Molly Kelly, who lost to Sununu 53-46, has also talked about seeking a rematch.
● AK-AL: GOP Rep. Don Young announced Friday that he would seek a 25th term as Alaska's only congressman. Young, who is also the chamber's most senior member, won re-election last year by a modest 53-47 margin against Alyse Galvin, who was the Democratic nominee but still identified as an independent. (Galvin was listed on the general election ballot with both a "U" for unaffiliated and as the "Alaska Democratic Party Nominee.) Galvin said in May that she was eyeing running for office in 2020, though she didn't specify what race she was looking at.
● CA-50: On Friday, attorneys for indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter came up with an interesting response days after federal prosecutors accused the Republican of illegally using campaign money to finance affairs with five different women, including three lobbyists. Hunter’s team didn’t deny that the married congressman had repeatedly stepped out on his wife, but they instead argued that Hunter was using his campaign money for legitimate purposes because he was “mixing business with pleasure.”
Hunter’s attorneys also tried to convince the judge to prevent jurors from hearing any evidence relating to Hunter’s affairs, but their motion was rejected Monday. Hunter is scheduled to stand trial in September.
● IL-07: On Monday, attorney Kristine Schanbacher announced that she would challenge longtime Rep. Danny Davis in the Democratic primary for this safely blue Chicago seat.
Schanbacher is a commercial litigator at the Chicago office of the global law firm Dentons, and Politico writes that she's done pro bono work for the American Medical Association, including on a lawsuit "that helped overturn the Wisconsin statute that would have effectively banned abortion clinics." They add that she's also "helped attain asylum for a transgender woman from Mexico and helped reinstate SNAP benefits that were wrongfully terminated." Former DNC chair Howard Dean, who is a senior Dentons advisor, is advising Schanbacher's campaign.
Davis already faces intra-party opposition from violence-prevention advocate Kina Collins and 2018 opponent Anthony Clark. Davis attracted some very unfavorable coverage just ahead of last year's primary after he was quoted by the far-right Daily Caller saying that he had "no problems" with Louis Farrakhan and his extreme anti-Semitism. Davis later issued a statement saying the Daily Caller had "attempted to impugn my character, and more significantly divide and separate African Americans and Jewish Americans," though he didn't deny giving an interview to the Daily Caller or suggest that it had altered any quotes attributed to him. However, despite this story, he easily beat Clark 74-26.
Davis, who will be 79 on Election Day, frequently flirts with leaving the House, and his campaign didn't say anything about his 2020 plans when the Chicago Tribune asked back in April. Illinois' filing deadline is in early December.
● MA-03: Now-Rep. Lori Trahan defeated Dan Koh by just 145 votes in last year's very crowded Democratic primary, and Koh isn't ruling out a rematch. On Sunday Koh, who was elected to the Andover Board of Selectmen in March, publicly called for Trahan to immediately join the effort to impeach Donald Trump. When Politico asked Koh if he was considering running against the incumbent, he responded that it was "too early to tell."
● MI-03: The Detroit News' Melissa Nann Burke reports that businessman Joel Langlois, the president of the DeltaPlex Arena and Conference Center, is considering challenging GOP Rep. Justin Amash in the primary. Businessman Brian Ellis, who lost the 2014 primary to Amash 57-43, also said he was considering running again if the party unifies behind him.
Ellis probably shouldn't hold out much hope of that happening, though. State Reps. Lynn Afendoulis and Jim Lower and Afghanistan veteran Tom Norton are already in and Army veteran Peter Meijer, who is a member of a prominent Michigan billionaire family, said last week he'd announce his plans "shortly."
● OH-01: On Monday, retired Air Force combat pilot Nikki Foster announced that she would seek the Democratic nomination to take on GOP Rep. Steve Chabot in this 51-45 Trump seat. Foster, who is an executive at GE Aviation, ran for office for the first time last year when she challenged GOP state Rep. Paul Zeltwanger. Foster lost that race for HD-54, a 60-35 Trump seat centered around conservative Warren County in Cincinnati's northern suburbs, by a 61-39 margin. If Foster wins this year's primary, she'd be the first Democratic nominee to come from the Warren County part of the 1st District rather than the larger and more Democratic Hamilton County portion.
However, Foster is likely to have a primary opponent very soon. Healthcare executive Kate Schroder recently told supporters she planned to run, and the Cincinnati Enquirer's Jason Williams recently reported that her announcement is set for July 9. While Williams wrote back in March that the DCCC was trying to recruit Foster, there's no indication that national Democrats have a preference between her and Schroder.
● OH-03: Morgan Harper, who worked as an advisor to then-Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray, announced Monday that she would challenge Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty in the primary for this safely blue Columbus seat. Harper didn't signal out any issue where she disagrees with Beatty, who has been a reliably Democratic vote during her five terms in Congress. Instead Harper, who is 36 and a first-time candidate, argued that it was time for "bold new leadership at the federal level that's pushing policies that are going to support working people and make it easier for people to meet their basic needs."
Beatty won a competitive 2012 primary for an open seat, but she hasn't faced any intra-party opposition since then. Beatty had close to $1.3 million in the bank at the end of March, but Harper predicted she'd be able to "raise as much money as it takes to win."
● PA-10: On Sunday, state Auditor Eugene DePasquale announced that he would seek the Democratic nod to take on GOP Rep. Scott Perry. Trump carried this seat, which includes Harrisburg, by a 52-43 margin, but according to analyst Miles Coleman, DePasquale won the 10th District 48-47 during his re-election campaign that year.
Perry, who is a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, never had trouble winning re-election until last year's court-ordered round of redistricting gifted him with a considerably more competitive district that the old 4th District he’d first won in 2012. DePasquale considered running for the new 10th District last cycle but decided to stay out, and for a time, it looked like Perry would once again win with ease. However, Democratic nominee George Scott ended up decisively outraising the incumbent, and Perry only held him off 51-49. Scott mulled seeking a rematch, but he announced last week that he’d stay out of the race.
Despite his close call, Perry still seems to be acting like he's in a safely red seat. Weeks after Election Day, Perry launched an unsuccessful bid to lead the far-right House Freedom Caucus. Perry also only raised just $165,000 for the first quarter of 2019, and we’ll know by the July 15 reporting deadline if he stepped things up over the following three months.
● UT-04: On Friday, former state party communications director Kathleen Anderson became the first notable Republican to announce a bid against freshman Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams. Anderson, who pitched herself as a conservative outsider, lives in Bountiful, which is located about 15 miles to the north of this seat. Her husband, Rob Anderson, stepped down as state party chair in the spring after a two-year tenure that was defined by his fight against a conservative faction in the party over the state’s new electoral rules.
Several other Republicans are also eyeing this contest, and Utah Policy recently reported that state Rep. Kim Coleman plans to enter the race soon. Radio show host Jay Mcfarland also says that he’s considering running, and he said Saturday that he’d formed an exploratory committee. However, Mcfarland doesn’t appear to have filed any paperwork with the FEC as of Monday evening.
● WA-03: 2018 Democratic nominee Carolyn Long will have an announcement July 8 at three locations in this southern Washington seat. Long challenged GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler last year for this 50-43 Trump district that Democrats hadn't seriously contested in years and lost 53-47. Long didn't attract much attention when she first entered the 2018 race, but she ended up outraising Herrera Beutler $3.9 million to $2.6 million.