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-09: Republican Dan Bishop echoes Donald Trump's racism in a new ad that attempts to connect Democrat Dan McCready, his opponent in the Sept. 10 special election in North Carolina's 9th District, to the recent arrest of an undocumented immigrant from Honduras named Luis Pineda-Ancheta.
Bishop begins, "Over in Charlotte, a liberal sheriff is playing politics with illegal immigration," and continues, "Why? To spite President Trump." He then insists that Mecklenburg Sheriff Garry McFadden "released violent criminal illegals back onto our streets," and declares, "Rogue sheriffs should follow the law or resign."
Bishop only mentions his opponent at the end when he says, "Dan McCready won't put country over party. Wrong Dan won't stand up to radicals in this party even when they put us in danger." In case the ad's race-baiting wasn't clear enough, the ad shows a picture of McFadden, who is black, next to a mugshot of Pineda-Ancheta with the word "STRANGULATION" in large type just above it.
Bishop is hoping to capitalize on recent stories involving Pineda-Ancheta that have nothing to do with McCready. Pineda-Ancheta was deported from the United States back in 2006, but he later returned. In May, he was twice arrested on domestic violence charges, and the second arrest resulted in a nine-hour standoff with a police SWAT team. Pineda-Ancheta was released both times after paying his bond, but ICE detained him just after he got out of prison the second time. ICE has argued that McFadden's refusal to cooperate with the agency allowed Pineda-Ancheta to go free when he should have been in their custody.
Bishop has seized on the story and attempted to use it against McCready, even though there's no connection at all between McCready and the people or events described in the ad. In June, Bishop called for McFadden to resign and accused McCready of staying silent. McCready did comment on the story, though, saying it was "sadly just the latest example of how terribly broken our current immigration system is."
The NRCC is also out with another ad that, once again, tries to portray McCready as a greedy businessman, and, once again, dubs him with the uncreative moniker "McGreedy." Both the Club for Growth and the Congressional Leadership Fund have also been airing similar ads for weeks. Fortunately, the Charlotte Observer's Elizabeth Thompson recently published a thorough investigation into this line of attack.
The Club has accused McCready of using a "tax-exempt special interest outfit" to spend $450,000 lobbying for new regulations that benefited his solar energy business and resulted in $149 million a year in "costly state energy regulations" for North Carolinians. That message makes it sound like McCready pushed for policies that made things more expensive for taxpayers, but unsurprisingly, that's not what happened.
Thompson explains that back in 2007, the Democratic-run state legislature passed a law that requires "requires all investor-owned utilities in North Carolina to get 12.5% of their retail electricity sales from eligible renewable energy resources by 2021." In 2015, the Republican-run legislature tried to reduce this number by more than half. McCready was a member of the board of directors of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, which lobbied against the legislation. Ultimately, the bill died after it passed in the state House but failed to get a vote in the upper chamber.
The GOP is arguing that McCready's opposition to rolling back the state's renewable energy requirements will cost taxpayers an additional $149 million in yearly energy costs. That estimate, you won't be surprised to learn, is bogus. It comes from a 2017 study by the Utah State University and an outfit called Strata Policy, which has been funded by millions of dollars from the Koch brothers. The Kochs, of course, made their fortune in the petroleum industry, and the study's head researcher had in fact been the "Charles G. Koch professor of political economy" at Utah State.
Aside from its tainted provenance, progressives have also pointed out that the study itself is "fatally flawed" in a very obvious way: It compared the economic performance of states before and after they passed renewable energy standards without taking into account the fact that most of these laws came into effect just before the Great Recession hit.
Republicans are also, naturally, avoiding any mention of the benefits of renewable energy—or the fact that the people in charge of the state Senate when the rollback died were, well, Republicans.
Meanwhile, the DCCC is out with the first spot of their $626,000 TV buy. The ad, like those from other Democratic groups, goes after Bishop for being the lone member of the state Senate to oppose a bipartisan bill to lower prescription drug costs. The D-Trip's spot goes further, though: The narrator charges that Bishop "voted to let insurance companies charge higher prices for cancer treatments," and adds, "Worst of all, he sided with them to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions."
McCready is also out with a new commercial of his own. He highlights the healthcare struggles of the family of a fellow Marine veteran, and he pledges to work across party lines to lower costs.
● MA-Sen: Rep. Joe Kennedy III recently raised eyebrows when his campaign refused to say if he'd been the one to commission a poll that tested him in a Democratic primary against Sen. Ed Markey, and he still hasn't endorsed the incumbent. The Boston Globe writes that, while fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren and five of the state's U.S. House members are backing Markey, Kennedy isn't in his corner yet. Kennedy's spokesperson says he "has not yet had endorsement conversations with his colleagues but in the past has supported fellow members of the delegation," and added that the congressman "is running for re-election in the 4th District."
The other three Bay State House members who are officially neutral right now are Reps. Katherine Clark, Seth Moulton, and Ayanna Pressley. Clark's team says she "intends to make public endorsements at a later time," while Moulton and Pressley's spokespeople did not comment. Markey currently faces labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and business executive Steve Pemberton in the primary.
● NH-Sen: While Donald Trump didn't use his Thursday night New Hampshire rally to outright endorse Corey Lewandowski's potential campaign against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, he heaped plenty of lavish praise on the man he fired as his first campaign manager just three years ago.
Trump told his audience that Lewandowski would be "tough to beat" and would "go into Washington and he's going to have you in mind." Trump added, "They're all saying, 'Are you going to support him?'" and, "I said, 'I don't know if he's running.' So Corey, let us know please, if you don't mind." In a separate interview with WMUR, Trump said that if Lewandowski runs then the White House would "certainly make a decision quickly" about whether to endorse him.
However, plenty of New Hampshire Republicans are very unenthusiastic about calling the Corey Hotline, and former Sen. Judd Gregg even labeled him a "thug" this month. Both Politico and the New York Times reports that Gov. Chris Sununu has warned party leaders that Lewandowski could harm the entire state ticket, including his own re-election campaign. Other state party notables have argued that Lewandowski would have no appeal to anyone who doesn't already support Trump.
Lewandowski's intra party detractors also worry that his business dealings could harm the party's chances against Shaheen. Lewandowski has advised a number of clients with government interests during the Trump era, and he'd need to reveal the extent of those financial arrangements if he ran for the Senate.
Many Republicans also warily remember how Florida police charged Lewandowski with battery in 2016 after he was accused of forcefully grabbing a Breitbart employee named Michelle Fields who attempted to ask Trump a question, an event that was recorded by a security camera. Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg ended up dropping the charge, declaring, "While the evidence in this case is legally sufficient for the police to charge Mr. Lewandowski, it is not strong enough to meet the burden of a reasonable likelihood of a conviction."
Some Republicans in Trumpword also agree Lewandowski is a liability … which is why they want him to run for the Senate. CNN's Jeremy Diamond tweeted that some campaign officials hope that, if he's busy challenging Shaheen, Lewandowski will be too busy to interfere with the Trump's re-election campaign. However, other White House strategists think that a Lewandowski Senate campaign would be able to help them turn out the conservative voters they need to carry New Hampshire, and that he'd be able to raise a large amount of money from national donors.
Senate Republicans have already shown some favoritism to retired Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, who announced that he would run for this seat in late June. However, while the NRSC held a "Meet and Greet" at their headquarters for Bolduc and the candidate got the chance to sit down with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, he might not get much more help from them. An unnamed "top Senate Republican strategist" tells the Associated Press that McConnell and his allies are expected to stay out of the primary.
For his part, Bolduc is trying to argue that he'd be the stronger candidate against Shaheen. Bolduc released a Remington Research Group poll that showed Shaheen leading him 47-42 while she clobbered Lewandowski 50-37. Bolduc's camp says they didn't test Shaheen against former state House Speaker Bill O'Brien or attorney Bryant "Corky" Messner, who has formed an exploratory committee but hasn't committed to running yet.
Bolduc also released some primary numbers, but this portion of his survey had a sample size of just 200, which is below the 300-person minimum that Daily Kos Elections requires in order to write up a poll.
● MS-Gov: Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr.'s newest ad stars state Rep. Robert Foster, who took 18% of the vote in the first round of the GOP primary earlier this month. Foster tells the audience, "Bill Waller will defend our Christian values, our constitutional liberties, and has the courage to take on tough challenges with conservative solutions."
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves picked up an endorsement on Thursday from state Sen. Chris McDaniel. McDaniel famously came close to ousting the late Thad Cochran in the 2014 U.S. Senate GOP runoff, but he took a distant third place last year in the nonpartisan special election primary for that same seat.
McDaniel has often clashed with Reeves, and he considered challenging him for renomination in the 2015 primary. McDaniel didn't hide their history, and he even began his Facebook endorsement post, "No one has more reasons to be displeased with Tate Reeves than I do." However, like Reeves and unlike Waller, McDaniel opposes expanding Medicaid or raising fuel taxes to fund infrastructure repairs.
● AZ-01: On Thursday, former state Sen. Barbara McGuire filed paperwork with the FEC for a possible Democratic primary bid against Rep. Tom O'Halleran. McGuire had considered running here during the 2016 cycle, but she'd shown no obvious interest in a 2020 bid for this competitive seat.
● NJ-02: 2018 GOP nominee Seth Grossman told the conservative blog Save Jersey that it's "too soon to say" if he'll seek a rematch against freshman Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew.
Wealthy businessman David Richter recently entered the primary, and he and Grossman wasted no time fighting with one another on Facebook. Grossman dubbed Richter "Bob Hugin 2.0," a reference to the self-funding 2018 Senate nominee who lost to Democratic incumbent Robert Menendez 54-43. Richter shot back, "Last year, Bob Hugin won the 2nd District by 10 points, you lost it by 8 points. So I guess I'd rather be Bob Hugin 2.0 than Seth Grossman 1.0." According to Bloomberg's Greg Giroux, Hugin did indeed carry this seat 53-43 as Grossman was losing it 53-45.
Grossman, a former Atlantic County freeholder who won his last race in 1988, took the GOP nod in a surprise last year against a weak field of opponents. Still, Grossman hardly looked like a formidable candidate himself even before Media Matters unearthed social media posts in which Grossman favorably linked to hate-filled essays on white supremacist sites. The NRCC soon decided that he was doomed and triaged this 51-46 Trump district in July.
● OH-10: Attorney Desiree Tims, who used to work as a staffer for Sen. Sherrod Brown, announced Wednesday that she would seek the Democratic nod to take on longtime GOP Rep. Mike Turner.
Tims cited this month's mass shooting in Dayton, which is located in this district, and questioned Turner's subsequent call to back limits in "military-style" gun sales. Tims said, "I think it's great, if he comes on our side and sees that we have to stop these military-style weapons that belong on a battlefield that are now in our backyard," but added that she's known a "lot of mothers and a lot of friends" who were harmed by firearms while Turner opposed any serious gun safety measures.
This seat backed Donald Trump by a modest 51-44, but Turner has never come close to losing here. Last year, Turner faced a credible challenge from Democrat Theresa Gasper, but he still won by a convincing 56-42 margin.
● OR-04: Republican Alek Skarlatos, a former Oregon National Guardsman who made global headlines when he helped stop a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train in 2015, announced this week that he would challenge veteran Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio. This seat, which includes the southern Willamette Valley and Oregon's southern coast, backed Hillary Clinton by a tiny 46.1-46.0 spread, which was the closest margin in any of the nation's 435 congressional districts. However, DeFazio has always won re-election by double digits.
Skarlatos rose to prominence four years ago when he was on a train heading to Paris when a man began firing an AK-47 onboard. Skarlatos and two friends subdued the attacker when his gun jammed, and there were no fatalities. Skarlatos, who had recently finished a tour of duty in Afghanistan, was soon awarded the Soldier's Medal for his actions. Skarlatos competed later that year on "Dancing With The Stars" and placed third, and he played himself in a 2018 movie called "The 15:17 to Paris" that was directed by Clint Eastwood.
Skarlatos sought elected office for the first time last year when he ran for Douglas County commissioner, but he lost that nonpartisan contest 38-35. Still, Skarlatos certainly has a better electoral history than Art Robinson, who has been the GOP nominee against DeFazio every cycle beginning in 2010.
Skarlatos has been active in conservative politics since his defeat, and he championed the "Timber Unity" movement that opposed a cap-and-trade bill in the state legislature. The bill failed after the Republican minority in the state Senate fled Oregon to deny Democrats the quorum they needed to pass it; Democratic leaders also said that they believed enough of their members would vote the legislation down even if the GOP senators were there to oppose it. Skarlatos kicked off his campaign by attacking DeFazio for championing the Green New Deal, as well as for holding an F rating from the NRA.
● Data: Recently, Daily Kos Elections published geographic descriptions for every congressional district in the nation to help make it easier to mentally locate districts within their states. Of course, a project like this is necessarily an inexact science, and we welcomed your refinements—of which you offered plenty.
Stephen Wolf and David Jarman have now reviewed all of the submissions we received and have updated more than two dozen different districts based on your feedback. For instance, California's 9th Congressional District is now "Stockton area and eastern Contra Costa County" instead of just "Stockton area." We've put together a list of all the changes we've made, and you can find them permanently housed in our Google doc that details geographic descriptions for every district.
Speaking of that very Google doc, we've also added a new tab with a whole new set of data that tells you the three largest metropolitan areas per district, according to the Missouri Census Data Center's geographic correspondence engine. For example, 22% of the residents of Iowa's 2nd Congressional District live in the Davenport-Moline-Rock Island metro area, while 20% are in the Iowa City metro, and 6% live in the Clinton area. Some 16%, meanwhile, live in places that aren't considered part of any metro area.
You can find all of this and more right here, so bookmark this unique resource today!
● Honolulu, HI Mayor, Where Are They Now?: On Thursday, former Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa filed paperwork for a possible 2020 bid for mayor of Honolulu. While Hanabusa didn't commit to running in a subsequent statement, she declared, "The rail and homelessness are out of control and I cannot sit by and do nothing as I watch the Hawaii I love, and our people, lose all trust and hope." Mayor Kirk Caldwell, a Democrat, is termed-out.
Hanabusa has been an influential figure in Hawaiian politics for a long time, but she's had some high-profile failures in recent years. Most recently, Hanabusa decided to run for governor in the 2018 Democratic primary against incumbent David Ige, and she was the clear frontrunner for most of the campaign. Ige's prospects seemed to sink even lower that January when a false ballistic missile alert went out, and Hanabusa hit him as a weak leader.
However, intense flooding in Kauai and the Kilauea volcano eruption both gave Ige the chance to demonstrate the decisive leadership that Hanabusa insisted he lacked. It also didn't help Hanabusa that her duties in the House kept her thousands of miles away from the state for much of the campaign, a problem Ige did not have. Ige ended up winning renomination 51-44, and he carried Honolulu 54-43.
If Hanabusa runs for mayor, she may face an old rival. Former Rep. Charles Djou, the Republican that Hanabusa unseated in 2010, lost the 2016 nonpartisan mayoral race to Caldwell 52-48. Djou left the GOP last year, and he hasn't ruled out another mayoral bid next year. The filing deadline isn't until June.
● Oakland County, MI Executive: On Friday, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners voted 11-10 to appoint Democratic Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter to finish the term of the late Republican L. Brooks Patterson. Coulter, whose term lasts until the end of 2020, is the first Democrat to lead this large suburban Detroit county since the executive office was created in 1974, and his appointment came after days of confusion and legal wrangling.
Team Blue held a narrow 11-10 edge on the Board of Commissioners, but things got complicated when Democratic chair Dave Woodward sought the appointment. State law requires commissioners to resign in order to be considered for a county executive appointment, and Woodward did just that on Aug. 7. Woodward appeared to have the one Republican vote he needed to win an affirmative vote the following day from the now-tied board, a meeting that would have taken place less than a week after Patterson's Aug. 3 death.
However, the speedy selection drew protests both from county Treasurer Andy Meisner, a Democrat who wanted the appointment, and Republicans who favored acting Executive Gerald Poisson. Acting board chair Marcia Gershenson, a Democrat, argued that the process wasn't transparent enough and canceled the meeting scheduled for the next day where Woodward was to be appointed.
With the board split 10-10, it looked tough for anyone to get the requisite majority. A deadlock would have been good news for the GOP because, if the board failed to pick someone in the month long period after Brooks' death, Poisson would have served out the rest of the term.
On Thursday, though, Woodward rescinded his resignation from the board and withdrew his name from consideration for the executive appointment. Democrats had a legal opinion that said that his departure never took effect because the board didn't vote to accept it, but the Republicans went to court to stop Woodward from retaking his seat. However, a judge declined to prevent Woodward from returning to the board on Friday, and hours later, the commissioners voted 11-10 to appoint Coulter.
● Salt Lake City, UT Mayor: On Thursday, updated ballot counts from the Aug. 13 nonpartisan election gave state Sen. Luz Escamilla the second spot in the November general election.
The current count, which was updated again on Friday, puts City Councilor Erin Mendenhall in first place with 24.3% of the vote, while Escamilla led former state Sen. Jim Dabakis 21.5-20.2 for the second place spot. Dabakis had declared victory on election night when he led Escamilla 21.6-21.2, but he quickly conceded on Thursday when he fell behind. All the major candidates in this very blue city identify as Democrats.