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.
● KY-Gov: Fundraising reports covering the period of May 22 through Sept. 6 were due for candidates running in November's gubernatorial election late last week, and they show Democrat Andy Beshear outraising Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who has also trailed in the few polls we've seen here recently.
During the reporting period, Beshear brought in $2.8 million, spent $1.5 million, and had $1.3 million left heading into the final two months of the campaign. Bevin, meanwhile, raised $2 million but supplemented that haul with a $500,000 personal loan and had $1.6 million in his campaign account. According to disclosure forms he filed when he ran for Senate in 2014, Bevin's net worth was as much as $60 million, so he can write more fat checks whenever he likes.
Somewhat surprisingly, though, Bevin's spending over the summer trailed Beshear's considerably, at just $870,000. However, the RGA has made up for that shortfall by pouring $2.1 million into television ads, versus just $657,000 for the DGA. (You have to wonder, though, how RGA donors feel about having to prop up a zillionaire who can self-fund almost without limit.)
Bevin's also trying to close the gap by amping up the hate: In a racist new spot that's reportedly running on TV, Bevin's campaign features scary-looking photos of brown-skinned prison inmates with facial tattoos—who are almost certainly incarcerated in Central America, not in the U.S.—while saying the governor will "outlaw" sanctuary cities. (Note: Kentucky has no sanctuary cities.)
The narrator goes on to say that Beshear "would allow illegal immigrants to swarm our state" while tying Bevin to Trump. The extremely unsubtle imagery and message is very similar to that used in ads by Virginia Republican Ed Gillespie in 2017, amid his failed bid for governor.
● LA-Gov: The RGA's latest ad in Louisiana tries to attack Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards on health care, but of course, it's the usual bogosity. The narrator claims that Edwards' government "takeover" of health care (groan, whatever) has "already started" and has led to "widespread misspending, prompting a federal probe." To the extent there was any alleged misspending, though, it came about because individuals not eligible for Medicaid were receiving benefits. That was largely due to an outdated system that allowed recipients to self-report employment status—a system that was upgraded last year.
Critics have also questioned the methodology used by the state's auditor, which involved taking a random sample of 100 recipients who joined Medicaid after the state expanded the program under the Affordable Care Act to see if their income was higher than the maximum allowed. That sample was then extrapolated across the entire universe of Medicaid expansion beneficiaries, leading the auditor to conclude Louisiana had spent between $61.6 million and $85.5 million over a two-year period on those not eligible for coverage. For context, the state's Medicaid spending in the last year was $12 billion, most of which was paid for by the federal government.
● WV-Gov: As he did last month, Republican state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey once more declined to rule out a bid for governor when asked the other day, though he again reiterated that he has "a good relationship" with Gov. Jim Justice, a fellow Republican. It may be that Morrisey doesn't actually want to primary Justice but simply wants to keep his name in contention in case the incumbent were to make a late about-face and decide not to run again.
Justice, however, kicked off his re-election bid in January, and there hasn't been any reporting to suggest he might bail. But one prominent West Virginia Republican has floated the possibility regardless: Back in May, Rep. David McKinley explicitly said he would consider a bid for governor if Justice declined to seek a second term. Presumably McKinley thought there was a chance Justice could call it quits; Morrisey might think the same thing.
● AZ-06: End Citizens United, which has a track record of raising serious sums of money for its endorsees, gave its backing to physician Hiral Tipirneni in the Democratic primary for Arizona's 6th Congressional District.
● CA-53: As expected, San Diego City Council President Georgette Gómez kicked off a campaign for California's 53rd District on Saturday, making her the second notable Democrat to join the race since Rep. Susan Davis announced her retirement. Davis herself recently said she would not endorse a successor and also encouraged state party delegates, who will have the opportunity to issue formal endorsements later this year, to avoid taking sides in the race as well.
Interestingly, Davis endorsed the other prominent contender who recently entered the contest, Sara Jacobs, when she ran for Congress last year. Jacobs, though, unsuccessfully ran in the primary for the 49th District, a seat well to the north of the 53rd, which is based in the city of San Diego. Also running is activist Jose Caballero, though he launched his bid before Davis said she'd step down, pitching himself as an AOC-type insurgent.
● MA-04: In a move that (so far) has received surprisingly little attention, state Treasurer Deb Goldberg filed paperwork with the FEC on Monday to create a campaign committee for a bid in Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District, which is the seat held by Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III.
Kennedy, of course, has been weighing a challenge to Sen. Ed Markey in next year's primary, and if he goes for it, that would create an open race for his own House seat. While no shortage of Bay State Democrats could try to succeed Kennedy, Goldberg, who was re-elected to her current post last year, is the most prominent person by far to take actual steps toward running. Of course, as we always stress, though, it's easy to file papers with the FEC, and doing so is not the same as launching a campaign.
● ME-02: The radical anti-tax Club for Growth has endorsed former GOP state Rep. Eric Brakey in his bid to unseat freshman Democratic Rep. Jared Golden. So far, Brakey is the only notable Republican running.
● NM-02: Businesswoman Claire Chase seemed to start her campaign for Congress with a nice boost (if you're a Republican): Shortly before kicking off her bid, she emceed an event in southern New Mexico where none other than Mike Pence slyly urged attendees to thank her "for her leadership—past, present and future."
Now, Team Pence is trying to spit Chase out like the husk of a sunflower seed. It turns out that Chase was a vocal #NeverTrumper, deriding him both before and after the 2016 election on social media, including one post where she called him an "a**hole unworthy of the office" (asterisks in original; we wouldn't censor!). Like 99.99% of the GOP, though, Chase has now succumbed to the Trump cult and claims she "c[a]me around" and voted for Trump in the general election.
Obviously, that's not gonna satisfy the likes of Pence, whose spokesman now says, "He of course disagrees with statements like that about the president." The same flack also claimed that the vice president was merely thanking Chase for her future leadership not in Congress but on the USMCA—the successor to NAFTA that Pence had come to the state to promote. Clever, clever. Of course, Chase's opponents in the GOP primary won't be quite so polite.
● TX-23: Democratic state Rep. César Blanco, who had been considering a bid for Texas' 23rd Congressional District, has instead decided to run for a newly open seat in the state Senate. Blanco's decision leaves 2018 nominee Gina Ortiz Jones as the heavy favorite to win the Democratic nod once again for the seat that retiring Republican Rep. Will Hurd is leaving behind.
● WI-05: Republican state Rep. Scott Allen, who had reportedly been considering a bid for Wisconsin's open 5th Congressional District in the Milwaukee suburbs, has decided against a run.
● WI-07: Even though prominent local and state Republicans (including ex-Gov. Scott Walker) quickly rallied around state Sen. Tom Tiffany in the expected special election for Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District, there may be a few bumps on his path to a coronation.
The Wausau Daily Herald reports that Army veteran Jason Church, who lost both legs to a bomb attack in Afghanistan, is considering a bid; Church later went to law school and now works as an attorney for GOP Sen. Ron Johnson. In addition, heart surgeon Fritz Riveron, a Cuban refugee, says that he, too, is thinking about the race and plans to decide "within the next few weeks." Mosinee Mayor Brent Jacobson, who had previously expressed interest, also says he's operating on the same timetable.