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.
● LA-Gov: The GOP firm JMC Analytics is out with a new poll of the Oct. 12 all-party primary for governor on behalf of the Louisiana Association of Health Plans, and after leaners are pushed, they show Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in first place with 48% of the vote—just two points shy of the majority he'd need to avoid a November runoff. An underfunded Democrat, Oscar Dantzler, takes 2% of the vote, a showing that could make all the difference for Edwards next month.
JMC also finds wealthy businessman Eddie Rispone edging Rep. Ralph Abraham, a fellow Republican, 22-20 for the second place spot, making this the first poll ever to show Rispone leading Abraham. Last week, JMC released a survey for the media company Nexstar that found Edwards in first with 41%, while Abraham led Rispone 24-16 for second.
Abraham's team responded to these unwelcome new numbers with a release proclaiming, "Don't believe fake polls and failing campaigns," but they didn't provide any actual data to contradict JMC. However, Abraham's own team has already found his position deteriorating since Rispone began bombarding the airwaves two months ago. A Remington Research poll for Abraham from earlier in September showed him leading Rispone 27-19, the same margin that JMC found last week, but that was still a huge drop from the congressman's 34-8 advantage in Remington's June survey.
Rispone, who has been self-funding most of his campaign, held a massive $6.3 million to $1.4 million cash-on-hand lead over Abraham at the beginning of September, so even if JMC is off and Abraham is still ahead, that lead may not survive the next few weeks. Rispone also went up with his first TV spot last week attacking the congressman, but Abraham has yet to hit back.
The RGA is doing what they can to make sure Edwards doesn't win outright next month, and they're out with another negative spot. The commercial once again faults Edwards over the condition of Louisiana's economy and tries to tie him to national Democrats.
● GA-Sen-A: On Monday, 2017 Democratic House candidate Jon Ossoff picked up an endorsement from Rep. Hank Johnson. Ossoff used to work as an aide to Johnson, and the congressman was an early supporter of Ossoff's congressional bid last cycle.
● GA-Sen-B: Former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he's considering running as a Democrat in next year's special election, and that he will meet with party leaders in D.C. this week. Tarver, who spent seven years in the Army, represented a state Senate seat in the Augusta area until he became the first black U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia in 2009.
Tarver considered running for this seat in 2016 against GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson, but he decided to stay put. Tarver remained at his post until early March of 2017, when Donald Trump ordered him and another 45 Obama-appointed U.S. attorneys to resign.
The AJC writes that unnamed Democrats believe that Tarver could rally black and moderate voters. However, the paper also notes that he would begin the race with very little name recognition in the Atlanta area, which was outside of his jurisdiction.
● WY-Sen: Politico, citing interviews with a dozen unnamed members of Congress and aides, reports that Republicans believe that Rep. Liz Cheney is likely to enter the GOP primary to succeed retiring Sen. Mike Enzi, but that she's not expected to make a final decision for another "couple months." Former Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who was Cheney's predecessor as Wyoming's only House member, currently has the race to herself.
Several Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, very much want Cheney in the upper chamber, but that view is not unanimous in the caucus. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has been publicly feuding with Cheney on Twitter: This month, Paul labeled her a "NeverTrump warmonger," while Cheney tweeted that her would-be colleague had surrendered "to terrorists." Politico also writes that other GOP senators are still pissed at Cheney for her aborted 2014 primary bid against Enzi.
While Cheney is currently the number-three Republican in the House, some of her current colleagues aren't backing her, either. Notably North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, who recently stepped down as head of the nihilistic Freedom Caucus, has contributed to Lummis. Lummis was a member of the Freedom Caucus until she retired in 2017, and if she makes it to the Senate, she could again be a pain for her party's leadership.
● KY-Gov: Democrat Andy Beshear's newest spot makes use of GOP Gov. Matt Bevin's many awful comments about teachers. It begins with video from last year's teacher strike of the governor saying, "Somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them."
Bevin is then heard declaring, "This is a group of people that are throwing a temper tantrum," and, "Like saving a drowning victim ... you just need to knock them out and drag them to shore." It concludes with Bevin saying, "I regret nothing that I have ever said about an educator. Nothing."
Bevin's allies at the RGA affiliate Putting Kentucky First are also out with a commercial staring Grayson County Sheriff Norman Chaffins, who tells the audience that Bevin and Donald Trump want to ban sanctuary cities. Kentucky doesn't actually have any sanctuary cities, but this doesn't stop Chaffins from doing some fear-mongering by insisting that Beshear opposes outlawing them.
● MS-Gov: If you like ads that are entirely centered around an uncreative pun, you'll love Republican Tate Reeves' newest offering. The spot goes after Democrat Jim Hood by showing a truck and urging viewers to "look under the hood." The narrator argues that Hood will raise taxes and "will turn back the clock and let trial lawyers file frivolous lawsuits."
● WV-Gov: State Sen. Ron Stollings announced Monday that he would join the Democratic primary to challenge GOP Gov. Jim Justice. Stollings, who works as a physician, argued in his kickoff that the state needs to do more to combat the opioid crisis.
Stollings, who describes himself as a "centrist," won his fourth term 57-43 last year in a southern West Virginia district that had backed Donald Trump by a massive 78-19 margin, which was Trump's best performance in any of the state's 17 Senate districts. Stollings joins community organizer Stephen Smith in the primary, while Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango says that he'll decide soon.
Meanwhile, Justice faces former state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher and former state Delegate Mike Folk in May's GOP primary. Thrasher began running TV spots over the summer, and he's now out with his second ad well ahead of Election Day.
The commercial features several people praising Thrasher as a hard worker who gets to the office early, and one woman declares that no one will out-work him as governor. The spot doesn't mention Justice, who has been loudly criticized even by members of his own party for rarely showing up to the state capital and for delegating much of his office's work to his aides.
● IL-15: Politico reports that unnamed Republicans are trying to recruit farmer Sarah Frey, who the New York Times labeled "the undisputed pumpkin queen of America" in a 2016 article, to run for this safely red open seat. (We assume Frey is not related to Jack the Pumpkin King from The Nightmare Before Christmas.) There's no word yet on how interested Frey, whose company shipped 5 million pumpkins in the fall of 2016, is in running for Congress.
● MA-04: On Friday, state Rep. Patricia Haddad became the latest Democrat to express interest in this reliably blue open seat. Newton City Councilor Becky Walker Grossman also told the Boston Globe that her own decision would come "very soon." Walker Grossman is the daughter-in-law of former state Treasurer Steve Grossman, who took second place in the 2014 primary for governor.
Dave Cavell, who works as a senior advisor to state Attorney General Maura Healey, also is interested, and he said he'd be deciding in the upcoming weeks. Cavell previously worked as a speechwriter for both Barack and Michelle Obama.
● MI-06: Republicans have reportedly been fretting that longtime Rep. Fred Upton could retire, but he seems to be leaning towards running again. Upton spent the weekend handing out "Upton 2020!" buttons at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference (we assume the exclamation mark connotes excitement), and he told Politico that GOP leaders have been trying to persuade him to defend his competitive seat. However, he acknowledged that he still hasn't made up his mind whether he'll seek an 18th term, though he said he was "certainly on that path." Upton won last year 50-46, which was the closest race of his career.
● NY-15: New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez announced Monday that he would join the crowded Democratic primary for this safely blue Bronx seat. Rodriguez represents part of Manhattan outside of this district, but he pointed to his history as a community organizer in the South Bronx and the many shared concerns between his City Council seat and the 15th District and said, "The only thing that separates Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx is our river." Rodriguez immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic and he argued, "It is time to stand up to Donald Trump and bring an immigrant to Congress."
Rodriguez ran in this February's crowded special election for New York City public advocate and took fifth place with 6% of the vote. He will face a rematch in next year's primary against former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Assemblyman Michael Blake, who also ran in that contest and took 11% and 8%, respectively.
Several other Democrats are running for this open seat, and there's a real danger that conservative City Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. will be able to claim the nomination with a plurality. Even fellow City Councilman Ritchie Torres, who had what was by far the largest war chest of the entire field at the end of June, recently told Politico, "Ruben Diaz Sr. is the frontrunner by default. If the race were held today, he would win on the sheer strength of name recognition."
However, one candidate may be exiting the race soon. Former Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, who left office in 2014 after he was convicted of bribery and extortion, said this week that he was considering seeking his old seat in the legislature. Stevenson has not yet dropped out of the congressional race, though.
● WI-07: On Monday, the day that GOP Rep. Sean Duffy's resignation became official, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers set the dates for the special election to succeed him. The candidate filing deadline will be Dec. 2 and the party primaries will take place on Dec. 30, meaning that this will be the last election to take place during this decade. The general election will be on Jan. 27.
This northwest Wisconsin seat moved from 51-48 Romney all the way to 58-37 Trump, and the GOP will be favored to hold it next year. State Sen. Tom Tiffany, who has the support of former Gov. Scott Walker, is currently the only noteworthy Republican in the race, though a few other local politicians have expressed interest in competing here. A few Democrats, including a few local elected officials, are eyeing this seat as well, though none of them have joined the contest yet.
● Raleigh, NC Mayor: On Monday, Hillary Clinton was the special guest at a fundraiser for former Wake County Commissioner Caroline Sullivan, who is running in the Oct. 8 nonpartisan primary.