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.
● Calendar: We've just updated our bookmarkable 2020 election calendar to include the dates of this year's Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses. Now, we can hear you asking, "DKE, whassamatter with you? You don't cover presidential primaries!" True! But 19 states hold their presidential primaries concurrently with their downballot primaries, starting with Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Texas on Super Tuesday, March 3.
In these states, we can expect greater-than-normal turnout compared with a regular primary, particularly on the Democratic side. That could impact certain state or congressional primaries in unpredictable ways, and it could also be a boon for Democrats in any simultaneous special elections, like the race to fill California's vacant 25th Congressional District. Similarly, a turnout differential could help progressives in a key race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which will take place on the same day as the state's presidential primary, April 7 (though note Wisconsin's downballot primary is not until Aug. 11).
Click here for our full calendar and bookmark it if you haven't done so already! And you can find all of our data sets on our general data resources page here.
● AK-Sen: Al Gross (I): $1 million raised, $1.5 million cash-on-hand
● AL-Sen: Doug Jones (D-inc): $1.9 million raised
● AZ-Sen: Martha McSally (R-inc): $4 million raised, $7.6 million cash-on-hand; Mark Kelly (D): $6.3 million raised, $13.6 million cash-on-hand
● CO-Sen: John Hickenlooper (D): $2.8 million raised, $3.2 million cash-on-hand
● AL-02: Jessica Taylor (R): $200,000 raised
● FL-15: Alan Cohn (D): $117,000 raised
● FL-16: Vern Buchanan (R-inc): $524,000 raised
● NJ-03: Andy Kim (D-inc): $900,000 raised, $2.2 million cash-on-hand
● NJ-11: Mikie Sherrill (D-inc): $757,000 raised, $2.2 million cash-on-hand
● NY-19: Antonio Delgado (D-inc): $770,000 raised, $2 million cash-on-hand
● NY-22: Anthony Brindisi (D-inc): $900,000 raised, $1.8 million cash-on-hand
● PA-17: Conor Lamb (D-inc): $580,000 raised; Sean Parnell (R): $265,000 raised (in eight weeks)
● TX-11: August Pfluger (R): $522,000 raised
● TX-32: Colin Allred (D-inc): $663,000 raised, $1.9 million cash-on-hand
● MA-Sen: On Tuesday, Rep. Joe Kennedy III picked up an endorsement from Georgia Rep. and civil rights legend John Lewis in his Democratic primary battle against Sen. Ed Markey, along with a number of other House Democrats.
● NC-Sen: The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling is out with a survey of the March Democratic primary to take on GOP Sen. Thom Tillis. It finds former state Sen. Cal Cunningham, who has the support of the DSCC and other prominent national organizations, leading state Sen. Erica Smith 22-12, while no other contender takes more than 3% of the vote and 60% are undecided. The only other poll we've seen of this primary was a November Braun Research survey for Fox News that showed Smith edging Cunningham 18-13.
● NJ-Gov: This week, former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli confirmed that he'd seek the GOP nod in 2021 to take on Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. Ciattarelli, who has a reputation as a moderate, ran for governor in 2017 but lost the primary 47-31 to then-Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
A few other Republicans are eyeing next year's race. State GOP chair Doug Steinhardt recently said that he was considering but had "no timeline whatsoever because I don't know what I'm doing and I don't know where I'm going." Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden, who also serves as the county's party chair, also didn't rule anything out when asked in 2018.
On the Democratic side, there's been speculation for a while that state Senate President Steve Sweeney could challenge Murphy for renomination, and Sweeney didn't rule it out last year. Sweeney did get some bad news this week, though, when Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, whose large constituency includes Newark, endorsed the incumbent.
An unnamed Sweeney ally told Insider NJ that the Senate leader hoped DiVincenzo wouldn't back Murphy, and glumly added, "Steve must be feeling the walls closing in." However, this source insisted this hardly meant that Sweeney was done with this race.
● UT-Gov: Campaign finance numbers are in for all the GOP contenders covering all of 2019:
- Businessman Jeff Burningham: $717,000 raised, additional $836,000 self-funded, $636,000 cash-on-hand
- Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox: $1.16 million raised, $891,000 cash-on-hand
- Former Gov. Jon Huntsman: $521,000 raised, $452,000 cash-on-hand
- Salt Lake County Council Chair Aimee Winder Newton: $142,000 raised, additional $150,000 self-funded, $199,000 cash-on-hand
Two other Republicans, former state House Speaker Greg Hughes and former state party chair Thomas Wright, entered the race in January. However, Hughes spent last year raising money for his PAC, and he took in a total of $520,000 and had $444,000 in the bank at the end of 2019.
● CA-10: Republican San Joaquin County Supervisor Bob Elliott is out with the first TV spot in the March top-two primary to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Josh Harder. The narrator describes Elliott's service in the Green Berets and declares that the supervisor "balanced budgets and increased law enforcement funding without raising taxes." The ad goes on to say that Elliott "will stand with President Trump and defeat Nancy Pelosi."
● CA-50: On behalf of the San Diego Union-Tribune, SurveyUSA is out with the first poll of the March top-two primary that we've seen since now-former GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter dropped out last month.
The survey gives 2018 Democratic nominee Ammar Campa-Najjar the lead with 26% of the vote, while former 49th District Rep. Darrell Issa narrowly edges former conservative radio host and fellow Republican Carl DeMaio 21-20 for the second place spot. A third Republican, state Sen. Brian Jones, is further behind with 12% of the vote, while no other contender takes more than 3%. This inland San Diego County seat backed Trump 55-40, and the GOP is favored to keep it without the scandal-tarred Hunter.
● GA-14: Neurosurgeon John Cowan announced this week that he would seek the GOP nod for this safely red open seat. Cowan, who also serves as CEO of a local toy distributor, does not appear to have run for office before.
● MI-05: Former state Rep. Tim Kelly announced this week that he would seek the GOP nod to challenge Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee. This seat, which includes Flint, Saginaw, and Bay City, shifted from 61-38 Obama to 50-45 Clinton, but it moved back to the left last cycle. According to Bloomberg's Greg Giroux, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer carried it 57-40 in the gubernatorial contest while Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow won 55-43 here.
Kelly also has the ugly distinction of being too toxic for the Trump administration. Kelly was picked for a post requiring Senate confirmation at the U.S. Department of Education in 2017, but Education Week reported later that year that his nomination was yanked after posts from his blog surfaced that attacked Muslims and Head Start parents, as well as the idea that there was "bias against women in the sciences."
Kelly responded to his nomination being withdrawn by insisting it was a mutual decision with the administration. "Look, I'm a conservative Republican with opinions," he said, adding, "Sometimes they don't match those of the left."
● MN-02: Air Force veteran Erika Cashin, who has worked for Comcast in human resources, announced this week that she would seek the GOP nod to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Angie Craig. Cashin said she would compete for the 2nd District GOP's endorsement at the party convention and would drop out of the primary if someone else won it.
● NH-01: On Tuesday, former Trump aide Matt Mowers became the first notable Republican to announce a bid against freshman Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas in this swing seat.
Mowers previously served as executive director of the state party and as a top aide to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and he joined the Trump campaign after Christie's presidential bid ended. Mowers went on to serve on Trump's transition committee and as a senior White House advisor to the State Department.
A few other Republicans have expressed interest in running in the September primary. Freshman state Rep. William Fowler said last month that he was likely to run, and he recently opened a fundraising committee with the FEC.
● NJ-02: This week, GOP state party chair Doug Steinhardt offered party-switching Rep. Jeff Van Drew a lukewarm endorsement. Steinhardt said, "He is the incumbent congressman, and we're here to be supportive ... That's our job, that's what we do."
● NY-27: On Monday, the state attorney general's office confirmed that Gov. Andrew Cuomo intended to schedule the special election to succeed former GOP Rep. Chris Collins for April 28, which is the same day as New York's presidential primary. Because state law says that a special election needs to take place between 70 and 80 days after it's called, Cuomo can't officially set that date until Feb. 9.
By consolidating the special with the presidential primary, which should bring Democratic voters out in disproportionate numbers, Cuomo could give Team Blue a better chance to win New York's 27th District. Still, it's going to be tough for Democrats to score a victory in a suburban Buffalo seat that backed Donald Trump 60-35.
Under state special election law, the party nominees will be chosen by the district's county parties instead of through a primary, and The Buffalo News writes that Republicans are expected to pick their candidate shortly after the special election is officially set. The current GOP field includes state Sens. Chris Jacobs and Robert Ortt and attorney Beth Parlato, while Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and Assemblyman Steve Hawley are also considering.
On the Democratic side, the frontrunner is 2018 nominee Nate McMurray, who appears to already have the support of enough county parties to win. McMurray's main opponent is education advocate Melodie Baker.
● TX-12: The GOP firm Remington Research is out with a mid-December poll of the March GOP primary on behalf of Rep. Kay Granger's allies at the Congressional Leadership Fund. The survey gives Granger a 62-16 lead over businessman Chris Putnam, who began airing TV spots around the time that this survey was in the field.
● TX-24: On Monday evening, attorney Crystal Fletcher announced that she was dropping out of the March Democratic primary for this GOP-held open seat.
● UT-04: State Sen. Dan Hemmert surprised everyone last month when he dropped out of the GOP primary to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams despite raising considerably more money than anyone else in the Republican field, and Utah Policy's Bryan Schott writes that national Republicans are "reportedly scrambling to recruit another candidate." Schott reports that the NRCC has met with Thom Carter, the executive director of the Utah Clean Air Partnership, the day after Hemmert left the contest.
Carter himself acknowledged that he'd been recruited and said he hoped to decide whether he'd run by the end of this month. However, Schott adds that, while national Republicans want Carter to run, they won't take sides in the primary.
Carter has held elected office before, though not in Utah. According to his LinkedIn profile, he served on the Township Committee in Montgomery, New Jersey, from 2009 until 2011. Carter went on to serve as general manager for a team in the Australian Baseball League, which could help him appeal to Utah's large bloc of rabid Canberra Cavalry fans, before a stint as president of the now-defunct Salt Lake Screaming Eagles indoor football team.
● WI-07: Army veteran Jason Church's latest TV ad for the Feb. 18 special GOP primary features the candidate praising Donald Trump for ordering the assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Church begins the spot by declaring, "He had it coming," and goes on to declare that Soleimani "likely supplied the IED that nearly killed me." That line is accompanied by a picture of Church in a medical bed with several tubes plugged into him.
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