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.
● TX-28: Texas Forward, a PAC affiliated with EMILY's List, recently started an ad campaign supporting immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros' bid against Rep. Henry Cuellar in the March 3 Democratic primary, and we learned Friday that it's devoting a serious amount of money into its quest to deny renomination to the conservative incumbent. According to its new FEC filing, Texas Forward is spending an additional $1.2 million on advertising in addition to the $34,000 we reported a few days ago.
So far, neither ad has been publicly released. However, the FEC filings show that about half of the new buy is devoted to pro-Cisneros spots while the rest is going to anti-Cuellar commercials.
Cuellar's team responded to the news in true form by issuing a release that called his opponent "Miss Cisneros" (totally not sexist, right?). They also alleged, without a shred of evidence, that she was "illegally coordinating with PACs," while accusing her of “benefiting from … dark money” even though both regular and super PACs must disclose their donors, unlike true dark money “nonprofit” outfits.
And in words that could have come from Donald Trump himself, Cuellar's spokesperson dubbed Cisneros "the Socialist Cisneros" and declared, "EMILY's List is using a third party moniker because they know their radical pro-abortion agenda is out of step with the values of South Texas voters." You wouldn't know it from that release, but Texas' 28th District, which includes Laredo, actually backed Hillary Clinton over Trump by a 58-38 margin and supported Beto O'Rourke over GOP Sen. Ted Cruz 59-41 two years later.
Cuellar's campaign also declined to mention that he's also benefited from outside spending in this Laredo-area seat, including an actual dark money group exempt from disclosing its donors because it runs ads under the guise of running “issue advocacy” without technically urging viewers to vote for or against a candidate. As we recently wrote, a mystery group called "American Workers for Progress" recently began a $720,000 TV buy that praised Cuellar for fighting "to protect Obamacare" and "standing with Nancy Pelosi to lower prescription drug prices." There's almost no information about this group or who is funding it, which doesn't seem to bother Cuellar one bit.
● GA-Sen-B: The DSCC endorsed pastor Raphael Warnock on Friday one day after he entered the November all-party primary. Warnock, who is the senior pastor of the famous Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and a prominent voting rights advocate, already had the backing of 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams.
However, two other Georgia Democrats are insisting that none of this will change their plans. Former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver said Thursday that he planned to kick off his campaign in the next few weeks, while businessman Matt Lieberman said the following day that he was "100% staying in."
Lieberman argued he could win by pointing to a December survey conducted for GOP Rep. Doug Collins that showed Lieberman leading the all-party primary with 42% of the vote. That's not a convincing piece of evidence at all, though, since Lieberman was the only Democrat that the survey tested.
● NJ-Gov: Former state Assistant Attorney General Shavar Jeffries told the New Jersey Globe on Tuesday that he was considering challenging Gov. Phil Murphy in the 2021 Democratic primary. Jeffries said he didn't have "any specific timetable" for deciding, and he also didn't say why he thought Murphy should be denied renomination.
Jeffries ran a well-funded campaign for mayor of Newark in 2014, but he lost the nonpartisan race 54-46 to fellow Democrat Ras Baraka. Jeffries now serves as president of Democrats for Education Reform, a group that advocates for charter schools and against teachers unions.
● CA-25: Navy veteran Mike Garcia recently picked up an endorsement from former GOP Gov. Pete Wilson, who left office in 1999.
● CA-50: While the anti-tax Cub for Growth hasn't endorsed anyone in the March top-two primary, they're very much opposing former GOP Rep. Darrell Issa. The group recently began a small radio buy against Issa, a move that could be a prelude to more spending here over the next month.
● FL-03: Former Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy announced Thursday that he was ending his campaign for the GOP nod after less than two weeks in the race.
● GA-09: Former gubernatorial aide Chris Riley took his name out of contention for this safely red open seat on Thursday by endorsing state Rep. Kevin Tanner in the GOP primary.
● NJ-03: Former Rep. Tom MacArthur said Thursday that he was supporting former Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs in the June GOP primary to take on Democratic Rep. Andy Kim. MacArthur himself hadn't ruled out a comeback bid in the weeks following his 2018 defeat against Kim, but he never showed any other obvious interest in trying to reclaim the seat.
● NY-22: Former Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell announced Friday that he was ending his campaign for the GOP nod to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi and would instead run for a spot on the Broome County Family Court.
While there were some indications last year that Cornwell was the national GOP's preferred candidate, he failed to raise much money during his opening fundraising quarter. Cornwell was quickly overshadowed by former Rep. Claudia Tenney when she launched her comeback bid in October, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ended up endorsing her months later.
● NY-27: On Thursday, 2018 nominee Nate McMurray received the endorsement of the Erie County Democratic Party. The leaders of the eight county parties in the 27th District will choose the Democratic nominee for the upcoming special election, and McMurray already had the support of the other seven county chairs.
● TX-10: Attorney Shannon Hutcheson is out with her second TV ad for the March Democratic primary to face longtime GOP Rep. Michael McCaul.
Hutcheson tells the audience that she had no health insurance or money when she moved to Austin in 1993, and she depended on Planned Parenthood for lifesaving care. The candidate goes on to applaud the work the organization does providing healthcare "to thousands of men and women who have no option," and says that this is why she's been a lawyer for Planned Parenthood for the last ten years.
● TX-32: Businesswoman Genevieve Collins is out with her first TV ad ahead of the March GOP primary to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Colin Allred. Collins' minute-long ad features the candidate touting her local ties and business background and firing a hunting rifle.
Collins ended 2019 with a huge $780,000 to $100,000 cash-on-hand lead over former Navy SEAL Floyd McLendon, but McLendon's allies at Big Tree PAC are out with a poll arguing that this primary is far from settled. The GOP firm 0ptimus finds that undecided, which has approximately $0.00 cash-on-hand, dominates the field with 76% of the vote, while Collins posts a 12-7 lead over McLendon. Three other candidates were tested, but none of them take more than 2% of the vote.