Lacey's 2012 win made her the first woman and the first African American to hold this post. However, she's antagonized many criminal justice reformers, including Black Lives Matter activists, by opposing measures to reduce California's prison population. Lacey has focused on diverting more mentally ill people from local jails, though her critics say she hasn't done enough.
Gascón, who grew up in L.A. and went on to become an assistant chief of police in the city, has pointed to his subsequent record to the north reducing incarceration. Gascón has argued that unlike the incumbent, he can deliver a "safer, more humane, more effective and far less expensive criminal justice system." Gascón has also argued that Lacey is "incapable of holding police accountable when they do something wrong."
Lacey, though, has insisted that Gascón failed to solve these things in San Francisco before he resigned in October ahead of his campaign launch, and that his policies made property crime rates worse there. "He now moves down to L.A. and says, 'I'm here to fix things, and I'm here to save you, and I'm the true progressive,'" Lacey said, "But a lot of things he's saying he didn't fix in San Francisco."
Lacey's campaign has outraised Gascón $810,000 to $341,000, while Rossi has taken in just $67,000. However, spending by major outside groups has benefited the two main candidates about equally. The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that about $2.2 million has been raised by pro-Lacey groups, and that almost all of it has come from law enforcement unions. On the other side, about three-quarters of the $2.1 million that has been spent to support Gascón came from two progressive donors in Northern California, Patty Quillin and Elizabeth Simons.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein and most of the local political establishment, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and much of Los Angeles County's congressional delegation, are backing Lacey. In Gascón's corner are Sen. Kamala Harris, who preceded him as San Francisco district attorney, and Rep. Maxine Waters.
● AL-Sen: Former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville did the one thing you can't do in GOP politics in August when he loudly and repeatedly trashed Donald Trump, and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is determined to make him pay for it. Sessions is out with a new TV spot ahead of Tuesday's primary that begins with a clip of Tuberville proclaiming, "I'm pissed off at Donald Trump," though part of the word "pissed" is silenced and the on-screen text displays it as "P*SSED."
The narrator jumps in after this partially censored footage and says that Tuberville "is part of the blame Trump crowd. Veterans' healthcare? Trump's fault." Another clip from that same August speech then rolls where Tuberville angrily says, "You said you was gonna fix it, and it ain't fixed." The commercial goes on to show more of Tuberville saying, "We're paying for illegals to come over here. Everything they get. Cell phones, healthcare, everything they want. That's Donald Trump's fault. That's his fault."
Tuberville did indeed say all of those things over the summer. The candidate, perhaps immediately realizing that he'd gone too far, continued that speech by calling himself "a Donald Trump guy" and insisting that Trump has "had to fight every battle by himself" and that "[n]obody is standing up for him." Unsurprisingly, that part of Tuberville's address did not make it into Sessions' ad.
Both Tuberville and Sessions, as well as Rep. Bradley Bryne, have spent the last few weeks running ads portraying themselves as the one true White House ally in a race full of NeverTrumpers. Byrne's opponents have taken him to task for calling Trump "not fit to be president of the United States" after the Access Hollywood tape was released a month before the 2016 election, while Sessions' detractors have focused on his miserable tenure as Trump's attorney general.
It's all but certain that the contest to face Democratic Sen. Doug Jones will go to a March 31 runoff, so TV viewers will be in for another month of this no matter which two candidates advance.
● GA-Sen-B: Democratic state Rep. "Able" Mable Thomas said Friday that she was "99%" leaning towards entering the November all-party primary, but that she still was deciding ahead of the March 6 filing deadline. Thomas' presence would likely be bad news for Team Blue since she could further split the Democratic vote and make it easier for the two Republicans, appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins, to advance to a January runoff.
Collins, though, is out with a poll from Battleground Connect that shows him advancing to an all-GOP runoff with Loeffler even without Thomas in the race. Collins takes first with 28% as Loeffler leads pastor Raphael Warnock, who has the support of national Democrats, 20-13 for second. Two other Democrats, businessman Matt Lieberman and former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver, are far behind with 5% and 3%, respectively.
However, a recent Loeffler poll found a different state of play. That survey gave her that same 20% of the vote, but it had Collins beating Lieberman only 19-18 for second place.
● GA-Sen-B: The NRSC, which is backing Sen. Kelly Loeffler for this seat, released a digital ad Friday that attacks Rep. Doug Collins, who's challenging her from the right, that explicitly plays to the racial resentments of potential voters.
The ad begins by portraying Collins as insufficiently loyal to Donald Trump and shows clips of him criticizing Trump as a candidate. The spot soon turns ugly, however, when it shows images of Collins being friendly with Democrats, all of whom are black. Collins is shown with 2018 Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries as the ad supplies quotes of Collins offering kind words for both. The grand finale of this racist dog whistling showcases Collins committing a cardinal Republican sin by shaking hands with Barack Obama, although there is no accompanying quote praising the former president.
Unmentioned in the NRSC's ad was a 2018 WNBA game featuring Loeffler's team, the Atlanta Dream, where she warmly greeted Abrams and posed together for photos on the court of the Gateway Center Arena, along with the Dream's mascot.
● MA-Sen: YouGov is out with a poll for UMass Amherst showing Sen. Ed Markey leading Rep. Joe Kennedy III 43-40 ahead of their Democratic primary showdown in September. A recent YouGov survey for UMass Lowell found Kennedy ahead 35-34. Both polls, though, focused on Tuesday's presidential primary, which will almost certainly have a considerably larger turnout than Markey and Kennedy's contest will get six months later.
● NC-Sen: Two new polls of Tuesday's Democratic primary give national party favorite former state Sen. Cal Cunningham a large lead over state Sen. Erica Smith. The GOP firm Spry Strategies' poll for the conservative Civitas Institute finds Cunningham up 45-23, which is only a little smaller than the 48-21 edge they found days before. Meredith College, meanwhile, shows Cunningham up 43-14.
● OK-Sen: While GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe won't announce his 2020 plans until March 6, the National Journal reports that he's already hired a campaign manager and a general consultant.
● TX-Sen: Latino Decisions' new survey, just like all recent public polls of Tuesday's Democratic primary, shows Air Force veteran MJ Hegar taking one of the two spots in the likely May runoff while the race for second place is up for grabs.
The poll for Univision and the University of Houston has Hegar taking 20% while nonprofit head Cristina Tzintzún Ramírez and state Sen. Royce West are at 10% each. Just behind with 8% each are 2018 lieutenant governor candidate Michael Cooper, who has attracted very little attention in this race, and former Rep. Chris Bell. Just a little bit behind them with 6% apiece is former Houston City Councilor Amanda Edwards and Annie Garcia, who has also raised very little money.
● Race Ratings: Following up on our initial assessments of this year's Senate races, Daily Kos Elections is pleased to announce our first set of gubernatorial race ratings for the 2020 election cycle. In total, voters will choose their governors in 11 states, with Republicans defending seven seats and Democrats four. An additional 20 seats held by Democrats and 19 held by Republicans are not up for election this year.
The governorship most likely to change hands is Montana's, which Democrats have held for an impressive 16 years straight despite the state's red hue. Democrats will also face a competitive contest in North Carolina, a state they flipped in 2016 even as Donald Trump was carrying it. The remaining seats are, at the moment, likely to stay with the party that currently controls them.
Of course, the playing field can always change—and often does. These ratings represent our attempt to forecast the outcomes of this November's elections, using the best information we have available at the moment. As circumstances warrant, we'll issue changes in these ratings from time to time, which we'll announce in the Morning Digest.
Our full chart rating the competitiveness of each contest is below (with Democratic seats in blue and Republican seats in red):
We've also laid out our rationales behind each rating in this introductory post.
● NC-Gov: Meredith College finds Lt. Gov. Dan Forest beating state Rep. Holly Grange 53-10 in Tuesday's GOP primary to face Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Two other recent polls have also found Forest with a lopsided lead against Grange.
● NH-Gov: The University of New Hampshire is out with the first poll we've seen in months testing GOP Gov. Chris Sununu against his two potential Democratic rivals, and it finds the incumbent besting them both by at least 25 points. Sununu beats Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky 54-29, while he outpaces state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes 56-27. The survey also finds Sununu with a 54-24 approval rating, which isn't too different from the 59-30 score Morning Consult gave him in the fourth quarter of 2019.
● AL-02: 2018 candidate Barry Moore is out with a survey of Tuesday's GOP firm from Master Image that shows him narrowly advancing to a March 31 runoff against frontrunner Jeff Coleman. Coleman, a wealthy businessman who began running ads last year, is far ahead in first place with 42%, while Moore edges former state Attorney General Troy King 19-17 for second. Moore's poll also finds businesswoman Jessica Taylor not far behind with 15%.
● AZ-02: Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick returned to Congress on Wednesday after spending six weeks receiving treatment for alcoholism. Kirkpatrick sounded like she plans to run for re-election, saying of her future in the House, "I guess the voters will decide, right?"
● CA-53: Former State Department official Sara Jacobs seems to be taking action to ensure that, should she advance past Tuesday's top-two primary, she gets to face a Republican in the general election for this safely blue seat rather than a fellow Democrat.
Jacobs recently went up with a TV spot declaring that Republican Chris Stoddard "stands with Donald Trump on immigration and against new gun laws." The narrator goes on to say that Stoddard is "right for Trump, wrong for us," which is the kind of argument that's almost certainly intended to make him seem more appealing to undecided Republican voters. The rest of the commercial praises Jacobs as a progressive.
Jacobs, who has been self-funding most of her campaign, has vastly outspent her fellow Democrats, San Diego City Council president Georgette Gómez and Marine veteran Janessa Goldbeck, and she's getting more outside help. Forward California, a group funded by her grandparents, has spent about $1.3 million for Jacobs during this race.
● IL-07: Attorney Kristine Schanbacher is out with a new TV spot ahead of her March 17 Democratic primary against longtime Rep. Danny Davis. Schanbacher talks about her time fighting for criminal justice reform and progressive values before declaring, "It's frustrating, but Danny K. Davis is one of the most absent members of Congress." Schanbacher then calls for a new voice after 40 years of having Davis in elected office.
● IN-05: Sen. Mike Braun has endorsed businesswoman Beth Henderson in the crowded May GOP primary for this open seat.
● MS-04: GOP Rep. Steven Palazzo faces not one, but two self-funders in the March 10 primary for this safely red Gulf Coast seat. Biloxi City Councilman Robert Deming threw down $96,000 of his own money between Jan. 1 and Feb. 19, which is the time the FEC defines as the pre-primary period, spent $43,000, and had $66,000 on-hand. Businessman Carl Boyanton, whom we haven't previously mentioned, self-funded $140,000, spent $105,000, and had $40,000 left.
There's still little indication that Palazzo is vulnerable, though, and he's not acting particularly concerned. Palazzo only deployed $48,000 during the pre-primary period, and he had $290,000 on-hand. A runoff would take place on March 31 if no one took a majority of the vote in the first round of the primary.
● NC-11: A dozen candidates are on Tuesday's GOP primary ballot in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Mark Meadows, including two self-funders we hadn't previously mentioned. Chuck Archerd, who lost the 2018 primary to Meadows in an 86-14 landslide, loaned himself $350,000 though Feb. 12, while businessman Madison Cawthorn self-funded $281,000.
The field also includes businesswoman Lynda Bennett, who has Meadow's endorsement; state Sen. Jim Davis; Iraq War veteran Dan Driscoll; former Meadows aide Wayne King; and 2012 candidate Vance Patterson. Candidates need to take at least 30% of the vote to avoid a May 12 runoff.
● NJ-02: Sen. Robert Menendez has endorsed political science professor Brigid Callahan Harrison ahead of the June Democratic primary to take on party-switching Rep. Jeff Van Drew. Menendez's move comes a little more than a week ahead of the March 8 gathering of the Atlantic County Democratic Committee, where party officials in the largest of the 2nd District's eight counties will vote on awarding the important organization line.
Several Democrats ar