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.
● AZ-Sen: The GOP firm OH Predictive Insights' newest survey finds Democrat Mark Kelly leading appointed GOP Sen. Martha McSally by a wide 51-42 margin, which is very similar to the 52-43 edge Joe Biden posts over Donald Trump in this sample. The pollster, which is not working for any candidate or group involved in this contest, found Kelly ahead by a 49-42 margin last month.
Every single poll we've seen this year, with the exception of one January McSally internal, has found Kelly in the lead, but there's little consensus just how far he's ahead. In March, a Marist poll for NBC had Kelly up just 48-45, while a Latino Decisions survey for Arizona State University and Univision had the Democrat dominating 48-36. Monmouth and the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling fell between those two ranges with surveys showing Kelly up 50-44 and 47-42, respectively.
One other constant in this race has been Kelly's dominant fundraising. Kelly outraised McSally $11 million to $6.3 million during the first three months of the year, and he ended March with a large $19.7 million to $10.2 million cash-on-hand edge. The good news for McSally is that her August primary foe, businessman Daniel McCarthy, had a mere $12,000 to spend.
Please bookmark our statewide 2020 primary calendar and our calendar of key downballot races, both of which we're updating continually as changes are finalized.
● Massachusetts: State Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem has introduced a bill to allow all voters to request an absentee ballot both for Massachusetts' Sept. 1 primary and the November general election. The measure would also set up a period of early voting for the primary. State Senate President Karen Spilka, a fellow Democrat, has said she supports the legislation.
A separate bill filed by a pair of Democratic lawmakers, state Sen. Becca Rausch and state Rep. Adrian Madaro, would have the state send mail-in ballots to all voters for both the primary and general election.
● Missouri: Republican Gov. Mike Parson says he does not believe it is permissible for voters who are concerned about the coronavirus pandemic or are abiding by his stay-at-home order to cite either as a reason for requesting an absentee ballot. He further derided the idea of expanded absentee voting as a "political issue" and a "Democrat-Republican issue."
Parson, however, may not have the last word. Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has refused to address the issue, saying "it is not up to" him to determine whether concerns about the virus are a valid reason for voting absentee. That has left the matter in the hands of Missouri's 115 county-level election administrators. Activists have canvassed every local clerk's office and received many different answers. Some are explicitly encouraging voters to cast absentee ballots, others are saying COVID-19 permits the practice, and still others are siding with Parson in saying it's forbidden.
● Nevada: Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske's office says it will take no action in response to a letter from the Nevada Democratic Party charging that the state's plan to conduct its June 9 primaries by mail is deficient. Democrats had said that opening only one in-person voting site per county would be insufficient. They also said that the state should mail ballots to all registered voters, not only those who are listed as "active" in the state's files.
A Cegavske aide countered that adding polling locations would lead to "logistical and staffing challenges" and said that sending ballots to so-called "inactive" voters "would increase printing and mailing costs and result in a significant amount of undeliverable ballots." In their letter, Democrats suggested they would sue in the absence of a satisfactory response.
● New Mexico: The New Mexico Supreme Court has rejected a request by 27 of the state's 33 county clerks to order that the June 2 primaries be conducted by mail, saying that state law forbids mailing ballots to every voter. However, the court noted that there's no similar prohibition on sending absentee ballot applications to all voters, prompting Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver to say her office would do so.
An attorney for the clerks argued that seeking relief from the court was a "last resort" because the legislature is unable to meet to consider any changes to the law. The justices were unmoved, but notably, the court issued its decision after hearing the case remotely.
● KS-Sen: 314 Action, which supports Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier, is out with a survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling that shows her leading former GOP Secretary of State Kris Kobach 44-42. The release did not include numbers for any of the other Republicans competing in the August primary for this open seat.
Democrats haven't won a Senate race in Kansas since 1932, but national Republicans have fretted that Kobach is weak enough to put this contest into play against Bollier, who is the heavy favorite to win the Democratic nod. Polling of a Kobach-Bollier race has been limited, but a February survey from the Democratic firm DFM Research for the union SMART found the two tied 43-43. Kobach quickly responded with numbers from the less-than-reliable McLaughlin & Associates that showed him leading Bollier 47-38.
Several other notable candidates are seeking the GOP nomination this summer, though, and one of them has begun advertising to get his name out. Advertising Analytics reports that Rep. Roger Marshall is spending $60,000 on his opening TV spot, which touts his background as an OB/GYN and argues, "With coronavirus putting lives and livelihoods at risk, Kansas could use a pro-life doctor in the Senate." The ad also features old footage of Donald Trump praising him as "a great friend."
Marshall had the most money by far of all the GOP candidates at the end of 2019, but a new contender also has the personal resources to fund a campaign. Plumbing magnate Bob Hamilton entered the contest late last month, and we learned Wednesday that he had thrown down $2 million of his own money before the end of the quarter.
● ME-Sen: The Democratic group Majority Forward reports that it's launched a new "sizeable six-figure buy" against GOP Sen. Susan Collins. Its newest commercial begins with a narrator saying, "Maine doctors and nurses are scrounging for medical supplies. Only 21% of what we needed came from Washington and no national plan to produce more." The screen then shows a quote from Collins saying, "The president did a lot that was right in the beginning" as the narrator bemoans, "Once again, Susan Collins defends the president. But that's wrong for Maine."
● NC-Sen, NC-Gov: The conservative Civitas Institute is out with a new survey from the GOP firm Harper Polling that has mixed news for both parties. It finds GOP Sen. Thom Tillis leading Democrat Cal Cunningham 38-34, while Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper crushes Republican Dan Forest 50-33. This sample shows Donald Trump defeating Joe Biden 49-42.
This is the first poll we've seen from either downballot race since Cunningham and Forest took their parties' nominations on March 3, so we don't have any other recent data to compare this too. There's no question, though, that both parties will devote plenty of money to this Senate race. Cunningham, who won what turned out to be a very expensive primary, outraised Tillis $4.4 million to $2.1 million during the first three months of 2020, while the incumbent ended March with a $6.5 million to $3 million cash-on-hand edge. Major outside groups on both sides have also begun making huge fall TV reservations here.
Cooper won his 2016 race after a very competitive race, and it remains to be seen if the GOP will invest in his contest this time. Cooper held a huge cash-on-hand lead over Forest in mid-February, and new campaign finance reports aren't due until July 10. Harper shows Cooper with a massive 70-24 approval rating as he leads the state's response to the coronavirus, and Forest will have a hard time getting outside support if the incumbent is anywhere near this popular later in the year.
● IN-Gov: Democrat Woody Myers outraised GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb $526,000 to $391,000, but the incumbent still holds a massive $7.1 million to $158,000 cash-on-hand lead.
● GA-07: Physician Rich McCormick is out with his first TV spot ahead of the June GOP primary for this competitive open seat. The narrator touts McCormick as a "decorated Marine, an emergency room doctor, a Christian, and father of seven" who is ready to lead in a crisis.
● MI-03: While Republican-turned-independent Rep. Justin Amash spent months insisting that he planned to seek re-election, his team revealed Wednesday that he'd "paused active campaigning for his congressional seat" in mid-February as he mulled a White House bid. Amash's campaign added that a "decision can be expected soon," though they didn't give any more details on his timeline.
Michigan doesn't allow candidates to run for president and for Congress at the same time, so Amash would need to give up his Grand Rapids-area seat to campaign for president. The state's filing deadline for major party candidates is on Tuesday (independents have until July), so Amash's would-be successors may not know if they'll be running for an open seat when they submit their paperwork to run for this 52-42 Trump district.
● NJ-07: The conservative super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund has dusted off a month-old survey from Basswood Research that shows state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. with a 39-38 edge against freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski. This is the first survey we've seen for this 49-48 Clinton seat.
Kean has been one of the GOP's stronger House fundraisers, but Malinowski outraised him $939,000 to $509,000 during the first three months of 2020. The incumbent ended March with a $2.67 million to $1.14 million cash-on-hand lead.
● NV-03: Former state Treasurer Dan Schwartz is already up with a negative commercial against former wrestler Dan Rodimer nearly two months ahead of their June GOP primary to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Susie Lee. Politico reports that the ad against Rodimer, who has House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's endorsement, is "backed [by] a six-figure multi-media campaign."
The narrator says of Rodimer, "From fraud to forgery, he's been caught taking advantage of innocent people. Rodimer's also been arrested three times for brutal assaults." The ad continues, "One Rodimer attack was so horrific his victim had ‘innercranial bleeding.’ A police report also described Rodimer's harassment of a teenage girl. And an arrest warrant called Rodimer 'armed' or 'dangerous.'"
As we've written before, Rodimer was accused of assault three different times from 2010 to 2013. In 2010, according to the police report, Rodimer threatened another man at a Waffle House, grabbed him by the neck, and threw him "into a chair and onto the floor." Rodimer pleaded guilty to battery and completed an anger management course, and the charges were subsequently dropped. In 2018, during his unsuccessful state Senate run, Rodimer said of this altercation, "Yes, I pushed a bully." This was the only one of the three alleged incidents, all of which took place in Florida, that resulted in any charges for Rodimer or anyone else.
● PA-08: Former Trump official Jim Bognet, who is running in the June GOP primary to face Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright, is out with an ad called "Make China Pay," and it's about as bad as the title suggests. Bognet tells the audience, "When I'm your congressman, we'll make China pay. For the lies they told, for the jobs they stole, and the lives we lost." Bognet does not go into any detail about how he'll punish the world's largest country and America's largest trading partner.