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.
● Governor-by-LD: Democrats have been making gains in Georgia over the last few years, and Stacey Abrams' narrow 50-49 loss to Republican Brian Kemp in the tainted 2018 election for governor suggests Team Blue has a path to win statewide. However, our new data, which was crunched for us by elections analyst Bill Coningsby, illustrates that the GOP's gerrymanders will make it difficult for Democrats to take control of either chamber of the state legislature this year. That in turn would ensure that Republicans control redistricting once again next year.
Democrats have gained ground over the last few years, thanks to the damage Donald Trump has done to his party's standing in the well-educated and diversifying Atlanta suburbs, an area that was still reliably red when the GOP initially redrew the maps after the 2010 census. The GOP's majority in the House dropped from 114-64 to 105-75 after the 2018 elections, and its edge in the Senate also nosed down from 37-19 to 35-21.
Still, while Georgia's political landscape has changed quite a bit in the last nine years, the legislative gerrymanders remain tough to overcome. While Kemp only narrowly outpaced Abrams statewide, he still took 102 of the state's 180 House seats versus just 78 for Abrams; in the Senate, he won 33 of 56 Senate districts, leaving Abrams with only 23. On a percentage basis, Kemp carried 57% of House seats and 59% of Senate seats despite winning just 50% statewide.
We have a lot more about Democrats' tough path to a majority in our post, as well as a look at a strange 2000 legislative runoff that illustrates just how far Democrats have come in the competitive Atlanta suburbs.
● Florida: The Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners has unanimously approved a plan to send an absentee ballot application to every household where a voter hasn't already requested one ahead of Florida's Aug. 18 primary, some 520,000 in total. The mailing will not go out to every individual voter, but the applications will also include instructions for applying online. Voters can also select a box to request ballots for every election through the next two general elections.
With 2.7 million people, Miami-Dade is the largest county in the state. Two other nearby counties in South Florida, Broward and Palm Beach (the second- and third-largest), are also considering similar plans.
● New York: A federal judge has reinstated New York's June 23 presidential primary, which is the same day as the state's primaries for other races, following a lawsuit by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang. U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres concluded that, while the nomination is no longer being contested, withdrawn candidates would lose the opportunity to send delegates to the Democratic National Convention who would support their views and wield influence over the party's platform. The New York state Board of Elections says it will appeal the ruling.
● Texas: Democrats have asked a state appeals court to clarify that an injunction issued last month by a trial court allowing all Texas voters to request an absentee ballot remains in force, despite a claim by Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton that it does not.
Paxton had said in a recent letter that the injunction was automatically stayed as a result of his appeal of the lower court's decision, but Democrats argue that it's still in effect because Paxton failed to specifically request a stay. In the event Paxton does belatedly seek a stay, Democrats are asking the appeals court to enforce the injunction.
● Vermont: Republican Gov. Phil Scott says he has "concerns" about Democratic Secretary of State Jim Condos' plans to send mail-in ballots both for Vermont's Aug. 11 primary and the November general election, a proposal that would require gubernatorial sign off.
Scott specifically says he's concerned about the state's ability to print general election ballots quickly enough after the primaries and says he hopes they "can be addressed." Condos, however, says he's already sent a memo to Scott about his concerns, though a spokesperson for the governor "declined to say whether the memo had persuaded" him, according to VTDigger.
● CO-Sen: We have our first two polls of the year of this race, and they both find former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper demolishing GOP Sen. Cory Gardner. Montana State University shows Hickenlooper ahead 48-31, while Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump 53-35. The Democratic firms Keating Research, OnSight Public Affairs, and Melanson also are out with a joint survey showing Hickenlooper and Biden up 54-36 and 55-36, respectively; the firms paid for the poll themselves, though Melanson has worked for Hickenlooper in the past.
While MSU occasionally releases polls of its home state (as does MSU Billings, which is another campus in the system), we believe this is its first survey of Colorado. Keating and Onsight, though, do have a history in Colorado. The two released a poll from the final days of October 2018 along with a third firm, Martin Campaigns, that gave Democrat Jared Polis a 50-42 edge in the race for governor: Polis ended up winning by a similar 53-43 margin.
Still, while there’s no question that Gardner faces a tough contest, there’s reason to be skeptical he’s this far down. Hillary Clinton carried Colorado 48-43, and while Biden may very well improve on that margin, it seems unlikely he’d win the state by anywhere close to 20 points. (Or to put it another way, if Colorado actually does swing that far to the left, Trump is probably completely and utterly doomed nationwide.)
Both parties are also acting like Gardner is very much still in the game. The senator’s allies at the NRSC and the Senate Leadership Fund have reserved a total of just under $12 million to aid him, while Senate Majority PAC has booked $5.5 million to flip this seat.
Hickenlooper needs to defeat former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in the June 30 primary before he can focus on Gardner, but it looks like they will be the only two candidates for Democrats to choose from. On Tuesday evening, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned a lower-court ruling that had placed nonprofit head Lorena Garcia on the ballot even though she didn’t have enough signatures. Garcia quickly announced that she’d be appealing the decision in federal court.
● MA-Sen: Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy III is spending $1.2 million on his opening TV ad campaign for his September primary challenge to Sen. Ed Markey. The ad, which was filmed at Kennedy’s home, features the congressman talking about his work on coronavirus relief. Kennedy continues, “When this crisis is passed, hear me loud and clear, quality healthcare will be a guaranteed right for all. In the U.S. Senate, I will lead that fight.”
● IN-Gov: We were surprised when Democrat Woody Myers reported bringing in more money than GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb during the first quarter of 2020, but it turns out that Myers didn't actually outraise the incumbent. According to Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin, Myers' team had accidentally double counted several entries in their initial filing: Holcomb outpaced him $391,000 to $367,000, and a little less than half of Myer's haul came from self-funding. Holcomb ended March with a massive $7.1 million to $22,000 cash-on-hand lead.
● CA-25: Republican Mike Garcia is out with a spot ahead of next week’s special election that highlights his career in the Air Force.
● Massachusetts: Tuesday was the deadline for state and federal candidates in Massachusetts to file with their local election officials, but it will be a while before we know exactly who will be on the Sept. 1 primary ballot. This is because the Bay State has an unusual law that requires candidates to file again with the secretary of the commonwealth by June 2.
However, it's too late for anyone to launch a campaign now that the first deadline has passed, and it appears that several members of the state's all-Democratic House delegation have avoided competitive primaries. The state requires candidates to turn in signatures to appear on the ballot, so it's extremely unlikely that any major candidates could have launched a last-second campaign.
Over in the 3rd District, freshman Rep. Lori Trahan faced the prospect of a primary rematch with Andover Selectman Dan Koh, whom she'd defeated by just 145 votes last cycle. However, while Koh filed with the FEC in late January, he barely raised any money over the following two months, and there's no indication that he went forward with a campaign.
In the 6th District, several Democrats showed an interest in taking on Rep. Seth Moulton in late 2018 when he tried to keep Nancy Pelosi out of the speaker's chair, but no strong candidates emerged even while Moulton was waging a doomed run for president. Two of the Democrats who did announce, attorney Angus McQuilken and women's health advocate Jamie Zahlaway Belsito, each had less than $32,000 on-hand at the end of March, while Moulton had $411,000 in the bank.
Finally, while Norwell Selectman Joe Rull expressed interest in challenging 9th District Rep. Bill Keating over the summer, Keating doesn't appear to have picked up any noteworthy opponents.
● MA-04: Former state Comptroller Thomas Shack's campaign told Politico that he did not turn in enough signatures to make the Sept. 1 Democratic primary ballot.
● NY-01: Stony Brook University professor Nancy Goroff is out with an ad ahead of the June 23 Democratic primary that highlights her scientific background. The focus of this coronavirus-themed spot is on multiple frontline workers who praise Goroff, a scientist by trade, as someone who will "use science to guide us out of the crisis." Goroff herself only appears at the very end of the commercial, from what is presumably her home.