Overall, Torres has been the main beneficiary of outside spending in the race for New York's open 15th Congressional District, the bluest House seat in the nation. In addition to the VPP’s efforts, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has spent $154,000 on mailers backing Torres, and the Equality PAC, which supports LGBTQ candidates, has chipped in another $77,000. The only other third-party group to get involved in the contest is The Collective super PAC, which works to elect black candidates and has spent $33,000 on a variety of media on behalf of Assemblyman Michael Blake.
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● Iowa: Iowa's Republican-run state Senate has passed a bill that would prevent Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters for the November general election. Pate sent applications to all voters ahead of Iowa's June 2 primaries, which led to the highest-ever turnout in a state primary.
The bill now goes to Iowa's state House, where Republicans have a much smaller advantage. Two Republican senators sided with all Democrats in opposing the legislation, so a similar proportion of defectors could doom the bill in the lower chamber. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has refused to comment on the measure.
● North Carolina: North Carolina's Republican-run state Senate has passed a bill that would ease absentee voting access for the November general election, but a seemingly anodyne provision that could help the GOP re-implement its voter ID laws could still derail the legislation.
Late last month, the Republican-run state House almost unanimously approved the measure, which would require that absentee voters have only one person witness their ballots, rather than two witnesses or a notary. The bill, however, also limits mail voting by making it a felony for election officials to send ballots to voters who haven't requested one, which would prevent officials from conducting elections by mail.
In addition, it includes a provision allowing IDs used to obtain public assistance to qualify under the state's voter ID law, even though that law has been blocked from taking effect by two different courts. But during proceedings in the Senate, one Republican lawmaker explained that public assistance IDs were added because the courts had ruled that their exclusion from the current version of the voter ID law was racially discriminatory—a key reason the law has been enjoined.
By now allowing public assistance IDs, Republicans are hoping that the courts will lift their injunctions, a move that infuriated Democrats once they learned the motive behind their inclusion in the new bill. However, about half the Democrats in the Senate still voted for the bill, and most did in the House when it returned there for a final vote. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has not yet announced his stance on the legislation, though, and could still veto it.
● MS-Sen: On behalf of an unknown client, a new survey from Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling finds Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith leading former Rep. Mike Espy 49-41 in their rematch of 2018's special election. That's significantly closer than a recent Republican poll that gave Hyde-Smith a 58-31 lead, though she's still ahead by a spread similar to her 54-46 win two years ago.
● GA-07: While the Associated Press called a runoff between 2018 nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux and state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero in the Democratic primary for Georgia's 7th Congressional District in the wee hours following Tuesday's elections, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says the result could yet change. Almost 58,000 votes had been tallied by Thursday evening and show Bourdeaux up 49-14 on Lopez Romero, but three different campaigns (albeit unidentified) tell the paper they believe that 80,000 were cast in total.
That means, according to the AJC, that Bourdeaux could still wind up clearing the 50% mark she'd need to avoid an Aug. 11 runoff. So far, the trends have been good for her: On Thursday morning, he share of the vote sat at 46%, but additional ballot drops in the two counties that make up the district, Forsyth and Gwinnett, improved her margin.
But if a second round is necessary after all, Bourdeaux might not face off against Lopez Romero: Former DNC official Nabilah Islam, who's at 12%, is just 883 votes out of the runner-up slot, though that’s further back than the 771 votes she trailed by earlier on Thursday. It's not clear when the counting will be complete, but the AJC reports that the campaigns it's spoken with hope the race will be sorted out by Saturday.