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.
● MN-01: Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn announced on Friday that his campaign had drilled deep into the earth's crust to excavate a Harper Polling survey from the late Jurassic period that paleontologists say suggests he might once have held a lead on his Democratic opponent in the November general election, Dan Feehan.
Scholars were quick to note, however, that the poll, which bore hazy markings indicating it had been in the field in early March, was apparently conducted before a single state had gone on lockdown, before 120,000 Americans died as a result of a deadly pandemic, before the economy cratered at speeds and to depths never before seen, before a massive movement protesting police violence swept through the country, and possibly before Homo sapiens split off from Homo erectus, heralding the dawn of modern humanity.
A more recent poll, taken for Feehan during the present geologic age, showed the Democrat with a narrow 43-42 edge.
Please bookmark our litigation tracker for a complete compilation of the latest developments in every lawsuit regarding changes to election and voting procedures.
● Delaware: Delaware's Democratic-run state Senate has passed a bill that would allow all voters to request absentee ballots without an excuse for any election this year, including the state's Sept. 15 downballot primary and the November general election. The state House, which is also run by Democrats, recent passed the same bill. Delaware State News says that Democratic Gov. John Carney will sign the measure.
● Georgia: Georgia's Republican-run legislature is advancing a bill that would bar Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and local election officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters. Raffensperger mailed applications to all active registered voters before the state's June 9 primary, a move that Republican lawmakers, particularly state House Speaker David Ralston, vehemently opposed.
● Iowa: Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed a bill restricting Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate's ability to send absentee ballot applications to all voters, as he did before the state's June 2 primary. Pate will now need to seek approval for any emergency election changes from Iowa's Legislative Council, panel composed of 11 Republicans and nine Democrats that is empowered to act on behalf of the legislature when it isn't in session.
● AL-Sen: On behalf of a private client, the Democratic firm ALG Research is out with a survey that shows Democratic Sen. Doug Jones narrowly trailing his two prospective Republican foes. Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions edges Jones 45-43, while former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville has a similar 47-44 lead against the incumbent.
This is the third poll we've seen here in the last few days. Jones' campaign recently dropped a mid-May survey from FM3 that showed him with an identical 47-44 deficit against Tuberville; Sessions, who is the underdog in the July 14 primary runoff, was not tested. The Republican firm Cygnal, which did not have a client, quickly released its own survey showing Sessions and Tuberville beating Jones 45-35 and 50-36, respectively.
● CO-Sen: SurveyUSA is out with a poll of Tuesday's Democratic primary for Colorado Politics and KUSA-TV Denver, and it gives former Gov. John Hickenlooper a wide 58-28 lead over ex-state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. The only other poll we've seen here all year was a mid-June survey from Myers Research & Strategic Services for Romanoff that found Hickenlooper ahead 51-39
● KS-Sen: Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has launched what the GOP firm Medium Buying says is his first broadcast TV commercial ahead of the August Republican primary.
The ad declares that Rep. Roger Marshall "asked President Trump to let in 83,000 foreigners to take American jobs." It then shows a long clip of xenophobic pundit Lou Dobbs insisting that "RINOS in the House of Representatives today apparently would prefer President Trump not be elected … by bringing in more foreign workers in the face of 40 million unemployed Americans." Kobach then appears and argues he'll "protect American jobs for American workers."
● ME-Sen: State House Speaker Sara Gideon, the leading Democrat in this year's race against Sen. Susan Collins, has launched a new ad pushing back on recent Republican attacks that she was too slow to take action against a state representative and teacher named Dillon Bates who had been accused of having improper relationships with his students.
Speaking directly to the camera, Gideon tells viewers, "The truth is, I was the first person to call on the state representative to resign when evidence of misconduct was revealed. And as the mother of two sons and one daughter, I value our children's safety more than anything else." Gideon concludes, "To suggest otherwise is not only false, it's way over the line."
In August of 2018, The Bollard reported that Bates had "engaged in at least three romantic and/or sexual relationships with high school girls over the past half decade." That same day, Gideon responded by calling for Bates, who earlier in the year had said he would not seek re-election, to resign immediately.
A spokeswoman for Gideon acknowledged that the speaker had known about the allegations for "several months," but that she had not found any proof to back them up at the time. Gideon's office added, "At that point, we told Rep. Bates that if any evidence or new information was presented that indicated there could be truth to what was then a rumor, that we would ask him to resign immediately."
Police in Westbrook, where Bates worked as a teacher, told WMTW after The Bollard article was published that they could not verify the allegations and were not actively investigating him. Bates maintained his innocence but resigned shortly afterwards.
In mid-June, the NRSC launched an ad criticizing Gideon for her response and recently began airing a second similar spot. The committee has reported spending just shy of $3 million since the start of the month, when it first began airing ads in this race.
● SC-Sen: While Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham still looks like the solid favorite to win re-election in this red state, he recently went up with a commercial against Democrat Jaime Harrison. Graham's allies at Security is Strength PAC did launch an ad against Harrison back in March and later reserved $1.6 million in air time for the final weeks of the campaign, but this appears to be the first time that the Graham campaign has gone negative on TV.
● Senate: Fox is out with surveys of three different Senate races from the Democratic firm Beacon Research and the Republican pollster Shaw & Company Research:
- GA-Sen-A: David Perdue (R-inc): 45, Jon Ossoff (D): 42 (47-45 Biden)
- NC-Sen: Cal Cunningham (D): 39, Thom Tillis (R-inc): 37 (47-45 Biden)
- TX-Sen: John Cornyn (R-inc): 46, MJ Hegar (D): 36; John Cornyn (R-inc): 47, Royce West (D): 37 (45-44 Biden)
The only other poll we've seen since Jon Ossoff won the June 9 Democratic primary was a Public Policy Polling survey for Ossoff's allies at End Citizens United and Let America Vote that showed him ahead 45-44.
We've seen very little polling all year of the Texas Senate race. The Democratic nomination will be decided in the July 14 primary runoff.
● UT-Gov: Dan Jones & Associates is out with another poll of Tuesday's Republican primary for the Salt Lake Chamber, and it finds things are as close as ever. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox holds a tiny 30-29 edge against former Gov. Jon Huntsman, while ex-state House Speaker Greg Hughes is firmly in third place with 15%; the fourth candidate, former state party chair Thomas Wright, takes just 6%. Dan Jones' early June survey for the Salt Lake Chamber had Huntsman leading Cox 35-33.
● VA-Gov: In an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, former state Sen. Bill Carrico acknowledged that he was considering seeking the Republican nomination in next year's contest to succeed termed-out Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. Carrico said that he expects to announce his plans this September or October.
Carrico, who is a former state trooper, retired in 2019 after serving nearly two decades in the state legislature representing heavily Republican southwestern Virginia. Carrico declared that his opposition to calls to defund the police "is one of the driving forces for my thoughts on coming back" into politics.
● GA-14: If you thought racist QAnon zealot Marjorie Greene couldn't possibly get any worse, think again. Greene is out with a commercial for the August Republican runoff where she praises Garrett Rolfe, the former Atlanta police officer who faces murder charges for killing Rayshard Brooks this month. Greene tells the audience, "Officer Garrett Rolfe faces a death sentence for defending himself and doing his job. I stand with officer Rolfe against the Democrat war on police."
Greene then goes after her intra-party opponent, neurosurgeon John Cowan, by showing a clip of Cowan wearing a face mask. Greene says, "John Cowan is silent, because John Cowan is too timid, too weak, and too afraid to speak the truth."
● NJ-02: A group called General Majority PAC that is affiliated with South Jersey Democratic boss George Norcross has spent $210,000 on ads supporting political science professor Brigid Callahan Harrison ahead of the July 7 primary.
Harrison could use the help, since she's been decisively outspent by her main intra-party opponent, mental health advocate Amy Kennedy. Kennedy outpaced Harrison about $750,000 to $275,000 from April 1 to June 17, which is the time the FEC defines as the pre-primary period; Kennedy also had $235,000 left for the final weeks, while Harrison had less than $10,000 on-hand.
On the GOP side, Trump-backed Rep. Jeff Van Drew faces an underfunded challenge from businessman Bob Patterson, but the party-switching incumbent appears to be taking his first Republican primary seriously. Van Drew outspent Patterson $410,000 to $82,000 during the pre-primary period, and he had a huge $1.1 million to $48,000 cash-on-hand lead.
● NY-24: The Democratic groups House Majority PAC and the DCCC are each out with polls that show Democrat Dana Balter narrowly leading Republican Rep. John Katko in their second bout in this Syracuse-area seat. HMP's survey from Normington Petts gives Balter a 47-46 edge, while Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump 56-40 here. The DCCC Targeting and Analytics Department's in-house poll, meanwhile, finds Balter and Biden ahead 48-45 and 54-36, respectively. Katko beat Balter 53-47 last cycle.
Perhaps the biggest question about this race is whether Biden can decisively win this district after it spent the last few years racing towards the right. Barack Obama carried this seat 57-41, which is similar to Biden's margin in both these polls, but Hillary Clinton took it just 49-45 four years later. In 2018, Republican Marc Molinaro even defeated Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo 47-44 here as he was losing statewide 60-36. Katko has always run ahead of the GOP ticket, but if the seat is dramatically shifting back towards Team Blue like these two polls say, he could struggle to win enough crossover voters to stay afloat.
● OK-05: While the anti-tax Club for Growth has not endorsed anyone in Tuesday's crowded Republican primary to face Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn, it's spending $217,000 on an ad campaign aimed at stopping state Sen. Stephanie Bice. The commercial declares, "Bice handed out your tax dollars to Hollywood liberals to make movies. Fine folks like convicted rapist and Democrat donor Harvey Weinstein enjoyed $4.6 million in the giveaway program Bice backed." The spot also accuses Bice of having "voted for the single largest tax increase in Oklahoma history."
Bice quickly responded with a commercial highlighting the Club's opposition to Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican primary, which is a strategy we've seen in a few other Republican primaries this year. The narrator argues, "Now the same bunch of open border Never Trumpers is attacking Stephanie Bice. Because Bice stands with President Trump."
There are nine Republicans on Tuesday's ballot, and it's going to be difficult for anyone to win the majority of the vote they'd need to avoid an August runoff in this Oklahoma City-based seat. There's no clear frontrunner, though both Bice and self-funding businesswoman Terry Neese each spent the most during the pre-primary period (April 1 to June 10) by deploying about $385,000 each. Businessman David Hill spent about $230,000 during this time, while former state School Superintendent Janet Barresi dropped $215,000.
● PA-16: Democrat Kristy Gnibus is out with a poll arguing that she has an opening against Republican Rep. Mike Kelly in this conservative northwest Pennsylvania seat. The Public Policy Polling survey gives Kelly a 48-40 advantage, while Donald Trump leads just 49-45 in a district he carried 58-38 four years ago.
While those presidential numbers would mark a huge swing to the left from 2016, they are plausible if 2020 is a strong year for Democrats. According to Bloomberg's Greg Giroux, Gov. Tom Wolf carried this seat 49.5-48.8 in 2018, while Democratic Sen. Bob Casey lost it by a modest 52-47 margin. Kelly himself only won re-election by that same 52-47 spread last cycle.
● TX-13: Ag Together PAC, which has been running positive ads for lobbyist Josh Winegarner ahead of the July 14 Republican runoff, is now out with a commercial going after former White House physician Ronny Jackson. The spot declares that Jackson "only moved to Amarillo last fall, just in time to run for office." The narrator also says that Jackson was "paid thousands by a Hong Kong investor," though he doesn't go into any further detail.
After arguing that Jackson was "part of Obama's inner circle," the narrator also talks about the allegations that derailed Jackson's 2018 nomination to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. "As a physician," the ad continues, "Jackson reportedly handed out so many prescription drugs, they called him 'Candy Man.'" Winegarner also recently began airing spots attacking Jackson, who has Donald Trump's endorsement, as a carpetbagger with numerous ethics issues.
● TX-24: VoteVets has launched a $100,000 cable TV buy supporting Air Force veteran Kim Olson in the July 14 Democratic runoff. The spot praises Olson for being "one of the first women to pilot an Air Force jet and command a flying squadron." The narrator also extols Olson for having "investigated sexual misconduct in the service" and helping thousands of women veterans get healthcare.
● UT-01: Kerry Gibson got some bad news just ahead of Tuesday's Republican primary when state Auditor John Dougall announced that, in response to whistleblower complaints, he'd launched an investigation into problems that occurred during Gibson's nine months leading the state Department of Agriculture and Food. The Salt Lake Tribune writes that during Gibson's short tenure "staff shake-ups took a toll on morale, travel spending went up and financial audits flagged a spike in procedural errors."
● VA-05: Democrat Cameron Webb's allies at 314 Action are out with a survey from Public Policy Polling that gives Republican Bob Good a small 43-41 edge over Webb in this south-central Virginia district. This is the first survey we've seen here since Webb pulled off an overwhelming win in Tuesday's Democratic primary for this 53-42 Trump seat.
● Miami-Dade County, FL Mayor: The state SEIU has endorsed County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava in the August nonpartisan primary for this open seat.