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.
● Primary Night: Super Directional Tuesday: We're in for another eventful election night on Tuesday, with five states across the country holding primaries in key races for state and federal offices. We've put together our preview of what to watch in the most important contests in Georgia, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, and West Virginia.
One of the most high-profile contests of the night is the Democratic primary to take on Georgia Sen. David Perdue, where two recent polls show investigative filmmaker Jon Ossoff within striking distance of winning the majority of the vote he'd need to avoid an August runoff. Both parties also have crowded nomination contests to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Rob Woodall in the open 7th Congressional District, a once-safely red seat in the Atlanta suburbs that has become very competitive during the Trump era.
That's not all. Republicans are waging some nasty intra-party contests in Nevada's 3rd District and South Carolina's 1st District, which are held by freshman Reps. Susie Lee and Joe Cunningham. And over in West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice faces his first Republican primary since he left the Democrats in 2017. There's a lot to see, and you'll want to check out our preview for the rundown.
Our live coverage will begin at 7 PM ET Tuesday night at Daily Kos Elections when the polls close in Georgia and South Carolina. You can also follow us on Twitter for blow-by-blow updates. And you'll want to bookmark our primary calendar, which includes the dates of the presidential and downballot primaries in all 50 states—many of which have been changed—as well as our separate calendar tracking key contests further down the ballot taking place nationwide this year.
Please bookmark our litigation tracker for a complete compilation of the latest developments in every lawsuit regarding changes to election and voting procedures.
● Iowa: A committee in Iowa's Republican-run state Senate has advanced a bill that would forbid Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters for the November general election. In addition, the bill would bar Pate's office from filling in any missing application data using the state's voter registration database, instead requiring that officials contact voters individually.
Pate, a Republican, sent applications to all active registered voters ahead of last week's primary, which as a result set an all-time record for turnout. A bipartisan group representing county election officials sent a letter saying it was "baffled" by the proposed legislation and said the measure would "cripple the process that led to such success" in the primary. Pate told the Des Moines Register, "I stand by my decisions" but does not appear to have directly addressed the legislation.
● Minnesota: The NAACP has filed a lawsuit asking a state court to order Minnesota officials to send mail ballots to all voters and to waive the requirement that such ballots be signed by witnesses during the pendency of the pandemic.
A pair of lawsuits challenging the witness requirement—one brought in federal court by the League of Women Voters and one supported by the National Redistricting Foundation filed in a state court—remain pending. In addition, Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon, who is named as the defendant in this newest case, said last month that he's considering sending ballots to all voters.
● New York: Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation to allow voters to request absentee ballots online for the November general election. The bill also extends the deadline to postmark ballots from the day before the election to Election Day.
● Wyoming: Republican Secretary of State Edward Buchanan recently announced that he has sent absentee ballot applications to all voters for Wyoming's Aug. 18 primary.
● AZ-Sen: The League of Conservation Voters has reserved $1.5 million in TV time from June 23 to July 15 for an ad campaign against GOP Sen. Martha McSally.
● MA-Sen: The state branch of the American Federation of Teachers, which the Boston Globe calls one of Massachusetts' most powerful unions, has endorsed Sen. Ed Markey in the September Democratic primary.
● MI-Sen: The local firm EPIC-MRA's new poll for ABC 12 finds Democratic Sen. Gary Peters outpacing Republican John James by a wide 51-36 margin; respondents also support Joe Biden 53-41. Other surveys released over the last two months have shown Peters leading between 5 and 9 points.
● NH-Sen: Wealthy attorney Corky Messner embraced one of the far-right's favorite talking points at a Wednesday town hall where he warned about "multiculturalism" in public schools. The Republican declared, "We are essentially up against multiculturalism and the values that we know that are being taught in our public schools and universities that are not part of the values and beliefs that made this country great. So we have a battle on our hands."
Messner continued, "I see the way to win this battle is school choice. And school choice including home schooling, and charter schools, and vouchers." The candidate predicted this would "create a competitive environment for our public schools so they start focusing on the right things in those schools instead of multiculturalism and political correctness, which really creates almost a tribalism." Messner concluded, "We won't be able to hold this country together if we don't have a common culture. And that common culture is what made America great."
Messner later insisted to HuffPost's Brooklyn Wayland that he didn't want "any kind of group, whether it's a group of whites or anything" to "have a mindset that creates animosity with other groups, that creates anger with other groups, that encourages divisiveness." Messer stated, "People will group together, and a lot of times because of common culture, and that's a good thing to share common culture, but it can't be a way to create discrimination against other groups, animosity to other groups."
● PR-Gov: Gov. Wanda Vázquez recently signed legislation that, citing the coronavirus pandemic, moved the commonwealth's downballot primaries from June 7 to Aug. 9. This includes the gubernatorial primaries for both Vázquez's New Progressive Party (NPP) and the opposition Popular Democratic Party (PDP).
The race to lead the NPP pits Vázquez, who became governor last summer after Ricardo Rosselló resigned in disgrace, against former Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, who acted as governor in August until the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico ruled that Vázquez was actually the one who was next-in-line for the post. The PDP contest is between San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and Puerto Rico Senate Minority Leader Eduardo Bhatia.
● NC-11: The nihilist House Freedom Caucus is out with a commercial for the June 23 GOP runoff trashing businessman Madison Cawthorn as an anti-Trump party boy. The rest of the spot praises businesswoman Lynda Bennett as Donald Trump's endorsed candidate.
● NY-15: New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres picked up an endorsement over the weekend from Rep. Sean Maloney ahead of the June 23 Democratic primary.
● NY-17: The Congressional Progressive Caucus has announced that it will spend $100,000 on digital ads and mail supporting attorney Mondaire Jones in the June 23 Democratic primary. This is the group's first-ever independent expenditure.
● NY-27: Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw is out with a commercial ahead of the June 23 GOP primary declaring, "Rioters are attacking police and destroying businesses. We cannot sit back and let these bad actors go unpunished." It probably won't surprise you to learn that Mychajliw does not so much as allude to police violence in this spot.
● Special Elections: There's one special election in Georgia on tap for Tuesday:
GA-SD-04: This Republican district in the Statesboro area became vacant when former state Sen. Jack Hill died in April. This seat backed Donald Trump 68-29, and no Democrats filed to run here. The four GOP candidates are physician Scott Bohlke, accountant Billy Hickman, attorney Katy Palmer, and Army veteran Neil Singleton. The fifth contender is independent Jared Sammons.
This seat is almost certainly going to remain in GOP hands, so the real intrigue is whether or not one of the candidates can win this seat outright. If no one gets more than 50% of the vote, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will be held on Aug. 11.
Republicans control this chamber 34-21 with just this seat vacant.
● Baltimore, MD Mayor: More ballots were counted over the weekend from the June 2 Democratic primary, and City Council President Brandon Scott took a narrow lead over former Mayor Sheila Dixon. With 136,000 ballots tabulated as of Monday afternoon, Scott edged Dixon 28.7-28.4—a margin of 388 votes—while former U.S. Treasury official Mary Miller was a distant third with 16%. City election officials estimated Monday that there were about 13,000 ballots left to count and said they hoped to have most of them tallied the following day. Officials are aiming to have the results certified on Friday.
● Richmond, VA Mayor: Alexsis Rodgers, a former state director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance who previously worked as then-Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam's policy director, announced over the weekend that she would challenge Mayor Levar Stoney.
Rodgers joins City Councilwoman Kim Gray, who would also be the first black woman to be elected mayor, and attorney Justin Griffin in the November contest to take on Stoney, who is a potential Democratic candidate for governor next year. The filing deadline is June 23, so we'll know soon what the mayoral ballot looks like. (A judge, citing the coronavirus pandemic, moved the date from June 9.)
Rodgers argued that "we need a city that works for everyone, not just the elite few. Richmond needs a mayor who will not neglect its poorest neighborhoods to cater to special interests." She also alluded to the city's handling of the protests against police brutality, including how police used tear gas on peaceful demonstrators last week. (Stoney apologized and marched with protestors the following evening.) Rodgers said, "After years of inaction on key issues, trust has been broken between the current administration and the people … It's time for policies, not apologies."
As we've noted before, Richmond has a very unusual electoral system. All the contenders will face off on one nonpartisan ballot this fall, and a candidate needs to win a plurality of the vote in at least five of the nine City Council districts in order to win the contest outright. This means that, just like in a presidential election, it's very possible for a candidate to win the mayor's office while coming in second (or potentially even further back) in the popular vote.
If no one wins outright, then the two candidates with the most votes citywide would compete in a runoff six weeks later. However, the winner still isn't the candidate with the most votes, it's the candidate who wins a majority of the Council seats. If no one manages to pull this off (i.e., if there's a tie that prevents anyone from winning at least five districts), only then would the popular vote determine the winner.