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, CO-Sen, GA-Sen-A, MI-Sen, NC-Sen: Morning Consult has released its first Senate polls of the cycle in several key battleground states, and they find Democrats with substantial leads in four of the five contests, while Team Blue has only a narrow deficit in Georgia:
- AZ-Sen: Mark Kelly (D): 52, Martha McSally (R-inc): 36 (Biden 49-42)
- CO-Sen: John Hickenlooper (D): 48, Cory Gardner (R-inc): 42 (Biden 52-39)
- GA-Sen-A: David Perdue (R-inc): 45, Jon Ossoff (D): 42 (Biden 47-46)
- MI-Sen: Gary Peters (D-inc): 49, John James (R): 35 (Biden 52-42)
- NC-Sen: Cal Cunningham (D): 46, Thom Tillis (R-inc): 37 (Biden 47-47)
Please bookmark our litigation tracker for a complete summary of the latest developments in every lawsuit regarding changes to elections and voting procedures as a result of the coronavirus.
● Kentucky: Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear says he wants to allow all voters to cast an absentee ballot in November, but Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams opposes the idea. Earlier this year, Beshear issued an executive order waiving the excuse requirement for absentee voting ahead of the Kentucky's June primary, but under a new law passed over his veto by the Republican-run legislature, he was obligated to seek Adams' assent before doing so. Beshear would again be required to obtain approval from Adams for any changes to absentee voting for the fall.
However, a lawsuit that is pending in state lower court could leave Adams with no choice but to ease restrictions on mail voting, since the plaintiffs are asking the court to implement the same voting options that were available in the primary such as no-excuse absentee voting.
● West Virginia: Republican Secretary of State Mac Warner says that all voters will be permitted to request absentee ballots for the November general election by citing concerns about the coronavirus, just as they were ahead of West Virginia's June primary. However, he appeared to rule out the possibility that officials would once again send ballot applications to voters, as they did for the primary.
In recent remarks before Congress, Warner said that "county clerks have asked that we return to voters initiating requests to vote absentee, consistent with state law." In his new announcement about absentee voting, Warner repeatedly noted that voters could request ballots and said, "Since 2001, the Legislature found it important to ask voters to apply for an absentee ballot."
● GA-Sen-B: Republican Rep. Doug Collins has launched his first TV ad, and it goes negative on appointed GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler right out of the gate. The ad uses a computer generated Monopoly game board to blast Loeffler over her insider trading scandal and calls Collins "Trump's strongest defender."
● KS-Sen: Candidates and outside groups are spending heavily on TV ads with just a week to go until the Aug. 4 GOP primary, and the ad-tracking firm Medium Buying has details on the amounts each campaign is spending in the final stretch.
With a heavy involvement in the race, the Democratic-linked Sunflower State PAC is spending $2.3 million in an effort to boost former Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the belief that he'll be easier to beat in the fall. Their latest ad appears to attack all of the main GOP candidates but focuses its fire on Rep. Roger Marshall by calling him a "Swamp Creature" who increased the national debt and took care of special interests after taking their money. By contrast, the ad "attacks" Kobach as a "pro-Trump conservative leader," something that may only help endear him to primary voters.
Kobach himself has struggled with fundraising, and he's only spending a measly $33,000 on ads in the final week, launching a new spot that touts Trump's endorsement of his 2018 gubernatorial campaign to make it appear as if Trump endorsed him this time, which he has not. However, Kobach's allies at Free Forever PAC are spending $381,000 on ads supporting him.
Meanwhile, Marshall's allies at Plains PAC are running a new ad hammering Kobach as a loser who would throw away the seat in November, noting that Democrats are spending "millions" to help him win the primary; Plains PAC is spending just under $1 million in the final week. Additionally, the Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund and other outside groups are also spending nearly $1 million for ads to boost Marshall.
Medium Buying also relays that self-funding businessman Bob Hamilton is spending $284,000 and Kansas Turnpike Authority chair Dave Lindstrom is deploying just $35,000 on ads for the final week.
● ME-Sen: SocialSphere for Colby College: Sara Gideon (D): 44, Susan Collins (R-inc): 39 (Biden 50-38) (Feb.: 43-42 Gideon)
● SC-Sen: ALG Research (D) for Jaime Harrison: Lindsey Graham (R-inc) 49, Jaime Harrison (D) 45 (Trump 50-45)
● NC-Gov: Public Policy Polling (D) for AFSCME: Roy Cooper (D-inc): 53, Dan Forest (R): 42 (Biden 49-46) (June: 50-41 Cooper)
● VT-Gov: Sen. Bernie Sanders has endorsed Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman ahead of the Aug. 11 Democratic primary, where Zuckerman's main rival is former state Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe.
● WA-Gov: SurveyUSA's latest poll for Seattle-area NBC affiliate KING-TV finds Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee dominating against his Republican opponents.
Looking at the Aug. 4 top-two primary, Inslee easily advances with 55% support while the several GOP candidates only add up to 30% combined. Among the Republicans, Republic police chief Loren Culp has the most support with a mere 9%, followed by gadfly conservative activist Tim Eyman at 8%, former Bothell Mayor Joshua Freed at 6%, physician Raul Garcia at 4%, and state Sen. Phil Fortunato at 3%.
SurveyUSA also tested Inslee against individual GOP candidates in hypothetical general election match ups, and the incumbent similarly posts a wide lead over all comers. Inslee’s biggest margin was 62-31 over Eyman, and his smallest was a little-different 60-32 against Garcia. We had not previously mentioned Garcia, who filed right before the deadline as a first-time candidate and has raised little money. However, Garcia has earned endorsements from former Gov. Dan Evans, former Sen. Slade Gorton, and former state Attorney General Rob McKenna, who wanted a candidate more moderate than the rest of the field.
SurveyUSA found Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 62-28 in this same sample, and they also tested the open-seat race for lieutenant governor. However, the lieutenant gubernatorial part of the survey is unusable because they inexplicably left off two of the most prominent GOP candidates, former state Rep. Dick Muri and conservative talk radio host Marty McClendon, the latter of whom was the GOP's standard-bearer for this same office in 2016.
● CO-03: The hardline anti-tax Club for Growth has endorsed Republican nominee Lauren Boebert, indicating that they could spend on her behalf this fall against Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush.
● FL-19: The Club for Growth has spent more than $1 million over the past week ahead of the Aug. 18 GOP primary, with roughly half their TV ad buy devoted to supporting endorsed state Rep. Byron Donalds and the other half attacking businessman Casey Askar. Their spot opposing Askar hits him for having donated to "Never Trumper" Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and not giving to Trump in 2016, though they of course don't mention that the Romney donation was during the 2008 primary cycle, when Romney was far from persona-non-grata with movement conservatives like he is today.
Meanwhile, a group called Conservative Outsider PAC has gone up with a spot against state House Majority Leader Dane Eagle, which likewise hits Eagle for having endorsed "Never Trumper" Mitt Romney, just this time in the 2012 primary cycle, along with charges that Eagle voted to give driver's licenses to "illegal immigrants" and adopt "red flag restrictions" on guns.
● GA-05: Gov. Brian Kemp has called a special election for the final months of John Lewis' term for Sept. 29, with a possible runoff on Dec. 1. All candidates from all parties will run together on a single ballot, and if no one wins a majority, the top two vote-getters will face off again in a second round. Voters will elect a representative for a full two-year term on Nov. 3. To replace Lewis on the ballot, Democrats selected state Sen. Nikema Williams, who is all but assured of winning the dark blue Atlanta-based 5th District.
● MA-01: A labor-aligned group called American Working Families, which is supporting Rep. Richie Neal in the Sept. 1 Democratic primary, has launched a minute-long TV ad attacking his challenger, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse. The group says that they plan to match whatever other outside groups spend to oppose Neal or support Morse, which comes after a group called Fight Corporate Monopolies run by allies of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders went up with a $300,000 ad buy against Neal earlier this month.
American Working Families' ad claims Morse isn't truly progressive, citing police brutality lawsuits filed against the Holyoke police under his tenure as mayor. However, the ad itself may struggle to get its message across, since roughly half of its run-time consists mainly of visual text without narration to highlight claims of police brutality and questions that supposedly remain around Morse's handling of it. A narrator does claim that Morse didn't call for an investigation or reforms and that he "remained silent," the latter of which may explain the choice behind the partial lack of narration, but unless audiences are already paying very close visual attention, they may simply tune out the text-based message.
● ME-02: Social Sphere for Colby College: Jared Golden (D-inc): 45, Dale Crafts (R): 33 (Biden 45-42)
● MO-01: With a week to go before Tuesday's Democratic primary, the Justice Democrats are spending $50,000 on a media buy to support activist Cori Bush in her rematch against Rep. Lacy Clay. A group connected to the Justice Democrats called Fight Corporate Monopolies also recently reported spending $90,000 on TV ads attacking Clay, calling him an ally of "predatory Wall Street firms" who "opposed President Obama’s effort to protect working families’ retirement savings from greedy financiers." Clay himself just launched a negative ad hitting Bush, who has outraised him in recent months.
● NJ-02, NJ-03, NJ-07: New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council, an umbrella organization for construction unions with 150,000 members, has endorsed Democrat Amy Kennedy in her bid to oust Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew, two years after backing Van Drew when he was still a Democrat and first flipped the 2nd Congressional District. The council, which the New Jersey Globe describes as "powerful," also switched sides in the 3rd and 7th District, endorsing freshmen Democratic Reps. Andy Kim and Tom Malinowski, respectively; in 2018, the group supported the two Republican incumbents Kim and Malinowski unseated.
● TX-04: Texas Court of Appeals Judge David Bridges, who'd been a possible choice for the GOP nod in the vacant 4th Congressional District, was killed by a suspected drunk driver on Saturday. The Dallas Morning News' Paul Cobler described Bridges as having been "a leading contender for the seat." Under that same heading, he also places state Sen. Pat Fallon, who has Ted Cruz's endorsement, and businessman Jason Ross, a one-time district director for former Rep. John Ratcliffe, whose confirmation as Trump's director of national intelligence earlier this year created this vacancy.
Because Ratcliffe resigned after the primary, Republican officials will choose a replacement nominee for the November ballot, and many candidates have tossed their names in the hopper. However, there's now some uncertainty as to when that selection will happen. GOP leaders were set to convene on Aug. 8, but as Cobler reports, the state party's new chair—none other than former Florida Rep. Allen West—has not confirmed that date in the week since he ousted the previous chair, and his staff has "not responded to requests for comment."
Bridges had run for a predecessor version of this seat twice before in the early 1990s, losing badly both times to Rep. Ralph Hall, who at the time was a Democrat. Hall, always one of the most conservative members of his party, eventually joined the GOP in 2004. He was ultimately ousted by Ratcliffe after the 2014 primary went to a runoff.
● TX-23: Two weeks after Texas' runoffs, county GOP officials in the 23rd Congressional District finally completed their canvass of the results, and according to Navy veteran Tony Gonzales, he leads Air Force veteran Raul Reyes by 46 votes for the right to take on Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones in this swingy open seat.
While the secretary of state's website has not yet updated, a Gonzales spokesperson tweeted out a spreadsheet showing his candidate with 12,342 votes to 12,296 for Reyes, a margin of 50.1% to 49.9%. Reyes could still ask for a recount, and he's insisted he'll do so. However, at the same time, he's repeatedly sought donations to pay for a recount (which he'd be responsible for), claiming he lacks the funds.
Just as party officials at the county level handle the initial canvass of primary and runoff results in Texas, the state parties are responsible for a final canvass. Their deadline is Saturday, though they could finish earlier. Reyes would then have until 5 PM local time on the second day after completion of the canvass to request a recount.
● DCCC: The DCCC has reserved $3 million in TV time in four competitive districts: Texas' 24th and 32nd, both in the Dallas media market, as well as New York's 2nd and New Jersey's 3rd. NY-02 is located in the New York City market, while NJ-03 is split between New York City and Philadelphia, so it's not clear, based on the information available, which market its booking is for. TX-24 and NY-02 are both Republican-held seats, while TX-32 and NJ-03 are represented by Democrats.