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.
● Ad Reservations: The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is the largest spender on House races among outside groups on the Republican side, announced Monday that it had booked $45 million in TV time for its second wave of fall reservations.
We've assembled this new data into a spreadsheet, but, as you'll see, it's organized by state or media market rather than district (more on that later). We've included our best guesses as to which House seats CLF is targeting or defending, though in a few cases, the PAC did identify specific districts.
To help keep track of the expanding House battlefield, Daily Kos Elections has created a spreadsheet that includes every reservation we have from the big four House committees, which are the CLF and NRCC on the GOP side and the DCCC and House Majority PAC for the Democrats. We’ll be constantly updating this as we get more information throughout the cycle.
You’ll notice, though, that not all this information is organized by media market, and that’s largely because of the CLF. As we’ve noted before, while the other three “big four” House committees announce their reservations by market rather than district, CLF’s information is often both more specific and more vague.
CLF specifically said how much money it was devoting to CA-25, CA-48, NJ-07, NY-02, NY-11, NY-22, and NY-24, but it didn't provide much information in some other cases. The group, for instance, said that it was booking $3.5 million “across Iowa” on top of the $3.9 million it reserved there in the spring, even though the state includes four House seats spread across nine different markets. As a result, on our spreadsheet we’ve needed to create a separate line for all of Iowa to account for the CLF’s reservations there. By contrast, the other three committees said how much they planned to spend in specific Iowa markets like Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.
We also want to note that, with this new wave of reservations, CLF became the first of the big four to book ads in two GOP-held seats. The group has reserved $500,000 to defend Montana’s At-Large House seat, and $775,000 to protect Republican Rep. Steve Chabot in Ohio’s 1st District.
CLF also specified that $1.9 million of its new $3.4 million reservation in the New York City media market would be going towards defending New York’s 2nd District, which also makes it the first major outside group to commit money there. The DCCC and HMP have also reserved millions in New York City, but they haven’t said which of the many seats in this expensive market they plan to target or defend.
● Primary Night: A Holcombe New World: We have another primary night on Tuesday in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin for congressional and state offices. Georgia is also holding runoffs in races where no candidate cleared 50% of the vote in the state's June primary. As always, we've put together our guide for what to watch.
We have two Georgia Republican runoffs on deck, including the contest for the 14th District between Marjorie Greene, a defender of the notorious pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon, and neurosurgeon John Cowan. We'll also be paying close attention to Minnesota's 5th District, where Rep. Ilhan Omar faces an expensive Democratic primary challenge against attorney Antone Melton-Meaux. Also on tap is Vermont, where former state Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe and Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman are competing for the right to take on Republican Gov. Phil Scott.
Our live coverage will begin at 7 PM ET Tuesday night at Daily Kos Elections when the polls close in Georgia and Vermont. 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 down-ballot 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.
● Arkansas: Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson has issued an executive order allowing all Arkansas voters to request absentee ballots for the November general election due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last month, Hutchinson said he would not issue such an order, though at the time he said all voters could vote absentee.
● Indiana: Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb says he will not relax Indiana's requirement that voters (except those age 65 and up) present an excuse to request an absentee ballot for the November general election, even though the state did so for its June primary. A federal lawsuit seeking to waive the excuse requirement remains pending.
● New York: The New York State Board of Elections has reversed course and will not appeal a recent federal court ruling requiring officials to count ballots missing a postmark that were received up to two days after Election Day, according to one of the attorneys who litigated the case.
● Rhode Island: The First Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a Republican appeal seeking to overturn an agreement between voting rights advocates and Democratic state officials waiving a requirement that absentee voters have their mail ballot envelopes signed by two witnesses or a notary, but Republicans promptly asked the Supreme Court for an emergency stay to block the agreement.
● Virginia: Voting rights advocates and Virginia election officials have reached an agreement to waive the state's requirement that absentee voters have their ballots witnessed for the November general election. The two sides had made a similar agreement before the state's June primary. Republicans are opposing the deal, which a federal court must first approve.
● MA-Sen: Rep. Joe Kennedy’s allies at New Leadership PAC have launched what appears to be the first negative TV spot of the Sept. 1 Democratic primary. The commercial argues that incumbent Ed Markey has missed too many votes during the coronavirus pandemic and has been in Washington for too long.
Back in June, Markey’s office said that most of the votes the senator has been absent for have been for nominations that were going to pass the Republican-controlled chamber whether he was there or not, and, “When it matters, he’s definitely in town.” Markey’s team also said, “He believes that the moment and the crises that face Massachusetts requires that he be here.”
● ME-Sen: RMG Group’s latest poll for U.S. Term Limits finds Democrat Sara Gideon leading Republican incumbent Susan Collins 48-41, while Joe Biden is ahead 50-39. The organization very much seems to dislike Collins, saying, “The poll also shows that most Mainers are unaware of the fact that Collins previously signed and broke a pledge to serve only two terms in the Senate.”
● PR-Gov: Puerto Rico’s Aug. 9 primaries for governor, legislature, and local offices were postponed a week in much of the commonwealth after more than half of its voting centers didn’t receive any ballots. The leaders of Puerto Rico’s main parties announced Sunday that this would only apply to precincts where voting was unable to take place at all, not to election centers where ballots arrived late and where many voters had already left: According to the Miami Herald, “ballots had arrived at only about 20% of voting centers halfway through the morning.”
The order prohibits results from precincts where voting did take place from being released until next week. But two gubernatorial candidates from rival parties, former Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi of the ruling pro-statehood New Progressive Party (PNP) and Puerto Rico Senate Minority Leader Eduardo Bhatia of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), filed a joint lawsuit on Monday to require votes cast on Sunday to be counted immediately. The Puerto Rico Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.
The Associated Press’ Dánica Coto also writes of the partial primary postponement that “some expect lawsuits and legal loopholes to potentially upset those plans.” Edgardo Román, who leads the Bar Association of Puerto Rico, said that it wasn’t clear if people who left polling places that later opened for voting would be unable to cast votes next week.
It is not known yet what caused the debacle that Román called the worst “electoral experience in the history of Puerto Rico.” PROMESA, the federal board that controls Puerto Rico’s finances, said that it had approved all funding requests from the commonwealth’s election commission and argued, “The disruptions ... are the result (of) inefficient organization at an agency that only two weeks ago struggled to procure the printing of ballots for an election that was originally supposed to take place on June 7.” (Because of the coronavirus pandemic, legislation was passed to push that primary date to Aug. 9.)
Election commission head Juan Ernesto Dávila in turn said that the problem was caused by a backlog in the one ballot printing facility on the island. Dávila added that “there were a lot of factors playing against us” including the pandemic, Tropical Storm Isaias, and a late request for 75,000 more ballots from the two major parties. Dávila also insisted that things would have gone fine on Sunday if the commission had gotten the ballots even 12 hours before the trucks carrying the election materials were dispatched to the polling places, arguing, “We hadn’t raised any flags because we thought we would be able to carry the event forward.”
Both Gov. Wanda Vázquez and other officials from the island’s two major parties called for Dávila to resign, but he said that he would not leave before the primary was over. Dávila added, “Once the primary process concludes, I will analyze that.” The PNP’s election commissioner, María Dolores Santiago, said Monday that key election officials knew that the ballots were arriving far behind schedule, but she didn’t say why no one, including her, called for the primary to be delayed before voting was to begin.
Sunday’s developments prolong what has already been an unusual primary campaign for the gubernatorial nomination of Vázquez’s PNP. Vázquez, who became governor last summer after Ricardo Rosselló resigned in disgrace, faces Pierluisi, who acted as governor last 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 also has a three-way contest between Bhatia, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, and Isabela Mayor Carlos Delgado.
● UT-Gov: While former Gov. Jon Huntsman last month ruled out a write-in campaign for the general election against Republican nominee Spencer Cox, who narrowly beat him in the June primary, Huntsman is now publicly reconsidering. In an Instagram account shared with his wife, Huntsman posted a picture of himself with his granddaughter and the caption, “Isabel trying to convince her Bapa to do a write in campaign for Utah Governor. He told her he’d think about it...”
Huntsman may be doing more than just thinking about it: The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the candidate’s mother donated $600,000 to his gubernatorial campaign after the primary ended. The deadline for Huntsman to declare a write-in campaign is Aug. 31.
● FL-03: The local pollster Meer Research, which says it has no client, has released a survey of next week’s crowded Republican primary to succeed retiring Rep. Ted Yoho in this reliably red seat. The poll shows Kat Cammack, a former campaign manager and congressional aide to Yoho, leading 2018 candidate Judson Sapp 25-15; physician James St. George and Clay County Commissioner Gavin Rollins are behind with 13% and 11%, respectively.
● FL-15: Last week, the Club for Growth launched a new ad against Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin, who is challenging Rep. Ross Spano in the Aug. 18 Republican primary. The commercial declares that, while Franklin has been self-funding this campaign, he didn’t donate to Donald Trump in 2016. The narrator also argues that during the 2010 cycle, “Franklin even contributed to super liberal Democrat Alex Sink when she ran against Rick Scott for governor.” The Club has spent close to $210,000 here so far.
● GA-09: While Tuesday's Republican primary runoff for this safely red seat in northeast Georgia hasn't attracted anywhere near as much national media attention as the brawl for the neighboring 14th District, this race has been considerably more expensive. Last week, the anti-tax Club for Growth launched a $400,000 ad buy against gun store owner Andrew Clyde, who is competing against Club-backed state Rep. Matt Gurtler. The spot depicts Clyde, who like Gurtler has been running as an ardent conservative, as "surprisingly liberal" and "wrong about Trump."
Altogether, the Club and a little-known group, Concerned American Voters, has spent $1.3 million during the runoff to aid Gurtler, while Clyde has received no major outside help. Gurtler narrowly led Clyde 21-18 in the first round of the primary in June, and the two men have spent a comparable amount of money in the runoff.
● GA-14: While House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy denounced wealthy businesswoman and QAnon ally Marjorie Greene's litany of racist and anti-Semitic rantings as "appalling" two months ago, Politico reports that McCarthy and his allies have done little to actually try to stop Greene from winning Tuesday's Republican primary runoff for this safely red northwest Georgia seat.
There has been no serious outside spending against Greene or on behalf of her intra-party opponent, neurosurgeon John Cowan. And while McCarthy's office said in June that he had "no tolerance" for Greene's rhetoric, including her declaration that African Americans "are held slaves to the Democratic Party" and that "[t]here is an Islamic invasion into our government offices right now," it turns out he has quite a lot of tolerance for it. Not only has McCarthy remained neutral, his team now says that he has "a good and productive relationship with both" candidates.
The only notable national Republican who has taken any action is McCarthy's deputy, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, who has helped Cowan raise money. Meanwhile, Politico notes that Greene enjoys the backing of White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.
● MA-01: Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse vowed on Sunday to continue his campaign against Democratic Rep. Richie Neal in next month's primary, three days after a trio of campus Democratic groups sent a letter to Morse accusing him of "taking advantage of his position of power for romantic or sexual gain, specifically toward young students" and barring him from future events.
Morse, who taught political science at UMass Amherst from 2014 until last year, acknowledged having relationships with college students and said they had all been consensual in response to the letter. In a follow-up statement on Sunday, he also insisted that he "never violated UMass policy," which forbids faculty from sexual relationships with students they teach or supervise. However, Morse has declined to say whether he was involved with any students at his own school.
Following the revelations, UMass Amherst announced it would investigate the matter to determine whether Morse had violated federal law protecting students from sexual harassment. Several city councilors in Holyoke have also called on Morse to resign or take a leave of absence.
Morse, who at age 22 became both the first gay mayor of Holyoke and its youngest ever when he was elected in 2011, launched a challenge to Neal a year ago, criticizing the incumbent as insufficiently progressive. His bid attracted the support of the left-wing Justice Democrats and an allied group, Fight Corporate Monopolies, which together have spent $400,000 on TV ads to boost his candidacy and derail Neal's.
Following the release of the College Democrats' letter, which was first published by the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, Morse said he was "officially releasing any endorsers who feel it is in their interests to no longer support my campaign." It does not yet appear, however, that any of Morse's most prominent supporters have taken him up on the offer: The Justice Democrats have not made any public comment and continue to air ads, while Fight Corporate Monopolies says it has not endorsed Morse but will keep running ads attacking Neal.
● NE-01: The Nebraska Democratic Party has released a surprising poll from Strategies 360 that shows Donald Trump up just 48-46 in the state's 1st Congressional District, typically uncompetitive turf that Trump carried by a wide 57-36 margin in 2016.
This unexpected survey (which FiveThirtyEight says was conducted July 16 through 22) could have implications for the presidential race, since Nebraska allocates some of its electoral votes by congressional district. However, the Democrats' memo also argues that their candidate, state Sen. Kate Bolz, is within "striking distance" of Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, though it didn't include any numbers on her race. At least part of Bolz's ostensible deficit compared to Biden's showing, though, is likely due to her relative lack of name recognition, which should grow once she begins communicating with voters in earnest.
And she should be able to: Through the end of June, Bolz, who represents a district in the Lincoln area, had raised a respectable $551,000 to Fortenberry's $893,000. However, thanks to years of easy races, Fortenberry has been able to stockpile $2 million in his war chest while Bolz has $253,000 on hand. In fact, during his last race, the incumbent only made headlines when his chief of staff threatened the job of a local professor who had "liked" a post on Facebook featuring a campaign sign that had been vandalized to give the congressman googly eyes and change his name to "Fartenberry."
But could this district, which includes the city of Lincoln and a large swath of rural territory, really be close at the presidential level? On the surface, there aren't many indicators that it's the kind of turf that you'd expect to be moving in the Democrats' direction: For instance, it's in the middle of the pack when it comes to educational attainment and median income, and it's also heavily white. It's possible, then, that this survey is off the mark—or that Trump's collapse has begun to affect his standing even with voters whose support he'd normally enjoy.
● NY-27: With the results of New York's June 23 primaries certified at long last, that also means we finally have a complete tally for the special election in the 27th Congressional District that took place the same day—and the figures look very different from what we saw on election night. Republican Chris Jacobs wound up defeating Democrat Nate McMurray by just a 51-46 margin, a far cry from the giant 69-30 lead he sported when the AP called the race the night of the election.
The reason for the shift is simple: Thanks in large part to Donald Trump's baseless attacks on mail voting, far more Democrats have been requesting absentee ballots than Republicans. As a consequence, these ballots—which in New York were all counted after Election Day—now typically lean well to the left. At the time the race was called, only 80,000 votes (all cast in-person) had been counted. The final tally, however, was almost exactly double that, with just shy of 159,000 votes cast.
The end result is notable because Trump carried the 27th District, located in the Buffalo and Rochester suburbs, by a formidable 60-35 margin in 2016, meaning McMurray improved on that performance by almost 20 points. In 2018, McMurray lost to then-Rep. Chris Collins just 49.1-48.7, but Collins was at the time under indictment for insider trading (he later pleaded guilty but has had the start of his 26-month prison sentence repeatedly delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic).
With a new nominee untainted by scandal, Republicans had good reason to expect the district would return to form. The fact that it only moved a small ways back toward the GOP suggests that when McMurray and Jacobs meet again in November, the contest could be more competitive than it might otherwise look.
● SC-01, VA-05: The progressive group 314 Action has announced “six-figure” TV buys in both South Carolina’s 1st District and Virginia’s 5th.
The South Carolina spot argues that Republican Nancy Mace, who is trying to unseat freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham “continues to oppose federal legislation that would ban offshore drilling.” Last cycle, Cunningham pulled off an upset win after he emphasized his Republican opponent’s support for oil drilling off this coastal South Carolina seat.
In Virginia, the commercial declares Republican Bob Good has opposed expanding unemployment insurance and small business loans during the current crisis, as well as protective equipment for front-line and hospital workers.
● TX-04: State Sen. Pat Fallon decisively won the Republican nomination on Saturday to replace John Ratcliffe, who resigned in late May to become director of national intelligence, on the general election ballot in this safely red seat in rural northeast Texas.
Fallon took 82 of the 145 votes cast by members of the Congressional District Executive Committee, which is made up of local county and precinct chairs, on what turned out to be the only ballot: Jason Ross, who served as Ratcliffe's chief of staff, was a distant second with 34 votes. Fallon had the support of Sen. Ted Cruz, who met with delegates the day of the vote, and the state senator also pledged to use his connections in the legislature to protect this seat during the upcoming round of redistricting.
Fallon doesn't have such a good relationship with Texas' other Republican U.S. senator, though. Last year, Fallon announced that he'd set up an exploratory committee for a possible primary challenge against John Cornyn, whom Fallon argued wasn't conservative enough. Reality eventually set in, and Fallon soon ended his effort.
● WA-10: On Friday evening, the Associated Press called an all-Democratic general election for the open 10th Congressional District in the Olympia area and Tacoma suburbs. While there are still ballots left to count, former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland currently leads the field with 21%, while state Rep. Beth Doglio has narrowly defeated a third Democrat, former state Rep. Kristine Reeves, 15-13 for the second-place spot. The best-performing Republican, businessman Rian Ingrim, is a distant fourth with 11%. (Collectively, the eight Democrats have 55% of the vote while the Republicans have just 42%.)
Either Strickland or Doglio would make history if elected to succeed outgoing Democratic Rep. Denny Heck, who is running for lieutenant governor. Strickland, whose father is Black and whose mother was born in Korea, would be Washington's first Black House member, as well as the country's first Korean American congresswoman. Doglio, who is bisexual, would in turn be the state's first LGBTQ member.
Of the two, Strickland has deeper ties to the party establishment and generally has a reputation as more moderate. She took over as CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce after she was termed-out as mayor at the start of 2018 and enjoys the support of former Govs. Gary Locke and Christine Gregoire. Doglio, by contrast, benefited from $366,000 in support during the primary from the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Daily Kos Elections had rated this contest as Likely Democratic because of the small chance of a Democratic lockout, but now that the opposite has happened, we're moving it to Safe Democratic. In the coming days, once final votes are tallied, we'll issue an additional rating to assess which of the two Democratic contenders, if any, has an advantage in November.
● Special Elections: There are two special elections on tap for Tuesday in Georgia and South Carolina:
GA-SD-04: This Statesboro-area district is hosting a runoff election after Republicans Billy Hickman and Scott Bohlke were the top two finishers in the June 9 primary. Hickman narrowly led Bohlke 33-32 in the first round of voting.
This is the only vacancy in the Georgia Senate, where Republicans currently hold a 34-21 majority.
SC-HD-115: This Republican district in suburban Charleston became vacant after former state Rep. Peter McCoy resigned earlier this year to become interim U.S. attorney for the District of South Carolina. Folly Beach City Administrator Spencer Wetmore is the Democratic candidate running against former James Island Town Councilman Josh Stokes, a Republican. Green Party candidate Eugene Platt is also vying for this seat.
This is a classic suburban district that has zoomed leftward during the Trump era. Mitt Romney won this district by a commanding 57-41 spread in 2012, but Donald Trump only took it 48-45 four years later. McCoy himself was only narrowly re-elected in 2018, turning back Democrat Carol Tempel 51-49 after years of running without major party opposition. Interestingly, McCoy's last contested race was also against Tempel in 2012, a race he won by a much wider 68-32.
The outcome of this contest will have minimal impact on the makeup of this chamber, which Republicans control 78-44. (One other GOP-held seat is vacant.) However, this race could give a glimpse into where changing suburban districts like this one stand heading into November.
● AZ Corporation Commission: While the Arizona secretary of state's office still hasn't posted write-in votes from last week's Republican primary, multiple media organizations have reported that Jim O'Connor has secured more than enough support to advance to November.
O'Connor's showing means that his party will have a full slate of three candidates on the fall ballot as it tries to defend its 4-1 majority on this body, which is tasked with regulating utilities throughout the state and has been nicknamed Arizona's "fourth branch of government" due to the distinct role the state constitution lays out for it.
● Maricopa County, AZ County Attorney: The Arizona Republic reports that Julie Gunnigle, who has served as a prosecutor in Illinois, has won last week's Democratic primary. Gunnigle defeated former public defender Will Knight 60-23, which is similar to her lead on election night, for the right to take on Republican incumbent Adel Allister, who was appointed to this post last year.
● Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff: On Friday evening, disgraced former Sheriff Joe Arpaio conceded the Aug. 4 Republican primary to former Chief Deputy Sheriff Jerry Sheridan, who served as Arpaio's right-hand man during his long reign of terror.
While Sheridan was outraised by Arpaio by a 15-1 margin, he narrowly beat him 37-36 for the right to take on Democratic incumbent Paul Penzone, who denied Arpaio a seventh term as the top lawman of Arizona's largest county four years ago. Arpaio said of the result, "I'm a little shocked losing." But Arpaio, who is 88, added, "This will be the last time I run for office."
Sheridan has pledged not to restart Arpaio's infamous patrols through heavily Latino neighborhoods, but he's said that he would resume many of his old boss' policies if elected. Sheridan also has some of the same liabilities as Arpaio: Sheridan was found in civil contempt four years ago for refusing to comply with a judicial order curtailing the department's racial profiling, and while he was not charged, investigators said last year that they'd have called for Sheridan to be fired had Arpaio won re-election in 2016.
● WA-LG: On Thursday evening, the Associated Press called an all-Democratic general election for lieutenant governor between Rep. Denny Heck and state Sen. Marko Liias. Heck leads with 26%, while Liias beat Republican Ann Sattler 18-12 for the second place spot.
Until March, everyone assumed that Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, who has been a rising star in Democratic politics, would seek a second term. However, Habib instead announced that he would leave elected office to become a Jesuit. Heck, who himself had also surprised politicos in December when he said he would retire from Congress because he had grown "discouraged" with the body, soon said that he'd run to replace Habid.
Liias also joined the contest, and he quickly earned Habib's endorsement. If elected in November, Liias would be Washington's first gay statewide elected official.
Primary Result Recaps
● HI-02: State Sen. Kai Kahele dominated in Saturday's Democratic primary for Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District, crushing his nearest opponent, perennial candidate Brian Evans, by a margin of 76-9. What makes Kahele's victory so unusual is that open seats almost always attract a sizable number of credible contenders. This race, however, did not, likely in part because Kahele had assembled a serious campaign operation in the nine months he'd been running before Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced her retirement.
This district is the more rural of Hawaii's two seats in Congress, but it nonetheless voted for Hillary Clinton by a 61-30 margin, making it safely blue and ensuring that Kahele will once again win easily in November. That puts Kahele on a path to become just the second Native Hawaiian to represent the state in Congress, after the late Sen. Daniel Akaka. Interestingly, his Republican opponent, Air Force veteran Joe Akana, is also Native Hawaiian, as is a third-party candidate on the ballot, Army veteran Jonathan Hoomanawanui.
Kalehe would also be the first member of Hawaii's congressional delegation since statehood to hail from the Neighbor Islands, a term that refers to all of the state's islands other than Oahu, home of the capital of Honolulu and a large majority of Hawaii's population. While Sen. Spark Matsunaga grew up on the island of Kauai and Rep. Patsy Mink was raised on the island of Maui, both moved to Honolulu before starting their political careers.
● Honolulu, HI Mayor: Honolulu held its nonpartisan primary to succeed termed-out Democratic Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Saturday and two businessmen who have never held office, independent Rick Blangiardi and Democrat Keith Amemiya, advanced to the November general election. Blangiardi, who has the support of former Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, took first with 26%, while Amemiya beat former Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a longtime Democratic politician, 20-18 for the second place spot.
The Honolulu Star Advertiser's Gordon Pang writes that the primary's main issue was which contender would do the best job helping Honolulu recover from the coronavirus pandemic. However, a big "sub-theme" was whether voters should embrace candidates like Blangiardi and Amemiya who campaigned on a "fresh perspective," or experienced figures like Hanabusa, City Councilwoman Kym Pine, and former Mayor Mufi Hannemann. Honolulu hasn't elected a mayor who hasn't previously held elected office since 1980, but either Blangiardi or Amemiya will break that streak in November.
Pang also writes that one of the biggest issues between Blangiardi and the rest of the field is over how to handle Honolulu's ongoing difficulties completing its expensive and long-delayed rail system, which has been a perennial issue in local politics for years. Blangiardi has shown the most willingness to halt the $9 billion project if the city needs to raise additional funds to move forward, saying, "If you can't pay for something, you can't pay for it."
Honolulu, which is home to about 70% of Hawaii's residents, is usually reliably blue turf, but it's quite possible a non-Democrat like Blangiardi could prevail here, especially without party labels. In 2016, Caldwell only defeated former Republican Rep. Charles Djou 52-48 as Hillary Clinton was carrying the city 61-32. (Djou later left the GOP to become an independent.)
Amemiya is close to a number of prominent Democrats, including Sen. Brian Schatz, while Blangiardi has portrayed himself as separate from party politics. Blangiardi himself also has a number of conservative stances and allies: As Civil Beat's Christina Jedra writes, the candidate describes himself as "liberal in some areas and conservative in others," has said that he has a "tough love" stance on homelessness, and has the support of the state's conservative police union.
● Honolulu, HI Prosecuting Attorney: Former Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Steve Alm and defense attorney Megan Kau will face off in the November general election to serve as the top prosecutor in Honolulu. Alm, who served as U.S. attorney during the Clinton administration, won first place with 40% in Saturday's nonpartisan primary, while Kau beat public defender Jacquie Esser 24-20 for second.
Esser was the most progressive of the trio, while Kau is considerably more hostile to criminal justice reform: Notably, Kau responded "no" when asked if she believed that the state incarcerated too many people. Alm, who has looked like the frontrunner throughout the contest, falls somewhere in between: He supports reform goals for lower-level offenses, but The Appeal's Daniel Nichanian writes that "he is not putting forth ideas to shrink the system."