And if the Biden-Harris ticket is successful this fall, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom would be tasked with appointing Harris' successor in the Senate. That person would serve through 2022, when Harris' term was already set to expire. Under California law, all candidates—which would likely include whomever Newsom might appoint—would compete in a top-two primary that year, and the two contenders with the most votes would advance to the general election regardless of party.
If Newsom does get to pick Harris’ successor, it would be the first time in 30 years that a California governor has made a Senate appointment. In 1990, Republican Sen. Pete Wilson won the gubernatorial election 49-46 against his Democratic rival, former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein, and it was up to Wilson to choose his own replacement in D.C.
The new governor ended up surprising politicos by appointing state Sen. John Seymour, a former mayor of Anaheim who had a moderate record but little statewide name recognition. The New York Times wrote at the time that Wilson was looking for someone “who was his ideological twin, as well as well-heeled and well-connected,” ahead of what was expected to be a tough 1992 battle for the final two years of the Senate term.
While Seymour had lost the 1990 Republican primary for lieutenant governor (California would not implement the top-two primary system until 2012), the appointed incumbent won the Senate nomination 51-27 against arch-conservative Rep. William Dannemeyer. But Seymour faced a much tougher race in the fall against Feinstein, and George H.W. Bush’s struggles in the state, as well as Wilson’s unpopularity at the time, weighed him down. Feinstein also made sure to remind voters that Seymour had voted to confirm Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court and against a family-leave bill.
Feinstein ended up beating Seymour 54-38 at the same time that Bill Clinton was becoming the first Democrat to carry the state’s electoral votes since 1964, and she’s remained in the Senate ever since. Feinstein’s fellow Democrat, Rep. Barbara Boxer, won a close race that same year to succeed California’s other senator, retiring Democrat Alan Cranston: The Golden State’s Senate delegation has been entirely made up of Democratic women since then, a streak Harris kept going in 2016 when she won the race to succeed Boxer.
● GA-Sen-B: We have two new polls of the November all-party primary. First up is SurveyUSA for WXIA-TV, which also finds Joe Biden ahead 46-44:
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-inc): 26
Rep. Doug Collins (R): 17
Pastor Raphael Warnock (D): 17
Businessman Matt Lieberman (D): 13
Former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver (D): 3
Next is HIT Strategies for Democrats for Education Reform, which has Biden up 44-40:
Loeffler (R-inc): 22
Collins (R): 18
Warnock (D): 14
Lieberman (D): 14
Tarver (D): 6
In the extremely likely event that no one wins a majority, the top-two vote-getters, regardless of party, would advance to a January runoff.
Several polls taken in the spring found Collins ahead and Loeffler as far back as fourth place, but more recent numbers have shown the appointed incumbent in far better shape. Almost all the newer surveys have come from firms that hadn’t released numbers earlier this year, so it’s possible that these pollsters are just seeing the race differently.
However, we do have trendlines from one firm that indicate that Loeffler is indeed in a stronger position than she was a few months before. Back in April, a Collins internal from Battleground Connect had him ahead with 36%, while Warnock led Loeffler 16-13. However, a mid-July poll for the congressman had him ahead with a smaller 26% as Loeffler led Lieberman 17-15 for second.
In the time between these two surveys, both the Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee each announced that they were dropping their investigations into Loeffler's sales of millions in stock just before the markets tanked due to the coronavirus pandemic.
● MI-Sen: While major Republican outside groups have spent or reserved around $100 million so far in key Senate races, Politico's James Arkin notes that Michigan has largely been ignored. The NRSC spent $2.5 million in June to aid Republican John James against Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, but neither it or its allies at the Senate Leadership Fund currently have any money reserved for the final three months of the campaign.
Most polls have also shown Peters well ahead of James as Joe Biden leads Donald Trump, and SLF president Steven Law didn't dispute those numbers. "I think the big question is going to be whether the presidential contest ends up narrowing," Law told Politico, "If it does, that's a race that could close."
There's more activity on the Democratic side, though. Senate Majority PAC has spent $5.3 million here so far, with its last expenditure coming about a month ago, and Arkin writes that "a Democratic nonprofit has seven figures booked this month."
● MT-Sen: In his latest commercial, Democrat Steve Bullock offers a direct-to-camera response to Republican ads accusing him of being weak on public safety issues. Bullock talks about his work as state attorney general and later governor "[p]artnering with law enforcement to crack down on child predators, standing up to Washington Democrats to oppose defunding the police, and protecting our Second Amendment rights."
● NH-Sen: Retired Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc is running his opening TV spot more than three months after wealthy attorney Corky Messner, his rival in the Sept. 8 Republican primary, first went on the air.
Bolduc tells a group of supporters, "I am the only candidate running that was on the ground fighting terrorists on behalf of this president, and fulfilling his policies and doing the right thing. I will do the same for you." Bolduc goes on to call for sending new people to Washington and concludes, "I've taken quite a few hills in my career. Next hill I'm taking? Capitol Hill, baby!" Bolduc doesn't mention Messner or Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen.
- AZ-Sen: OH Predictive Insights (R): Mark Kelly (D): 48, Martha McSally (R-inc): 43 (49-45 Biden) (July: 52-43 Kelly)
- GA-Sen-A: SurveyUSA for WXIA-TV: David Perdue (R-inc): 44, Jon Ossoff (D): 41 (46-44 Biden)
- GA-Sen-A: HIT Strategies (D) for Democrats for Education Reform: Ossoff (D): 42, Perdue (R-inc): 39 (44-40 Biden)
- ME-Sen: Critical Insights for the Bangor Daily News: Sara Gideon (D): 43, Susan Collins (R-inc): 38 (44-36 Biden)
- NC-Sen: Public Policy Polling (D) for Giffords Courage (pro-Cunningham): Cal Cunningham (D): 48, Thom Tillis (R-inc): 44, (49-46 Biden) (July: 48-40 Cunningham)
- NC-Sen: HIT Strategies (D) for Democrats for Education Reform: Cunningham (D): 48, Tillis (R-inc): 32 (47-37 Biden)
HIT Strategies’ Georgia poll for Democrats for Education Reform, a group that advocates for charter schools and against teachers unions, is the first survey we’ve seen that gives Jon Ossoff the lead since mid-July, when his internal from Garin-Hart-Yang showed him up 45-44. Several other polls, including SurveyUSA’s new numbers, have found Perdue with a small edge.
In Maine, by contrast, we’ve gone well over a month without a single poll showing Republican incumbent Collins in the drivers’ seat. The last survey to find her ahead was a late June poll from Moore Information that had her up 45-37.
Republican Sen. Thom Tillis has been experiencing an even more severe drought in North Carolina. While a late June survey from East Carolina University showed a tie, the last survey from a reputable firm to give Tillis a lead was from Harper Polling for the conservative Civitas Institute: This survey had him up 38-36 … in May.
● Reservations: NBC reports that the Democratic group Senate Majority PAC and its nonprofit affiliate, Duty and Honor, have booked a total of $10.3 million for additional August TV ads in five states. All these seats are held by Republican incumbents.
First up, we have Duty and Honor's new reservations:
- Georgia (David Perdue): $1.4 million
- Maine (Susan Collins): $3 million
- Montana (Steve Daines): $1.7 million
- North Carolina (Thom Tillis): $1.5 million
NBC did not say whether the Georgia race is to go after Sen. David Perdue or his colleague, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, in her special election. However, a number of major outside groups on both sides recently began running commercials in the Perdue contest, so it's likely that the money is intended for that election.
SMP, meanwhile, is adding $2 million to North Carolina, $500,000 to defeat Republican incumbent Joni Ernst in Iowa, and $200,000 for Maine.
● NH-Gov: State Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes is airing his first TV spot, and his campaign tells WMUR will run for $250,000 through the Sept. 8 Democratic primary.
The commercial shows workers in face masks as Feltes narrates, "These are the people keeping our country afloat right now. Doing whatever it takes, no matter the risk." The candidate continues, "The types of working people I've stood up for my entire career. As a legal aid lawyer, and now in the state Senate, where I've passed bills to provide workers with paid medical leave and to lower prescription drug costs." Feltes concludes that New Hampshire's focus needs to be on "[s]pecific, practical things to help people pay the bills."
● PR-Gov: Gov. Wanda Vásquez filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to require voting on Sunday for any polling places that opened on Aug. 9 without ballots, and the Puerto Rico Supreme Court announced later in the day that it would hear the case.
Earlier this week, the leaders of Puerto Rico’s main parties announced that primary voting would be postponed until Sunday only in 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, “[B]allots had arrived at only about 20% of voting centers halfway through the morning.”
Vásquez faces a serious challenge in the primary for the pro-statehood New Progressive Party from former Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, who has filed a separate lawsuit to require votes cast on Aug. 9 to be counted immediately.
● FL-08: Republican Rep. Bill Posey doesn't appear to be in any serious danger in next week's primary for this 58-38 Trump seat along Florida's Space Coast, but he does face an intra-party opponent with enough money to go on the air on cable TV. Late last month, Air Force veteran Scott Caine launched a commercial that attacked Posey for being the one Republican to co-sponsor a House resolution with the stated purpose of "[C]ondemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID-19."
That legislation did not name Donald Trump, but the narrator argues that it was "aimed at denouncing President Trump for using the term 'China Virus." Caine then appears and says he'll "have President Trump's back on immigration and the threats we face from China." Caine raised a total of $180,000 through July 29 and self-funded an additional $22,000.
● FL-13: The NRA has endorsed attorney Amanda Makki in next week's Republican primary to take on Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist.
● MA-04: Former Wall Street regulator Ihssane Leckey and Newton City Councilor Becky Walker Grossman are each airing new TV ads ahead of the crowded Sept. 1 Democratic primary for this open seat.
Leckey, who immigrated to the United States from Morocco, declares that "as the only woman of color in this race, I'm fighting for racial justice, to guarantee health care, free pre-K, and housing for all." Grossman, meanwhile, tells the audience how her mother suddenly fell ill and "needs expensive drugs to stay alive." Grossman pledges not to take money from drug companies and says that it's "time to cap out-of-pocket costs and force drug companies to negotiate lower prices."
● MA-08: Rep. Stephen Lynch has long been one been one of the more conservative members of the Democratic caucus especially on abortion rights, but he's never come close to losing renomination during his nearly 20 years in Congress. Lynch is the clear favorite to prevail in his Sept. 1 primary, but this year, he faces a notable challenge from the left in the form of physician Robbie Goldstein, who works as an infectious disease doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Goldstein outraised Lynch $162,000 to $42,000 during the second quarter, though the incumbent ended June with a massive $1.5 million to $137,000 cash-on-hand lead. This seat, which includes Lynch's longtime South Boston base as well as the southern Boston suburbs, backed Hillary Clinton 60-34.
Lynch, who worked as an ironworker before he became a union attorney, told Boston.com, "There is nobody in Congress that brings that perspective," adding, "There are a lot of doctors. We've probably got 30 doctors. … That doesn't bring a diverse perspective at all."
Goldstein, who said there are only 17 physicians in Congress, very much disagreed, saying that the struggles he hears from his patients about their struggles with the Boston area's high cost of living would "drive the policy I write." Goldstein, who at 36 is nearly three decades younger than the incumbent, would also be the first gay person to represent Massachusetts in Congress since Barney Frank retired at the start of 2013.
The last time Lynch faced a serious primary opponent was 2010 in what was then numbered the 9th District. Lynch's foe, SEIU regional political director Mac D'Alessandro took the congressman to task for opposing the final version of Obamacare, but Lynch won by a convincing 65-35 margin. Lynch later ran in the 2013 special election for the Senate, and while he lost the primary to fellow Rep. Ed Markey 58-42, he performed well in the current 8th District.
● NM-02: Republican Yvette Herrell uses her first TV spot to promote herself as a bipartisan figure, which is very different from the far-right image she cultivated during her unsuccessful 2018 bid and during her victorious June primary campaign. Herrell tells the audience, "In Congress I'll work across the lines that divide us to safely reopen our economy, and I'll promote innovation in health care to drive down costs and keep our families safe."
Meanwhile, Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, the Democrat who beat Herrell in a 2018 upset, is airing a new commercial that also emphasizes bipartisanship. Torres Small declares that trade rules have hurt too many farmers for too long, so "I stood up to my own party and pushed them to support President Trump's trade deal."
● TX-03, TX-10, TX-31: The progressive group End Citizens United has endorsed Democrats Lulu Seikaly, Mike Siegel, and Donna Imam, who are each challenging Republican incumbents.
● Miami-Dade County, FL Mayor: Two Democratic candidates have released polls of next week's nonpartisan primary that find a competitive three-way race.
Former Mayor Alex Penelas' survey from Frederick Polls shows him in the lead with 27%, while Democrat Daniella Levine Cava leads Republican Steve Bovo, who is a fellow member of the Board of County Commissioners, 22-20 for the second spot in the all-but-assured November general election; another county commissioner, independent Xavier Suarez, is in fourth with 11%.
Levine Cava's poll from Change Research, meanwhile, has her up front with 25%, while Bovo narrowly outpaces Penelas 21-20 for second. Suarez, though, is far behind with 9%.
● Broward County, FL State's Attorney: Incumbent Mike Satz is retiring as the top prosecutor in this large South Florida county after 44 years in office, and eight of his fellow Democrats, including five who weren't born when Satz was first sworn in, are competing to succeed him in next week's party primary.
It only takes a plurality to earn the Democratic nomination, and the winner will be the favorite in November in this 66-31 Clinton county. However, Republicans do have a notable candidate in Gregg Rossman, who has prosecuted a number of high-profile murders; another local prosecutor, Sheila Alu, is also competing as an independent.
Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel takes a look at the crowded Democratic primary and writes that reform has been the dominant issue, though the candidates are approaching it in different ways. Defense attorney Joe Kimok, who had planned to challenge Satz before the incumbent decided not to seek re-election, has the backing of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Kimok, Olmeda reports, "is the most vocal candidate pledging to stop the office from seeking the death penalty," while his opponents have said that they'd "uphold if the case warrants it."
Satz, meanwhile, is supporting veteran prosecutor Sarahnell Murphy, who has emphasized her work leading the office's domestic violence unit and other divisions. Murphy also started the local diversion program meant to give first-time domestic-violence offenders a chance to be rehabilitated without going to prison.
Coconut Creek City Commissioner Joshua Rydell, who is the only candidate who has never worked as a prosecutor, enjoys endorsements from a number of local elected officials and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is the only Democrat who holds statewide office. Olmeda writes that Rydell shares some of Kimok's proposals, including opposition to cash bail and support for diverting drug offenders to treatment instead of to prison. Rydell has brought in nearly $289,000 through July 24, which is by far the most in the race.
Former prosecutor Harold Pryor has raised the second-largest amount, though it's less than half of Rydell's total, and he has the backing of a number of Black advocacy groups. Current prosecutor David Cannady, who is 35, meanwhile has argued that he'd bring "generational change" to the contest. Like Pryor, Cannady would be the first African American to hold this post.
Teresa Fanning-Williams, a defense attorney who held Satz to a 52-48 win in the 2016 primary, is also running again. The field also includes prosecutor Justin McCormack, who has talked about his record prosecuting police officers for misconduct, and Jim Lewis, whom Olmeda calls "one of the few Democratic candidates shunning most talk of reform in favor of incarcerating lawbreakers." Lewis, though, did say at a recent forum that if he were elected, "Marijuana is not going to be a crime in Broward County anymore."
● Netroots Nation: Netroots Nation is going virtual this year, and so is our elections Q&A panel! If you’ll be attending Netroots Nation this year, please join the Daily Kos Elections team on Thursday at 12 PM ET for our annual event: We dispense with the PowerPoints and proceed directly to questions from the audience about the races they're most interested in. A recording will also be made publicly available after the conference.
This panel will be moderated by Jeff Singer and feature Matt Booker, Carolyn Fiddler, and Stephen Wolf from Daily Kos along with Sister District co-founder and Director of Engagement & Partnerships Lala Wu. We hope you’ll join us for our Q&A as we take stock of this historic election cycle!
● Arizona: The office of Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has confirmed that state and county officials will mail absentee ballot applications to all Arizona voters for the November general election, as they did for the state's Aug. 4 primary.
● Connecticut: Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont has signed an executive order directing election officials to count absentee ballots for Connecticut's Aug. 11 primary so long as they are postmarked by Election Day and received within two days. Prior to Lamont's order, ballots had to be received by Election Day in order to count.
● Illinois: Illinois Republicans have filed a lawsuit challenging a law passed earlier this year by the state's Democratic-run legislature requiring that absentee ballot applications be sent to most voters for the November general election, alleging that the measure will lead to fraud. Under the law, voters were to receive applications by Aug. 1, which the state Board of Elections says happened as planned.
● Mississippi: Several Mississippi voters, with the backing of the ACLU, have filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to have the state's excuse requirement to request an absentee ballot waived for the November general election. Mississippi is one of just eight states that is not planning to allow excuse-free absentee voting this fall.
● West Virginia: Alex Thomas of MetroNews reports that Republican Secretary of State Mac Warner will not send absentee ballot applications to all voters for the November general election, as he did for West Virginia's June primary. Last month, Warner had appeared to rule out mailing applications.
A number of candidates recently launched their first TV ads of the general election:
We also have a few other offerings from candidates and committees: