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.
● VA Redistricting: Virginia's bipartisan redistricting commission has all but abandoned work on a new congressional map, likely punting the process to the state Supreme Court—just as it did with the state's legislative maps earlier this month. While the panel still has until Nov. 8 to finalize a map, the prospect looks remote after commissioners unanimously voted to adjourn indefinitely at a Wednesday meeting.
After the heated breakdown of the legislative redistricting process, acrimony on the commission crescendoed this week when a Democratic member, Del. Marcus Simon, revealed that the GOP's official redistricting arm had secretly drawn a map that former Republican Rep. Tom Davis had proposed to the panel—a map that bore a very close resemblance to a plan that commissioners themselves had recently voted to advance.
There's still no explanation as to why Democrats on the commission greenlighted that map, which was widely castigated as amounting to a Republican gerrymander even before Simon shined a spotlight on the GOP plan it shared so much DNA with. (Those similarities were first called out by analyst Sam Shirazi, who brought the matter to Simon's attention.) That conclusion was supported by the nonpartisan site Planscore, which found the map would tilt toward Republicans despite the fact that Democrats have dominated in Virginia for many years.
With the commission's abdication, responsibility for drawing new maps now falls to the state's highest court, pursuant to the same constitutional amendment that voters approved last year creating the commission in the first place. While the court will still be bound by the same criteria commissioners were obligated to follow, including a ban on maps that intentionally and unfairly favor a particular party or candidate, conservatives have a majority on the bench. That fact is one among many that some Virginia Democrats cited in opposing the amendment last year.
Though the justices are unlikely to draw any obvious gerrymanders, there are countless subtle ways they could craft maps that tilt toward the GOP—and most of the court's members in fact owe their jobs to such maps. Virginia is one of just two states (along with South Carolina) where supreme court justices are chosen by a majority vote of both houses of the legislature, and all of the conservatives on the court ascended to the bench thanks to Republican majorities secured through gerrymandered maps.
● NC Redistricting: North Carolina's Republican-run legislature has released five draft congressional maps and one for the state Senate, which you can find here. Under state law, the governor's approval is not needed for new redistricting plans, so Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper cannot veto any GOP maps. However, Democrats have a 4-3 majority on the state Supreme Court, which in recent years has cracked down on the worst excesses of Republican gerrymandering.
● WV Redistricting: West Virginia's Republican-run Senate approved a new map for the chamber in a wide bipartisan vote on Tuesday after rejecting a number of prior proposals over a period of several days. The map now goes to the House, which has yet to pass a plan for its own districts.
● NV-Sen: The Hill reports that Senate Majority PAC is spending $764,000 on the first of what will undoubtedly be many ad campaigns over the next year in support of Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto and against likely Republican nominee Adam Laxalt. The commercial praises the senator's work on "a commonsense rescue plan for small businesses, tourism, and schools," and argues Laxalt "won't help Nevada, or our economy."
● MA-Gov: With a mischievous twinkle, the Democratic Governors Association has released a Public Policy Polling survey of next year's Republican primary that finds Donald Trump's endorsed candidate, 2018 Senate nominee Geoff Diehl, crushing Gov. Charlie Baker 50-29. This is the first survey we've seen testing Diehl against Baker, who has yet to announce his 2022 plans.
If this poll is on-target, though, then Baker could be in for a world of pain if he runs for a third term, but as we've written before, the governor has a chance to drive friendlier voters to the polls. That's because Massachusetts allows voters who aren't registered with a major party to cast a ballot in either side's nomination contest—and that's most voters. In February, which is the most recent time registration figures were published, 57% of the state's voters were unenrolled with any party and just 10% belonged to the GOP. (Democrats represented 32% of the electorate, while the balance belonged to minor parties.)
Past polls have shown that independents are a very pro-Baker group, so it would be up to the governor to convince enough of them to vote in his primary when they might otherwise be inclined to take part in the Democratic contest or just stay home. It's also especially hard to assess what the 2022 GOP primary electorate will look like because it's so rare for Bay State Republicans to even have a competitive statewide primary for any offices they have a shot to win.
● NJ-Gov: Schoen Cooperman Research: Phil Murphy (D-inc): 50, Jack Ciattarelli (R): 41.
● VA-Gov: Two newly-released polls find a close Nov. 2 contest in the Old Dominion. Schoen Cooperman Research, which was in the field Oct. 9-12, shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Glenn Youngkin 47-43. (The Schoen is for Doug Schoen, a one-time Democratic pollster who joined the far-right Newsmax TV in January after years on Fox News.) More recent numbers from Monmouth University, which polled Oct. 16-19, finds a 46-46 deadlock; in late September, the school had McAuliffe up 48-43.
McAuliffe, meanwhile, is up with a commercial starring none other than Barack Obama, whose 2008 victory made him the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry the Old Dominion since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The former president tells voters, "Not only are you choosing your next governor, but you're also making a statement about what direction we're headed in as a country." Obama goes on to praise McAuliffe, saying he watched him "stand strong on the values we all care about: protecting every citizen's right to vote, fighting climate change, and defending a woman's right to choose."
● IL-17: Rock Island County Board member Angie Normoyle announced Wednesday that she was launching a campaign to succeed her fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Cheri Bustos. Normoyle, who is a former member of the Moline school board, was elected in 2019 to the 25-member County Board in what is the most populous county in the district. She joins Rockford Alderman Jonathan Logemann in the primary for a district whose new lines are not yet finalized.
● MO-07: Former U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison said this week that he would not compete in the Republican primary for this open seat.
● TX-24: Democratic state Rep. Michelle Beckley said Wednesday that she was suspending her campaign against Republican Rep. Beth Van Duyne "due to the extreme gerrymandering" in the congressional map the GOP legislature passed this week. She's not exaggerating: The current version of this seat in Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs backed Joe Biden 52-46, but the new constituency went for Donald Trump by an ugly 55-43 margin. The only other notable Democrat still in the running here is Marine veteran Derrik Gay.
● TX-37: Julie Oliver, who was the 2018 and 2020 Democratic nominee against Republican Rep. Roger Williams in the current 25th District, filed FEC paperwork on Tuesday for a possible primary campaign against longtime Rep. Lloyd Doggett in the new and safely blue Austin-based 37th District.
Oliver's first campaign against Williams in the current 25th District, which supported Donald Trump 55-40 in 2016, attracted little outside attention and ended in a 54-45 defeat for the Democrat. Oliver's 2020 bid, though, generated more buzz, especially after the DCCC released a poll in July showing Williams up just 45-43 as Biden led 47-46.
Oliver ultimately raised $2.2 million, considerably more than the $645,000 she brought in for 2018, and Democrats hoped this could be a longshot pickup opportunity on a strong election night. It was not to be, though, as Williams won by a stronger 56-42 margin as Trump carried the 25th 54-44.
● Seattle, WA Mayor: The Democratic firm Change Research's poll for Northwest Progressive Institute, which says it is not supporting either candidate in the Nov. 2 general election, gives former City Council President Bruce Harrell a wide 48-32 edge over current City Council President Lorena González. Two independent polls released last month also showed Harrell with a clear lead, while a September González internal had the race tied.