The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● IL-15, IL-12, IL-Gov: Republican Rep. Rodney Davis announced Tuesday that he would seek re-election in the new and safely red 15th District rather than challenge Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, but he could still be in for a tough June primary against a fellow incumbent. Freshman Rep. Mary Miller, who is one of the far-right's more prominent members of Congress, has yet to reveal her own plans, and as we'll discuss, she could decide to wage war on Davis in a vast downstate Illinois constituency that's largely new to both of them.
Davis, though, is hoping to deter his colleague with a long list of endorsements. The congressman kicked off his new campaign with support from fellow Reps. Mike Bost and Darin LaHood as well as Miller's predecessor, former Rep. John Shimkus. Davis also has 31 of the district's 35 county chairs, as well as 14 state legislators, in his corner.
Miller, for her part, lives in the new 12th District, where Bost is already running, but her home is only about a mile outside of the new 15th. The new 12th includes a plurality of Miller's current 15th District, but while it's possible she could campaign here against Bost, there are a few reasons to think that Davis would make a better foil for her.
Perhaps most importantly, while Bost and Miller both have presented themselves as ardent Trumpists throughout their careers, Davis has had to appeal to moderates in order to win five terms in his current 13th District. Perhaps most notably, Davis voted to recognize Joe Biden's victories in Arizona and Pennsylvania in the hours after the Jan. 6 attack.
Miller, by contrast, used the previous day to utter her quickly-infamous line, "Hitler was right on one thing. He said, 'Whoever has the youth has the future." The next day, she and Bost joined a majority of their caucus in voting to reject the results in the two swing states.
Months later, Davis was one just 35 House Republicans who voted to create a Jan. 6 commission—unsurprisingly, the two aforementioned members were fervently against the idea. Davis has since tried to blame Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the violence, but that may not be enough to win over voters and party figures who happily embrace the Big Lie.
Geography could also make the 15th District an appealing target for Miller. While more of her constituents wound up in the 12th District to the south, Bost still represents 53% of the new seat compared to 47% for Miller. However, Miller represents a 31% plurality of the new 15th compared to 28% for Davis.
Still, either Davis or Bost would likely begin any primary campaign with a clear financial edge over Miller. Davis ended September with $1.1 million on-hand, while Bost had $645,000 in the bank. Miller, by contrast, had only $430,000 to spend.
● NC-Sen: The Club for Growth says that it will likely deploy an additional $10 million to aid Rep. Ted Budd in next year's Republican primary in addition to the $4.5 million it will have spent for him this year.
● PA-Sen: Mehmet Oz, a TV doctor and former Donald Trump adviser with a long history of dispensing quack medical advice, entered Pennsylvania's Senate race on Tuesday and says he'll launch a "multimillion dollar ad buy" to help him win the GOP nomination. A spokesperson says Oz plans to at least partly self-fund his campaign, though it's not clear just how much he's worth or how much he might spend.
Oz, the son of immigrants from Turkey who became famous thanks to his frequent guest appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, is a new arrival in the Keystone State: He lived in a mansion in New Jersey just across the river from New York City for two decades and only voted in Pennsylvania (by absentee ballot) for the first time this year. According to his campaign, he rents a home in the Philadelphia suburbs from his wife's parents.
In an op-ed announcing his campaign in the conservative Washington Examiner, Oz focused heavily on the pandemic, attacking measures like lockdowns used to curb the spread of the virus and claiming, "Dissenting opinions from leading scholars were ridiculed and canceled so their ideas could not be disseminated." You won't be surprised to learn that Oz touted hydroxychloroquine on Fox News; a few years ago, he also tweeted and deleted that astrology "may reveal a great deal about our health."
Oz's candidacy, at least, reveals a great deal about the state of the race for the Republican nomination. As a result of the recent departure of Trump favorite Sean Parnell after a judge in a divorce proceeding concluded Parnell had abused his wife, the GOP field got blasted wide open, leaving no obvious frontrunner. Into this gap Oz hopes to step, though one party operative told Politico earlier this month that the "pretty much universal response" to the prospect of an Oz campaign "has been 'LOL.'" We'll see who's still laughing come the primary in May.
● AL-Gov: Multiple unnamed sources tell the Alabama Reporter that they expect businessman Tim James to launch a Republican primary campaign against incumbent Kay Ivey "soon."
● MD-Gov: Businessman Michael Rosenbaum announced Tuesday that he was dropping out of the crowded Democratic primary.
● OR-Gov: Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said this week that she would not enter next year's Democratic primary for governor. Rosenblum was the last major Democrat who still appeared to be considering running for Oregon's top job, though it's always possible someone else will enter before the March filing deadline.
● CA-37: State Sen. Sydney Kamlager has filed paperwork for a potential bid to succeed Rep. Karen Bass, a fellow Democrat who is leaving Congress to run for mayor of Los Angeles.
● GA-02: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that former Trump administration official William Crozer, whom the paper describes as a "veteran political operative and lobbyist," is considering seeking the Republican nod to take on veteran Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop.
● GA-06: Republican physician Rich McCormick, who'd been gearing up for a second House bid for some time, kicked off a campaign for Georgia's reconfigured 6th District on Tuesday with the backing of five of the eight GOP members of the state's congressional delegation. Supporting McCormick are Reps. Buddy Carter, Andrew Clyde, Jody Hice, Rick Allen, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, as well as a whole host of members from other states.
McCormick ran for what was then the open 7th District last year, a longtime GOP seat in the Atlanta suburbs that rapidly grew bluer during the Trump era. He lost that election 51-49 to Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux, but Republicans have since further gerrymandered Georgia's congressional map to pack Democrats into the 7th while making the neighboring 6th solidly red. As a consequence, Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath recently announced she'd square off against Bourdeaux in the 7th District, leaving the 6th open.
However, even before redistricting, several Republicans were already running in the 6th, including former state ethics commission chair Jake Evans and former state Rep. Meagan Hanson. Both have raised credible sums, and both are continuing their campaigns, so despite the big names in his corner, McCormick may not have a smooth path to the GOP nomination.
● MO-04: Former state Sen. Kurt Schaefer has announced that he will not run in the Republican primary for this open seat.
● NE-02: EMILY's List has endorsed Alisha Shelton, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Senate nomination in 2020. Shelton faces state Sen. Tony Vargas in the May primary to take on Republican Rep. Don Bacon.
● OH-09: Republican state Sen. Theresa Gavarone announced Tuesday that she would challenge 20-term Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in the 9th District, a constituency that Gavarone was in place to gerrymander in her capacity as co-chair of the legislature's redistricting committee.
The new version of this northwestern Ohio seat, which includes Kaptur's longtime Toledo base, supported Donald Trump 51-47, a huge shift from Joe Biden's 59-40 victory under the current lines. Gavarone's residence, though, still wound up in the new 5th District, which is held by GOP Rep. Bob Latta.
Kaptur, who is the longest-serving woman in the history of the House, has never failed to win by double digits, though it's been a very long time since she's had to run under lines as tough as these. The incumbent ended September with $860,000 on-hand to defend herself.