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.
● NM-01: In a come-from-behind surprise, state Rep. Melanie Stansbury defeated state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez for the Democratic nomination for the June 1 special election in New Mexico's 1st Congressional District on Wednesday night. Stansbury will now go up against Republican state Sen. Mark Moores, where she'll be the strong favorite to hold the seat left vacant by former Rep. Deb Haaland's historic confirmation as Joe Biden's interior secretary.
In an initial round of voting held among 200 party leaders on Tuesday, Sedillo Lopez led Stansbury 37% to 22%, eliminating six other candidates and sending the two leaders to a runoff. That advantage appeared to give an edge to Sedillo Lopez, the more vocally progressive of the pair, but Stansbury pulled out a 51-48 victory the next day (one delegate abstained).
According to new calculations from Daily Kos Elections, the 1st District backed Biden by a 60-37 margin in 2020, an improvement from Hillary Clinton's 52-35 showing four years earlier. That makes the 1st, which is centered around Albuquerque, considerably more Democratic than the bluest district held by a Republican anywhere in the nation (California's 21st, which backed Biden 54-44). It was also the first time ever that the 1st gave a higher share of the vote to the Democratic candidate for president than the neighboring 3rd.
Making life even more difficult for the GOP, two other right-leaning candidates will also be on the ballot: Libertarian Chris Manning, who took 5% in a 2018 bid for the 3rd District, and independent Aubrey Dunn, an ex-Republican who was elected state land commissioner in 2014 but switched to the Libertarians in 2018 while still in office. Candidates are required to file first-quarter fundraising reports with the FEC by April 15, so we'll get a better sense then whether there's any Republican enthusiasm over the possibility of an upset.
The first fundraising quarter of the year, covering the period of Jan. 1 through March 31, has come to an end, and federal candidates will have to file campaign finance reports with the FEC by April 15. But as per usual, campaigns with strong hauls are leaking numbers early, which we've gathered below.
● OH-Sen: Tim Ryan (D): $1.2 million raised, $1 million cash-on-hand (has not announced campaign); Josh Mandel (R): $1.3 million raised
● PA-Sen: John Fetterman (D): $3.9 million raised
● WI-Sen: Alex Lasry (D): $1.04 million raised, additional $50,000 self-funded
● CA-Gov: Gavin Newsom (D-inc): $3.1 million raised for likely recall (Newsom began fundraising for an anti-recall committee two weeks ago)
● CO-03: Kerry Donovan (D): $614,000 raised
● IL-16: Adam Kinzinger (R-inc): $1.1 million raised
● NJ-03: Andy Kim (D-inc): $959,000 raised, $1.3 million cash-on-hand
● NY-19: Antonio Delgado (D-inc): $1 million raised, $4 million cash-on-hand
● TX-23: Tony Gonzales (R-inc): $600,000 raised
● PA-Sen: Democratic state Sen. Sharif Street, who last month said he'd set up an exploratory committee for a possible Senate bid in April, has now done exactly that. (Candidates often wait until after the end of a quarter to set up a campaign committee with the FEC, which lets them avoid having to file a fundraising report for what might be a short and unrepresentative time period.) Street previously said he wouldn't make a final decision until some unspecified time later this year.
● CA-Gov: Billionaire investor Tom Steyer, who spent $250 million of his own money on a failed bid for the Democratic nomination for president last year, isn't ruling out running in California's likely gubernatorial recall election. In a new interview this week, Steyer told Bloomberg TV, "I have no plans to run for governor," which as we always stress is entirely different from saying, "I will not run for governor": The latter shuts the door; the former keeps it open.
Steyer added that he's "opposed to the recall," but allies of Gov. Gavin Newsom have been united in saying that the best way to fight the effort to oust the governor involves ensuring that no prominent Democrats run—and so far, none are. Last month, though, Politico reported that Steyer had commissioned a poll of the race, and a spokesman would only tell the publication to check back in "late April."
● FL-Gov: State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who's been publicly considering a bid for governor since early January, said on Wednesday that she's "very close to making a decision" about whether to challenge Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis next year. Fried, the only Democrat elected to statewide office in Florida, made her comments during an interview with MSNBC's Joy Reid, during which she lambasted her potential opponent as "egotistical," said he "has not been rational from day one" about the pandemic, and blasted him for wanting to take "ownership of this Trump lane."
● MA-Gov: Democrat Jay Gonzalez, who got crushed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker 67-33 in 2018, sounds unlikely to try a second time, telling WBUR's Callum Borchers, "I would never say never, but I am not planning on" seeking a rematch. Another Democrat, former Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, struck a similar note, saying, "I don't rule out running again at some point, but I'm not planning anything at the moment." Murray won two terms as Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick's running-mate and served in the second slot from 2007 until the middle of 2013, when he resigned office early to become head of the Worcester Chamber of Commerce. Baker has yet to say whether he'll seek a third term next year.
● NE-Gov: After briefly considering a bid for Nebraska's open governorship, Republican Sen. Deb Fischer said on Thursday that she would not join next year's race. So far, no prominent Republicans have announced bids to succeed term-limited Gov. Pete Ricketts, though many are considering.
● WI-Gov: Republican lobbyist Bill McCoshen, who served as a member of former Gov. Tommy Thompson's cabinet in the mid-1990s, confirmed to the Wisconsin State Journal this week that he's considering a bid for governor next year but added he "won't make a final decision until June." Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has yet to draw a notable Republican opponent to date, though a number of potential challengers are weighing the race.
● LA-02: Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams, who was elected last year on a platform emphasizing criminal justice reform, just endorsed state Sen. Troy Carter in the April 24 special election runoff for Louisiana's 2nd District. Williams' move might seem to cut against type, since Carter's opponent, fellow state Sen. (and Democrat) Karen Carter Peterson, has campaigned as the more progressive option. However, when Williams faced his own runoff in December, Peterson was a major supporter of his opponent, Keva Landrum, who wound up losing 58-42.
Orleans Parish, which is coterminous with the city of New Orleans, makes up about 40% of the 2nd District and was responsible for 50% of all ballots cast in the first round of voting on March 20, which Carter led 36-23.
● NY-12: Veteran Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who narrowly survived a difficult primary in 2020, announced on Wednesday that she would run for a 16th term next year. That prompted her main challenger the last two cycles, businessman Suraj Patel, to say he plans to run a third time. "I fully expect to be a candidate in this race," said Patel in a statement.
Patel first ran against Maloney in 2018, losing 60-40 in a two-way contest. Last year, in a multi-way affair, Maloney held off Patel by a much closer 43-39 spread in a race that wasn't decided until many weeks after the primary thanks to lengthy delays in counting absentee votes. New York's 12th Congressional District and its predecessors have long been based on Manhattan's East Side, but the boundaries are set to shift due to redistricting.
● Special Elections: Here's a recap of Tuesday's special election in Massachusetts:
MA-HD-19th Suffolk: Democrat Jeffrey Turco won 66% of the vote to hold this seat for his party. Independent candidate Richard Fucillo, a 22 year-old Emerson College student, turned in a strong performance, edging out Republican Paul Caruccio 16.9-16.6 for second place.
Turco, who has taken stances that have put him at odds with many in his party, will enter the chamber as one of its more conservative Democrats. This chamber is now at full strength, and Democrats maintain their 129-30 supermajority (with one independent member).
● VA-LG: Just a week after Virginia's filing deadline, former state Democratic Party chair Paul Goldman has pulled out of the open-seat race for lieutenant governor. Seven other candidates are still competing in the June 8 primary to succeed Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is running for governor.