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.
● PA-Sen, PA-17: As expected, Army veteran Sean Parnell has kicked off a campaign for Pennsylvania's open Senate seat, making him the first notable Republican from the western half of the state to join the race. Last year, Parnell narrowly lost a challenge to Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb by a 51-49 margin in the 17th Congressional District, a race that Donald Trump had pushed Parnell to run in before he'd even announced his candidacy in 2019.
There's no telling whether Trump will weigh in on Parnell's behalf again, especially given the crowded field, but Parnell is certainly gunning for Trump's support once again. Following the results of last year's election, Parnell joined an unsuccessful lawsuit seeking to invalidate 2.5 million disproportionately Democratic votes cast by mail in Pennsylvania in the hopes of throwing the state to Trump, and he still refuses to say whether the election "was fair and an accurate result."
That refusal, of course, has now become a requirement to remain a member in good standing of today's GOP, so Parnell's adherence to the party line may no longer distinguish him much in the eyes of Trump. And like many other Republicans who were once wary of Trump, comments Parnell made during the 2016 presidential race may come back to haunt him: Wealthy businessman Jeff Bartos, who's also seeking the GOP nod, was quick to launch digital ads attacking Parnell for saying, "Trump needs to release his taxes. It's an avoidable vulnerability."
Whatever happens in the Senate primary, Parnell's decision will come as a disappointment to recruiters at the NRCC, who would have preferred he run for the House again. The forecast for the congressional map in Pennsylvania is uncertain, however, given both that the state is shedding a seat and that the Pittsburgh area, where the 17th District is located, has lost population. These factors likely explain why Lamb himself is considering a Senate bid of his own, since his district will likely have to expand into more conservative rural and exurban areas.
● FL-Sen: Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who has been considering a challenge to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, will reportedly launch a bid early next month, according to unnamed "people familiar with the matter" who spoke to Axios.
● OH-Sen: A "close associate" of venture capitalist J.D. Vance tells Insider he has formed an exploratory committee for a possible Senate bid. Vance had previously confirmed he was considering joining the GOP field for this open seat.
Vance's associate believes he will likely join the race, saying it would take an "act of God" to keep him out of the contest. This source added that an announcement from Vance himself could come as early as this summer.
● CA-Gov: Former Trump advisor Richard Grenell, who'd been squirrely about his interest in running in the likely recall election of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, has finally confirmed he's considering a bid. Grenell says he'll wait "until about August or September" to decide. If it's confirmed for the ballot, the recall likely would take place in November.
● FL-Gov: The Florida Chamber of Commerce, which has been a vocal supporter of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, has released a poll of next year's governor’s race that, unsurprisingly, shows the incumbent leading several actual and hypothetical Democratic opponents.
The survey, from GOP firm Cherry Communications, shows DeSantis leading Rep. Charlie Crist, the only Democrat who has kicked off a bid, 51-41. The poll also found Desantis up 51-39 on Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and 53-38 on Rep. Val Demings.
While Fried isn't currently running, that may change soon, as she tweeted on Wednesday that she has an announcement planned for June 1.
● NY-Gov: Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik says that if she's chosen as the House GOP's next conference chair following Liz Cheney's ouster for telling the truth about the 2020 elections, she won't run for governor next year. A vote to replace Cheney as the party's third-ranking leader is set for Friday, and currently, Stefanik is the only candidate seeking the post. However, Texas Rep. Chip Roy said on Wednesday that he's considering a bid himself.
● VA-Gov: Clean Virginia, an environmental advocacy group that has endorsed Democrat Jennifer Carroll Foy and donated heavily to her campaign, is now running a TV ad campaign on her behalf. The organization's new spot praises Carroll Foy for championing legislation that required Dominion Energy, the state's mammoth energy producer, to clean up coal ash that had tainted groundwater. There's no word on how big Clean Virginia's buy is, but the group and the wife of its founder have given $1.1 million directly to Carroll Foy's campaign so far.
● Anchorage, AK Mayor: Democrat Forrest Dunbar holds a 114-vote edge over conservative Dave Bronson with 72,000 ballots tabulated for Tuesday's officially nonpartisan general election, and there are thousands of votes left to be counted. No one knows just how many, though, as domestic ballots postmarked by Tuesday have until May 21 to arrive, while overseas ballots can be received through May 25; the Anchorage Assembly is also scheduled to certify the results that day.
● New York City, NY Mayor: In her first TV ad for the June 22 Democratic primary, attorney Maya Wiley talks about the adversity she's overcome in her life. Wiley tells the audience, "I was 9 when I watched my dad die, and it devastated me. But his life and passion for equality inspired me." She continues by talking about her work in the ACLU and NAACP before pledging she'll "work my tail off to save a generation of kids from the trauma of crime and injustice, transform the police, and rebuild our economy for all New Yorkers."
● Omaha, NE Mayor: Republican incumbent Jean Stothert defeated her Democratic opponent, developer R.J. Neary, in a 67-33 landslide in Tuesday's officially nonpartisan general election. By winning a third term, Stothert is set to become Omaha's longest serving mayor in almost a century.
● Seattle, WA Mayor: Businessman Art Langlie, a self-described independent, announced this week that he would run for this open seat. The candidate's grandfather and namesake, Arthur Langlie, was Seattle's mayor from 1938 to 1941 before being elected governor as a Republican.
● Manhattan, NY District Attorney: Color of Change has announced that it will spend $1 million on mailers and get-out-the-vote efforts in support of former federal prosecutor Alvin Bragg, who is the only Black candidate competing in the eight-way Democratic primary on June 22.
● VA-AG: Del. Jay Jones picked up an endorsement Wednesday from Rep. Bobby Scott, who is the Virginia congressional delegation's longest-serving member, ahead of the June 8 Democratic primary. Scott joins Gov. Ralph Northam and Rep. Elaine Luria, who represents a neighboring Hampton Roads seat, in supporting Jones' intra-party bid against incumbent Mark Herring.
● VA-LG: Virginia Republicans finished tabulating ballots Tuesday from the weekend's party convention, and former Del. Winsome Sears earned the nomination for this open seat. Sears, who would be the first Black woman elected statewide, led another former delegate, Tim Hugo, 32-22 in the first round of voting in this instant runoff contest, and she defeated him 54-46 in the fifth and final round. The Democrats will pick their nominee June 8 in a traditional state-run primary.
Sears was elected to her only term in the state House in 2001, but she did not seek re-election two years later. She instead challenged Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott in the 3rd Congressional District, but she lost their 2004 bout 69-31. Sears only re-emerged on the political scene in 2018 when she ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign against Corey Stewart in the primary for U.S. Senate, and she went on to chair the pro-Trump Black Americans to Re-elect the President. Sears waged her newest campaign as an ardent conservative, and she attracted attention with advertising showing her holding an assault rifle.