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.
● GA-SoS, GA-10: Republican Rep. Jody Hice said Wednesday that he could decide "within the next few days" if he'll launch a primary campaign against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who infuriated the far-right when he refused to go along with Donald Trump's demand to "find 11,780 votes" to overturn Joe Biden's win in Georgia.
One of Raffensperger's loudest intra-party critics has been Hice, who was a conservative radio host before he was elected to his safely red House seat in east-central Georgia in 2014. The congressman last month used his CPAC panel titled "Who's Really Running the Biden Administration" to spread conspiracy theories, declaring, "I guarantee you, Georgia is not blue, and what happened this election was solely because of a horrible secretary of state and horrible decisions that he made."
Hice is not the only Republican looking to take down Raffensperger, though. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, who lost the 2018 primary runoff to Raffensperger 62-38, will announce his second campaign Monday. There's also been speculation for months that former state Rep. Vernon Jones, a Trump-supporting ex-Democrat who joined the Republican Party right after the 2020 election, could also take on the incumbent.
● AL-Sen: Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, who helped foment the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, said this week that he would announce on Monday evening whether he’d run for Alabama’s open Senate seat or if he’d instead seek re-election.
● NC-Sen: A close friend and political adviser of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley tells the News & Observer's Brian Murphy that she will likely enter the Democratic primary in early April. Consultant Kara Hollingsworth, whom Murphy writes is "authorized to speak on" behalf of Beasley, says of the potential candidate, "She's putting a team together, is planning to announce and I think we'll see that in early April." Beasley, who was the first Black woman to lead the court, lost re-election last year by just 401 votes.
Murphy adds that former astronaut Joan Higginbotham "could also enter the race in April," though no one from Higginbotham's camp has said anything publicly about her timeline.
● CA-Gov: Wednesday was the deadline for Republicans seeking to recall Democratic incumbent Gavin Newsom to turn in their signatures, and even the governor recently acknowledged they've likely collected enough to force a special election. However, as Politico's Carla Marinucci details, there are a number of logistical steps ahead that, while very unlikely to stop the recall vote from going forward, mean it can't be officially scheduled for months.
Marinucci writes that, barring any big surprises, Sept. 17 would be the day that Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis would declare the election date, and unnamed "experts" anticipate that Election Day will be "somewhere between October and late November" of this year.
Voters would be presented with two questions on their ballot. First, they'd be asked if they want to recall Newsom, and second, they'd be asked to select a replacement candidate. If a majority voted no on the recall question, Newsom would stay in office. However, if a majority voted to recall him, the replacement candidate with the most votes would take his seat for the remainder of his term: There would be no primary or runoff, so the new governor could be elected even if they don't come anywhere close to taking a majority of the vote.
Several notable Republicans are already running including 2018 nominee John Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and ex-Rep. Doug Ose, and others are considering. A crowded GOP field could allow one strong Democrat to collect enough votes to win a race to replace Newsom, and the Los Angeles Times' George Skelton reports that former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa "has been calling around the state feeling out possible support for a candidacy."
Skelton adds that Villaraigosa, who lost the 2018 top-two primary to Newsom, plans to "watch the polls, measure Newsom's strength and decide sometime in summer when an election date is set and there's a deadline for filing candidacies." However, Skelton predicts that Villaraigosa won't enter the race in the end because of pressure from Newsom and his allies to stay out.
Indeed, as we've noted before, the 2003 recall campaign against Democratic Gov. Gray Davis gives Team Blue a good reason to present one anti-recall front this time. That year, the party awkwardly pressed the slogan, "No on recall, Yes on Bustamante" in a dissonant effort to exhort Californians to vote against the recall of Davis on the first question on their ballots but support Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante as a fallback option on the second question.
But the very existence of Bustamante's campaign—he was the only notable Democrat to run—made it harder for Democrats to rally around opposition to the recall in the first place, a task that was made even more difficult when Bustamante himself started to criticize Davis in the evident hope that the recall would succeed and he'd reap the rewards.
That's very much not what happened, of course. Voters opted to oust Davis by a 55-45 margin, and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger won the 135-way race (yes really) to replace him by beating Bustamante 49-31. So far, no Democrats have broken ranks this time, and Newsom's camp very much wants to keep it that way.
No matter what happens this year, the regularly scheduled contest for a full four-year term will take place in 2022.
● FL-Gov: The Tampa Bay Times name-drops Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg as a potential Democratic candidate, but there's no word if he's interested.
● MD-Gov: While Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman had been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor last year, he's made it clear he's seeking re-election in 2022 in what could be a competitive race.
● IL-16: Chiropractor Leona Di Amore announced this week that she would challenge Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who voted to impeach Donald Trump in January, in the Republican primary. It remains to be seen if Di Amore, a Navy veteran whose campaign slogan is "Love Wins 2022," has the resources and connections to run a serious campaign, but her presence could split the anti-Kinzinger vote.
● NH-01: 2020 Republican nominee Matt Mowers this week said he hadn't decided if he'd seek a rematch against Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas in 2022, though WMUR reports that many members from both parties expect him to. Last year, Pappas beat Mowers 51-46 as Joe Biden was carrying this swing seat by a similar 52-46 margin. Republican map-makers, though, will have the opportunity to make this constituency more conservative.
● NM-01: The Democratic Party's state central committee will convene March 30 to nominate its candidate for the June 1 special election to succeed now-Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, and Thursday was the deadline for any contenders to put their names forward for consideration. The GOP's central committee will hold its own nominating meeting three days earlier on March 27, and anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez, who lost last year's Senate primary, kicked off her campaign this week. This Albuquerque-based seat supported Joe Biden 60-37 last year.
● OH-11: Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has scheduled the special election to succeed now-Rep. Marcia Fudge for Nov. 2, a move that ensures that this safely blue seat will be vacant for most of the next year and reduce the size of the already tenuous Democratic majority in the House. The filing deadline will be May 5, while the primary will take place Aug. 3.
● TX-06: The firm Victoria Research has conducted a poll of the May 1 all-party primary in the special election for Texas' 6th Congressional District on behalf of Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez that shows her advancing to a runoff with Republican Susan Wright. The toplines for this survey, which is the first we've seen of this contest, are below:
- GOP activist Susan Wright (R): 21
- 2018 nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez (D): 17
- State Rep. Jake Ellzey (R): 8
- 2020 state House candidate Lydia Bean (D): 5
- Education activist Shawn Lassiter (D): 3
- Accountant Adrian Mizher (I): 3
- Former Homeland Security official Patrick Moses (D): 2
- Former Trump administration official Sery Kim (R): 1
- Someone else: 3
- Undecided: 39
Meanwhile, Bean has earned an endorsement from the AFL-CIO of Tarrant County, which is by far the largest and bluest of the three counties in this district.
● Special Elections: There's a special election for the Louisiana House of Representatives on tap for Saturday:
LA-HD-82: This seat, which is entirely located in Jefferson Parish in the New Orleans suburbs, became vacant when former GOP Rep. Charles Henry resigned in January. Southern University of New Orleans professor Raymond Delaney is the Democrat taking on a pair of Republicans who each have a family member in local office: businessman Eddie Connick, who is the cousin of Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick Jr.; and mental health counselor Laurie Schlegel, the wife of Judge Scott Schlegel. All candidates compete on one ballot and if no one takes a majority, a runoff will be held on April 24.
This is a solidly red district, though it shifted left during the Trump-era. Mitt Romney carried this district 70-27 in 2012 while Trump won by a smaller 64-31 spread in 2016. According to Louisiana Weekly, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards also took 53% in his successful re-election bid in 2019.
This chamber is controlled by Republicans, who have a 67-35 edge (there are two independent members) and just this seat is vacant.
● Seattle, WA Mayor: Former state Rep. Jessyn Farrell announced Thursday that she would make a second bid for mayor. Farrell, whom the local NBC affiliate describes as "a longtime transit and environmental activist" who is also allied with labor, ran here in 2017 and took fourth in the top-two primary with 13% of the vote. Following that race, Farrell took a job at a progressive think tank led by billionaire Nick Hanauer.
● CA-AG: On Thursday, the U.S. Senate confirmed California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to serve as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, which will make him the first Latino to hold this post. Becerra's ascension means that it will be up to his fellow Democrat, Gov. Gavin Newsom, to choose the new attorney general for the nation's largest state. Newsom's nominee will need to be confirmed by both chambers of the state legislature, though it would be a surprise if the overwhelmingly Democratic body rejected Newsom's choice.
Indeed, it was only a little more than four years ago that Becerra himself became attorney general this way. In 2016, then-Gov. Jerry Brown shocked state and national politicos when he selected Becerra, a veteran congressman from Los Angeles who was the fourth-highest ranking Democrat in the House, to succeed Kamala Harris after she was elected to the Senate.
One Democrat who wasn't chosen, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, decided to challenge Becerra in 2018, but Jones ended up taking a distant third in the top-two primary; Becerra himself had no trouble turning back his Republican foe that November.