The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Daniel Donner, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● Santa Clara County, CA District Attorney: Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, whose jurisdiction includes San Jose and other Silicon Valley communities, has won re-election twice without any opposition, but the Democratic incumbent now faces a potentially serious challenge in the form of one of his former prosecutors, Daniel Chung, as well as public defender Sajid Khan.
Rosen was elected in 2010 by narrowly beating a Republican DA, and San Jose Spotlight's Tran Nguyen writes that he's "traditionally been a tough-on-crime prosecutor." But Rosen, Nguyen says, has "garnered criticism for his handling of white-collar crime and domestic abuse cases" and has opposed a bill that "bars the prosecution of 14- and 15-year-olds as adults." The district attorney, though, moved to the left in 2020 when he announced that he'd no longer seek the death penalty and would institute other reforms, including the creation of a team "to investigate criminal misconduct of police officers including excessive use of force."
However, his two opponents are far from satisfied. Khan has been running against Rosen on a platform of criminal justice reform while Chung is a self-described "moderate." Khan launched his campaign in July arguing he'd be a "true, real progressive DA" who would aggressively prosecute police officers accused of misconduct; he also accused Rosen of dropping charges against cops who'd allegedly made racist and sexist posts on social media.
Khan's conflict with Rosen goes back further, though. In since-deleted blog posts from 2020, the public defender wrote, "No more trying to repair the irreparable. We need to tear and shut this shit down and start over." He also accused Rosen and the police of disproportionately arresting and prosecuting Black and Latino people. Rosen responded by filing a whistleblower complaint, arguing that Khan's writings, which included a map of the DA's office and other law enforcement complexes, amounted to "threats of violence and destruction," but he ended up withdrawing it.
Chung, for his part, also has his grievances with the man he's trying to unseat. He was still working for Rosen when he published an op-ed last year opining that, while criminal justice reforms were needed, some proposed laws would do nothing to deal with the rising wave of violence aimed at Asian Americans. Chung claimed he was subsequently demoted because, while his piece didn't mention the Santa Clara County DA, "my balanced approach to criminal justice reforms impeded his political aspirations," and he soon sued Rosen for retaliation; Chung has also claimed that he was fired after he turned down a severance package he says was aimed at getting him to resign.
One month later, Chung announced that he would join the race to beat his now-former boss. However, unlike Khan, Chung has focused on making the office more efficient rather than reforming it. Chung also said of Khan, "He has only been a public defender, and his job has been to poke holes in the prosecution's case."
Rosen has the support of much of the county's local Democratic establishment, including San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, while the San Jose Mercury News' Robert Salonga adds that the incumbent has already raised the $500,000 maximum allowed for this race. The Spotlight also predicted last year that the San Jose Police Officers Association would spend heavily to beat Khan.
Khan, though, has brought in a sizable $236,000 since he entered the race; he also has some recognizable backers of his own, including former eight-term Rep. Mike Honda. Salonga, meanwhile, writes that Chung "declined to provide information about the status of his campaign" and has "done minimal campaigning."
Khan recently released a mid-December poll from the Democratic firm SEA Polling & Strategic Design arguing that, with over 60% undecided, Rosen is very beatable. That survey showed the DA outpacing Chung 20-10 with Khan in third with 8%, though it suggested Khan would pick up support as he becomes better known.
All the candidates will face off on one nonpartisan ballot in June, a contest that coincides with California's statewide primary; if no one earns a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters would advance to a November general election.
Stay on top of the map-making process in all 50 states by bookmarking our invaluable redistricting timeline tracker, updated daily.
● KS Redistricting: Kansas' Republican-run state House passed the GOP's new congressional map on Wednesday, following similar action by the state Senate last week. The plan now goes to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, who may veto it on account of the way it gerrymanders multiple districts, particularly the state's lone Democratic-held seat, Rep. Sharice Davids' 3rd District.
Republicans could override such a veto, but it's not clear whether they have the numbers. The map passed the House by a 79-37 vote, five short of the 84-vote supermajority needed to overcome a possible rejection by Kelly. However, four Republicans were absent while two others voted "present" and just one voted against the final map. In the Senate, the map was approved 26-9, with two Republicans absent and one opposed; 27 votes are needed for a veto override.
● MO Redistricting: A committee in Missouri's Republican-run state Senate approved the new congressional map recently passed by the state House on a 9-5 vote on Tuesday, with seven Republicans and two Democrats in favor and three Republicans and two Democrats opposed. Those GOP dissenters hail from the far-right wing of the party, which has demanded a map that would create seven seats for Republicans and just one for Democrats. Republican leaders, however, prefer a plan that would maintain the state's current 6-2 GOP advantage, as the map currently advancing through the legislature does.
● SC Redistricting: South Carolina's Republican-run state House has passed the same congressional map their counterparts in the state Senate recently approved, sending it to Republican Gov. Henry McMaster. The two chambers had originally each passed slightly different maps, but the House chose to adopt the Senate's version. The final map makes the state's lone competitive seat, Republican Rep. Nancy Mace's 1st District, several points redder: Under the old lines, it voted for Donald Trump by a 52-46 margin, but the new iteration would have given Trump a 54-45 win, according to Dave's Redistricting App.
● TN Redistricting: Tennessee's Republican-run legislature has concluded work on its new legislative maps, sending them to Republican Gov. Bill Lee.
- GA-Sen: Raphael Warnock (D-inc): $9.8 million raised, $23 million cash-on-hand; Herschel Walker (R): $5.4 million raised, $5 million cash-on-hand
- SC-Sen: Tim Scott (R-inc): $7 million raised, $21.5 million cash-on-hand
● GA-Sen, GA-Gov: Quinnipiac is out with its inaugural poll of Georgia, and it finds tight general elections for both Senate and governor in this newly minted swing state. In the former contest, one-time University of Georgia football star Herschel Walker holds a tiny 49-48 lead over Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. The school didn't test any other Republicans against the incumbent, which may be just as well, as it finds Walker utterly destroying state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black 81-6 in the May GOP primary.
Turning to the race for governor, Quinnipiac finds 2018 Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams, who faces no serious intra-party opposition in her second bid, locked in a tight race against two different Republican foes. Gov. Brian Kemp edges out Abrams 49-47, while former Sen. David Perdue ties her 48-48.
But unlike the Senate primary, the GOP's gubernatorial nomination contest looks far more uncertain. Kemp outpaces Perdue, who has Donald Trump's backing, 43-36, with another 10% going to ex-state Rep. Vernon Jones. That's a considerably smaller lead for Kemp than the 41-22 edge he enjoyed last month in Insider Advantage's survey for Fox 5 Atlanta, though Quinnipiac puts him a shade closer to winning the majority of the vote he'd need to avert a June runoff.
● CT-Gov: Wealthy businessman Bob Stefanowski, who was the 2018 Republican nominee, is spending $1 million on an opening TV buy for his second campaign for governor. Stefanowski, who has pledged to use $10 million of his own money, sticks to his biography in his intro spots, which tout him as a middle class-born candidate who "know[s] what it's like to start with nothing."
● MA-Gov: Businessman Chris Doughty announced Wednesday that he'd run for this open seat as a "moderate Republican" and would put down $500,000 of his own money as "seed capital." Doughty competed for the nomination against 2018 Senate nominee Geoff Diehl, a Trump-endorsed former state representative who has refused to acknowledge that Joe Biden was legitimately elected, in the race to succeed retiring GOP Gov. Charlie Baker in this very blue state.
Before Doughty can focus on winning the September primary, though, he needs to make sure he makes it past the May 21 party convention; that's because, as we've written before, major party candidates for statewide office need to win the support of at least 15% of the delegates to advance to the ballot.
Doughty's supporters believe that he'd be a far more appealing nominee than Diehl in a state that has long sent moderate-sounding Republicans to the governor's office, but the new candidate also has some views that Democrats can attack. While Doughty focused his opening pitch on "jobs and the economy," he told the Boston Globe he's usually opposed to allowing abortion after "a fetus can feel pain." And while Doughty volunteered that he voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump in 2016, he acknowledged that he supported his party's nominee four years later.
● OR-Gov: The state SEIU has endorsed Tina Kotek, who recently stepped down as speaker of the state House, in the wide-open May Democratic primary.
● MI-10: Warren City Councilwoman Angela Rogensues announced this week that she would campaign for the Democratic nomination in the new 10th District, a suburban Detroit seat that would have backed Donald Trump by a narrow 50-49 spread. Rogensues was elected to an at-large seat in 2019 in Michigan's third-largest city, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed her last year to chair the board and executive committee of the Michigan Municipal Services Authority. She joins attorney Huwaida Arraf in the August primary.
● OH-11: Former state Sen. Nina Turner announced Wednesday that she would seek a rematch against Rep. Shontel Brown, who defeated her in last year's special election Democratic primary in a 50-45 upset. It's not clear what the new version of this constituency will look like now that the state Supreme Court has struck down the GOP-drawn map as an illegal gerrymander, but there's little question it will remain a safely blue Cleveland-based district.
Turner, who campaigned last time in a van emblazoned with the slogan "corporate Democrat want a puppet," said she wasn't trying to unseat the new incumbent because of her record. She instead argued, "I believe that I was the better candidate in 2021. And that has not changed."
● RI-02, RI-Gov: State Treasurer Seth Magaziner announced Wednesday that he would end his campaign for governor in order to run for Rhode Island's open 2nd District instead, a development that reshapes both of the state's highest-profile Democratic primaries.
Magaziner had spent years preparing for a 2022 bid to succeed Gov. Gina Raimondo, a close ally who was to be termed-out. And even after Raimondo resigned last March to become secretary of commerce and Lt. Gov. Dan McKee ascended to the top job, Magaziner went ahead with his campaign. His calculations began to change last week, though, when Rep. Jim Langevin announced that he would retire from Congress.
The Boston Globe reported over the weekend that unnamed Democratic "[p]owerbrokers" fear that a packed September nomination fight could give two-time Republican gubernatorial nominee—and possible congressional candidate—Allan Fung an opening in what's currently a 56-43 Biden seat, but that they hoped they could clear the House field by convincing one of McKee's three serious primary foes to switch races. Two of them, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and former CVS executive Helena Foulkes, quickly made it clear they were staying in the gubernatorial primary, but Magaziner went ahead and made the switch days later.
Magaziner joins two fellow Democrats, nonprofit head Omar Bah and former state party chair Ed Pacheco, in the primary, and he looks like the frontrunner at this early point. In addition to being the only candidate elected statewide, Magaziner, who is the son of Bill Clinton healthcare policy adviser Ira Magaziner, is a strong fundraiser who had a hefty $1.6 million in his state campaign account in September. Federal law prohibits the treasurer from using any of that cash on his congressional campaign, but he's free to refund the money and ask his donors to contribute to his new effort. Still, the field for the 2nd District remains very much in flux, though state Rep. Joseph Solomon and former state Rep. Stephen Ucci have each taken their names out of contention.
It also remains to be seen which of the candidates for governor will benefit most from the departure of Magaziner, who ended September with considerably more cash-on-hand than any of his now-former rivals. The one and only poll we've seen was an early November internal from Gorbea that showed McKee edging her out 26-24, with Magaziner in third at 16%.
● TN-05: Donald Trump quickly responded to Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper's Tuesday decision to retire from this newly gerrymandered seat by issuing a not-tweet pre-endorsement to former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus. Trump extolled Ortagus, a one-time Fox News commentator who now works at a health care investment firm and added he'd back her "if she decides to run!" Ortagus responded by yes-tweeting out Trump's statement and adding her thanks, though she didn't commit to running.
There are several other Republicans who are considering running for this revamped seat, which GOP lawmakers transmuted from a 60-37 Biden district to a 54-43 Trump constituency, and the Tennessee Journal says that businessman Baxter Lee is thinking about it. Last week, Axios also mentioned Carol Swain, who lost both the 2018 special election and the regular 2019 contest for mayor of Nashville, and Steve Glover, a member of the city's Metropolitan Council (the equivalent of the city council) as possibilities.
On the Democratic side, community activist Odessa Kelly launched a primary campaign against Cooper last year well before redistricting, but the redrawn lines place her outside the new 5th. Kelly now says she's considering what to do in the face of these unfavorable circumstances, though the other two constituencies that now contain parts of Nashville are even more conservative: The new 7th, where GOP Rep. Mark Green will almost certainly run, would have favored Trump 56-41, while Republican Rep. John Rose's 6th is considerably worse at 64-34 Trump.
P.S. By splitting Nashville, the GOP legislature has all but guaranteed that the city will be represented in the House by a Republican for the first time since 1875, when one-term Rep. Horace Harrison left office following his defeat the previous year. Indeed, this will be the first map to divide Nashville's Davidson County since before the 1950s.
● Special Elections: Here's a quick recap of Tuesday's special election in Connecticut:
CT HD-144: Democrat Hubert Delany kept this seat blue by beating Republican Danny Melchionne 56-44. Democrats now have a 96-53 majority in the chamber, with one vacant seat for each party.