The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Daniel Donner, and Cara Zelaya, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
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● MD-06: Democratic Rep. David Trone has released a commercial against his Republican opponent declaring, "If Neil Parrott had his way every American who's HIV-positive would have to be tattooed, including all 3.7 million infants and children." As the screen shows children stamped with an "HIV Positive" mark, the narrator continues, "Parrott wrote an op-ed actually proposing to force HIV-positive men, women, and children to be tattooed or withhold their medication."
Back in 2005, Parrott wrote a letter to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail where he proposed that HIV positive people should be tattooed "in a spot covered by a bathing suit" in order to warn potential sex partners about their status. He continued, "An effective way to enforce the consistency of the tattoo would be to provide medicine to the infected individual only after they have received the HIV tattoo." In 2012, the Baltimore Sun wrote that Parrott, who had been elected to the state House of Delegates two years before, "said he has since abandoned the idea because advances in medicine have made the disease more treatable."
Trone beat Parrott 59-39 last cycle as Biden was carrying the old version of the seat by a similar 61-38 spread, but the redrawn incarnation would have favored Biden only 54-44. Parrott earned his rematch after decisively beating a primary foe supported by Gov. Larry Hogan and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, but so far, major GOP outside groups haven't spent in the general election. Trone, for his part, has already self-funded over $12.5 million, so it would be a surprise if national Democrats deployed anything to help the Total Wine and More co-owner.
The campaign for this seat in the western Maryland and northwestern D.C. exurbs isn't the only race that Trone is spending in, though. The congressman and his brother, who also co-owns the company, together have dropped more than $2.6 million to back Initiative 96, a ballot measure in Colorado that would eventually allow liquor retailers to operate an unlimited number of locations in the state. (Total Wine has three stores in the Centennial State, which is the maximum currently allowed.)
The third fundraising quarter of 2022 came to an end on Friday evening, and campaign finance reports are due Oct. 15 for federal candidates. Several campaigns, almost all of them Democratic, have released their numbers early, though, and we’ve seen some huge hauls already:
CO-Sen: Keating Research (D) and Magellan Strategies (R) for Healthier Colorado: Michael Bennet (D-inc): 46, Joe O'Dea (R): 36
FL-Sen: Siena College for Spectrum News: Marco Rubio (R-inc): 48, Val Demings (D): 41
IN-Sen: ARW Strategies (R) for IndyPolitics.org: Todd Young (R-inc): 39, Tom McDermott (D): 37, James Sceniak (L): 6
NV-Sen: OH Predictive Insights (R) for The Nevada Independent: Adam Laxalt (R): 45, Catherine Cortez Masto (D-inc): 43 (April: 43-35 Cortez Masto)
FL-Sen: This poll was finished Sept. 25, days before Hurricane Ian hit Florida.
IN-Sen: The only other poll we've seen here was a late August McDermott internal that showed him trailing Young by a similar 45-42 margin. So far, though, no major outside groups have acted like the race in this 57-41 Trump state is competitive.
● KS-Gov: Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has publicized an endorsement from former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, a prominent moderate Republican who backed her in 2018 and went on to support Democrat Barbara Bollier's unsuccessful Senate bid two years later. Kelly's Republican foe, Derek Schmidt, worked as an aide to Kassebaum early in his career, and he praised her as a role model in 2019.
● ME-Gov: Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has earned the backing of independent Sen. Angus King, a former governor who caucuses with the Democrats in D.C. but has been reluctant to endorse Team Blue's candidates for his old job.
King spent most of the 2014 campaign supporting independent Eliot Cutler over Democrat Mike Michaud even as Democrats fretted that Cutler could take enough support to secure a second term for Republican incumbent Paul LePage: The senator switched to Michaud in the final days of the campaign well after early voting was underway, but LePage did indeed go on to win re-election with a plurality over Michaud while Cutler was a distant third.
King refrained from taking sides at all in 2018, saying now that he didn't know Mills well back then and that he was focused on his own successful re-election campaign. (LePage, who is now trying to regain the governorship, spent much of that cycle flirting with a bid against King, but he opted to instead briefly move to Florida.) King, though, explained last week that he's now supporting Mills in part because he's "impressed" with her performance during the worst of the pandemic.
● NY-Gov: City & State reports that two Republican groups funded in part by conservative donor Ronald Lauder, Save Our State NY and Safe Together NY, have reserved a total of $4 million in ads against Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul.
CO-Gov: Keating Research (D) and Magellan Strategies (R) for Healthier Colorado: Jared Polis (D-inc): 51, Heidi Ganahl (R): 34
FL-Gov: Siena College for Spectrum News: Ron DeSantis (R-inc): 49, Charlie Crist (D): 41
MD-Gov: Braun Research for the University of Maryland and the Washington Post: Wes Moore (D): 60, Dan Cox (R): 28
NV-Gov: OH Predictive Insights (R) for The Nevada Independent: Joe Lombardo (R): 45, Steve Sisolak (D-inc): 42, Brandon Davis (L): 2, Ed Bridges (IAP): 1 (April: 44-35 Sisolak)
● ND-AL: We didn't expect to get dueling polls of the race for North Dakota's only House district, but the state Democratic Party kicked things off Friday when it publicized an internal from DFM Research showing Republican Rep. Kelly Armstrong fending off independent Cara Mund just 44-40 in a race without a Democratic choice. The incumbent, though, responded days later by dropping his own poll from the ominously named firm Axis Research that shows him ahead 52-30 in a state Trump took 65-32. Armstrong also released an earlier poll from September from 1892 Polling showing him up 48-31.
Mund, who became the first North Dakotan to be crowded Miss America in 2018, entered the race in August as a pro-choice non-aligned candidate. She learned she'd be Armstrong's only foe a short time later when Democratic nominee Mark Haugen, who argued that his anti-abortion views gave him no path to victory, dropped out.
● PA-17: The DCCC has publicized numbers from brilliant corners Research & Strategies showing Democrat Chris Deluzio leading Republican Jeremy Shaffer 49-43 in a suburban Pittsburgh seat that Biden would have taken by that same 52-46 margin. This is the first poll we've seen out of this contest, which has attracted heavy spending from both parties, since late July, when a survey for Deluzio put him up 43-42.
● VA-07: Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger's new commercial goes after Republican Yesli Vega for falsely suggesting that it's unlikely for rape to result in pregnancy. The spot features a rape survivor telling the audience, "Yesli Vega said women can't get pregnant from rape because it's not happening organically—that made me sick. It's irresponsible coming from a police officer who should have known better."
Axios posted audio in June where Vega, a Prince William County supervisor who also works as a sheriff's deputy, responded to a question about what Congress should do if Roe v. Wade was overturned. The candidate first expressed her support for more state restrictions on the procedure before declaring, "The left will say, 'Well what about in cases of rape or incest?' I'm a law enforcement officer. I became a police officer in 2011. I've worked one case where as a result of a rape, the young woman became pregnant."
Vega was asked later at the event, "I've actually heard that it's harder for a woman to get pregnant if she's been raped. Have you heard that?" Vega replied,
"Well, maybe because there's so much going on in the body. I don't know. I haven't, you know, seen any studies. But if I'm processing what you're saying, it wouldn't surprise me. Because it's not something that's happening organically. You're forcing it. The individual, the male, is doing it as quickly—it's not like, you know—and so I can see why there is truth to that. It's unfortunate."
Vega told Axios in response, "I'm a mother of two, I'm fully aware of how women get pregnant."
Spanberger ran a commercial about this story about a month ago, and she tells the New York Times this new spot will run through most of October.
● WA-03: CNN reports that Republican Joe Kent gave an interview with Nazi sympathizer Greyson Arnold in June months after he publicly disavowed another white supremacist supporter. Kent's campaign said in response that the candidate mistakenly believed that Arnold was a local journalist and that "[n]one of the questions gave Joe any indications that the individual had any racist or antisemitic views and, if he had, Joe would have cancelled the interview immediately."
What Kent did tell Arnold during their talk, though, was that Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar, who has his own prominent white supremacists supporters, "has some awesome legislation he's proposed about getting rid of a lot of the legal immigration." CNN notes that Kent's website still displays an endorsement from Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers, another far-right favorite whose own colleagues censured her in March after speaking to a white nationalist conference and who later suggested the government was behind the mass shooting in Buffalo.
● Congressional Leadership Fund: Axios reports that the conservative super PAC has reserved another $14 million across 15 different House seats. We've listed these below, with information about which party currently holds the seat and the name of the incumbent if there's one seeking re-election:
- AZ-06: $300,000 - Open, Democratic-held
- CA-13: $400,000 - Open, Democratic-held
- CO-08: $500,000 - Open, new seat
- CT-05: $600,000 - Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes
- FL-27: $2 million - Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar
- IL-17: $1 million - Open, Democratic-held
- ME-02: $2 million - Democratic Rep. Jared Golden
- NE-02: $650,000 - Republican Rep. Don Bacon
- NM-02: $500,000 - Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell
- NY-19: $1.8 million - Open, Democratic-held
- NY-22: $870,000 - Open, Republican-held
- OH-13: $1 million - Open, Democratic-held
- OR-04: $700,000 - Open, Democratic-held
- OR-05: $625,000- Open, Democratic-held
- PA-17: $850,000- Open, Democratic-held
This is the first reservation from any of the big four House groups in Florida's 27th, where Salazar is trying to fend off Democrat Annette Taddeo. GOP legislators did what they could to strengthen Salazar by turning her seat in the southern Miami area from a 51-48 Biden constituency into one Trump would have taken 49.9-49.6.
● Independent Expenditures: The latest update to our spreadsheet tracking independent expenditures from the four major House groups (the DCCC, House Majority PAC, NRCC, and Congressional Leadership Fund) sees Republicans providing $24 million of the $32 million in spending between Sept. 29 and Oct. 3 with CLF alone responsible for more than $20 million. (Normally we update this sheet every Monday, but last week we didn't do so until Wednesday because of Rosh Hashanah, hence the short week this time.) The only new district on the list is Colorado's 7th, a Democratic-held open seat in the Denver area that saw HMP spend $30,000 on digital ads to attack Republican Erik Aadland.
● NV Ballot: The Republican firm OH Predictive Insights' new survey for the Nevada Independent finds voters narrowly opposing Question 3, a proposed constitutional amendment to institute America's first-ever top-five primary system, by a 40-38 margin. If Question 3 does win next month, though, top-five advocates would need to prevail at the ballot box again in 2024 in order to implement the system for the 2026 elections.
● IL Supreme Court: Politico reports that a Democratic group called All for Justice is spending $3 million on an ad campaign attacking two Republican candidates for the state Supreme Court, an offensive that comes as Democrats are trying to maintain their 4-3 majority on the body. A win for the GOP in both races, which are partisan contests because they don't feature a previously elected incumbent, will almost certainly give them a majority on the bench, which helps explain why the group says it "plans to spend millions more" against both Republicans.
The commercial's star, a woman identified as Elizabeth, tells the audience, "It's one seat. Our right to choose, our freedom to make our own medical decisions, comes down to one seat on the Illinois Supreme Court." She then implores the viewer to vote against a pair of Republican candidates, former Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran and appointed Justice Michael Burke.
Democrats redrew the map last year to remedy decades of malapportionment, though the two districts All for Justice is advertising in still lean to the right of the state as a whole. Curran, who was the GOP's 2020 nominee against Sen. Dick Durbin two years after he very narrowly lost re-election at home, will face off against Democrat Lake County Judge Elizabeth Rochford in the 2nd District. This seat, which includes areas to the north and west of Chicago, would have favored Biden 56-42; Curran himself also lost the constituency 53-43 as Durbin was beating him statewide by a wider 55-39.
Burke, meanwhile, is defending District 3, which includes other parts of western and southern Chicagoland as well as some rural counties. Burke will go up against Appellate Court Judge Mary O'Brien in a seat Biden would have won 53-45.
● PA Supreme Court: Chief Justice Max Baer, who was part of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's 5-2 Democratic majority, died on Friday at the age of 74 just months before he was to retire because of mandatory age limits.
State law allows Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to nominate a new justice, but that person must be confirmed by two-thirds of the Republican-controlled state Senate: The governor's office tells Bolts Magazine that he "has not made a determination at this time" on what he'll do. Debra Todd, a Democrat who was the most senior member after Baer, automatically became chief justice following his death, which makes her the first woman to lead the body.
Baer's seat will be the only one on the ballot next year for a full ten-year term, so barring any more unexpected vacancies, the soonest Republicans could retake the majority would be 2025.
● Los Angeles, CA Mayor: UC Berkeley, polling on behalf of the Los Angeles Times, shows Rep. Karen Bass fending off billionaire developer Rick Caruso 46-31 among likely voters even as it shows her ahead just 34-31 with registered voters. The article writes of the huge divide, "Those likely voters tend to be older, richer and whiter and are more likely to be registered Democrats and to identify as strongly liberal than the electorate as a whole," groups that overall favor Bass.
● California: Gov. Gavin Newsom last week signed a bill that will require most counties to hold elections for district attorney and sheriff in presidential cycles starting in 2028. In order to realign the calendar, the legislation will add two years to the terms of anyone elected to those offices this year.
However, the bill does not apply to counties that "expressly specified in their charter when an election for district attorney or sheriff would occur." GV Wire says these are San Bernardino, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and Los Angeles counties, which together are home to about three out of eight people in California. San Francisco, though, will vote in November on a ballot measure that would shift the city's next set of local elections from 2023 to 2024 and keep them in presidential cycles going forward, a move that would impact future district attorney and sheriff races.
● Los Angeles County, CA Sheriff: UC Berkeley's new survey for the Los Angeles Times shows former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna beating conservative incumbent Alex Villanueva 36-26 in next month's race to serve as the top lawman for America's most populous county. The school showed Luna ahead 31-27 back in August, though those numbers sampled registered voters instead of likely voters.
Both men are registered Democrats, though Villanueva has become a Fox News regular who, among many other things, has raged against the "woke left." The sheriff, though, has still gone after Luna over the challenger's party history: Luna changed his voter registration from Republican to no party preference in 2018, while he became a Democrat two years later.
Villanueva made headlines last month when his office carried out a search on county Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who has been one of his most ardent critics, as well as others in an "ongoing public corruption investigation." Kuehl tweeted in response, "This morning's storming of my home by deputies with bulletproof vests & tactical gear was an effort to harass, intimidate & retaliate against a public figure who has been an outspoken critic of Alex Villanueva."
The sheriff himself said he recused himself from the case, though he gave an interview about it from a bar. Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat who is also on the ballot next month, also ordered Villanueva's department to "cease its investigative activity and refrain from any actions in furtherance of these investigations, including public statements or court filings related to the investigations."
The L.A. Times' Editorial Board, for its part, noted in a piece condemning Villanueva that his raid had seized video tapes from Kuehl of "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," the sitcom she'd appeared on as a teenager in the late 1950s and early 60s., "Maybe that's an indication of how deep L.A.'s sheriff thinks this suspected conspiracy goes — Kuehl, and her alleged co-conspirator, activist Patti Giggans, might have been planning to collude on a no-bid contract since the 1950s," it wrote, before adding, "More likely it's an indication of just how unhinged Sheriff Alex Villanueva has become in the weeks before voters decide if he deserves another term."
So far, though, this story doesn't appear to be shaping the race. UC Berkeley finds that respondents say by a 39-29 margin that the raid on Kuehl was legitimate instead of retaliation, while 32% offered no option.