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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● WA-08: The Congressional Leadership Fund made it clear Monday that last week's assassination attempt on Nancy Pelosi and brutal assault on her husband by a man motivated by far-right conspiracy theories promoted by many Republicans isn't going to deter the super PAC from continuing to air ads tying the House speaker to Democratic candidates.
CLF's newest spot against Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier opens with black-and-white footage of the congresswoman being sworn in by the speaker as members of Schrier's family stand by, though Schrier and Pelosi are shown in color. After bemoaning the state of the economy, the narrator declares, "While we suffer, Schrier voted with Nancy Pelosi to spend more and raise taxes." The second portion of the commercial touts Republican Matt Larkin as "a check on Biden and Pelosi."
Pelosi has been a favorite target for Republicans at least as far back as 2006, when the GOP made a video portraying the then-minority leader as "Darth Nancy." Republicans have since ditched the Star Wars-themed ads, but Pelosi very much remains a central figure in their attacks: Last week, the Washington Post reported that, since Labor Day, Republicans had spent $37 million on commercials invoking Pelosi. Democrats, by contrast, had deployed a far smaller $8 million on spots linking Republicans to Donald Trump.
CLF's lack of reticence is unsurprising: Political violence inspired by right-wing incitement has failed to dissuade Republicans from using dangerous rhetoric about Pelosi in the past. Indeed, they stuck to their strategy of demonizing the speaker even after Jan. 6, when multiple armed rioters specifically sought her out during the assault on the Capitol, calling out her name in much the same way Paul Pelosi's attacker is reported to have. CLF's new spot in Washington shows that Republicans aren't letting up now, so we're almost certain to see a continued escalation during the final full week of the campaign.
AZ-Sen: Siena College for the New York Times: Mark Kelly (D-inc): 51, Blake Masters (R): 45, Marc Victor (L): 1
AZ-Sen: OH Predictive Insights (R): Kelly (D-inc): 48, Masters (R): 46, Victor (L): 3 (Early Oct.: 46-33 Kelly)
AZ-Sen: Fabrizio, Lee & Associates (R) for the Club for Growth (pro-Masters): Kelly (D-inc): 47, Masters (R): 46, Victor (L): 3
AZ-Sen: Wick Insights (R): Kelly (D-inc): 49, Masters (R): 47 (Mid-Oct.: 49-46 Kelly)
GA-Sen: InsiderAdvantage (R) for Fox 5: Herschel Walker (R): 48, Raphael Warnock (D-inc): 45, Chase Oliver (L): 2 (Mid-Oct.: 46-43 Warnock)
GA-Sen: Siena College for the New York Times: Warnock (D-inc): 49, Walker (R): 46, Oliver (L): 1
GA-Sen: University of Georgia for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Walker (R): 46, Warnock (D-inc): 45, Oliver (L): 5 (Early Oct.: 46-43 Warnock)
IA-Sen: Cygnal (R) for Iowans for Tax Relief: Chuck Grassley (R-inc): 54, Mike Franken (D): 43 (Early Oct.: 54-40 Grassley)
MO-Sen: Remington Research Group (R) for Missouri Scout: Eric Schmitt (R): 51, Trudy Busch Valentine (D): 42 (Aug.: 51-40 Schmitt)
NV-Sen: Siena College for the New York Times: Catherine Cortez Masto (D-inc): 47, Adam Laxalt (R): 47, Barry Rubinson (IAP): 1, Neil Scott (L): 1
OH-Sen: Cygnal (R): J.D. Vance (R): 48, Tim Ryan (D): 44 (Late Oct.: 48-44 Vance)
OH-Sen: Redfield & Wilton Strategies: Vance (R): 47, Ryan (D): 43
PA-Sen: Siena College for the New York Times: John Fetterman (D): 49, Mehmet Oz (R): 44
WA-Sen: Triton Polling & Research (R) for KHQ-TV: Patty Murray (D-inc): 51, Tiffany Smiley (R): 45
WA-Sen: Moore Information (R) for Evergreen Principles PAC (pro-Smiley): Murray (D-inc): 46, Smiley (R): 46
AZ-Sen: OH’s last poll showed Libertarian Marc Victor capturing an enormous 15%, a number he’s come nowhere close to hitting in any survey released before or since.
OH-Sen: This survey from the British firm Redfield & Wilton Strategies was taken more than two weeks ago on Oct. 16.
PA-Sen: Siena was in the field Oct. 24-26, so this poll wouldn’t fully capture any effects of the Oct. 25 debate.
● MN-Gov: Axios' Torey Van Oot relays that the RGA is spending another $750,000 after deploying that amount for its opening buy last week.
● NV-Gov: Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak's new ad highlights the $25 million that hotel millionaire Robert Bigelow has spent to directly or indirectly support Republican Joe Lombardo, which the narrator argues shows that Bigelow is "trying to buy the governor's office for himself." The commercial continues, "When Bigelow tried to evict Nevada families during the pandemic, Gov. Sisolak said no. So now Bigelow is single-handedly funding Lombardo's campaign, buying a governor who will always say yes."
Bigelow, who owns both the hotel chain Budget Suites of America and Bigelow Aerospace, has long devoted much of his interest and money towards research into UFOs and the afterlife rather than politics. Bigelow has long made contributions to both Democrats, including his late friend and fellow UFO enthusiast Harry Reid, and Republicans, but he never approached megadonor status until this cycle. Bigelow, though, told the Associated Press back in September that he blamed the public health measures Sisolak took early in the pandemic for wrecking his aerospace company, which explains why he's determined to sink the Democrat's re-election chances.
These aren't the only contests, however, where Bigelow has been heavily involved for Team Red. In addition to giving $10 million to help Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Bigelow has also donated to groups attacking Nevada Democrats across the ballot. The NV Independent said last week that Bigelow has thrown down close to $50 million altogether to aid Republicans.
● OK-Gov: Democrat Joy Hofmeister's allies at Imagine This Oklahoma are airing a commercial starring former Republican Rep. J.C. Watts, who remains a prominent figure even though he's been out of office for two decades. Watts tells the audience, "I was a Republican then, and I'm a Republican now. And friends, I'm voting for Joy Hofmeister." While Watts doesn't mention GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt by name, he declares, "All this scandal and corruption is just too much."
AZ-Gov: OH Predictive Insights (R): Kari Lake (R): 49, Katie Hobbs (D): 47 (Early Oct.: 47-44 Lake)
AZ-Gov: Fabrizio, Lee & Associates (R) for the Club for Growth: Lake (R): 50, Hobbs (D): 47
AZ-Gov: Wick Insights (R): Lake (R): 49, Hobbs (D): 47 (Mid-Oct.: 48-47 Hobbs)
GA-Gov: InsiderAdvantage (R) for Fox 5: Brian Kemp (R-inc): 52, Stacey Abrams (D): 43 (Mid-Oct.: 50-43 Kemp)
GA-Gov: University of Georgia for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Kemp (R-inc): 51, Abrams (D): 44 (Early Oct.: 51-41 Kemp)
IA-Gov: Cygnal (R) for Iowans for Tax Relief: Kim Reynolds (R-inc): 57, Deidre DeJear (D): 38 (Early. Oct.: 59-38 Reynolds)
MI-Gov: KAConsulting (R) for Citizens United: Gretchen Whitmer (D-inc): 48, Tudor Dixon (R): 41
NM-Gov: SurveyUSA for KOB-TV: Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-inc): 46, Mark Ronchetti (R): 39, Karen Bedonie (L): 5 (Early Oct.: 53-37 Lujan Grisham)
NM-Gov: Research & Polling for the Albuquerque Journal: Lujan Grisham (D-inc): 50, Ronchetti (R): 42, Bedonie (L): 3 (Aug.: 47-40 Lujan Grisham)
NY-Gov: KAConsulting (R) for Citizens United: Kathy Hochul (D-inc): 46, Lee Zeldin (R): 45
OH-Gov: Cygnal (R): Mike DeWine (R-inc): 56, Nan Whaley (D): 36 (Late Oct.: 55-37 DeWine)
OH-Gov: Redfield & Wilton Strategies: DeWine (R-inc): 53, Whaley (D): 37
OK-Gov: Ascend Action (R): Joy Hofmeister (D): 48, Kevin Stitt (R-inc): 45, Ervin Yen (I): 1, Natalie Bruno (L): 1 (Mid-Oct.: 49-42 Hofmeister)
TX-Gov: UT Tyler: Greg Abbott (R-inc): 47, Beto O'Rourke (D): 44 (Sept.: 47-38 Abbott)
TX-Gov: UT Tyler found Abbott with a stronger 50-44 lead among voters who were “certain to vote” or already had voted, which it defined as likely voters; however, the school did not include respondents who said they “probably will vote” into this model. As we’ve written before, only including data from definite voters risks leaving out too many people who are simply less certain about their plans.
● OH-09: Sentinel Action Fund is once again getting involved in a race that major national GOP groups have triaged by spending $290,000 to help QAnon ally J.R. Majewski against Democratic incumbent Marcy Kaptur.
● House: Politico’s Ally Mutnick reports that House Majority PAC is spending $275,000 to aid Rep. Joe Morelle in New York’s 25th District and another $240,000 to help fellow Democratic incumbent Annie Kuster in New Hampshire’s 2nd. As the newest edition of our independent expenditure tracker shows, there'd been no general election outside spending in either of those contests up until now from either HMP or its allies at the DCCC, nor from the two biggest Republican groups, the Congressional Leadership Fund and the NRCC.
HMP’s moves come days after the Washington Post reported that unnamed Democrats had seen internal polling showing that Morelle's contest against Republican La'Ron Singletary had “tightened to an uncomfortable level in the last few weeks,” though the paper didn’t share any actual polls or even toplines. The one survey we’ve seen of this constituency in the Rochester area, which would have supported Biden 59-39, was a mid-October Singletary poll that had him down 43-39. Mutnick relays that Morelle, for his part, has outspent Singletary about $800,000 to $160,000 on TV.
We hadn't heard any similar reports about Team Blue fretting over Kuster’s prospects against Republican Robert Burns, who has not aired any TV ads. A survey last week from the GOP firm co/efficient did show Burns ahead 44-43 in this 54-45 Biden seat, but there was a good reason to be skeptical of those numbers.
That same pollster simultaneously found 1st District Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas—who's locked in a race that has attracted a massive $13 million in spending from major outside groups—ahead 48-44 despite the fact that the 1st, at 52-46 Biden, is somewhat redder. It would be a true surprise if Kuster were to run behind Pappas, much less lose.
Meanwhile, NBC reports that the DCCC is doing a small $92,000 joint buy with Rep. Julia Brownley in California’s 26th. This is another contest where there's been no spending from the "Big Four" until now, though EMILY’s List last week launched a $537,000 TV and digital buy to help Brownley fend off Republican Matt Jacobs in another 59-39 Biden seat. The DCCC is airing a joint ad with Morelle as well, though it’s not clear how much it's spending there. (The maximum amount by law is $109,000.)
Finally, Axios says that the NRCC is “making three six-figure investments” targeting Brownley, Morelle, and Summer Lee in Pennsylvania’s 12th District, though there’s no other information about how much it plans to deploy in any of those races. So far, we've seen just one FEC report from the committee showing a single expenditure of $9,200 for "media" (which may reflect production costs for a planned TV ad).
No one has released any polling from the 12th District, which is yet another 59-39 Biden constituency. Lee herself, though, has run commercials warning voters that her Republican foe, Mike Doyle, is not retiring Democratic incumbent Mike Doyle.
CT-02: Fabrizio, Lee & Associates (R) for CT Examiner: Joe Courtney (D-inc): 55, Mike France (R): 36
CT-04: Fabrizio, Lee & Associates (R) for CT Examiner: Jim Himes (D-inc): 53, Jayme Stevenson (R): 37
CT-05: Fabrizio, Lee & Associates (R) for CT Examiner: Jahana Hayes (D-inc): 45, George Logan (R): 45
FL-04: University of North Florida: Aaron Bean (R): 50, LJ Holloway (D): 38
FL-13: St. Pete Polls for Florida Politics: Anna Paulina Luna (R): 46, Eric Lynn (D): 45
NM-01: Research and Polling for the Albuquerque Journal: Melanie Stansbury (D-inc): 48, Michelle Garcia Holmes (R): 42
NM-02: Research and Polling for the Albuquerque Journal: Gabe Vasquez (D): 47, Yvette Herrell (R-inc): 45
NM-03: Research and Polling for the Albuquerque Journal: Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-inc): 53, Alexis Martinez Johnson (R): 35
NY-22: GSG (D) for Francis Conole: Francis Conole (D): 45, Brandon Williams (R): 43 (Sept.: 43-42 Conole)
CT: The CT Examiner, which sponsored these surveys, is funded by GOP donor David Kelsey, who has financed a super PAC dedicated to ousting Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont.
FL-13: St. Pete Polls shows both Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Ron DeSantis with identical 49-48 advantages in a newly gerrymandered seat that their fellow Republican, Donald Trump, would have taken 53-46. Major outside groups have stayed out of the race, though a super PAC funded by Lynn’s cousin called Progress Pinellas has spent millions to aid him.
NM-01: This is the first poll we’ve seen out of this 56-42 Biden constituency, which has attracted no serious outside spending.
Attorneys General and Secretaries of State
AZ-AG: OH Predictive Insights (R): Kris Mayes (D): 45, Abe Hamadeh (R): 42 (Early Oct.: 42-39 Hamadeh)
AZ-SoS: OH Predictive Insights (R): Adrian Fontes (D): 48, Mark Finchem (R): 42 (Early Oct.: 43-41 Finchem)
GA-AG: University of Georgia for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Chris Carr (R-inc): 49, Jen Jordan (D): 42 (Early Oct.: 47-39 Carr)
GA-SoS: University of Georgia for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Brad Raffensperger (R-inc): 48, Bee Nguyen (D): 38 (Early Oct.: 48-34 Raffensperger)
IA-AG: Cygnal (R) for Iowans for Tax Relief: Tom Miller (D-inc): 46, Brenda Bird (R): 44 (Early Oct.: 46-43 Bird)
NM-SoS: SurveyUSA for KOB-TV: Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D-inc): 43, Audrey Trujillo (R): 36, Mayna Myers (L): 3 (Early Oct.: 47-32 Toulouse Oliver)
NY-AG: KAConsulting (R) for Citizens United: Letitia James (D-inc): 47, Michael Henry (R): 41
TX-AG: UT Tyler: Ken Paxton (R-inc): 39, Rochelle Garza (D): 35, Mark Ash (L): 5 (Sept.: 37-30 Paxton)
NM-SoS: Trujillo is an election denier who said back in June, “Somebody asked me, ‘How do you know Trump won New Mexico?’ and I’m like, ‘We didn’t see Biden signs anywhere.’” Trujillo also has shared a QAnon conspiracy theory insinuating that Biden is dead and has been replaced by a clone.
● MO Ballot: Kansas City is the only city in Missouri, and possibly the whole country, that doesn't have control over its own police force, and the passage of Amendment 4 next week would empower the GOP legislature to have even more influence over the Kansas City Police Department. This statewide amendment, which Democratic Mayor Quinton Lucas called "one of the worst, most offensive ballot measures to have ever been placed on the Missouri ballot," would allow the legislature to "increase the minimum funding" for the KCPD.
Its detractors have also argued that the measure's text is deliberately written to be confusing because Amendment 4 doesn't mention that this would apply only to Kansas City. Instead, the measure is said to impact "police force[s] established by a state board of police commissioners," even though this only applies to exactly one community.
State Sen. Greg Razer, a Kansas City Democrat who grew up in the rural Bootheel at the other side of the state, explained, "My mom goes to the ballot box and she looks at this, she's going to have no idea that she's voting on a local Kansas City issue in Pemiscot County or understand why."
Razer's GOP colleagues earlier this year passed a law that would require the city to devote 25% of its budget to the police, up from the 20% level that currently exists. The Missouri Independent, though, explains that "the legislature cannot require a city to increase an activity or service beyond that mandated by existing law, unless a state appropriation is made to pay the city for any increased costs." Rather than provide that extra money, the GOP placed Amendment 4 on the statewide ballot to create an exception for Kansas City for any laws passed before the end of 2026.
Lucas has protested that the city already gives more than 25% of its funding to the KCPD. He also recently told the Kansas City Star, "The question to me is just very simply about who can try to leverage that they have more power, who can make Kansas City continue to be more of a colony, who can better silence, in particular, the Black voices in this city." Lucas, as mayor, is the one member of the five-member board of police commissioners who isn't appointed by the governor.
This state of affairs has been in place since 1939, though the paper wrote last year that this system actually goes back much further than that to the Civil War for reasons that initially had nothing to do with Kansas City. Pro-Confederate Gov. Claiborne Fox Jackson successfully pushed for a bill in 1861 to create a "Metropolitan Police Bill" in order to keep the loyal bastion of St. Louis from handing its arsenal to the United States government. The Unionist legislature soon ousted Jackson, who died the next year in exile in Arkansas before he could plan a new Confederate invasion, but the legacy of that Metropolitan Police Bill very much survived him.
The state in 1874 extended its control to Kansas City, which like St. Louis had a large population of African Americans and white voters who supported civil rights. In 1932, though, a lawsuit put Kansas City's police board under the city's control. This was welcome news for local Democratic boss Tom Pendergast, an early political mentor to future President Harry Truman, who deliberately kept cops' wages low so that officers would be more likely to accept bribes from Pendergast allies.
Gov. Lloyd Stark, who was one of Pendergast's intra-party enemies, eventually responded in 1939 by retaking control of the police board, though historian Antonio Holland told the Star last year that this move was motivated by Stark's own desire to assert power rather than corruption. Pendergast himself was sentenced to prison that year for tax evasion, a scandal that helped cripple his machine and almost took Sen. Truman down with it; Truman, though, narrowly won renomination in a 1940 upset against Stark.
While those nasty Democratic fights are a relic of the distant past, the state-controlled police board remains very much alive. One Republican legislator recently argued, "When you have a history of corruption, the way that Kansas City did 70 years ago, the state has absolute right and, quite frankly, the responsibility to step in for the good of the individuals whose local control authority over their own lives is being violated by corrupt government."
St. Louis eventually got to run its police department after years of lobbying by city officials that finally culminated in a successful 2012 statewide referendum, but Kansas City still doesn't have this power. Lucas is none too happy with the status quo that Amendment 4 represents, saying, "This ballot measure is a perpetuation of a system that is unfair … That is unjust and that is unwise. It has not made Kansas City safer."
● Los Angeles, CA Mayor: Rep. Karen Bass on Friday received the support of former President Barack Obama, an endorsement that came months after President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris backed her. Bass is going through a truly expensive fight against self-funder Rick Caruso, who outspent her $29.5 million to $2 million from Sept. 25 to Oct. 22.
● TV: David Nir and David Beard, the co-hosts of The Downballot podcast, were guests on C-SPAN's Washington Journal this weekend, where they discussed their show and answered questions about elections and the 2022 midterms. Topics included whether the U.S. should adopt mandatory voting, how Republicans have undermined independent redistricting in Ohio, and why Democrats must call out the GOP's violent incitement that led to the attempted assassination of Nancy Pelosi. You can watch the full segment right here.