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.
Subscribe to The Downballot, our weekly podcast
● Data: Following the conclusion of the 2022 congressional elections, Daily Kos Elections is pleased to unveil the most comprehensive guide you’ll find anywhere to the members of the new 118th Congress and their constituencies. This spreadsheet includes a wealth of demographic and electoral data on both senators and representatives as well as the states and districts they represent, providing key insight on the makeup of Congress and statistics that play a critical role in understanding both chambers.
We've also visualized much of this data in charts and maps like the one at the top of this story showing House members' race or ethnicity (click here for a larger image). You can find many more in our full article exploring the guide's data.
The guide includes our own calculations of the 2020 presidential elections by congressional district for the new districts following the most recent round of redistricting, preliminary House results for the 2022 midterms, and the results of the most recent election for each senator. It also features vital census demographic statistics, such as racial breakdowns (including by citizenship status) to provide the most accurate estimation of the eligible voter population. It further contains data covering college educational attainment, median household income, and an estimate of the share of eligible voters who are white without a college degree.
For voting members of the House and Senate, we also have statistics on their gender, race or ethnicity, age, LGBTQ status, religious affiliation, and even a name-pronunciation guide. The 118th Congress will be both the most racially diverse and have the highest share of women on record, building on the historic 116th and 117th congresses.
Be sure to bookmark the 118th Congress Guide, since we will update it whenever there are changes in membership or when new demographic information becomes available. Planned updates include data from the Pew Research Center, which will release its latest biennial survey of every member’s religious affiliation in January, and the Census Bureau, which will publish median household income data by House district for the new maps next December. You can also find a detailed explanation of our methodology here.
● AZ-Sen: The Associated Press mentions a few Republicans who lost in 2022 as possible contenders for the seat held by independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, though it's unclear if any of them are interested. The story name-drops Senate nominee Blake Masters, who ran a widely panned campaign against incumbent Mark Kelly; wealthy businessman Jim Lamon, who lost the primary to Masters; and Karrin Taylor Robson, another self-funder whom many Republicans undoubtedly wished they'd nominated for governor over Kari Lake.
The item also brings up Lake's name, though NBC previously reported that she was instead encouraging her fellow Big Lie spreader Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, to run instead. Axios additionally lists Rep.-elect Juan Ciscomani as a possibility, but there's no word if he's thinking about it.
Sinema, for her part, has yet to say if she'll campaign in 2024, though the very unpopular incumbent would have a tough time winning if she did. A Sinema candidacy may instead land her in the small group of sitting senators who have taken third place or worse in their general elections, something the University of Minnesota's Eric Ostermeier reports has happened eight times since voters began electing upper chamber members in 1914.
The last such occurrence was in 1980 when New York incumbent Jacob Javits forged ahead after losing his GOP primary to conservative Al D'Amato: Javits earned 11% as the nominee of the now-defunct Liberal Party, which allowed D'Amato to squeeze out a 45-44 victory against Democrat Elizabeth Holtzman. However, Sinema's probably safe from avoiding the fate of Colorado Sen. Charles Thomas, a former Democrat who ran for re-election in 1920 under the National Party banner and scored fourth with all of 3%.
P.S. State constitutional law expert Quinn Yeargain, writing in their newsletter Guaranteed Republics, also takes a look at what would happen to Sinema's seat if she left office early. Arizona, Yeargain notes, is one of nine states that requires the governor to appoint someone from the same party as the departed senator, and Yeargain investigates whether incoming Gov. Katie Hobbs would be required to appoint a fellow Democrat to reflect the party label Sinema won this seat under in 2018 or an independent.
Yeargain finds that state law actually addresses this very scenario, with a provision spelling out:
"If the person vacating the office changed political party affiliation after taking office, the person who is appointed to fill the vacancy shall be of the same political party that the vacating officeholder was when the vacating officeholder was elected or appointed to that office."
As Yeargain explains, though, things could get very complicated if Sinema won as an independent and resigned later.
● IN-Sen: Rep. Victoria Spartz has confirmed that she's interested in seeking the Senate seat that her fellow Republican, Mike Braun, is giving up to run for governor, and says she'll decide in January or February. Several other Hoosier State Republicans are eyeing this contest including fellow Rep. Jim Banks, who has promised a decision early next year.
● MT-Sen: Democratic Sen. Jon Tester said Sunday he'd talk with his family "over the holidays" about whether he should seek a fourth term. The incumbent sounded like he anticipated running again, though, declaring, "People are going to come after me. They've come after me in the past, but that's politics. And we'll get through it and then hopefully be successful come November of 2024."
● IN-Gov: Both Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and Sen. Mike Braun announced Monday that they were entering the 2024 primary to succeed their fellow Republican, termed-out Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb. The two join self-funder Eric Doden, a former Indiana Economic Development Corporation president who jumped in all the way back in May of 2021, in a nomination fight that could still grow further.
Politico's Adam Wren reports that Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers, whose name we hadn't previously heard mentioned, is considering seeking the top job; state Attorney General Todd Rokita and former Rep. Trey Hollingsworth also could campaign for either governor or to replace Braun in the Senate. Former Gov. Mitch Daniels, however, told Wren he's "disinclined" to seek the governorship again, though he's reportedly eyeing the Senate race.
We'll start with a look at Crouch, who made her announcement hours before Braun. But the lieutenant governor, who would be the first woman to lead the Hoosier State, has been preparing for this campaign for years, and she predicts she'll finish 2022 with $3 million on hand. She also says that she won't self-fund, explaining that she'd financed her failed 1986 bid for Vanderburgh County auditor with money she didn't have. "If I cannot convince Hoosiers that I am a good investment for them and for Indiana, then I don't deserve to win," she declared.
Crouch bounced back from that loss, which is her only electoral defeat, by winning the auditor's job in 1994, and she went on to win more campaigns in the Evansville area. She was serving as a state House member in 2013 when then-Gov. Mike Pence appointed her state auditor months after his first choice abruptly resigned, and Crouch easily claimed a full term the next year. Her next promotion came in 2016 after party leaders chose Holcomb as the new gubernatorial nominee when Pence dropped out to become Trump's running mate: Holcomb picked Crouch as his candidate for lieutenant governor, and their ticket went on to win in the fall.
Holcomb himself hasn't said who he'd prefer to succeed him, but Indiana Legislative Insight editor Ed Feigenbaum argues that Crouch's association with her boss could be a liability in a primary. Holcomb, as Howey Politics recently noted, has pissed off members of the party's base over his decision to veto a bill to ban trans girls from playing in girls' sports, which the legislature overrode, as well as some of the pandemic health measures he adopted in 2020. However, Feigenbaum argues Crouch could benefit if several hardliners run in the 2024 primary.
Braun, who supported NRSC chair Rick Scott's failed effort to oust Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, conversely may be a better fit for the party's Trump-era electorate. The senator also made the case he'd be the clear frontrunner last week when he released an internal last week from Mark It Red showing him dispatching Crouch 47-10 in a primary, with Doden at 5%.
In a surprise, though, Braun said Monday that he would also not be self-funding even though he'd poured millions into his successful 2018 primary bid for the Senate seat he now holds, telling Wren he couldn't finance his campaign even if he wanted to. It's not clear why Braun, who is one of the richest members of Congress, feels he can't repeat the strategy that propelled him to the nomination last time.
While Braun's victory over Democratic Sen. Mike Donnelly instantly made him one of the Hoosier State's most prominent politicians, he faces one lingering problem from that four-year-old contest: In June, an FEC audit concluded that he'd overstated how much he'd both raised and spent by $6 million, though it dropped an earlier and more serious claim alleging he'd taken $8.5 million in "apparent prohibited loans and lines of credit." The FEC has not announced any penalties, and Braun is contesting the findings.
● WA-Gov: Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee has yet to say if he'll seek a fourth term as governor two years from now, though the Seattle Times notes that he has $1.5 million on hand if he goes for it.
Inslee's 2020 win made him the Evergreen State's first three-term chief executive since Republican Dan Evans secured re-election in 1972, but no one has ever served longer than that. The paper wrote back in September that plenty of Democrats doubted Inslee would try to make history, though his campaign consultant didn't rule it out at the time.
● CA-13: Retired Army Col. Brad Boyd, a Democrat whom Politics1 says is also a former congressional aide, has filed FEC paperwork for a possible bid against Republican Rep.-elect John Duarte.
● CA-37: Democratic Rep. Karen Bass has resigned from the House in order to become mayor of Los Angeles, a post she assumed when her term began Monday. Bass will be succeeded in Congress in January by Sydney Kamlager, a fellow Democrat who was elected last month with the new mayor's support.
● VA-04: Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Monday scheduled the special election to succeed the late Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin for Feb. 21. Democrats announced that evening that they’d be choosing their nominee on Dec. 20 through a so-called firehouse primary, which is a small-scale nominating contest run by the party rather than the state, and that candidates have until Friday to file. The 4th District, which includes the state capital of Richmond as well as eastern Southside Virginia, supported Joe Biden 67-32 in 2020, and the Democratic nominee should have no trouble holding it.
Three local Democrats also entered the race Monday, the most prominent being Del. Lamont Bagby. Bagby kicked off his campaign with an endorsement from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who hadn't previously ruled out a bid himself.
Another new contender is former Del. Joseph Preston, who was elected in a 2015 special election. Preston sought a promotion that year by challenging state Sen. Rosalyn Dance for renomination but lost 62-38. Insurance business owner Tavorise Marks entered the race Monday as well, declaring, "I'm NOT a part of the Richmond Democratic power circle." Marks lost a 2019 primary to Lindsey Dougherty by 83 votes a few months before Dougherty lost the general election.
State Sen. Jennifer McClellan also scheduled "a major announcement" for Tuesday morning, and her team has already said she's likely to get in. One person who won't be running, though, is former Del. Lashrecse Aird, who says she's forging ahead with her primary bid against the unreliable state Sen. Joe Morrissey.
And while Morrissey, who beat Dance four years after Preston failed to, reportedly initially said he won't run, he later publicized "a major announcement" Tuesday that "will specifically be to address the current vacancy of the 4th Congressional District seat."
● LA Ballot: Louisianians went back to the polls Saturday and decisively approved a trio of constitutional amendments the Republican-led state legislature placed on the ballot. Amendment 1 will explicitly prohibit any non-U.S. citizens from voting in state elections, which was already state law, while Amendments 2 and 3 require state Senate confirmation for the governor's nominees to the state civil service commission and state police commission, respectively.
● PA State House: Republican Bryan Cutler, whose term as speaker ended last month, filed a lawsuit last week arguing that Democrat Joanna McClinton did not have the authority to schedule special elections for a trio of Democratic-held state House districts. Cutler then held a swearing-in ceremony on Monday for the post of majority leader even though he says he doesn't plan to put his name forward as speaker when the new legislature convenes on Jan. 3, something he says he did in response to McClinton getting sworn in for that same position last week.
At issue is which side can—at least for now—claim the majority. Democrats won 102 seats in November compared to 101 for the GOP, but only 99 of those Democrats will be taking the oath next month. That's because state Rep. Tony DeLuca was re-elected a month after he died, while fellow Pittsburgh-area Democrats Summer Lee and Austin Davis resigned last week to prepare to assume their new roles as congresswoman and lieutenant governor, respectively.
No one can become speaker until the full chamber holds a vote in January, so until then the majority leader is the presiding officer who is tasked with scheduling any special elections. McClinton says she's the majority leader because her party won the most seats on Nov. 8, and she picked Feb. 7 as the date for all three contests. Cutler, though, insists he's in charge because Republicans will have more members come Jan. 3.
But regardless of how this dispute gets resolved, Democrats are favored to keep these seats since Joe Biden decisively carried all three districts. The most competitive is Davis' HD-35, which supported the president 58-41; Biden also won DeLuca's HD-32 and Lee's HD-34 by margins of 62-36 and 80-19, respectively. With the stakes this high, though, GOP groups are looking at getting involved: The head of Commonwealth Leaders Fund, which is funded by Republican megadonor Jeff Yass, says his group is "evaluating opportunities."
Mayors and County Leaders
● Shreveport, LA Mayor: Businessman Tom Arceneaux defeated Democratic state Sen. Greg Tarver 56-44, a win that makes him the first Republican to lead the Pelican State's third-largest city since 1998; Arceneaux will also be this majority Black community's first white mayor since 2006.
Arceneaux and Tarver both advanced to the runoff after Democratic incumbent Adrian Perkins, who unsuccessfully challenged GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy in 2020, took just fourth in the Nov. 8 all-party primary. Perkins and his two immediate predecessors soon crossed party lines to back Arceneaux in this predominantly Democratic city, with the mayor explaining, "I don't have any questions about Tom's integrity or his qualifications. I don't feel that way about Greg."
Indeed, NOLA.com's Tyler Bridges described Tarver with one of the most jaw-dropping paragraphs we've ever read about any candidate:
"A seasoned backroom dealmaker who has never lost any of his 12 races, Tarver was shot by his second wife, who claimed she did so in self-defense because he was beating her. He was tried and acquitted on corruption charges in the highly publicized trial two decades ago that sent former Gov. Edwin Edwards to prison. His current wife earned $600,000 in contracting work from riverboat casinos in Shreveport that several years earlier Tarver had helped bring to the city. Though he is widely believed to live outside the city limits, Tarver has been registered to vote at his mortuary in town, where, he says, he likes to sleep in a casket."
Tarver defended himself, arguing attacks on his ethics were only being made against him "because I'm Black."
Arceneaux also was on the receiving end of ads accusing him of abusing his ex-wife, with a super PAC running a spot quoting her 1992 divorce petition where she wrote, "Tom was physically and mentally abusive of me on many occasions as I went through counseling for battered wife syndrome." Arceneaux also denied the allegations against him.
● LA Public Service Commission: Activist Davante Lewis unseated his fellow Democrat, incumbent Lambert Boissiere III, by a 59-41 margin in the runoff for a six-year term on the body that regulates utilities. Lewis' win in this seat, which stretches from the Baton Rouge area east to New Orleans, makes him the first LGBTQ person to win a state-level office in Louisiana, as well as the first Black LGBTQ elected official in state history.
Republicans will maintain a 3-2 edge on the Public Service Commission, but Lewis, who emphasized clean energy during his campaign, argued that he'd be able to partner with Republican Craig Greene and Democrat Foster Campbell on some issues. Lewis, who benefited from heavy spending by an Environmental Defense Fund affiliate, also accused Boissiere of not doing enough to combat global warming during his 18 years in office and went after him for accepting donations from utility companies.
Boissiere had the backing of two prominent Democrats, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Rep. Troy Carter, and he also tried to argue Lewis would be "a puppet of the millions of dollars being pumped into our state from out-of-state people in New York and California and everything else." The incumbent, though, was harmed by rising electricity rates and the state's unreliable energy grid.