The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Daniel Donner, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
Check out our new podcast, The Downballot!
● OR-Gov: Former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof's campaign for the Democratic nomination came to an end on Thursday when the Oregon Supreme Court unanimously upheld Democratic Secretary of State Shemia Fagan's determination that he had not resided in the state long enough to run. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, who had more money than either of his intra-party rivals, soon announced that he would not go to federal court and acknowledged he wouldn't be on the May primary ballot.
Oregon law requires that candidates for governor be state residents for at least three years prior to election, a standard that Fagan's office told Kristof last month that he didn't meet. In a letter to Kristof, aides to Fagan cited a variety of factors in explaining the decision, foremost among them the fact that he'd been registered to vote in New York for two decades and cast a ballot there as recently as the Nov. 2020 elections. The letter called this a "particularly powerful" indicator of residency "because voting is the center of engaged citizenship."
Kristof responded by filing a legal challenge and claiming, without evidence, that the "failing political establishment in Oregon has chosen to protect itself,” but the Beaver State's highest court on Thursday upheld Fagan's move. The justices acknowledged that he "has longstanding ties to Oregon, that he owns substantial property and operates a farm here, and that the secretary did not question his current Oregon residency." However, they also wrote Kristof "remained registered to vote in New York and retained a New York driver's license until late 2020, actions that are at odds with an intent to change his domicile to Oregon a year or more earlier." The justices did not consider Kristof's argument that the state's residency requirements are too strict.
Kristof was one of three notable Democrats running in the May primary to succeed termed-out Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, and while his fundraising slowed after Fagan ordered him off the ballot last month, his $1.6 million war chest was still larger than either of his now-former rivals. Unusually, though, we don't need to wait for a defined fundraising period to end before we can get finance numbers for state-level campaigns in Oregon: Candidates have 30 days to disclose donations during most of the campaign, and newly provided information is quickly accessible on the secretary of state's site.
State House Speaker Tina Kotek, who would be the first lesbian to serve as governor of any state (fellow Democrat Maura Healey would also achieve that distinction if she prevailed in this year’s race to lead Massachusetts), has reported raising $312,000 in 2022 through Thursday, and she had $930,000 on hand. State Treasurer Tobias Read, who is campaigning as more of a moderate, has taken in $155,000 this year and had $616,000 to spend.
Republicans have a larger field as they look to score their first win since Vic Atiyeh was re-elected all the way back in 1982, and Team Red's primary got even larger this week when former state Rep. Bob Tiernan entered the race by self-funding $500,000 and receiving another $500,000 in donations from a California-based real estate company called RI-Grants Pass LLC, which left him with $1 million on hand. (There are no contribution limits in Oregon.) Tiernan, who served two terms in the 1990s and was state party chair from 2009 to 2011, said of the company, "It's from a client that I solved their very difficult problem, and they are extremely grateful and they realize that I know how to fix things in Oregon."
We’ve collected the fundraising of the other notable GOP candidates for the first portion of 2022:
- former state House Minority Leader Christine Drazan: $692,000 raised, $1 million cash-on-hand
- Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam: $220,000 raised, $333,000 cash-on-hand
- Businesswoman Jessica Gomez: $153,000 raised, $128,000 cash-on-hand
- 2016 nominee Bud Pierce: $114,000 raised, $159,000 cash-on-hand
- Consultant Bridget Barton: $92,000 raised, $400,000 cash-on-hand
- Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten: $58,000 raised, $83,000 cash-on-hand
Bill Sizemore, who was the 1998 nominee, entered the race last week, but he has yet to record any fundraising. Sizemore says he was motivated to get in after Pulliam earlier this month acknowledged that he and his wife "explored mutual relationships with other couples."
There's a little less than a month to go before the March 8 filing deadline, and Tiernan's kickoff is a reminder that a well-connected candidate still has time to make a late entrance. One Republican who probably won't get in, though, is the state party chair, state Sen. Dallas Heard, who said, "I'm not currently considering it."
The best-funded person in the entire field remains former state Sen. Betsy Johnson, a longtime conservative Democrat who is campaigning as an independent. Johnson has hauled in $1.1 million so far this year and has $3.8 million on hand. The former state senator has benefited from some large donations so far including $250,000 from Nike co-founder Phil Knight, the state's richest man.
● NC Redistricting: The Republican-led North Carolina legislature on Thursday both introduced and passed a new congressional map without any Democratic support; these boundaries were very different from the initial proposals the state House and Senate each released the previous day. The new state Senate and House maps have additionally been approved by both chambers, and you can find the 2020 election results from Dave's Redistricting App at each link.
Under state law, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper does not get a veto in redistricting, but a three-judge panel has until Feb. 23 to decide if each of these new maps meet the standards the state Supreme Court set when it rejected the GOP’s original congressional and legislative plans as “unlawful partisan gerrymanders” and ordered new ones.
Looking at the congressional map, nine districts would have favored Donald Trump in 2020 while the other five would have gone for Joe Biden; under the boundaries that the state Supreme Court struck down this month, by contrast, Trump would have taken 10 of the 14 seats.
However, while that now-defunct map aimed to create 10 safely red districts, three safely blue constituencies, and just one swing seat that Biden narrowly carried, this one, while still favoring the GOP, is considerably more competitive. Trump's margin of victory was 2% or less in three seats (the 6th, 7th, and 14th districts), while Biden would have taken the new 7th just 49.4-49.0. Additionally, Biden would have won the new 1st District by a 53-46 margin, which could make it vulnerable in a GOP year. We'll have a detailed look in our next Digest.
This map may also entice one big-name Republican to run. State House Speaker Tim Moore said Thursday afternoon he was considering and would "make a final decision once the maps are approved." Moore's Cleveland County would be in the new 14th District, which would have favored Trump 49.4-49.1.
On the legislative front, the state House on Wednesday evening approved a new map of its chamber 115-5, boundaries that Moore and Democratic leader Robert Reives said were "the result of several days of good faith discussions." The upper chamber the following day, though, passed new Senate districts along party lines. Each map was later approved Thursday by the opposite chamber.
● OH Redistricting: The GOP-dominated Ohio Redistricting Commission adjourned Thursday afternoon without approving new legislative boundaries, a move that came hours ahead of the deadline set by the state Supreme Court after it rejected the panel’s lines for the second time. The Columbus Dispatch writes that it’s not clear what will happen next; the Commission has until March 15 to pass a new congressional map.
● AL-Sen: Former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Boyd Britt's new commercial for the May Republican primary features her standing in an empty school classroom and trashing Joe Biden and Anthony Fauci, saying, "[i]n the Senate, I'll tell all those boys in Washington to man up, get our economy going, and get kids and God back in the classroom." We're assuming the "man up" line isn't intended as a homage to Selina Mayer.
● OH-Sen: Businessman Mike Gibbons' new ad for the May Republican primary attacks two of his foes, venture capitalist J.D. Vance and former state party chair Jane Timken, as "no different from Democrats." The narrator notes that Vance once called Donald Trump an "idiot" and highlights Timken's brief defense of Rep. Anthony Gonzalez after the congressman voted for impeachment; he then praises Gibbons as "Trump tough."
● WI-Sen: The progressive group Opportunity Wisconsin, which the National Journal says has spent $4 million since early 2021, argues in its new spot that Republican Sen. Ron Johnson keeps pushing bills that personally benefit him.
● ID-Gov: Far-right anti-government militant Ammon Bundy announced Thursday that he was ending his Republican primary campaign against incumbent Brad Little in order to run as an independent. Bundy denied that he'd left the nomination fight as part of a deal with Trump-backed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is Little's main intra-party foe.
● WI-Gov: In a truly unsurprising development, former Gov. Scott Walker has endorsed his former lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, in the August Republican primary. Meanwhile, businessman Jonathan Wichmann, who never gained much traction in the contest, has dropped out in favor of running for lieutenant governor.
● CA-09: California-based data analyst Rob Pyers tweeted Wednesday that retired astronaut Jose Hernandez, who was the Democratic nominee in a very competitive 2012 race for the old 10th District, had filed paperwork in San Joaquin County for a potential bid for the new 9th, a message Hernandez himself retweeted. If Hernandez ran he'd face Democratic Rep. Josh Harder, who flipped the old 10th in 2018, in the June top-two primary for a Stockton-based seat that would have backed Joe Biden 55-43.
● FL-26, FL-27: Former Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell said Thursday that she would not run for Congress in 2022.
● MD-01: EMILY's List has endorsed former Del. Heather Mizeur in the June Democratic primary to face Republican Rep. Andy Harris.
● MI-09: Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett, who leads a community of 38,000 people, tells the Detroit News that he's thinking of challenging freshman Rep. Lisa McClain in the August Republican primary for this safely red seat, though Barnett doesn't seem to have much of an idea of what motivates his party's base these days. The supervisor, in the paper's words, "would stress political civility over the partisan rancor that has dominated Washington in recent years, saying the focus should be on working together to get things done."
● MO-07: The Missouri Scout reports that pastor Alex Bryant is considering entering the Republican primary for this safely red open seat in the southwest corner of Missouri, and it adds that the wealthy Coryell family would be in his corner.
● NJ-11: Republican Assemblywoman Aura Dunn said Thursday that she'd decided not to take on Democratic incumbent Mikie Sherrill.
● NY-04: Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe on Thursday filed FEC paperwork for a potential bid to succeed her fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Kathleen Rice. Jewish Insider also mentions former Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy as possible candidates for Team Blue, while it name-drops Assemblyman Edward Ra and Nassau County Legislator Laura Schaefer for the Republicans.
● NY-12: State Sen. Brad Hoylman was asked Thursday about speculation that he could challenge Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the Democratic primary and responded, "Where is this coming from?" Hoylman's name was recently included in an unreleased poll of the district, and his response is unlikely to quiet chatter about his interest.
● TX-08: Three outside groups are spending a total of $170,000 in support of retired Navy SEAL Morgan Luttrell ahead of the March 1 Republican primary for this open seat, with $100,000 of that coming from American Patriots PAC. Luttrell's about to get more outside support too, as the GOP firm Medium Buying says that the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is allied with the party's House leadership, will start airing TV ads here Friday. Luttrell's main intra-party challenger is political operative Christian Collins, who is backed by Sen. Ted Cruz and his allies in the nihilistic House Freedom Caucus.
● TX-15: Donald Trump has thrown his backing behind insurance agent Monica De La Cruz, who already looked like the clear favorite in next month's Republican primary. Trump's endorsement didn't mention her estranged husband's allegations that De La Cruz physically and verbally abused her 14-year-old stepdaughter, accusations the candidate has denied.
● WV-02: Gov. Jim Justice has endorsed Rep. David McKinley his May Republican primary showdown against Trump-backed Rep. Alex Mooney.
Secretaries of State
● NV-SoS: Former Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel announced this week that she was exiting the June Democratic primary for secretary of state in order to instead run for controller, a move that makes former Nevada Athletic Commission Chair Cisco Aguilar Team Blue's major candidate in the race to succeed termed-out Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.
● Los Angeles, CA Mayor: UC Berkeley, polling on behalf of the Los Angeles Times, is out with the first survey we've seen all year of the crowded June nonpartisan primary, and it puts Rep. Karen Bass far ahead with 32%. Billionaire developer Rick Caruso and City Councilman Kevin de León are deadlocked 8-8 for the second spot in the likely November general election, while City Councilman Joe Buscaino and City Attorney Mike Feuer each took 4%. The poll was conducted Feb. 3-10, and Caruso announced his campaign the following day.
● Tarrant County, TX District Attorney: Donald Trump has thrown his support behind Tarrant County Criminal Court Judge Phil Sorrells in the March 1 party primary to succeed his fellow Republican, retiring incumbent Sharen Wilson, as the top prosecutor in this populous county. Sorrells is the son-in-law of former Rep. Kent Hance, who was elected to Congress as a conservative Democrat in 1978 by defeating none other than George W. Bush, and later joined the GOP. Sorrells' primary foes are state Rep. Matt Krause, who is a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, and Criminal District Court Judge Mollee Westfall; if no one takes a majority of the vote, a runoff would take place in May.
Three Democrats are also competing to try to flip a major office in a county that Joe Biden won 49.3-49.1, which made him the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry the county since native Texan Lyndon Johnson's 1964 landslide. Two former prosecutors, Tiffany Burks and Albert John Roberts are going up against former Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Lawrence Meyers, whose 2013 party switch briefly gave Democrats their only statewide elected official since the 1998 elections. Meyers, though, badly lost the next year's general election for the state Supreme Court and a 2016 race for his old job, and his 2018 run for county judge (in Texas, county judges are executive rather than judicial posts) ended in a 53-47 defeat.