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.
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● MO Redistricting: A bitter, months-long feud between Republican leaders in the Missouri state Senate and a renegade group of far-right lawmakers finally ended on Thursday when the small faction of extremists caved and decided to support a new redistricting plan that would maintain the GOP's 6-2 advantage in the state's congressional delegation.
That splinter group, known as the Conservative Caucus, had long demanded a 7-1 map that would crack the Kansas City area and sent the chamber into complete paralysis last month when it staged a lengthy filibuster in pursuit of its aims.
Senate leaders found themselves unable to advance any other legislation for weeks as the threat of a renewed filibuster loomed, but with the state's March 29 filing deadline fast approaching, they still had one card left: the so-called "nuclear option." By deploying a rarely used parliamentary technique known as "moving the previous question," they could cut off debate and force a vote on their preferred map—something Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden wouldn't rule out following the February filibuster and which Assistant Majority Leader Bill White threatened to use on Wednesday.
Those threats, plus some small tweaks to the map, were apparently enough to break the logjam. The new plan was in fact offered up by a Conservative Caucus member, Andrew Koenig—a move that prompted his fellow hardliners to call off any further filibusters and allow a final vote. Ultimately, five of the rather fluid caucus' seven current members wound up voting in favor of Koenig's proposal, which makes relatively modest changes to the status quo.
Most notably, the map preserves Democratic Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver's 5th District, the blue Kansas City-based seat that the extremists wanted to split up between multiple red districts to create a new seat Republicans could win. It also makes the competitive 2nd District in the St. Louis suburbs, held by GOP Rep. Ann Wagner, redder turf by extending a tendril into rural areas to the south.
This isn't the end of the line, though. The map must go back to the state House and receive approval there before it can head to Republican Gov. Mike Parson. One GOP leader closely involved with redistricting in the House told local reporter Emily Manley that he wasn't sure when a vote on the map might take place and was still "working to make sure they have enough votes to pass it."
● KS Redistricting: Kansas' Republican-run state House has passed a new map for itself, though it still must go before the Senate, which has yet to adopt a map for its own districts.
● NH Redistricting: Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has signed a new map for New Hampshire's 400-member state House, which is by far the largest state legislative chamber in the nation. Redistricting for the state Senate and Congress remains unresolved.
● OH Redistricting: Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose has ordered local election officials to take races for the state legislature off the May 3 primary ballot, given Ohio's lack of legislative maps following a recent ruling by the state Supreme Court invalidating a third set of Republican-drawn plans. Those elections will now be held at an unspecified later date. Ohio's GOP-dominated redistricting commission has until Monday to come up with a fourth batch of maps, though it's not clear what might happen if it fails to do so.
● NC-Sen: Conservative Outsider PAC, an organization affiliated with Rep. Ted Budd's allies at the Club for Growth, is spending almost $1 million on a TV ad campaign targeting former Gov. Pat McCrory ahead of the May Republican primary. The spot portrays McCrory as weak on immigration enforcement by making use of a 2001 clip of the then-Charlotte mayor saying, "We do have illegal immigrants, they are contributing greatly to our workforce and frankly are not breaking the law."
● OK-Sen-B: The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that it did not have jurisdiction to hear a lawsuit brought by attorney Stephen Jones challenging Gov. Kevin Stitt's decision to call a special election for Jim Inhofe's Senate seat this fall, following oral arguments a day earlier. Jones said in response that he's "looking at federal court options," though it's also possible he could file a new case with a lower state court since the Supreme Court specifically held that it was not the proper forum to initiate this lawsuit in (or, in legal parlance, that it lacked "original jurisdiction").
● PA-Sen: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman's new commercial for the May Democratic primary touts him as someone who "beat the political machine statewide, reformed the office more than anyone in decades."
● MD-Gov: Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez has launched what his campaign says is a six-figure opening buy ahead of the July Democratic primary, and the first spot uses old footage of Barack Obama praising him as "tireless" and "wicked smart," and commending his record in the cabinet.
● NM-Gov: 2020 Senate nominee Mark Ronchetti's new commercial for the June GOP primary consists of the longtime TV weatherman promising to "keep violent criminals in jail, secure the border, and take back our schools." As an image of Democratic incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham flashes by, Ronchetti declares, "This is our state. It doesn't belong to the political elites."
● AK-AL: Both the Anchorage Daily News and the Alaska Landmine report that Republican state Sen. Josh Revak plans to run in the special election to succeed his one-time boss, the late Rep. Don Young.
● IL-03: State Rep. Delia Ramirez has earned an endorsement for the June Democratic primary from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who also heads the county party.
● MI-08: Businesswoman Candice Miller, who shares a name with the former Michigan congresswoman and current Macomb County Public Works commissioner, has joined the Republican primary to take on Democratic incumbent Dan Kildee.
● MI-10: Even though John James has no serious Republican primary opposition in sight, the two-time Senate nominee is running a commercial faulting the Biden administration's "weakness" on foreign policy and touting his own military service.
● NC-13: In his first ad for the May Democratic primary, state Sen. Wiley Nickel tells the audience that "before I served my community in the state Senate, I worked for President Obama during some of his toughest fights. He taught me never to run away when people are counting on you to do the right thing." Nickel continues, "So, when Republicans targeted Black and brown voters with a bill that 'would lead to thousands of legitimate votes being thrown in the trash,' I stood firm and blocked it from becoming law."
● NJ-05: Marine veteran Nick De Gregorio on Wednesday decisively defeated 2020 nominee Frank Pallotta at a party convention to win the important organization line in Bergen County, which is home to 82% of the new 5th District's residents, for the June Republican primary to face Democratic incumbent Josh Gottheimer. This seat would have supported Biden 56-43.
Pallotta, for his part, has the party endorsement in Passaic County, which forms another 7% of the constituency. The balance is in Sussex County, which has no organization line: However, Pallotta is running on the same slate as Sheriff Michael Strada and other notable politicians.
● RI-02: State Rep. Patricia Morgan has announced that she'll stay out of the Republican primary.
● TX-34: Rep. Filemon Vela, a Democrat who was already retiring from Congress, announced Thursday that he would resign in the next few weeks in order to take a job at the lobbying and law firm Akin Gump. Vela's early departure will set off a special election to succeed him within the current boundaries of the 34th District, a Rio Grande Valley constituency that Biden won 52-48, but it remains to be seen if the all-party primary would take place before Texas' regular November general election.
To make things even more complicated, the Democratic nominee for the new 34th, a redrawn seat that would have supported Biden 57-42, is Vicente Gonzalez, who represents the existing 15th District. Gonzalez, who decided to run to succeed Vela after Republicans made the 15th more conservative, quickly said, "I intend to represent present-day TX-15 until the end of my term," which would take him out of contention for the special. However, Republican Mayra Flores, who will face Gonzalez in November for the new 34th, said she "will absolutely be a candidate in any special election."
● Chicago, IL Mayor: Allies of Rep. Mike Quigley tell Politico that he's "close" to deciding if he'll challenge incumbent Lori Lightfoot, a fellow Democrat, in next year's officially nonpartisan race to lead Chicago. Quigley is seeking re-election this year to his safely blue 5th District without any serious opposition, and he wouldn't need to give up his seat in the House unless he won the mayor's office.