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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● NY-Gov: Thursday was the filing deadline for New York's June 28 primary, but despite much chatter and speculation, the state Board of Elections mercifully did not receive a filing from Andrew Cuomo for any office.
Politico's Bill Mahoney wryly writes of the disgraced former governor, "If his supporters covertly knocked on tens of thousands of doors in recent weeks and every one of the people they interacted with kept it a secret, then he could still appear on the primary ballot if he put the signatures in a mailbox on Thursday and they arrived at the board by Monday — which is the final deadline." Needless to say, even Agent Mulder would question the existence of a clandestine statewide signature-gathering conspiracy, but if Cuomo wanted to challenge Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul as an independent, he would have until May 31 to submit petitions.
It will still take a little time before we know exactly who's on the June ballot for governor and U.S. House seats, though. New York allows statewide candidates to earn an automatic place in the primary by taking at least 25% of the vote at their respective party conventions, but the only gubernatorial candidates to hit that threshold were Hochul and Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin.
Everyone else running to lead the state needed to submit 15,000 petitions (with at least 100 each coming from half of the state's 26 congressional districts), though Mahoney explains that because "it's fairly easy to get a lot of these thrown out for irregularities, the long-standing rule of thumb has been that the goal should be about 30,000." Indeed, New York campaigns have long been aggressive about going to court to challenge the validity of their opponent's signatures. "Fuck them!" former Brooklyn Democratic Party leader Frank Seddio recently said of anyone who might get knocked off the ballot this way. "Breathing shouldn't be the only qualification for running for office."
Two Democrats, at least, are prepared to show they can do more than inhale and exhale: New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Rep. Tom Suozzi each said they turned in 40,000 signatures in their quest to deny Hochul the nomination. For the GOP, wealthy businessman Harry Wilson announced that he'd submitted 36,000, while 2014 nominee Rob Astorino's team said he'd filed 20,000 "solid signatures." Former Trump aide Andrew Giuliani, meanwhile, wouldn't reveal how many petitions he gathered, while Lewis County sheriff Michael Carpinelli acknowledged his campaign was kaput because he'd fallen short.
Major party candidates for the House, meanwhile, need to turn in 1,250 valid petitions, though they too want to provide considerably more to guard themselves against challenges. The state does publish a list of candidates who've filed for Congress, but it doesn't include all House seats: Candidates running for a district that is contained entirely within either a single county or New York City file with their local election authorities, while everyone else files with the state. Under the new congressional map, 10 districts (the 6th through the 15th) are located wholly within the city, while the lone single-county seat anywhere else in the state is the open 4th District in Nassau County.
Election officials can take a few weeks to release their lists of contenders, so it'll be a little while before we know exactly who will be running for Congress in all 26 districts. We'll be taking a look at the state of play in each competitive congressional race after first quarter campaign finance reports are in following the FEC's April 15 deadline.
- MN-01: Jeff Ettinger (D): $148,000 raised (in 17 days)
- MT-01: Cora Neumann (D): $401,000 raised, $877,000 cash-on-hand
- NY-22: Josh Riley (D): $360,000 raised, $550,000 cash-on-hand
- TN-05: Beth Harwell (R): $350,000 raised (in five weeks)
- VA-02: Elaine Luria (D-inc): $1.18 million raised, $3 million cash-on-hand
- WA-08: Kim Schrier (D-inc): $1.1 million raised, $4.7 million cash-on-hand
● NC-Sen: The Republican firm Cygnal is the latest pollster to find Trump-endorsed Rep. Ted Budd taking the lead over former Gov. Pat McCrory ahead of the May 17 Republican primary. Cygnal's survey for the conservative John Locke Foundation (which merged with the Civitas Institute last year) has Budd ahead 32-21, which is a big shift from McCrory's 24-19 edge in its January numbers. The last poll we saw giving the former governor the advantage was, ironically, from an early March internal for Budd.
● OH-Sen: The influential anti-abortion group Ohio Right to Life has backed venture capitalist J.D. Vance in the May 3 Republican primary.
● PA-Sen: Penn Progress, the James Carville-backed super PAC that got its inaugural TV ad yanked from the airwaves the day it debuted for making false claims about Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, has now released a revised version. Instead of calling Fetterman a "self-described socialist"—he in fact has never described himself that way—the spot now says that Fetterman "sought the Democratic Socialists' endorsement."
Fetterman did indeed solicit the support of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America in 2017 when he was running for lieutenant governor, but "sought" is the key word, because Fetterman did not receive DSA's backing. Of note is Fetterman's response to a DSA questionnaire, obtained by Politico reporter Holly Otterbein, in which he was asked, "Do you identify as a socialist?" His response: "No, I don't consider myself a socialist."
● GA-Gov: A group called Get Georgia Right is airing an ad that bludgeons Gov. Brian Kemp with the Big Lie ahead of the May 24 Republican primary. As ominous drums sound, the narrator claims, "Kemp refused to call a special session before the [Senate] runoff, and the widespread illegal ballot harvesting continued, electing two Democrat [sic] senators. If Kemp can't beat voter fraud, he won't beat Stacey Abrams." There is no word on the size of the buy.
● KY-Gov: Campaign finance reports are in for the first quarter of the year, and Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear raised $1 million and has $2.2 million stockpiled ahead of what will be a challenging 2023 re-election bid in this conservative state. The incumbent begins with a massive financial advantage over his declared GOP foes, but as we'll discuss, there are plenty of other Republicans who are eyeing this contest.
State Auditor Mike Harmon announced his campaign back in July, but he doesn't appear to have made good use of his head start. Harmon informed the Lexington Herald Leader this month he's raised a mere $30,000 so far and had $14,000 on hand, though he insisted he's "still in the early stages" when it comes to collecting money and understood that "the closer we get, the more I'm going to have to put a lot more focus on fundraising." The field also includes Eric Deters, an attorney whose license has been suspended several times, who told the paper that he's willing to self-fund more than $1 million; so far, though, Deters has thrown down just $23,000 of his own money and raised another $12,000.
Neither Harmon or Deters, though, will likely deter many fellow Republicans from getting in (no pun intended). Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who is a former legal counsel to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, recently made news when he once again declined to rule out a campaign against Beshear, saying, "we're looking at everything that's on the table." Cameron is the Bluegrass State's first Black attorney general, and he'd make history again if he were elected to the top job in 2023.
Former Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, who has long been one of the state and national GOP's most prominent donors, also reiterated in February that she was "leaning heavily toward running for governor." Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles, state Sen. Max Wise, and Somerset Mayor Alan Keck each previously expressed interest last summer.
Rep. James Comer also said at that time he had "no plans on running for governor at this moment" and intended to stay in Congress, which he even acknowledged wasn't quite a no. "My goal for Kentucky is to get a good conservative governor, said the congressman, who lost an excruciatingly close 2015 primary for this office to eventual winner Matt Bevin, adding, "And if I see a good candidate out there that I'm friends with that I think can win, then I'll certainly support that candidate."
Secretary of State Michael Adams also declined to rule it out last year, though he said it was unlikely, while the Herald Leader adds that state Rep. Savannah Maddox hasn't said no either. Finally, while Bevin doesn't appear to have said anything about running to avenge his narrow 2019 loss to Beshear, political observers have speculated about that idea for some time.
The filing deadline is set for the first week of 2023, and if the last two governor races are any indication, we won't know for sure who's running until then. In 2015 Bevin, who had just badly failed to deny renomination to McConnell, announced his ultimately successful bid on the very last day possible. Four years later, the unpopular governor delayed filing to run again despite announcing he was in, which led to plenty of talk that he'd pull the plug on his re-election campaign. Comer, who had lost the primary to Bevin by 83 votes, also made it known he was considering a rematch if the incumbent did run.
Bevin did indeed make it clear he was running just days before the 2019 deadline, though he also used that occasion to announce he was dropping Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton from his ticket in favor of adding state Sen. Ralph Alvarado. Comer, for his part, finally announced two days later he had "zero desire to run against a multi-millionaire incumbent Governor in a Primary regardless of how unpopular he was." It would have almost certainly been better for Republicans if they'd swapped Bevin out for Comer (or pretty much anyone else) as Beshear narrowly unseated the incumbent.
● MS-Gov: State House Speaker Philip Gunn last summer made plenty of news when he refused to rule out a 2023 Republican primary bid against Gov. Tate Reeves, and while he's said little publicly since then, Mississippi Today's Adam Ganucheau recently wrote that the speaker "is still flirting" with the idea.
● NE-Gov: State Sen. Brett Lindstrom earned an endorsement late last month from Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert ahead of the May 10 Republican primary.
● OK-Gov: Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Director Joel Kintsel announced Thursday that he would challenge his boss, Gov. Kevin Stitt, in the June Republican primary, arguing that "the Stitt administration is rife with corruption, self-dealing and cronyism, and Oklahomans deserve another choice." Kintsel, who is a former state House parliamentarian but has never run for office before, did not point to any specific allegations in his launch statement.
There's been little indication that Stitt, who self-funded his successful 2018 bid, is vulnerable to an intra-party challenge. His allies at the RGA, though, recently announced that it would spend $577,000 to support him this month through its State Solutions Inc. affiliate.
● PA-Gov: Campaign finance reports are in covering the period of Jan. 1 to March 28, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has collected the numbers from the main Republicans competing in the May 17 primary:
- Former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain: $1.4 million raised, $546,000 spent, $1.7 million cash-on-hand
- Businessman Dave White: $790,000 raised, additional $1 million self-funded, $4.1 million spent, $171,000 cash-on-hand
- State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman: $590,000 raised, $2.38 million spent, $271,000 cash-on-hand
- Former Rep. Lou Barletta: $431,000 raised, $318,000 spent, $356,000 cash-on-hand
- State Sen. Doug Mastriano: $373,000 raised, $326,000 spent, $1.09 million cash-on-hand
Four other Republicans are also running, but none of them took in more than $150,000 during this time. McSwain, meanwhile, has also benefited from an additional $5.8 million in spending from Commonwealth Leaders Fund, a group funded by the state's wealthiest man, Jeff Yass.
Democrat Josh Shapiro, who has no intra-party opposition, raised $4.53 million, which is almost as much as those five Republicans put together. The attorney general spent $1.9 million and had $16 million on-hand.
● FL-13: State Rep. Ben Diamond has received an endorsement from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in the August Democratic primary for this open seat.
● IN-01: Air Force veteran Jennifer-Ruth Green, a Republican we hadn't previously mentioned, is running a spot where she touts her military service and pledges to "advance President Trump's America first policy." Green faces frontrunner Blair Milo, who is the former mayor of LaPorte, in the May 3 primary to take on Democratic incumbent Frank Mrvan in a seat that Biden would have carried 53-45.
● NY-22, NY-24: Army veteran Steven Holden has left the June Democratic primary for the open 22nd District to instead challenge Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs in the reliably red 24th.
● OR-06: A new group called Justice Unites Us is spending at least $847,000 to support economic development adviser Carrick Flynn in the May 17 Democratic primary for this new seat. Flynn has already benefited from $4.79 million in aid from the crypto industry-aligned Protect Our Future PAC.
● Special Elections: Here is a recap of Thursday's contest in New York:
NY AD-20: With about 7,100 votes counted, Republican Ari Brown holds a huge 66-34 lead over Democrat David Lobl in a Long Island seat Trump took 52-47 in 2020. Uncounted mail-in votes may shift the margin, but Brown has declared victory in this GOP-held seat.