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● FL Redistricting: Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis released his proposed new map for Florida's congressional districts on Thursday, following an extraordinary announcement by GOP legislative leaders on Monday that they would abdicate their authority to draw new boundaries and instead bequeath that power to the governor.
According to Dave's Redistricting App, the plan would establish 20 districts that Donald Trump would have won versus just eight that Joe Biden would have carried, compared to a 15-12 Trump advantage under the current map (Florida is gaining a district thanks to reapportionment). But don't be fooled by the visually pleasing borders: This map is a perfect example of a compact yet extreme gerrymander, since the cracking of major population centers is blatant even though the shapes look neat.
The centerpiece of DeSantis' new proposal, which for months he'd pushed in the face—until now—of strenuous opposition by state lawmakers, is the dismantling of the 5th District, a plurality-Black seat represented by Democratic Rep. Al Lawson that stretches across the northern tier of the state from Jacksonville to Tallahassee.
The new map breaks Jacksonville apart to create a revamped district that would almost certainly elect a white Republican instead of a Black Democrat like Lawson: The 5th would transform from a district Biden won 63-36 into a 57-41 Trump seat—a swing of 43 points. The reshaped 4th District would become considerably bluer, going from a 60-39 Trump advantage to just a 53-46 Trump edge, but Republicans should still easily be able to hold it in November. (It's not yet clear which district GOP Rep. John Rutherford, who represents the current 4th, might seek re-election in.)
A key reason that even Republican legislators have resisted DeSantis' efforts to demolish the 5th is because a set of amendments reforming the redistricting process that voters added to the state constitution in 2010 (often known as the "Fair Districts" amendments) prohibit, among other things, the "retrogression" of minority voting rights. As ACLU attorney Nicholas Warren puts it, "This means no backsliding in minority voters' ability to elect candidates of choice"—which in the case of the current 5th District would mean a Black Democrat.
That district was created following a 2014 lawsuit that successfully challenged the congressional map Republicans passed in 2012 under the Fair Districts amendments, based on an agreement between lawmakers and plaintiffs that was ultimately blessed by the state Supreme Court. While the Supreme Court has become much more conservative since then following DeSantis' appointments, Warren points out that "the anti-retrogression mandate is a clear and uncontroversial part" of state law, adding, "There's consensus on what it means, and the practical effect for Black voters" in northern Florida.
Elsewhere, the map would make further changes to boost the GOP's fortunes, chiefly in the middle part of the state:
- In the Orlando area, DeSantis would pack Democratic voters into the 10th District to make it even more safely blue in order to turn the neighboring 7th red. This open seat would jump from 55-44 Biden to 52-47 Trump. This long-anticipated transformation might explain why Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy announced her retirement last year (though she insisted at the time that redistricting wouldn't play a role).
- Along central Florida's Gulf coast, DeSantis would revive an egregious gerrymander that was struck down by the courts by having the Tampa-based 14th District cross Tampa Bay to pack Black voters in eastern St. Petersburg into this solidly blue district. That would flip the open 13th, in the remainder of the St. Petersburg area, from 51-47 Biden to 53-46 Trump. (Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, who represents the 13th, is running for governor.)
Some revisions would weaken some GOP-held seats, most notably the 2nd (which would go from 67-32 Trump to 55-44 Trump) and the 15th (54-45 Trump to 51-47 Trump). Rep. Neal Dunn should, however, have no problem holding the former given the looming midterm environment, while Rep. Scott Franklin could instead run in the 18th, a 61-38 Trump district smack in the center of the state that we're regarding as the "new" district Florida won in reapportionment.
(Note also that a number of districts in southeastern Florida would change numbers, though all have clear predecessors with similar partisanship.)
With Republican lawmakers going supine and likely to succumb to DeSantis' whims—he's pushed for a maximalist gerrymander both to prove his partisan bona fides and because feuding with the legislature is an easy way to inflame his base—the major question will be how the state courts react to this radical reshaping of Florida's map. While the Supreme Court is now packed with conservatives, it unanimously rejected a request from DeSantis earlier this year to pre-emptively approve his vision for the 5th District on procedural grounds, so the governor may not receive the welcome he's hoping for when the inevitable legal challenge makes its way before the justices.
● AK Redistricting: Alaska's redistricting board approved a revised state Senate map in a 3-2 vote on Wednesday after the state Supreme Court struck down the panel's original map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander last month, though the latest boundaries will face further judicial scrutiny. The board's two independent members, who both opposed the map while all three Republicans voted in favor, argued that the pairing of House districts (two make up each Senate seat) continues to improperly favor the GOP, with one warning that "it's very audacious for us to actually think that" the courts aren't "going to sniff this out."
● OH Redistricting: The Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the fourth set of legislative maps that the state's Republican-dominated redistricting board passed late last month, giving the panel until May 6 to try a fifth time. The court ruled that the latest maps, which were barely changed from the previous set, continued to violate the state constitution's requirement that they reflect the two parties' statewide voting shares over the past decade and instead unduly favored Republicans.
The justices, however, declined to impose any further remedies sought by the plaintiffs, noting that that the state constitution forbids them from imposing a map of their own. They did, however, strongly encourage the board to complete a map created by a pair of independent experts that the panel abandoned at the last minute, saying that the plan was "on track to being constitutionally compliant."
● TN Redistricting: The Tennessee Supreme Court overturned a recent lower court ruling that blocked the state's new map for the state Senate from taking effect this year, holding that the decision would harm election officials by requiring that the candidate filing deadline be extended. A panel of three state court judges had found that the map violated the state constitution by failing to number districts within the same county consecutively. Though the injunction barring the map's use was lifted, the map could still get struck down when the lower court judges issue a final ruling.
The deadline for federal candidates to submit their fourth quarter fundraising totals is April 15.
- CO-Sen: Michael Bennet (D-inc): $2.48 million raised, $6.1 million cash-on-hand
- GA-Sen: Raphael Warnock (D-inc): $13.6 million raised, $25.6 million cash-on-hand
- OK-Sen-B: Luke Holland (R): $620,000 raised (in one month), $200,000 self-loaned, $773,000 cash-on-hand
- WI-Sen: Sarah Godlewski (D): $600,000 raised, additional $1.5 million self-funded, $1.6 million cash-on-hand; Alex Lasry (D): $450,000 raised, additional $3.45 million self-funded
- AZ-Gov: Karrin Taylor Robson (R): $755,000 raised, additional $2 million self-funded
- MN-Gov: Scott Jensen (R): $250,000 raised, $825,000 cash-on-hand
- NV-Gov: Steve Sisolak (D-inc): $1.55 million cash-on-hand, $9.55 million cash-on-hand
- RI-Gov: Helena Foulkes (D): $900,000 raised, additional $400,000 self-funded
- CA-15: Kevin Mullin (D): $384,000 raised; Emily Beach (D): $164,000 raised
- IL-01: Karin Norington-Reaves (D): $290,000 raised, $237,000 cash-on-hand
- IN-01: Frank Mrvan (D-inc): $178,000 raised, $428,000 cash-on-hand
- MI-10: John James (R): $1.5 million raised (in two months)
- MN-01: Matt Benda (R): $183,000 raised (in three weeks), $170,000 cash-on-hand
- MN-05: Don Samuels (D): $350,000 raised, $320,000 cash-on-hand
- NJ-05: Josh Gottheimer (D-inc): $1.2 million raised, $13 million cash-on-hand
- NJ-06: Sue Kiley (R): $105,000 raised, additional $100,000 self-funded
- NV-01: David Brog (R): $284,000 raised (in six weeks), $264,000 cash-on-hand
- NV-03: Susie Lee (D-inc): $575,000 raised, $2.1 million cash-on-hand
- TX-15: Monica De La Cruz (R): $722,000 raised
- UT-01: Blake Moore (R-inc): $296,000 raised, $540,000 cash-on-hand; Tina Cannon (R): $24,000 raised, additional $82,000 self-funded, $42,000 cash-on-hand; Julie Fullmer (R): $22,000 raised, additional $90,000 self-funded, $107,000 cash-on-hand; William Campbell (R): $0 raised, additional $265,000 self-funded; Andrew Badger (R): $43,000 raised, $17,000 cash-on-hand
- VA-02: Jen Kiggans (R): $434,000 raised, $590,000 cash-on-hand
● AZ-Sen, AZ-Gov: The Republican firm OH Predictive Insights, which did not identify a client, takes a new look at the state's two most prominent August GOP primaries. First are the Senate numbers, with the firm's January numbers in parenthesis; note that the earlier numbers used a registered voter model, while this survey samples likely voters:
Attorney General Mark Brnovich: 21 (25)
businessman Jim Lamon: 16 (7)
former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters: 9 (6)
retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire: 6 (11)
Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson: 3 (4)
Lamon's team has also released a new internal from Remington Research Group that argues he's actually in the lead with 32%, while Brnovich is in second with 20%.
Next up are OH's gubernatorial numbers, which also find a big shift from January for second place even as the overall leader remains the same:
former TV anchor Kari Lake: 29 (21)
Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson: 22 (6)
former Rep. Matt Salmon: 11 (17)
2018 secretary of state nominee Steve Gaynor: 3 (5)
● NV-Sen: Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto's latest spot touts her work "with Republicans and Democrats to invest in manufacturing in America, creating jobs, and cracking down on prices." Cortez Masto is one of several vulnerable senators who began advertising weeks ago, but she has an especially good reason to get on the air early: The New York Times, citing data from the Democratic firm TargetSmart, recently wrote, "Almost half the voters on Nevada's rolls have registered since Ms. Cortez Masto was last on the ballot in 2016."
● OH-Sen: NBC reported Thursday that Trump had decided to back venture capitalist J.D. Vance in the May 3 GOP primary, and former state Treasurer Josh Mandel soon made an effort to halt the endorsement with a poll arguing that the Hillbilly Elegy author was a sure loser. Remington Research gave Mandel a 23-17 lead over businessman Mike Gibbons, with Vance in fifth with just 10%.
Mandel's memo also argued that Vance "would still lose" even if he got Trump's support, while his endorsement would secure victory for the former treasurer. Respondents, when asked how they'd react if Mandel got the Trump nod, gave him 33% of the vote, while Gibbons and state Sen. Matt Dolan were far back with 15% each. Remington also asked participants about a scenario where Vance got Trump's backing and found Mandel still ahead with 19% as Vance, Dolan, and Gibbons deadlocked with 15% apiece.
● PA-Sen: Franklin & Marshall has released a survey of each party's May 17 Senate primary, though as we'll discuss, there was a big development on the GOP side just as the poll concluded. For Democrats, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman leads Rep. Conor Lamb 41-17, with state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta at just 4%. Kenyatta, for his part, has gone up with an ad to introduce himself to voters where he says, "They say we can't win. I'm Black, I'm gay, I'm from a working class family in North Philadelphia." Kenyatta continues by arguing naysayers are counting his supporters out and touting his progressive record.
F&M, meanwhile, has TV personality Mehmet Oz edging out former hedge fund manager David McCormick 16-15, with author Kathy Barnette at 7%: The poll, which was conducted March 30 through April 10, finished the day Trump endorsed Oz. Two state congressmen have also backed each of the frontrunners, with Glenn Thompson supporting McCormick as Lloyd Smucker jams it up with Oz.
● GA-Gov, GA-Sen, GA-SoS: The University of Georgia attempts to measure Donald Trump's influence in the May 24 Republican primary with a poll that includes two different randomly assigned groups: A sample where respondents are simply asked who they'll vote for, and a separate group where participants are informed which candidate Trump has endorsed and then asked who they'll support.
In the race for governor, the first sample (known as the control group) favors Gov. Brian Kemp 48-37 over former Sen. David Perdue. The participants who have been told about Trump's support for Perdue, who are called the treatment group, meanwhile support Kemp by just a slightly smaller 46-39 margin. It's possible that, because Kemp and Perdue are each so well known, most voters have already made up their minds about both of them. Perdue himself is betting this isn't the case, though, as his ads have largely featured footage of Trump bashing Kemp and praising the former senator.
The Senate numbers, by contrast, show former football star Herschel Walker dominating state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black either way: The control group goes for him 64-8, while his lead expands to 76-8 with the treatment group. However, UGA shows a truly massive shift in the lower-profile primary for secretary of state. While far-right Rep. Jody Hice starts out with a 30-22 edge over incumbent Brad Raffensperger with the control group, his edge balloons to 60-16 with the sample that's told the congressman is Trump's man.
● MD-Gov: Former Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman announced Thursday that she was leaving the July Democratic primary and endorsing state Comptroller Peter Franchot.
● NE-Gov: In a story published Thursday by the Nebraska Examiner, Republican state Sen. Julie Slama and seven other women accused agribusinessman Charles Herbster of groping and other forms of sexual assault. Herbster, who has Donald Trump's endorsement in Nebraska's May 10 primary for governor, responded, "These libelous accusations are 100% false."
Reporter Aaron Sanderford writes that a woman in 2019 saw Herbster reach up Slama's skirt when she walked by him, an allegation she confirmed. Six other women also, in Sanderford's words, said "that Herbster touched them inappropriately when they were saying hello or goodbye to him, or when they were posing for a photograph by his side" in incidents that occured between 2017 and this year. Another woman, Sanderford writes, says the candidate "once cornered her privately and kissed her forcibly." All of Herbster's accusers, who were "in their late teens to mid-20s at the time of the incidents," have remained anonymous out of fear of retaliation, apart from Slama.
Following the publication of the Examiner's article, every woman serving along with Slama in the Nebraska Senate signed on to a joint bipartisan statement declaring, "Herbster's actions as outlined by the Nebraska Examiner render him unfit to serve." Termed-out Gov. Pete Ricketts, who is supporting University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen in next month's primary, also denounced Herbster, saying he "should beg forgiveness of the women he has preyed upon and seek treatment."
● NV-Gov: Better Nevada PAC, which is supporting Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo in the GOP primary, is running an ad attacking North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee over his lengthy past as a Democrat before he switched parties to run this cycle, claiming he "tried to raise the fuel tax" and tying him to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. By contrast, Lee is airing his own attack ad that argues it's Lombardo who is the true "RINO," cramming in several typical GOP buzzwords and tropes on topics such as guns and immigration to argue he's the true conservative.
● OK-Gov: Gov. Kevin Stitt earned a not-tweet endorsement from Donald Trump last month back before the June primary was anywhere as close to as expensive as it is now, and Trump will be giving the incumbent a larger boost by headlining a fundraiser for him.
● PA-Gov: Businessman Dave White has launched an ad as part of a $400,000 buy that is heavy on lies about the 2020 election outcome in order to attack former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain in the May 17 GOP primary. White's spot opens by calling McSwain "Never Trumper Pat Toomey's puppet," associating him with the retiring senator's vote to remove Trump from office and contending that McSwain refused to investigate (bogus) 2020 voter fraud. White closes by highlighting Trump's anti-endorsement of McSwain days earlier and white's support for new voting restrictions.
Meanwhile, election officials told the Pennsylvania Capital-Star that it would have been too late to fulfill GOP state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman's aborted request to remove his name from the ballot on Tuesday even if he hadn't abruptly reversed course hours after his initial filing and announced he was staying in following Trump's intervention to oppose McSwain.
● CA-15: Assemblyman Kevin Mullin has publicized an internal poll from FM3 that gives him a 31-17 lead over San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa, a fellow Democrat, in the June top-two primary: Republican Gus Mattamal and a third Democrat, Burlingame Councilmember Emily Beach, are at 9% and 8%, respectively. The only other poll we've seen was a February survey for Canepa that showed him ahead with 19% as Mullin outpaced Mattamal 17-13 for the second general election spot.
● MD-04: With little time to spare before Friday's filing deadline, state Del. Jazz Lewis announced he was dropping out of the Democratic primary and would seek re-election instead. Lewis had the support of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who represents the 29% of the new 4th District that is currently located in Hoyer's old 5th District, but he struggled to gain traction in a field that includes former Rep. Donna Edwards, former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey, and former Del. Angela Angel.
● MD-06: Republican state House Minority Leader Jason Buckel announced on Wednesday with the Friday filing deadline swiftly approaching that he is considering challenging Democratic Rep. David Trone in the recently redrawn 6th District. However, in a sign of his lack of seriousness, he touted a poll from the notoriously erratic John McLaughlin—a pollster we've flat-out banned from Daily Kos Elections for spewing conspiracy theories about the 2020 elections—to argue he would be competitive against Trone in this recently redrawn 54-44 Biden district.
● MT-01: Attorney Monica Tranel has launched her first ad ahead of the June Democratic primary, arguing that she won't let Montana "become a playground for billionaires" while "regular people" struggle to afford to live there. The spot highlights her roots of growing up on a Montana ranch and her record of standing up to powerful corporations; the commercial hits very similar themes to the debut ad that public health expert Cora Neumann went on the air with earlier in the week.
● OH-13: Attorney Shay Hawkins is running a 15-second TV ad ahead of the May 3 GOP primary that plays up his bona fides as an "America First Conservative," claiming he worked to pass Trump's tax cuts and will fight for "stronger borders" if elected.
● OH-15: Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor, citing the newest GOP-gerrymandered map, announced Thursday that he was ending his campaign to take on Republican Rep. Mike Carey. Candidate filing closed back in March, and the only Democrat who remains on the ballot is Gary Josephson, whom Cleveland.com's Jeremy Pelzer says unsuccessfully ran for state party chair with a platform that called for recruiting Dave Chappelle to run for the Senate and for Democrats to support two Republican incumbents, Gov. Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who incidentally were instrumental to passing the new gerrymander.
● RI-02: While Democratic Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos didn't rule out running for Congress back in January, she announced this week that she'll be campaigning to keep her current post.
● SC-01: Freshman Rep. Nancy Mace has announced a "six-figure" opening ad buy for her June Republican primary against Trump's endorsed candidate, 2018 nominee Katie Arrington. Mace uses her first spot to try to claim Trump's xenophobic rhetoric for herself by declaring, "Washington needs to stop treating illegal immigrants better than our brave men and women in uniform."
● TN-05: While GOP Gov. Bill Lee allowed a bill to become law without his signature on Wednesday that would impose a requirement that House candidates have voted in the previous three statewide general elections to be eligible to run, it won't go into effect this cycle because candidate filing already closed last week.
This legislation, which could have a tough time surviving a court challenge, was widely interpreted as aimed at blocking former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, who only moved to Tennessee last year. Ortagus, who is Trump's pick, doesn't have a clear shot to the ballot, though, because the Tennessee Republican Party's executive committee removed her and two other notable candidates last week for not meeting the party's definition of a "bona fide" Republican; the rejected candidates will have their chance to appeal before the primary lineup is finalized on April 21.
● TX-28: Conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar is airing a negative ad for the first time in his May 24 Democratic primary runoff against attorney Jessica Cisneros, though it's the same spot he ran months ago during the first round of voting. Cuellar, just like in 2020, uses the type of language you'd normally expect to find in a Republican commercial, with a narrator arguing that Cisneros' agenda would result in "open borders that would make us less safe." The spot concludes with the sound of a siren as the narrator describes the challenger as "a risk we can't afford."
● TX-34 (special): Candidate filing closed Wednesday for the June 14 all-party primary to succeed Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela, who resigned early to take a job at the lobbying and law giant Akin Gump, and two Democrats and two Republicans are competing. A runoff would take place if no one takes a majority of the vote, though a second round won't be scheduled unless it's actually needed.
The Republican field consists of Mayra Flores, who is already the GOP nominee for the new version of the 34th District, and Juana Cantu-Cabrera, who took just 7% against her in the March primary. Biden carried the current version of this Rio Grande Valley constituency 52-48 while he would have taken the new one 57-42, but Republicans are hoping that a Flores win in the special will give her a better chance for an upset in November.
The Democratic contenders are former Cameron County Commissioner Dan Sanchez, who sports endorsements from Vela and 15th District Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, and Harlingen city civil service director Rene Coronado. Neither of them will be on the ballot in November, though, as Gonzalez is the nominee for the regular two-year term.
● Virginia: The candidate filing deadline for Virginia's June 21 primaries was April 7, and the state now has its list of contenders here. 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.
The Old Dominion allows parties to nominate candidates using one of three methods, though Democrats are relying on the traditional state-run primary in all 11 congressional districts. Republicans, though, will only be doing this in seven seats, including the competitive 2nd and 7th Districts: They'll instead be employing a convention in the 5th District, where freshman Rep. Bob Good has no serious intra-party opposition, and the safely blue 8th and 11th Districts.
Finally, Team Red will hold a party-run "firehouse primary" to choose its nominee against Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton in the 10th, a Northern Virginia seat Biden would have won 58-40 but where Republicans are hoping to regain lost ground. The event will take place on May 21—a Saturday—from 9 AM to 4 PM ET at 11 sites (absentee voting will take place in one location on May 12), and voters will be presented with an instant-runoff ballot. State-run primaries, by contrast, take place on Tuesdays with far more polling sites and also have significantly longer polling hours and early voting periods and locations; the rules are different as well, because candidates only need to win a plurality.
● VA-05: Former Henry County Supervisor Andy Parker failed to make the Democratic primary ballot because of what party officials say was a lack of valid signatures, though Parker said he'd take "a few days to perform a forensic audit on our petition signatures. When that is complete we will explore our options." Josh Throneburg, who owns a cleaning company, is the only Democrat on the ballot against Republican Rep. Bob Good in a seat Trump would have carried 53-45.