The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Daniel Donner, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
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● Primary Night: Oz Well That Ends Well: Tuesday brings us the biggest primary night of the 2022 cycle so far―in fact, one of the biggest we can expect all year―as voters in Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania head to the polls. We've put together our preview of what to watch on a night full of gigantic contests.
The main event will be in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania where there's a real chance that Republicans could nominate for governor state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a QAnon ally and one of the Big Lie's most fervent supporters, at the same time that they choose fellow election conspiracy theorist Kathy Barnette for Senate. Trump himself threw his backing behind Mastriano on Saturday, but he's hoping that his endorsement is still enough to deliver the Senate nod to TV personality Mehmet Oz.
But that's far from all that's on tap on a night where a trio of House members are in danger of losing renomination. Republicans in western North Carolina have their chance to punish Rep. Madison Cawthorn over his failed district hop and myriad scandals, but a crowded field may save him. In Oregon, progressives are rooting for Jamie McLeod-Skinner to take down moderate incumbent Kurt Schrader. And in Idaho, GOP Rep. Mike Simpson faces an expensive rematch with an opponent he beat eight years ago.
We also have massively expensive open seat races across the country, especially on the Democratic side. Just how expensive? Politico's Scott Bland, citing data from OpenSecrets, tweets, "Tuesday's House Dem primaries in 5 states have drawn more super PAC spending than **all** 2020 House Dem primaries combined."
Our live coverage will begin at 7:30 PM ET at Daily Kos Elections when polls close in North Carolina. You can also follow us on Twitter for blow-by-blow updates, and you'll want to bookmark our primary calendar, which includes the dates for primaries in all 50 states. And we're in for even more primary action in the weeks ahead, with May 24 bringing us big nomination contests in Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia, as well as runoffs in Texas and the special election primary in Minnesota's 1st District.
● NY Redistricting: Political scientist Jonathan Cervas, the special master tasked by a state court judge with drawing new congressional and state Senate maps for New York, released his initial proposals on Monday, though the court won't issue final versions until Friday. The congressional map is a major departure from the now-invalidated plan passed by Democrats earlier this year: Though it would feature 21 districts Joe Biden would have won versus just five that would have gone for Donald Trump, at least five of those Biden seats—and perhaps more—are swingy enough that Republicans could win them during a good GOP year.
We'll save a deeper-cut analysis for the definitive maps—as Politico's Steve Shepard reminds us, much changed between initial and final drafts when Virginia went through a similar process late last year. But Cervas' congressional districts have already prompted a number of announcements from politicians jockeying for maximum advantage.
The first and most stunning came from Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents the current 18th but said he'd run in the new 17th, citing the fact that he would now live in the latter district. That choice, however, would not only mean abandoning the 18th, a potentially vulnerable seat that would've gone for Biden 53-45, but it could also set Maloney on a collision course with freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones, who represents three-quarters of the revamped 17th, a 55-45 Biden district.
Jones might instead set his sights one district to the south, where his home in White Plains would now find itself: the safely blue 16th. But that's where another progressive Black freshman, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, would seek re-election, and he likewise represents three-quarters of the district. Maloney's decision therefore puts Jones in a very difficult spot, and given that Maloney is tasked with preserving the Democrats' majority in the House as chair of the DCCC, the fact that he'd jeopardize his party's hold on the 18th is shocking.
Cervas' map would also pair two powerhouse New York City veterans who each chair a committee: Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney. Nadler quickly issued a statement saying he'd run for another term in the new 12th, which would consolidate midtown Manhattan with the Upper East and Upper West sides in a single district. Minutes later, Maloney said she'd do the same. Nadler, who currently holds the old 10th, represents 39% of the redrawn (and safely blue) district while Maloney represents the remaining 61%.
P.S. You can find the new draft Senate map here.
● AL-Sen: While both former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Britt and Army veteran Mike Durant have spent most of the Republican primary contest running commercials promoting themselves as ardent conservatives, they're each going negative on the other as next week's contest rapidly approaches. Britt's spot utilizes old footage of her opponent, whom she labels a "New Hampshire liberal," saying, "The first thing that needs to be done is to disarm the population … If we could do that in some of our U.S. cities, that would be a pretty good step toward law and order."
Durant's commercial, meanwhile, accuses Britt of letting "abortion pills be supplied to teenagers." This is a reference to a vote that took place back in 2003 when she was president of the University of Alabama's student body when it recommended the school health center make morning-after pills, which are not abortion pills, available. Durant's narrator also faults Britt for not answering when asked if she'd overturn the 2020 election, saying she "refused to say if she'd stop Biden's election."
● MD-Sen: Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Sunday that he'd "experienced a minor stroke in the form of a small venous tear at the back of my head." He added that he'd been "informed that there are no long-term effects or damage" and would return to the Senate "later this week."
● PA-Sen, PA-Gov: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman released a statement Sunday saying he'd had a stroke two days before "that was caused by a clot from my heart being in an A-fib rhythm for too long." Fetterman, who is the frontrunner in Tuesday's Democratic primary for Senate, continued, "The good news is I'm feeling much better, and the doctors tell me I didn't suffer any cognitive damage. I'm well on my way to a full recovery." The lieutenant governor also said, "The doctors have assured me that I'll be able to get back on the trail, but first I need to take a minute, get some rest, and recover."
Meanwhile on the Republican side, GOP firm Susquehanna Polling & Research finds TV personality Mehmet Oz edging out election conspiracy theorist Kathy Barnette 28-27 in Tuesday's Senate primary, while rich guy Dave McCormick is way back at 11%. The nomination fight for governor isn't so close, though, as state Sen. Doug Mastriano leads former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain 29-18; Trump endorsed Mastriano Saturday while the poll was in the field.
● AZ-Gov, AZ-Sen: Former TV news anchor Kari Lake has publicized a late-April Cygnal internal that shows the Trump-backed conspiracy theorist beating Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson 47-22 in the August GOP primary. Lake also released numbers for the Senate nomination contest, where Cygnal finds a tight three-way race. Wealthy businessman Jim Lamon takes 20% as former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich grab 19% each.
● KS-Gov: The RGA is spending six figures on an opening buy against Democratic incumbent Laura Kelly, and its first spot argues she's too liberal for Kansas.
● MN-Gov: Former state Sen. Scott Jensen, who is one of the most far-right GOP candidates for governor, won the important state party endorsement by defeating healthcare executive Kendall Qualls 65-33 on the ninth and final ballot at Saturday's convention. As we recently discussed, only once has a candidate for statewide office over the last 30 years lost the endorsement but won their primary, but it still remains to be seen if Jensen will have any serious opposition in the August contest to take on Democratic Gov. Tim Walz.
What we do know, though, is that at least two of the five Republicans who were running against Jensen have dropped out. Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy, who took third before he was eliminated after the sixth ballot, quickly threw his support behind Jensen, a move that likely helped the second-place candidate surge past Qualls. Qualls, for his part, put out a statement the day after his defeat making it clear his campaign was over.
Former Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek's camp, though, responded to Saturday's events by saying, "Rich and his campaign team are evaluating all options for moving forward to beat Walz in November." Stanek, citing injuries from a car accident last month, didn't end up attending the convention, and his name was not placed before delegates.
The remaining candidates, state Sen. Paul Gazelka and dermatologist Neil Shah, respectively backed Qualls and Murphy at the convention, and we're awaiting word what they'll do now; both men previously pledged to leave the race if someone else won the endorsement. These candidates, as well as anyone who wants to jump in late, have until the May 31 filing deadline to make up their minds.
A SurveyUSA poll released Thursday showed Walz leading Jensen 44-39, which was his smallest advantage against any of the six Republicans who were tested, but Democrats are hoping that the one-time state senator's fringe views would make him a weak candidate. Jensen, who worked as a family physician, was banned from TikTok last year for spreading lies about the pandemic, offerings that included videos captioned, "Family doctor EXPOSES double masking craziness," and "You are being played (by the CDC and WHO)."
The candidate last month pandered to Big Lie supporters when he called for jailing Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon, saying, "And Steve Simon, you maybe better check out to see if you look good in stripes, because you've gotten away with too much, too long under [Minnesota Attorney General Keith] Ellison, and the hammer's coming down." Jensen kept at this at Saturday's convention as well with a video where, after he claimed "dead people voted," he once again called for imprisoning Simon. Jensen also used that presentation to suggest that COVID death tolls were inflated and to promise to commute the sentence of Kim Potter, the former Brooklyn Center police officer convicted of killing Daunte Wright at a traffic stop.
● TX-Gov: UT Tyler's latest poll for the Dallas Morning News finds Republican incumbent Greg Abbott leading Democrat Beto O'Rourke 46-39. The school was last in the field back in February, and there's a welcome methodology change from that earlier survey: While UT Tyler previously did not identify any candidate's party affiliation in the general election portion of its poll, this new one includes this important information.
● CA-03: Assemblyman Kevin Kiley picked up Donald Trump's endorsement over the weekend ahead of the June 7 top-two primary. Kiley's main opponents are Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a fellow Republican who has run ads utilizing an old picture of him with Trump, and physician Kermit Jones, who is the one serious Democrat in the race.
● FL-13: State Rep. Michele Rayner announced Monday that she was dropping out of the Democratic primary in order to run for re-election, arguing, "We have these maps that are partisan, racist, and gerrymandered. I believe they are illegal." Former Department of Defense official Eric Lynn remains in the race for a seat that the new GOP map transformed from a 51-47 Biden constituency to one that Trump would have carried 53-46.
● FL-15: State Sen. Kelli Stargel and wealthy businessman Jerry Torres have each announced that they're running in the August Republican primary for this new seat in the eastern Tampa suburbs. The GOP field for this 51-48 Trump constituency already includes former Rep. Dennis Ross, state Rep. Jackie Toledo, Army veteran Jay Collins, and Navy veteran Mac McGovern.
Stargel, who currently chairs the influential Senate Appropriations Committee, successfully passed a bill to ban abortion after 15 weeks without any exception for rape or incest, and she also pushed through legislation banning trans girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their identity. Torres, meanwhile, is a Green Beret veteran and first-time candidate who has pledged to self-fund at least $5 million. Torres said his personal investment may go as high as $15 million, arguing, "So if I go out and try to sell Jerry Torres as a good candidate for Congress I'm probably not ... going to get the donors."
● IL-17: Former state Rep. Litesa Wallace has released an internal from Triton Polling & Research that gives her a narrow 22-19 lead over former TV meteorologist Eric Sorensen in the June 28 Democratic primary, with Rock Island County Board Member Angie Normoyle in third with 8%. A total of six Democrats are competing here, while Primary School notes that a seventh, Rockford Alderwoman Linda McNeely, failed to make the ballot.
● MI-13: Target Insyght is out with the first poll we've seen since filing closed for the August Democratic primary, and it gives former Detroit General Counsel Sharon McPhail a 20-15 edge over hedge fund manager John Conyers III in this safely blue seat. Self-funding state Rep. Shri Thanedar grabs third with 12%, while Michigan Civil Rights Commissioner Portia Roberson and Detroit School Board member Sherry Gay-Dagnogo are just behind with 9% apiece. Another 6% goes to state Sen. Adam Hollier, while the remaining five contenders each lag behind with 2% or less.
● MN-01: Former Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger won the state party endorsement over the weekend ahead of next week's special Democratic primary. Six other candidates, including former Bush White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter, are also seeking the nomination, but none of Ettinger's intra-party rivals have brought in a serious amount of money.
● MO-04: State Rep. Sara Walsh announced Monday that she was exiting the August Republican primary for this open seat because the map her colleagues passed last week moved her entire legislative constituency to GOP Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer's 3rd District. Walsh, though, couldn't have changed course and run against Luetkemeyer this year even if she'd wanted to. That's because U.S. House candidates had to file by late March along with everyone else using the existing congressional map, and the Kansas City Star's Bryan Lowry says that filing won't be reopened.
● RI-02: Former John Kasich staffer Michael Neary on Friday ended his bid for the Democratic nod, a campaign that seemed quixotic even before Neary was arrested back in Ohio in March for allegedly stalking a couple.
● TX-15: Businesswoman Michelle Vallejo has earned an endorsement from 15th District Rep. Joaquin Castro, who represents a nearby constituency, ahead of next week's Democratic runoff.
● TX-28: EMILY's List has launched a $530,000 TV ad campaign to support attorney Jessica Cisneros in next week's Democratic runoff. EMILY, with a version of its spot in both English and Spanish, attacks conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar for voting "to make it harder to join a union" and "oppos[ing] expanding overtime pay." The narrator continues, "Now he's voting with MAGA Republicans against women's health care." EMILY's move comes at a time when pro-Cuellar groups, including AIPAC and a PAC called Mainstream Democrats, have been spending upwards of $2 million.
● MN-AG, MN-SoS: Minnesota Republican delegates voted to endorse a pair of attorneys, Jim Schultz and Kim Crockett, for the Democratic-held offices of attorney general and secretary of state, respectively (see our MN-Gov item for more about the convention). However, at least Schultz still has a competitive August primary ahead of him before he can focus on defeating incumbent Keith Ellison to flip a post the GOP last won in 1966.
Schultz will go up against former state Rep. Dennis Smith, who skipped the gathering he denounced as "a game for insiders." 2018 nominee Doug Wardlow, who is running to avenge his 49-45 loss to Ellison, may also continue on to the primary: Wardlow responded to his convention defeat by tweeting the next day, "We are taking some time now to reflect and pray about the next steps for our campaign."
Crockett, for her part, defeated businesswoman Kelly Jahner-Byrne at the convention, and Jahner-Byrne soon made it clear her campaign to take on Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon was over. Crockett made news back in 2019 when she was suspended from her conservative think tank over racist comments about Somali immigrants, saying, "These aren't people coming from Norway, let's put it that way. These people are very visible."
Crockett since then has worked to spread lies about the 2020 election, saying at the convention, "I worked hard to stop the train wreck of the 2020 election and then examined the wreckage to make sure it never happens again." No other Republicans are currently running for this office.
● TX-AG: UT Tyler, surveying on behalf of the Dallas Morning News, finds incumbent Ken Paxton beating Land Commissioner George P. Bush 41-35 ahead of next week's Republican runoff. A recent internal for a pro-Paxton group put the attorney general's lead far higher at 58-31.
● Hennepin County, MN Attorney: Former Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty over the weekend earned the Democratic endorsement in the race to succeed retiring incumbent Mike Freeman as the top prosecutor for Minnesota's most populous county. However, at least state House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, who was the runner up at the convention, and former Judge Martha Holton Dimick have pledged to continue on to the August nonpartisan primary.