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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● PA-Sen: Pennsylvania's bitterly contested Republican Senate primary will head to a recount, state officials announced on Wednesday, with the margin between TV personality Mehmet Oz and hedge fund executive David McCormick standing at 0.07%—well below the half-percent threshold to trigger an automatic review.
Each of the state's 67 counties can start their recounts as soon as Friday (but no later than June 1) and must finish by June 7, with results submitted to the Department of State by noon the following day. With Oz ahead by just 902 votes, the gap between the two candidates is by far the smallest of any race in state history that's gone to overtime since Pennsylvania's automatic recount law first went into effect in 2004. (The next-closest was a judicial primary in 2011 where the margin was 2,116 votes. The recount upheld a win by Democrat Kathy Boockvar, who lost the general election but later went on to serve as secretary of the commonwealth.)
But the recount is not the only thing that could affect the final outcome. For starters, elections officials said Wednesday there were still 6,000 uncounted mail ballots, which were valid so long as they were postmarked by Election Day and arrived by Tuesday, and another 4,000 provisional ballots whose validity has yet to be adjudicated. However, this includes ballots cast in both the Republican and Democratic primaries, so the total number of GOP votes will be lower—much lower: Of the mail and provisional ballots that have already been counted, about 80% were cast by Democrats.
The most hotly contested bucket, though, is a small batch of about 860 Republican ballots that were cast by mail and received on time but lacked a handwritten date on their outer envelope, which is required under state law. Republicans have fought vigorously to have such ballots excluded in general elections, but now that McCormick needs any votes he can in order to catch up, he's filed a lawsuit seeking to have them counted.
Oz, naturally, opposes the idea, but just days ago, a federal appeals court hearing a dispute over a 2021 judicial race in the Allentown area ruled that ballots with missing dates should be tallied. McCormick would love to see that precedent followed now, even if he undoubtedly would resist any such attempt to include undated ballots should he win the GOP nomination and face the same issue against Democratic nominee John Fetterman in November.
● Believe it or not, Daily Kos is turning 20! We're celebrating this major milestone with a Downballot retrospective, looking back at some of our favorite races over the years with longtime contributing editor James Lambert. We start with a classic 2005 special election in a dark red district in Ohio, featuring "Fighting" Dem Paul Hackett versus Republican "Mean Jean" Schmidt, that foretold the 2006 blue wave. Then we dive deep into the absolutely gonzo 2008 House race on Staten Island that began when an entrenched Republican suddenly revealed he had a secret second family in Virginia—and only got much, much stranger from there.
Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also recap Tuesday's primaries, including the battle between Henry Cuellar and Jessica Cisneros that's now gone into overtime; the lousy night Trump-backed candidates had across the board; and another incumbent-vs.-incumbent battle in Georgia where the more progressive congresswoman won despite representing a much smaller portion of her new district.
Please subscribe to The Downballot on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. You'll find a transcript of this week's episode right here by noon Eastern Time.
● AL-Sen: Army veteran Mike Durant used his concession speech Tuesday night to make it clear he wanted GOP voters to reject former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Britt in the June 21 runoff. "Is Katie Britt going to be a train wreck? I don't know," Durant mused before adding, "But I'm sure I'm a better candidate than she is."
Earlier in the day, Durant outright said he'd endorse Rep. Mo Brooks should the congressman beat him for a runoff spot, an outcome that ended up happening hours later. The Army veteran didn't quite make good on that promise in his concession speech and instead said he'd back "anyone out there who has the heart and integrity that I have." However, unless Durant decides that he was wrong about Britt (or he thinks a "train wreck" is actually a good thing), that only leaves Brooks to support next month.
● AZ-Sen: The Washington Post reports that far-right billionaire Peter Thiel has contributed an additional $3.5 million to the super PAC supporting his protege, Blake Masters, in the August Republican primary. This brings Thiel's total investment in Saving Arizona PAC to $13.5 million.
● AK-AL: Alaskans for TARA, a super PAC set up by the leaders of the ANCSA Regional Association to support former state Interior Department official Tara Sweeney (the name officially stands for True Alaska Representation Alliance), has so far deployed $280,000 to support the Republican ahead of the June 11 top-four primary, which is by far the most any outside group has spent so far.
● NH-01: Former Executive Councilor Russell Prescott has filed paperwork with the FEC, and WMUR reports he will announce this week that he's joining the September Republican primary to take on Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas.
As the story notes, Prescott is a longtime Granite State politician who won re-election to the state Senate in the 2002 general election by fending off none other than now-Sen. Maggie Hassan. Hassan unseated him in their 2004 rematch, but Prescott reclaimed his seat by riding the 2010 red wave to victory in their third and final bout. (Hassan herself bounced back in 2012 by winning the governorship.) Prescott made the jump to the powerful Executive Council in 2016 and narrowly won re-election two years later before retiring in 2020.
● NY-16: Westchester County Legislator Catherine Parker announced this week that she'd challenge Rep. Jamaal Bowman in the August Democratic primary. Parker last cycle campaigned for the old 17th District but struggled to raise money, and she ultimately dropped out and endorsed Mondaire Jones weeks ahead of his primary victory.
Parker said that Jones told her last week that he'd go up against Bowman, and that she'd committed to supporting her one-time rival. However, after Jones instead decided to run five districts to the south for the newly open 10th, Parker said she made up her mind to defeat Bowman herself because he'd "voted against funding a litany of projects that will make a difference in the not-so-distant future." Bowman already faces intra-party opposition from another Westchester County legislator, Vedat Gashi, but Parker argued that her colleague "no longer has a base of voters that live in the district."
● NY-17: Rockland County Legislator Charles Falciglia has launched a campaign for the Republican nod to take on Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in a redrawn constituency that Biden would have taken 54-44. Falciglia's move came shortly after Assemblyman Mike Lawler announced he'd also compete in the GOP primary.
● NY-23 (special): Joe Sempolinski, who chairs the Steuben County Republican Party, has announced that he'll compete in the upcoming special election to succeed outgoing Rep. Tom Reed but will not run anywhere for a full term. State election authorities, meanwhile, say they’ve finally received Reed’s letter of resignation.
● PA-17: The DCCC has publicized a mid-May in-house poll showing its nominee, Navy veteran Chris Deluzio, beating former Ross Township Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer 44-41 in the general election for this 52-46 Biden constituency. The survey was conducted May 9-10, about a week before both Deluzio and Shaffer won their contested primaries.
● AR-Sen: Sen. John Boozman won renomination outright with 58%, while Army veteran Jake Bequette and gun range owner Jan Morgan lagged behind with 21% and 19%, respectively.
● AL-Gov: Gov. Kay Ivey took 54% of the vote in the expensive Republican primary, which put her a few points above the majority she needed to avert a runoff. Former Ambassador to Slovenia Lindy Blanchard and businessman Tim James, who also took third in the far-closer 2010 primary, were well behind with 19% and 16%, respectively.
● AL-05: Madison County Commissioner Dale Strong and former Defense Department official Casey Wardynski will face off in the June 21 Republican runoff to succeed Senate candidate Mo Brooks in this safely red constituency in northern Alabama. Strong took first with 45% while Wardynski, who has the support of the nihilistic House Freedom Caucus, led businessman John Roberts 23-14 for the second spot.
● GA-02: Army veteran Jeremy Hunt took first place with 37% in the Republican primary, while Air Force veteran Chris West beat out businessman Wayne Johnson 30-19 for the second slot in the June 21 runoff. The eventual nominee will go up against Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop in a southwestern Georgia seat that Biden would have carried 55-44.
● GA-06: Physician Rich McCormick will compete against Donald Trump's endorsed candidate, former state Ethics Commission Chair Jake Evans, in the GOP runoff for this newly-gerrymandered seat in the northern Atlanta suburbs. McCormick, who was Team Red's 2020 nominee in the old 7th District, was far out in front with 43%, while Evans beat pastor Mallory Staples 23-9 for second.
● GA-10: The Republican runoff to succeed failed secretary of state candidate Jody Hice will pit trucking company owner Mike Collins, who is the son of the late Rep. Mac Collins, against former state Rep. Vernon Jones, a conservative Democrat-turned-Republican who has Donald Trump's backing. Collins, who lost the 2014 runoff to Hice, took first with 26%; Jones outpaced Hice's pick, state Rep. Timothy Barr, 22-14 for second. Trump would have carried this seat, which includes Athens, Atlanta's eastern exurbs, and rural areas in the northeastern part of the state, 61-38.
P.S. Just behind in fourth place with 13% was former Rep. Paul Broun, whose career aptly seems trapped in a pit of Hell. Broun gave up the existing version of the 10th in 2014 to unsuccessfully run for the Senate, and he went on to lose comeback bids for the old 9th in both 2016 and 2020.
● GA-13: Despite being one of the most conservative members of the Democratic caucus, Rep. David Scott took 66% to claim renomination in this safely blue seat in Atlanta's western and southern suburbs; South Fulton City Councilor Mark Baker was far behind with 13%.
● MN-01: Former Department of Agriculture official Brad Finstad outpaced state Rep. Jeremy Munson 38-37 in the special election primary to succeed their fellow Republican, the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn, and Munson conceded early Wednesday. (Hagedorn's widow, former state party chair Jennifer Carnahan, took a distant third with 8%.) Finstad benefited from heavy spending from American Dream Federal Action, which is a crypto-aligned group, and Defending Main Street, which is close to the old-line GOP establishment; Munson, who has long antagonized his party's legislative leaders, in turn had support from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's allies at Protect Freedom PAC.
On the Democratic side, Jeff Ettinger, the former CEO of the food processing giant Hormel, took 64% of the vote against several underfunded foes. Finstad and Ettinger will face off in the Aug. 9 general election for the final months of Hagedorn's term representing the existing 1st District, a southern Minnesota constituency that Trump took 54-44. That contest will also coincide with the primary for the regular two-year term under the state's new congressional map, which made only small changes to the 1st District. The state's filing deadline is May 31, so we'll see if anyone decides to challenge either special election nominee for the full term.
● TX-15: With only about 12,000 votes counted in the Democratic runoff, businesswoman Michelle Vallejo leads Army veteran Ruben Ramirez 50.1-49.9, a margin of only 23 ballots. The winner will go up against 2020 Republican nominee Monica De La Cruz, who won the Republican primary outright in March, in a Rio Grande Valley seat that Trump would have taken 51-48.
● TX-30: State Rep. Jasmine Crockett defeated party operative Jane Hope Hamilton 61-39 in the Democratic runoff for this safely blue Dallas seat. Crockett sported an endorsement from retiring Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, and she also benefited from over $700,000 in spending from two groups with ties to the crypto industry.
● TX-AG: Scandal-ridden Attorney General Ken Paxton turned back Land Commissioner George P. Bush 68-32 in the Republican runoff. Trump last year famously endorsed Paxton, who has spent nearly seven years under indictment for securities fraud without any trial date in sight, over Bush, whose failed charm offensive involved him creating beer koozies dissing his family. Bush, who is the son of Jeb Bush and grandson of George H.W. Bush, used to be nicknamed "47," but you can probably stash the one-time rising star's inauguration program in the same drawer as those koozies.
On the Democratic side, former ACLU attorney Rochelle Garza defeated former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski 63-37.
● Tarrant County, TX District Attorney: Tarrant County Criminal Court Judge Phil Sorrells, who picked up Donald Trump's endorsement during the first round, won the GOP runoff 59-41 against state Rep. Matt Krause. Sorrells will go up against prosecutor Tiffany Burks, who won the Democratic nod outright in March, in this populous county where Joe Biden's 49.3-49.2 win made him the first Democrat to carry the county for president since native son Lyndon Johnson's landslide in 1964.