The unnamed performer, in full drag, tells the audience, "A drag queen knows a fake when we see one—like Kari Lake." The star then, well, drags Lake for her past support for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton ("Ugh—politics," they groan, with a flourish of a makeup brush) but really lays into her for denying her own past friendship with another female impersonator.
"But when Kari attacked drag queens even though she counted us as friends, went into our bars, invited us into her home, now missy pretends it never happened," the performer chides. "That Kari Lake—she's not just a fake, she's a phony." This spot is the first we've seen focused on this story, which has given Lake plenty of grief ahead of her competitive Aug. 2 intra-party fight against Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson.
Lake, like countless anti-LGBTQ candidates across the nation, has targeted drag performances as "grooming" and "child abuse." In response, a prominent Phoenix drag queen named Richard Stevens posted on social media that he and the candidate had been friends for 20 years; Stevens also shared several pictures of the two together, and some of those images are included in this commercial.
Stevens himself relays that he's seen this ad airing on TV, while local Democratic operative Tony Cani puts the size of the buy at $225,000. Cani also says that American Focus PAC, the group behind the spot, is funded by Randy Kendrick, a GOP donor who is married to Arizona Diamondbacks' owner Ken Kendrick.
The ad comes days ahead of Trump's Saturday rally in Prescott Valley for Lake and other members of his Big Lie slate. Trump's candidate for secretary of state, state Rep. Mark Finchem, recently generated renewed attention when he told supporters, "Ain't gonna be no concession speech coming from this guy. I'm going to demand a 100% hand count if there's the slightest hint that there's an impropriety. And I will urge the next governor to do the same."
Lake, the person Finchem identified as the state's next chief executive, quickly agreed, saying she'd "absolutely" react the same way if she lost. She noted that Trump himself "did not concede, and I think that was really smart because that was the most dirty, filthy, rotten election I've ever seen."
- AK-Sen: Lisa Murkowski (R-inc): $1.7 million raised, $6.1 million cash-on-hand
- FL-Sen: Val Demings (D): $12.2 million raised, $12.5 million cash-on-hand
- IA-Sen: Mike Franken (D): $3 million raised, $1.1 million cash-on-hand
- NC-Sen: Cheri Beasley (D): $7.42 million raised, $4.2 million cash-on-hand
- PA-Sen: John Fetterman (D): $11 million raised, $5.5 million cash-on-hand
- WI-Gov: Tony Evers (D-inc): $10.1 million raised (Jan. 1 to June 30), $7.6 million cash-on-hand
- CA-49: Mike Levin (D-inc): $921,000 raised, $2.94 million cash-on-hand
- FL-27: Annette Taddeo (D): $460,000 (in 24 days)
- NH-01: Matt Mowers (R): $385,000 raised
- NV-03: Susie Lee (D-inc): $1.1 million raised, $2.5 million cash-on-hand
- NY-23: Nick Langworthy (R): $307,000 raised (in three weeks)
- RI-02: Seth Magaziner (D): $700,000 raised, $1.7 million cash-on-hand; Sarah Morgenthau (D): $324,000 raised, $612,000 cash-on-hand; Allan Fung (R): $355,000 raised, $762,000 cash-on-hand
- GA-AG: Chris Carr (R-inc): $577,000 raised (May 1-June 30), $556,000 cash-on-hand; Jen Jordan (D): $601,000 raised (May 1-June 30), $756,000 cash-on-hand
- GA-SoS: Brad Raffensperger (R-inc): $305,000 raised (May 1-June 30), $104,000 cash-on-hand; Bee Nguyen (D): $874,000 raised (May 1-June 30), $400,000 cash-on-hand
● AZ-Sen: Two Republican pollsters have two very different reads on the Aug. 2 GOP contest to take on Democratic Sen Mark Kelly. HighGround Public Affairs gives former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters a 23-14 lead over wealthy businessman Jim Lamon, which is comparable to what other firms have found in the month since Trump endorsed Masters. Battleground Connect, though, puts Lamon ahead 29-27, with Attorney General Mark Brnovich at 16%. HighGround says it sponsored its own poll, while Battleground Connect did not mention a client.
● WI-Sen: Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes' newest commercial for the Aug. 9 Democratic primary features his mother, Lajuan Barnes, describing how she needed to have a life-saving abortion. "It was my decision. Not some politician's," she says, to which Mandela Barnes adds, "Every woman has the right to make her own decision. And I'll fight alongside you every step of the way until you do."
● GA-Gov: Democrat Stacey Abrams' new spot makes the case that GOP Gov. Brian Kemp's gun laws have made Georgians less safe, which is the sort of argument that almost no statewide candidate would have tried in past races here. The commercial features a former deputy sheriff declaring that Kemp has "made it easier for criminals to carry loaded guns in public, at the movies, in church." He continues, "Mr. Kemp, I call that criminal carry. Brian Kemp may talk tough, but he makes us less safe."
● MI-Gov: Mitchell Research's newest poll for MIRS shows conservative radio host Tudor Dixon jumping into a 26-15 lead over real estate agent Ryan Kelley ahead of the Aug. 2 GOP primary, with wealthy businessman Kevin Rinke and chiropractor Garrett Soldano just behind with 13% each as a 33% plurality remains undecided.
The poll represents a notable shift from three weeks ago, when Dixon and Rinke deadlocked 15-15 as Kelley, who had just been arrested on misdemeanor charges related to his role in the Jan. 6 riot, took 13%; neither survey appears to have allowed respondents to say if they'd write in the name of former Detroit Police Chief James Craig. We haven't seen any other numbers since that last Michell survey was conducted.
● MS-Gov: Mississippi Today's Adam Ganucheau takes a deep look at the 2023 race to lead the Magnolia State and highlights the many candidates who could end up taking on Republican Gov. Tate Reeves in either the August primary or fall general election, but one name in particular has stood out as the incumbent's most high-profile potential rival. The name belongs to state House Speaker Philip Gunn, a fellow Republican who refused to rule anything out last year; Gunn doesn't appear to have said anything new since then, but Ganucheau writes that Reeves' people "have stalked every move" the speaker has made "for years."
Reeves, whom longtime political analyst Sam Hall once said "notoriously lacks strong people skills," has a long history of feuding with fellow Republicans including Gunn, and that very much hasn't changed since he won the governorship in 2019. Things got especially ugly during the opening months of the pandemic when the two fought over control of federal COVID relief money: Reeves argued that "people will die" if he didn't have his way, while Gunn took umbrage at how the governor "portrayed legislators as thieves and killers."
The two found themselves in alignment this year during a fight with the state Senate over a spending bill, but Ganucheau writes that Gunn remains "transparent about both his disdain for Reeves and his consideration of running against him in 2023." However, even Reeves' many intra-party critics acknowledge that he will have access to plenty of money: The governor ended 2021 with almost $5 million available, while Gunn had about $1 million to spend.
Gunn isn't the only Republican who could take on Reeves in next year's primary, though. Ganucheau relays that Attorney General Lynn Fitch, Secretary of State Michael Watson, and former state Rep. Robert Foster "have heard from advisers about how a primary of Reeves could play out," though they don't appear to have said anything publicly. Foster himself learned the hard way in 2019 how a primary against Reeves did play out as he took third with 19% of the vote; Foster went on to support former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. in the runoff, but Reeves still won the nomination 54-46.
Far fewer Democrats are being talked about as potential candidates in this very red state, but Mississippi Today says that Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley is considering. Presley, who is indeed related to Elvis, has long been talked about as one of Team Blue's few rising stars here, but he's always turned down calls to run statewide. Presley has remained secure at home in his conservative northern Mississippi constituency, and he even won another term in 2019 on the Public Service Commission, the three-member body that regulates utilities, without opposition as Republicans were winning a majority.
However, if Presley or another Democrat does mount a strong effort, the general election may need to be settled with a late November runoff. That's because in 2020, Mississippi voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment to require a second round of voting in any statewide general election contests where no one earns a majority of the vote.
Until that measure passed, state elections were governed by an infamous 1890 Jim Crow-era law that required contenders to win not only a majority of the vote but also a majority of the state House's 122 districts; if no candidate surpassed both thresholds, the members of the House would choose the winner, and there was nothing to stop the GOP-dominated body from picking the person who lost the popular vote.
In 2019, Reeves beat Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood 52-47 as two other candidates notched just 1%, but Ganucheau argues that a more prominent independent could run this time. Indeed, Waller himself expressed interest in going this route last year, though he also spoke well of Gunn. Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs, a former Democrat who later became a Reeves ally, also said in 2021 that he was thinking about campaigning as a non-aligned candidate; Ganucheau also name-drops Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill and Byram Mayor Richard White as possibilities, though neither appears to have expressed interest yet.
● IL-06: Former Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski said Monday that he'd forgo an independent run against Democratic incumbent Sean Casten and would instead work to promote other independent candidates. Lipinski, whose supporters gathered 5,400 petitions to get his name on the ballot, insisted he had enough valid signatures to meet the 5,000-petition minimum, though we'll never know if he was right.
● NY-17: Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who decided to run for the more secure 17th District rather than defend his competitive 18th District, has his daughter highlight how he "won in a Trump district" in his opening commercial. The spot, which is airing ahead of the Aug. 23 primary, also features his husband talking about how Maloney was the Empire State's first gay congressman and his work fighting gun companies.
● KS-AG: Former federal prosecutor Tony Mattivi has publicized an internal from Cygnal that finds the infamous former Secretary of State Kris Kobach leading state Sen. Kellie Warren 31-16 ahead of the Aug. 2 GOP primary for attorney general, with Mattivi himself taking only 9%. Mattivi argues that he'll pull ahead once voters learn about him, but there isn't much time left for him to make his case. The winner will go up against Chris Mann, a former prosecutor who has the Democratic side to himself.
Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.