The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Daniel Donner, and Cara Zelaya, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
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● Los Angeles County, CA District Attorney: Activists seeking to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced that they had turned in 717,000 signatures just ahead of Wednesday's deadline, but it'll be a while before we know if their $8 million effort was enough to force a vote in America's most populous county. The county registrar of voters says that if there are enough valid petitions, a recall election could take place as soon as this November or as late as January of next year, though it's not clear what factors might impact that timeline.
Election authorities have 30 days to verify that the anti-Gascón campaign has submitted the roughly 567,000 valid petitions necessary—which is 10% of the total number of voters who were registered when Gascón was elected in 2020—so organizers can only afford to have about 20% of their signatures disqualified. Recall expert Joshua Spivak writes that a 20% rejection rate is about what we should expect for such a campaign in California and concludes, "This may be quite close." A spokesperson for the recall effort says that if it fails to qualify, as it previously did last year, Gascón opponents would concentrate on denying him re-election in 2024. However, another organizer predicted, "Even if this one does not pass, there will be five more recall attempts."
Gascón, who spent years serving as the top prosecutor in San Francisco, returned to his hometown of L.A. just ahead of the 2020 election, in which he campaigned as a reformer and unseated two-term District Attorney Jackie Lacey by a 54-46 margin. The new incumbent, though, took over at a time when crime was on the rise, and conservatives didn't hesitate to blame him. Gascón also met with hostility in his own office: The members of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles overwhelmingly voted in February to support a recall against their boss, whom they'd clashed with over his attempts to scale back sentencing.
Gascón's adversaries were buoyed last month when San Francisco voters opted to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin, another criminal justice reformer who was attacked over local crime concerns, by a 55-45 margin. However, an important difference in the two jurisdiction's rules for recalls could give Gascón an advantage Boudin didn't have.
In Los Angeles County, voters would first be asked whether Gascón should be removed; a separate question would then ask who his replacement would be. California uses those same rules for statewide recalls, and Gov. Gavin Newsom last year decisively held onto his office by reminding voters that, if a majority voted to oust him, their new governor would almost certainly be far-right radio host Larry Elder. Gascón may be able to deploy a similar strategy against his opponents should the recall qualify for the ballot, though it's too early to know who might run to replace him.
Voters in San Francisco, by contrast, were only asked if Boudin should be recalled, with the question of his replacement left to Mayor London Breed, a fellow Democrat. This undermined Boudin's attempts to frame the recall as a Republican power grab financed by a local hedge fund manager. (Breed herself announced Thursday that she would appoint former prosecutor Brooke Jenkins to be her city's new district attorney).
Gascón is already portraying the recall as an effort by right-wing activists and donors to oust him in this heavily Democratic community. The district attorney has also pushed back against attempts to pin increases in crime on his policies. "People are upset," he said recently. "I am too, so there's no question we have problems here. The problem becomes when misinformation leads to putting the blame for crime increases in our community on the DA's office when we know that isn't the case."
- NH-Sen: Vikram Mansharamani (R): $580,000 raised, additional $250,000 self-funded, $789,000 cash-on-hand
- WI-Sen: Mandela Barnes (D): $2.1 million raised
- GA-Gov: Brian Kemp (R-inc): $3.8 million raised, $6.4 million cash-on-hand; Georgians First Leadership Committee (pro-Kemp): $3 million raised, $650,000 cash-on-hand
- FL-13: Eric Lynn (D): $330,000 raised
- GA-02: Sanford Bishop (D-inc): $800,000 raised, $1 million cash-on-hand
- NH-02: Annie Kuster (D-inc): $611,000 raised, $2.86 million cash-on-hand
- NJ-07: Tom Malinowski (D-inc): $1.28 million raised, $4.2 million cash-on-hand
- NY-19 (special): Pat Ryan (D): $1 million raised (in six weeks)
- PA-07: Susan Wild (D-inc): $1 million raised
● GA-Sen, NV-Sen: Politico reports that Opportunity Matters Fund, a super PAC that serves as a vehicle to promote South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott's presidential aspirations, is spending at least $1.3 million in Georgia and $474,000 in Nevada on commercials where Scott calls for viewers to send Republicans Herschel Walker and Adam Laxalt to the Senate. The PAC has received $20 million so far from billionaire Larry Ellison so there may be a whole lot more of these ads, which focus far more on Scott than the Senate candidates in each of those states, coming this cycle.
● IA-Sen: Democrat Mike Franken has released an internal from Change Research that shows him trailing Republican incumbent Chuck Grassley only 49-44 in a contest where major outside groups have yet to get involved. An April Change survey gave Grassley a 45-42 edge back when Franken looked like the primary underdog against former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, and we haven't seen any other polls of this matchup.
● AZ-Gov: Termed-out Gov. Doug Ducey, who also heads the RGA, has endorsed Arizona Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson with just under four weeks to go before her Aug. 2 Republican primary battle against former TV anchor Kari Lake. Lake, like her main supporter Donald Trump, is no fan of the governor, whom she's blamed for not overturning Joe Biden's win.
● HI-Gov: Hawaii's Campaign Spending Commission said this week that Rep. Kai Kahele could not obtain public financing because he'd failed to file an affidavit committing to following the program's spending limits. Kahele, who was the only Democratic candidate seeking matching funds, already faced a very difficult Aug. 13 primary battle against Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who began with a huge fundraising head start and enjoyed a massive 48-16 lead in a recent MRG Research poll.
● MI-Gov: Conservative radio host Tudor Dixon has earned an endorsement for the Aug. 2 GOP primary from former Gov. John Engler, whose service from 1991 to 2003 makes him Michigan's last three-term chief executive. (The state passed a constitutional amendment in 1992 limiting its governors to a pair of four-year terms, but Engler was exempt as the sitting incumbent.) Engler last year signed on as treasurer for a group supporting former Detroit Police Chief James Craig called "We Need the Chief," but the former governor evidently decided he doesn't actually need the chief's write-in campaign.
● OR-Gov: Independent Betsy Johnson has publicized an internal from GS Strategy Group, a firm that normally takes on Republican clients, that shows Democrat Tina Kotek edging her out 33-30 as Republican Christine Drazan takes 23%. The one prior survey of this three-way race we've seen was a Nelson Research poll conducted just after the May primary that had Drazan beating Kotek 30-28 as Johnson lagged in third with 19%.
● WI-Gov: Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is airing her first negative spot against wealthy businessman Tim Michels with a month to go before their Aug. 9 GOP primary. Kleefisch uses most of her commercial to blame Joe Biden and Democratic incumbent Tony Evers for gas prices, but she finishes by telling the audience that Michels "pushed for years to raise our gas tax while getting rich from massive government contracts." The AP also writes that Kleefisch's allies at the 1848 Project are also now running ads against Michels over the gas tax; however, the group refused to release a copy of the spot, much less reveal how much money was behind the effort.
● MI-11: Hillary Clinton has endorsed incumbent Haley Stevens in her Aug. 2 Democratic primary contest against fellow Rep. Andy Levin.
● NY-12: The powerful healthcare workers union 1199 SEIU has thrown its support behind Rep. Jerry Nadler in his tough Aug. 23 Democratic primary fight against longtime colleague Carolyn Maloney and attorney Suraj Patel.
● OH-09: Info Strategies Northeast, a new firm affiliated with the conservative consulting group Knight Takes Rook, has released a poll showing veteran Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur beating QAnon-aligned activist J.R. Majewski 47-42 in a seat that Trump would have taken 51-48. This survey, which was not done on behalf of any candidate, is the first we've seen of this contest, as well as the firm's second-ever poll: Its inaugural effort was a late May look at the GOP primary for South Carolina's 1st District that showed incumbent Nancy Mace ahead 44-39 two weeks before she won 53-45.
● OK-02: Former state Sen. Josh Brecheen has earned an endorsement for the Aug. 23 runoff from former state Republican Party head John Bennett, who earned fourth place with 11% in last week's very crowded first round of voting.
● MN-AG: Attorney Jim Schultz has earned the backing of all three Republican members of Minnesota's congressional delegation―Reps. Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach, and Pete Stauber―for the Aug. 9 GOP primary. Schultz, who won the party endorsement in May, will face 2018 nominee Doug Wardlow for the right to take on Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison.
Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.