The Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, and Stephen Wolf, with additional contributions from the Daily Kos Elections team.
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● House: Several prominent House candidates from both parties are using the start of the final fundraising quarter of 2023 to announce their bids in closely watched seats across the nation.
We'll begin our coast-to-coast roundup in California's 45th District where consumer rights attorney Derek Tran has announced that he'll run in the March top-two primary to face Rep. Michelle Steel, a Republican who represents a western Orange County constituency that backed Joe Biden 52-46 in 2020. Several fellow Democrats had previously launched campaigns against Steel in this diverse district, but none of them had more than $130,000 in the bank at the end of June. (Updated campaign finance reports are due Oct. 15.)
Tran, who is a U.S. Army veteran, does not appear to have run for office before, but HuffPost writes that the Consumer Attorneys of California board member has access to donors. Tran's background of military service and as the son of Vietnamese refugees could also be an asset against Steel, who ran ads last year accusing her Democratic opponent of being linked to communists, a tactic that local Republicans had long used in areas with large Vietnamese American electorates like this one.
Over in Connecticut's 5th District, former GOP state Sen. George Logan has launched his long-anticipated rematch campaign against Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes, who fended him off 50.4-49.6 after an expensive 2022 contest. That close call came two years after Biden carried this seat, which is located in the northwestern part of the state, 55-44. But Logan, who is seeking to become the first Republican to represent this area since now-Sen. Chris Murphy unseated GOP Rep. Nancy Johnson in 2006, may not have the field to himself this time.
Daily Ructions reported last month that unnamed Republicans were trying to recruit former ESPN broadcaster Sage Steele, who apologized in 2021 after saying of women sports reporters, "So when you dress like that, I'm not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you're doing when you're putting that outfit on, too." Steele—who also questioned two years ago former President Barack Obama's decision to identify himself as Black, and has denounced corporate vaccine mandates—did not rule anything out when the Indianapolis Star asked about her interest in running.
Next, in northwestern Indiana, Lake County Councilman Randy Niemeyer, a trucking company owner who also leads the county GOP, declared that he'd take on Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan in the 1st District. Last cycle, the incumbent fended off GOP foe Jennifer-Ruth Green 53-47 two years after Biden carried his seat 53-45, and Green endorsed Niemeyer on Monday. The new candidate currently faces no serious intraparty opposition.
Meanwhile, back on the East Coast, businesswoman Hollie Noveletsky has launched a campaign for the GOP nod to take on New Hampshire Rep. Chris Pappas, who holds the historically competitive 1st District in the eastern half of the state. Pappas' party has done better here in recent years, though: Biden prevailed 52-46, while the congressman won by a larger 54-46 last year.
Noveletsky, the CEO of a steel-fabrication business, joined the Republican nomination contest about two months after former Executive Councilor Russell Prescott kicked off his campaign. Prescott is a veteran Granite State politician, but he took a weak fourth place in last year's primary to face Pappas.
In Nevada, a familiar name reemerged as former North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, who spent years as a conservative Democratic state senator, will seek the Republican nomination to go up against Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in the 4th District. Lee joined the GOP in 2021 just before he announced a bid for governor, but his new party rewarded him with a weak fourth-place showing. Air Force veteran David Flippo is already campaigning for this 53-45 Biden seat in the northern Las Vegas area.
One Republican campaign announcement in Ohio brought joy to Democrats nationwide: J.R. Majewski, a QAnon ally who was one of his party's very worst nominees for any office in 2022, has restarted his rematch effort against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in the 9th District. The GOP establishment, by contrast, was relieved back in May when Majewski dropped out following his mother's recent surgery, but he said Saturday that he was back in now that she's recovered.
Prominent Republicans like House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and far-right Rep. Jim Jordan are supporting former state Rep. Craig Riedel for this seat in the Toledo area and northwestern Ohio, a constituency that supported Donald Trump 51-48 under the GOP's gerrymandered map. Majewski beat Riedel 36-31 before losing to Kaptur in a 57-43 landslide, and the 2022 nominee tweeted Monday, "The GOP Establishment is having a meltdown because I'm back in the race. That tells me I'm on the right track." The field also includes real estate broker Steve Lankenau; a fourth Republican, former Walbridge Mayor Dan Wilczynski, dropped out in late July.
Over to the east, another Ohio Republican, former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin, announced his campaign against Democratic Rep. Emilia Sykes in the 13th District. Coughlin, who has been out of office since early 2011, is campaigning for a seat in the Akron and Canton areas that favored Biden 51-48. The GOP field already includes Hudson City Councilman Chris Banweg, who recently publicized an endorsement from Sen. J.D. Vance.
Finally, in Pennsylvania, Edgewood Borough Council member Bhavini Patel has announced that she'll take on freshman Rep. Summer Lee in the Democratic primary for the reliably blue 12th District. Patel, who would be the first Indian American to represent the state in Congress, did not mention any policy disagreements with the incumbent but instead implied that the prominent progressive was neglecting local concerns in her Pittsburgh-based seat. "We need a member of Congress in touch and laser-focused on helping real people in this district," said the challenger, adding, "We need a leader who wants to bring people together to get things done, not divide us."
Lee has long had a bad relationship with the hawkish pro-Israel group AIPAC, and the group spent heavily against her in both the 2022 primary and general elections. An AIPAC spokesperson tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette it has not decided if it will be taking action here again this cycle.
● AL Redistricting: Republican Secretary of State Wes Allen on Friday dropped his appeal of the federal court ruling that blocked the congressional gerrymander the GOP drew earlier this year after the court ruled that their 2021 map violated the Voting Rights Act. This move essentially guarantees that the state will use a new court-drawn map for 2024 that creates a second district where Black voters could elect their preferred candidate, though Republicans could still sue to try to invalidate these boundaries later on.
● LA Redistricting: Plaintiffs on Friday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a recent ruling by hardline conservative judges on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that prevents a lower court from going ahead with a hearing this month on how Louisiana should redraw its congressional map for 2024 to empower Black voters.
● OH Redistricting: A ballot initiative that would establish an independent redistricting commission in Ohio cleared an initial huddle on Monday when Republican state Attorney General Dave Yost finally approved the proposed ballot summary for the measure after rejecting supporters' first two versions. Following Yost's sign-off, the state's Ballot Board, which is also controlled by Republicans, must decide within 10 days whether the proposed constitutional amendment complies with state law, including the limitation that amendments only address a single subject.
If the board also approves the proposal, then supporters would finally be able to start gathering the roughly 413,000 voter signatures needed for their measure to appear on the ballot in November 2024. If it qualifies for the ballot and is adopted by voters, the measure would invalidate the GOP's existing gerrymanders and task a citizen-led commission with drawing fairer maps for the 2026 elections and beyond. Check out our in-depth look at the amendment for further details on how it would work.
The third fundraising quarter of the year, covering the period from July 1 to Sept. 30, has ended, and federal candidates will have to file campaign finance reports with the FEC by Oct. 15. But as per usual, campaigns with hauls they're eager to tout are leaking numbers early, which we've gathered below.
- CA-Sen: Adam Schiff (D): $6.4 million raised, $32 million cash on hand
- UT-Sen: Brad Wilson (R): $1 million raised, $3.3 million cash on hand
- CO-08: Gabe Evans (R): $100,000 (in three weeks)
- IL-11: Qasim Rashid (D): $305,000 raised
- ME-02: Austin Theriault (R): $100,000 raised (in one week)
- MI-07: Curtis Hertel (D): $730,000 raised
- NJ-07: Sue Altman (D): $283,000 raised
- NY-03: Mike Sapraicone (R): $580,000 raised (about half self-funded), $500,000 cash on hand
- TX-07: Pervez Agwan (D): $320,000 raised
● PA-Sen: The state GOP on Saturday endorsed rich guy Dave McCormick, who faces no serious intra-party opposition in his campaign to unseat Democratic incumbent Bob Casey. The following day, ABC27 aired an interview where the challenger did not provide an actual answer to host James Crummel's question, "How many days in the past year have you lived here in Pennsylvania?"
● DE-Gov: The Delaware News Journal's Meredith Newman reported Monday that Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long has parted ways with her campaign manager and fundraising consultant in a story published days after Hall-Long said she was auditing her previous campaign finance reports because there "may have been reporting issues that require attention." Newman further says that several unnamed supporters have grown dejected with the lieutenant governor's prospects of winning next year's Democratic primary, with some griping that she's given them "flustered" and "contradictory" answers about why the audit is necessary.
● IN-05: Retiring Rep. Victoria Spartz on Monday threatened to resign "[i]f Congress does not pass a debt commission this year to move the needle on the crushing national debt and inflation," a declaration that came a day after the Republican said she was "open-minded" about Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz's efforts to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The congresswoman previously implied during a social media fight with McCarthy two weeks ago that she was thinking about seeking reelection after all, but she soon reaffirmed again that she wouldn't run.
If Spartz actually followed through on this latest threat and left, it would be up to local GOP leaders to select a nominee for the special election for this gerrymandered 57-41 Trump seat.
● NY-16: Westchester County Executive George Latimer tells Politico he doesn't expect to decide before mid-November if he'll wage a Democratic primary bid against Jamaal Bowman, with Latimer saying that he's watching to see if the congressional map will need to be redrawn.
● WI-03: Democratic state Rep. Katrina Shankland, who has spent the last few months mulling a bid against GOP incumbent Derrick Van Orden, says she will make an "important announcement about Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional district" Tuesday morning.
● OR State House: Democratic state Rep. Paul Holvey faces a recall vote Tuesday thanks to a successful signature-gathering campaign by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, which has had a falling out with the longtime labor ally. If a majority of voters in the 8th District, a dark blue constituency around Eugene, select the "yes" option, the Lane County Democratic Party would present a list of up to five possible replacements to the county board of commissioners.
Holvey came into conflict with Local 555 earlier this year after a bill that would have opened the door toward allowing cannabis workers to unionize never advanced out of the committee he chairs. Holvey says he was advised by the legislature's legal team that the policy violated federal law, recounting to Oregon Public Broadcasting, "All I could see was this would put us into potential litigation where I felt pretty strongly the state would lose."
Local 555, though, argues that Holvey took this action due to pressure from a marijuana company that frequently donates to Democrats, an allegation the state representative denies. Two other major unions, the SEIU and Oregon Education Association, back the incumbent.
Holvey is now trying to avoid becoming only the fourth Oregon legislator recalled in the last century: The last member time this happened was in 1988 when voters ejected Republican state Sen. Bill Olson after he pled guilty to sexually abusing a 12-year-old. Recall expert Joshua Spivak writes in Pluribus that this is the first time since 2018, and the 40th time in U.S. history, where a state legislator anywhere has faced a recall vote.
Mayors and County Leaders
● Indianapolis, IN Mayor: The GOP firm ARW Strategies, polling on behalf of Crossroads Public Affairs and IndyPolitics.org, finds Democratic incumbent Joe Hogsett leading self-funding GOP rival Jefferson Shreve 47-37 in the first survey we've seen of the Nov. 7 general election. IndyPolitics.org is run by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, who lost the May GOP primary to Shreve.