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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● NY-03: Federal Judge Joanna Seybert announced Friday that Republican Rep. George Santos' fraud trial would begin Sept. 9, which is more than two months after New York holds its June 25 primary. Almost no one, with the possible exception of Santos, thinks he'll once again be his party's nominee for the 3rd District, but he faces a far more immediate threat to his political future.
Four fellow members of the Empire State's GOP House delegation―Anthony D'Esposito, Nick LaLota, Mike Lawler, and Marc Molinaro―announced Thursday that they were introducing a resolution to force the House to decide in the coming week whether to expel Santos; two others, Nick Langworthy and Brandon Williams, also said earlier in the month that they wanted Santos thrown out of the House. Five of these representatives hold a seat that Joe Biden carried in 2020 (only Langworthy's 23rd is safely red), and they likely have the most to lose the longer Santos' scandals and antics make news.
Each of these New Yorkers voted with the rest of their GOP colleagues in May to table a similar resolution from California Democratic Rep. Robert Garcia. However, Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin notes that these six Republicans and the 212 Democrats together would have just enough support to prevent the chamber from doing the same thing this time.
It would take a two-thirds vote to make Santos the first member of Congress to be booted by his colleagues since Ohio Democratic Rep. James Traficant in 2002, but other Republicans aren't so eager to end this dry spell. The 3rd District backed Biden 54-45 in 2020, and Democrats would have a strong chance to flip it in a special election and erode the GOP's tiny House majority still further. And sure enough, Speaker Mike Johnson declared Thursday that "George Santos is due due process [and] we have to allow due process to play out."
A special may be on the horizon even if Santos isn't expelled, though, as he could accept a plea deal with prosecutors that would almost certainly require him to resign. Under state special election law it would be up to party leaders in the district's two counties, Suffolk and Queens, to pick their respective nominees.
Santos' Democratic predecessor, former Rep. Tom Suozzi, may have the inside track in such a contest due to his ties to party leaders. Politico reported earlier this month that Suozzi has a stake in four summer camps owned by Jay Jacobs, who chairs both the state and Nassau County party; Suozzi also spent six years serving with 5th District Rep. Greg Meeks, who runs the Queens party, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who would likely have some influence over the nomination process.
Several candidates are challenging Santos for renomination, and it remains to be seen if GOP leaders have a preference for any of them.
● NM Redistricting: The New Mexico Supreme Court has set a Nov. 20 date for oral arguments in the GOP's appeal of a recent lower court ruling that had upheld the state's Democratic-drawn congressional map on the basis that it was not egregiously gerrymandered enough to violate the state constitution.
● UT-Sen: Carolyn Phippen, a conservative activist whom the Salt Lake Tribune's Bryan Schott says took part in the Jan. 6 "stop the steal" rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, has a "special announcement" on Wednesday. Phippen last year waged a primary challenge from the right against state Rep. Jeff Stenquist and lost 52-48.
● DE-Gov: Democratic Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long said Thursday she'd resume fundraising for the first time in four weeks now that her campaign's internal audit is finished. The audit's summary said that the candidate and her husband "lent more for campaign-related expenses over the course of prior campaigns than they were reimbursed for," but that "[n]o wrongdoings or violations were found." Hall-Long's team did not release a copy of the report to the media.
Hall-Long faces New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer in next September's primary to succeed termed-out Mayor John Carney. Carney endorsed Hall-Long last month before she announced she was auditing her previous campaign finance reports.
● KY-Gov, KY-SoS: While Daniel Cameron and his allies have spent months trying to portray Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear as the driver of the "radical transgender agenda," the Republican may have decided he needs to adjust his tactics late in the campaign.
"Andy Beshear is a nice enough guy, but our approach is different," Cameron acknowledges in a new ad, though he goes on to deliver familiar lines like "Andy caves into the far left." The Lexington Herald-Leader's Austin Horn tweets that this switch in tone "is a message some Rs have been asking for for some time. It contrasts the 'lyin' Andy' or 'crazy Andy' attacks we've seen."
One of Cameron's ticketmates, meanwhile, is going even further by actually linking himself to Beshear. Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams, who is favored against Democrat Buddy Wheatley, features a prominent photo of him shaking hands with Beshear; there is no accompanying shot of him with Cameron.
Beshear, for his part, is hoping that voters will hold the GOP's slash-and-burn tactics against Cameron. "My opponent's campaign is built on attacks and lies," the governor declares in what his campaign says is its last ad, "but you know me. And you know it isn't true." The governor goes on to tout "tens of thousands of new jobs, our lowest unemployment rate ever."
● MO-Gov: Businessman Mike Hamra, whose eponymous company operates almost 200 restaurants nationwide, announced Thursday that he'd seek the Democratic nomination to lead what's become a tough state for his party. Hamra will face state House Minority Leader Crystal Quade in the August primary.
● MS-Gov: AdImpact's newsletter The AdVantage reports that Republican Gov. Tate Reeves enjoys a modest $8.3 million to $7.3 million advertising edge over Democrat Brandon Presley ahead of their Nov. 7 showdown.
Mississippi allows organizations like the RGA and the DGA to donate unlimited amounts of money directly to candidates, so it's no surprise that AdImpact also relays that no outside groups have spent a serious amount of money on commercials. This race is already far more expensive than the 2019 contest, where Reeves' side outspent Democrat Jim Hood just $3.5 million to $3.2 million.
● AZ-08: State Sen. Anthony Kern, who was part of a slate of fake Trump electors, said Monday he was "about 90% there" on a campaign to succeed his fellow Republican, retiring Rep. Debbie Lesko. Kern, though, may have other things to worry about, as the Washington Post reported days later that Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes' investigation into the fake electors was "zeroing in on the pressure placed on local officials" by Trump's forces.
One person who will not be running, though, is Elijah Norton, a wealthy businessman who lost an ugly GOP primary last year to 1st District Rep. David Schweikert. Norton, who is currently the state party's treasurer, tweeted Thursday, "I am gracious for the encouragement I have received by those asking me to run for CD-8 following @RepDLesko's retirement (who we thank for her service), but I must humbly decline."
● MD-03: Multiple Democrats say that they're interested in running for the safely blue seat held by retiring Democratic Rep. John Sarbanes, and the Baltimore Banner has put together a list of these potential contenders:
- Del. Vanessa Atterbeary
- Howard County Executive Calvin Ball
- State Sen. Sarah Elfreth
- State Sen. Dawn Gile
- Del. Dana Jones
Elfreth said Friday she would "definitely going to take the weekend and determine where I can have the best impact on these issues," while Ball declared he'd decide by Thanksgiving. Atterbeary, for her part, said, "I am confident that I will be in the race."
State Sen. Clarence Lam, meanwhile, declined to talk about his plans to the Banner. Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, however, took his name out of contention by saying that he'd serve out the new four-year term he won in 2022.
● MN-03: Rep. Dean Phillips on Thursday launched what could charitably be called a longshot primary challenge to President Joe Biden, but he did not indicate if he was open to running for reelection to the House. Minnesota's candidate filing deadline is in early June, so we may be waiting a while.
DNC official Ron Harris, though, already announced in mid-October that he'd run for the 3rd District no matter what Phillips did, and he responded to the congressman's news Friday by tweeting, "Dean Phillips is running for President using Republican talking points—days after Republicans elevated MAGA Mike Johnson to Speaker. I'm running a primary campaign against Dean so MN-03 has a strong Democrat who is focused on the district." Harris also earned an endorsement from St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, though all of Carter's constituents live in Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum's 4th District.
A few other Democrats expressed interest earlier this month in running if Phillips left, and we're waiting to see if any of them decide to go for it now. The 3rd, which is based in the western Minneapolis suburbs, favored Biden 60-39 in 2020, and Democrats are strongly favored to keep it.
● NY-04: 2022 nominee Laura Gillen has publicized an internal poll from Public Policy Polling that shows her with a wide 53-10 lead over state Sen. Kevin Thomas in next year's Democratic primary. The survey shows Gillen with a 51-8 favorable rating among primary voters, while Thomas is more unknown at 25-9 favorable.
● WI-03: State Rep. Katrina Shankland has released an internal poll of the Democratic primary from Blueprint Polling that shows her trailing businesswoman Rebecca Cooke by 21-18, with former La Crosse County Board chair Tara Johnson at 11. The memo argues that Shankland has more room to grow, finding that Cooke, who was the runner-up for the nomination here in 2022, has higher name recognition at 42% compared to just under 30% for the other two Democrats.
This is the first primary poll we've seen here since all three women joined the race to take on GOP Rep. Derrick Van Orden.
● VA Legislature, NJ Legislature: AdImpact reports that Democrats in Virginia have outspent Republicans $27.4 million to $21.8 million in advertising ahead of the Nov. 7 legislative elections, where both the GOP-held House and Democratic-led Senate are up for grabs.
Every seat is also on the ballot in New Jersey, but while Republicans have expressed optimism about controlling at least one chamber for the first time since the early 21st century, AdImpact says that Democrats hold a wide $6.4 million $1.4 million advantage. Democrats go into Nov. 7 with a 25-15 majority in the Senate and a 46-34 advantage in the lower chamber: Each of the 40 legislative districts elects one senator and two assemblymembers.
Joe Biden, according to data in Dave's Redistricting App, carried 30 districts to Donald Trump's 10 as the president was winning the state 57-41 in 2020. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy also took 22 of the 40 districts in 2021 as he was winning reelection by an unexpectedly tight 51-48.
Prosecutors and Sheriffs
● Westchester County, NY District Attorney: Incumbent Mimi Rocah, who won this post in 2020 by campaigning as a progressive, announced Thursday she would not seek a second term next year. Rocah, who is Jewish, said that Hamas' attack on Israel "has profoundly and personally impacted me in ways that I did not expect," though she did not say this was the reason she'd decided not to run; Lohud.com adds that there was already "widespread speculation in recent months" that she wouldn't be on the ballot.
Westchester County is a longtime Democratic stronghold, and the winner of next June's party primary should have no trouble in the general election. Rocah herself wrested the nomination from District Attorney Anthony Scarpino in a 72-28 landslide before turning back her GOP rival 68-32.
- KY-Gov: Defending Bluegrass Values (DGA affiliate) - anti-Daniel Cameron (R)
- KY-Gov: Kentucky Values (RGA affiliate) - anti-Andy Beshear (D-inc) and pro-Daniel Cameron (R) (here and here)