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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● MI-08: House Democrats got some tough news on Thursday when Rep. Dan Kildee, who represents a swingy district in central Michigan, announced his retirement. In a statement, Kildee said he had been "planning another campaign" but explained that his diagnosis of skin cancer earlier this year had prompted him to "reassess" his plans. The congressman added that he is "cancer-free" following surgery and expressed confidence that Democrats would hold his seat.
But that won't be an easy task. Michigan's 8th District, which includes Flint and the area known as the Tri-Cities, is very evenly divided turf that supported Joe Biden by a slim 50-48 margin. Last year, Republicans spent millions in the hopes of flipping the seat, though Kildee hung on by a surprisingly comfortable 53-43 margin.
The result was in part a reflection of Republican Paul Junge's weak ties to the region and, conversely, Kildee's strong connection. His uncle, Dale Kildee, represented the area in Congress from 1977 until his own departure ahead of the 2012 elections, when the younger Kildee took over. Dan Kildee had long served in local office himself, first winning a spot on the Flint Board of Education when he was just 18, followed by 12 years on the Genesee County Board of Commissioners and another dozen as county treasurer.
When Kildee sought to succeed his uncle, the district was numbered the 5th and looked rather different. (In fact, it's changed dramatically over the years the two have represented it, though it's always included Flint.) It was also much, much bluer: In 2012, Barack Obama carried it by a 61-38 margin, and Kildee won his first term 65-32. But by the end of the decade, Biden was winning the same district just 51-47, and that spread narrowed further following the most recent round of redistricting. Kildee's own reelection campaigns kept growing tighter as well.
But Mid-Michigan's shift has chiefly been attributable to an increasing preference for Republicans among working-class white voters, especially since Donald Trump came on the scene. That is the crux of why retaining this district will be a particular challenge for Democrats, especially without Kildee's personal strengths: Now that the seat is open, the district has shot up on Daily Kos Elections' House Vulnerability Index from being the 30th-most vulnerable to being tied with two others for 3rd-most.
Republicans had yet to land any notable challengers to Kildee, but now both parties will hustle to put strong candidates on the board. Michigan's primary, however, is not until Aug. 6, with a candidate filing deadline in late April.
● NJ-Sen: A day after kicking off her campaign for Senate, former financier Tammy Murphy locked up a second "county line" when the Democratic Party in Camden County gave her its backing. Camden, notably, is the home turf of longtime Democratic power-broker George Norcross, a very influential figure in New Jersey's machine politics.
Murphy had previously secured the support of Democrats in Hudson County immediately following her Wednesday launch. These county-level endorsements will ensure Murphy enjoys favorable placement on primary ballots, which historically has conferred a large advantage. But the fight between Murphy and Rep. Andy Kim for the line in Jersey's other counties remains ongoing.
The New Jersey Globe's David Wildstein handicaps this race-within-the-race, calling Kim the "favorite" in Burlington, which makes up the heart of his congressional district, while saying that Murphy is "likely" to prevail in Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem. He also identifies Atlantic and Cape May counties as battlegrounds where the two contenders will duke it out for party support.
● UT-Sen: Republican Rep. John Curtis, who recently said he was considering a Senate bid despite previously saying he would stay in the House, is now reportedly telling allies that he'll jump into the race, according to Inside Elections' Nathan Gonzales.
● NC-14: State House Speaker Tim Moore, who just launched a campaign for Congress after gerrymandering North Carolina's map, has already announced that he's spending $1.1 million on a TV and radio ad buy that will last from December through the March 5 GOP primary. Also seeking the Republican nod for the open 14th District are former state judge Eric Levinson and Army veteran Pat Harrigan. Democratic Rep. Jeff Jackson launched a campaign for state attorney general last month after Moore and his colleagues made his district unwinnable for a Democrat.
● NJ-03: Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, who was mentioned as a possible candidate for New Jersey's open 3rd Congressional District a while back, is now considering the race, according to the New Jersey Globe, though there's no direct quote from him. DeAngelo, however, has a weak record on reproductive rights and abstained on a bill to codify the right to an abortion into state law last year. He also fell out with party leaders in his home base of Mercer County earlier this year when local Democrats declined to give him their official backing despite his incumbency.
● NJ-07: Summit Council President Greg Vartan just became the third notable Democrat to join the race for New Jersey's swingy 7th Congressional District, which freshman GOP Rep. Tom Kean flipped last year. Already running are former State Department official Jason Blazakis and Working Families Party state director Sue Altman.
● NY-03: Following the release of a scathing report by the House Ethics Committee on Thursday, Republican Rep. George Santos told Semafor that he would not run for a second term next year—but as with everything Santos says, who knows if it will be true tomorrow? Of more immediate concern for the freshman congressman is the fact that GOP Rep. Michael Guest, who chairs the committee, immediately announced that he would file a motion on Friday to expel Santos from the House.
Guest said he expects a vote on the motion after Congress returns from its Thanksgiving recess on Nov. 27. Earlier this month, a previous motion to expel, which requires a two-thirds supermajority, failed when most Republicans and 31 Democrats voted against it. However, a number of members who opposed that attempt to oust Santos said at the time they wanted to wait for the Ethics Committee to issue its report. Now, dozens of those previously reluctant representatives from both parties say they are ready to expel Santos.
● OH-06: It looks like another Republican congressman may soon call it quits. Youngstown State University voted to offer the job of president to Rep. Bill Johnson on Thursday, though Johnson did not immediately accept the job. Instead, he said that "if I determine this opportunity to lead YSU is a good fit, I'll have a very difficult decision to make." Johnson's 6th District in southeastern Ohio voted for Donald Trump by a 64-35 margin, so the action to succeed him should he leave office would focus on the GOP primary.
● OR-04: Air Force veteran Monique DeSpain just launched a bid to unseat first-term Democratic Rep. Val Hoyle, whose other Republican challengers have yet to report raising a penny. Hotline suggests, however, that DeSpain may be the choice of national Republicans.
Hoyle won a competitive race last year to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, defeating Republican Alek Skarlatos by a 51-43 margin. She benefitted from the fact that Democrats in the legislature had made the 4th District, which covers the southern half of Oregon's coast, several points bluer; under its present incarnation, it would have supported Joe Biden 55-42.
● TX-12: Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker, a Republican whose city makes up 58% of the 12th District's population, has endorsed state House Republican Caucus Chair Craig Goldman for this open seat.
● TX-26: Businesswoman Luisa del Rosal has announced she'll run to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Michael Burgess, making her the first notable Republican in the primary for this heavily gerrymandered seat in the suburbs north of Fort Worth. Del Rosal was born and raised in Mexico but later immigrated to the U.S., and she previously served as chief of staff to GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales, who represents the 23rd District along the border with Mexico.
The new Republican hopeful's previous campaign for office in 2020 saw her challenge a Democratic state House incumbent in Dallas. While she lost that race by 54-46, that margin was nonetheless significantly closer than Joe Biden's 58-40 victory in a suburban seat that had swung sharply toward Democrats in the Trump era. However, none of Dallas is located in the 26th District, which is primarily based in suburban Denton County.
A number of other Republicans could run here, where it will take a majority in the primary to avoid a runoff between the top two candidates. State Rep. Ron Simmons says he's considering and will decide "shortly," while the Texas Tribune's Patrick Svitek relays that both Keller Mayor Armin Mizani and Southlake Mayor John Huffman have said they're thinking about joining the race. However, state Sen. Tan Paker indicated he won't run.
● VA-07: Former National Security Council official Eugene Vindman confirmed to the Washington Post that he will announce he's running in the Democratic primary for this blue-leaning open seat, something that was first reported on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Democratic Del. Elizabeth Guzman announced this week that she's forming an exploratory committee and said she would make "a formal announcement soon" in a statement where she seemed likely to run. Another Democrat, Prince William County Supervisor Margaret Franklin, has filed paperwork to run following her recent reelection win, but she doesn't yet appear to have commented on her interest in the race.
● VA-10: Del. Suhas Subramanyam, who was just elected to a solidly blue seat in the state Senate last week, has announced he'll run to succeed Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton next year. The Washington Post described Subramanyam as a moderate who aims to foster more bipartisanship, though in an announcement interview, he also expressed his support for mainstream Democratic positions on issues such as abortion rights and gun safety.
Subramanyam joins what has quickly become a crowded Democratic primary, and he's the fifth notable contender who has jumped into the race just since Virginia held its state elections last week. However, the field may yet expand further since state lawmakers won't need to give up their legislative seats to run for Congress.
● WA-06: Democratic state Sen. Emily Randall, who serves in the chamber's leadership as one of two deputy majority leaders, has announced she'll run to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Derek Kilmer next year, and she quickly earned an endorsement from Democratic Secretary of State Steve Hobbs. Randall was first elected to the Senate in 2018 by flipping a swingy GOP-held seat, which also made her one of the chamber's first two lesbian lawmakers.
Randall joins a top-two primary that includes Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz, a fellow Democrat. Franz is touting endorsements that include Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, Kitasap County Commissioner Christine Rolfes, and Pierce County Councilmember Ryan Mello. Media sources had previously mentioned all three Democrats as potential candidates, but they're backing Franz instead.