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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● Maps: As we mark today's anniversary of Russia's unprovoked, brutal, and illegal invasion of Ukraine, America's support for our beleaguered ally remains steadfast, but congressional Republicans have threatened to undermine that unity. Yet as Kevin McCarthy and his caucus contemplate withdrawing in the face of Vladimir Putin's aggression, they'd do well to remember that more than one million Americans trace their ancestry to Ukraine and millions more to Eastern Europe in general—including many who live in Republican districts.
In a unique new map using the census' American Community Survey data, Daily Kos Elections' Daniel Donner has visualized the number of Ukrainian Americans living in every congressional district in the country. Six districts are home to 10,000 or more, and half of those seats are currently represented by Republicans. This is a constituency that would likely look very harshly on any GOP effort to curtail U.S. backing for Ukraine, but the threat to democracy stretches far beyond that country's borders.
Ukraine's neighbors, especially countries like Poland and the Baltic states, have been some of its most stalwart defenders, given the risk Putin poses to their own borders. There's good reason, therefore, to think that many of the 16 million Americans of Eastern European extraction feel similarly, so we've mapped this data as well.
It turns out more than one out of every eight districts has an Eastern European population of 10% or greater—53 in total—and 20 of those have Republican representatives. That includes Ohio's 7th in the southern Cleveland suburbs, which at 23% Eastern European tops the list and is represented by freshman GOP Rep. Max Miller. Some 12,000 Ukrainian Americans also call it home.
Last year, we saw what happened when Republicans took voters for granted and assumed they'd never pay a price for their extremism. If those same anti-democratic impulses prompt the party to abandon Ukraine, it could once again face a steep cost for doing so.
Check out our maps of Ukrainians and Eastern Europeans in America.
● FL-Sen: Mitch Perry at the Florida Phoenix brings us several more names that have been mentioned as potential Democratic challengers to Republican Sen. Rick Scott. The list includes state House Minority Leader Anna Eskamani, who didn't rule out the prospect but said, "A lot of everyday folks want me to run but right now I'm running for reelection in the House ... Anything is possible, but I think FL needs to rebuild a lot of infrastructure before Democrats can win statewide."
Perry also mentions suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, the top prosecutor for the Tampa area who gained visibility last year after GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him from his position on the basis of his refusal to prosecute people who obtain or provide abortions. A federal judge last month ruled that DeSantis acted unconstitutionally in suspending Warren but also that his court also lacked the power to order Warren's reinstatement because it was a matter of state law. A spokesperson for Warren told the Phoenix that "right now he is solely focused on getting his job back. He honestly is not looking at anything else or thinking about any other options."
Perry also name-checks former Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who retired last cycle in advance of Republicans making her blue-leaning district in the Orlando suburbs much redder, and she didn't rule out a Senate run last December. Lastly, he mentions former Rep. Gwen Graham, who narrowly lost the 2018 primary for governor, and state Rep. Fentrice Driskell, but neither woman commented about whether or not they are interested.
● WV-Sen: Republican Gov. Jim Justice says he'll make up his mind about whether to run for Senate next year in the next 15 to 20 days, but he also wants to get through this year's legislative session first, which ends on March 11. Justice had previously said he would decide whether to challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin by the start of March, but Inside Elections analyst Jacob Rubashkin notes that the governor is trying to get a major income tax cut passed through the heavily GOP legislature before it adjourns, and the success or failure of that legislation could weigh heavily on his political future.
By contrast, local journalist Steven Allen Adams speculated that Justice could be trying to deter state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a fellow Republican, from seeking a rematch against Manchin after Morrisey fell short in 2018.
● LA-Gov: Republican Rep. Garret Graves continues to play coy about his intentions regarding this year's open seat contest for governor. The congressman says once more that his decision will come "sometime soon" and notes that he's under "extraordinary pressure to run," but Graves also indicated he thinks he could wait months longer and still win. It isn't uncommon for Louisiana politicos to wait until close to the filing deadline to jump into state races, meaning we could be waiting a while to see what Graves does ahead of that Aug. 10 cutoff.
● CA-18, CA-16: Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo confirms that he's interested in running for House somewhere but has not reached a decision on anything just yet, saying, "I'm still looking at different ways I can serve and Congress is certainly not the only one."
As we noted earlier this week, Liccardo's most likely options for the House would be the 18th or 16th Districts, both of which are deep blue constituencies that take in parts of central San Jose and many nearby parts of Silicon Valley. However, both districts currently have incumbents who are fellow Democrats, Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo, respectively. Lofgren recently said that Liccardo had called her to inform her that he's looking at running, to which she responded saying she plans to run again regardless of whether he runs.
● RI-01: Former Providence City Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune now says she's considering running to succeed Democratic Rep. David Cicilline once the latter resigns later this year to head a philanthropic foundation, joining a long list of Democrats who are eyeing this safely blue seat. Meanwhile, state Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Angelica Infante isn't ruling out running herself, but one name we can cross off the list of potential candidates is Clay Pell, who unsuccessfully ran in the 2014 primary for governor and is the grandson of the late Sen. Claiborne Pell.
● WI Supreme Court: Progressive Judge Janet Protasiewicz is wasting no time after Tuesday's nonpartisan primary saw her easily advance to the April 4 general election, putting heavy sums behind her first two ads. Just how much is not quite clear, but we do know it’s a lot: AdImpact reports that she’s booked $1.5 million in TV time while Medium Buying, a GOP firm, says her total stands at $2 million.
Protasiewicz’s first ad hits former Justice Dan Kelly, her conservative rival, for having represented accused child molesters as a defense attorney, a topic she previously emphasized in some pre-primary ads. Her second ad focuses on another familiar theme, attacking Kelly as an extremist who wants to ban abortion with no exceptions for rape, incest, or a mother's health. The commercial explicitly argues that Kelly would uphold Wisconsin's 1849 abortion ban, a law that came into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year and is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit that will almost certainly make its way before the state Supreme Court.
Protasiewicz is also getting some more help from A Better Wisconsin Together, the progressive organization that aired ads during the primary in a successful gambit to sabotage Kelly’s conservative rival, Judge Jennifer Dorow. The group has booked an additional $500,000 for ads starting Thursday in support of Protasiewicz.
Mayors and County Leaders
● Lincoln, NE Mayor: EMILY's List has endorsed Democratic incumbent Leirion Gaylor Baird's bid for a second term leading Nebraska's second-largest city. Gaylor Baird faces state Sen. Suzanne Geist and Christian radio executive Stan Parker, both of whom are Republicans, in the April 4 nonpartisan primary, where the top two finishers will advance to a May general election.