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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● NH-Gov: New Hampshire Democrat Cinde Warmington, who is her party's only member on the state's unique Executive Council, on Thursday became the first notable candidate to announce a bid for governor next year. That post is currently held by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who has won his last three contests with ease but has loudly hinted that he won't run for reelection—possibly to run for the White House. But whether or not Sununu makes a long-shot bid for the presidency, his departure would give Democrats a strong chance to reclaim his office after eight years in the wilderness.
Warmington devoted much of her kickoff video to emphasizing her support for abortion rights, though she also told viewers she didn't care what Sununu's political future holds. But with the governor likely to pursue other options, Warmington probably won't have the primary to herself: Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig formed an exploratory committee a month ago, and WMUR writes she's "expected to officially enter the race soon." On the GOP side, meanwhile, former state Senate President Chuck Morse said last month he'd run if Sununu bails, and several other Republicans are also considering doing likewise.
Warmington, who also works as a health care attorney, was elected in 2020 to the powerful Executive Council, a powerful body that Sununu himself previously served on. The five-member Council, whose members are elected in district-level contests, is tasked with approving any state contracts over $10,000 as well as the governor's appointments to the judiciary and state agencies, gubernatorial pardons, and a large portion of the budget. Warmington has been the Council's lone Democrat during her entire tenure, a record she alluded to in launching her gubernatorial campaign by calling herself the "last line of defense against Republican overreach and extremism."
Warmington's kickoff comes at a time when Granite State Democrats are hoping to capitalize on a surprisingly good 2022 cycle in this longtime swing state. While Republicans had counted on a red wave that would wash aside Sen. Maggie Hassan and Reps. Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster, all three incumbents convincingly turned back extremist foes.
And though Sununu's 57-41 victory proved that ticket splitting remains alive and well in New Hampshire, Democrats made big gains in the state House despite a new Republican gerrymander. That momentum has continued this year, with Democrats turning in strong performances in a pair of House special elections, and they could even tie the chamber if they win another special this summer.
● AZ-Sen: It seems we’re doomed to months more of waiting to see whether not-Gov. Kari Lake will seek the Republican nomination for Senate, as Time’s Eric Cortellessa writes that she now plans to decide in September or October. As for how likely she is to eventually announce she’s in, one of her former staffers says, “I wouldn’t say 100%. But I really do think 99% is a very fair number.” This Senate seat is held by Democrat-turned-independent Kyrsten Sinema, who also hasn’t revealed her plans.
Lake, for now, is devoting her attention to spreading more lies about her 2022 loss to actual-Gov. Katie Hobbs and readying a nationwide tour to promote her memoir, but Cortellessa says her delay has made other would-be GOP contenders restless. Blake Masters, who was one of the party’s worst Senate candidates last cycle, reportedly doesn’t want to take on Lake, but Cortellessa writes that he’s not content to wait her out. Democrats might love a Masters reprise, though the article adds that unnamed state Republicans “have been impressed with Masters’ introspection” since his 51-45 loss to Sen. Mark Kelly.
So far, Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb has the GOP side to himself, but Cortellessa adds that even conservatives who respect Lamb still doubt he could beat Lake. Meanwhile, wealthy businessman Jim Lamon, who lost last year’s primary to Masters, is sending out mixed messages about his interest in another try. Though he said in April he was supporting Lamb, Time reports he’s now told people he could run against Lake if no real alternative presents itself.
● CA-Sen: An advisor for former Major League Baseball player Steve Garvey, who played first base for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres in a 19-season career that ended in 1987, says he's considering running as a Republican in next year's top-two primary. "We should have a decision made here in the next few weeks," GOP strategist Andy Gharakhani told the Los Angeles Times' Seema Mehta about the 1974 National League MVP. Mehta writes that, while Garvey, a 10-time All-Star, knows he'd be a longshot, he wants to give his party "a prominent name at the top of the ballot."
Garvey, the story notes, also talked about running for the Senate in 1981 back when the state was far from the dark blue bastion it is now, and he also showed some interest in eventually succeeding fellow Californian Ronald Reagan as president. In 1988, he again expressed enthusiasm running for office sometime in the following decade, remarking, "We've had an actor in the White House. Why not a first baseman?" The only campaign Garvey has undertaken so far, though, is an as-yet unsuccessful effort to join the Hall of Fame.
● MD-Sen: Prince George's County Executive Angela Alsobrooks held a rally on Thursday at which she was endorsed by endorsed by Rep. Steny Hoyer, who spent 20 years as the No. 2 Democrat in the House. Hoyer stepped down from his leadership post after the 2022 elections, but he’s long been an influential force in Maryland politics and continues to represent a dark blue district in the D.C. suburbs.
● MT-Sen: Wealthy businessman and Navy SEAL veteran Tim Sheehy finally confirmed to the HuffPost's Chris D'Angelo that he's thinking of challenging Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, though he didn't give any timeline for when he'd decide. Sheehy's interest was hardly a secret, however, as Axios first reported back in March that NRSC chair Steve Daines―who is also Montana’s junior senator―has been trying to recruit him.
Sheehy, notes D'Angelo, is a Minnesota native who only moved to the state in 2014, something D'Angelo notes "can create headaches when running for public office" in Montana. Indeed, Tester used every chance he got in his victorious 2018 campaign to remind voters that his opponent, Matt Rosendale, was originally from Maryland and had only relocated 16 years prior. Rosendale, who now represents the eastern half of the state in the House, himself hasn't ruled out trying to avenge that defeat.
● WA-Gov: State Sen. Mark Mullet said Thursday that he'd enter the top-two primary to replace retiring Gov. Jay Inslee, a fellow Democrat who backed an intra-party challenge to Mullet in an expensive—and nearly successful—campaign to oust him from the legislature three years ago.
The state senator, who has campaigned as a moderate in the past, kicked off his new bid by telling the Seattle Times he's supported Democratic priorities like abortion rights, gun safety, and environmental protection. However, he also argued that his belief that "[y]ou can't tax your way out of every problem facing Washington state" sets him apart from his main intra-party foes, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.
Mullet beat Republicans in what was a swing district in both 2012 and 2016, but Inslee lost patience with him ahead of the 2020 elections. The governor, citing the incumbent's opposition to his climate bills, endorsed a challenge from the left by Ingrid Anderson for what had become a dependably blue seat. Anderson hit Mullet for opposing taxes on capital gains and banks, while the teachers union also sought to beat him after clashing with the senator over his support for charter schools.
The Washington Realtors and business groups, though, sided with Mullet in a campaign that saw a hefty $3 million in outside spending. Anderson actually edged out Mullet by 1% in the primary, where they were the only two candidates, but Mullet bounced back in the general election to prevail by just 57 votes in a contest that took six weeks and a hand recount to settle. "It was a shot across the bow what they did in my race," Mullet later said of the effort, adding, "Even though I won, they sent a very powerful message to other people not willing to vote for their policies that they will be willing to take them out."
● CA-40: Retired Orange County Fire Capt. Joe Kerr confirmed this week that he'd join Allyson Damikolas, a fellow Democrat and a local school board trustee, in the top-two primary to face GOP Rep. Young Kim. Kerr, who has described himself as a "centrist" in the past, waged unsuccessful campaigns for the Orange County Board of Supervisors and state Senate in 2018 and 2022, respectively.
Kerr’s first bid ended when he finished just 454 votes behind fellow Democrat Doug Chaffee in what was an officially nonpartisan primary, just missing out on the second spot in the general election. (Chaffee's subsequent victory that fall made him the first Democrat on the body in 12 years, but he's often sided against his party on key votes.) Kerr's 2022 campaign for the legislature was considerably more anticlimactic, however. Democratic leaders consolidated behind Catherine Blakespear, who beat him out 43-11 for the second general election slot and went on to prevail in the fall.
● MD-06: Del. Lesley Lopez declared Thursday that she'd seek the nod for the seat that Rep. David Trone, a fellow Democrat, is giving up to run for the Senate. Lopez, who recently led the legislature's women's caucus, is the granddaughter of immigrants from the Philippines, and she'd be the first Asian American person to represent Maryland in Congress. She joins another state delegate, Joe Vogel, in the primary for this 54-44 Biden constituency.
● MI-07: Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum said Thursday that she wouldn't run to succeed Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a fellow Democrat, in this competitive seat. No major contenders from either party have entered the race yet, though Democrats may not need to wait too much longer to see if former state Sen. Curtis Hertel will get in. Hertel, who currently serves as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's legislative director, hasn't said anything publicly about his interest, but the Detroit News writes he could launch as soon as next month, once the state budget is finished.
On the GOP side, 2022 nominee Tom Barrett has yet to kick off a second campaign despite sounding almost certain three months ago. A consultant for Barrett, a far-right extremist who lost to Slotkin by a surprisingly wide 52-46 margin, told the Lansing State Journal in late February that his client "plans to" try again and would announce sometime in the next few weeks. But the paper noted Thursday that Barrett still hasn't said he's in, though the Detroit News wrote on Thursday that he's still "expected" to run.
● RI-01: Democratic Rep. David Cicilline resigned from Congress as planned on Wednesday following his vote to raise the debt ceiling, which allowed Gov. Dan McKee to officially schedule the special election to succeed him. The dates McKee set match the "tentative calendar" that he rolled out in March: The party primaries for this 64-35 Biden constituency will take place on Sept. 5, which is one day after Labor Day, while the general election is set for Nov. 7.
Anyone who wants to run would need to submit paperwork by June 30, though there's still another important step. Candidates will have between July 6 and July 14 to gather 500 valid signatures to make the ballot, and they must turn them in by the final day of that period.
Sixteen Democrats have already announced their campaigns in a race where there's no obvious frontrunner, and the field could swell further over the next month. One notable Democrat, however, just took his name out of the running: While former Attorney General Patrick Lynch didn't rule out running right after Cicilline announced his departure in February, he said this week he'd instead back former Biden administration official Gabe Amo.
● UT-02: A day after announcing his resignation, Republican Rep. Chris Stewart told Roll Call he’ll probably make his departure official sometime in September, saying, “We’re trying to work out the best date for the state and also we want to help with appropriations bills and get some work finished here.” Stewart’s would-be GOP successors, though, are already expressing interest in running to succeed him in the upcoming special election for a gerrymandered seat that Donald Trump took 57-40.
Quite a few people have already expressed interest in running to various media outlets, including the Salt Lake Tribune, KSLN, and Fox 13:
- state party activist Kathleen Anderson
- former state party chair Derek Brown
- former state Rep. Becky Edwards
- state party official Jordan Hess
- state Sen. Mike Kennedy
- 2022 candidate Erin Rider
- Washington County Commissioner Adam Snow
- state Sen. Todd Weiler
- Salt Lake County Council member Aimee Winder Newton
Edwards, who lost last year’s GOP primary to Sen. Mike Lee 62-30, told KSLN that “I intend to run,” while Weiler disclosed to Fox 13 on Wednesday his own decision would come “in the next couple of days.”
Per the Tribune and KUTV, several others are also reportedly considering but haven’t yet spoken publicly:
- state party chair Rob Axson
- Republican National Committeeman Bruce Hough
- former state House Speaker Greg Hughes
- state Sen. Dan McCay
The paper also mentions a few others as possibilities:
- businessman Brad Bonham
- former state Rep. Kim Coleman
- academic Henry Eyring
- Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson
In the “no” column are state Rep. Walt Brooks and Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, who is challenging Sen. Mitt Romney.
On the Democratic side, state Sen. Kathleen Riebe has announced she’s in. Former Rep. Ben McAdams, who represented the 4th District from 2019 to 2021 under the previous map, didn’t quite reject the idea of a comeback, though he told the Tribune he was unlikely to try one now. Finally, unnamed allies of conservative independent Evan McMullin, who unsuccessfully challenged Lee last year in the general election, tell the paper he’s “being encouraged to run.”
● PA-AG: Former Auditor General Eugene DePasquale became the first notable candidate from either party to announce a bid for attorney general, a high-profile position that will be open in 2024. The current incumbent, Democrat Michelle Henry, was named to the post after her longtime boss and predecessor, Josh Shapiro, was elected governor last year. Prior to her confirmation by the state Senate, Henry said she would not seek election to a full term.
DePasquale, a Democrat, was first elected statewide in 2012, and he secured a second term four years later by a 50-45 margin even as Donald Trump was unexpectedly pulling off a narrow victory in Pennsylvania. He was last on the ballot in 2020 when he lost to far-right Rep. Scott Perry 53-47 as Trump was taking the Harrisburg-based 10th District by a smaller 51-48 spread.