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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● DE-AL: Democratic state Sen. Sarah McBride launched a bid for Delaware's lone U.S. House seat that would, if successful, make her the first openly trans person to ever serve in Congress.
McBride took note of "the uniqueness that my voice would bring to the halls of Congress" in an interview with Delaware Online's Meredith Newman that accompanied her kickoff. "But ultimately," she emphasized, "I'm not running to be a trans member of Congress. I'm running to be Delaware's member of Congress who's focused on making progress on all of the issues that matter to Delawareans of every background."
The state senator is the first serious candidate to enter the race to succeed Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a fellow Democrat who is running for Senate and would also make history as both the first woman and first African American to ever represent the First State in the upper chamber.
McBride, however, may face a competitive primary in this loyally blue state. State Housing Authority director Eugene Young told supporters shortly before Blunt Rochester's launch that if the congresswoman were to seek a promotion that he does "plan to run for her congressional seat." Young, who narrowly lost the 2016 primary for mayor of Wilmington, would be the second Black person to represent Delaware in Congress, after Blunt Rochester.
State Treasurer Colleen Davis also told Bloomberg last month that she wasn't ruling out running for House, Senate, or governor, though she's yet to say which race if any she's leaning toward. However, while insiders previously speculated that two state senators, Majority Leader Bryan Townsend and Majority Whip Elizabeth Lockman, could run against McBride, each instead endorsed their colleague on Monday.
McBride won elected office for the first time in 2020 at the age of 30 when she became the first, and to date only, openly trans person to serve in the upper chamber of any state legislature, a distinction that Newman notes makes her "the country's highest-ranking transgender elected official." (Virginia Del. Danica Roem, whose own 2017 victory made history, is the Democratic nominee this year for a seat in her state's Senate.) Prior to her election, though, McBride had already forged deep connections with notable state and national Democrats, working for both then-Gov. Jack Markell and Attorney General Beau Biden; Markell would even credit her as one of the reasons he pulled off his upset primary win in 2008.
McBride later recounted that both elected officials were supportive after she told them she was trans in 2012, with the attorney general responding, "You are still a member of the Biden family." (His father, Joe Biden, would write the foreword to her 2018 memoir.) She attracted national attention that year when she used an op-ed in the student paper at American University, where she was student body president, to describe her "resolution of an internal struggle."
A subsequent stint as an Obama administration intern made McBride the first openly trans person to serve in the White House. She went on to become the Human Rights Campaign's national press secretary, and became the first openly trans person to address a major party convention when she gave a speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
During her bid for elected office in 2020, McBride emphasized the same point about her candidacy she made on Monday. "I don't intend on serving as a transgender state senator," she said. "I intend on serving as a senator who happens to be transgender." Her campaign culminated in easy victories in both the primary and general elections, but its historic nature attracted outsized attention, giving her an unusually high profile for a first-term state lawmaker.
In the legislature, McBride authored the state's paid family leave act, which Newman characterized as "one of the more significant and progressive bills Delaware legislators have passed in recent years." She also drew attention for denouncing a colleague's unsuccessful bill to keep trans student-athletes from playing in the sport that corresponds with their gender identity. McBride, who chaired the hearing on the legislation, tweeted, "For years, trans people have had to go before anti-trans lawmakers in the big chair. Today, anti-trans forces had to come before a trans person in the big chair – me."
● LA Redistricting: The Supreme Court lifted a hold on a lower court decision that would require Louisiana to draw a second congressional district where Black voters can elect their preferred candidate in a new ruling on Monday, paving the way for the state to join Alabama in reconfiguring its map to comply with the Voting Rights Act. At Daily Kos Elections, we take a detailed look at the implications of this ruling, including illustrations of what Louisiana's new district might look like. Potential pitfalls lie ahead for plaintiffs, though, as the ultraconservative 5th Circuit could slow-walk any further Republican appeals.
● FL-Sen: Alan Grayson on Friday confirmed to the Florida Phoenix he's thinking about seeking the Democratic nod to take on Republican Sen. Rick Scott in an interview that took place a day after the congressman-turned-perennial candidate filed FEC paperwork. Grayson, who indicated he wasn't in a hurry to make up his mind, said that if he ran, "The first $20 million I raise is going to be earmarked for voter registration and turnout." The Democrat raised less than half of that for his 2016 primary bid for Florida's other Senate seat, and he took in under $1 million last cycle when he unsuccessfully tried to return to the House.
● LA-Gov: Former state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson over the weekend earned the endorsement of the state Democratic Party for the October all-party primary, a development that comes months after termed-out Gov. John Bel Edwards backed him. Wilson is the only serious Democrat in the race, though Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams unexpectedly expressed interest in launching his own campaign about four weeks ago. We've yet to hear anything new from Williams since then, though there's still a while to go before the Aug. 10 filing deadline.
● MT-Gov: Ryan Busse, a former executive at the firearms manufacturing company Kimber America who is now a prominent gun safety advocate, tells the Montana Free Press that he's considering seeking the Democratic nod to take on Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte. No other notable Democrats have publicly expressed interest in running to lead this conservative state.
● CA-22, CA-12: SEIU California, which Politico previously described as "one of the most powerful union groups in the state," has endorsed former Assemblyman Rudy Salas for the competitive 22nd District and BART board member Lateefah Simon for the safely blue 12th even though the former has yet to announce his campaign.
Salas filed FEC paperwork in December a month after losing to Republican incumbent David Valadao 52-48 in a Central Valley constituency, but we've yet to hear anything from the Democrat since then. SEIU California isn't alone in thinking that a rematch is on, though, as Inside Elections wrote early this month that Democratic operatives are convinced Salas will run again with little intra-party opposition for this 55-42 Biden district, which is one of the bluest the GOP holds nationally.
● OR Ballot: Oregon's Democratic-led legislature has placed a measure on the ballot next year that will ask voters whether to reform their electoral system by adopting ranked-choice voting for federal and statewide offices. Lawmakers also put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would finally empower the legislature to impeach and remove statewide officials for misconduct.
- Minimizing the spoiler problem. The ranked-choice voting reform proposed here primarily aims to avoid letting one candidate win with a plurality only because other candidates split a majority of the vote. Democrat Tina Kotek only beat her GOP opponent 47-44 in last year's race for governor, with a former Democrat taking 9% as an independent. That close call may have spurred Democrats to push for ranked-choice voting.
- Ranked-choice voting has been growing in popularity. Voters last year in Oregon's largest city, Portland, passed variants of the system for mayoral and city council elections, as have some other jurisdictions around the state. This new ballot measure also marks the first time that any state's legislature has led the way to adopt ranked-choice voting for federal or state elections.
- The last state without an impeachment process. Oregon is the only remaining state where legislators lack the power to impeach and remove officials such as the governor. This situation threatened to cause major problems twice in the last decade when a former governor and secretary of state became embroiled in scandals, and a crisis was avoided only because both voluntarily resigned.
Read more about how the ranked-choice voting proposal would work, how it's competing with rival reform efforts, and how the impeachment system would operate.
Prosecutors and Sheriffs
● New York: Two of the five district attorneys serving New York City, the Bronx's Darcel Clark and Queens' Melinda Katz, face Democratic primary challengers on Tuesday in their dark blue boroughs. Staten Island's Michael McMahon is also up for reelection this year, but the former Democratic congressman has no major-party opposition at all even though Donald Trump twice scored double-digit wins in his jurisdiction.
Clark and Katz each have the support of the party establishment even though, as we wrote in March, the ideological contours of their respective races differ considerably. Clark's intra-party foe is civil rights attorney Tess Cohen, who is challenging the incumbent from the left. Cohen previously told the Gotham Gazette that Clark's "reforms are the reforms that people were starting to do 10-15 years ago, and it's not where reforms are now and where we know we need to go."
Clark, who remains the only Black woman to ever serve as district attorney anywhere in the state, offered a different take on her tenure to the site, saying, "I'm not going to apologize for standing up for victims of crime, but I'm not going to do it at the expense of violating the rights of the accused." The incumbent enjoys a huge financial advantage over Cohen, who has acknowledged she faces a challenging job beating "the Bronx machine."
Katz, meanwhile, is trying to fend off former Queens Supreme Court Administrative Judge George Grasso, who is campaigning against her from the right. While the challenger tells Gothamist he identifies as a progressive, he launched his campaign last year proclaiming, "In my opinion, this is an artificially created crime wave by what I call progressive activists in the state legislature and City Hall." The field also includes Devian Daniels, who lost a 2021 primary for a Civil Court judgeship 80-19 and hasn't reported raising any money.
Katz, who famously won the 2019 primary by 60 votes against progressive Tiffany Cabán, has touted herself as a "steady hand during very turbulent times," and she's largely amassed a moderate record in office. "Some of her policies are indeed reform-oriented," an official at a criminal justice organization told Mother Jones and Bolts before adding, "[But] Katz has in general been less reform-minded in her first term in office, than say, certainly Eric Gonzalez in Brooklyn, or Alvin Bragg in Manhattan." (Both of those district attorneys are next up in 2025.) Katz went into the final month of the campaign with far more cash available than Grasso, who says he plans to run as a third-party candidate in the November general election should he lose Tuesday.
● MS-LG: The Magnolia Tribune's Russ Latino has obtained what he describes as a "leaked poll" sponsored by the National Association of Realtors that finds its endorsed candidate, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, trailing far-right state Sen. Chris McDaniel 45-40 ahead of the Aug. 8 Republican primary for this powerful office. These late-May numbers from American Strategies, a firm that we've only rarely seen numbers from before, are quite different from the 47-32 Hosemann advantage that Siena College showed a couple weeks later in its survey for Mississippi Today. Two minor candidates are also on the ballot, and their presence could prevent anyone from earning the majority needed to avert an Aug. 28 runoff.
Latino writes that word of NAR's poll only recently "began circulating among Mississippi lobbyists and politicos," though the story doesn't say who released the memo. He also notes that Hosemann has been making use of his huge financial edge to run TV ads since American Strategies finished this survey.