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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● OH Redistricting: A new proposal is making its way toward next year's ballot in Ohio that would dramatically reform the way the state draws its maps. The amendment would end decades of GOP gerrymandering by placing redistricting in the hands of an independent commission tasked with drawing districts fair to both sides.
- Meet the commissioners. The new panel would be made up of equal numbers of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, and all of them would have to be free from any political entanglements—no politicians or lobbyists need apply.
- One rule to rule them all. The amendment lays out a number of criteria that map-makers must follow, like ensuring districts are contiguous and respecting communities of interest. But the most critical is one that would require any map to reflect the state's partisan balance, which could roll back Republican supermajorities.
- The path to the ballot. Organizers will need to collect more than 400,000 signatures by July to put it before voters in November of 2024. If they succeed, it would only need a simple majority to pass after voters resoundingly rejected a GOP-backed amendment earlier this month to bump the threshold up to 60%.
Get the full details on this bold plan—including what happens if the commission fails to agree on new maps—in our comprehensive analysis.
● NE-Sen-B: KETV asked wealthy agribusinessman Charles Herbster if he was still interested in waging a GOP primary campaign against appointed Sen. Pete Ricketts, and Herbster is still keeping the idea alive. "When it comes to my future political plans, I am keeping all of my options open," he responded before adding that his "focus" is on helping Donald Trump win his own nomination contest.
● NV-01: Businessman Ron Quince on Thursday announced that he was seeking the GOP nod to take on Democratic Rep. Dina Titus in this 53-45 Biden seat in the eastern Las Vegas area. The Las Vegas Review-Journal writes that Quince, who runs an accounting firm and belongs to some local GOP groups, wants to be the state's first Filipino American member of Congress, though former Republican Sen. John Ensign is one-eighth Filipino. (NBC wrote in 2018 that, per the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Ensign "is not documented by the U.S. Congress' Office of the Historian as having AAPI ancestry.")
Quince joins a primary that includes 2022 nominee Mark Robertson and restaurateur Flemming Larsen. Robertson launched his second bid in late June months after Titus beat him 52-46 and raised only $25,000 during the remaining 12 days of the second quarter, though he finished with $116,000 banked thanks to leftover cash from his first try.
Larsen, for his part, filed FEC paperwork back in February, and his social media accounts now identify him as a candidate. Larsen, who narrowly lost the 2022 general election for a seat in the state Assembly, has mostly been self-funding his new effort, and he ended June with $723,000 banked. Titus herself concluded the second quarter with $367,000 on hand.
● RI-01: Businessman Don Carlson announced Sunday that he was suspending his campaign for the Democratic nomination and endorsing state Sen. Sandra Cano ahead of the special Sept. 5 primary, a declaration that came days after WPRI first reported that Williams College told Carlson in 2019 that he couldn’t teach there again “after administrators were alerted to an overture he made to a student.” The station later reported that he’d texted the student and “suggested a relationship modeled on a website where people can pay to go on dates” and “allegedly indicated he would have liked to have given the student about $5,000 to help the student financially.”
The candidate on Friday released a video saying of the student, “We also had an awkward conversation one time, where he was describing a dating website to me and I somehow misinterpreted the description as a suggestion of a different relationship after graduation. I was wrong about that. He gently corrected me and I apologized profusely.” Carlson also insisted he’d offered the $5,000 as “seed capital” so the student could start up a company, but, “He wound up not doing that, and we never followed through.” Two days after releasing that video, Carlson declared he was leaving the race and backing Cano.
Carlson, thanks to prior self-funding, finished Aug. 16 with more cash on hand than any of his now-former rivals competing for the Democratic nomination to succeed former Rep. David Cicilline in Rhode Island's reliably blue 1st District. We’ve rounded up the numbers from all the major contenders’ campaign finance reports covering July 1 to Aug. 16, which were due Thursday evening:
- Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos: $240,000 raised, $328,000 spent, $126,000 cash on hand
- former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg: $159,000 raised, $365,000 spent, $191,000 cash on hand
- former Biden administration official Gabe Amo: $141,000 raised, $297,000 spent, $155,000 cash on hand
- Businessman Don Carlson: $56,000 raised, $560,000 spent, $266,000 cash on hand
- Providence City Councilman John Goncalves: $50,000 raised, $80,000 spent, $26,000 cash on hand
- State Sen. Sandra Cano: $43,000 raised, $234,000 spent, $60,000 cash on hand
- State Rep. Stephen Casey: $37,000 raised, $36,000 spent, $2,000 cash on hand
- Navy veteran Walter Berbrick: $36,000 raised, $89,000 spent, $50,000 cash on hand
- State Sen. Ana Quezada: $16,000 raised, $30,000 spent, $29,000 cash on hand
● UT-02: Campaign finance are also in for the period covering July 1 through Aug. 16 ahead of the Sept. 5 GOP primary to replace soon-to-be-former Rep. Chris Stewart in Utah's conservative 2nd District:
- Former Stewart aide Celeste Maloy: $235,000 raised, $186,000 spent, $90,000 cash on hand
- former state Rep. Becky Edwards: $170,000 raised, additional $200,000 self-funded, $426,000 spent, $228,000 cash on hand
- former RNC member Bruce Hough: $145,000 raised, additional $131,000 self-funded, $201,000 spent, $85,000 cash on hand
Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Riebe, who has no intra-party opposition, took in $92,000, spent $48,000, and finished Aug. 16 with $46,000 in the bank.
● House: Politico takes a look at several Republicans who could seek Democratic-held seats, and it includes both new names as well as information about the plans of a few previously mentioned possible contenders:
● CO-08: State Rep. Gabe Evans "plans" to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Yadira Caraveo. So far, Weld County Commissioner Scott James is the only announced GOP candidate for this 51-46 Biden seat in the northern Denver suburbs and Greeley area.
● IN-01: Lake County Councilman Randy Niemeyer, a trucking company owner who also leads the county GOP, is considering taking on Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan. The incumbent last cycle fended off GOP foe Jennifer-Ruth Green 53-47 two years after Biden carried his northwestern Indiana constituency 53-45.
Green doesn't appear to have said anything publicly about seeking a rematch, though insiders are talking about the possibility: Howey Politics recently asked state Democratic chair Mike Schmuh if he "expected" her to try again, to which Schmuh replied, "I don't know."
● NY-18: Politico says that Alison Esposito, who was the GOP's 2022 nominee for lieutenant governor, is "preparing a run" against Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan. The incumbent so far faces no major opposition in an upper Hudson Valley seat Biden won 53-45.
● PA-08: Both businessman Rob Bresnahan and Air Force veteran Jon "Slick" Baum are mulling bids against Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright in a 51-48 Trump seat located in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. Politico adds that both men are capable of self-funding for a race where the GOP has yet to land a major candidate.
● VA-07: Finally, Politico says that Derrick Anderson, a Green Beret veteran who took second in last year's GOP primary, is "moving toward" another try. The outlet previously reported that Democratic incumbent Abigail Spanberger plans to retire from this 53-46 Biden constituency in the southern D.C. exurbs so she can focus on a 2025 bid for governor; Spanberger has not confirmed or denied this, saying only she'll reveal more after Virginia's Nov. 7 legislative races.
Anderson once again wouldn't have the GOP side to himself, though. Marine veteran Jon Myers, who set up what he called an exploratory committee two weeks ago, has since updated his logo to say he's a full-fledged candidate. Navy SEAL veteran Cameron Hamilton also filed with the FEC around that same time, and he also now says he's running.
● OH Ballot: The Republican-led Ohio Ballot Board voted along party lines Thursday to adopt GOP Secretary of State Frank LaRose's summary of this fall's proposed abortion rights amendment, which among other things substitutes the word "fetus" for "unborn child," text the co-chair of Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights blasted as "propaganda." The coalition to promote the amendment says it is considering bringing the matter before the state Supreme Court, where the GOP also has a 4-3 majority; the actual text of the amendment that would go into the state constitution remains unchanged.
The summary text crafted by the amendment's backers says that "abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability," which is roughly 22 to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. It continues, "But in no case may such an abortion be prohibited if in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient's treating physician it is necessary to protect the pregnant patient's life or health." The GOP's version, though, instead says that the amendment would "[a]lways allow an unborn child to be aborted at any stage of pregnancy, regardless of viability if, in the treating physician's determination, the abortion is necessary to protect the pregnant woman's life and health."
The adopted summary text also leaves out any mention that the amendment includes the rights to "contraception; fertility treatment; continuing one's own pregnancy; [and] miscarriage care." State Sen. Theresa Gavarone, who is one of the three Republican members of the five-person state Ballot Board, used Thursday's meeting to repeatedly bash the amendment even after fellow member LaRose told her the body was supposed to carry out its duties in a neutral way. "This is a dangerous amendment that I'm going to fight tirelessly against," Gavarone declared before belatedly adding, "But that's not why we're here today."
LaRose also titled the abortion rights amendment Issue 1 less than a month after abortion rights advocates helped torpedo a conservative amendment bearing that same number. The statutory measure to legalize recreational marijuana, meanwhile, will be listed on the Nov. 7 ballot as Issue 2.
Mayors and County Leaders
● Erie County, NY Executive: News broke Thursday that a woman filed a police report the previous weekend alleging that Democratic County Executive Mark Poloncarz grabbed and restrained her after he became "irate" that she was looking at his phone's messages. The woman, whom the media did not identify, has not filed charges against Poloncarz.
Poloncarz told the Buffalo News, "This past Saturday I got into a disagreement with a woman I was seeing over some text messages she found on my phone. It led to a long, emotional discussion that resulted in a tough breakup." He also insisted, "I did not, as the report alleges, pin her up against the window. I did not restrain her."
Last year, an attorney accused Poloncarz of threatening to shoot her when she showed up at his home to serve him papers related to a lawsuit involving the county health commission's office, an account the executive also denied. Poloncarz faces Republican Chrissy Casilio in the Nov. 7 general election.