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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● MT-Sen: House Speaker Mike Johnson reportedly backed off plans to endorse Rep. Matt Rosendale in Montana's Senate race, after receiving what Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman called "a TON of blowback" from GOP leaders following the publication's report on Johnson's original intentions Thursday morning.
The bizarre turn of events grew even stranger when the Daily Beast's Reese Gorman reported that Johnson had decided to buck Senate Republicans—who want businessman Tim Sheehy to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester—by offering his endorsement in exchange for Rosendale's vote in favor of a bill providing assistance to Israel.
Both Rosendale and a Johnson spokesperson vociferously denied the story, but as Gorman notes, Rosendale had attacked the $17.6 billion Israel aid measure just a few days earlier because it did not require spending cuts elsewhere. The bill wound up failing on Tuesday after it was unable to secure the two-thirds support it needed because Johnson bypassed normal rules to bring it before the full House, though Rosendale still voted for it.
Following the brouhaha, Johnson told CNN in a statement that he would donate to Rosendale's campaign (which has yet to launch) but "has not made any endorsements in Senate races."
The debacle unfolded just two days after Johnson was humiliated on the House floor when a GOP effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas collapsed. Republicans had failed to account for the whereabouts of Rep. Al Green, a Texas Democrat who was wheeled into the chamber in scrubs following abdominal surgery and cast the deciding vote that kept Mayorkas from becoming just the second cabinet member in American history to be impeached.
That impeachment vote has already led to some potential electoral fallout; see our WI-08 item below.
● CA-Sen: Rep. Pete Aguliar, who is the third-ranking Democrat in the House, has endorsed Rep. Adam Schiff in his bid for California's open Senate seat. Both men also represent districts in the Southern California area, Schiff in Los Angeles and Aguilar in San Bernardino.
● NM-Sen, NM-02: Filing closed this week in New Mexico for candidates seeking statewide office or running for the House, but there were no surprises at the deadline.
In the race for Senate, two Republicans are seeking to challenge Democratic incumbent Martin Heinrich, according to the secretary of state's list of candidates: former Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales and businesswoman Nella Domenici, who is the daughter of the late Sen. Pete Domenici. Both kicked off campaigns last month, so neither has filed any fundraising reports yet, and there's been no public polling of the race.
By contrast, the matchup for the state's lone competitive House seat was set long ago. In the 2nd District, which includes Southern New Mexico and the western Albuquerque area, first-term Democratic Rep. Gabe Vasquez faces a rematch with former Rep. Yvette Herrell, whom he beat in 2022 in a 50.3-49.6 squeaker.
Vasquez benefitted from the fact that Democrats in the legislature redrew the lines to make the 2nd bluer following the most recent census, but it remains a swing seat: Joe Biden carried it by a fairly close 52-46 spread, while Republican Mark Ronchetti narrowly won the district by a 48.7 to 48.4 margin in the governor's race two years later, according to analyst Drew Savicki.
The Democrats who represent New Mexico's other two congressional districts, Melania Stansbury in the 1st and Teresa Leger Fernandez in the 3rd, both face badly underfunded opponents. Both of their seats are also several points bluer than the 2nd.
Statewide and congressional candidates potentially face one further hurdle to make it onto the June 4 primary ballot: If they fail to win at least 20% of the vote at their party's convention next month (the GOP's will take place on March 2 while the Democrats hold theirs a week later), they must gather additional signatures by March 19. In practice, candidates can skip the convention step by submitting a sufficient number of signatures at the initial filing deadline.
● WV-Gov: The hardline anti-tax Club for Growth, which is backing state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the May 14 Republican primary, has launched a TV ad attacking auto dealer Chris Miller over his business record. The commercial starts with a clip of an ad Miller began airing last month in which he touts his background and says he'll "run government like a business." But the Club's spot goes on to accuse Miller's company of selling "dangerous" used cars "with known malfunctions & undisclosed accident records."
● CO-08: House Speaker Mike Johnson has endorsed state Rep. Gabe Evans in the GOP primary for Colorado's 8th District, a swingy seat outside of Denver represented by first-term Democrat Yadira Caraveo. Several other Republicans are running, but apart from Evans, only two have reported raising any money so far: Weld County Commissioner Scott James and health insurance consultant Joe Andujo, who self-funded $216,000 in the last quarter.
● IN-05: An internal poll for Rep. Victoria Spartz, taken just before she reversed course and announced she'd run for reelection, has her leading wealthy state Rep. Chuck Goodrich by a wide 44-8 margin in the May 7 GOP primary. The survey, conducted by co/efficient and first obtained by Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin, also finds that 45% of voters are undecided.
Earlier this week, Spartz said she'd seek a third term representing Indiana's conservative 5th District, a year after declaring that she'd retire. That about-face engendered considerable hostility from the other Republicans who'd been running to succeed her—including Goodrich, who has self-funded $1 million. Rubashkin relays that Goodrich has already spent some $500,000 on the airwaves, per AdImpact.
● MI-13: Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Waters entered the race for Michigan's 13th Congressional District on Thursday, making her the second notable Democrat looking to unseat Rep. Shri Thanedar in the Aug. 6 primary. She joins former Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency director Adam Hollier, who's been running since October.
Waters currently serves the entire city of Detroit in an at-large capacity, meaning she already represents half of the 13th District. However, after serving in the state House in the 2000s, she failed in three successive congressional bids.
In 2008, she had her best showing when she nearly unseated Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick in the primary, losing just 39-36. Four years later, though, she took just 3% in a multi-way race that featured two Democratic incumbents, Gary Peters and Hansen Clarke, thanks to redistricting.
The Detroit Free Press' Clara Hendrickson notes that a third effort went even more poorly, when she failed to make the ballot in the 2018 race to succeed Rep. John Conyers following his resignation. However, after two unsuccessful attempts to win a seat on the City Council, she bounced back with a victory in 2021.
● ND-AL, ND-Gov: InForum's Rob Port reports that Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak told him on Monday that she's considering joining the Republican primary to succeed Rep. Kelly Armstrong and hopes to "make a decision this week." State Tax Commissioner Brian Kroshus, by contrast, told Port that he would remain in his current office instead of running for House.
Port goes on to relay that political observers expect Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller to run for governor "at some point," but they aren't as sure about whether she would go for it this cycle or run for the House instead. A spokesperson for Miller previously said last month that the lieutenant governor was considering a gubernatorial bid and would decide "soon."
● NJ-09: Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and Passaic County party chair John Currie have endorsed longtime Rep. Bill Pascrell, who faces a challenge for the Democratic nomination from Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter. Sumter recently took steps to seek party endorsements in populous Bergen and Passaic counties, which make up almost all of the 9th District, though she said she would drop out of the race and support Pascrell if he won their backing instead.
● NY-03: A new poll from Siena College finds Democrat Tom Suozzi edging out Republican Mazi Pilip 48-44 just days ahead of Tuesday's special election for New York's 3rd Congressional District. The same sample finds voters preferring Donald Trump over Joe Biden by a 47-42 margin.
● VA-07: Prince William County Supervisor Andrea Bailey has entered the Democratic primary for Virginia's swingy 7th Congressional District, launching her campaign with an endorsement from former Gov. Ralph Northam. The field of hopefuls looking to succeed Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberg, who previously announced she'd run for governor in 2025, is exceptionally large, though one name stood out in the most recent quarterly fundraising reports: former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman reported raising $2 million—more than all other candidates in both parties combined.
● WA-05: Longtime Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers unexpectedly announced on Thursday that she won't seek reelection this year in Washington's conservative 5th Congressional District.
McMorris Rodgers was one of the highest-ranking Republicans in the House when she served as GOP conference chair from 2013-2019. She currently chairs the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee and could have continued in that role for another term under party rules had she won reelection, making her retirement decision all the more surprising.
At just 35 years old, McMorris Rodgers won election in 2004 to the 5th District in eastern Washington to succeed GOP Rep. George Nethercutt, who had defeated Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley in the 1994 Republican wave and unsuccessfully ran for Senate the year McMorris Rodgers was elected. In 2007, she became one of the few members of Congress to give birth while in office, and she quickly rose through the ranks to become the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress a few years later.
While McMorris Rodgers faced serious efforts by Democratic opponents in her initial 2004 election and the 2006 Democratic wave, she won both races with ease. The only time McMorris Rodgers won by a single-digit margin was in another strong Democratic year, when she defeated well-funded Democrat Lisa Brown by a 55-45 margin in 2018. (Brown, who at the time had been a former legislative leader and university chancellor, would go on to win election last year as mayor of Spokane, which is the district's largest city.)
Washington's filing deadline isn't until May 10 for its Aug. 6 top-two primary, where the top-two finishers—regardless of party—will advance to the November general election. Since the district would have backed Donald Trump 54-44 in 2020, it's likely that a Republican will hold onto the seat.
● WI-08: Republican consultant Alex Bruesewitz, whom the Daily Beast describes in a headline as a "Trump super fan," says that he's considering a primary challenge to Rep. Mike Gallagher following the congressman's vote against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. (The Hill first reported the story, based on an unnamed source.)
Gallagher was one of just four Republicans to oppose Mayorkas' failed impeachment, though one of them, Utah Rep. Blake Moore, did so to allow GOP leaders to bring the matter up for another vote in the future. The other two Republican "no" votes belonged to Colorado Rep. Ken Buck, who is retiring, and California Rep. Tom McClintock.
● MO Ballot: A campaign to place a measure on the Missouri ballot that would have restored a limited right to an abortion has suspended its operations and given its backing to a rival effort. That movement, which is backed by local Planned Parenthood affiliates and the state branch of the ACLU, is seeking to put a constitutional amendment before voters that would protect reproductive rights, including by allowing abortion until about 24 weeks into pregnancy as well as afterward if the patient's health is at risk.
● OH Ballot: Ohio's Supreme Court has rejected a motion to expedite a lawsuit that voting rights advocates recently filed after Republican state Attorney General Dave Yost once again rejected their proposed ballot language for an initiative that would broadly expand and protect voting access.
Yost recently said the measure could not appear on the ballot with the title of the "Ohio Voters Bill of Rights" after previously rejecting language summarizing the measure. Supporters nonetheless said on Thursday that they expect the court, which did not give an explanation for why it rejected expediting the case, to "make a decision by early March."
These repeated delays have prevented organizers from beginning to gather the roughly 413,000 voter signatures needed by the initial July 3 deadline to qualify for November's ballot. And even if the GOP-majority Supreme Court compels Yost to approve organizers' ballot language, the state's Republican-controlled Ballot Board could still require the measure to be split into multiple initiatives.