Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 18 (April 14, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Democratic Edition

April 14, 2022

In this issue: The Blue Dog Coalition PAC’s first 2022 endorsements and PAC spending mounts in OR-06

Blue Dog PAC announces first round of 2022 endorsements

The Blue Dog Coalition PAC made its first endorsements in the 2022 elections: Ruben Ramirez in Texas’ 15th Congressional District, Adam Gray in California’s 13th, and Rudy Salas in California’s 22nd.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), coalition co-chair, described the candidates as “independent-minded individuals who are committed to serving a diverse constituency.”

The PAC’s website says the U.S. House’s Blue Dog Coalition is a group of 18 “moderate, fiscally-responsible Democrats who represent every corner of the country and continue to work to end the divisive and toxic nature of politics today.”

Ramirez, an Army veteran and former attorney and educator, is running against Michelle Vallejo in a May 24 Democratic primary runoff in Texas’ 15th. Forecasters rate the general election either Tilt or Lean Republican. Ramirez ran in the same district in 2012 and 2016, finishing with 5% and 6% of the Democratic primary vote, respectively. He was the first-place finisher in this year’s Democratic primary, with 28% of the vote to Vallejo’s 20%.

Gray, a state assemblyman and owner of a public affairs firm, is one of five candidates running in the open race for California’s 13th. The two Democrats and three Republicans running will appear on the same primary ballot, with the top two finishers advancing to the general election regardless of partisan affiliation. The other Democrat running in the 13th District is Phil Arballo, who ran against Devin Nunes (R) in the 22nd District in 2020. Election forecasters rate the general election in the new 13th as Lean or Likely Democratic.

Salas, a state assemblyman and former city councilor, is the only Democrat running for the 22nd District alongside three Republicans, including incumbent David Valadao (R). Forecasters call the general election a Toss-up.

OR-06 candidates respond to House Majority PAC spending

House Majority PAC spent $1 million on TV advertising supporting Carrick Flynn in Oregon’s newly created 6th Congressional District. 

Six of the eight other Democratic primary candidates said in a joint news release, “This effort by the political arm of the Democratic establishment to buy this race for one candidate is a slap in the face to every Democratic voter and volunteer in Oregon.” 

Flynn’s campaign manager said, “Carrick is proud to have the backing from a broad coalition of supporters from throughout Oregon’s 6th congressional district, across the state and from all over the country. … The path to keeping the House in Democratic hands starts right here in Oregon’s 6th and Carrick is the only candidate who can solidly carry this district for the Democrats in the fall.”

Bold PAC, associated with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, endorsed state Rep. Andrea Salinas in the primary. PAC chairman Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said, “Right now, Democrats should be doubling-down on their investments to empower Latino and Latina candidates like Andrea who are running strong campaigns focused on issues that matter to communities of color and working families.” 

House Majority PAC’s communications director, CJ Warnke, said it is “doing whatever it takes to secure a Democratic House majority in 2022, and we believe supporting Carrick Flynn is a step towards accomplishing that goal.” 

All independent expenditures in this primary reported to the Federal Election Commission as of Wednesday have supported Flynn. Decision Desk HQ‘s March 28 newsletter said the 6th District had the highest independent expenditure amount of all House primaries (excluding Texas, which held its primaries on March 1). 

Protect Our Future PAC, associated with cryptocurrency exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried, has spent $5 million supporting Flynn. The PAC says it supports “candidates who take a long-term view on policy planning especially as it relates to pandemic preparedness and prevention.” Flynn has worked in the fields of artificial intelligence and disaster relief, co-founding the Centre for the Governance of Artificial Intelligence at Oxford University.

The Justice Unites Us PAC spent more than $800,000 on canvassing supporting Flynn.

Flynn and two other candidates completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. You can read their responses here

The primary is May 17. Three independent forecasting outlets view the general election as Likely Democratic. Oregon was apportioned six U.S. House seats after the 2020 census, one more than after the 2010 census. The 6th District is located in the northwest part of the state and consists of all or parts of Clackamas, Marion, Polk, Washington, and Yamhill counties. 

Iowa judge rules Finkenauer can’t appear on primary ballot

On April 10, Polk County District Judge Scott Beattie ruled that U.S. Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer didn’t meet the state’s requirements to appear on the Democratic primary ballot.

The disqualification process began when two Iowa Republicans challenged Finkenauer’s petitions with the State Objection Panel. The challenge said Finkenauer failed to submit valid signatures from at least 100 eligible voters in 19 different counties, a requirement for U.S. Senate candidates in Iowa, because some signatures were not properly dated. 

On March 29, the panel—comprised of Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R), Attorney General Tom Miller (D), and State Auditor Rob Sand (D)—dismissed the challenge in a 2-1 vote, ruling that the dates of the signatures could be inferred using the dates of the signatures before and after the ones in question. Pate voted against allowing Finkenauer on the ballot.

Polk County District Judge Scott Beattie said the panel incorrectly interpreted the regulations governing signature requirements. Beattie ruled that three signatures were invalid, which left Finkenauer with an insufficient number of signatures in two counties. 

Finkenauer appealed the ruling to the Iowa Supreme Court. Finkenauer said, “In a massive gift to Washington Republicans, this partisan decision overrules both the Republican secretary of state’s office and the bipartisan panel, ignores decades of precedent, interferes in the electoral process, and makes a mockery of our democracy.”  

The state supreme court heard oral arguments on April 13 and is expected to issue a ruling this week. No ruling had been issued as of Thursday morning.

Finkenauer represented Iowa’s 1st Congressional District from 2019 to 2021. Michael Franken and Glenn Hurst are running in the Senate Democratic primary, which is scheduled for June 7. 

Update: State Rep. Caraveo is only Democratic candidate to make CO-08 ballot

State Rep. Yadira Caraveo is the only candidate who will appear on the June 28 Democratic primary ballot in Colorado’s 8th Congressional District after receiving 71% of delegates’ support at the district’s April 5 assembly. Chaz Tedesco received 29%.

In Colorado, if U.S. House candidates did not submit 1,500 signatures by the deadline (March 15), then they needed to receive at least 30% of the delegate vote at assemblies to qualify for the ballot. Caraveo was also the only 8th District Democratic candidate who submitted enough signatures to make the ballot.

Colorado was apportioned eight U.S. House seats after the 2020 census, one more than it received after the 2010 census. The Denver Post‘s Alex Burness wrote that the newly created district would be competitive based on recent results.

At least four Republicans have qualified for the GOP primary.

U.S. representatives not seeking re-election

As of the end of March—seven months before the general election—46 members of the U.S. House had announced they would not seek re-election. At the same time in the 2020 election cycle, 35 representatives had announced they wouldn’t seek re-election. That number was 49 in 2018.

A total of 31 Democratic members of Congress are retiring in the 2022 cycle, representing 11.5% of the party’s total caucus members immediately following the 2020 election. Ten Democratic members retired in the 2020 cycle, representing 3.6% of the party’s total caucus members immediately following the 2018 election.

Of 2022’s retiring Democratic incumbents, seven are retiring from seats with a margin of victory of fewer than 10 percentage points in the last election. In the 2020 cycle, this number was zero. 

Three candidates running in Democratic primary for Davidson County District Attorney

Three candidates are running in the May 3 Democratic primary for Davidson County, Tennessee, district attorney: incumbent Glenn Funk, Sara Beth Myers, and Danielle Nellis. Funk was elected to an eight-year term in 2014. 

Both Myers and Nellis have criticized Funk for how he handled the prosecution of Andrew Delke, a Nashville police officer who shot Daniel Hambrick, a Black man, during a traffic stop on July 26, 2018. Funk charged Delke with criminal homicide, making Delke the first Nashville police officer to be charged with an on-duty murder. Shortly before the case was set to go to trial, Delke pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in return for a reduced sentence. Funk said he accepted the plea deal because he did not believe he could get a conviction in a trial. Nellis said she would have taken the case to trial, while Myers said Funk mishandled the entire case. Click here to read candidates’ responses to a question about this case.

Funk is running on his record. Myers and Nellis are campaigning on reforming the criminal justice system and stopping what they say is a rise in the city’s crime rate.  

Funk said he’s helped “restore public confidence in the criminal justice system by effectively prosecuting violent crime while focusing on treatment and rehabilitation for low-level, nonviolent offenders.” Funk said his record includes prosecuting domestic violence cases and offering better support for victims, declining to prosecute cases involving small amounts of marijuana, and declining to enforce a state law he said restricts abortion. 

Myers, who worked as a prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice, has campaigned on crime prevention, civil rights advances, and restorative justice. Myers proposes breaking the district attorney’s office “into precincts and assign[ing] assistant DAs to precincts so that they get to know the communities that they’re serving.” 

Nellis, who clerked for a Nashville judge and worked as an assistant district attorney in Funk’s office, said, “We know that most criminal behavior is trauma response. So how are we addressing whatever the underlying trauma is, including poverty, which has been studied and determined to be a traumatic experience? How are we addressing that as a community and the way you do that?”

Nashville, Tennessee’s largest city, is the county seat of Davidson County.

Competitiveness data: Oregon and Nevada  

Oregon’s filing deadline for congressional and state candidates was March 8, and Nevada’s was March 18. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.



Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.