TagCongress

Previewing the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Alabama

The March 3 Republican primary for Senate in Alabama will decide who faces Doug Jones (D) in November. Donald Trump won Alabama by 28 percentage points in 2016. Jones won the 2017 special Senate election by 1.7 percentage points. The Republican primary features seven candidates, including several big names.

Former Sen. Jeff Sessions is seeking to win back the seat, from which he resigned in 2017 when President Trump appointed him U.S. attorney general. Roy Moore, the Republican nominee in the 2017 special election against Jones, is running again. U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, state Rep. Arnold Mooney, and former college football coach Tommy Tuberville are also in the race.

Two independent polls from early February showed Sessions and Tuberville leading, tied within margins of error, and Byrne in third. Sessions and Tuberville received around 30% support. To win the primary outright, a candidate needs a majority of the vote; otherwise, a runoff for the top two finishers will be held March 31.

Candidate messaging has largely focused on conservative credentials and who has been most supportive of President Donald Trump.

  • Byrne says he worked to end corruption in the state Department of Postsecondary Education and that his record as a U.S. House member demonstrates his support for the president.
  • Mooney describes himself as a conservative outsider, referring to his record in the state House and his years in the commercial real estate business.
  • Moore says he stood up for religious freedom on the Alabama Supreme Court and that allegations of sexual assault made against him ahead of the 2017 special election were false.
  • Sessions says he committed to the Trump agenda as a U.S. senator and in the Department of Justice.
  • Tuberville calls himself the outsider in the race who can stand with Trump.

Just over two weeks ahead of the primary, Byrne, Sessions, and Tuberville began releasing opposition ads criticizing one another over past conflicts with or comments about the president, among other issues.

  • Byrne and Tuberville criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election during his time as attorney general. Sessions has defended his recusal and emphasized that he was the first senator to endorse Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.
  • Sessions and Tuberville criticized Byrne for saying that Trump was not fit to be president in 2016 following the release of the Access Hollywood recording. Byrne has said the comment was a mistake and that he worked to defend Trump against the impeachment effort in the House.
  • Byrne and Sessions ads said Tuberville supported amnesty for people in the country illegally. Sessions’ ads also featured audio of Tuberville criticizing Trump on veterans’ healthcare. Tuberville has said he does not support amnesty and that Trump has not been able to do everything he’d like due to resistance from others.

Republicans currently hold a majority in the U.S. Senate with 53 seats to Democrats’ 45. In addition, two independents caucus with Democrats. Alabama is one of two states, including Michigan, that Trump won in 2016 where Democrats are defending Senate seats. Republicans are defending seats in two states won by Hillary Clinton (D) in 2016: Colorado and Maine.

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Filing deadline passes for special election in New York’s 27th Congressional District

Candidates interested in running in the special election for New York’s 27th Congressional District had until February 20, 2020, to file. The special general election is scheduled for April 28, 2020. Ballotpedia will provide a full candidate list once the state has released the official candidate filings.

The special election was called after Chris Collins (R) resigned on October 1, 2019, after pleading guilty to conspiracy and false statement charges. Collins served in the district from 2013 until his resignation.

As of February 20, 2020, nine special elections had been called during the 116th Congress. Seven of those were called for seats in the U.S. House, and two were called for seats in the U.S. Senate. From the 113th Congress to the 115th Congress, 40 special elections were held.

Entering the 2020 election, the U.S. House has 232 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one independent member, and five vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

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Nebraska filing deadline is March 2

The filing deadline for non-incumbents to run for elected office in Nebraska is on March 2, 2020. The filing deadline for incumbents was on February 18. In Nebraska, prospective candidates may file for the following offices:

  • U.S. President (1 seat)
  • U.S. Senate (1 seat)
  • U.S. House (3 seats)
  • Nebraska Public Service Commission (1 seat)
  • Nebraska State Board of Education (4 seats)
  • Nebraska State Senate (25 seats)

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:

  • Elkhorn Public Schools school board (3 seats)
  • Millard Public Schools school board (3 seats)
  • Norris School District 160 school board (3 seats)
  • Omaha Public Schools school board (5 seats)
  • Ralston Public Schools school board (3 seats)
  • Westside Community Schools school board (2 seats)
  • Omaha Public Power District, subdivisions 1 and 2
  • Lancaster County Commission, districts 2 and 4

In addition, retention elections for incumbent judges are being held for two Nebraska Supreme Court seats and two Nebraska Court of Appeals seats.

The primary election is scheduled for May 12, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Nebraska’s statewide filing deadline is the 14th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on March 6 in Georgia.

Nebraska has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

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Previewing the Democratic primary for Senate in North Carolina

Five candidates are running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in North Carolina on March 3. Incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R) was elected in 2014, when he defeated then-incumbent Kay Hagan (D) 48.8% to 47.3%. Three ratings outlets rate the general election a Toss-up or Lean Republican.

Cal Cunningham and Erica Smith have led in Democratic primary endorsements, polls, and media attention. Cunningham is a member of the Army Reserves and a former state senator (2000-2002). Smith has been a state senator since 2015. She also served on Northampton County’s Board of Education and as chairwoman of the Northampton County Democratic Party.

Cunningham’s campaign messaging has focused on expanding Medicaid, lowering prescription drug costs, and eliminating corruption in Washington. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed him.

Smith says she has worked to bridge the rural-urban divide through economic partnerships with urban centers. She says her platform, which includes healthcare for all and a Green New Deal, would energize the base and young people to turn out in November.

Cunningham and Smith both said they would not accept money from corporate PACs. Cunningham ended 2019 having raised $3.3 million and with $1.7 million on hand. Smith raised $213,000 and had $95,000 on hand.

Through mid-February, satellite spending toward the race topped $13 million. VoteVets Action Fund had spent $7.4 million and Carolina Blue had spent $3.2 million on ads supporting Cunningham. Faith and Power PAC spent $2.9 million on ads and other activities supporting Smith. Media outlets wrote that the group had Republican connections, and Smith’s campaign disavowed the group.

Also running in the primary are Trevor Fuller, Atul Goel, and Steve Swenson.

A candidate needs more than 30 percent of the vote to win the primary outright. Otherwise, a runoff for the top two will be held May 12 if the second-place finisher requests one.

Cunningham led Smith 22% to 12% in a Public Policy Polling poll from January and 29% to 10% in a February poll from the same firm. Respectively, 60% and 52% of respondents were undecided.

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Cisneros and Cuellar receive endorsements in TX-28 primary

Over the past week, both candidates in the Democratic primary for Texas’ 28th U.S. House district received new endorsements. Jessica Cisneros announced support from former presidential candidate Julián Castro, the AFSCME, SEIU Texas, and the Texas AFT. Rep. Henry Cuellar was endorsed by LIBRE Initiative Action and the Texas Municipal Police Association.

Both have also received competing endorsements from sitting Democratic members of Congress. Cisneros has the endorsements of Reps. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.). Cuellar has been backed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.), who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The Democratic primary takes place on March 3, 2020. The winner will face Sandra Whitten (R) and Bekah Congdon (L) in the general election.

The 28th District has a Cook 2017 Partisan Voter Index score of D+9, meaning this district’s results were 9 percentage points more Democratic than the national average in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. All three major race rating outlets rate the race as solid Democratic.

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Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 6 (February 19, 2020)

This week: Trump endorses House challengers, DeMaio, Issa ramp up criticisms ahead of CA-50 primary, and MN state senator in swing district announces retirement.

On the news

Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

“One of the most common misconceptions I hear about Donald Trump is that he is not a fiscal conservative. …

And yet, every year, when the president has presented his budget proposals to Congress, they have contained more spending cuts than any president in history. They sought to achieve balance within 10-15 years. They outline streamlining reforms to bloated and dysfunctional programs. …

It’s an election year now, and Democrats would love nothing more than to trigger another government shutdown in the cynical confidence the media will blame the president. And Washington Republicans love trying to buy goodwill from voters with money borrowed from our grandkids. So this year’s spending totals may end up no better than the last three years.

But it’s not Donald Trump’s fault. And when – not if – he wins re-election in the fall, the second Trump Administration will be ready to fight, and win, on this issue too.”

Jim DeMint, Daily Caller, Feb. 18, 2020

“Deficits have ballooned under President Trump. The popular narrative has been that the culprit is 2017’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Alas, facts are stubborn things, and the available data so far shows that current deficits are primarily being driven by spending. There is room for reasonable debate over the long-term impact of non-offset tax cuts, but what is inescapably clear is that the other side of the federal ledger – spending – has increased dramatically under Trump’s watch. …

Under this budget, spending will increase to more than $4.8 trillion in 2021, though as Cato’s Chris Edwards points out, the true number is closer to $5.4 trillion when accounting for hidden fees and other budgetary gimmicks. …

Meanwhile, President Trump campaigned on and continues to support not touching entitlements, the single largest driver of deficits and debt. As [the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget] also highlights, the Administration has proposed reforms that would reduce Medicare costs by hundreds of billions of dollars, as it has in past budgets. But color me a pessimist for thinking that the most likely outcome is for those responsible elements never to materialize and all the existing spending (and a whole lot of new spending) to continue on autopilot.”

Jonathan Bydlak, Daily Caller, Feb. 18, 2020

U.S. Congress

Trump endorses 7 House challengers

 

President Donald Trump tweeted endorsements for seven House challengers Feb. 12. The endorsements are for battleground races with Democratic incumbents and open seats with retiring Republican incumbents. Four of the endorsed candidates are running in March 3 primaries (three in Texas and one in California). 

 

The following table shows each endorsed candidate’s race, including the district’s incumbent, whether the seat is open, race ratings from three outlets, and noteworthy district election history.

For more of the president’s 2020 endorsements, as well as endorsements from previous election cycles, click here.

DeMaio, Issa ramp up criticisms ahead of CA-50 primary

Former Rep. Darrell Issa and former San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio are criticizing one another over their immigration stances and Trump-supporting credentials ahead of California’s 50th District top-two primary

On Friday, DeMaio released an ad comparing Issa to Mitt Romney, the only Republican senator who voted to convict the president on the abuse of power article of impeachment. The ad’s narrator said Issa was “the only Republican to support the witch hunt against Trump” and that Issa supports amnesty for people in the country illegally. 

An Issa campaign ad released Feb. 12 says DeMaio supports amnesty, open borders, and sanctuary cities. A Feb. 13 ad said DeMaio “opposes Trump’s pro-life agenda.”  

Daily Kos wrote, “DeMaio and Issa each raised more money during the final three months of 2019 than any non-incumbent Republican candidate in any of the nation’s other House races.”

Nine candidates are running in the March 3 primary: four Republicans, one Democrat, three independents, and one member of the Peace and Freedom Party of California. The top two vote-getters will advance to the Nov. 3 general election.

California first used its top-two congressional primary system in 2012. In each 50th District election since then, a Democrat and Republican have advanced to the general election. Duncan Hunter (R), who resigned in January after pleading guilty to a count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds, won each of those general elections.

State executives

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson preparing for a possible primary challenge from ex-Gov. Eric Greitens

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s campaign is preparing for the possibility of former Gov. Eric Greitens seeking a return to office. Greitens was elected governor in 2016 and resigned in June 2018.

In an interview Friday, Greitens said the truth surrounding the allegations against him was beginning to come to light. He declined to say whether he would run again in 2020. In an interview with the Kansas City Star, an unnamed Parson advisor said of Greitens, “Will he run? I doubt it…Are we going to be haunted by his ghost until he declares or filing for the primary closes? Absolutely.”

Greitens resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct and misuse of campaign information. A Missouri Ethics Commission investigation concluded Thursday that Greitens’ campaign had violated state campaign finance law but did not find that Greitens himself had committed any wrongdoing. 

The pro-Parson PAC Uniting Missouri launched a $1 million statewide ad campaign Feb. 11 describing him as “a former sheriff, a conservative tough-on-crime governor.” Last month, the PAC released a poll it had sponsored which included a question asking voters who they would support in a hypothetical Parson-Greitens matchup.

Candidates for governor of Missouri have until March 31 to file. Parson’s only currently declared Republican challenger is state Rep. Jim Neely (R). The Aug. 4 primary is open to all registered voters.

Tim Eyman to run for governor of Washington as a Republican

Washington gubernatorial candidate Tim Eyman announced Feb. 12 that he would run for governor as a Republican. Eyman entered the race in November as an independent.

Although this is Eyman’s first run for elected office, he has previously been active in state politics as a ballot measure sponsor. Since 1998, 17 Eyman-sponsored measures have made the state ballot. Voters have approved 11 of them.

Under Washington’s top-two primary system, all candidates for governor will appear on the Aug. 4 primary ballot. The top two finishers, regardless of partisan affiliation, will advance to the general election. Each of the three gubernatorial elections Washington has held since switching to top-two primaries resulted in a Democrat and a Republican advancing.

Thirteen candidates are currently running for governor, including incumbent Jay Inslee (D), two other Democrats, seven Republicans, and three third party or independent candidates. The filing deadline is May 15.

Legislatures

MN senator in swing district announces retirement

Minnesota Sen. Paul Anderson (R) announced he would not seek re-election in 2020. Anderson represents District 44, which Hillary Clinton (D) carried with 60 percent of the vote in 2016. Anderson said he was retiring to focus on his personal and professional goals. 

Anderson’s district is one of two in the state represented by Republicans but won by Clinton in 2016. There are six districts in which the opposite is true—Trump won a district currently represented by a Democrat. According to the StarTribune, Democrats flipped a state House seat that overlaps with District 44 in 2018.

All 67 Senate seats are up for election in 2020. Republicans currently have a 35-32 majority. Minnesota has a divided government, with Democrats controlling the state House and the governorship. The candidate filing period runs through June 2.

Three challengers file in Alaska over dividend fund issue

In Alaska, three Republicans filed challenges to incumbent legislators over the state’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD). As we reported earlier, the PFD issue has divided Alaska Republicans and led to the removal of three senators from committee assignments. 

The PFD is a payment to all residents of Alaska who lived there for the last full calendar year, and Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s (R) proposal to pay a larger divided has divided Republicans. Dunleavy has called for a payment of a full PFD according to a 1982 law and cutting spending elsewhere to balance the state’s budget, while lawmakers have proposed lowering the PFD instead.

Jesse Sumner filed to run against Rep. David Eastman in District 10. Sumner supports paying the full dividend and placing a constitutional cap on spending. John Cox filed to run against Sen. Gary Stevens in District P, and Michael Sheldon filed to run against Sen. Bert Stedman in District R. Both challengers say they support a full PFD payment.

Republicans currently hold a 13-7 majority in the Senate. While Republicans have a 22-15 numerical majority in the House, a coalition government of Democrats and Republicans control the chamber. The governor of Alaska is a Republican, so the state has divided government.

TX gov announces tour to campaign for incumbents

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced a pre-primary tour of the state to campaign on behalf of 10 incumbents with primary challengers and candidates for open seats or in Democratic districts. 

Abbott will campaign for Reps. Geanie Morrison (District 30), J.D. Sheffield (District 59), Jared Patterson (District 106), and Briscoe Cain (District 128), each of whom faces at least one primary challenger on March 3.

Ballotpedia has rated 10 of the 27 GOP primaries for Texas state house as battleground primaries. This is the second primary cycle to take place following the retirement of the House Speaker. Dennis Bonnen (R) announced his retirement in October 2019.

Special update: North Dakota presidential nominating process

We are passionate about politics. We’re dedicated to making it easier for you to understand the political process. 

The mechanics at the heart of the primary and caucus system can be particularly complex. We work to simplify the complexity—without compromising accuracy. Sometimes, we get it wrong. We sincerely regret those errors. But we also strive to correct them as soon as possible, giving you the right information in a timely manner.

In previous reporting on the North Dakota GOP’s presidential nominating process on Ballotpedia, we missed some key developments that distinguish the 2016 and 2020 cycles. Here’s what we’ve learned…

In 2016 (and in previous presidential election cycles), the North Dakota GOP did not hold primaries or caucuses. Instead, the party conducted a straw poll in the spring. At its state-level convention, the party then selected delegates to the national nominating convention. The results of the straw poll were non-binding, meaning the delegates to the national nominating convention were not required to vote in accordance with the poll’s results. This made the state convention the deciding event in the state party’s presidential nominating process.

This year, North Dakota’s Republican Party will conduct caucuses as part of its presidential nominating process. These caucuses are scheduled for March 10. 

Rule No. 21 of the State Endorsing Convention Rules states that delegates will be allocated proportionally to any candidate receiving at least 20 percent of votes cast in the caucuses. If a candidate receives at least 60 percent of votes cast, that candidate will be awarded all of the state’s delegates. According to The Bismarck Tribune, President Donald Trump will be the only candidate on the caucus ballot in North Dakota. 

Individual delegates will be elected at the state party convention, scheduled for March 27 through March 28. Delegate election, and all other party business, will take place on March 28. Twenty-six of the state’s total 29 delegates will be elected by secret ballot (the remaining three delegates are the party chairman, the national committeeman, and the national committeewoman). 

We are working to learn more about the terms of caucus participation, the location of caucus sites, and the form of voting. We will update this article with additional information as it becomes available.  

For more on the North Dakota GOP’s presidential nominating process, click here

Power players

“With Honor Action is a cross-partisan movement dedicated to promoting and advancing principled veteran leadership in elected public service. … As a part of our overall effort to highlight the importance of veterans and veteran issues, we support principled military veterans in Congress and help amplify their cross-partisan agenda that finds solutions for the American people. We also work with veteran candidates on the nuts and bolts of running for Congress, helping them organize their own campaigns and build a winning strategy.” – With Honor Action website

Founded in 2017, With Honor Action is a D.C.-based 501(c)(4) organization associated with the With Honor PAC and the With Honor Fund super PAC. The group’s mission is to “promote and advance principled, veteran leadership in public service through education/advocacy programs, grants, and charitable contributions.” The With Honor Action website describes the group’s work as follows: 

 

  • Support organizations that promote cross-partisanship
  • Support organizations that help veterans
  • Enact substantial cross-partisan policies
  • Work with veteran candidates

 

 

 

 

So far, the group’s largest donation has come from Jeff Bezos, who gave $10 million to the With Honor Fund in 2018. In the 2018 cycle, the group spent around $4 million supporting Democratic candidates and around $5 million supporting Republican candidates. 



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 6 (February 19, 2020)

This week: Working Families Party breaks with Engel, endorses Bowman in NY-16; LIBRE Initiative backs Cuellar, groups spend for Cisneros in TX-28; and former IDC member gets primary challenger.

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

“Abortion rights are in theory one of the party’s basic principles, a standard it will not compromise. Except that it does, with disastrous results. Consider Dan Lipinski and Henry Cuellar, two conservative Democrats who oppose abortion: The party didn’t just welcome them into the fold, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is defending them against challenges from pro-choice women to their left. Abortion matters, until suddenly it doesn’t. Women have a sacrosanct right to the control of their own bodies, until a conservative Democrat faces a primary challenge.”

Sarah Jones, Intelligencer, Feb. 8, 2020

“Until recently, I spent much of my time working hard to elect Democrats to public office — but the early presidential campaigning pushed me away from the party, as well prompting my resignation from the board of Democrats for Life, where I had served since 2014.

For someone who is progressive on most issues, this decision doesn’t come easy. … 

But the party gave me no choice. Yes, ours was a small group, but as many as a third of Democrats identify as pro-life. Even when party leadership finally met with us, they didn’t take us seriously.

When we showed them that pro-life Democrats would beat Republicans in certain districts, it didn’t matter. …

Anything even hinting that abortion is less than good now violates party orthodoxy.”

Charles Camosy, New York Post, Feb. 6, 2020

U.S. Congress

McGrath airs first TV ad since November, picks up DSCC endorsement in KY

Amy McGrath released her first TV ad since November in the Democratic primary for Senate in Kentucky. She says: 

“We need a senator who fights for things like affordable healthcare, college, and technical school, not tax cuts for wealthy donors. That doesn’t mean free college or Medicare for All. I’m against that. Instead, we can improve the Affordable Care Act with no one getting kicked off their health plan. And I believe in national service as a way to pay for college.”

Also last week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) endorsed McGrath.

Candidate and state Rep. Charles Booker said the DSCC is wrong in thinking that “running to the soft center” is the way to beat incumbent Mitch McConnell (R). Booker supports Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. Ten candidates are running in the May 19 primary.

McConnell was first elected in 1984 and has served as Senate majority leader since 2015. He faces seven challengers in the Republican primary

Three ratings outlets call the general election either Likely or Solid Republican.

Working Families Party breaks with Engel, endorses Bowman in NY-16

The Working Families Party endorsed middle school principal Jamaal Bowman’s primary challenge to Rep. Eliot Engel in New York’s 16th Congressional District. The party supported Engel in past elections.

New York Working Families Party State Director Sochie Nnaemeka praised Bowman’s work with children and said, “New Yorkers need elected leaders who aren’t afraid to take on big money and who will fight for strong public schools, Medicare for All and a transformational criminal justice system.”

Engel was first elected to the House in 1988. He chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee and in 2018 was a founding member of the Congressional Medicare for All Caucus.

Bowman is running to Engel’s left, criticizing his votes for the Iraq War and the 1994 crime bill and saying he has taken money from corporate PACs. Bowman’s campaign website reads, “It’s time for a Democrat who will fight for schools and education, not bombs and incarceration.” 

Engel’s campaign said he has a progressive record and that special interests are “trying to divide the Democratic Party and distract us from the real mission, ousting Trump, flipping the U.S. Senate and holding the House.” His campaign website emphasizes his efforts to curb President Donald Trump’s war powers.

Bowman was also endorsed by New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who said, “Unlike too many Democrats in Congress, Jamaal won’t just say he supports the right solutions – he’ll be a leader in fighting to get them passed.” 

Six candidates are currently running in the June 23 primary. The filing deadline is April 2. 

LIBRE Initiative backs Cuellar, groups spend for Cisneros in TX-28

LIBRE Initiative Action endorsed Rep. Henry Cuellar in Texas’ 28th Congressional District race. According to The Texas Tribune, it’s the first time the group has endorsed a Democrat in a federal race.

A memo from LIBRE’s senior advisor Daniel Garza read, “On issues ranging from immigration to trade to jobs and the economy, our congressman has been a consensus builder. He has sought out and found allies on both sides of the aisle to push real solutions to real problems.” 

LIBRE’s website says it “advances the principles and values of economic freedom to empower the U.S. Hispanic community.” 

The Tribune wrote, “The LIBRE Initiative is one of several groups that engages in politics within the network built by conservative megadonors Charles and David Koch.” 

Cuellar, in office since 2005, faces a primary challenge from Jessica Cisneros on March 3. 

Cisneros is an immigration attorney. She says her progressive platform is more in touch with the district. She says Cuellar has voted with the president 70% of the time and highlights Cuellar’s A rating from the National Rifle Association.  

Cuellar says the district is more moderate and has criticized Cisneros’ positions on abortion and energy policy, along with saying she moved to the area six months ago.

The Working Families Party, the Communication Workers of America, the Service Employees International Union, and the Texas Organizing Project announced Monday they’d team up to spend at least $350,000 supporting Cisneros ahead of the election.

As we reported last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $200,000 on an ad supporting Cuellar, marking its highest spending for a Democrat since 2014.

State executives

Williamson ends campaign for Oregon Secretary of State

Former Oregon House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson dropped out of the race for secretary of state Feb. 10.

Williamson resigned her House seat late last year in order to focus on her secretary of state campaign. 

In her announcement, Williamson said that she was withdrawing due to a soon-to-be-published story about her campaign finance practices. Local media sources reported that the story in question is a Willamette Week investigation into her campaign’s spending. The story did not accuse Williamson of breaking campaign finance laws.

Williamson’s withdrawal leaves three Democrats still in the running: Mark Hass, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, and Cameron Smith.

Unlike in most states, Oregon’s secretary of state is first in line to the governorship. There is no lieutenant governor of Oregon. Four governors, including incumbent Kate Brown (D), were originally secretaries of state who succeeded to the office after a governor left office early.

The current secretary of state is Republican Bev Clarno, meaning that if Brown were to leave office, Republicans would gain Oregon’s governorship and break the state’s Democratic trifecta. Clarno, who was appointed to the office following the death of Dennis Richardson (R) in February 2019, will not seek a full term in 2020. 

The May 19 primary is open to registered Democrats only. Additional candidates have until March 10 to file.

Williams, Cooney meet for first debate

The Democratic candidates for governor of Montana met for their first debate Feb. 12 in Billings. Mike Cooney and Whitney Williams discussed healthcare, education, and the economy.

Cooney, the current lieutenant governor, and Williams, a consultant, are the only candidates currently in the running for the Democratic nomination. As of the end of 2019, Cooney had raised $450,000 and Williams had raised $440,000. Cooney’s endorsers include incumbent Gov. Steve Bullock (D), who is term-limited, and Sen. Jon Tester (D). Williams’ include EMILY’s List and Missoula Mayor John Engen.

The filing deadline for the Democratic primary is March 9. The June 2 primary is open to all registered voters. The winner will face the Republican nominee in the November general election. No Republican candidate has won election as governor of Montana since Judy Martz (R) in 2000.

Legislatures

Pritzker endorses challenger in IL House race

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) endorsed Margaret Croke in the Democratic primary for Illinois House District 12. This puts him at odds with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who last week endorsed Rep. Jonathan Pizer in the same race. Pizer was appointed on Feb. 9, 2020, to replace former Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D).

Kimberly Walz announced her withdrawal from the race following the endorsements. In a statement, Walz said, “This race is unfortunately no longer about issues or experiences. It’s about powerful allies and their money. It’s not a reality that I’m happy about. However, it’s a reality.”

The primary is March 3. Pizer, Croke, James Garfield, Marty Malone, and Ryan Podges are competing for the nomination. No Republican candidate filed to run, so the winner of the primary election will be unopposed in the November general election.

Libre Initiative also endorses in Texas Senate primary

LIBRE Initiative Action (the same group that endorsed Cuellar in TX-28) and an affiliated group, Americans for Prosperity Action, also endorsed Texas Sen. Eddie Lucio (D-27) in his primary campaign against Ruben Cortez Jr. and Sara Stapleton-Barrera. The Dallas Morning News said that Lucio is often the chamber’s lone Democrat to vote with Republicans on social issues.

Several progressive groups responded to the endorsement. Progress Texas, Planned Parenthood, and the Texas Freedom Network each issued calls for district residents to vote against Lucio in the March 3 primary election. Lucio faced one primary challenger last cycle and won that race 84% to 16%.

Former IDC member gets primary challenger

Brandon Stradford (D) announced he would challenge New York Sen. Diane Savino (D-23) in the Democratic primary on June 23. Stradford told the New York Post he would make Savino’s membership in the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) a key issue in the campaign. The IDC was a group of eight Democrats that caucused with Republicans to give them a majority in the New York State Senate. The IDC dissolved in 2018 and Savino rejoined the Democratic caucus.

Savino faced a primary in 2018 over her membership in the IDC. In that race, she received 67.5% of the vote, defeating Jasmine Robinson (20.4%) and Stradford (12.0%). Stradford said he feels he has a better chance of defeating Savino in a one-on-one primary.

Power players

“We’re building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and wellbeing of all people.” – Sunrise Movement website

Founded in 2017, Sunrise Movement is a D.C.-based nonprofit organization that describes itself as “a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.” 

The group promotes the Green New Deal and has scorecard evaluating 2020 Democratic presidential candidates on the following categories related to the Green New Deal: “How they talk about it,” “How much they talk about it,” “Plan to win,” and “Green New Deal vision.” 

Sunrise Movement has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. 

HuffPost reported on Feb. 13 that the group was transitioning its focus from the presidential election to on three March 3 Texas primaries, supporting Heidi Sloan (TX-25), Jessica Cisneros (TX-28), and Mike Siegel (TX-10).  

To view a full list of the group’s endorsements, click here.

We are highlighting the cross-partisan With Honor Fund in the Republican version of today’s newsletter. Click here to read and here to subscribe.



Tricia Zunker defeats Lawrence Dale in WI-07 Democratic primary

Tricia Zunker defeated Lawrence Dale in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the special election to fill the seat representing Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House. With 84% of precincts reporting, Zunker received 88.8% of the vote to Dale’s 11.2%. Zunker advanced to the district’s special general election on May 12. The 7th District seat was vacated by Sean Duffy (R) in September 2019.

Zunker said that she would be a voice in Washington for local farmers and work to improve public education. She said she was “in favor of Medicare for All for those who want it.” Dale campaigned on transitioning the area’s timber pulp industry to hemp pulp, growing the local farming industry, and passing Medicare for All.

Endorsements in the race focused on Zunker, who was endorsed by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and Wisconsin 7th Congressional District Democratic Party, as well as Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin AFL-CIO.

The special general election will be held on May 12. Duffy, who was first elected in 2010, won his last election in 2018 by a margin of about 22 percentage points.

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Tom Tiffany defeats Jason Church in WI-07 Republican primary

Tom Tiffany defeated Jason Church in Tuesday’s special Republican primary for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District. With 84% of precincts reporting, Tiffany received 57.3% of the vote to Church’s 42.7%. Tiffany advanced to the district’s special general election on May 12. The 7th District seat was vacated by Sean Duffy (R) in September 2019.

Church and Tiffany agreed on most policy positions but highlighted their different backgrounds. Tiffany, a state senator, described himself as a proven conservative who would “provide the leadership to get things done.” Church described himself as an outsider and a “combat veteran looking to continue my service on behalf of the people of Wisconsin’s 7th district.”

Duffy, U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), former Wisconsin Govs. Scott Walker (R) and Tommy Thompson (R), and organizations including the Club for Growth PAC and Americans for Prosperity Action endorsed Tiffany. U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), U.S. Reps. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), and organizations including SEAL PAC and Combat Veterans for Congress endorsed Church.

Satellite spending in the Republican primary came from Americans for Prosperity Action, Club for Growth, House Freedom Action, and United States Chamber of Commerce supporting Tiffany, and With Honor Fund and Americans 4 Security PAC supporting Church.

Michael Opela Sr. was disqualified from the Republican primary and ran as a write-in candidate. As of writing, write-in votes had not been reported.

The special general election will be held on May 12. Duffy, who was first elected in 2010, won his last election in 2018 by a margin of about 22 percentage points.

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2,557 major party candidates filed for 2020 Congress elections, no new retirements last week

As of February 17, 2020, 2,557 major party candidates have filed to run for the Senate and House of Representatives in 2020.

So far, 360 candidates are filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for U.S. Senate in 2020. Of those, 307—163 Democrats and 144 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 527 candidates filed with the FEC to run for U.S. Senate, including 137 Democrats and 240 Republicans.

For U.S. House, 2,472 candidates are filed with the FEC to run in 2020. Of those, 2,250—1,070 Democrats and 1,180 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 3,244 candidates filed with the FEC, including 1,566 Democrats and 1,155 Republicans.

No new congressional retirements were announced last week. Thirty-six representatives are not seeking re-election in 2020. Of those, 27 are Republican and nine are Democratic. Four senators (three Republicans and one Democrat) are not running for re-election. In 2018, 55 total members of Congress—18 Democrats and 37 Republicans—did not seek re-election.

On November 3, 2020, 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for election. Of those Senate seats, 33 are regularly scheduled elections, while the other two are special elections in Arizona and Georgia. Twelve are Democratic-held seats and 23 are Republican-held seats. In the House, Democrats currently hold a majority with 232 seats.

Click here to read more about the U.S. Senate elections in 2020.
Click here to read more about the U.S. House of Representatives elections in 2020.
Click here for a list of U.S. Congress incumbents who are not running for re-election in 2020.


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