TagHeart of the Primaries

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 28 (July 29, 2020)

This week: Sen. Pat Roberts endorses Roger Marshall, Hagerty and Sethi line up support in Tennessee Senate contest, and Vermont Republicans hold first gubernatorial debate

On the news

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

On the Silent Majority

“Trump announced that Bill Stepien, a longtime aide, would be his new reelection campaign manager and that his outgoing campaign manager, Parscale, would remain a senior adviser to the campaign focused on digital and data strategies.

 

“I think we can take this as affirmation that the Trump campaign does not believe that it is on track to win in a landslide, and that all of the public polling is wildly wrong.

 

“Are there ‘secret Trump voters’ out there, Americans who are certain to vote for him but unwilling to say so to a pollster? Sure. I don’t know how many there are, and what percentage of the electorate they are. If they’re not close to ten percent, Trump’s in deep trouble. The available polling shows Trump down by a lot in states he won last time around — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida. When you say this, Trump supporters scoff that their man won states he was trailing last time, which is true — but he didn’t jump ten points on Election Day. Pollsters have attempted to correct their errors in sampling from the 2016 cycle. It’s worth noting that Nate Silver crunched the numbers and concluded, ‘the 2017-19 cycle was one of the most accurate on record for polling.’”

Jim Geraghty, National Review, July 16, 2020

“As we saw in 2016 … the reluctance of right-of-center voters to argue with puffed-up progressives simply meant they wanted to avoid shaming and social ostracism. They kept their peace until it really mattered — when they reached the voting booth. That’s the beauty of the secret ballot — people who decline to be bullied by ‘strong liberals’ can make their voices heard loud and clear in November. According to the [July 22] Cato survey, the number of people choosing this path is far larger than it was in 2016. Moreover, they span the entire demographic spectrum …

“Trump’s silent majority is real, and it is much larger than it was four years ago. What should scare the pants off any sentient Democrat is the number of Latinos (65 percent) and black Americans (49 percent) who self-censor. For them, there is no risk of social ostracism for supporting Biden or any other Democrat. The only plausible reason for their reticence is support for Trump. The president is about to make history with the magnitude of his victory and, more importantly, who will vote for him.”

David Catron, The American Spectator, July 24, 2020

U.S. Congress

Roberts endorses, groups spend, in Senate primary in Kansas

Sen. Pat Roberts (R) endorsed Roger Marshall in the Senate primary in Kansas. Roberts was first elected to the seat in 1996 and is retiring.

Marshall’s other endorsers include National Right to Life and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has endorsements from the National Association for Gun Rights, the National Border Patrol Council, and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

Open Secrets reports $9.3 million in satellite spending on the race. More than half has come in recent weeks. Kelly Arnold, a former Kansas Republican Party chairman, said, “I am just shocked about the amount of outside money. … These are numbers that you normally would see in a general election where it’s very competitive, and the national Democrats and national Republicans are battling it out in the state.”

Of the $9.3 million spent, $4.4 million went to activities opposing Marshall and $2.5 million went to activities opposing Kobach. Some recent expenditures:

  • The super PAC Sunflower State is spending more than $4 million on ads. Media outlets wrote that the group has Democratic connections. Politico’s James Arkin wrote that one of the group’s ads was “engineered to drive conservative voters toward Kobach. A narrator in the ad calls Kobach ‘too conservative’ because he ‘won’t compromise’ on building President Donald Trump’s border wall or on taking a harsher stance on relations with China. By contrast, the ad labels Marshall a ‘phony politician’ who is ‘soft on Trump.'” 
  • Plains PAC said it would spend $3 million on a television, radio, and online ad campaign criticizing Kobach.
  • The Senate Leadership Fund booked $1.2 million in airtime for an ad campaign supporting Marshall.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce began a $400,000 ad campaign supporting Marshall on July 13.
  • Free Forever PAC spent $365,000 on an ad supporting Kobach.

Click here for a compilation of satellite group ads.

Click here for a compilation of candidates’ campaign ads.

Eleven candidates are running in the Aug. 4 primary. Three election forecasters rate the general election Lean Republican or Likely Republican.

Charges against Watkins a focal point of KS-02 primary

On July 14, Rep. Steve Watkins (R) of Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District was charged with three felony counts and one misdemeanor count related to using an incorrect address on his voter registration form.

Watkins said he accidentally listed his mailing address as opposed to his residential address and corrected the error when he realized it. On July 17, Watkins said he was temporarily resigning his House committee memberships. House Republicans require any member charged with a felony carrying a sentence of two or more years to resign committee membership pending the charges.

Watkins, state Treasurer Jacob LaTurner, and former Kansas Secretary of Labor Dennis Taylor are running in the Aug. 4 primary.

LaTurner released an ad in which a narrator calls Watkins a fraud and calls LaTurner an honest conservative. The narrator says LaTurner would “bring integrity back to Congress.”

Watkins released an ad in which a narrator refers to the charges as a witch hunt and LaTurner as a swamp creature. The ad compares the charges against Watkins to the impeachment effort against President Donald Trump (R). It also says the district attorney who filed the charges shares a consultant with LaTurner. 

Kansas for Life switched from endorsing both Watkins and LaTurner to only endorsing LaTurner. Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kans.) endorsed LaTurner, saying, “Kansans deserve the best representation in Congress and Steve Watkins’ actions have unfortunately put this seat in danger of being handed over to a Nancy Pelosi liberal who doesn’t represent our Kansas values.”

Watkins’ endorsers include the National Rifle Association, National Right to Life, and the National Federation of Independent Business. The Kansas Farm Bureau endorsed LaTurner.

The Cook Political Report changed its general election race rating from Likely Republican to Lean Republican following the charges. Two other outlets see the contest as Solid Republican or Likely Republican. In 2018, Watkins defeated Paul Davis (D) 47.6% to 46.8%.

Blackburn endorses Hagerty, Paul appears in pro-Sethi ad in Senate race in TN

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) endorsed Bill Hagerty for the Senate seat held by Lamar Alexander (R). Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) appeared in an ad supporting Manni Sethi. 

Alexander was first elected in 2002 and is retiring. 

Blackburn said, “I need a true Tennessee conservative to stand with me to protect our Tennessee values.” She said Sethi had defended Obamacare and donated to ActBlue, an online fundraising platform for Democratic campaigns and progressive groups.

A Protect Freedom PAC ad features Paul saying, “Tennessee is too conservative a state to keep sending Democrats in Republican clothing to represent Tennessee. Manni Sethi is the real deal.” 

Other satellite groups and the candidates themselves have released ads recently. The group Standing with Conservatives released an ad criticizing Sethi’s donations and saying he isn’t a Tennessee conservative. Conservative Outsider PAC released an ad saying Hagerty backs Romney, who, according to the ad, betrayed conservatives by supporting Trump’s impeachment.

A recent Hagerty ad criticizes Sethi by saying he is friends with Tom Perriello, a Democrat who ran for governor of Virginia in 2017. A Sethi ad features his wife defending Sethi against the Democratic donation line of criticism, saying she donated $50 12 years ago. She says Hagerty gave Romney and Al Gore over $100,000.

Hagerty served as ambassador to Japan from 2017 to 2019. Sethi is an orthopedic trauma surgeon. 

Fifteen candidates are running in the Aug. 6 primary.

State executives

Vermont Republicans hold first gubernatorial debate

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and all four primary challengers participated in their first debate July 22, discussing Scott’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and his style of governance.

Scott, who is seeking election to a third two-year term, said he had led an effective pandemic response and was seeking re-election in order to continue to manage Vermont’s economic recovery.

Each of Scott’s challengers said his response to the coronavirus pandemic was too drastic and damaged the state’s economy. Scott said he was proud of Vermont’s response to the pandemic, saying it had a low number of positive cases both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the population.

Douglas Cavett, a former educator, said he was running to correct what he described as injustices in Vermont’s criminal justice system, using his conviction on a charge of aggravated assault of a minor as an example. He said the charges against him were fabricated and evidence of a broader problem in the system.

John Klar, an attorney and farmer who is running alongside a slate of candidates for other state offices, including the state legislature. Klar says he is running because Scott supports policies he says are out of touch with Vermont Republicans, mentioning firearms regulations and abortion as areas of specific disagreement.

Bernard Peters, a former employee of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, said he was concerned about Scott’s stance on firearms. Peters said Scott’s decision to sign a bill imposing new regulations on firearms in 2018 amounted to signing away Vermonters’ constitutional rights. Scott said as a gun owner, he did not feel as if his constitutional rights had been infringed and he preferred action to inaction.

Emily Peyton, a hemp farmer who earlier ran for governor in 2012, 2014, and 2018, said she was running to limit the state government’s power. She said Scott’s response to the coronavirus pandemic represented an overextension of the state government’s power.

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters.

Race recap: Governor of Utah

In this series, we look back at recent state executive primaries and preview the general election ballot.

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) won the Republican nomination for governor of Utah in a primary on June 30, receiving 36.1% of the vote to second-place candidate Jon Huntsman’s (R) 34.9%. Huntsman earlier served as governor for four years before resigning to serve as ambassador to China under President Barack Obama (D).

Two other candidates advanced to the primary: former state House Speaker Greg Hughes (R) and former state GOP chairman Thomas Wright (R). Up to two candidates could earn a spot on the ballot if they were among the top finishers at the state party convention’s nominating vote. An unlimited number of candidates could win a spot on the ballot by submitting nominating petitions containing the signatures of 28,000 registered Republicans. Four additional candidates did not make it onto the ballot.

Cox, who has served as lieutenant governor since 2013, said he was running because he believes Utah has a bright future and that he would focus on managing the state’s economic recovery. Huntsman said his past experience as governor would make him a better leader in a time of crisis.

Cox faces University of Utah law professor Chris Peterson (D) as well as Gregory Duerden (Independent American Party of Utah), Daniel Rhead Cottam (L), and Richard Whitney (I) in the general election. Republicans have won each of the past 10 gubernatorial elections in Utah, the GOP’s longest ongoing winning streak nationwide.

Legislatures

The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Alaska Family Action announces it will not endorse in House District 24 primary featuring incumbent citing power-sharing agreement

On July 25, Alaska Family Action (AFA) announced it would not endorse incumbent Rep. Chuck Kopp (R-24) in the 2020 primary. 

AFA is a branch of the Alaska Family Council, which operates to “inspire biblical leadership” and “to see an Alaska where families thrive, religious freedom flourishes, life is cherished, and God is honored,” according to the group’s website.

AFA’s decision not to endorse Kopp is a break from 2018, when it supported his candidacy in that year’s Republican primary. 

Kopp was first elected in 2016. Following the 2018 elections, Republicans held a 23-16-1 majority in the House of Representatives. They were unable to form a majority coalition after Kopp and seven other Republican representatives created a power-sharing agreement with Democratic members to establish a bipartisan majority. 

The AFA wrote, “This bi-partisan majority is dominated by progressive liberals, and they have successfully blocked virtually all attempts to advance pro-life and pro-family legislation.” The announcement went on to say, “The policy issues that are most crucial to Alaska Family Action are routinely assigned to FOUR key committees: Health & Social Services, Education, Judiciary, and State Affairs. What do all these committees have in common? They’re all chaired by progressive lawmakers who are endorsed and bankrolled by Planned Parenthood.”

As part of the power-sharing agreement, Democrats were to lead six of the ten standing committees, including the four listed above. Three committees have bipartisan co-chairs. Kopp chairs the Rules Committee, which controls the flow of legislation to the floor.

On his campaign website, Kopp says he is “a proven and effective leader who values all Alaskans and will keep our legislature focused on issues that matter.” He won the 2018 primary with 70.5% of the vote. AFA has not endorsed his Aug. 18 primary opponent Thomas McKay (R).

Gila County GOP launches rare opposition ads against challenger in Arizona’s Senate District 6 primary

On July 24, the White Mountain Independent’s Peter Aleshire reported that the Gila County GOP launched ads and messaging opposing Wendy Rogers (R) and supporting incumbent Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-06) in Arizona’s Senate District 6 Republican primary. Aleshire wrote, “The Gila County Republicans normally don’t take a position in a party primary. However, … the committee considered Rogers such a flawed candidate that she might lose in the general election.” 

Rogers, an Air Force veteran and owner of a home inspection business, is the only candidate challenging Allen in the primary. 

The Gila County GOP ads claim, in part, that Rogers lives at a home owned in Tempe outside of the district rather than the Flagstaff mobile home listed as her address. In a Facebook post, Allen wrote, “That’s a direct violation of tax law and residency requirements,” adding, “She doesn’t even go here! So how can she accurately represent our district and our issues?”

Eric Frizzell, Rogers’ Fake News Response Director, said, “This is nothing but a bunch of losers trying to dig up fake dirt on Wendy,” adding that Rogers only visits her Tempe home to be with grandchildren.

Rogers leads Allen in fundraising, reporting $551,000 raised with $100,000 cash on hand. Allen has raised $127,000 with $16,000 available. Both candidates have been targeted and supported by satellite spending. Arizona’s campaign finance reports show that groups have spent $118,000 supporting Rogers and $86,000 in opposition. $93,000 has been spent supporting Allen with $131,000 spent in opposition.

Rogers has sought elected office five times, including four runs for U.S. House, twice in District 9 and twice in District 1. Most recently, Rogers ran against incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-01), receiving 46% of the vote to O’Halleran’s 54%. Allen currently serves as President Pro Tempore of the Senate. She was first elected to represent District 6 in 2014. She previously represented Senate District 5 from 2008 to 2013.

Kansas City Star endorses incumbent Skubal in Kansas Senate District 11 primary

On July 24, the Kansas City Star endorsed Sen. John Skubal (R-11) in the Kansas Senate District 11 primary, calling him “a solid, moderate voice in the Kansas Senate.” Skubal, first elected to the seat in 2016, faces a primary challenge from state Rep. Kellie Warren (R-28) on Aug. 4. The editorial board wrote, “the policy differences between the candidates are not subtle. But the starkest contrast between them is in how they see COVID-19, and what they think we should do about it.”

On the usage of masks, Skubal said “The science says that we should wear a mask … We’re not just protecting ourselves, we’re protecting others.” Warren said, “the science really hasn’t even been that clear,” adding, “the [Center for Disease Control] first said, don’t wear masks, you don’t need them.” The candidates vary on other issues like Medicaid expansion, which Skubal supports and Warren opposes. 

We previously covered this primary on April 8 following Warren’s announcement of her candidacy. This will be Warren’s second contested primary against an incumbent Republican. She was first elected to the state House in 2018 after defeating incumbent Rep. Joy Koesten 58-42% in the Republican primary. After her primary defeat but before leaving office, Koesten changed her party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

The winner of the August primary will advance to the general election and will likely face Koesten, who is the only candidate running on the Democratic side.

Power players

“As an independent Super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund has one goal: to protect and expand the Republican Senate Majority when Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer, together with their army of left-wing activists, try to take it back in 2020.” – Senate Leadership Fund website

Founded in 2015 by supporters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate Leadership Fund is a super PAC with the goal of supporting Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate. As of June 30, the fund has raised $102 million this cycle compared to $134 million for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senate Republicans’ official campaign PAC.

During the 2018 campaign cycle, the Senate Leadership Fund reported more than $95.5 million in satellite spending, spending more than $10 million each to oppose four Democratic Senate candidates: Claire McCaskill in Missouri ($20.5 million), Jacky Rosen in Nevada ($15.9 million), Joe Donnelly in Indiana ($15.0 million), and Phil Bredesen in Tennessee ($13.3 million). Rosen was the only candidate among the four to win her race.

So far this cycle, the Senate Leadership Fund has reported spending more than $500,000 in two races. The group has spent $1.3 million in support of Roger Marshall (R) ahead of his Aug. 4 primary for Kansas’ open Senate seat. It has also spent $770,000 opposing Rep. Doug Collins’ (R) campaign challenging incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) in Georgia’s upcoming Senate special election.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 28 (July 29, 2020)

This week: Ilhan Omar challenger raises $3.2 million in second quarter, Working Families Party spends in support of Rashida Tlaib, and Bernie Sanders endorses in Vermont gubernatorial primary

On the news

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

On Medicare for All in the Democratic Party platform

“The platform does nod to ‘Medicare for All,’ the policy backed by Sanders, saying: ‘We are proud our party welcomes advocates who want to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and those who support a Medicare for All approach.’

“Platform committee co-chair Denis McDonough, who served as former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, called it the ‘boldest Democratic platform in American history.’

“Still, anticipating virtual floor fights and frustration from progressive activists who want the party to set an even more aggressive policy course, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said at the top of the committee meeting that ‘we should never confuse unity with unanimity, nor should we confuse debate with division.’”

Denis McDonough, Tom Perez, quoted by Scott Detrow, NPR, July 27, 2020

“History teaches a clear lesson: The fact that our nation is the only advanced industrial country without universal healthcare cannot be blamed on Republican obstruction alone. It was also caused by Democratic leaders who’ve spent decades catering to corporate interests (while collecting their campaign donations)—and refusing to fight for universal coverage. 

“This history of Democratic obstruction and vacillation is why hundreds of elected delegates to next month’s Democratic convention have put their foot down. They’ve signed a petition pledging to vote down the party platform if it ‘does not include a plank supporting universal, single-payer Medicare for All.’ The petition’s initiator is Judith Whitmer, chair of the convention’s Nevada delegation. She told Politico: ‘This pandemic has shown us that our private health insurance system does not work for the American people. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their healthcare at the same time.’

“By demanding of the party leadership what Harry Truman called for 72 years ago, Whitmer and other Democratic activists are indeed ‘giving ’em hell.’” 

Jeff Cohen, Common Dreams, July 28, 2020

U.S. Congress

MN-05: Melton-Meaux raises $3.2 million in second quarter

Antone Melton-Meaux raised $3.2 million to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s $480,000 in the second quarter of 2020. They and three others are running in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District primary on Aug. 11.

As of June 30, Omar raised $3.9 million to Melton-Meaux’s $3.7 million. 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Torey Van Oot wrote, “Much of the money on both sides comes from out of the state, reflecting Omar’s national profile as one of the first Muslim women in Congress and an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.”

Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party Chairman Ken Martin and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison—who previously represented the 5th District—held a press conference July 20 in which Martin said contributions to Melton-Meaux’s campaign were efforts to “silence a progressive champion rooted in xenophobia.” Martin said the average ActBlue contribution Melton-Meaux received in May was $650 compared to Omar’s average of $18. Melton-Meaux said he received five times the amount of contributions Omar did from within the 5th District. Omar said her campaign received more individual contributions from within the state than Melton-Meaux’s.

Omar is among four House members often referred to as the squad, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) recently endorsed Omar. Pelosi said in September 2019 that she has a policy of only endorsing incumbents. 

Working Families Party spends in support of Tlaib in MI-13

The Working Families Party and Detroit Action are spending $100,000 in support of Rep. Rashida Tlaib in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District primary. Tlaib faces Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

Politico’s Holly Otterbein reported that the independent expenditure campaign “will be focused on young Black and Latino voters, and is expected to highlight [Tlaib’s] record on racial justice, including her promotion of the BREATHE Act, which seeks to eliminate federal programs ‘used to finance and expand’ law enforcement.”

The Detroit News’ Melissa Nann Burke and Christine Ferretti wrote:

Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, made history as one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress. But Jones’ surrogates are pitching their candidate, who is African American, as a better choice to lead the majority-Black district amid a national movement for racial justice. Blacks comprise nearly 54% of the district’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The primary is a rematch. Tlaib and Jones ran against one another in both the regular and special election primaries in 2018. Jones defeated Tlaib in the special primary election 37.7% to 35.9%, while Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary 31.2% to 30.2%. Jones completed the term to which John Conyers Jr. had been elected in 2016. Tlaib assumed office in January 2019.

The Michigan AFL-CIO recently endorsed Tlaib. In 2018, the group endorsed Jones. Jones’ 2020 endorsers include several local elected officials and Black pastors.

The primary is Aug. 4.

AG commissioner endorses Vazquez in FL-18

Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and the only Democrat to win statewide office in 2018, endorsed Oz Vazquez in Florida’s 18th Congressional District primary.

Fried said in her endorsement, “Florida’s 18th Congressional District deserves a Congressperson who will fight to protect Social Security and Medicare, will be a champion for clean water, and will work to get things done for the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches.”

Vasquez is a lawyer and former Americorps volunteer. He faces Pam Keith, a lawyer and Navy veteran.

The Florida AFL-CIO endorsed Vasquez in June. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) endorsed Keith.

Both Keith and Vazquez completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey questions are designed to elicit insightful and thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. Read Keith’s responses here and Vazquez’s responses here.

Incumbent Rep. Brian Mast (R), first elected in 2016, is seeking re-election and faces a primary challenger. Three election forecasters rate the general election Safe or Solid Republican. The primary election is Aug. 18.

State executives

Candidates prepare runs for Virginia lieutenant governor, attorney general

Candidate fields have begun to emerge for two top-level executive offices in Virginia ahead of next year’s primaries. This month, five Democrats, including three members of the legislative class of 2017, announced their intention to run for executive office.

Although there are no term limits on the offices of attorney general or lieutenant governor, Virginia is the only state where governors are prohibited from serving back-to-back terms. Both Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) have suggested they will run to succeed Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

Delegate Jay Jones (D), who was elected to the Norfolk-area district his father represented during the 1990s, became the first member of either major party to declare his intention to run for state attorney general on July 13. Jones, who is Black, would be Virginia’s first nonwhite attorney general. He said in his campaign kickoff video that challenging efforts to limit the Affordable Care Act would be among his priorities.

On July 14, Del. Hala Ayala (D), who defeated incumbent Rich Anderson (R) to win a district representing Prince William County, said she would run for lieutenant governor in 2021, becoming the first candidate to officially enter the race. She said she was running to ensure Virginia was better-prepared for future public health emergencies, including expanding Medicaid coverage.

State Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D), who defeated incumbent Scott Lingamfelter (R) in another Prince William County contest, said she was exploring a run for lieutenant governor. 

On July 22, Norfolk city Councillor Andria McClellan (D) announced she was also exploring a run for lieutenant governor. McClellan was first elected to the city council in 2016, defeating incumbent Barclay Winn. Ayala, Guzman, or McClellan would each be the first woman elected to the office.

Sean Perryman said on July 27 that he was exploring a run. Perryman, a former counsel to the House Oversight Committee under Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), is the president of the Fairfax branch of the NAACP, Virginia’s largest.

Other Democrats who have indicated they are considering a run for lieutenant governor include former Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman and Mike Pudhorodsky.

Bernie Sanders endorses David Zuckerman for governor of Vermont

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman’s (D) run for governor Monday. The announcement came as Zuckerman and former state Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe (D) aired their first television ads ahead of the Aug. 11 primary.

Holcombe’s ad, titled “Believe”, first aired July 16. The ad introduces Holcombe as a former educator and says she believes Vermont can emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in a stronger position than when the pandemic started if it takes the opportunity to expand healthcare and education and attract high-paying jobs.

Zuckerman’s ad, titled “Building our Future”, displays clips of Zuckerman working on his farm. The ad says that while daily life has been disrupted by the pandemic, farm work needs to continue.

A third candidate, attorney Pat Winburn, began running television ads when he entered the race in March. Winburn, who has not previously held elected office, says he is running to bring a new perspective to state government.

Legislatures

The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Preliminary New York legislative results show progressive challengers defeated five incumbents

New York’s primaries occurred on June 23, but due to the coronavirus, results have been delayed as absentee ballots continue to be counted. Within the past week, additional votes counted show at least five progressive challengers defeating incumbent state Assembly members.

The New York Times’ Jesse McKinley and Luis Ferre-Sadurni wrote, “A slew of progressive challengers upset entrenched incumbents in the New York Legislature … cementing their movement’s influence in Albany and making it likely that the state government will become one of the most liberal in the nation.”

The NYC Democratic Socialists of America, for example, endorsed one incumbent, Sen. Julia Salazar (D-18), and four others—Jabari Brisport (D), Phara Souffrant Forrest (D), Zohran Mamdani (D), and Marcela Mitaynes (D)—in the primaries. Of those five, Salazar, Forrest, Mamdani, and Mitaynes won their primaries. Brisport’s primary for the open Senate District 25 seat remains uncalled, but he has claimed victory.

Below is a list of races where challengers defeated incumbents. Vote totals have not been finalized, but in each instance the incumbents have either conceded or the challenger’s victory has been widely reported:

  • AD-34: Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, an immigrant and healthcare activist, defeated Assm. Michael DenDekker, who first assumed office in 2009.
  • AD-36: Mamdani defeated Assm. Aravella Simotas. Simotas was first elected in 2010. She ran unopposed that year. Before Mamdani’s 2020 primary challenge, her only other contested election, general or primary, happened in 2012.
  • AD-50: Emily Gallagher defeated Assm. Joseph Lentol. Lentol was first elected in 1972. The NYC DSA did not endorse Gallagher, but she says she is a democratic socialist.
  • AD-51: Mitaynes defeated Assm. Felix Ortiz. Ortiz was first elected in 1994 and served as Assistant Speaker of the Assembly.
  • AD-57: Souffrant Forrest defeated Assm. Walter Mosley, who was first elected in 2012. Mosley will appear on the general election ballot on the Working Families Party ticket.

12 primaries featuring Democratic incumbents in the state Assembly remain uncalled. In the Senate, one such race remains uncalled.

Candidates participate in primary forum for Hawaii’s House District 20

On July 20, the four candidates running in the Democratic primary for Hawaii’s House District 20 participated in a virtual forum hosted by the Oahu County Democratic Party. 

This is the first election since 1976 when Rep. Calvin Say (D-21) will not appear on the ballot. The longtime incumbent and former House Speaker announced in May he would run instead for Honolulu City Council in 2020.

House District 20 encompasses the Honolulu neighborhoods of St. Louis Heights, Palolo, Maunalani Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, and Kaimuki.

The candidates are Kaimuki Neighborhood Board member Becky Gardner (D), state Department of Labor program specialist Jay Ishibashi (D), St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board member Jackson Sayama (D), and attorney Derek Turbin (D).

The candidates were asked to speak about the intersection of economic and public health amid the coronavirus outbreak. All four candidates said public health should be the top priority while acknowledging the influence tourism has on the local economy. Ishibashi and Turbin suggested Hawaii begin marketing to tourists in countries with less severe coronavirus outbreaks. 

Sayama, Turbin, and Gardner also said they would prioritize creating jobs in industries distinct from tourism. Sayama mentioned growing the state’s renewable energy and cybersecurity sectors. Turbin said he would direct federal funds towards the local agriculture industry and develop a remote-worker economy. Gardner supported the Green New Deal as a means to recover from the economic downturn. 

The winner of the primary will face Julia Allen (R) in the general election.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorses Sherod in six-way primary for Missouri’s open Senate District 5 seat

On July 25, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed former deputy State Auditor Michelle Sherod (D) in the six-person Democratic primary for the open seat in Missouri’s Senate District 5. The paper said: “Sherod, 58, has the maturity and broad-based experience to advance [an urban-centric] agenda without brow-beating or lecturing conservatives about causes and concerns they don’t necessarily prioritize.” 

The editorial board also mentioned state Rep. Steven Roberts (D-77), another candidate in the primary, saying, “it’s important for voters to know that they have a strong alternative candidate in [Roberts], 32, … a former prosecutor,” adding, “Although Roberts has more legislative experience, Sherod clearly has more life experience.” Roberts was first elected to represent House District 77 in 2016.

Of the six candidates running, three have raised more than $10,000 according to pre-primary campaign finance reports. Sherod, Roberts, and St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green (D) raised $138,000, $273,000, and $101,000, respectively. Each candidate reported at least $20,000 cash on hand. 

Incumbent Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D) is not running for re-election. She was first elected to represent District 5 in 2012.

Former St. Louis Public Schools Board member Bill Haas (D), non-profit consultant McFarlane Duncan (D), and property manager Jeremiah Church (D) are also running in the primary. The winner of the Aug. 4 primary will face Michael J. Hebron Sr. (R).

Power players

“In 2019-2020, we will work to elect Democratic senators who are committed to an economy that provides opportunity and security for America’s working families and who stand up to protect the rights of all Americans.” – Senate Majority PAC website

Founded in 2010 by supporters of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate Majority PAC is a super PAC with the goal of supporting Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate. As of June 30, the PAC has raised $148 million this cycle compared to $125 million for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senate Democrats’ official campaign PAC.

During the 2018 campaign cycle, the Senate Majority PAC reported more than $111.6 million in satellite spending, spending over $10 million each to oppose four Republican Senate candidates: Josh Hawley in Missouri ($18.0 million), Rick Scott in Florida ($15.8 million), Dean Heller in Nevada ($14.4 million), and Mike Braun in Indiana ($14.2 million). Other than Heller, each of the four won their races.

So far this cycle, the Senate Majority PAC has reported spending more than $1 million in three races, having already spent $5.2 million to oppose John James in Michigan, $3.6 million to oppose Susan Collins in Maine, and $1.9 million to oppose Steve Daines in Montana.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 27 (July 15, 2020)

This week: M.J. Hegar wins Senate nomination in Texas, Super PAC spends $900,000 to support Ed Markey in Massachusetts, and Vermont gubernatorial candidates differ on ethics policy

On the news

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

On ‘cancel culture’

“A specter is haunting Western democracies. No, it is not the surging pandemic, mass death or catastrophic unemployment. It is, if you believe Donald Trump and some of his critics, the end of free speech and the advent of ‘cancel culture.’ … 

“… free speech has never been more widely available than it is today. So much so that the cacophony of voices liberated by digital media too frequently drowns out well-informed and sensible opinion. Trump, who blurts out several hot takes every day, is himself an example of the verbal incontinence enabled by Twitter in recent years. … 

“… the picture that Trump and highly prominent writers draw of narrowed and darkened intellectual horizons seems wholly unrecognizable, even paranoid.

“Could it be that increasingly diverse voices and rich conversations are a threat to their free speech — more accurately, the prerogative of famous and powerful people to speak at length on all sorts of things without interruption or disagreement? … 

“No doubt this networked minority will continue to protect its privileges by invoking various dangers to free speech. But no one should mistake its fear of obsolescence and irrelevance for any kind of liberalism.”

Pankaj Mishra, Bloomberg Opinion, July 14, 2020

 

“In recent years, there has been a marked and disquieting increase in the willingness of a raft of actors left, center, and right, both in government and in civil society, to engage in a practice and attitude of censorship and to abandon due process, presumption of innocence, and other core civil liberties.

“There have been some attempts from different quarters at a pushback against this, but the most recent such effort at a course correction is an open letter decrying the phenomenon appearing in Harper’s magazine. …

“What is true is that to limit this discussion to the acts of the extremely online mob, to, say, British author Jon Ronson’s concerns about Twitter public shaming, or to the ill-defined term ‘cancel culture,’  entirely misses the far wider atmosphere of an aggressive and accelerating threat to civil liberties.

“It is understandable that a brief open letter would not offer a catalog of episodes, but this is nevertheless unfortunate, as it allows Robinson and others to maintain a ‘nothing to see here, please move along’ stance.

“When we do in fact consider such a catalog, we find that to deny that this is happening, or to diminish it as inconsequential is untenable. There are simply too many examples.”

Leigh Phillips, Jacobin, July 12, 2020

Election results

U.S. Senate in Maine: Sara Gideon defeated Betsy Sweet and Bre Kidman in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Maine. As of 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time on July 15, Gideon had received 70%of the vote followed by Sweet and Kidman with 23% and 7% of the vote, respectively, with 87% of precincts reporting. Gideon was endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the official Senate campaign wing of the national Democratic Party. According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, she had raised $23,001,088, more than all but four other Senate candidates across the country so far in 2020. Gideon will face incumbent U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R) in the general election. Collins is one of two incumbent Republican senators running for re-election in a state that Hillary Clinton (D) won during the 2016 presidential election. Clinton received 48% of the vote in Maine to Donald Trump’s (R) 45%.

U.S. Senate in Texas:  M.J. Hegar defeated Royce West in the Democratic primary runoff for U.S. Senate in Texas. Hegar received 52% of the vote to West’s 48%. Hegar’s endorsers included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and End Citizens United. She is a former U.S. Army search and rescue and medevac pilot. Hegar ran for the U.S. House in Texas’ 31st District in 2018, losing to incumbent John Carter (R) 51% to 48%. The Texas Working Families Party and several state House members endorsed West. West has served in the state House since 1992. Incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R) is running for re-election. Democrats last won a statewide election in Texas in 1994. In the most recent U.S. Senate election, incumbent Ted Cruz (R) defeated then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) 51% to 48%.

Texas’ 10th Congressional District: Mike Siegel defeated Pritesh Gandhi in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 10th Congressional District. Siegel received 54% of the vote to Gandhi’s 46%. The candidates split on healthcare and climate policy, with Siegel supporting a single-payer healthcare plan and the Green New Deal and Gandhi backing a plan he described as Medicare for All who want it and a carbon fee structure to reduce emissions. The Austin American-Statesman endorsed Gandhi, while the Austin Chronicle and Houston Chronicle endorsed Siegel.

Texas’ 24th Congressional District: Candace Valenzuela defeated Kim Olson in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 24th Congressional District. Valenzuela received 60% of the vote to Olson’s 40%. Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro (D), U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), several members of the U.S. House, and multiple congressional caucus PACs endorsed Valenzuela, who served on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school board. The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and multiple organizations supporting military veterans in politics endorsed Olson, a retired Air Force colonel. In 2018, retiring incumbent Kenny Marchant (R) won re-election by three percentage points.

Texas’ 31st Congressional District: Donna Imam defeated Christine Eady Mann in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 31st Congressional District. Imam received 57% of the vote to Eady Mann’s 43%. Imam, a computer engineer, received an endorsement from former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang (D), who said, “Imam is one of the most solutions-oriented candidates I’ve ever spoken to, which is no surprise as she’s an engineer and entrepreneur.” Imam will face incumbent Rep. John Carter (R) in the general election. Carter has represented the 31st District since its creation in 2003. He most recently won re-election in 2018 over M.J. Hegar (D), receiving 51 percent of the vote to Hegar’s 48 percent, the first time a Democratic candidate had won over 40 percent of the vote in the district.

U.S. Congress

Super PAC spends $900,000 supporting Markey in Mass.

The super PAC United for Massachusetts spent $900,000 on TV and digital ads saying Sen. Ed Markey was progressive on healthcare and the environment before crises developed in these areas. The Sunrise Movement and Environment America Action Fund formed the PAC. 

Markey faces U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy in the Sept. 1 primary. Kennedy has pledged to disavow satellite spending in the race and called on Markey to do the same. Markey says he wants to allow progressive voices to be heard.

Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer endorsed Markey on June 29, saying he’s “been leading the fight in Congress to tackle our climate crisis.”

Markey introduced a Green New Deal resolution into Congress with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2019. Kennedy says he supports the Green New Deal and that Markey hasn’t done enough to implement it.

Kennedy released an ad last week saying America has left people behind and, “If you think this is as good as we can possibly be, then great, vote for the status quo. But if you believe that we actually can do better, this has to be the moment where we finally reject the policies of the past and we build something better, something stronger for the future.”

Markey has been in the Senate since 2013. He served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2013. Kennedy has been in the U.S. House since 2013. 

Groups focused on Israel policy fundraise for Omar challenger Melton-Meaux

Antone Melton-Meaux, who is challenging Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District primary, raised $1.5 million in May. Some of his contributors cite policy differences between him and Omar on Israel as the reason for their support.

Melton-Meaux has received about $450,000 from Pro-Israel America and NORPAC. NORPAC says it supports candidates who “demonstrate a genuine commitment to the strength, security, and survival of Israel.” Pro-Israel America collected about $300,000 in individual donations for Melton-Meaux, and NORPAC collected about $150,000.

Omar has supported the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s approach of using economic pressure in an effort to change Israel’s policies regarding Palestine. Melton-Meaux opposes BDS. Both candidates say they support a two-state solution.

Omar has apologized for a 2012 tweet in which she said Israel “has hypnotized the world.” In 2019, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) said he would take action against Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for their statements on Israel and BDS. Democratic and Republican members of Congress criticized Omar for responding that McCarthy’s statement was “all about the Benjamins,” saying she was playing on anti-Semitic tropes. Omar said she was referring to lobbying money from groups supporting Israel and apologized for her comment. 

Through March 31, Omar reported raising $3.4 million to Melton-Meaux’s $484,000. John Mason had raised $108,000. Data was unavailable for the remaining two primary candidates.

Omar was first elected in 2018. She is part of a progressive group of representatives of color known as the Squad, including Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).

The primary is Aug. 11.

State executives

Vermont gubernatorial candidates differ on ethics regulations

Former Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe’s (D) proposed ethics rules have split two of her opponents in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Holcombe’s proposal, released July 9, calls for expanding the Vermont Ethics Commission’s powers as well as a five-year lobbying ban on former governors and administration officials and a two-year lobbying ban on former state legislators.

Attorney Pat Winburn said he backed Holcombe’s proposal and that lobbyists should have less influence in state politics. Holcombe’s other opponent, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, said her proposal went too far. 

Zuckerman said Vermont’s two-year gubernatorial terms already put the state at a disadvantage when attempting to hire top administration officials from the private sector and that a five-year lobbying ban was a step in the wrong direction. 

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters. Incumbent Phil Scott (R), who was first elected in 2016, is running for a third term this year. Two election forecasters say Scott is likely to win and a third says he is a solid bet to win.

Vermont Auditor, challenger clash over state audit release

Vermont Auditor Doug Hoffer and primary challenger Linda Sullivan released dueling statements following Hoffer’s release of an audit of Vermont’s healthcare system. 

Sullivan, a member of the state House, criticized the timing of the report’s release. Sullivan said the report had been deliberately timed to coincide with the start of early voting in the primary. She said Hoffer’s campaign had sent a message to supporters touting the audit the same day it was published. 

Sullivan also criticized the substance of the audit, saying it did little beyond state known risk factors and describe existing problems without offering any suggestions for improvement. Sullivan campaign manager Jim Salsgiver said the report was evidence that Hoffer did not have the technical knowledge necessary to oversee an office of auditors since he was not a licensed accountant or auditor.

Hoffer, who was first elected in 2012, said Sullivan’s criticisms were politically motivated and contained multiple factual errors. He said the report was intended to be a first step in a larger audit process and that it was appropriate for his campaign to promote it since it was directly related to the responsibilities of the office. He described Sullivan’s criticism as an attempt to gain voters’ attention ahead of the primary.

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters. The winner of the Democratic nomination will face Progressive nominee Cris Ericson in the general election. No Republican candidate filed for state auditor in Vermont this year.

Legislatures

*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Minn. state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party warns incumbent to stop implying he received the party’s endorsement

Minnesota Democratic-Famer-Labor Party (DFL) Chairman Ken Martin wrote a letter to state Sen. Erik Simonson (D-07) last week warning him over his campaign practices. The letter requested that Simonson stop implying the party has endorsed him in the Aug. 11 primary.

In a now-inactive Facebook ad, Simonson wrote, “As a Senate DFL assistant leader, public servant and fierce advocate of Duluth, it comes as no surprise that labor and local DFL organizations are standing by Senator Simonson.”

In his letter to Simonson, Martin wrote, “I … request that you cease and desist the manner in which you reference your affiliation with the ‘DFL.’” He added, “An unendorsed candidate like you wishing to identify himself as a member of the DFL Party must use words such as ‘member of’ or ‘affiliated with’ in conjunction with the party name.” 

On May 13, we reported that challenger Jen McEwen (D) received the party’s endorsement over Simonson at a virtual convention with 70 percent of the delegate vote to Simonson’s 29 percent. McEwen’s campaign manager, Bridget Holcomb, said, “While it must be difficult for Sen. Simonson to have lost the support of local Democrats, it’s important that we all play by the rules.”

Simonson said he addressed the issues on July 9: “I wasn’t trying to be sneaky, I get it … I am an assistant minority leader of the DFL caucus in the state Senate.”

Campaign finance reports show challenger outraising incumbent in Hawaii’s House District 13

Campaign spending reports covering the period from January 1 to June 30 showed Walter Ritte (D) outraising incumbent Rep. Lynn DeCoite (D-13) in Hawaii’s House District 13. 

According to The Maui News Colleen Uechi, reports from across the state showed that “incumbent candidates unsurprisingly led the field in total campaign funds,” but that “Ritte was one of the few challengers to stay financially competitive with his opponent.” During the first half of the year, Ritte raised $39,076.83, giving him $23,127.60 cash on hand. DeCoite raised $16,050, bringing her cash total to $29,872.95.

Ritte is a Native Hawaiian activist who helped form Hui Alaloa, a group focused on water and land access rights, in the 1970s. Since then, he has been involved in a number of movements on the island of Molokai. He received endorsements from Our Revolution Hawaii, the Sierra Club, and the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

DeCoite owns and operates L&R Farms Enterprises on Molokai. She was appointed to District 13 in 2015 following the resignation of Rep. Mele Carroll (D). She won election to a full term in 2016 and was re-elected in 2018. DeCoite received contributions from the campaigns of state Sens. J. Kalani English (D-07), Michelle Kidani (D-18), Donna Kim (D-14), and Gil Keith-Agaran (D-05).

The winner of the Aug. 11 primary will face Republican Robin Vanderpool and Aloha Aina Party candidate Theresa Kapaku in the general election.

Power players

“BOLD PAC is the fastest growing Democratic Political Action Committee dedicated to increasing the diversity of our leadership in the House and Senate. It champions progressive Democrats fighting for change.” – BOLD PAC website 

BOLD PAC was founded in 2001 as the fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The group says it supports “strong Hispanic candidates and candidates who embrace BOLD policies.” As of May 2020, the group said it was spending $2.75 million on 2020 congressional primaries. 

BOLD PAC Chairman Tony Cárdenas said, “BOLD PAC is proud to support Latino candidates to help hold the Democratic House majority and expand the Hispanic Caucus. Democrats made historic gains in 2018 and secured the majority in the House with the most diverse Congress in our nation’s history. With so much at stake, BOLD PAC is fully committed to building on the success of 2018 and helping elect a new wave of Latino leaders to Congress.”

Click the following links to view the group’s endorsed Hispanic candidates, endorsed candidates, and BOLD members



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 27 (July 15, 2020)

This week: Tuberville defeats Jeff Sessions in Alabama Senate runoff, PAC spends $3 million to oppose Kobach in Kansas Senate primary, and Washington gubernatorial candidates hold debate

On the news

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

On Roger Stone

“Bill Clinton pardoned his own brother for felony distribution of cocaine. And a key witness in the Whitewater scandal for which he and Hillary Clinton were under investigation. And three others convicted in independent counsel Ken Starr’s probe. And Marc Rich, in what was a straight up political payoff. And his CIA director. And his HUD secretary. And eight people convicted in an investigation of his Agriculture Department. …

“Clinton also commuted the sentences of convicted terrorists, some of whom hadn’t even asked for clemency. Shameless as he was, though, even he couldn’t bring himself to pardon Oscar Lopez Rivera, the defiantly unrepentant FALN leader.

“President Obama took care of that.

“Obama also commuted the sentence of a U.S. soldier who passed top-secret information to WikiLeaks. He pardoned his former Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman, who’d been convicted of making false statements about a leak of classified information to the New York Times. And when he couldn’t get Congress to amend federal drug laws the way he wanted them amended, Obama used the pardon power to slash hundreds of sentences, under an executive initiative later sharply criticized by the Obama-appointed DOJ inspector general. …

“So, as abuses of the pardon power go — and they do go — I can’t get too whipped up over President Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s 40-month sentence for non-violent criminal obstruction of a bogusly based and ridiculously over-prosecuted investigation.”

Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, July 11, 2020

 

“The fact that Obama and Clinton ‘got away with it’ does not make Trump’s commutation of the sentence of his longtime political dirty trickster, Roger Stone, less of an affront to the system. …

 

“There is no defensible excuse for eliminating Stone’s sentence. Stone tried to enable a hostile foreign power to influence an election, in ways illicit and bordering on illegal, and then illegally and unambiguously lied about it. For this, he should serve jail time.

 

“There is one way in which Trump’s commutation is worse than some of the outlandish commutations and pardons from Obama and Clinton. Those earlier clemencies included neither crimes directly connected to the sanctity of our elections nor ones involving illicit foreign activities related to elections

 

“The worst of those other presidents’ clemencies also came when they were on their way out the door, leaving office and thus unable to benefit electorally from them. Trump’s action, in the run-up to the next election, sends a signal that foreign shenanigans to benefit his candidacy are likely to go unpunished. …

 

“This is corruption. It is wrong each time any president engages in it. Trump’s commutation of Stone is particularly galling and is one more sign of his unfitness for the presidency.”

Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner, July 13, 2020 

Election results

U.S. Senate in Alabama: Tommy Tuberville defeated Jeff Sessions in the Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate in Alabama. Tuberville received 61% of the vote to Sessions’ 39%. President Donald Trump endorsed Tuberville, a former college football coach. Sessions held the Senate seat for 20 years before Trump appointed him as U.S. attorney general in 2017. Club for Growth PAC and FarmPAC—the political action committee of the Alabama Farmers Federation—were among Tuberville’s other endorsers. Sessions’ endorsers included the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, and several U.S. senators. Tuberville will face incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D) in November. Roll Call named Jones the most vulnerable incumbent senator up for re-election in 2020.

Alabama’s 1st Congressional District: Jerry Carl defeated Bill Hightower in the Republican primary for Alabama’s 1st Congressional District. Carl had 52% of the vote to Hightower’s 48%. Alabama Daily News‘ Todd Stacy described the race as “a battle between the activist and business wings of the Republican Party.” Carl received endorsements from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the outgoing incumbent Rep. Bradly Byrne (R). Hightower received endorsements from the National Right to Life and Club for Growth, which spent over $1 million in the race primarily opposing Carl.

Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District: Barry Moore defeated Jeff Coleman in the Republican primary runoff for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. Moore received 60% of the vote to Coleman’s 40%. Incumbent Martha Roby (R) did not seek re-election, leaving this safe Republican district open. Moore served in the state House from 2010 to 2018 and is a U.S. Army and Alabama National Guard and Reserves veteran. Club for Growth PAC, the House Freedom Fund, and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) were among his endorsers. Coleman is chairman of Coleman Worldwide Moving. His endorsers included Roby, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Business Council of Alabama.

Maine’s 2nd Congressional District: As of 10:45 a.m. Eastern Time on July 15, the Republican primary in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District remained too close to call. With 86% of precincts reporting, Dale Crafts led with 44.8% of the vote to Adrienne Bennett’s 32.4% and Eric Brakey’s 22.8%. The primary was carried out using ranked-choice voting, in which voters rank candidates from their first to their third choice. Should no candidate receive more than 50% of the vote in the final tally, the last-place candidate will be eliminated and their voters’ votes distributed to their second-choice candidate. The winner will face incumbent Jared Golden (D), who unseated Bruce Poliquin (R) in 2018.

Texas’ 13th Congressional District: Ronny Jackson defeated Josh Winegarner in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 13th Congressional District. Jackson received 56% of the vote to Winegarner’s 44%. President Donald Trump (R), U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) endorsed Jackson. Incumbent Rep. Mac Thornberry (R), who did not seek re-election, endorsed Winegarner, along with U.S. Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Lance Gooden (R-Texas), and Kenny Marchant (R-Texas). Thornberry, who was first elected in 1994, won his last election in 2018 by a margin of victory of 65 percentage points. 

Texas’ 17th Congressional District: Pete Sessions defeated Renee Swann in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 17th Congressional District. Sessions received 54% of the vote to Swann’s 47%. Sessions was a member of Congress from 1997 to 2019, representing Texas’ 32nd Congressional District (2003-2019) and Texas’ 5th Congressional District (1997-2003). He campaigned on his record and said he voted in support of Trump 98% of the time. Incumbent Rep. Bill Flores (R) endorsed Swann, citing her desire to work with President Trump and her stances on immigration and social issues. Swann’s campaign highlighted her experience in business and healthcare. Flores won re-election by 15 percentage points in 2018. 

Texas’ 22nd Congressional District election: Troy Nehls defeated Kathaleen Wall in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 22nd Congressional District. Nehls received 70% of the vote to Wall’s 30%. The Houston Chronicle, SEAL PAC, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Nehls. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), the National Association for Gun Rights, and the Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Wall. According to campaign finance reports, Wall spent $2 million to Nehls’ $98,000 between April 1 and June 24. Incumbent Pete Olson (R), who was first elected in 2008, did not seek re-election. Since 1979, Republicans have represented the district for all but two years, when Nick Lampson held the seat from 2007 to 2009. In 2018, Olson won re-election 51.4% to 46.5%. 

Texas’ 23rd Congressional District: Tony Gonzales and Raul Reyes Jr. ran in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. As of 8:30 a.m. Central Time on July 15, the race was too close to call with 100% of precincts reporting. Gonzales and Reyes each had 50.0% of the vote. A margin of seven votes—0.028% of the total votes cast—separated them. Incumbent Will Hurd (R), who was first elected in 2014, did not seek re-election. Both Gonzales and Reyes highlighted their military backgrounds. Gonzales served in the Navy, and Reyes served in the Air Force. President Donald Trump (R), U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and U.S. Reps. Hurd, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Steve Scalise (R-La.) endorsed Gonzales. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Young Conservatives of Texas, Texas Family Action, and Texas Right to Life endorsed Reyes. Hurd won his last election in 2018 49.2-48.7%.

U.S. Congress

PAC spends $3 million opposing Kobach in Senate primary in KS

Plains PAC announced $3 million in spending opposing Kris Kobach in the Senate primary in Kansas. The group released an ad criticizing Kobach’s 2018 gubernatorial election defeat and says he employed an aide with a history of making racist comments. Kobach’s campaign fired the aide, and Kobach denounced the comments. 

Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state from 2011 to 2019, defeated incumbent Jeff Colyer in the 2018 gubernatorial primary. He lost to Democrat Laura Kelly in the general election 43% to 48%.  

U.S. Chamber Action, affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spent $400,000 on an ad campaign supporting U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall in the primary. The group’s ad says Marshall, a veteran, fought for educational and economic opportunities for veterans. Marshall was first elected in 2016. 

As we recently covered, Club for Growth Action suspended its ad campaign opposing Marshall. The group had planned to spend $2.1 million in the primary.

Meanwhile, Marshall released an ad criticizing Bob Hamilton, saying he hired someone in the country illegally to work for his plumbing business and put families in danger. Hamilton’s campaign said the employee in question stole an identity and Hamilton did not know he was in the country illegally.

The primary is Aug. 4. Eleven candidates are on the ballot. Incumbent Pat Roberts (R), first elected in 1996, is not seeking re-election. Three election forecasters rate the general election Lean or Likely Republican.

Club for Growth spends $550,000 supporting Hill in TN-01

Club for Growth Action spent $550,000 on an ad campaign supporting Timothy Hill for Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District. The ad says Hill would support President Donald Trump (R) on term limits for members of Congress and defend law enforcement against defunding efforts. 

Hill has served in the Tennessee House of Representatives since 2012.

Sixteen candidates are running in the Aug. 6 Republican primary. Incumbent Phil Roe (R), first elected in 2008, isn’t seeking re-election. This is a safe Republican district.

Center for Responsive Politics data as of July 14 showed Club for Growth Action had spent to support or oppose 49 candidates in the 2020 election cycle. The group’s expenditures supporting Hill were their eighth-highest on any candidate and their fourth-highest in support of a candidate.

After the Club for Growth endorsed him, Hill said, “The question is not ultimately whether the First Congressional District will be Republican. … It’s will we be conservative, and that’s where those endorsements, that’s where those groups are coming in and saying, ‘hey, we think we can make a difference, Timothy has demonstrated that he’s conservative.'”   

A Spry Strategies poll showed pharmacist Diana Harshbarger leading the primary field with 22% support among likely voters. Rusty Crowe, a state senator, was second with 14%, and Hill was third with 11%. Twenty-one percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The poll included nine of the 16 candidates by name and had a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points.

State executives

Seven Republican candidates for governor of Washington discuss homelessness, pandemic response, in debate

The Clark County Republican Women hosted a debate attended by seven Republican candidates for governor of Washington on July 9. The candidates discussed Washington’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as their proposals to address homelessness.

Fundraising leader Loren Culp, the chief of police for the town of Republic, criticized incumbent Jay Inslee (D) for ordering businesses to close and residents to remain in their homes during the pandemic. Culp said Inslee’s order was unconstitutional and that he should have focused on making sure the public was aware of the risks associated with the pandemic instead. Culp said he would offer homeless individuals accused of substance abuse a choice between treatment or prison.

Tim Eyman, an activist and the sponsor of 17 measures that have appeared on Washington’s statewide ballot in the past 22 years, said the issues of homelessness and the coronavirus pandemic were related. Eyman said while homelessness was a problem before the pandemic began, Inslee’s orders shutting down businesses and government services had made the situation worse.

State Sen. Phil Fortunato, the only current elected officeholder among the Republican gubernatorial candidates, said Inslee’s response to the coronavirus had frozen most sectors of the state’s economy. Fortunato said Washington did not have a clear and consistent standard for determining which businesses were essential. He said Washington’s homeless population had grown because cases where homeless individuals were accused of committing a crime were not being prosecuted.

Businessman Joshua Freed, the former Mayor of Bothell, said he had successfully sued the Inslee administration over regulations prohibiting religious gatherings during the pandemic. Freed proposed the state launch a public/private partnership to give homeless addicts the option of undergoing a one-year treatment program or going to jail.

Raul Garcia, a physician, said he was concerned by what he described as a need to control the people on behalf of the state government during the pandemic. Garcia compared the feeling to growing up in his native Cuba under Fidel Castro. He said the best option for reducing Washington’s homeless population would be to create a program offering the homeless addiction treatment and job training.

Businessman Anton Sakharov said Washington should have been better prepared for the coronavirus pandemic. He said all businesses should have been allowed to remain open. Sakharov said he would seek to reduce Washington’s homeless population by 90% within three years of taking office and proposed a partnership between state, city, and county governments to meet that goal.

Businessman Martin Wheeler criticized the economic shutdown Gov. Inslee ordered, saying it had had a particularly strong effect on rural areas. Wheeler said expanding law enforcement’s power to combat drug trafficking while expanding training for mental health professionals would be the most effective way to reduce rates of homelessness.

The seven are among the 36 gubernatorial candidates who will appear on the Aug. 4 top-two primary ballot. The top two finishers, regardless of partisan affiliation, will advance to the November general election. Sakharov will appear on the ballot as a member of the Trump Republican Party while the other six are running as members of the Republican Party. In all, there are 11 Republican Party candidates, three Trump Republican Party candidates, and one Pre-2016 Republican Party candidate among the 36.

Erin Stewart launches PAC to change the direction of the Connecticut GOP, sparking questions about a 2022 gubernatorial run

Fourth-term New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart (R) announced on July 7 she would launch a political action committee supporting what she described as moderate Republican candidates in this year’s state elections. Stewart’s said the PAC is part of an effort to change the ideological direction of the state GOP. It has fuelled speculation among political observers that she is planning a run for governor in 2022.

Stewart’s new effort is a relaunch of STEWPAC, the political action committee supporting her mayoral campaigns. Stewart said the new STEWPAC’s mission would be to promote Republican state legislative candidates who share her policy priorities. In an interview with the Hartford Courant, Stewart said the GOP should emphasize its stances on the role of government and fiscal policy: “We have to elevate our voices even louder to say ‘Here’s why you should vote for Republican ideology — less government, pro-business, not necessarily the things spewing from President Trump.”

Stewart has served as mayor of New Britain, Connecticut’s eighth-largest city, since 2013. She won the 2019 mayoral election 61% to 37%. In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton (D) defeated Donald Trump in New Britain 69%-27%. Stewart says her brand of politics is the key to the Connecticut GOP’s future success: “I know if the Republican Party wants to survive in this state, they need to change the narrative — they need to start listening to people like me.”

Some political observers have suggested Stewart’s move could foreshadow a run for governor in 2022. Stewart ran for governor briefly in 2018 before switching to the lieutenant gubernatorial primary, where she lost to state Sen. Joe Markley (R) 48% to 33%.

 

Legislatures

*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Satellite spending opposing incumbent senator in Missouri’s Senate District 23

The Republican primary in Missouri’s Senate District 23 has seen an influx of satellite spending from the Missouri-based political committee Voters for Good Government with mailers opposing incumbent Sen. Bill Eigel (R-23) and supporting one of his primary opponents, attorney Eric Wulff (R). A third candidate, Dan O’Connell (R), is also running in the primary. Earlier this month, the group received a $390,000 donation from the national political committee Americans for Limited Government, a portion of which has been spent in District 23.

Typical of the mailers are images of Eigel with text saying the incumbent supports “de-funding law enforcement … funding Planned Parenthood … [and] raising taxes.”

Eigel is a co-founder of the legislature’s six-member Conservative Caucus, which, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jack Suntrup, “routinely needles GOP leadership and others, pushing an agenda that supports charter schools and opposes income taxes and corporate incentives.” He received endorsements from Gov. Mike Parsons (R), the Missouri Right to Life, and the National Rifle Association.

In response to the mailers, Eigel asked, “Why would Eric Wulff be funded by $390,000 in secret money to lie about me?” He added, “They’re mad that I work for the people, not the establishment.”

William Hardin, treasurer of Voters for Good Government, said, “The word was out there that I wanted to do something in that race and a contribution came.” He said the decision was not based on Eigel’s Conservative Caucus membership, adding that he made a $2,500 contribution to one of the caucus’ members, Sen. Eric Burlison (R-20). Hardin added that the entire $390,000 donation will not be spent in District 23.

Wulff is an attorney and a municipal judge in St. Charles. He previously served on the Orchard Farm School Board. Regarding the mailers, Wulf said Voters for Good Government seemed “very sympathetic to me … They like me a whole lot more than Bill Eigel.” Wulff supports increased funding for public schools and incentives for a local GM plant, positions he described as counter to Eigel’s.

Fiona McFarland receives endorsement from Sarasota County Commissioner in Florida’s House District 72 primary

On July 10, Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines (R) endorsed Fiona McFarland (R) in Florida’s House District 72. McFarland faces Donna Barcomb and Jason Miller in the three-way Republican primary. The incumbent, Rep. Margaret Good (D-72), is not seeking re-election.

McFarland is a U.S. Navy reservist and consultant with McKinsey and Company. In his endorsement of her campaign, Hines said, “[McFarland’s] military service to our country combined with her fresh outlook and energy … are characteristics we need right now in government.”

Barcomb is a member of the Sarasota County Charter Review Board, a countywide elected position, and the owner of an outpatient physical therapy clinic. She previously served on the Sarasota Hospital Board. Barcomb received an endorsement from County Commissioner and former state Sen. Nancy Detert (R).

Miller is a U.S. Army reservist and an assistant attorney general with the criminal appeals division of the Florida Attorney General’s office. He previously served as assistant state attorney in the area. Miller received endorsements from fellow assistant attorneys general, Jeffrey Seigal and Clifford Chapman.

As of June 26, McFarland led the field with $175,199 cash on hand followed by Barcomb with $70,952 and Miller with $2,941.

According to Florida Politics’ Jacob Ogles, “District 72 is among a handful of House seats where voters in 2016 favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton but are held by Democrats.” The winner of the primary will face attorney Drake Buckman (D) in the general election.

Joseph Orgeron wins special election for Louisiana House District 54 outright

On July 11, voters in Louisiana’s House District 54 cast their ballots in a special primary to fill the remainder of the late Rep. Reggie Bagala’s (R) term. Joseph Orgeron (R) won the election outright after receiving 55 percent of the vote in the six-way primary, more than the 50 percent needed to avoid a later general election. 

Orgeron received endorsements from the Republican parties in Jefferson and Lafourche Parish, both of which make up a bulk of District 54. The special election was open to members of any party, but only Republican challengers filed.

Power players

“Concerned Women for America is the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization with a rich 40-year history of helping our members across the country bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.” – Concerned Women for America

Founded in 1979, Concerned Women for America says its mission is to “protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens – first through prayer, then education, and finally by influencing our society – thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation.” The group defines its core issues as follows: sanctity of life, defense of family, education, religious liberty, national sovereignty, sexual exploitation, and support for Israel. To view a list of the organization’s concerns and goals related to these issues, click here.

The Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) endorsed the following candidates in 2020, whom it says meet “qualifications required for leadership with regards to CWALAC’s seven core issues:” 

U.S. Senate: Cynthia Lummis (Wyoming) and Daniel Gade (Virginia)

U.S. House: Kathaleen Wall (TX-22), Beth Parlato (NY-27), Amy Phan West (CA-47), Darrell Issa (CA-50), and Tina Ramirez (VA-07).



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 26 (July 8, 2020)

This week: Van Drew wins Republican primary in NJ-2, Trump and Cruz back separate candidates in TX-23 runoff, and TN Gov. Lee endorses in a state Senate primary. 

Election results

This section includes election results for each July 7 battleground Republican primary we followed, as well as the results from those June 23 battleground primaries in New York and June 30 battleground primaries in Utah that were too close to call at the time we published last week’s edition.
July 7

New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District: Incumbent Jeff Van Drew defeated challenger Bob Patterson to win the Republican nomination in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. As of 9:15 a.m. Eastern Time on July 8, Van Drew had received 81% of the vote to Patterson’s 18% with 54% of precincts reporting. Van Drew was first elected to the seat as a Democrat in 2018 and joined the Republican Party in December 2019. Van Drew will face Amy Kennedy, the winner of the Democratic primary, in the general election. Two forecasters say the race leans towards Van Drew and a third says it tilts towards him.

New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District: David Richter defeated Kate Gibbs to win the Republican nomination in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on July 8, Richter had received 67% of the vote to Gibbs’ 33% with 53% of precincts reporting. Richter will face incumbent Andy Kim (D), who was first elected in 2018, in the general election. Two forecasters say the race leans towards Kim and a third says it is a toss-up.

June 30

Utah’s 1st Congressional District: Blake Moore defeated Bob Stevenson, Kerry Gibson, and Katie Witt to win the Republican nomination to succeed Rob Bishop (R) in Utah’s 1st Congressional District. Moore received 31% of the vote to Stevenson’s 29%, Gibson’s 24%, and Witt’s 17%. Election forecasters say Moore is a solid favorite to win the general election.

Governor of Utah: Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox defeated former Gov. Jon Huntsman, former state House Speaker Greg Hughes, and former state GOP Chairman Thomas Wright to win the Republican nomination for governor of Utah. As of 7:45 a.m. Mountain Time on July 8, Cox had 36% of the vote to Huntsman’s 35%, Hughes’ 21%, and Wright’s 8%. Cox and his running mate, state Sen. Deidre Henderson, will advance to the general election, where election forecasters say they have a solid chance to win.

Utah Attorney General: Incumbent Sean Reyes defeated Utah County Attorney David Leavitt to win the Republican nomination for a second full term as state attorney general. As of 7:45 a.m. Mountain Time on July 8, Reyes had received 54% of the vote to Leavitt’s 46%. Reyes said he was running to continue his record of success since taking office in 2013, while Leavitt said he would change Utah’s approach towards criminal justice. 

June 23

New York’s 2nd Congressional District: Andrew Garbarino defeated Mike LiPetri to win the Republican nomination for a chance to succeed Peter King (R) in New York’s 2nd Congressional District. The Associated Press called the race for Garbarino on July 3. At the time, Garbarino led LiPetri 61% to 38%. Garbarino will face Jackie Gordon (D) in the November general election. Election forecasters say the race leans towards Garbarino. 

On the news

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

On President Donald Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore

“President Donald Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore may be the most important and historic speech of his career. If he continues to echo and reinforce the message of this profound speech, he will become as essential to the preservation of freedom in America for the 21st century as President Abraham Lincoln was in the 19th century and President Ronald Reagan was in the 20th century.

 

“Not since Reagan has a president laid out the core values that make America free – and stood defiantly in defense of those values despite the ridicule and hostility of the elites, news media, academics and his political opponents. … 

 

“We are fortunate that President Trump has the courage to say and do what he believes without regard to his critics. It’s exactly what American needs.”

Newt Gingrich, Fox News, July 6, 2020

“Yes, Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech lauded American greatness. For some, that immunizes it against criticism. But at a moment of heightened racial tensions, when millions of his fellow citizens feel embattled and betrayed, it’s morally obtuse to fail to devote any words of comfort and inclusion toward them. It is not enough to name-check Louis Armstrong or Jesse Owens. A president should acknowledge that we have not yet lived up to the ‘true meaning of [our] creed,’ and vow to do better.  It is especially important to do so on the Fourth of July. …  

 

“Leadership of a large, diverse nation requires certain grace notes that every president in living memory has found it in his heart to pronounce on important occasions.

 

“This president has chosen, and continues to choose, division and vitriol.”

Mona Charen, The Bulwark, July 6, 2020

U.S. Congress

Trump endorses Gonzales, Cruz endorses Reyes in TX-23 runoff

Last week, President Donald Trump endorsed Tony Gonzales in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District primary runoff, while Sen. Ted Cruz endorsed Raul Reyes Jr. 

Trump said of Gonzales, “A Navy veteran, he is Strong on the Economy, Life and the Second Amendment.” Cruz’s leadership PAC released an ad in which Cruz said, “We need to send conservative warriors to defeat Nancy Pelosi’s agenda and show some of our Republicans what a backbone is.”

Gonzales’ other endorsers include Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). William Hurd (R), the 23rd District’s retiring incumbent, also endorsed Gonzales. Reyes’ other endorsers include the Young Conservatives of Texas, Gun Owners of America, and Texas Right to Life.

Hurd won his last election in 2018 with 49.2% of the vote to Gina Ortiz Jones’ (D) 48.7%. Three election forecasters rate the 2020 general election as Lean Democratic.

The primary runoff is July 14.

Rubio endorses Eagle in FL-19

Sen. Marco Rubio endorsed Dane Eagle in Florida’s 19th Congressional District primary. Nine candidates are running for a chance to succeed retiring incumbent Francis Rooney (R) in this safe Republican district.

Rubio said, “As Republican Majority Leader of the Florida House of Representatives, Dane has proven time and time again his commitment to our conservative values, and his principles and track record of results make him the most qualified person in this race.”

Other elected officials in the race are state Rep. Byron Donalds (whom the Club for Growth PAC endorsed) and Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson. Dan Severson served in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

The other five primary candidates submitted responses to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. To read their responses, click on candidates’ names below. 

If you’d like to learn more about the survey, or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here.

As of March 31, Askar led in fundraising with $3.5 million, including a $3 million personal loan to his campaign. Next was Figlesthaler with $1.3 million, including $1.1 million he loaned his campaign. Eagle raised $552,495 from contributions and was third in fundraising.

The primary is Aug. 18.

State executives

In Vermont lieutenant gubernatorial race, Milne leads in spring fundraising while Hansen retains overall advantage

Scott Milne was the top fundraiser in the five-candidate Republican field for lieutenant governor of Vermont this spring. But according to reports filed July 1 with the Vermont Secretary of State, Meg Hansen has raised the most money overall.

Milne reported raising $5,300 since launching his campaign May 28. He was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2016 and for governor in 2014.

Hansen reported raising $3,800 since the March 15 reporting cycle, bringing her overall fundraising to date to just under $26,000. She is an entrepreneur and health policy writer.

Dana Colson reported raising $1,300, bringing his overall fundraising to $1,500. He owns a welding supply business. 

Two other candidates did not file campaign finance reports.

Vermont is one of 17 states where the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately and one of three where the offices are currently held by different parties. Incumbent David Zuckerman (D) is running to challenge Gov. Phil Scott (R) rather than seeking re-election as lieutenant governor, leaving the office open.

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters. Since 2000, Republicans have won seven lieutenant gubernatorial elections to Democrats’ three.

Race recap: Montana Secretary of State

In this series, we look back at recent state executive primaries to see what they can tell us about the November elections.

Montana’s current Secretary of State, Corey Stapleton (R), ran for U.S. House this year rather than seeking re-election, leaving the office open. The secretary of state is responsible for keeping Montana’s state seal, serving as Montana’s chief elections officer, and sitting on the Montana Board of Land Commissioners, which administers school trust funds.

Deputy Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen defeated five other candidates in the Republican primary on June 2 to win the nomination to succeed Stapleton. She received 29% of the vote, followed by Scott Sales with 25%, Brad Johnson with 23%, and Forrest Mandeville with 10%. Each of the candidates said they had the most experience with the job.

Jacobsen said she had the most firsthand experience with the secretary of state’s responsibilities and that she had Stapleton’s endorsement. 

Sales, the president of the Montana state Senate and a former state House speaker, said he had the most private sector and agricultural experience of any candidate. 

Johnson, a former Secretary of State who currently chairs the Montana Public Service Commission, said he was the candidate with the most experience in election security.

Mandeville, a member of the state House, said he would encourage natural resource development and bring a new generation of leadership to Montana.

Jacobsen will face state Sen. Bryce Bennett (D), who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, in the general election. Elections for Montana secretary of state tend to be competitive; Democrats and Republicans have each won five of the past 10 elections.

Election forecasters project that Montana’s statewide races will be competitive this year. Two ratings agencies say the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Steve Daines (R) and Gov. Steve Bullock (D) leans towards Republicans, while a third calls it a toss-up. All three forecasters say the gubernatorial race is a toss-up.

As of the June campaign finance reports, Bennett had outraised Jacobsen, with $200,000 in overall fundraising and $140,000 in cash on hand to Jacobsen’s $160,000 in fundraising and $20,000 cash on hand.

Legislatures

*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 40 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

TN Gov. Bill Lee endorses first-term incumbent facing primary challenge in Senate District 22

On July 2, state Sen. Bill Powers (R-22) announced an endorsement from Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tenn.) in the Senate District 22 primary. Powers, first elected in 2018, faces Doug Englen (R) in the primary.

Powers is a managing partner at Wyatt Johnson Automotive Group. He represented Ward 11 on the Clarksville City Council from 2015 to 2019. Gov. Lee recently appointed Powers to serve on the Tennessee Economic Recovery Group. On his campaign website, Powers lists job growth, career readiness, and veterans’ issues as three priorities.

Englen is a retired senior warrant officer with the U.S. Army. Discussing his decision to challenge Powers, Englen said, “I need something to problem-solve. If there is a mission that doesn’t have a clear objective then that is perfect.” The Tennessee Star’s Chris Butler wrote that Englen said he “would make Tennessee’s gun laws more clear … [and also] protect the unborn and work hard on veterans’ affairs.”

The winner of the primary will face Ronnie Glynn (D). In 2018, Powers defeated Juanita Charles (D) in the general election, receiving 54 percent of the vote to Charles’ 44 percent.

FL House Speaker accused of funding opposition ads against possible future speaker

Some Florida Republicans have accused state House Speaker Jose Oliva (R) of funding opposition ads against Rep. Daniel Perez (R). Perez represents Florida’s 116th District and faces a primary challenge from Gabriel Garcia. 

Perez won a leadership race to become House Republican leader in 2024, meaning he is in line to be the future House speaker if Republicans hold a majority in the chamber that year. The Miami Herald‘s David Smiley and Bianca Padro Ocasio wrote, “The [primary] challenge is unusual: it’s been eight years since a Republican in line to become Florida House speaker was forced to run a primary campaign.”

Politico‘s Matt Dixon wrote

In the past week, Perez was hit with online and direct-mail ads from Citizens for Ethical & Effective Leadership, a committee chaired by Zavier Garcia. Garcia is a vice president for David R. Custin Associates, a firm run by David Custin, an Oliva adviser. …

The Citizens committee has received $400,000 over the past two months from Conservative Principles for Florida, which is run by Oliva. Expenditure reports show that some of that money was spent on the Miami-Dade mayor’s race, but line items for other expenses are generic and don’t identify a specific race. Custin’s firm managed the spending.

Dixon further reported Oliva’s statement about the $400,000:

Oliva did not address questions about whether he was trying to knock Perez out of the race. He said he sent the money to Custin’s committee to oppose Alex Penelas, a Democratic candidate for Miami-Dade County mayor.

“If you follow the dollars, I put in to Custin’s [political committee] you will see them deployed in an effort to educate the voters of Miami-Dade about Alex Penelas,” Oliva said in a text message.

Citizens for Ethical & Effective Leadership sent out mailers and ran digital ads criticizing Perez. One mailer called him a “disgrace to Republicans and our exile community” for taking engagement photos in Cuba. Perez said he and his then-fiancee were in Cuba to visit her uncle and that he opposes the Cuban government. 

Perez was first elected to represent the 116th in a special election in 2017. He was re-elected in 2018. Garcia is a retired Army captain who opened a construction business. The primary is Aug. 18.

Power players

“With our rapidly expanding membership of 4.5 million grassroots activists, the National Association for Gun Rights has led the charge to halt the radical anti-gun agenda across the nation. Accepting NO COMPROMISE on the issue of gun control, NAGR works tirelessly to hold politicians accountable for their anti-gun views, and has made great strides in protecting and preserving the Second Amendment.” – National Association for Gun Rights website

Founded in 2005, the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) is a 501(c)(4) organization that says its mission is “[e]mpowering Americans to stand for freedom and defend their inalienable right to keep and bear arms.” NAGR describes itself as the “nation’s largest no-compromise defenders of the Second Amendment” and says it “works to defeat the radical anti-gun agenda through grassroots activism.”

NAGR lists its two key issues as opposing ‘red flag’ gun confiscation bills, which it describes as bills that “call for legally owned firearms to be forcibly confiscated from law-abiding Americans without due process, based on unsubstantiated accusations …” and supporting constitutional carry, which it defines as “the basic principle that if you are legally eligible to purchase a firearm, you should be able to carry that weapon, concealed, for self-defense without government ‘permission.’”

NAGR is affiliated with the political action committee NAGR-PAC, which endorses candidates for political office and recently endorsed Tommy Tuberville in the Alabama Senate primary runoff, and the super PAC Gun Rights America, which aired its first ad in June attacking Todd McMurtry and supporting Thomas Massie in Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 26 (July 8, 2020)

This week: Kennedy wins NJ-2 primary, Texas Working Families Party endorses West in Senate runoff, and Tlaib and Jones completed Ballotpedia’s candidate survey.

Click here to follow developments on the Republican side. Have a tip or see something we missed? Email us at geoff@ballotpedia.org. And please share this newsletter with your colleagues!

Election results

This section includes election results for each July 7 battleground Democratic primary we followed, as well as the results from those June 23 battleground primaries in New York that were too close to call at the time we published last week’s edition.

July 7

New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District: Amy Kennedy defeated Brigid Callahan Harrison and three other candidates to win the Democratic nomination in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on July 8, Kennedy had received 59% of the vote to Harrison’s 26%. Local political observers described the race as part of a larger battle among state Democrats. Harrison’s supporters included Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and six of the district’s eight county Democratic parties. Kennedy had support from Gov. Phil Murphy and the Atlantic County Democratic Party, which is the district’s largest. Kennedy will face incumbent Jeff Van Drew (R), who was elected as a Democrat in 2018 and joined the GOP the following year.

June 23

New York’s 9th Congressional District: Incumbent Yvette Clarke defeated Adem Bunkeddeko and three other challengers to win the Democratic nomination in New York’s 9th Congressional District. The Associated Press called the race for Clarke on July 1 based on an analysis of absentee ballots that concluded there were not enough votes remaining for Bunkeddeko to win. At the time the race was called, Clarke led Bunkeddeko 62% to 18%. Election forecasters say Clarke, who was first elected in 2006, is a solid bet to win re-election.

New York’s 10th Congressional District: Incumbent Jerry Nadler defeated Lindsey Boylan and Jonathan Herzog to win the Democratic nomination for New York’s 10th Congressional District. The Associated Press called the race for Nadler on July 1 based on an analysis of absentee ballots that concluded there were not enough votes remaining for Boylan to win. At the time the race was called, Nadler led with 62% of the vote to Boylan’s 25% and Herzog’s 12%. Election forecasters call this a safe Democratic district.

On the news

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

On Hamilton and Black Lives Matter

“One way we compliment art is by calling it either timely or timeless, praising it for capturing a moment in a way conventional political language can’t, or for lifting us out of our surroundings entirely. But there is a third category: work that is timely over and over again without ever seeming generic or insubstantial.

 

“‘Hamilton,’ the musical biography of both Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and the country he helped invent, is such a work. And as Disney Plus starts streaming a filmed version of the ‘Hamilton’ stage show, the source of the work’s power is clear. ‘Hamilton’ is a show for every moment because it’s about the uneven progress of personal and social change. You can watch ‘Hamilton’ in exultation and in despair, or — now that a pandemic has put much of daily life on hold even as a movement against racism promises sweeping change — both. …

 

“… however urgent the demands of the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the nation and the world, that vision won’t be recognized overnight. Change is going to come. And ‘Hamilton’ will endure because it can teach us how to alternately seize the moment and savor it.”

Alyssa Rosenberg, The Washington Post, July 3, 2020

“… to reassess ‘Hamilton’ now is to note a crucial incompatibility with our current moment: Its hero and its message are essentially ambivalent while today’s politics around America’s racial sins requires taking a strong stance. … 

 

“While the play ‘Hamilton’ has certainly acted as a positive vehicle for the exposure and success of people of color on Broadway, their subversive casting as white founders effectively erases the 14% of late 18th-century Black residents who were mostly enslaved in New York and for whom such vaunted positions were unimaginable.

 

“One could argue that ‘Hamilton’ does not seek to fundamentally alter society with its feel-good version of the Revolution, especially since the values and triumphs it celebrates are drawn entirely from founding fathers who mainly did not consider people of color to be human.”

Ed Morales, CNN Opinion, July 7, 2020

U.S. Congress

Texas Working Families Party endorses West in Senate runoff 

The Texas Working Families Party endorsed Royce West in the U.S. Senate primary runoff. West has served in the state Senate since 1992. Responding to the endorsement, West said, “Together, we can raise the minimum wage to $15/hr and enact more reforms to help working families.” 

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D) also endorsed West last week. Both Castro and the Texas Working Families Party had endorsed Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez ahead of the primary. Ramirez finished third and endorsed West in the runoff.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed his opponent, MJ Hegar, ahead of the March 3 primary. She is a former U.S. Army search and rescue and medevac pilot. Hegar ran for Texas’ 31st Congressional District in 2018, losing to incumbent Rep. John Carter (R) 51% to 48%. Hegar says she supports raising the minimum wage.

Meanwhile, incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R) released a radio ad in which a narrator says, “Royce West is far too liberal for Texas, and no one has a clue what MJ Hegar even stands for. Nice choice.”

The July 14 runoff winner will face Cornyn in November. Three election forecasters rate the general election Likely Republican.

Rashida Tlaib, Brenda Jones completed Ballotpedia’s candidate survey

Rep. Rashida Tlaib and primary challenger Brenda Jones, president of the Detroit City Council, completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey questions are designed to elicit insightful and thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. 

Tlaib and Jones are running in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District Democratic primary on Aug. 4. In August 2018, Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary election 31.2% to 30.2%, while Jones defeated Tlaib in a special primary the same day 37.7% to 35.9%. Jones completed the term to which John Conyers Jr. had been elected in 2016. Tlaib assumed office in January 2019.

Select survey responses are below, with questions in bold. 

What do you perceive to be the United States’ greatest challenges as a nation over the next decade?

Tlaib:

The fact that we haven’t truly addressed the economic inequity in our country. It has led to so many broken systems and injustices, many of which are rooted in structural racism. 

We must make the decision as a country that we will center the most vulnerable and marginalized. We continue to center wealthy individuals, corporations, and profit. We have so many crises happening across the country because of misplaced priorities.

Jones:

Post COVID-19, the greatest challenge for our nation will be the balance of equity, opportunity and resources for people of color and those from impoverished neighborhoods. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed significant disparities in access to health care, funding for hospitals in minority and impoverished neighborhoods, small business resources, educational resources in minority and impoverished communities and fair employment policies for essential workers such as vacation, sick time and a high quality living wage. Elected officials must work collaboratively over the next decade to address disparities and inequality to ensure everyone across America has access to a quality standard of living.

Tlaib and Jones each also answered featured local questions from The Detroit News, including: How would you foster a more bipartisan, cooperative atmosphere in Congress?

Tlaib:

I would ask members to walk into a room, not as a Republican or Democrat, but as a son, mom, daughter or whatever family role they play. I would ask that they function from that place so that their decisions would remain focused on the people they love, and on real change for the better. The system now is so tainted with special interest groups and others who aren’t thinking about our residents, but how they can make more money.

Jones:

My ability to work across the aisle to create coalitions, develop partnerships and work collaboratively to reach a common goal. I will remain professional, listen to the position of everyone and remain dedicated to developing policies, passing legislation and bringing resources to those in the 13th District, the State and the United States.

Read Tlaib’s full responses here. Read Jones’ full responses here.

To find out more about Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, or if you are a candidate who would like to complete a survey, click here.

State executives

In Vermont gubernatorial race, Zuckerman leads in spring fundraising, Holcombe leads overall

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman (D) was the top fundraiser in Vermont Democrats’ gubernatorial primary this spring. But according to reports filed July 1 with the Vermont Secretary of State, Rebecca Holcombe (D) has raised the most money overall.

Zuckerman reported raising $130,000 since the March 15 campaign finance reports, bringing his overall fundraising to $290,000. He is in his second term as lieutenant governor after serving 20 years in the state legislature.

Holcombe reported raising $100,000 since March, bringing her cumulative total to $480,000. She served four years as Vermont’s secretary of education.

Attorney Pat Winburn raised $88,000, bringing his cumulative total to $195,000.

A fourth candidate, Ralph Corbo, had not filed a July campaign finance report as of July 7.

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters. Since 2000, Republicans have won six Vermont gubernatorial elections to Democrats’ four.

Terry McAuliffe raises $1.7 million, fueling speculation over potential 2021 gubernatorial run

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) reported raising $1.7 million for his leadership PAC for what local political observers suggest could be a run to return to the governor’s mansion in 2021. McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, was elected governor in 2013.

Virginia is the only state where governors may not serve consecutive terms. Although former governors are eligible to seek re-election after a single term out of office, the only governor to do so successfully in the past century was Mills Godwin, who was elected in 1965 as a Democrat and in 1973 as a Republican.

Should he choose to run again, McAuliffe’s $1.7 million would put him at the head of the Democratic field in fundraising. State Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D) has raised $780,000 to date, while state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D) has raised $275,000.

Other potential Democratic candidates include Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring.

Virginia is currently a Democratic trifecta, where a Democrat is governor and Democrats hold majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. Except for the 2013 election, every Virginia gubernatorial race since 1973 has been won by the party that lost the previous year’s presidential election.

Legislatures

*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 40 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Incumbent criticizes Planned Parenthood’s use of Spanish word for dirty in oppositional materials in Texas’ Senate District 27 runoff 

Planned Parenthood Texas has created a website and other materials opposing Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-27) in the July 14 primary runoff. The group has used a Spanish word for dirty—sucio—to describe the senator. The group’s PAC funds the website suciolucio.org. One ad said, “For 30 years, Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. has done the dirty work of extremist politicians like Dan Patrick and Greg Abbott.” The ad mentions Lucio’s positions on a bathroom bill and on abortion. 

Lucio, who was first elected in 1990, is running against Sara Stapleton-Barrera (D).

On July 2, Lucio issued a press release criticizing Planned Parenthood Texas for using the term “Sucio Lucio” in direct mail the group sent opposing him. 

Lucio’s son, Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-38) said, “These big special-interests groups from outside our border community should comprehend the deeper connotations behind the word ‘sucio’ (‘dirty Mexican’) and the association with a person of Hispanic descent.”

The Dallas Morning News’ Allie Morris wrote, “A devout Catholic, [Sen. Lucio] is often the lone Democrat to side with ruling Republicans on contentious social issues, including abortion.”

Lucio’s challenger, constitutional lawyer Stapleton-Barrera, said she “has seen firsthand how the system is rigged against working families, women, immigrants, our LGBT community, and all other minorities,” adding, “I’m running for office because I believe South Texas deserves a senator who truly represents our people.”

During the March 3 primary, Lucio received 49.8% of the vote to Stapleton-Barrera’s 35.6%. In Texas, a candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary to avoid a runoff.

South Florida Sun Sentinel endorses former legislator in Florida’s House District 81 

On July 2, the South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board endorsed former legislator Kelly Skidmore (D) over first-time candidate and criminal defense attorney Michael Weinstein (D). 

The board wrote, “Democrats in Florida House District 81 are lucky. They get to choose between two very good candidates in the Aug. 18 primary.” The board said Skidmore has “an admirable understanding of how politics works in Tallahassee.” Skidmore previously represented House District 90 from 2006 to 2010. Before that, she was a legislative aid for Ron Klein, a former state senator and representative, from 1996 to 2005. 

Weinstein operates a private practice as a criminal defense attorney. He was the assistant state attorney in Broward County from 1998 to 2002. Weinstein says he is “a proven litigator and negotiator who will bring effective representation that works for our community.”

Incumbent Rep. Tina Polsky (D-81) is not seeking re-election, leaving the seat open. The winner of the primary will face either Saulis Banionis (R) or Silmo Moura (R), the two candidates running for the Republican nomination. The last Republican to run for the 81st District was James Ryan O’Hara in 2012. Kevin Rader (D) defeated O’Hara 64-36%. 

Power players

“Everytown is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Gun violence touches every town in America. For too long, change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take common-sense steps that will save lives.” – Everytown for Gun Safety website

Founded in 2012, Everytown for Gun Safety is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that describes itself as “a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities.”

The group’s website lists the following issues:

  1. BACKGROUND CHECKS: “We want to close the loopholes that allow criminals and other dangerous people to buy guns without background checks.”
  2. DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: “We support laws that save lives by keeping guns away from domestic abusers.”
  3. PREVENTABLE DEATHS: “We can save lives by educating parents about safe storage and responsible gun ownership.”
  4. GUN TRAFFICKING: “We need stronger trafficking laws to give law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on criminals.”

To view a list of candidates the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund endorsed in June, click here.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 25 (July 1, 2020)

This week: Club for Growth Action suspends ads in Senate primary in KS, Right for Alabama PAC spends to counter Club for Growth spending in AL-01 runoff, and Missouri Right to Life PAC endorses state Senator in open Missouri House District 147 primary

On the news

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

On the Supreme Court decision in June Medical Services v. Russo

“The process bothers me as much as the result. The chief justice today joined with the four liberals on the court to strike down the Louisiana statute. Four years ago, in a case out of Texas, same statute, same issue, the chief justice voted with the conservatives. Today, he voted with the liberals. He changed his vote. He flip-flopped. He flip-flopped like a banked catfish. And that’s why I say the process worries me as much as the result. This is why so many people think the — that our federal courts, our federal judges have become nothing but politicians in robes. Now, the chief justice famously says all the time that he’s just an umpire, all he does is call balls and strikes. Well, four years ago, he called a ball. Today, same pitch, he called a strike.”

– Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), quoted by Breitbart, June 29, 2020

“I agree with the Supreme Court’s decision in June Medical, which recognizes the burden that the Louisiana statute could impose. Some have tried to suggest that this opinion is an indication of how certain justices would vote on the question of whether abortion will remain legal. That is reading too much into this specific decision. As Justice Gorsuch noted, ‘In truth, Roe v. Wade is not even at issue here.’”

– Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), quoted by Maine Public Radio, June 29, 2020

Election results

Governor of Utah: As of 7:45 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, the Republican primary for governor of Utah was too close to call. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox led with 37.0% of the vote, followed by former Gov. Jon Huntsman with 34.3%. Former state House Speaker Greg Hughes had 20.7% of the vote and former state GOP Chairman Thomas Wright had 8.0%.

Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District: Challenger Lauren Boebert defeated incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton in the Republican primary for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. As of 7:30 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, Boebert had received 55% of the vote to Tipton’s 45% with 88% of precincts reporting. Tipton, who was first elected in 2010, is the fifth member of the U.S. House to lose renomination this year, joining Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Steve King (R-Iowa), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and Denver Riggleman (R-Va.).

Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District: Terry Neese and Stephanie Bice were the top two finishers in the Republican primary for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, with 36.5% and 25.4% of the vote respectively. Since neither candidate won 50% of the vote, the two advanced to an Aug. 25 runoff. Nearly all of the satellite spending in the primary came from either Club for Growth Action, which opposed Bice, or American Jobs & Growth PAC, which supported her. 

Utah’s 1st Congressional District: As of 7:45 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, the Republican primary in Utah’s 1st Congressional District remained too close to call. Blake Moore led with 30.2% of the vote, followed by Bob Stevenson with 29.6%. Incumbent Rob Bishop (R) ran for lieutenant governor rather than seeking re-election.

Utah’s 4th Congressional District: Super Bowl XV Champion Burgess Owens won the Republican primary in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. As of 7:45 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, Owens had received 44% of the vote, followed by Kim Coleman with 24%. Owens will face incumbent Ben McAdams (D) in the November general election. Two election forecasters say the race leans towards McAdams and a third says it tilts towards him.

Utah Attorney General: As of 7:45 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, the Republican primary for Attorney General of Utah remained too close to call. Incumbent Sean Reyes led with 54.4% of the vote, followed by Utah County Sheriff David Leavitt with 45.6%. Reyes, who has served as attorney general since 2013, says he is running to continue his record, while Leavitt says he is running to change Utah’s approach to criminal justice.

U.S. Congress

Club for Growth Action suspends ads in Senate primary in KS

Club for Growth Action announced it is suspending its TV advertising in the Republican primary for Senate in Kansas. The group has run ads opposing Roger Marshall.

Club for Growth President David McIntosh said, “We continue to believe Rep. Marshall is not a strong pro-growth candidate. … But the Club for Growth PAC is not endorsing in this race, and Club for Growth Action will be deploying resources in other critical House and Senate primaries.”

Politico reported on March 31 that the PAC had booked $2.1 million for ads to run between June 9 and Aug. 4, the date of the primary.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Marshall. Chamber CEO Thomas J. Donohue said, “As our country faces many challenges and is collectively working to not just reopen our economy, but return to growth and expanded opportunities for all Americans, we need leaders like Representative Roger Marshall. He has a proven track record of leading responsibly and standing up for good policies.” 

Also last week, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach released his first broadcast TV ad. The ad criticizes Marshall for voting in favor of a 2018 immigration bill.  

Marshall and Kobach have led the 11-candidate primary field in noteworthy endorsements. Marshall’s endorsers include former Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), the Kansas Farm Bureau, and National Right to Life. Kobach’s endorsers include the National Border Patrol Council, the Kansas Coalition for Life, and the National Association for Gun Rights.

Right for Alabama PAC spends to counter Club for Growth spending in AL-01 runoff

Right for Alabama PAC spent $29,000 on ads supporting Jerry Carl in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District Republican primary runoff. It’s the first satellite spending in support of Carl. Club for Growth Action has spent $1.1 million opposing Carl and $217,000 supporting Bill Hightower.

Right for Alabama PAC said the following in a statement to Alabama Daily News:

For some time now, a D.C.-based special interest group has tried to buy this election and attack the good name and character of Jerry Carl. … We could not sit back and continue to watch this happen to an honorable man like Jerry Carl. This D.C.-based special interest group did not support Donald Trump in 2016 and it continually opposes the Farm Bill, the National Flood Insurance Program and other critical policies that help South Alabama.

Club for Growth Action has criticized Carl by saying he supported “handing out over $20 million of tax money to billion-dollar corporations.”

Carl was elected to the Mobile County Commission in 2012 and said he is “a vocal fiscal hawk and advocate for pro-growth, job-creating policies.” Carl says his experience running small businesses has made him a problem-solver. 

Hightower was a state senator from 2013 to 2018. He has emphasized bills he introduced or sponsored, including proposals to ban the sale of fetal body parts and to institute term limits for Alabama state legislators. 

Incumbent Rep. Bradley Byrne (R), first elected in 2013, ran in the U.S. Senate Republican primary rather than seeking re-election to the House. The runoff is July 14.

Update: Trump rally for Tuberville in Alabama reportedly canceled

Last week, we reported that the president planned to hold a rally in Alabama supporting Tommy Tuberville ahead of the July 14 Senate primary runoff. On June 30, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak wrote that “Trump’s campaign has scrapped plans to hold a rally in Alabama next weekend amid concerns about coronavirus infections rising in the US.”

State executives

Bill Carrico considering a run for governor of Virginia in 2021

Former state Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Va.) said he is considering running for governor next year and will announce his final decision this fall. 

Carrico, a former state trooper, was elected to the state House in 2001 and to the state Senate in 2011. He retired from the legislature in 2019. He said he was considering running for governor because of the ongoing debate over policing and race relations. 

Carrico made the announcement in an interview with former state Del. Chris Saxman June 25.

Carrico said he supported expanding training programs for police officers, creating a statewide list of officers who had been the subject of complaints, and mandating body camera usage. He said he was opposed to measures to reduce funding for police departments in favor of other social services because they would be costly and put first responders at risk.

State Sen. Amanda Chase (R) is the only Republican to have filed so far for 2021. Chase was first elected to the state Senate in 2015. She said she was inspired to run by Democratic proposals to tighten restrictions on firearms.

Virginia is the only state to prevent governors from running for consecutive terms, meaning the office is open in every election year. The gubernatorial election will take place on Nov. 2, 2021. 

Virginia is currently a Democratic trifecta, where a Democrat is governor and Democrats hold majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. Except for the 2013 election, every Virginia gubernatorial race since 1973 has been won by the party that lost the previous year’s presidential election.

2020 battleground primary recap: Governor of West Virginia

In this series, we look back at recent state executive primaries to see what they can tell us about the November elections.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) is running for re-election this year. Although this is Justice’s second gubernatorial run, it is his first campaign as a Republican. Justice was elected as a Democrat in 2016 before joining the GOP the following year.

Justice defeated six challengers to win the Republican nomination on June 9. Justice won 63% of the vote, followed by former state Secretary of Commerce H. Woody Thrasher with 18% and state Del. Michael Folk with 12%.

Justice emphasized his endorsements from West Virginians for Life, the National Rifle Association, and President Trump. He said he was running to build on policies from his first term, including increasing teacher pay and funding repairs to West Virginia’s roads.

Thrasher, who served as Justice’s Secretary of Commerce for the first two years of his term, said Justice was not treating the office of governor as a full-time position and criticized his leadership during his first term.

Folk said both Justice and Thrasher were former Democrats who had only recently joined the GOP. He said West Virginia needed to change its approach towards governance in order to reverse its downward trend in population.

Justice will face Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango (D) and any declared independent or third-party candidates in the November general election. Two election forecasters say Justice is a solid favorite to win re-election and one says he is likely to win.

Legislatures

The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 40 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 21 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Arizona State Troopers Association endorses incumbent in Arizona Senate District 15 primary

On June 27, the Arizona State Troopers Association endorsed incumbent state Sen. Heather Carter in the Republican primary for Senate District 15. Carter faces state Rep. Nancy Barto in the primary. The Arizona Republic’s Andrew Oxford wrote that Barto’s challenge “pits a staunch conservative against one of the GOP’s moderate state senators.”

Carter and Barto were both elected to represent District 15 in 2010, Carter as a state Representative and Barto as state Senator. Both legislators were unable to run for re-election in 2018 due to term limits and chose to run for the opposite chamber. 

When announcing her candidacy for Senate in 2020, Barto said, “District 15 should … have a representative that challenges government overreach,” adding, “Lately I’ve become deeply concerned to see our current senator is not representing our freedoms and values. It is vital that we bring back strong, conservative leadership.”

Carter, responding to Barto’s announcement, wrote, “Maybe she has unfinished business like protecting Big Tobacco … [or] promoting her dangerous anti-vaxer views,” continuing, “I’ve spent my entire legislative career focused on economic growth and creating jobs.”

No other candidates are running for the seat, meaning the winner of the August 4 primary likely will be the next Senator.

Missouri Right to Life PAC endorses state Senator in open Missouri House District 147 primary

On June 24, the Missouri Right to Life State PAC endorsed state Sen. Wayne Wallingford (R-27) in the primary for House District 147. Wallingford is facing former Cape Girardeau city councilman John Voss (R) in the primary. Incumbent Rep. Kathy Swan (R-147) is term-limited.

Wallingford represented House District 158 for one term from 2011 to 2013. He won election to two terms representing Senate District 27 in 2012 and 2016. Wallingford said, “[O]ur district needs a strong, proven, conservative fighting for us.”

Voss served on the Cape Girardeau city council from 2006 to 2014, including two years as Mayor Pro Tempore in 2013 and 2014. He entered the race after Wallingford. Voss described himself as “a fresh set of eyes — a new conservative voice.” 

The winner of the August 4 primary will likely face Andy Leighton (D), the only other candidate running for the seat. The Republican candidate has either run unopposed or received over 60 percent of the vote in each of the District’s past four general elections.

Power players

A weekly feature on an influencer shaping the direction of the party.

“National Right to Life is the nation’s largest pro-life organization, with 50 state affiliates and approximately 3,000 local affiliates nationwide. NRL works through legislation, education and political action to protect those threatened by abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and assisted suicide.” – NRLC PAC website

The National Right to Life PAC and National Right to Life Victory Fund are a political action committee (PAC) and super PAC that together constitute the political arm of National Right to Life.

Founded in 1968, National Right to Life describes its mission as “to protect and defend the most fundamental right of humankind, the right to life of every innocent human being from the beginning of life to natural death.” 

The group’s policy page lists “Abortion”, “Federal Funding of Abortion”, “Planned Parenthood”, “Euthanasia/Assisting Suicide”, “Heath Care Rationing”, “Medicare”, “Advance Care Planning”, “Living Wills/Will to Live”, “International Issues”, “Free Speech”, and “Campaigns & Elections” as issue areas.

To view candidates endorsed by the National Right to Life Political Victory Fund, click here.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 25 (July 1, 2020)

This week: Gov. Murphy endorses Kennedy in NJ-02, Professional Fire Fighters of MA endorses Becky Grossman in MA-04, and King County Democrats endorse Denny Heck for lieutenant governor of Washington

On the news

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

On the Democratic vice presidential nominee

“Senator [Elizabeth] Warren has also proposed some of the most comprehensive policy plans to deal with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. She has the tenacity and expertise to help ordinary Americans steer through this crisis, and she’d be ready to govern on day one. For all of these reasons, we’re asking you to choose her as your vice president. Biden-Warren would represent a unity ticket, one capable of generating enthusiasm from across the Democratic Party and beyond – and defeating Donald Trump in November.”

– RootsAction and Progressive Democrats of America, in an open letter to Joe Biden, June 30, 2020

“I don’t support an all-white ticket. That was a tremendous mistake in 2016. We have a party that’s half people of color and a quarter Black. The ticket needs to reflect that.”

– Aimee Allison, president of She the People, quoted by NBC News, June 27, 2020

Election results

This section includes election results for each June 30 battleground Democratic primary we followed, as well as the results from those June 23 battleground primaries in Kentucky and New York that were too close to call at the time we published last week’s edition.

June 30

U.S. Senate in Colorado: Former Gov. John Hickenlooper defeated former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff to win the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). As of 7:15 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, Hickenlooper had received 60% of the vote to Romanoff’s 40% with 83% of precincts reporting. The Colorado Sun described the race as reflecting a broader split within the national Democratic Party. Hickenlooper’s endorsers included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee while Romanoff’s included the metro Denver branch of Our Revolution.

Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District: Former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush defeated Seattle Fish Company executive chairman James Iacino to win the Democratic nomination in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. As of 7:15 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, Bush had received 61% of the vote to Iacino’s 39% with 83% of precincts reporting. The two differed on healthcare, with Bush supporting a single-payer system and Iacino supporting an opt-in public insurance plan.

June 23

U.S. Senate in Kentucky: Amy McGrath won the June 23 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate nomination in Kentucky. As of 5:00 p.m. Central Time on June 30, McGrath had received 45% of the vote, followed by Charles Booker with 43%. No other candidate had more than 10% of the vote. McGrath will face incumbent Mitch McConnell (R) in the November general election.

New York’s 16th Congressional District: Jamaal Bowman defeated incumbent Eliot Engel and three other candidates to win the Democratic nomination in New York’s 27th Congressional District. As of 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time on June 30, Bowman had 61% of the vote to Engel’s 36%. Engel released a statement June 24 saying it would be too soon to call the election before absentee ballots had been tallied. 

New York’s 24th Congressional District: Dana Balter defeated Francis Conole to win the Democratic nomination in New York’s 24th Congressional District. As of 6:00 p.m. on June 30, Balter had received 64% of the vote to Conole’s 35%. Balter will face incumbent John Katko (R). Two election forecasters say the race leans towards Katko and the third says he is likely to win.

U.S. Congress

Gov. Murphy endorses Kennedy in NJ-02

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) endorsed Amy Kennedy in the state’s 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary.

Murphy said, “South Jersey needs strong and compassionate leaders with integrity and commitment to community. As a former public school teacher and mental health advocate, Amy Kennedy is just the type of leader who’ll bring progressive change to South Jersey.”

The Press of Atlantic City‘s Michelle Brunetti Post wrote that political science professor Brigid Callahan Harrison “is backed by State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and Democratic powerbroker George Norcross of Camden, both of which have sparred with Murphy in the past.” In 2019, Murphy clashed with Norcross and Sweeney on the Economic Development Authority’s use of tax incentives.

As we reported earlier, six county Democratic parties endorsed Harrison, and one (Atlantic County, the largest county in the district) endorsed Kennedy.

Harrison, Kennedy, and Will Cunningham participated in a debate on June 25. Harrison and Kennedy agreed on several policy issues, including support for single-payer healthcare and increasing infrastructure spending. Harrison criticized Kennedy for receiving campaign contributions from executives of Wellpath, a private correctional healthcare services company. Kennedy criticized Harrison for not taking an End Citizens United pledge to refuse contributions from corporate PACs. End Citizens United endorsed Kennedy in the race.

The Democratic primary became an open race in December when incumbent Rep. Jeff Van Drew changed his affiliation from Democratic to Republican. Van Drew is running in the Republican primary.

The primaries are July 7. Five candidates are running in the Democratic primary, and Van Drew faces one challenger.

Professional Fire Fighters of MA endorses Becky Grossman in MA-04

The Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts endorsed Becky Grossman in Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District Democratic primary. She is one of 10 candidates running for a chance to succeed incumbent Joe Kennedy (D), who is running for U.S. Senate. This is a safe Democratic district. 

Union President Rich MacKinnon Jr. said Grossman “stands out in a crowded field of candidates for her unwavering and genuine support of firefighters and their families.”

Recently, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Massachusetts State Council endorsed Jesse Mermell. The Ironworkers Local 7 union endorsed Jack Auchincloss. 

Auchincloss and Grossman are on the Newton City Council. Mermell is a former Brookline Select Board member.

Four candidates in the race raised more than $500,000 as of March 31. Auchincloss and Alan Khazei led with $1,096,000 and $1,074,000, respectively. Grossman had raised $638,000, and Mermell, $560,000. 

The primary is Sept. 1.

Nine of 10 candidates in this race have filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Click candidates’ names below to view their profile pages and survey responses.

State executives

Former Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin endorses Molly Gray for lieutenant governor

Former Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) endorsed Assistant Attorney General Molly Gray’s (D) run for lieutenant governor of Vermont on June 25.

Gray, state Sen. Timothy Ashe, state Sen. Debbie Ingram, and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Brenda Siegel are the four Democrats running in the Aug. 11 primary. 

Gray’s other backers include former Gov. Madeleine Kunin (D) and former Lt. Gov. Doug Racine (D). 

Vermont is one of 17 states where the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately. Vermont’s lieutenant governor is first in line to succeed the governor and serves as president of the state Senate, where they may cast tie-breaking votes. 

Incumbent David Zuckerman (D) is running for governor against Gov. Phil Scott (R), leaving the office open. Vermont is one of three states where the governor and lieutenant governor are members of different parties. North Carolina and Louisiana both have a Democratic governor and a Republican lieutenant governor.

Vermont is one of 21 states where the governor is not permitted to delegate some of their responsibilities to the lieutenant governor.

The Aug. 11 Democratic primary is open to all registered voters. 

King County Democrats endorse Denny Heck for lieutenant governor of Washington

The King County Democratic Party’s executive committee endorsed U.S. Rep. Denny Heck (D) for lieutenant governor of Washington June 25. King County, home to Seattle, is Washington’s largest county and accounts for 30% of the state’s overall population.

Washington is one of two states, along with California, to use a top-two primary system for state executive elections. Under this system, every candidate for a particular office appears on the same primary ballot and the top two finishers advance to the general election regardless of their partisan affiliation.

Heck is among 11 candidates, four of them Democrats, who will appear on the Aug. 4 top-two primary ballot. Incumbent Cyrus Habib (D), who is not running for re-election, endorsed state Sen. Marko Liias (D).

The King County Democrats also endorsed Gov. Jay Inslee, state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, and state Auditor Pat McCarthy, each of whom faces Democratic primary challengers, for re-election. The group endorsed the Democratic candidate in four other state executive races where only one Democrat was on the ballot and backed incumbent Chris Reykdal in the nonpartisan race for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Legislatures

The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 40 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 21 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Newly-formed Rhode Island Political Cooperative announces 17 state legislative candidates

On June 25, the newly-formed Rhode Island Political Cooperative announced 17 Democratic candidates supporting its platform filed to run for General Assembly seats ahead of the July 10 deadline. Of those 17 candidates, 12 are challenging Democratic incumbents.

The organization says the candidates “are committed to a common platform of a Green New Deal, $15 minimum wage, single-payer healthcare, and racial and economic justice.” 

The R.I. Political Cooperative, founded in 2019, describes itself as “a non-profit corporation that provides campaign services to progressive political candidates in Rhode Island.” According to Uprise RI, the group “directly addresses the challenges candidates face when running against establishment politicians who are backed by corporate money.” Jennifer Rourke, former state Senator Jeanine Calkin (D), and former Secretary of State Matt Brown (D) are its co-chairs.

As of July 1, the 12 candidates challenging Democratic incumbents include Lenny Cioe (D) who is facing Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D-04) in the Senate District 4 primary. 

Of the five candidates not challenging Democratic incumbents, one—Rep. Moira Walsh (D-03)—is an incumbent facing a challenger. Two—Kendra Anderson (D) in Senate District 31 and Michelle McGaw (D) in House District 71—are running in primaries for open seats. In Senate District 34 and House District 39, Jennifer Douglas (D) and Megan Cotter (D) are challenging Republican incumbents.

Candidates debate in primary for open Wisconsin Senate District 16 seat

On June 25, Andrew McKinney and Melissa Sargent met in a debate in the Democratic primary for Wisconsin’s open Senate District 16 seat. 

The debate was held over Zoom and moderated by The Capital Times’ Briana Reilly. In a post-debate recap, the Times’ Steven Elbow wrote, “Candidates for the District 16 state Senate seat were largely on the same page on major issues … [and] share similar priorities: health care, housing, education, and tackling racial disparities.”

Sargent has represented District 48 in the Wisconsin State Assembly since 2013. She said, “I am proud to continue to be a champion of progressive policies,” and, “my experience, compassion, and proven leadership will serve our community.” 

McKinney is the Monona Grove School Board President. He said “I’m the new kid on the block in this, but I do have the experience of working with policies, working with our community,” adding, “I can get all of these Republican and Democrats together to work on these issues so it can be a better tomorrow.”

The winner of the primary will likely face Scott Barker (R), who is running unopposed on the Republican side. The retiring incumbent, Sen. Mark Miller (D-16), ran unopposed in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 primary and general elections.

Power players

“Our democracy is under attack. It’s not just foreign interference in our elections: Politicians here in America are attacking our right to vote. Politicians are trying to pick their voters instead of voters picking their politicians. We can’t let that happen.” – Let America Vote website

Let America Vote is a 527 group founded in 2017 by former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D). The group describes its mission as: “When politicians make it hard to vote, we make it hard for them to get re-elected.”

Let America Vote merged with End Citizens United, another voting policy group which has backed Democrats in recent elections, in January. Click here to read our profile of End Citizens United, first published in Issue 7 of the Heart of the Primaries.

As of June 2020, Let America Vote’s website said it had endorsed over 110 successful candidates for elected office. Its endorsements in 2020 primaries included Dan Feltes (D) for governor of New Hampshire and U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), and Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), who are each seeking re-election.

Click here for a full list of the group’s 2020 endorsement announcements.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 23 (June 17, 2020)

This week: Riggleman is third incumbent to lose nominating contest in 2020, Trump endorses Messner in Senate primary in NH, Plurality of voters undecided on challenge to Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes

On the news

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

On Riggleman’s defeat in VA-05

This bizarre primary defeat of an incumbent congressman is synecdoche for the Republican party in the age of Trump: a campaign motivated by cruelty; a doubling-down on the basest parts of the party base; plummeting party identification among college-educated voters and suburbanites; and a bit of voter suppression mixed with a touch of gerrymandering.

 

While all of those issues played a factor in his defeat, none would have been Riggleman’s death knell had he not committed the original sin that opened the door to the primary: Officiating the same-sex wedding of Anthony ‘Rek’ LeCounte and Alex Pisciarino last July. … 

 

But Good’s entire primary was even more debased than standard issue Trumpism. It was premised on one thing. Not a vote that Riggleman took. Not a comment that he made. It was premised entirely on this picture of Riggleman officiating LeCounte and Pisciarino’s wedding … 

Riggleman was, by every possible measure, a Republican in good standing. He was endorsed by Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr. He voted with Trump and the GOP leadership 95 percent of the time. And when gay issues came up for a vote, Riggleman sided with social conservatives. He voted against a resolution condemning Trump’s ban on allowing transgender people to serve in the military and Democratic efforts to include sexual orientation and gender as protected classes in anti-discrimination law.

 

Yet none of that mattered, because of the wedding photo.

Tim Miller, The Bulwark, June 15, 2020

[Riggleman’s] record in the House, specifically on immigration, gave Good a leg up in a state that has been dramatically transformed by mass legal immigration levels over the last four decades. 

After his win in 2018, Riggleman joined the House Freedom Caucus where most members have continued their ‘illegal immigration is bad, legal immigration is good’ mantra despite Republican voters’ overwhelming support for reducing all immigration, including visa programs and total annual green card numbers. … 

 

The gap between GOP voters in the district and Riggleman’s support for limitless legal immigration programs, as well as his support for military interventionism like when he sided with Democrats to condemn Trump’s Syria troop withdrawal, opened a door for Good.

The establishment media have claimed Riggleman’s defeat — where he lost with 42 percent to Good’s 58 percent — centered around social conservatives’ outrage over the Virginia congressman officiating a same-sex wedding last year. Republican Party insiders have said Riggleman’s defeat is due to the party’s convention nominating process. 

 

Followers of Good’s campaign, though, say the media and party insiders are willfully ignoring the issue that started the outsider’s run and helped him secure victory: Immigration. 

 

On the campaign trail, Good focused primarily on the need for less legal immigration — a break from many of the House Freedom Caucus members’ libertarian/business-centric streak.

John Binder, Breitbart, June 14, 2020

U.S. Congress

Riggleman is third incumbent to lose nominating contest in 2020

Virginia’s 5th District Republican Committee reported that Bob Good received 58% of votes to Rep. Denver Riggleman’s 42% at the June 13 Republican convention, which was held instead of a primary election. 

Riggleman has not conceded. He tweeted the night of June 13, “Voting irregularities and ballot stuffing has been reported in multiple counties in the #VA05. Voter fraud has been a hallmark of this nomination process and I will not stand for it. @VA_GOP needs to reevaluate their priorities. We are evaluating all our options at this time.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the convention was held in a church parking lot and elected delegates cast ballots from their cars. The 5th District Republican Committee reported 2,537 delegates participated.

Riggleman was first elected in 2018, defeating Democrat Leslie Cockburn 53%-47% in the general election after being selected as the nominee by the 5th District Committee.

President Donald Trump endorsed Riggleman. Riggleman said he had a record of supporting the president’s agenda. He also said he had worked on local issues like expansion of broadband services and getting Virginia’s industrial hemp crop added to federal crop insurance programs.

Good, a former member of the Campbell County Board of Supervisors and former associate athletics director at Liberty University, campaigned on repealing the Affordable Care Act, reducing the federal budget deficit, and reducing federal government involvement in education. Good said, “Republican voters within the 5th District want to choose a bright-red conservative over a purple, progressive Republican.”

Roll Call‘s Stephanie Akin wrote in March, “Riggleman is a libertarian-leaning conservative whose laissez-faire attitude toward social issues such as gay marriage and marijuana legalization are often at odds with the religious fundamentalism popular among some of the district’s Republican leaders, who have made no secret of their support for Good.”

If the convention results hold, Riggleman will be the third incumbent House member to lose a nominating contest in 2020, along with Dan Lipinksi (D) in Illinois’ 3rd District and Steve King (R) in Iowa’s 4th. 

Trump endorses Messner in Senate primary in NH

The president endorsed Bryant “Corky” Messner in the Senate primary in New Hampshire.

Messner said, “I will provide Granite Staters with the conservative voice they need in the U.S. Senate. … Career politician Jeanne Shaheen has lost touch with the everyday concerns and values of New Hampshire residents, and they can trust me to provide the leadership they need to face the challenges ahead.” 

Candidate Don Bolduc said, “This campaign is alive and well. … We respect the president and we look forward to working with him in the U.S. Senate so we may continue moving this country forward.”

Of the four candidates in the race, Messner and Bolduc lead in endorsements

Both Messner and Bolduc are veterans. Messner was an Army Ranger and Bolduc, an Army brigadier general.

The primary is Sept. 8. Incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), first elected in 2008, is seeking re-election.  

Colyer, Kansas Farm Bureau endorse Mann in KS-01

Former Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) and the Kansas Farm Bureau endorsed former Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann in Kansas’ 1st Congressional District primary.

Incumbent Roger Marshall (R) is running for Senate, leaving the seat open.

Colyer appointed Mann lieutenant governor in 2018. Colyer, a former lieutenant governor, became governor after Gov. Sam Brownback (R) was appointed to a post in the Trump administration. Colyer and Mann ran for election in 2018 on a joint ticket and lost in the Republican primary.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) endorsed Bill Clifford in the 1st District primary. Bacon highlighted Clifford’s background as a doctor and veteran.

Jerry Molstad and Michael Soetaert are also running in the Aug. 4  primary.

House Freedom Action airs ad in NC-11 runoff

Last week, we reported that the president endorsed Lynda Bennett in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District primary runoff. House Freedom Action has since launched an ad highlighting Trump’s endorsement and saying Madison Cawthorn is a partier. 

Former incumbent Mark Meadows (R) served as chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. He resigned from the House in March to become White House chief of staff. Meadows endorsed Bennett in the primary.

The runoff is June 23.

State executives

Spencer Cox and Jon Huntsman about even in Utah gubernatorial primary, polling shows

With less than two weeks remaining before the Utah gubernatorial primary, Spencer Cox and Jon Huntsman, Jr., are about even, according to two recent polls.

A Suffolk University poll conducted June 4-7 on behalf of the Salt Lake Tribune found Cox with 32% support to 30% for Huntsman, within the poll’s 4.4 percentage point margin of error.

The Salt Lake Chamber’s Utah Outlook poll, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates between June 1-10, also found the two candidates about even. Huntsman had 35% support among registered Republicans to 33% for Cox with a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.

Both polls found 17% of voters remain undecided.

Former Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), who represented Utah between 1977 and 2019, endorsed Huntsman on June 9. Hatch joins Sen. Mike Lee (R) and former Rep. Mia Love (R) in backing Huntsman. Gov. Gary Herbert (R) and former 2020 gubernatorial candidate Aimee Winder Newton (R) have endorsed Cox.

Cox and Huntsman joined Greg Hughes and Thomas Wright, the two other candidates seeking the nomination, for a debate on rural issues June 9. The four met for a two-hour televised debate June 16.

The June 30 primary is open to registered Republicans only. Incumbent Gary Herbert (R) is not seeking re-election, leaving the office open. Election forecasters say Republicans have a solid chance to win the general election.

Plurality of voters undecided on challenge to Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes

A plurality of likely Republican primary voters have yet to decide whether they will vote to nominate Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes for another term or back his challenger David Leavitt, according to a Suffolk University poll released Thursday.

The poll, which was conducted June 4-7, found Reyes apparently leading Leavitt 31-26, with 43% of voters undecided. Reyes’ lead is just outside the poll’s 4.4 percentage point margin of error.

Reyes campaign manager Alan Crooks said the poll was not credible since its survey included 73% registered Republicans and 27% other voters who planned to register as Republicans to participate in the primary. 

Leavitt said the poll matched his campaign’s internal numbers and that the percentage of undecided voters was an encouraging sign for his challenge to Reyes.

The June 30 primary is open to registered Republicans only. 

2020 battleground primary recap: Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina

In this series, we look back at recent state executive primaries to see what they can tell us about the November elections.

North Carolina’s current lieutenant governor, Dan Forest (R), is running for governor rather than seeking re-election, leaving the office open. North Carolina is among 17 states where the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately. The lieutenant governor is the only elected official with a role in both the executive and legislative branches of North Carolina’s government.

Mark Robinson defeated eight other candidates to win the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor on March 3. Robinson received 32.5% of the vote, more than the 30% needed to avoid a possible runoff. He was followed by state Sen. Andy Wells (14.6%), state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson (12.1%), and attorney John Ritter (11.5%). No other candidate received more than 10% of the vote.

Robinson, a former Army reservist and small business owner, is making his first run for political office. He says he was inspired to run after an April 2018 speech he gave before the Greensboro City Council opposing firearms restrictions went viral. 

In an interview with the Charlotte Observer, Robinson said his top policy priority would be changing the culture of the state’s public schools. Wells said his top concern was local sheriffs declining to enforce immigration law, while Johnson said he would combat the political establishment and Ritter said he supported efforts to expand vocational education.

Robinson will face state Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley (D) in the general election. Other statewide races on the ballot include the state’s Class II Senate seat and the governorship. Election forecasters have not put out a projection for the lieutenant gubernatorial election, but say the Senate race is a toss-up. One forecaster says the gubernatorial race tilts towards Democrats, one says it leans towards Democrats, and a third says Democrats are likely to win.

Legislatures

Candidates in five too-close-to-call S.D. Republican primaries request recounts

Following the June 2 primaries, five South Dakota Republican primaries featured contests where candidates were separated by less than one percentage point. In South Dakota, a state legislative candidate may request a recount if the margin of victory is less than 2 percentage points. By June 12, candidates in all five of those primaries made such requests.

There is one Senate recount in District 17 where the top vote-getter will advance to the general election. There are four recounts in House primaries where the top two vote-getters advance. 

In two of the races, the recounts will decide whether an incumbent is defeated, or advances to the general election:

Senate District 17: Term-limited Rep. Nancy Rasmussen (R-17) challenged three-term incumbent Sen. Art Rusch (R-17) in what was Rusch’s first contested primary. Final results showed Rusch leading with 50.2 percent of the vote to Rasmussen’s 49.8 percent, a margin of six votes.

House District 19: Both incumbent Reps. Kent Peterson (R-19) and Marty Overweg (R-19) filed for the primary along with challenger Jessica Bahmuller (R). Final results showed Peterson leading with 35.2 percent of the vote. The results had Overweg trailing Bahmuller by 0.4 percentage points, a 21 vote margin. This was Overweg’s first election after Gov. Kristi Noem (R) appointed him to the seat in January 2020.

In the remaining three races, challengers are vying against one another for one of the two spots in House primaries.

House District 6: Sen. Ernie Otten (R-06) is attempting to switch chambers. He will proceed to the general election after receiving 37.8 percent of the primary vote. Aaron Aylward (R) and Nathan Block (R) are competing for the second spot. Aylward, who ran as a Libertarian for one of the District 6 House seats in 2018, led with 26.8 percent of the vote to Block’s 26 percent, a 35 vote difference.

House District 9: Incumbent Rep. Rhonda Milstead (R-09) will advance with 49.3 percent of the vote. This was her first election after Gov. Noem appointed her to the seat in 2019 by Gov. Noem. Eight votes separate the remaining two candidates with Bethany Soye (R) leading former Rep. Michael Clark (R) 25.5 to 25.2 percent. Incumbent Michael Saba (D-09), who is running for another term, defeated Clark in the 2018 general election.

House District 30: Incumbent Rep. Tim Goodwin (R) received 45.5 percent of the vote and will advance to the general election. The remaining three candidates—Trish Ladner, Kwinn Neff, and Florence Thompson—are all within 80 votes of one another. Ladner leads with 18.8 percent followed by Thompson with 18 percent and Neff with 17.7 percent.

Satellite spending draws criticism in Colo. Senate District 8 primary

Since May 30, three groups have spent a total of $123,483 supporting incumbent Sen. Bob Rankin (R-08) in the Republican primary for Colorado’s State Senate District 8. Expenditures from the group Coloradans For Constitutional Values in particular have elicited a response from his primary challenger, Debra Irvine (R).

Coloradans For Constitutional Values has spent $58,833 on internet advertisements and direct mail supporting Rankin. The group is primarily funded by the Denver-based political action committee, Unite America, which was founded in 2014 as The Centrist Project. Unite America describes itself as “a movement of Democrats, Republicans, and independents working to bridge the growing partisan divide and foster a more representative and functional government.”

Irvine responded to the satellite spending in support of Rankin, saying Coloradans For Constitutional Values “want to keep true conservatives out of office,” and that United America “is a ‘socialist organization whose real mission is to change how elections are run in the United States.’”

We previously reported on this race on April 22 following the Senate District 8 virtual assembly where Irvine received 55 percent of the delegate vote to Rankin’s 45 percent clinching Irvine the top spot on the June 30 primary ballot.

Rankin applied for and was appointed to the District 8 seat in 2019 filling a vacancy. At the time of his appointment, Rankin was in his third term representing House District 57. Irvine also applied for the District 8 seat. She did not make it to the final round of voting. Irvine announced her current candidacy for the District 8 seat in December 2018 before Rankin’s appointment.

N.R.A., U.S. Senator endorse competing candidates in OK state Senate primary

Over the past week, the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) and U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) endorsed competing candidates in the Republican primary for Oklahoma state Senate District 3. On June 9, Blake “Cowboy” Stephens announced an endorsement from the N.R.A. The following day, Inhofe endorsed two-term incumbent state Sen. Wayne Shaw (R-03).

Stephens, a school counselor, describes himself as a political outsider, saying, “The system is broken and needs reconstructed from the ground up,” adding that he “wants to be a voice of change for the regular, hard-working people of Oklahoma.” In addition to the N.R.A., the Oklahoma Retired Educators Association and the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association have endorsed his campaign.

Shaw said, “His experience in representing District in the State Senate the past 8 years makes him a powerful voice for the people.” He is a retired pastor who describes himself as “a staunch conservative … pro-business and pro-tourism.” He was first elected to represent District 3 in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016. 

Power players

“For more than fifty years, ACU has served as an umbrella organization harnessing the collective strength of conservative organizations fighting for Americans who are concerned with liberty, personal responsibility, traditional values, and strong national defense. As one of America’s premier conservative voices, ACU promotes a conservative vision on issues before Congress, the Executive Branch, State Legislatures, the media, political candidates, and the public.” – American Conservative Union

Founded in 1964, the American Conservative Union (ACU) calls itself “the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots conservative lobbying organization” and says its purpose is “to communicate and advance the goals and principles of conservatism through one multi-issue, umbrella organization.” An outline of the organization’s beliefs can be found here

ACU is affiliated with the ACU Foundation, which says its purpose is “to educate voters, office-holders and opinion leaders as to why conservative principles work better to solve problems, as well as to equip them to become better conservatives and effective problem-solvers.” Click here to view a list of the Foundation’s policy centers. 

ACU is responsible for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which was first held in 1974 and calls itself “the largest and most influential gathering of conservatives in the world.” 

To view a list of candidates endorsed by ACU, click here. This month, ACU endorsed Ronny Jackson in Texas’ 13th Congressional District and Paul Junge in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District.

ACU also publishes federal and state legislative ratings.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 23 (June 17, 2020)

This week: Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, and KY’s two largest newspapers endorse Booker for Senate, Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC makes first-ever expenditure, Steve Marchand not running for governor of New Hampshire

On the news

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

On protests and coronavirus risk

I’ve been a vocal supporter of these protests from their start, including their occasional use of civil disobedience and targeted property damage. My views of the protests (as distinct from the some of the repressive debate-denying tactics that have sprouted up around them) have not changed; I remain an enthusiastic supporter on the ground that we simply cannot tolerate any longer an unaccountable, paramilitarized police force that kills with impunity, especially when aimed disproportionately at African Americans and Latinos.

 

But what we should not tolerate, and what the scientific community cannot permit if it is to retain its credibility, is the abuse and manipulation of health expertise for political ends. One of two things is true; either 1) these protests will lead to a significant spike in coronavirus infections and deaths, in which case public health experts should reconcile that outcome with how they could have encouraged and endorsed them; or 2) it will not lead to such a spike, in which case it will appear that the months of extreme, draconian lockdowns — which caused great suffering and deprivation around the world — were excessive, misguided and unwarranted.

 

At the very least, it is vital that we have the same health and legal standards apply to all citizens and all political ideologies when it comes to the right to leave one’s home, protest or engage in other legal activities. And at least as importantly, we need to understand whether public health experts were too restrictive in their advocated measures at the start of the pandemic, are being too lax now, or somehow can reconcile the radical shift in their posture on scientific rather than political grounds.

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, June 11, 2020

As a black emergency medicine physician, concern about the spread of Covid-19 at protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd is not top of my mind. And yet many continue to seize on this concern. The risk of spread of Covid-19 is clearly elevated at demonstrations: People are yelling, stirring up respiratory droplets and projecting them into the air; people are marching long distances, exerting themselves and taking gulps of air in the process; people are standing and kneeling much less than six feet from one another; and mask use is, over all, abundant but admittedly inconsistent.

 

And yet — the tension between Covid-19 and the protests did not even occur to me until a journalist asked. And why not? Because as a black physician, I understand that the protests are the necessary medicine for both ills. …

 

Of course I am concerned about the spread of Covid-19. Of course I do not condone a gathering for a concert or sports game or party, because these are unnecessary. They are not rooting out a core injustice baked into health care and law enforcement.

 

In contrast, these protests are essential to America. They are necessary for the recognition and eradication of injustice. These protests are the first dose of medicine needed to rid the system of metastatic racism.

Steven McDonald, The New York Times, June 14, 2020

U.S. Congress

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, and KY’s two largest newspapers endorse Booker for Senate

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Kentucky’s two largest newspapers endorsed Charles Booker in the Democratic primary for Senate in Kentucky.

Nine other candidates are on the ballot, including Amy McGrath, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee‘s (DSCC) endorsed candidate. She was the Democratic nominee in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District in 2018.

The Lexington Herald-Leader editorial board endorsement read, “McGrath earned our endorsement in 2018; she is the favorite of national political groups and remains a formidable and compelling candidate who will be a worthy foe for McConnell if recent polls prove accurate. But this moment in our fractious history seems to call beyond politics, and Charles Booker has risen to meet it in many different ways.”

The editorial board praised Booker’s support for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and a universal basic income. It said he did important work in the state House on charter schools, minimum wage, and gun policy. Booker was elected to the state House in 2018.

The Louisville Courier-Journal editorial board wrote, ‘Frankly, it’s time to shake up the establishment, and Booker, who declares he’s ‘running against the status quo,’ is the right person for Democrats to consider.”

In addition to DSCC, McGrath’s endorsers include VoteVets and several unions. She raised $41 million as of June 3, leading Senate candidates nationally in fundraising. Four U.S. Senate candidates have raised more than $20 million. The incumbent, Mitch McConnell (R), raised the second-highest amount at $33 million.

On June 16, former Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) endorsed Booker. She ran against McConnell in 2014, losing 41% to 56%.

Booker raised $793,000 through June 3.

Also last week, Booker released his first TV ad. He said, “Kentucky needs a real Democrat to take on Mitch McConnell, someone who will fight to guarantee healthcare and living wages for all, and not help Trump just get his way.” It features footage of McGrath saying, “[T]he things that Kentuckians voted for Trump for are not being done.” 

McGrath released an ad featuring footage of former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) voting “no” on an Obamacare repeal bill. McGrath said, “Imagine trying to tackle a global pandemic with millions of Americans uninsured. … We can’t let Mitch McConnell return to the Senate to try again.”

The primary is June 23.

Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC makes first-ever expenditure, in support of Jones in NY-17

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) political action committee made its first-ever independent expenditure on digital ads and mailers supporting Mondaire Jones in New York’s 17th Congressional District primary. The PAC spent $100,000.

The narrator of the PAC’s ad says, “We don’t see people like Mondaire Jones in office very often. A public school kid who went from food stamps and Section 8 housing to Harvard Law and President Obama’s administration. … He’ll fight for us, because he’s one of us.”

Jones was a fellow at the Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy from 2009 to 2010. He has since worked as a law clerk and attorney.

Incumbent Nita Lowey (D), who was first elected in 1988, isn’t seeking re-election. 

Six candidates are running in the June 23 primary: Jones, state Assemblyman David Buchwald, state Sen. David Carlucci, college professor Asha Castleberry-Hernandez, former deputy assistant secretary of defense during the Obama administration Evelyn Farkas, former chairwoman of the national board of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation Allison Fine, and former assistant U.S. attorney Adam Schleifer.

CPC PAC has said it will spend $1 million on endorsed candidates this year. The PAC has endorsed 12 House candidates as of June 16.

AFT Massachusetts endorses Markey for Senate

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Massachusetts endorsed incumbent Ed Markey in the Senate primary in Massachusetts. AFT is the second-largest teacher’s union in the U.S., behind the National Education Association. The Massachusetts affiliate represents 23,000 members.

AFT Massachusetts President Beth Kontos said, “Senator Ed Markey has been a supporter of public education for decades and has consistently fought for adequate funding — not because we asked him to, but because he knows that public education is the pathway to better communities. … He grew up in a household that valued education and the rights of workers. His record in support of labor and the rights of workers to organize is second to none.”

Markey faces Joseph Kennedy III, who has been in the U.S. House since 2013. Markey has been in the Senate since 2013. He served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2013.

Markey’s other endorsers include Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and former Gov. Mike Dukakis. Reps. Jim Lewis and Marc Pocan, co-chair of the Congressional Progresssive Caucus, are among Kennedy’s endorsers

The primary is Sept. 1.

Carolyn Bourdeaux wins GA-07 primary outright

The Associated Press called the Democratic primary in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District for Carolyn Bourdeaux on June 16 after she surpassed the 50% vote threshold required to avoid a primary runoff. On June 10, the AP reported that Bourdeaux and second-place finisher Brenda Lopez Romero advanced to a runoff, but on June 13 said the race was too close to call as absentee ballots continued to be counted. 

As of June 17, Bourdeaux has received 52.8% of the vote to Romero’s 12.4%. Nabilah Islam followed with 12.3%. In a statement, Romero said she would await certified election results but that it appeared no runoff would occur.

State executives

Steve Marchand not running for governor of New Hampshire, endorses Dan Feltes

Former Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand announced June 9 he would not run for governor of New Hampshire this year and endorsed state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes instead.

Marchand, who served as mayor from 2006 to 2008, ran for governor in both 2016 and 2018 but did not win the Democratic nomination in either year. Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern defeated Marchand 52-25% in 2016, while former state Sen. Molly Kelly defeated him 66-34% in 2018. 

Feltes’ other endorsers include state House Majority Leader Doug Ley (D), Deputy Speaker of the state House Karen Ebel (D), and state House Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Kristina Schultz (D). 

His only declared opponent for the nomination, Executive Council member Andru Volinsky (D), has endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Blue America, and the New Hampshire Progressive Coalition.

The primary is scheduled for Sept. 8. On the Republican side, incumbent Chris Sununu (R), who was first elected in 2016, faces two opponents. Two election forecasters say Republicans are likely to win the general election and a third says it leans Republican.

Communications Workers of America Local 6300 endorses Elad Gross for Democratic nomination for Missouri Attorney General

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 6300 endorsed former Assistant Attorney General of Missouri Elad Gross Monday. Gross faces Rich Finneran, a former assistant U.S. attorney, in the Democratic primary for state attorney general. 

CWA Local 6300 is one of 16 CWA affiliates statewide and represented 3,200 members as of 2015.

The winner of the Aug. 4 primary will run against incumbent Eric Schmitt (R) in the general election. Gov. Mike Parson (R) appointed Schmitt in November 2018 after Josh Hawley (R) won election to the U.S. Senate.

2020 battleground primary recap: Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina

In this series, we look back at recent state executive primaries to see what they can tell us about the November elections.

North Carolina’s current lieutenant governor, Dan Forest (R), is running for governor rather than seeking re-election, leaving the office open. North Carolina is among 17 states where the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately. The lieutenant governor is the only elected official with a role in both the executive and legislative branches of North Carolina’s government.

State Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley defeated five other candidates to win the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor on March 3. Holley received 26.6% of the vote, followed by state Sen. Terry Van Duyn with 20.4%, Hoke County Commissioner Allen Thomas Jr. with 18.9%, and state Rep. Chaz Beasley with 18.9%. Because Holley received less than 30% of the vote, Van Duyn had the right to request a runoff under state law but did not do so.

Holley was first elected to the state House in 2012 after having worked for 25 years as a state government employee. She is the vice chairwoman of the House’s Regulatory Reform Committee.

In an interview with the Charlotte Observer, Holley said her top policy priority would be reducing the cost of living. Van Duyn and Beasley said they would seek to increase education funding, while Thomas called for reducing the poverty rate.

Holley will face Mark Robinson (R) in the general election. Other statewide races on the ballot include the state’s Class II Senate seat and the governorship. Election forecasters have not put out a projection for the lieutenant gubernatorial election, but say the Senate race is a toss-up. One forecaster says the gubernatorial race tilts towards Democrats, one says it leans towards Democrats, and a third says Democrats are likely to win.

Legislatures

Retiring incumbent Rep. Lifton endorses Jordan Lesser in crowded N.Y. Assembly District 125 primary

On June 11, outgoing Assm. Barbara Lifton (D-125) endorsed Jordan Lesser (D), her legislative counsel, in the 125th Assembly District’s seven-way Democratic primary. Lifton’s retirement leaves the 125th District seat open for the first time since 2002. In Lifton’s most recent contested general election in 2016, she defeated Herbert Masser, Jr. (R) 70-30%.

In her endorsement, Lifton says Lesser “is the most prepared and best qualified to continue this work,” adding that he is “deeply committed to our progressive values—women’s rights, civil rights, human rights.”

Lifton’s endorsement comes less than two weeks before the June 23 primary. On April 22, we reported on the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 241’s endorsement of Ithaca city alderman Seph Murtagh (D). On June 10, we reported that 2018 gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon (D) endorsed Tompkins County legislator Anna Kelles (D).

In addition to Lesser, Kelles, and Murtagh, two other town and county officials are seeking the Democratic nomination: Cortland County legislator Beau Harbin and Dryden Town Supervisor Jason Leifer. Community members Sujata Gibson and Lisa Hoeschele are also seeking the nomination.

There are no other candidates on the ballot, meaning the winner of the primary is likely to win the general election.

Rep. Brandon Woodard endorses Christina Haswood in Kansas House primary

On June 5, Rep. Brandon Woodard (D-30) endorsed Christina Haswood (D), one of three candidates in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary for Kansas’ House District 10. Haswood previously received an endorsement from incumbent Rep. Eileen Horn (D-10), who is not seeking re-election this year, leaving the seat open.

Haswood, a research assistant with the National Council of Urban Indian Health, faces Brandon Holland and A.J. Stevens in the primary. 

Holland is a liquor store manager and the son of state Sen. Tom Holland (D-03). He challenged Horn for the appointment to District 10 in 2017 following the resignation of Rep. John Wilson (D). The 10th District’s Democratic committee members voted 8-2 to appoint Horn to the seat.

Stevens, C.E.O. of the Baldwin City & Southern Railroad Company, was appointed to the Baldwin City Council in 2017 and served as its president until 2020. 

Haswood, Holland, and Stevens are the only candidates running for the House District 10 seat, meaning the winner of the Democratic primary will likely serve as the District’s next representative.

League of Women Voters hosts debate in N.Y. Assembly District 121

On June 9, Dan Buttermann (D) and Corey Mosher (D) participated in a debate hosted by the Cooperstown and Oneonta Area League of Women Voters. The two candidates are running in the Assembly District 121 Democratic primary to decide who will face incumbent Assm. John Salka (R) and Libertarian Jacob Cornell in the general election. 

Salka was first elected in 2018 after defeating 14-term incumbent Rep. William Magee (D). Salka received 50.5 percent of the vote to Magee’s 49.4 percent, a margin of 485 votes. There were no third-party candidates on the ballot in 2018.

Buttermann, a member of the Oneonta School Board, is an insurance claims specialist. During the debate, he listed addressing climate change, reforming education, and incentivizing job growth as top priorities. Buttermann challenged Magee in the 2018 Democratic primary, receiving 40 percent of the vote to Magee’s 60 percent.

Mosher, a farmer, said his campaign platform has three points: addressing climate change, representing agriculture, and reinvesting in infrastructure. He mentioned the endorsements he received from Magee and state Sen. Rachel May (D-53). The Working Families Party also endorsed his candidacy.

Rather than discussing one another, both candidates criticized Salka’s tenure as assemblyman. “The incumbent … has said in his own words, ‘I do not expect to get significant legislation passed,’” Buttermann said, “We need a representative who is able to get our fair share.” Mosher said, “Good leadership starts with building trust,” adding, “that upstate-downstate divide that has been so fomented by John Salka has really inhibited … what we can do in this district.” 

Power players

“The Communications Workers of America represents 700,000 workers in private and public sector employment. CWA members work in telecommunications and information technology, the airline industry, news media, broadcast and cable television, health care, public service and education, law enforcement, manufacturing and other fields.” – Communications Workers of America website

Founded in 1938 as the National Federation of Telephone Workers, Communications Workers of America calls itself “America’s largest communications and media union” and says it “has joined with faith groups, community organizations, civil rights groups, environmentalists, students and others to build a wide-ranging movement for economic justice and democracy.” To view the organization’s national issues, click here. CWA’s legislative agenda can be found here

The CWA Political Action Fund says it is a “non-partisan political action committee that fights for workers’ political power” and that “contributions to the fund go toward policies and candidates that defend workers’ rights.” CWA says that the fund “informs and mobilizes union families to encourage their participation in the political process.”

This month, CWA endorsed Al Gross for U.S. Senate in Alaska and Steve Bullock for U.S. Senate in Montana. 



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