TagHeart of the Primaries

Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 1

This week: Vermont’s newly open U.S. Senate seat puts eyes on Sanders for endorsement, New York AG and NYC public advocate join governor’s race.

Click here to follow developments on the Republican side.

With Sen. Leahy retiring, eyes are on Sanders for endorsement in Vermont

U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced on Nov. 15 that he won’t run for re-election in 2022. Leahy, who has served in the U.S. Senate since 1975, is the longest-serving senator currently in office. Leahy said, “While I will continue to serve Vermont, Marcelle and I have reached the conclusion that it is time to put down this gavel. It is time to pass the torch to the next Vermonter who will carry on this work for our great state.”

The filing deadline is set for May 26, and primaries are scheduled for Aug. 9. 

According to Axios‘ Hans Nichols, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) is “indicating to colleagues he’s preparing to run” for the seat. 

Nichols said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has “the potential to play kingmaker.” The Intercept’s Ryan Grim wrote, “If Sanders endorses Welch, he functionally forecloses any challenge from the left. State Rep. Tanya Vyhovsky is also contemplating a run for Senate … but told The Intercept she won’t do so if Sanders gets behind Welch.”

The Associated Press‘ Lisa Rathke wrote that Vermont is the only state that has never had a female member of Congress. Rathke named Vermont Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint, and state Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale as other potential Democratic candidates. VTDigger‘s Lola Duffort and Sarah Mearhoff said the three have indicated they wouldn’t run against Welch if he ran for Senate but may run for the House district he represents if he doesn’t seek re-election.

State, county Democratic Party conflict in Nevada affecting campaigns

In March, the Democratic Party of Nevada held elections for its five leadership positions. Democratic Socialists of America-endorsed candidates won all five posts. After the election, the party’s executive director, Alana Mounce, told Judith Whitmer, the new chair, that Mounce and the remaining staff and consultants were resigning.

The Hill’s Reid Wilson wrote in June that the Washoe County Democratic Party voted “to take over coordinated campaign duties for the entire state, effectively becoming the conduit through which national party organizations will funnel campaign money into Nevada.” That money is directed to an organization called Nevada Democratic Victory. Wilson noted that similar state and local party splits occurred in Nevada’s Republican Party in 2012 and North Carolina’s Democratic Party in 2014.

As of early November, the shift in coordinated campaign duties meant candidates, including incumbents Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Gov. Steve Sisolak, who hold offices considered competitive in 2022, did not have access to voter files. Whitmer said Nevada Democratic Victory had not tried to purchase that data yet and that “they’ve had contracts on their desks for a while now.” According to Politico‘s Holly Otterbein, “A person close to Nevada Democratic Victory said it has not been offered any contract to get hold of the data.” 

Whitmer told a group in May, “We’ve been advocating a lot of progressive policies. … Our legislators, obviously, aren’t all on board, but they’re going to have to be really, really soon. … We’re going to start holding those elected officials accountable which is something they’re not used to here in Nevada.” 

We’ll be following the happenings within Nevada’s state and county party organizations throughout 2022 for any effects this conflict may have on primary elections. The state’s filing deadline for candidates is scheduled for March 18 and the primaries are scheduled for June 14.

Clyburn, Sunrise endorse candidates for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin


Twelve candidates are currently running in Wisconsin’s Democratic Senate primary. Incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R), who first took office in 2011, has not yet announced if he will run for re-election. On Nov. 8, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) endorsed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, saying, “Mandela is hands-down the best candidate to defeat Senator Ron Johnson, expand our majority in the United States Senate, and deliver results for the people of Wisconsin.” 

The Wisconsin chapter of the Sunrise Movement endorsed Outagamie County executive and former state Assemblymember Tom Nelson on Nov. 11. A local coordinator said Nelson “understands the moment we are in where our country has billionaires and corporations controlling our corrupt Congress while the rest of us and the planet suffer.” 

The Hill’s Julia Manchester wrote that Sunrise’s endorsement “shows a growing endorsement battle in the Democratic primary between progressives and more establishment figures and organizations.” Manchester said Barnes’ campaign “has also touted their own slate of progressive endorsements including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and the Working Families Party.”

Other candidates include state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and Milwaukee Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry. EMILY’s List has endorsed Godlewski, and Lasry has endorsements from local Democratic Party leaders.  

The filing deadline for this race is June 1. According to Wisconsin Public Radio’s Laurel White, this is the first contested Democratic primary for one of Wisconsin’s Senate seats since 1992. Primaries are scheduled for Aug. 9. 

Governors in 2022: At A Glance

James, Williams enter New York gubernatorial primary

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) announced on Oct. 29 that she is running for governor of New York. New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (D) announced his primary candidacy on Nov. 16.

Incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said in August that she would run for a full term. Formerly lieutenant governor, Hochul succeeded Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) following his resignation amid sexual harassment allegations.  

Here’s some early messaging from the three candidates:

  • Hochul is campaigning on her actions as governor, including enforcing a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, passing an eviction moratorium, and releasing $200 million for food assistance. Hochul emphasizes that she is the first female governor of New York and supports legalized abortion. Hochul says she has “brought a fresh and collaborative approach to governing.”
  • James, who played a role in investigating the allegations against Cuomo, said her guiding principle has been, “Stand up to the powerful on behalf of the vulnerable to be a force for change.” James said her record includes suing the Trump administration 76 times, working to divest pension funds from fossil fuels, and holding powerful people accountable who mistreat women in the workplace.
  • Williams said, “Without new, courageous, progressive leadership creating change, the way things have always been will stand in the way of what they can be.” Williams says he is an activist and that he passed more laws than any public advocate in history. (The public advocate may introduce, but does not vote on, legislation in the city council).

The primary is scheduled for June 28.

Third state lawmaker joins Democratic primary for Wisconsin lt. governor

On Nov. 15, state Rep. David Bowen (D) said he would seek the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor of Wisconsin. Bowen joins a primary field that includes state Sen. Lena Taylor and state Rep. Sara Rodriguez. (As mentioned above, current Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is running for U.S. Senate.)

Bowen said in his announcement, “I am confident with my campaign we can build a winning coalition to help Democrats and Gov. (Tony) Evers win the governor’s office again.” Bowen said he would focus on “vulnerable voters who deserve to have something to vote for, not just something to vote against.”

Rodriguez said, “I can be a really good partner to Gov. Evers in something as large and as complicated as the Wisconsin state government, but most importantly, public health is my passion.” Rodriguez has a background as a nurse and public health professional.

Taylor said, “I believe that it’s important to strengthen the ticket and I look forward to being a team player to help bring Gov. Evers across the finish line.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Molly Beck wrote that Taylor plans to focus on “agricultural and food issues and music.”

Since 2000, two Democrats—Barbara Lawton and Barnes—and two Republicans—Margaret A. Farrow and Rebecca Kleefisch—have served as Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor. 

Beto O’Rourke to run for governor of Texas

On Nov. 15, Beto O’Rourke (D) announced he would run for governor of Texas. O’Rourke spoke about the February 2021 power outage in Texas and said, “Together, we can push past the small and divisive politics that we see in Texas today — and get back to the big, bold vision that used to define Texas.”

O’Rourke joins a primary field that includes three candidates who have not held elected office: Deirdre Dickson-Gilbert, Michael Cooper, and Larry Baggett. The Democratic and Republican primaries are scheduled for March 1. Incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is seeking a third term. 

This will be the second time O’Rourke has run for statewide office in Texas. He ran for U.S. Senate in 2018 against Sen. Ted Cruz (R), who defeated O’Rourke 51% to 48%. 

O’Rourke also ran in the Democratic presidential primary in 2020. He served in the U.S. House from 2013 to 2019.

The NY state legislators facing primary challenges (so far)

City & State New York‘s Zach Williams and Jeff Coltin published a list of 11 Democratic New York state Senate and Assembly members with primary challengers as of Nov. 12, with background information on the candidates. Four of the contested primaries include a challenger endorsed by a chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

The following incumbents have challengers:

  • Sen. Brian Kavanagh
  • Sen. Kevin Parker
  • Sen. Luis Sepúlveda
  • Sen. Simcha Felder 
  • Asm. Michael Benedetto
  • Asm. Kevin Cahill
  • Asm. Erik Dilan
  • Asm. John McDonald III
  • Asm. Cathy Nolan
  • Asm. José Rivera
  • Asm. David Weprin

Cahill, Dilan, Kavanagh, and Parker face DSA-backed challengers.

In 2020’s Democratic primaries, six Assembly members and no incumbent Senate members were defeated. In 2018, seven senators and two assembly members lost in primaries.

Find City & State‘s list and candidate information here.

Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 1

Welcome to the first edition of the 2022 election cycle’s The Heart of the Primaries! We’ll be sending a new issue to your inbox every two weeks on Thursdays until January, when we’ll begin sending weekly.

This week: Where Trump has endorsed challengers to GOP incumbents so far; conflict in Massachusetts GOP manifests in potential gubernatorial primary matchup

Click here to follow developments on the Democratic side. 

Where Trump has endorsed challengers to GOP incumbents so far

Former President Donald Trump has made more than 50 endorsements in the 2022 elections so far, including several candidates challenging GOP incumbents. The table above includes incumbents who are running for re-election or have not announced their intentions.

Three of the four House incumbents with Trump-endorsed challengers voted to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection following the Jan. 6 Capitol breach: Liz Cheney, Jaime Herrera Beutler, and Fred Upton. Two of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach—Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16) and Adam Kinzinger (IL-16)—are not running for re-election.

Three incumbent Republican senators with seats up for election in 2022 voted “guilty” on Trump’s 2021 impeachment: Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Richard Burr (N.C.), and Pat Toomey (Penn.). Murkowski is the only one seeking re-election. Trump endorsed Kelly Tshibaka in the primary (which will be a top-four primary featuring candidates of all affiliations—click here for more information). Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the group will be supporting all incumbent senators.

Trump has criticized Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on crime, policing, and other issues. Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger argued over the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election results in the state. We cover conflicts in the Idaho gubernatorial race below.

We’ll be watching how impeachment votes and 2020 election claims unfold in these and other Republican primaries, along with policy differences between the candidates.

Missouri Republicans weigh effect of Eric Greitens’ U.S. Senate candidacy

A recurring theme during primary season is how candidates must connect with the primary election voter base and lay the groundwork for the general election. Often, primary candidates argue that their opponents aren’t likely to win the general election. An early example of this conflict in the 2022 season is developing in Missouri’s GOP Senate primary. 

Nine candidates are seeking the GOP nomination so far, including the state Senate president, the state attorney general, and two current U.S. House members. Sen. Roy Blunt (R) is not seeking re-election. National media coverage has focused on the potential effect of former Gov. Eric Greitens’ candidacy. 

Greitens was elected governor in 2016 and resigned in 2018 following investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct and misuse of campaign information. Greitens’ opponents say nominating him would benefit Democrats in the general election. Greitens’ supporters say the allegations against him were politically motivated and that he is the candidate most in line with the party’s base.

Greitens has received endorsements from Trump allies including Rudy Giuliani, Michael Flynn, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, who serves as Greitens’ national campaign chairwoman. Trump has not indicated whether he intends to issue an endorsement. 

Missouri’s primaries are set to take place Aug. 2.

Flynn, Stone endorse challenger of 8-term incumbent in FL-16

Former Trump advisors Roger Stone and Michael Flynn endorsed Martin Hyde in Florida’s 16th Congressional District. Hyde is challenging eight-term incumbent Vern Buchanan in the Republican primary, scheduled for Aug. 23. 

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune‘s Zac Anderson said Hyde is challenging Buchanan “from the right and [trying to] rally the MAGA faithful to his side.” Hyde published a letter in the Herald-Tribune during Trump’s 2016 campaign in which he called Trump “wretched” and criticized Trump supporters for what he called “bigotry and bullying.” In May 2021, Hyde said his opinion of Trump had evolved over time and that “[t]he fatal flaw in his character is probably also the most valuable quality that he has, where he’s not one of them. … That’s the light bulb or the thing that I saw over subsequent time, that Trump possessed something that the others didn’t.”

At an event with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in the district recently, Buchanan said he was “passionate about we [sic] need to find a way to build the wall,” referencing Trump’s 2016 campaign theme of building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Buchanan voted against impeaching Trump in January 2021 and voted against objecting to the presidential election results from Arizona and Pennsylvania on Jan. 6. According to FiveThirtyEight, Buchanan voted with Trump’s position 84% of the time in the 116th Congress and 97% of the time in the 115th Congress.

Governors in 2022: At A Glance

Trump endorsement follows conflict between Little and McGeachin in Idaho

Trump endorsed Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin in the Republican primary for Idaho governor, calling McGeachin a “true supporter of MAGA since the very beginning.” The endorsement came days after Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) attended the America First Policy Institute Gala in Florida, where Trump called Little “a terrific gentleman.” Little has not yet announced whether he’ll seek re-election.

Little and McGeachin have come into conflict in recent months, with McGeachin using her power as acting governor to issue executive orders while Little was out of state. Little rescinded the orders once he returned.

In May, McGeachin issued an executive order banning mask mandates while Little was at a Republican Governors Association meeting. In October, McGeachin issued an executive order prohibiting state agencies from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or testing while Little was at the U.S.-Mexico border. Little had issued a similar order, but his did not include K-12 schools and universities.

The primary is scheduled for May 17.

Massachusetts Republican Party conflict manifests in governor’s race

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is considering whether to seek re-election. If he does, the Republican primary could be the center of a debate over the direction of the party in the state. In Massachusetts, 10% of voters are registered Republicans, 32% are Democrats, and 57% are unenrolled (independent). 

Baker recently called himself a “Bill Weld Republican,” referring to the former Republican governor who ran for president in 2016 as a Libertarian and again in 2020 as a Republican. 

Last month, Baker called on state GOP Chair Jim Lyons to step down after Lyons didn’t revoke his endorsement of a city council candidate who referred to mayoral candidate Michelle Wu’s Asian heritage in a tweet. Lyons said that Baker should reconsider his party affiliation, saying he was “abandoning the principles of the Republican Party.”

The Boston Globe‘s Emma Platoff wrote that Baker “takes a bipartisan approach in his dealings with the Democratic-dominated Legislature; Lyons, for his part, leads a more conservative faction of the party that argues Republicans in the state should take a harder line despite their minimal power on Beacon Hill.”

Former state Rep. Geoff Diehl is running in the primary and has criticized Baker‘s actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including business closures and vaccine mandates for state workers. As mentioned above, Trump endorsed Diehl.

Former party chair Jennifer Nassour (2009-2011) said if Diehl beat Baker in a primary, it would mean the “end of the Republican party in Massachusetts,” referring to Baker’s popularity and Diehl’s unsuccessful bids for state Senate in 2015 and U.S. Senate in 2018.  

Due to his position, Lyons cannot endorse in the primary. Primaries in Massachusetts are set for Sept. 20.

Three candidates running in primary against Texas AG Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) filed for re-election on Nov. 16. Paxton will face at least three elected officials in the Republican primary: Lands Commissioner George P. Bush, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, and state Rep. Matt Krause.

Paxton was first elected attorney general in 2014. He had no primary opposition in 2018 and defeated Justin Nelson (D) 51% to 47% in the general election.

Paxton’s primary opponents say he should not run for re-election in light of ongoing legal issues. A grand jury indicted Paxton on two counts of first-degree securities fraud and one count of not registering in July 2015. As of this writing, the case was headed to trial in Collin County following a legal dispute over the trial’s location. 

In a separate case, seven of Paxton’s employees at the state Attorney General’s office resigned in the second half of 2020 and alleged that Paxton had violated both state and federal law related to improper influence and abuse of office. Paxton and his supporters say both allegations against him were politically motivated.

In his re-election bid announcement, Paxton said he is the only candidate in the race with a Trump endorsement and that he sued Barack Obama 27 times and is involved in more than 21 lawsuits against the Biden administration.

The filing deadline for this election is Dec. 13. The primary is scheduled for March 1. If necessary, a runoff is scheduled for May 24. 

Redistricting shapes N.C. Senate district candidate field

North Carolina state Sen. Tom McInnis, who currently represents the 25th District, moved his residence to his former second home so that he could run in the redrawn 21st District. Redistricting would have pit McInnis against incumbent Sen. David Craven (R) in a primary if he stayed in his former residence. McInnis was first elected in 2014.

In the redrawn 21st District’s primary, McInnis faces former state Senate Majority Whip Wesley Meredith, who served in the Senate from 2011 to 2018 representing District 19. Democrat Kirk deViere defeated Meredith in 2018. Meredith ran again in 2020 and lost to deViere.  

According to Carolina Journal News Service‘s Dallas Woodhouse, McInnis “advocated for a deal announced last year that landed the second headquarters for the U.S. Golf Association for Moore County, along with the staging of a major golf championship every five years.” And Meredith “took a leading role on veterans and military issues” during his time in the Senate.

The filing deadline is Dec. 17 and the primary election is scheduled for March 8.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 33 (September 2, 2020)

This week: Recapping Kansas’ state legislative primaries and looking ahead to New Hampshire

With Labor Day just around the corner and general election season in full swing, this will be the last regular edition of 2020’s Heart of the Primaries. Notable election results from the primaries in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Delaware will be featured in Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew. We hope you have enjoyed our reporting on 2020’s primaries as much as we have enjoyed bringing you this newsletter. Heart of the Primaries will return ahead of the 2022 midterms.

On the news

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

On 2024:

“I don’t believe that a candidate who runs for the nomination, let’s say in 2024, is going to be able to go back to free trade, globalism, or interventionism … because …  the Republican Party has been changed and reoriented to a great degree by Donald Trump.

“So I think that’s what controls it. … [T]he Republicans today, many of them are … basically establishment Republicans, Conservative Inc., and all the rest of it and they may not believe what they are mouthing, but the fact that they are required to speak in a certain way and address these issues indicates a realization on their part that, intellectually, they have lost the battle for the party’s issues and the party’s identity. And frankly if someone came in and attempted to impose free trade and open borders on the Republican Party, he would not be nominated by the GOP.”

Pat Buchanan, Newsmax TV, Aug. 29, 2020


“Donald Trump took over the Republican Party, but it’s still discernibly the Republican Party. …

“There … are notable differences of substance. Trump’s party has reversed itself on trade and jettisoned concern over deficit spending. The party is much less hawkish than George W. Bush’s GOP and much more skeptical of immigration than Ronald Reagan’s. It doesn’t have the focus of the 2004 Republican convention on terrorism or the 2012 Republican convention on out-of-control entitlement spending.

“And yet there is a clear throughline between today’s Republican Party and the GOP of the past several decades. …

“Take Don Trump Jr.’s forceful speech, which by lineage and inclination should be most representative of the Trump GOP. …

“Trump Jr. argued that “Biden’s radical left-wing policies would stop our economic recovery cold,” in part by raising taxes.

“This contrast with Democrats is a GOP commonplace. …

“Trump Jr. underlined the importance of safety and security and hailed the police as American heroes.

“Again, back in 1984, Vice President Bush said, ‘President Reagan and I think it’s time that we worried less about the criminals and more about the victims of crime.’ …

“This perspective sheds some light on the future of a post-Trump GOP. In the main, it’s not likely to be radically different from the current Trump GOP. …

“If this week’s convention has again demonstrated Trump’s personal grip on the party, it also showed that the Republican Party as it has existed for decades isn’t going away.”

Rich Lowry, The National Review, Aug. 28, 2020

U.S. Congress

Previewing the U.S. Senate Republican primary in New Hampshire

Four candidates are running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire on Sept. 8. Don Bolduc and Bryant “Corky” Messner have led in media attention, endorsements, and campaign finance. 

The Concord Monitor’s Ethan DeWitt wrote:

“In Bolduc, voters can choose a career military servant, a brigadier general who rose through the ranks under a long line of presidents and now seeks change from the outside. In Messner they can pick an avowed capitalist, a Trump-endorsed corporate lawyer who built a Denver-based law firm and is running to stand up for small businesses.”

Bolduc received endorsements from the Senate Conservatives Fund, New Hampshire’s former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith (R), and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who said Bolduc “has the integrity, courage, and conviction to lead a positive strategy, and keep America safe.” Messner received endorsements from U.S. President Donald Trump (R), who said Messner was “Strong on jobs, crime, veterans, and the Second Amendment”, and the National Association for Gun Rights.

According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, Messner has raised more than $4.4 million, including $3.9 million he loaned to his campaign. Bolduc had raised $889,000. The candidates have $2.5 million and $178,000 cash on hand, respectively.

Gerard Beloin and Andy Martin are also running in the primary.

Incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), first elected in 2008, is seeking re-election. In 2014, Shaheen defeated Scott Brown (R), 51.5-48.2%. New Hampshire most recently held a U.S. Senate election in 2016, when Maggie Hassan (D) defeated incumbent Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), 48-47.9%.

Previewing New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District Republican primary

Five candidates are running in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District Republican primary on Sept. 8. Matt Mayberry and Matt Mowers lead the field in noteworthy endorsements and fundraising.

Mayberry, a former Dover City Councilor and chairman of the N.H. Commission on Human Rights, received endorsements from U.S. Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R). Mowers worked as the executive director of the N.H. Republican State Committee and a senior White House advisor in the U.S. State Department. He received endorsements from U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, Mowers has raised $693,000 and has $373,000 cash on hand. Mayberry has raised $173,000 and has $22,000 cash on hand.

Michael Callis, Jeff Denaro, and Kevin Rondeau are also running in the primary.

Denaro, Mayberry, and Mowers completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Read their full responses here. Each candidate is asked to provide three key messages, excerpts of which include:

  • Denaro: “Our National Debt at this time is 26.6 Trillion. I want to propose bills to lower our debt.”
  • Mayberry: “Matt Mayberry is a true New Hampshire Conservative. He believes in smaller government, lower taxes and more personal freedom.”
  • Mowers: “It’s time for a new generation of conservative leadership that will stand up for New Hampshire.”

The winner of the primary will face incumbent Rep. Chris Pappas (D), first elected in 2018 after defeating Eddie Edwards (R), 54-45%. Pappas’ victory made the 1st District one of 30 House Districts represented by a Democrat in 2020 that voted for Trump in 2016. During the presidential election, Trump received 48% of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 47% in the 1st District.

State legislatures

Race recap: Kansas’ state legislative elections

Kansas’ state legislative primaries took place on Aug. 4. Over one-quarter of the Republican incumbents seeking re-election faced primary challenges this year, and roughly 40 percent of them lost to their challengers.

The Wichita Eagle’s Jonathan Shorman said these primary challenges illustrated a longstanding, intra-party ideological divide in the state’s legislature: “The influence of Kansas Republican moderates has waxed and waned. Gov. Sam Brownback [(R)] helped oust them in 2012. Voters then swept them back into office in 2016 to end his signature income tax cuts and stabilize the budget.” Shorman continued, “But with last week’s primary losses, their ranks have been depleted to levels not seen for years.”

Below are the results of Republican primaries that featured this ideological divide, according to local media sources like The Wichita Eagle, Shawnee Mission Post, and The Kansas City Star.

In the state Senate races listed below, all of the incumbents who lost primaries this year were first elected in 2016, the last time state Senate elections took place. Four of the 2020 incumbents—Skubal, Givens, Hardy, and Berger—all defeated Republican incumbents themselves in 2016.

The House last held elections in 2018. Of the four incumbents defeated below, Dirks was first elected in 2012 and Moore in 2018. Kessinger and Karleskint were both elected in 2016 after defeating Republican incumbents in their respective primaries.

Power players

“Making the change one outsider at a time.” – Conservative Outsider PAC website

Conservative Outsider PAC (COPAC) is a political action committee founded in 2020. Its current treasurer is Kate Teasdale, who works as a Republican political consultant. Notable contributions to COPAC during the 2020 election cycle include $315,000 from Club for Growth and $750,000 from Protect Freedom PAC.

COPAC has not made any direct campaign contributions during the current election cycle, but it has made independent expenditures in Republican primaries totaling $1,376,922. Most recently, it spent $385,000 on television ads opposing Bill Hagerty’s (R) bid for the U.S. Senate in Tennessee, bringing its total spending in opposition to Hagerty to $968,000. COPAC also spent $250,835 and $102,468 to oppose Dane Eagle’s (R) campaign in Florida’s 19th Congressional District and Tracey Mann’s campaign in Kansas’ 1st Congressional District. Both Hagerty and Mann won their primary elections, while Eagle lost his by a margin of .7 percentage points.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 33 (September 2, 2020)

This week: Results from last night’s primaries in Massachusetts and a preview of the top primaries in New Hampshire

With Labor Day just around the corner and general election season in full swing, this will be the last regular edition of 2020’s Heart of the Primaries. Notable election results from the primaries in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Delaware will be featured in Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew. We hope you have enjoyed our reporting on 2020’s primaries as much as we have enjoyed bringing you this newsletter. Heart of the Primaries will return ahead of the 2022 midterms.

On the news

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

On whether the presidential race is tightening:

In a powerful speech in Pittsburgh on Monday, Joe Biden nestled into his comfort zone. The Democratic presidential nominee is never more clear, direct or impassioned than when the disaster that is President Trump and the moral authority of the office are the focus of his attention. What’s stunning is that the president happily feeds Biden’s fire. …

“…I believe Biden has an upper hand against Trump. Forget about the president’s lame attempts to question Biden’s mental acuity or his ability to do the job. Those are projections meant to distract and to stoke fear among easily panicked Democrats. No, pay attention to what Biden has done. He’s laid a trap that everyone can see and Trump fails to avoid. Every time he opens his mouth, Trump forays into racism and white grievance that give Biden another chance to stand in stark contrast to him. Another chance to show humanity and leadership to a nation in desperate need of it.

“But I am also mindful of this: A cornered animal will fight its way out of it. And Trump is using fear to fight his way out, even if it means exacerbating racial tensions. That’s why he went to Kenosha to visit law enforcement. That’s why he can’t see fit to denounce right-wing militias who support him. That’s why he absolutely must be defeated in November.”

Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post, Sept. 1, 2020


“In mid-August, a Pew Research Center poll found that the issue of violent crime ranks fifth in importance to registered voters—behind the economy, health care, the Supreme Court, and the pandemic, but ahead of foreign policy, guns, race, immigration, and climate change. The poll found a large partisan gap on the issue: three-quarters of Trump voters rated violent crime “very important,” second behind only the economy. Nonetheless, nearly half of Biden voters also rated it “very important.” Other polls show that, over the summer, Biden has lost some of the support he gained among older white Americans in the first months of the coronavirus pandemic. …

“On Tuesday night, the CNN host Don Lemon warned his colleague Chris Cuomo that riots were hurting Biden and the Democrats: ‘Chris, as you know and I know, it’s showing up in the polls, it’s showing up in focus groups. It’s the only thing right now that’s sticking.’ Lemon urged Biden to speak out about both police reform and violence. With Kenosha and the political conventions, the coverage seems to be changing. On Thursday, the Times ran a piece headlined ‘How Chaos in Kenosha Is Already Swaying Some Voters in Wisconsin.’ … 

“Nothing will harm a campaign like the wishful thinking, fearful hesitation, or sheer complacency that fails to address what voters can plainly see. Kenosha gives Biden a chance to help himself and the country. Ordinarily it’s the incumbent president’s job to show up at the scene of a national tragedy and give a unifying speech. But Trump is temperamentally incapable of doing so and, in fact, has a political interest in America’s open wounds and burning cities.

George Packer, The Atlantic, Aug. 28, 2020

Election results

  • Massachusetts U.S. Senate primary: Incumbent Ed Markey defeated Joe Kennedy III. As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on September 2, Markey had 55% of the vote to Kennedy’s 45%. Markey, who was first elected in 2013, had endorsements from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Kennedy, who has served in the U.S. House since 2013, had endorsements from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). Election forecasters say Markey is a solid bet to win re-election in November.
  • Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District primary: Incumbent Richard Neal defeated Alex Morse. As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on September 2, Neal had 59% of the vote to Morse’s 41%. Neal, who was first elected in 1988, is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. 
  • Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District primary: As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on September 2, this primary was too close to call. Nine Democrats were on the ballot for the seat currently held by Joe Kennedy III. Jake Auchincloss led with 23% of the vote, followed by Jesse Mermell with 22% and Becky Grossman with 18%.

State executives

Previewing New Hampshire’s gubernatorial primary

Two of New Hampshire’s top elected Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination to challenge Gov. Chris Sununu (R), who was first elected in 2016. State Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes will face Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky in the Sept. 8 primary.

According to WMUR’s John DiStaso, “While Volinsky is viewed as a bit further to the left philosophically than Feltes, in fact the two are similar on many other issues and point to their experiences representing for middle- and low-income people among their chief qualifications to go up against the popular Republican incumbent.”

Feltes and Volinsky differ on a broad-based tax. Since 2002, every New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial nominee has pledged to veto any broad-based tax increase. Feltes has made a similar pledge, while Volinsky says such a promise is outdated, instead committing to reducing local property taxes for the majority of citizens.

Feltes, who has served in the state senate since 2015, has endorsements from End Citizens United, Let America Vote, and the Voter Protection Project. Volinsky, who has been a member of the Executive Council since 2016, is backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the Sierra Club, and Blue America.

As of the August campaign finance reports, Feltes led in fundraising with $1.0 million to Volinsky’s $590,000.

The winner will face the Republican nominee and Libertarian Darryl Perry in the November general election. Incumbent Chris Sununu (R) was first elected 49% to 47% in 2016 and was re-elected 53% to 46% in 2018. Two election forecasters say Republicans are likely to win the November election and one says it leans towards Republicans.

Previewing New Hampshire’s Executive Council District 2 primary

Six Democrats are seeking the nomination for one of five seats on the New Hampshire Executive Council. The five-member executive board is responsible for approving state expenditures, overseeing spending, and approving gubernatorial appointments. Incumbent Andru Volinsky (D), who has held the District 2 seat since the 2016 election, is running for governor.

Four candidates—Leah Plunkett, Emmett Soldati, Craig Thompson, and Cinde Warmington—completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. One of the questions on the survey asked candidates what areas of public policy they are personally passionate about. An abridged version of each candidate’s response follows.

Plunkett said: “Leah has demonstrated proven progressive courage through her board service on Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and the ACLU. She has stood up and spoke out to make real, proven change even when it was unpopular. With Leah, it’s an important combination: a proven skill set, plus the perspective of a young working mom of two.”

Soldati said: “The Executive Council represents a larger opportunity to expand access to others who have been left out of the conversation – to appoint leaders to agencies and commissions with diverse perspectives on what life is like for Granite Staters, with lived experience that relates to the complex issues we are working to solve, to ensure that the businesses we engage with have strong anti-discrimination policies and pay fair wages, and to safeguard our courts against corporate, partisan, and conservative interests.”

Thompson said: “People of every age, gender, race, national origin, faith background, marital status and family structure, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, mental and physical ability, economic and social status, and educational background should feel welcome to make New Hampshire their home…We place the highest value on public service of all kinds, civilian and military, and encourage all to engage and serve their communities.”

Warmington said: “We’re facing the most dire public health crisis of our lifetime. Yet, no one on our Executive Council has a health care background. Having an Executive Councilor who understands both the complexities of the health care system and how those are presented in state contracts will be of great benefit. I know what’s in our state contracts. I know what to ask. I know where we can hold state contractors accountable to lower costs and expand access.”

Also on the ballot are John Shea and Jay Surdukowski. Two Republicans are also in the running: Jim Beard and Stewart Levenson. New Hampshire’s Executive Council District 2 is located in the southern part of the state and has elected a Democrat in every election since the last round of redistricting took place following the 2010 census.

Power players

“Officially affiliated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Courage to Change seeks to reward challengers and incumbents who display political courage — people who refuse to bow to establishment pressure, who advocate ferociously for working-class families, and who have lived the same struggles as the people they seek to represent.” – Courage to Change PAC website

Courage to Change PAC is a political action committee affiliated with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The PAC was established in 2019, the same year Ocasio-Cortez assumed office. In addition to financial support, it also endorses candidates, with its most recent endorsement being Alex Morse (D) in the Massachusetts 1st Congressional District primary.

During the 2020 election cycle, Courage to Change PAC has spent a total of $217,386. Its top contributions include $10,000 to the campaign of Samelys López who ran in the Democratic primary in New York’s 15th Congressional District and nine $7,500 contributions to Democratic primary campaigns in New York.

Click the following link to see Courage to Change PAC’s 2020 endorsements.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 32 (August 26, 2020)

This week: Endorsements for Mayberry, Mowers in NH-01, Gonzales wins TX-23 primary runoff following recount, Mass. GOP runs Facebook ad supporting incumbent Rep. Boldyga in 3rd Hampden House District primary

On the news

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

On President Trump’s second-term agenda

“A couple of weeks ago, I asked of the Trump campaign, ‘Where’s the energy? Where are the ideas for the future?’ Well, with [the president’s second-term agenda], they’ve answered those questions and then some. … It seems to me that the president and his team are bursting with ideas to move the country forward, concrete plans, not the vague platitudes we heard last week, which themselves were completely overshadowed by the nonstop negativity of the Democrats’ doom and gloom convention. …

“People want to know what you’re going to do for them, specific, practical things, not just esoteric academic concepts. And here’s what the Trump campaign is promising to do for you and this country in a second term:

“The plan is called ‘Fighting for You! The Best is Yet to Come.’ There are fifty commitments in ten categories including jobs, ending our reliance on China, drain the swamp, defend our police, end illegal immigration and protect our workers, and innovate for the future. … Here are a few specific highlights: tax credits for companies that bring manufacturing jobs back from China with a target of a million jobs returning, providing school choice to every child in America …

“There is so much more. Exactly what we wanted to see.”

Steve Hilton, Fox News, Aug. 24, 2020


“If Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s acceptance speech was full of gauzy platitudes with few real policy specifics, President Trump’s 49-point second-term ‘agenda’ is even more of an insult to voters’ intelligence. …


“The first seven agenda items come under the rubric of ‘jobs.’ The first is typical: ‘Create 10 million new jobs in 10 months.’


“Yes, that’s it. There is nothing about how he would ‘create’ such jobs. Trump promises the moon and the stars without even identifying the type of jet fuel, much less designing the rocket. …


“On and on goes this tommyrot, until finally concluding with two great policies related to national security. First, ‘wipe out global terrorists who threaten to harm Americans,’ and then ‘build a great cybersecurity defense system and missile defense system.’


“Gee, why didn’t Biden think of those things? Biden must really be a dolt. Only by reelecting Trump will we be awarded the executive order that wipes out global terrorists. After all, everybody knows that ‘eradicate terrorists’ executive orders are unconstitutional in a president’s first term but not in the second. Otherwise, Trump would have done it already. Still, we can trust him to do it in 2021, because it says so in his agenda.”

Quin Hillyer, The Washington Examiner, Aug. 24, 2020

Election results

Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District runoff: Stephanie Bice defeated Terry Neese to win the Republican nomination to challenge Rep. Kendra Horn (D). The two advanced to a runoff after no candidate won a majority in the June 30 primary. In the primary, Neese placed first with 37% of the vote, while Bice followed with 25%. Bice, a state senator whose endorsers included former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), said she would be the more effective legislator. Neese, a business owner and the national co-chairwoman of President Trump’s small business advisory council, said she would be the stronger ally to the president.

U.S. Congress

Endorsements for Mayberry, Mowers in NH-01

In the past month, prominent endorsers have weighed in on New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District Republican primary. Of the five candidates, Matt Mayberry and Matt Mowers lead in endorsements.

Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and the American Conservative Union—which hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)—endorsed Mowers. Former U.S. Sen. John Sununu endorsed Mayberry. Before serving in the Senate, Sununu represented the 1st District in the House. He is Gov. Chris Sununu’s brother.

WMUR’s John DiStaso wrote, “Sununu during the 2016 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination was a national co-chair for former Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s campaign. Mowers headed the campaign of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the Granite State but later worked in the Donald Trump campaign and was appointed to the State Department post by the Trump administration.” 

Mowers was a senior White House advisor and chief of staff and chief policy officer at the State Department. Mayberry is a former member of the Dover School Board and Dover City Council.  

The primary winner will face incumbent Chris Pappas (D) in November. This is one of 30 congressional districts with a Democratic incumbent that Donald Trump won in the 2016 presidential election.

Both Mayberry and Mowers completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey.

Here is each candidate’s response to: “Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?” Click their names to read full survey responses.

Matt Mayberry:

“Matt Mayberry is a true New Hampshire Conservative. He believes in smaller government, lower taxes and more personal freedom.

“We need a true conservative, common sense, New Hampshire voice down in Washington and Matt Mayberry is the person for the job.

“Matt Mayberry was a 2016 & 2020 Trump Delegate to the RNC Convention.”

Matt Mowers:

“It’s time for a new generation of conservative leadership that will stand up for New Hampshire

“In Congress, Matt will ignore the partisan battles and work with the President to deliver real results

“Matt has seen first hand the damage that implementing socialist policies can do to a country. We don’t need someone who campaigns like JFK but votes like AOC. We deserve better, someone who will put New Hampshire first.”

Gonzales wins TX-23 primary runoff following recount

Tony Gonzales defeated Raul Reyes Jr. by a margin of 39 votes in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. 

The runoff was held on July 14. On July 31, the Republican Party of Texas certified Gonzales as the winner of the primary, with unofficial vote totals showing him ahead by 45 votes. Reyes filed a request for a recount on Aug. 3. On Aug. 21, Reyes said, “Without a sizable shift in the vote margin after a recount in the most populous parts of the district I have decided to end the recount.”

President Donald Trump and incumbent William Hurd (R) had endorsed Gonzales. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had endorsed Reyes.

Gonzales will face Gina Ortiz Jones (D) and two others in the Nov. 3 general election. Three election forecasters rate the general election Lean Democratic.

State executives

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu leads primary challenger in fundraising

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu leads primary challenger Karen Testerman in fundraising, according to campaign finance reports filed with the New Hampshire Secretary of State on Aug. 19.

Sununu, who is running for a third two-year term, raised $150,000 since June from 577 separate contributors and spent $100,000 during the same period. Overall, Sununu has raised $1.1 million and spent $560,000. 

Testerman, a Franklin city councilor who says Sununu’s response to the coronavirus pandemic crippled New Hampshire’s economy, raised $15,000 from 94 separate donors since launching her campaign in June. She spent $6,900 during that period.

A third candidate, whose name is Nobody, filed a statement indicating he had no campaign activity to report.

The winner of the Sept. 8 primary will advance to the general election, which two election forecasters say Republicans are likely to win. A third forecaster says the race leans towards Republicans.

Race recap: Governor of Missouri

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

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson defeated three challengers to win the Republican nomination for his first full term in an Aug. 4 primary. Parson became governor in June 2018 following the resignation of Eric Greitens (R) amid investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct and misuse of voter information.

Parson received 75% of the primary vote, followed by Saundra McDowell with 12%, Jim Neely with 9%, and Raleigh Ritter with 4%. 

McDowell, the Republican nominee for state auditor in 2018, said she was running to bring transparency to state government. Neely, a state representative, said he would oppose shutdowns and mask mandates in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Ritter, a rancher and small business owner, said he had the most business experience.

Parson will face Nicole Galloway (D), Jerome Bauer (G), and Rik Combs (L) in the November general election. Two election forecasters say Parson is likely to win and one says the race leans towards Parson.



The number of incumbents who did not seek re-election is provided for the 44 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 39 states that had held state legislative primaries as of Aug. 25, 2020.

Mass. GOP runs Facebook ad supporting incumbent Rep. Boldyga in 3rd Hampden House District primary

On Aug. 19, the Massachusetts Republican Party ran a Facebook ad encouraging voters in the 3rd Hampden House District to support incumbent Rep. Nick Boldyga (R) in the Sept. 1 primary. Boldyga, first elected in 2010, is facing his first primary challenge from Agawam City Councilor Dino Mercadante (R).

Both candidates completed questionnaires for MassLive on Aug. 15, which asked the candidates: “What is the most important issue facing the district, and how would you address it?”

Boldyga, a former police officer and auditor, said he would “ensure that our communities remain affordable and the best towns to live, work, and raise a family,” adding, “I have a proven track record of voting to lower taxes, create jobs, and cut wasteful spending to achieve those goals.”

Mercadante, a restaurant owner, said, “Our district lacks proactive and aggressive representation. Our communities receive funding based on predetermined formulas that the state utilizes,” adding, “It is critical that this district elect someone who WILL advocate, who WILL go above and beyond for our schools, our infrastructure projects.”

The winner of the primary will face Agawam School Committee member Kerri O’Connor in the general election. In 2018, Boldyga defeated Forrest Bradford (D) 66% to 34%.

Xiarhos releases tax returns in Mass.’ 5th Barnstable House District primary

On Aug. 17, the Cape Cod Times’ Geoff Spillane reported that Steve Xiarhos released his income tax returns from 2017, 2018, and 2019 and called on his primary opponent, Tom Keyes, to do the same. Xiarhos and Keyes are running in the Republican primary for the 5th Barnstable House District. The current incumbent, Rep. Randy Hunt (R) is retiring. Hunt has endorsed Xiarhos. 

Xiarhos reported an income of $142,506 in 2019.

Xiarhos campaign chairman David Sampson said, “We are dedicated to being aboveboard and transparent … There is no question that our opponent in the primary has not validated who he is, relative to claims to business experience.”

Keyes’ campaign strategist Holly Robichaud said, “It sounds like a very desperate campaign taking advice from Hillary Clinton,” adding, “We strongly believe that the people of [the district] are concerned about who can best revive the economy.”

Xiarhos is a former deputy chief of police with the Yarmouth Police Department. He has not held elected office. In addition to Hunt, Xiarhos has received endorsements from the Fraternal Order of Police and the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts, among others.

Keyes is the president of Keyes Quality Systems, a business coaching and consulting firm. He served on the Sandwich Board of Selectmen from 2002 to 2008 and on the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates from 2008 to 2011. Sandwich Mayor Shaunna O’Connell and the Gun Owners’ Action League are among his endorsers.

The winner of the Sept. 1 primary will face James Dever (D) in the general election.

Power players

“The American Dream is back — bigger, better, and stronger than ever before! With your help, we will defeat the do-nothing Democrats, replace them with pro-Trump conservatives, and remove Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House!” – Majority Committee PAC website

House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) assumed office in 2007 and has led Republicans in the House since 2014. According to Open Secrets, he is the second-highest fundraiser in Congress for the 2020 election cycle at $16,638,004, behind House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). McCarthy ranks highest in Congress for candidate-to-candidate giving from both his leadership PAC, Majority Committee PAC, and his campaign committee at $2,038,520.

Among the top disbursements reported to the Federal Election Commission from McCarthy’s campaign committee, Kevin McCarthy for Congress, are: $541,388 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, $100,000 to the California Republican Party Federal Acct., and $20,000 to the Kern County Republican Central Committee (FED), along with 14 $4,000 contributions to individual Republican congressional campaigns. Majority Committee PAC’s top Congressional campaign contributions include $20,000 to Rep. Greg Murphy (R-N.C.) and Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Calif.), and $15,000 to Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.) and Tony Gonzales (R), who is running in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 32 (August 26, 2020)

This week: Pelosi endorses Kennedy against Markey, Reeves endorses Strickland over Doglio in WA-10, New Hampshire Youth Movement endorses challenger to 42-year incumbent in Rockingham’s House District 25

On the news

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

On former Kansas House candidate, Aaron Coleman (D)

“The unexpected primary victory on Monday in Kansas by progressive Democratic challenger Aaron Coleman should have been a political fairy tale. Coleman is a first-time candidate at the age of 19, and was outspent by more than 10-1 by his entrenched, corporatist incumbent-opponent, seven-term state Rep. Stan Frownfelter. …

“But far from a fairy tale, a dark cloud has quickly descended over Coleman’s improbable victory. The Kansas State Democratic Party has vowed to heavily finance an organized write-in campaign on behalf of Frownfelter. …

“Democratic leaders deny that their contempt for Coleman is due to his unseating of their longtime friend or his progressive agenda. Instead, they insist, they find him appalling because of serious misconduct in which he engaged when he was 12 and 13 years old as a middle school student. …

“That middle school behavior is horrific, and several of the the [sic] girls say, credibly, that they suffered greatly. During the campaign, Coleman, when confronted with the accusations, immediately acknowledged that they were true … and says that as an adult he has reformed and evolved past the pathologies he suffered …

“All of this raises profound and important questions about whether adults should be judged by the actions they undertook when they were a child, particularly when they have apologized and expressed remorse. It has long been a staple of liberal philosophy that humans can and should be rehabilitated …

“Just this week, the Democratic National Convention hosted as a speaker a convicted murderer named Donna Hylton, who committed one of the most gruesome crimes imaginable not as a junior high student but as an adult … She spent her prison time becoming a criminal justice advocate, and the DNC gave her a platform at their convention based on the belief that we should affirm the right of human beings to be rehabilitated …

“It is vital to have consistently applied principles to ensure that these serious issues are not exploited and weaponized for partisan gain or other petty forms of of [sic] self-interest. And it is very difficult to locate such principles in the reaction to Coleman’s candidacy, to put it mildly.”

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Aug. 21, 2020


“On Sunday, Coleman announced that given the uproar … he would be ending his campaign. He blamed his departure on the ‘progressive circular firing squad’ that ‘has done more to uphold the status quo than conservatives could have ever dreamed of.’ He framed it, too, as a parable about the excesses of feminism. In truth, Aaron Coleman’s short-lived campaign was a parable for the opposite. It was a testament to how readily, still, conversations about abuse will focus on what is owed to the abuser.

“For [The Intercept’s Glenn] Greenwald, a crucial element of the story is the fact that Coleman was young—12 or 13 years old—when he did that damage. …

“The girls were very young too, though. They will be, in their own way, eternally condemned for the choices Coleman made on their behalf. In the interview with Greenwald, Coleman mentions one reason his victims have not responded to his attempts at contact: They have him blocked on Facebook. But can the apology Coleman has offered be considered a full atonement if it has not been accepted? Is remorse a matter of statements or of actions? …

“Coleman’s bid for the state House struck the nerve that it did in part because, just as Greenwald and many others suggested, these are open questions. … Remorse, rehabilitation, restorative justice—they are matters of debate, and rightfully so. But if the discussions are to have any hope of realizing meaningful accountability, they must respect the needs—and the expressed desires—of not only the people who have done the damage, but the people who have borne the harm. …

“The women, in the statements they gave on the matter, were not talking about Coleman’s right to employment or even to a generalized form of forgiveness. They were arguing merely that Coleman, a 19-year-old who committed his wrongs only six years ago, should not represent the people of Kansas in its state legislature. They were citing their abuse as their evidence. ‘He’s an awful person,’ as one of them put it, ‘and he should not be allowed to run for anything.’


“If you’re talking about atonement, those public rejections of Coleman’s apologies would seem to be crucial. But the women’s comments have been notably absent from much of the weekend’s discussions about what Aaron Coleman deserves.”

Megan Garber, The Atlantic, Aug. 25, 2020

U.S. Congress

Pelosi endorses Kennedy against Markey

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed Rep. Joe Kennedy in his primary bid against Sen. Ed Markey in Massachusetts. Pelosi said Kennedy “knows that, to achieve progressive change, you must be on the front lines leading movements of people.” 

Pelosi also said Kennedy helped Democrats win a majority in the House in 2018 and cited Markey’s criticisms of the Kennedy family as reasons for her endorsement.

Kennedy has served in the House since 2013. Markey served in the House from 1976 until his election to the Senate in 2013.

Kennedy tweeted, “Nancy Pelosi is a force. No one has done more to take on Donald Trump and build our Party’s future. Proud and humbled to have her with me in this fight.”

Markey tweeted, “Speaker Pelosi is an effective leader who has shattered glass ceilings throughout her career. I had the privilege to work alongside Nancy in the House for decades and any candidate would be proud to have her endorsement. I congratulate Joe Kennedy on securing her support.”

Pelosi has a policy of only endorsing incumbents in House races. She said of her Kennedy endorsement, “I support my members when they run for reelection and when they run for other office.” She also said, “I would probably not be getting engaged in a primary in an election where it could impact whether a Democrat or a Republican could win. … But this will be a Democratic seat, and I feel at peace with the decision.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who endorsed Markey, said: “No one gets to complain about primary challenges again.” Ocasio-Cortez has criticized the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s policy of not doing business with consultants who work with primary challengers to House incumbents. 

Justice Democrats said Pelosi’s endorsement was hypocritical and the “party is setting one standard for progressives and one entirely different standard for the establishment.”

Markey has called Kennedy a “progressive in name only,” while Kennedy says the state and country need new leadership to achieve progressive change. Markey co-authored the Green New Deal resolution with Ocasio-Cortez and was an original co-sponsor of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) Medicare for All bill. Kennedy was an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal and supports Medicare for All. 

The primary is Sept. 1.

See the Power Players section below for a profile of Pelosi.

Reeves endorses Strickland over Doglio in WA-10

Third-place finisher Kristine Reeves endorsed Marilyn Strickland in Washington’s 10th Congressional District general election on Nov. 3. Reeves said Strickland has “the right life experience and leadership skills to deliver real results for struggling families across this district.” Strickland and Beth Doglio (D) advanced from the top-two primary on Aug. 4. 

Strickland received 20% of the primary vote to Doglio’s 15%. Reeves received 13%. 

Strickland is CEO of the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce and was mayor of Tacoma from 2010 to 2017. Doglio has served in the state House since 2017.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and former Washington Govs. Gary Locke (D) and Christine Gregoire (D) endorsed Strickland in the primary. Doglio had support from Sen. Bernie Sanders and Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). Reeves’ backers included the Washington Education Association and the Laborers International Union of North America.

Nineteen candidates ran in the top-two primary: eight Democrats, eight Republicans, one independent, one Essential Workers Party candidate, and one Congress Sucks Party candidate. Denny Heck (D), in office since 2013, sought election as lieutenant governor, creating an open seat race in the 10th.

Of 10 House races taking place in Washington in November, the 10th District race is the only one with two candidates from the same party. Between 2014 and 2018, there were three U.S. House general elections in Washington with candidates from the same party. In both 2014 and 2016, Republicans Dan Newhouse and Clint Didier advanced from Washington’s 4th Congressional District primaries. In 2018, D. Adam Smith (D) and Sarah Smith (D) advanced from Washington’s 9th District primary. 

State executives

New Hampshire campaign finance reports show Volinsky ahead in summer fundraising while Feltes retains overall lead

Andru Volinsky was the top fundraiser among New Hampshire’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate. His opponent, Dan Feltes, remains the overall fundraising leader, according to reports filed with the New Hampshire Secretary of State Aug. 19.

Volinsky, a member of the New Hampshire Executive Council, raised $119,000 since June to Feltes’ $117,000. Since the beginning of the campaign, Feltes has raised $1.0 million to Volinsky’s $590,000. With less than three weeks remaining before the primary, Feltes reported $330,000 cash on hand to Volinsky’s $86,000.

A St. Anselm College poll released Aug. 21 found Feltes and Volinsky about even among likely Democratic primary voters, with 22% saying they would support Feltes, 19% saying they would support Volinsky, and 46% undecided. The poll reported a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

The winner of the Sept. 8 primary will advance to the general election, which two election forecasters say Republicans are likely to win. A third forecaster says the race leans towards Republicans.

Race recap: Governor of Vermont

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

Vermont Democrats are seeking to win back the state’s governorship from Republican Phil Scott (R), who is running for a third two-year term this year. 

David Zuckerman defeated Rebecca Holcombe, Pat Winburn, and Ralph Corbo to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in the Aug. 11 primary. Zuckerman received 48% of the vote to Holcombe’s 37%. Winburn followed with 8% and Corbo received 1%.

Zuckerman, Vermont’s current lieutenant governor, had endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) and People for the American Way. Holcombe, a former state secretary of education, had endorsements from former Gov. Madeleine Kunin (D) and EMILY’s List. 

Zuckerman and Holcombe clashed over Zuckerman’s previous opposition to vaccine mandates. Zuckerman said he was a supporter of vaccines and would follow the recommendation of health professionals when determining whether to make a coronavirus vaccine mandatory. Holcombe said Zuckerman’s past skepticism towards vaccines made him a poor leader on public health.

Zuckerman will face incumbent Phil Scott (R) in the November general election. Two election forecasters say Scott is likely to win and one says he is a solid bet to win.

Vermont is one of 17 states where the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately and one of three states—alongside Louisiana and North Carolina—where the two offices are currently held by members of different parties. This year’s gubernatorial election in North Carolina also features a lieutenant governor challenging the incumbent, as Gov. Roy Cooper (D) faces Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R).


The number of incumbents who did not seek re-election is provided for the 44 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 39 states that had held state legislative primaries as of Aug. 25, 2020.

New Hampshire Youth Movement endorses challenger to 42-year incumbent in Rockingham’s House District 25

On Aug. 17, the New Hampshire Youth Movement endorsed Robin Vogt over 42-year incumbent Rep. Laura Pantelakos in the Rockingham House District 25 Democratic primary. The group said Vogt and other endorsees “have all committed to fighting with us on climate, healthcare, student debt, and racial justice, all of which are top priorities for young people.”

Vogt, a special education paraprofessional, submitted a Candidate Connection survey to Ballotpedia. In it, he said: “New Hampshire has young families who are looking for the next generation of legislators to step up. We must prompt young policies, and make wholesale changes to the status-quo practices that have made no differences to life [sic] here in the state.”

Pantelakos was first elected to the House in 1978. Before that, Pantelakos served on the Portsmouth City Council for 16 years. As the longest-serving member in the chamber, she serves as the House Dean. In a Patch questionnaire, Pantelakos said, “I have been a Rep. for a long time and have learned how the legislature works. You have to learn to work with people that thinks different [sic] than you do.”

There are no other candidates filed to run in the district, meaning the winner of the Sept. 8 primary will likely win the seat.

Retiring incumbent Sen. Fuller Clark endorses Kwoka in New Hampshire’s Senate District 21 primary

On Aug. 22, Rebecca Perkins Kwoka, a candidate for New Hampshire’s Senate District 21, received an endorsement from the district’s retiring incumbent Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D). Perkins Kwoka faces Deaglan McEachern in the District’s Sept. 8 Democratic primary. McEachern currently serves on the Portsmouth City Council. Perkins Kwoka served in the body from 2016 to 2019.

In addition to Fuller Clark, Perkins Kwoka, an attorney, received endorsements from Emily’s List, LPAC, and three incumbent Democratic representatives. In a Candidate Connection survey submitted to Ballotpedia, Perkins Kwoka listed affordable housing, climate change, and an equitable economy as three of her campaign’s key messages.

McEachern, a software executive, received endorsements from the National Education Association-N.H., the local branch of the Service Employees International Union, and former District 21 Sens. Katie Wheeler (D) and Amanda Merrill (D). On his campaign website, McEachern lists education, the N.H. economy, and healthcare as three of his priorities.

The winner of the primary will face Sue Polidura (R) in the general election. 

Power players

“My responsibility is to protect the incumbents, protect the majority that we have. They have been courageous, they’ve taken votes they have to answer for in places where it may not be as obvious as to why, and my goal is to protect them. We will have a Democratic majority.” – Nancy Pelosi on The Axe Files

House Majority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) assumed office in 1987 and has led Democrats in the House since 2002. According to Open Secrets, she is the fourth-highest fundraiser in Congress and first among congressional Democrats for the 2020 election cycle at $14,231,299. Pelosi also ranks fourth in Congress and second among congressional Democrats in candidate-to-candidate giving from both her leadership PAC, PAC to the Future, and her campaign committee at $940,000.

Among the top disbursements reported to the Federal Election Commission from Pelosi’s campaign committee, Nancy Pelosi for Congress, are: $1,195,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $100,000 to Hold the House Victory Fund, and $35,500 to the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, along with 11 $5,000 donations to individual Democratic congressional campaigns. PAC to the Future’s top congressional campaign contributions include $20,000 to Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.) and $20,000 to Rep. Christy Smith (D-Calif.).

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 31 (August 19, 2020)

This week: Club for Growth ad opposes Bice ahead of runoff, New Hampshire Republicans split endorsements between Executive Council candidates, and NRA endorses Tyler Gouveia in New Hampshire’s Hillsborough County District 36

On the news

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

On college football

“Democrats, of course, are thrilled that the season is canceled, because a return to the gridiron is a sure sign that life is returning to normal. And Democrats don’t want that to happen — at least not until after Election Day. …

“In a very real sense, then, the debate over college football has become a debate about Liberty itself — a debate about the rights of free men in an ostensibly free country. And it’s clear which side the players and coaches are on, and which side the Pac-12 and Big Ten bosses are on. …

“[F]ootball, being a collision sport, has always been fraught with risk. Its players are well aware of these risks, though, and for more than a century, boys and young men have donned the gear and gotten after each other with abandon. They do it because they love this quintessentially American sport — and because the rest of us love it, too.

“Let’s not be sissies about this. That’s for those on the Left. Kudos to the Big 12, the ACC, and the SEC for listening to the players and the coaches, and for honoring their love for the game and their commitment to it.

“Let’s play some football this fall.”

Douglas Andrews, The Patriot Post, Aug. 12, 2020

[T]he risk of coronavirus complications from myocarditis — an inflammation of the heart muscle — is small but cannot be hand-waved away. Left undiagnosed and untreated, myocarditis can cause heart damage and sudden cardiac arrest, which can be fatal. … A person with myocarditis will not necessarily have a cardiac arrest if he catches the coronavirus but is at risk of it; doctors are still trying to fully understand how the coronavirus can affect the heart. …

“Some players will have no risk of long-term health effects and be asymptomatic, perhaps the vast majority of them. Football players are indeed used to living with risk … But the onset of cardiac arrest and sudden death is a different level of risk, and it’s difficult to begrudge any student-athlete, coach, athletic director, university president, or conference director who looks at the situation and concludes the fatal consequence makes the reward just not worth the risk. …

“Still, considering the colossal financial implications of canceling or postponing the season, and the extraordinary amount of disappointment and frustration that this decision will generate among student-athletes, coaches, and fans, it is unlikely that these conferences are reaching these decisions simply because they’re ‘sissies.’”

Jim Geraghty, National Review, Aug. 13, 2020

Election results

U.S. Senate in Wyoming: Cynthia Lummis defeated eight candidates to win the Republican nomination to succeed Mike Enzi. Lummis led with 60% of the vote, followed by Robert Short with 13%. The general election has been rated by independent outlets as Solid Republican, with Enzi (R) winning his 2018 race by a margin of 36.9 percentage points.

Florida’s 3rd Congressional District: Kat Cammack defeated Judson Sapp, Gavin Rollins, James St. George, and six others to win the Republican nomination to succeed Ted Yoho (R). Cammack received 25% of the vote followed by Sapp, Rollins, and St. George with 20%, 15%, and 14%, respectively. No other candidate received over 10% of the vote.  In 2016, Donald Trump (R) received 56% of the vote in the district to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 40%.

Florida’s 15th Congressional District: Scott Franklin defeated incumbent Rep. Ross Spano, becoming the eighth primary challenger to defeat a member of the U.S. House this year. With 99% of precincts reporting, Franklin received 51% of the vote to Spano’s 49%. Three election forecasters rate the general election Lean Republican. In 2018, Spano received 53% of the vote to Kristen Carlson’s (D) 47%.

Florida’s 13th Congressional District: Anna Paulina Luna defeated Amanda Makki, George Buck, and two others to win the Republican nomination to challenge Charlie Crist (D). Luna received 36% of the vote followed by Makki and Buck with 29% and 26%, respectively. No other candidate received over 10% of the vote. Two election forecasters say Crist is a solid bet to win the general election and a third says the race leans towards him.

Florida’s 19th Congressional District: Byron Donalds defeated eight other candidates to win the Republican nomination to succeed Francis Rooney (R). Donalds received 23% of the vote, followed by Dane Eagle with 22% of the vote, Casey Askar with 20%, and William Figlesthaler with 18%. The district has been rated as Solid Republican, with incumbent Francis Rooney (R) winning his 2018 race by a margin of 24.6 percentage points.

Florida’s 26th Congressional District: Carlos Gimenez defeated Omar Blanco to win the Republican nomination to challenge Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D). Gimenez received 60% of the vote to Blanco’s 40%. One election forecaster says the general election is a toss-up, one says it tilts towards Mucarsel-Powell, and one says it leans towards Mucarsel-Powell.

U.S. Congress

Bolduc on the air in Senate primary in NH

Don Bolduc released his first TV ads in the Senate primary in New Hampshire. They highlight his background as an Army brigadier general. 

His first ad says, “I am the only candidate running that was on the ground fighting terrorists on behalf of this president, and fulfilling his policies and doing the right thing.” Bolduc retired from the Army in October 2017. He says in his second ad, “I didn’t spend my life defending this country to let a bunch of liberal, socialist pansies squander it away.”

The Human Rights Campaign criticized the second ad, saying Bolduc used a homophobic slur.

President Donald Trump endorsed Bryant “Corky” Messner in the primary. Messner was an Army Ranger and then became an attorney. He’s released three TV ads. They discuss his economic recovery plan and his background as a Ranger.

The Messner campaign is receiving financial and other support from Trump’s New Hampshire campaign organization and the Republican National Committee. Bolduc recently said, “The endorsement doesn’t matter. … It’s the action of the RNC that everybody should be concerned about and that is allowing D.C. to pick their primary candidate and that is wrong. We do not like to be told what to do by Washington, D.C., no matter who it is.”

John DiStaso of WMUR wrote, “Conventional wisdom has Messner as the frontrunner thanks in large part to the Trump endorsement and Messner’s deep personal pockets. But conventional wisdom is a risky thing to believe in the Granite State, where an independent streak still thrives. This race is far from decided, especially with the turnout amid the COVID-19 crisis more unpredictable than ever.”

The primary is Sept. 8. Incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), first elected in 2008, is seeking re-election. Three election forecasters rate the general election Solid or Likely Democratic.

Club for Growth ad opposes Bice ahead of runoff

Club for Growth Action recently released an ad opposing Stephanie Bice in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District primary runoff. The group had spent more than $300,000 opposing Bice in the June 30 primary but did not endorse in the nine-candidate field. Club for Growth PAC endorsed Terry Neese in the runoff.

The recent ad refers to a budget vote, saying Bice voted to raise her legislative salary and to take money away from teachers and police. Bice serves in the Oklahoma state Senate. 

Penny Seale, a Bice campaign representative, said, “Everyone in Oklahoma knows that an appointed Commission sets the pay of the legislature, but the D.C. Never-Trumpers don’t know it, because they aren’t from here — they’re from the swamp.”

Club for Growth PAC President David McIntosh said, “Terry Neese is a successful entrepreneur who has seen firsthand why we must push back against government interference in the economy. Neese is clearly the true conservative in this race and we can count on her to fight for pro-growth priorities like cutting taxes and reducing red tape.”

Neese, a businesswoman and former national co-chair of President Trump’s small business advisory council, received the most votes in the June 30 primary with 37%. Bice followed with 25%. A candidate needed more than 50% to avoid a runoff.

The runoff is Aug. 25. The winner will face incumbent Kendra Horn (D). In 2018, Horn defeated incumbent Steve Russell (R) 50.7% to 49.3%. Trump won the 5th District against Hillary Clinton (D) 53% to 40% in the 2016 presidential election

State executives

New Hampshire Republicans split endorsements between Executive Council candidates

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) endorsed Dave Wheeler in the Republican primary for District 5 on the New Hampshire Executive Council Aug. 12. Sununu’s endorsement, his first in a contested executive council primary, followed District 4 incumbent Ted Gatsas’ (R) endorsement of Wheeler’s opponent, Bob Clegg.

New Hampshire’s executive council is a five-member board responsible for approving most expenditures and providing oversight of state government. Members are elected to two-year terms in by-district elections. The council currently has a 3-2 Democratic majority.

Clegg, a former state Senator who served as majority leader, also has an endorsement from former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.). Wheeler, who represented District 5 before losing to Debora Pignatelli (D) in 2018, also has the backing of former Gov. Craig Benson (R-N.H.) and the state branch of Americans for Prosperity.

The winner of the Sept. 8 primary will face Pignatelli, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Race recap: Utah Attorney General

In this series, we look back at recent state executive primaries and ahead to the November elections.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes (R) won the GOP nomination for a second full term in a primary on June 30. Reyes received 54% of the vote to challenger David Leavitt’s 46%. 

The primary was held after no candidate received the necessary 60% of the vote at the state GOP convention to win the nomination outright. A third candidate, former Attorney General John Swallow (R), was eliminated after placing last at the convention.

Reyes, who took office following Swallow’s resignation in 2013, said he was running to continue his record of success. Reyes said he had protected children and teens, defended online privacy, and kept Utah families safe from scams.

Leavitt, who was elected as Utah County Attorney in 2018, said he would seek to change Utah’s approach to criminal justice. Leavitt said he would seek more jury trials and fewer plea bargains and that the office’s policies under Reyes had placed too much emphasis on punishing criminals at the expense of rehabilitation.

Reyes faces Democratic nominee Greg Skordas and Libertarian Rudy Bautista in the November general election. The last Democrat to win the attorney general’s race was Jan Graham (D) in 1996.


The number of incumbents who did not seek re-election is provided for the 44 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 36 states that had held state legislative primaries as of Aug. 17, 2020.

Reopen NH, Gov. Sununu endorse competing candidates in New Hampshire’s Senate District 24

On Aug. 12, Reopen NH, a political action committee formed in response to the state’s coronavirus restrictions, endorsed Regina Barnes after Gov. Chris Sununu (R) endorsed her primary opponent, Lou Gargiulo, on Aug. 9. The two candidates are running in Senate District 24’s Republican primary.

In a press release accompanying the endorsement, Reopen NH said it expects endorsed candidates “to amend or repeal RSA 4:45, the state statute the governor has been using to conjure up his ‘emergency powers,” adding, “No emergency, whether real or imagined, is big enough to justify the suspension of our rights.”

Barnes, an accountant and member of the Hampton Board of Selectmen, recently submitted a public comment to Sununu’s reopening task force committee, saying, “It is time to begin the process or reopening in the very near future … The government does NOT have the right to take our rights away, we the people do have the right to practice our rights freely, even during a pandemic.”

In his endorsement of Gargiulo, Sununu said, “Tested leaders like Lou can be trusted to work with the business community and municipalities to help steer our state through these uncharted waters.” On his campaign website, Gargiulo, owner of a property management company, wrote, “I support measures that will keep our most vulnerable as safe as possible while working to open up our economy,” adding, “When the economy is sick, you call a businessperson.”

The winner of the Sept. 8 primary will face Sen. Tom Sherman (D). Sherman was first elected in 2018 after defeating then-incumbent Sen. Dan Innis (R) 53-47%.

NRA endorses Tyler Gouveia in New Hampshire’s Hillsborough County District 36

On Aug. 11, the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund endorsed Tyler Gouveia in New Hampshire’s Hillsborough County District 36. In addition to Gouveia, three other candidates—Paula Desjardins Moran, Bill O’Brien, and Bill Ohm—are running in the Republican primary. District 36 is a three-member seat, meaning three of the four Republican candidates will advance to the general election. 

Only Gouveia received an endorsement from the NRA. Ohm received an A grade from the group. No grades were given for Desjardins, Moran, or O’Brien.

Gouveia and Moran are making their first runs for elected office. Gouveia is the president of Granite State Strategy, a political consulting firm. Desjardins Moran is a program manager at BAE Systems, an aerospace firm. 

O’Brien and Ohm have both served in the New Hampshire House. O’Brien, an attorney, previously represented Hillsborough District 4, which later became District 5, from 2008 to 2016, including one term as Speaker of the House. Ohm represented District 36 from 2014 to 2018. He lost his re-election bid in 2018, placing fourth.

District 36 is currently represented by three Democrats: Linda Harriott-Gathright, Martin Jack, and Michael O’Brien Sr. The primary is Sept. 8.

Power players

“He works relentlessly each and every day on behalf of every member of the Republican Conference to bring a fresh voice and new ideas to the leadership table to help solve our country’s problems for hard-working Americans by advancing conservative principles that move America forward.” -Scalise Leadership Fund website

Eye of the Tiger PAC is a leadership political action committee sponsored by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). The PAC’s earliest Federal Election Commission reports date back to 2009 when Scalise first entered office. According to a Roll Call interview with Scalise’s communications director, Scalise named the PAC himself in tribute to the mascot of his alma mater, Louisiana State University.

As of June 30, Eye of the Tiger PAC has reported $1,991,803 in donations this election cycle and has spent $1,570,418. Among its largest campaign contributions were three $15,000 donations to the campaigns of Rep. Greg Murphy (R), running for re-election in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, Rep. Dan Bishop (R), running for reelection in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, and Rep. Chris Jacobs (R), who is running for reelection in New York’s 27th Congressional District. According to the FEC, Eye of the Tiger PAC’s second-largest expense, coming second only to credit card processing fees, was $55,750 in event entry fees and dues to the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians, a D.C.-based social organization that hosts a yearly Mardi Gras Ball in the nation’s capital.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 31 (August 19, 2020)

This week: Cavell drops out and endorses Mermell in MA-04, Two seek Democratic nod for Massachusetts Governor Council’s only open seat, and R.I. National Organization for Women endorses Melanie DuPont over incumbent in Senate District 22 rematch

On the news

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

On Biden Republicans

“I understand the impulse to marginalize voters who weren’t with us in 2016—to castigate them for ignoring all the warning signs about Mr. Trump. I’m hardly known for being a ‘forgive and forget’ kind of guy. But vengeance would be shortsighted and self-defeating. Cultivating their support won’t muddle our resolve so much as it will empower us to enact our agenda. While we may not always agree on every item, they’ll be invaluable allies and coalition partners when we’re working to protect the environment, expand economic opportunity to all parts of society, and reform the justice system.

“Much like in 2018, voters in 1978 were disappointed in the sitting president. Two years into President Carter’s only term, Republicans claimed three additional Senate seats, and 15 seats in the House. In 1980, President Reagan turned what could have been a transactional arrangement with Reagan Democrats into a transformational moment. Joe Biden and the Democrats are now poised to do something similar. If in 2028 the Democratic nominee sees Biden Republicans as part of the Democratic Party’s base, we will have made the most of this year’s electoral opportunity.”

Rahm Emanuel, The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 15, 2020

“After spending an entire primary contest attacking [Vermont Sen. Bernie] Sanders for not being a Democrat, the party has now given prominent speaking roles to five Republicans. …


“Even as the party increasingly highlights mere diversity and representation as solutions to the ills plaguing the United States, and contrasts itself to the naked racism of Trump’s GOP, this year’s DNC fails to deliver on this front too. Despite the complaints of both elected officials and advocacy groups, there will only be three Latino speakers and no Muslim speakers, two groups that have been particularly targeted by Trump. …

“Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the thirty-year-old progressive insurgent popular among both Democrats and young people, is being given only sixty seconds to speak, in a prerecorded message. This, despite polling showing Democrats are more excited to hear her speak than to hear [former Ohio Gov. John] Kasich and the Clintons. …

“This is the modern Democratic Party under Joe Biden, a party dominated by figures who have spent their entire careers opposing what they claim to fight for now, and more concerned with building a coalition with well-off conservatives than its own young, progressive, and increasingly diverse voting base.”

Branko Marcetic, Jacobin, Aug. 17, 2020

Election results

Florida’s 15th Congressional District: Alan Cohn defeated Adam Hattersley, Jesse Philippe, and Kel Britvec. Cohn received 41% of the vote followed by Hattersley and Philippe with 33% and 26%, respectively. Cohn will face Scott Franklin (R) in the general election. Scott Franklin (R) defeated incumbent Rep. Ross Spano in the Republican primary.  Three race forecasters rated the general election as Lean Republican.

Florida’s 18th Congressional District: Pam Keith defeated Oz Vazquez in the Democratic primary in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. With 98% of precincts reporting,Keith had received 80% of the vote to Vazquez’s 20%Incumbent Brian Mast (R) won his 2018 race by a margin of 8.6 percentage points.

Orange County Sheriff: Orange County, Florida, Sheriff John Mina (D) defeated four challengers to win the Democratic nomination for his first full term in an Aug. 18 primary. Mina received 54% of the vote, followed by Andrew Darling with 15% and Jose Lopez with 14%. Mina faces independent write-in candidates Tim Lucas Adams and Winston Johnson in the November general election. No Republican candidate filed for the office.

Orange County State Attorney: Monique Worrell won the Democratic nomination for Orange County State Attorney in a primary on Aug. 18. Worrell received 43% of the vote to Belvin Perry Jr.’s 31% and Deborah Barra’s 19%. Worrell had endorsements from vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris (D) and incumbent Aramis Ayala (D), who is not seeking re-election. Worrell will face independent Jose Torroella in the November general election.

U.S. Congress

Cavell drops out, endorses Mermell in MA-04

Dave Cavell, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, withdrew from Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District primary and endorsed Jesse Mermell. Mermell served on the Brookline Select Board from 2007 to 2013.

State Attorney General Maura Healey (D) also endorsed Mermell, and a super PAC affiliated with the SEIU and the Massachusetts Teachers Association began airing an ad describing Mermell as a true progressive. 

While endorsing Mermell, Cavell criticized Jake Auchincloss, a Newton city councilor and former Republican also running in the primary. “Jake is the elephant in the room — pun intended. … One thing that has been abundantly clear is there is one candidate in this race who should not represent the Fourth District.”

The Boston Globe editorial board endorsed Auchincloss. On Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, Auchincloss listed one of his key messages as, “Results, not revolution.”

Auchincloss and Mermell are among eight candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. Incumbent Joe Kennedy is running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. Several candidates have released ads ahead of the Sept. 1 primary. A recent spot from Mermell touts her endorsements, including those above and from Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). 

Newton City Councilor Becky Grossman released an ad discussing prescription drug prices. Reps. Julian Castro (D-Texas) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) endorsed her. On Aug. 16, Grossman announced her campaign planned to sue the state of Massachusetts, asking the court to order the state to accept absentee ballots postmarked by Sept. 1 and received within 10 days of the primary.

Ihssane Leckey, a former Federal Reserve system regulator, said in an ad she’s the only woman of color in the race and that “[w]e need leaders who represent our diversity and courage.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Our Revolution Massachusetts endorsed her. 

Chris Zannetos, founder of three tech and cybersecurity companies, released an ad saying he supports Joe Biden’s healthcare plan. A narrator says, “Nearly every candidate for Congress in our area would eliminate private health insurance, except Chris Zannetos.”

Also running are Alan Khazei, Natalia Linos, and Ben Sigel. Khazei, founder of the youth service corps City Year, led in fundraising as of June 30 with $1.6 million. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Susan Rice, former national security adviser to Obama, endorsed Khazei.

Auchincloss was second in fundraising with $1.4 million.

All eight candidates submitted responses to Ballotpedia’s candidate survey. Click their names below to see their responses.

The Intercept questions allegations against Morse in MA-01 

As we reported last week, the College Democrats of Massachusetts alleged that Alex Morse, who is challenging Rep. Richard Neal in the 1st Congressional District, had inappropriate relationships with college students. The group published a letter saying Morse was not welcome at the group’s future events. On Aug. 12, The Intercept‘s Ryan Grim and Daniel Boguslaw reported on online communications from members of the group. They wrote:

Timothy Ennis, the chief strategist for the UMass Amherst College Democrats, admitted in the chats that he was a “Neal Stan” and said he felt conflicted about involving the chapter of the College Democrats in a future attack on Morse. “But I need a job,” concluded Ennis. “Neal will give me an internship.” At the time, Ennis was president of the chapter, a post he held from April 2019 to April 2020, when he was term-limited out.

The article also reported on exchanges between member Andrew Abramson and Ennis. Abramson shared a screenshot of an Instagram exchange he had with Morse, and Ennis responded, “This will sink his campaign.”

The College Democrats said its letter to Morse was not politically motivated and had nothing to do with Ennis’ ambitions.

Morse said, “While I truly didn’t think I’d done anything that would cause discomfort, I understand in a new way how my power as mayor and lecturer affects how I am received in social settings.” He said at the first primary debate on Aug. 17 that the accusations were a smear.

Neal said his campaign had no involvement in the accusations, and the issue did not feature prominently at the debate. Neal said Morse, mayor of Holyoke, has missed several municipal meetings, while Morse said Neal has been absent from the district. Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, touted the money brought into the district by the CARES Act that he helped author. Morse said the act was insufficient to address people’s financial challenges.

The primary is Sept. 1.

State executives

Two seek Democratic nod for Massachusetts Governor Council’s only open seat

Paul DePalo and Padraic Rafferty are seeking the Democratic nomination for District 7 of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council this year. The position is currently the only vacancy on the eight-member council. In 2018, it was the only council district won by a Republican after incumbent Jennie Caissie (R) defeated DePalo 50-45%. Both DePalo and Rafferty completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connections survey.

The Massachusetts Governor’s Council is responsible for providing advice and consent for gubernatorial appointments, warrants for the state treasury, and pardons and commutations. It is an executive board made up of eight members who are elected to two-year terms in by-district elections, with the lieutenant governor serving as a ninth, ex officio, member.

DePalo was the Democratic nominee for the seat in 2018, losing to incumbent Jennie Caissie (R) 49.6% to 44.9%. Rafferty, an attorney and prosecutor, is making his first run for elected office.

When asked about his priorities, DePalo said: 

“Crime prevention starts in juvenile court: let’s end the trauma-to-prison pipeline … Public safety includes tackling mental health and addiction: evidence-based diversion and rehabilitation saves lives, saves money, and reduces recidivism … Our state judges are only 11% people of color and 44% women.”

In response to the same question, Rafferty said:

“I am personally passionate about ensuring the Court system provides equal justice for all and to continue to combat the Opioid Crisis; Ensuring that individuals in the criminal justice system are treated with compassion, dignity, and have avenues to accessible rehabilitation programs.”

Click here to read DePalo’s full responses and here to read Rafferty’s full responses.

Feltes, Volinsky launch first television ads

Both Democratic candidates for governor of New Hampshire launched their initial television ads last week. Dan Feltes and Andru Volinsky are competing in the Democratic primary on Sept. 8.

Feltes, the State Senate Majority Leader, launched his ad Aug. 11. In the ad, Feltes said essential workers are keeping the country running and that he would focus on policies that help them pay bills.

Volinsky, a member of the executive council, began airing his ad Aug. 14. Volinsky’s ad says he is the only true progressive in the race and that he has endorsements from the American Postal Workers Union and the state branches of the Sierra Club and the National Education Association.

Feltes and Volinsky are the only two candidates on the Sept. 8 Democratic primary ballot. The last Democrat to win the governor’s race was Maggie Hassan (D) in 2014.


The number of incumbents who did not seek re-election is provided for the 44 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 36 states that had held state legislative primaries as of Aug. 17, 2020.

R.I. National Organization for Women endorses Melanie DuPont over incumbent in Senate District 22 rematch

On Aug. 11, the Rhode Island branch of the National Organization for Women (RI NOW) endorsed Melanie DuPont over incumbent Sen. Steve Archambault in the Senate District 22 Democratic primary. DuPont challenged Archambault in the 2018 primary, which Archambault won, 64-35%.

In 2019, DuPont co-founded the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, which describes itself as “a non-profit corporation that provides campaign services to progressive political candidates.” We previously reported on the group on July 1 after they endorsed 17 state legislative candidates, who, according to the group’s website, “are going to win a governing majority, vote out corrupt leadership, and restore power to the people.”

Archambault, first elected in 2012, said, “My heart is in it. I continue to work hard for the people in the district.” The Johnston Sun Rise’s Jacob Marrocco wrote that Archambault “highlighted his legislative history when asked about the main issues in the race, saying he sticks to crafting and passing bills because ‘that’s what a senator does.’”

In the 2018 general election, Archambault defeated Gregory Tocco (R), 64-35%. The winner of the Sept. 8 primary will face Paul Santucci (R) and Stephen Tocco (I), the only other candidates running in the race. 

Mass. branches of AFL-CIO and Our Revolution split endorsements in 2nd Suffolk District

On Aug. 13, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO endorsed incumbent Rep. Dan Ryan in the 2nd Suffolk District’s Democratic primary. On Aug. 14, Our Revolution Massachusetts endorsed Ryan’s challenger, Damali Vidot. No other candidates are running, meaning the winner of the primary will likely win the general election.

The CommonWealth Magazine’s Michael Jonas said, “Ryan leans toward pragmatic approaches to issues that Vidot says demand bolder, outside-the-box thinking.”

Ryan has represented the 2nd Suffolk District since 2014. In its endorsement, the AFL-CIO said, “We are proud to support candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to the values and principles of the labor movement.” The Massachusetts Nurses Association and local branches of the United Steelworkers and Teamsters have also endorsed Ryan’s campaign.

Vidot currently serves as a city councilor in Chelsea. On its Facebook page, Our Revolution Massachusetts says “We are developing a grassroots-based democratic progressive political organization in Massachusetts.” Additionally, the Sierra Club, Sunrise, and the Democratic Socialists of America have endorsed Vidot.

The primary is Sept. 1.

Aaron Coleman defeats incumbent Rep. Stan Frownfelter in Kansas’ House District 37

On Aug. 17, The Kansas City Star reported that challenger Aaron Coleman defeated incumbent Rep. Stan Frownfelter in the House District 37 Democratic primary. Coleman won 50.4% of the vote to Frownfelter’s 49.6%, a margin of 14 votes. 

In his Candidate Connection survey submitted to Ballotpedia, Coleman said he was running “because I believe in a Kansas that works for every citizen, and not policies drafted by Statehouse lobbyists.”

The Associated Press’ John Hanna wrote that Coleman “has been disowned by some Democrats for his incendiary social media posts and because he abused girls online when he was 14 years old.”  In response, Coleman said, “I made serious mistakes in middle school and I deeply regret and apologize for them. I’ve grown up a great deal since then.”

Since no other candidates are running, Coleman’s name will be the only one appearing on the general election ballot. On Aug. 18, Frownfelter announced he would conduct a write-in campaign for the general election. 

Power players

“We evaluate the races and seek to be a ‘tipping point’ in close elections. We choose candidates who have solid credentials, a proven record of being able (in these partisan times) to work across the aisle and get things done. We have problem solvers who put the interests of the country first, and firmly believe what Bill Clinton once said: ‘There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right in America.’” – United for a Stronger America website

United for a Stronger America PAC, officially named Frontline USA, is a leadership political action committee sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). The PAC’s earliest Federal Election Commission filings date back to 2005, 4 years after Schiff first assumed office. 

United for a Stronger America PAC has reported $2,005,508 in donations this election cycle and has spent $1,900,089. Among its largest campaign contributions were $33,533 to Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D), who is running for reelection in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, $32,575 to Rep. Katie Porter (D), who is running for reelection in California’s 45th Congressional District, and $31,000 to Rep. Lucy McBath (D), who is running for re-election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

Click the following links to view United for a Stronger America’s endorsed incumbents and new candidates.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republican-Issue 30 (August 12, 2020)

This week: Georgia United Victory spends $6.5 million supporting Loeffler in GA; Gaetz endorses Spano challenger Franklin in FL-15; Gov. Sununu endorses challenger over incumbent Sen. Starr in New Hampshire’s Senate District 1

On the news

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

On Trump’s coronavirus executive orders


“I’m used to decades of politics in Washington, in which the Democrats position themselves as the only people who care because they’re willing to spend money …

“What has happened here? President Trump has flipped the tables trying to get help to those who are unemployed and the Democrats are coming across like a group of accountants and lawyers who’re saying ‘We can’t do it.’

“[R]eally the analogy is when there were Obamacare subsidies to the insurance companies that were not appropriated by Congress, President Obama did the exact same thing with money spending that President Trump is doing now, so the Democrats are on thin ground to criticize this as an unconstitutional executive order.”

Ari Flesicher, Fox News, Aug. 10, 2020

“Covid-19 is a national emergency, and unemployment is the result of the virus and government shutdowns. But Congress passed jobless aid as part of the Cares Act that was separate from the Disaster Relief Fund. Mr. Trump is commandeering the power of the purse that the Constitution reserves for Congress.

“Yes, Mr. Obama did it first. He paid health insurers cost-sharing subsidies under ObamaCare without an appropriation from Congress …

“These columns opposed Mr. Obama’s orders, and one constitutional abuse doesn’t justify another. Mr. Trump’s FEMA order is a bad legal precedent that a President Kamala Harris could cite if a GOP Congress blocker her agenda on, say, climate change.”

Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 9, 2020

Election results

Georgia’s 9th Congressional District runoff: Andrew Clyde defeated Matt Gurtler. Clyde received 56% of the vote to Gurtler’s 44%. The seat was left open when incumbent Rep. Doug Collins (R) opted to run in a special Senate election. The district has been rated as safe Republican.

Georgia’s 14th Congressional District runoff: Marjorie Taylor Greene defeated John Cowan. Greene received 57% of the vote to Cowan’s 43%. Incumbent Tom Graves (R), who assumed office in 2010, did not seek re-election. The district has been rated as solid Republican, with incumbent Tom Graves winning his 2018 election by a margin of 53 percentage points.

Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District: Michelle Fischbach won the Republican nomination with 59% of the vote, followed by Dave Hughes with 22% and Noel Collis with 15%. Two other candidates each received under 3% of the vote. Fischbach served as state senate president for two terms before resigning in 2018 to succeed Tina Smith (D) as lieutenant governor. The 7th District is one of 30 districts currently represented by a Democrat which President Donald Trump carried in 2016 and is the district where Trump had his widest margin of victory. 

Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District: Wisconsin state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) defeated Clifford DeTemple. Fitzgerald received 77% of the vote to DeTemple’s 23%. Sensenbrenner, who was first elected in 1978, is the second most-senior member of the U.S. House. He and former Gov. Scott Walker (R) endorsed Fitzgerald.

U.S. Congress

Georgia United Victory spends $6.5 million supporting Loeffler in GA

Georgia United Victory is spending $6.5 million on TV and radio ads supporting Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and opposing Doug Collins (R) in Georgia’s all-party special Senate election. The group’s first ad features pigs in the mud and says Collins supported pork barrel projects.

Martha Zoller, chairwoman of the group, ran against Collins in the 2012 primary for the U.S. House seat Collins currently holds. Collins defeated Zoller in a runoff election 55% to 45%. Zoller was also a staffer for Gov. Brain Kemp (R).

Kemp appointed Loeffler to the Senate after Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) resigned in December. Loeffler has spent or reserved $15 million on ads so far. A recent Loeffler campaign ad criticized Collins’ friendship with Stacey Abrams, a former state representative and the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

As we recently reported, Collins released an ad criticizing Loeffler over stock sales following a briefing for Senators on the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.

Loeffler and Collins are among 21 candidates running in the special election on Nov. 3—six Republicans, eight Democrats, five independents, a Green Party candidate, and a Libertarian. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held Jan. 5, 2021. The special election winner will serve until the 2022 general election winner (if a different person) takes office in January 2023.

Three election forecasters rate the election Lean Republican.

Gaetz endorses Spano challenger Franklin in FL-15

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) endorsed Scott Franklin in Florida’s 15th Congressional District primary. Franklin is challenging incumbent Ross Spano, who is facing a campaign finance violation investigation. 

Gaetz highlighted Franklin’s background as a Navy veteran and said, “It’s not usual for a sitting member of Congress to endorse a challenger against an incumbent. But the principle [sic] obligation of leadership is to tell the truth. The truth is that if Ross Spano is the Republican nominee for this district, the Republican Party will be weaker and the president’s campaign will be weaker. Because Ross Spano is not a credible messenger for the Trump agenda.”

The Federal Election Commission received complaints that Spano had loaned his campaign $167,000 that he borrowed from friends, in violation of contribution limits. In November 2019, the Justice Department and House Ethics Committee began federal probes into the alleged violation. On Feb. 10, the Florida Bar announced it would also investigate. Spano said the loan likely violated campaign finance law but said this was a mistake.

Spano was first elected to the House in 2018, defeating Democrat Kristen Carlson 53% to 47%. Spano’s endorsers include Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).

Franklin was elected to the Lakeland City Commission in 2018. He said of his run against Spano, “As a fellow conservative, I don’t harbor any disagreements with any votes that he’s taken. A lot does come down to the issues that are hanging over him.” 

State executives

Former Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox considering a run for governor in 2021

Virginia state Del. Kirk Cox (R), who served as Speaker of the House between 2018 and 2019, said Aug. 3 he was considering running for governor in 2021. In a statement released on Twitter, Cox said Virginia needed new leadership, but that he would wait to launch his campaign until after the November election.

Cox, a former high school government teacher, has represented a district to the south of Richmond since 1990. He served as state House majority leader between 2010 and his election as Speaker in 2018. He served as Speaker until Democrats won control of the chamber in the 2019 elections.

The only declared Republican candidate for governor is state Sen. Amanda Chase, although former state Sen. Bill Carrico and U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman have both expressed interest in a run. 

Democrats have won seven of the past ten gubernatorial elections in Virginia. With the exception of Terry McAuliffe’s (D) win in 2013, every Virginia gubernatorial election during that period was won by the party that lost the previous year’s presidential election. Virginia is the only state to prohibit governors from serving consecutive terms, meaning incumbent Ralph Northam (D) is ineligible to seek re-election.

Convention recap: Indiana Attorney General

In this series, we look back at recent state executive primaries and ahead to the November elections.

Former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita (R) won the Republican Party’s nomination for Attorney General of Indiana over incumbent Curtis Hill (R) and two other candidates in a convention on June 18, 2020. Rokita won the support of 52% of delegates in the final round of balloting to Hill’s 48%.

Hill, who was first elected in 2016, was the subject of a disciplinary investigation before the Indiana Supreme Court after a legislator and three staff members accused him of touching them inappropriately at a party in March 2018. Hil’s law license was suspended for 30 days beginning May 18.

Rokita is a former secretary of state who served four terms in the U.S. House before making an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 2018. Rokita said he was the only candidate of the four who had won two separate statewide general elections.

The convention operated under a modified procedure due to the coronavirus pandemic. After attending the virtual convention on June 18, delegates received ballots in the mail with a return deadline of July 9. Rokita was declared the winner on July 10. Decatur County Prosecutor Nate Harter and attorney John Westercamp also sought the Republican nomination.

Rokita will face former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel in the general election. The last Democrat to win election as attorney general of Indiana was Jeff Modisett in 1996.


Gov. Sununu endorses challenger over incumbent Sen. Starr in New Hampshire’s Senate District 1

On Aug. 10, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) endorsed state Rep. Erin Hennessey over incumbent Sen. David Starr in the Republican primary for New Hampshire’s Senate District 1. Sununu said, “As a state representative and member of the Legislative Advisory Board of the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery, [Hennessey] has proven herself a strong leader and tireless advocate for families and communities.”

Hennessey, an accountant, was first elected to represent Grafton County’s House District 1 in 2014 and has won re-election twice. Hennessy said she will work with Sununu “to block an income or sales tax, prevent business tax increases, help get North Country residents back to work, and make sure our schools and kids have the resources they need.”

Starr served in the Air Force from 1964-1970 and previously worked as an electrical engineer. On his Facebook page, he wrote, “My first term as senator has been extremely educational. I have learned about a whole bunch of things I never even knew existed before. I promise to keep working hard for all the things that matter up here in district 1.”

Starr was first elected in 2018 after defeating incumbent Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn (D). Before the general election, Woodburn was charged with domestic violence and Democrats withdrew their support. Starr received 54% of the vote to Woodburn’s 45%.

Holifield releases first campaign ad in Florida’s Senate District 5

On Aug. 6, Jason Holifield released his first commercial in Florida’s Senate District 5. Holifield, a former Dixie County commissioner, faces Jennifer Bradley in the Republican primary. Incumbent Sen. Rob Bradley (R-05), Jennifer Bradley’s husband, is term-limited and unable to run for re-election.

In the ad, Holifield says, “The current state senator voted for anti-gun legislation that I want to repeal. Now he’s termed out and I’m running against his wife.” Holified has indicated he would repeal the extreme risk protection orders, or red flag laws, the legislature passed following the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Sen. Bradley voted in favor of the bill.

Jennifer Bradley, an attorney and property manager, released her first ad on July 15 where she highlighted support from Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). The ad said Bradley will help DeSantis, “revive Florida’s economy, raise teacher pay, and balance Florida’s budget while keeping taxes low.”

According to campaign finance reports, Bradley and Holifield have raised $496,000 and $75,000, respectively.

The winner of the primary will face Democrat Melina Rayna Barratt in the general election. The Florida Division of Elections reports that roughly 51% of District 5 voters are registered Republicans compared to 29% registered Democrats.

Power players

“Since 1978, GOPAC has been a force in America because we realize Republicans must champion the ideas that unite voters around a vision of creating jobs, getting government spending under control, making government more effective, and keeping America safe.” – GOPAC website

GOPAC is a 527 organization founded by former Delaware Governor Pete du Pont. Newt Gingrich headed the group in the run-up to the 1994 congressional elections. David Avella is the current chairman. GOPAC says it prepares Republican candidates and leadership through knowledge-sharing summits, training, and financial support for campaigns. 

As of June 30, the GOPAC Election Fund PAC has spent $3,435,722 this election cycle. Its largest contributions include $1,250,000 to Good Government Coalition Inc., a nonpartisan political organization in New Jersey, $335,000 to the Advance Minnesota IE Committee, and $115,000 to the Georgia House Republican Trust.

Click the following link to see GOPAC’s 2020 Class of Emerging Leaders.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 30 (August 12, 2020)

This week: Working Families Party endorses Markey, Schiff endorses Kennedy; Local Sunrise coalition retracts Morse endorsement in MA-01; Outgoing Rep. RoseLee Vincent endorses Giannino in Mass.’s 16th Suffolk District House primary

On the news

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

On the National Rifle Association lawsuit in N.Y.

“[T]here’s a certain Trumpian flair to New York’s efforts to hound a political organization with which they disagree into submission. The alleged corruption of many of the NRA’s top leaders has long demanded some form of legal scrutiny. This fact ultimately justifies [N.Y. Attorney General Letitia] James’s investigation. At the same time, New York’s proposed sanction may be disproportionate to the offense …


“Should the NRA be disbanded? I wouldn’t miss it or its shameless indifference to deaths from mass shootings or its record of stoking baseless fears about race wars or its curdled try-hard machismo … But I can’t bring myself to embrace the notion that a state attorney general—any state attorney general—should be able to disband one of the nation’s most popular political organizations because its leaders misused its members’ donations.”

Matt Ford, The New Republic, Aug. 6, 2020

“According to a statement by James on Twitter, the lawsuit accuses [NRA CEO Wayne] LaPierre … and the NRA as a whole of failing to fulfill their fiduciary obligation to the organization, contributing to a loss of $64 million.


“As a staunch supporter of gun control, I’ve long been disgusted with the NRA for its massive lobbying efforts against even the most common-sense reforms. But while this case will unavoidably generate accusations of partisan motivations, the extent of the fraud and financial abuse alleged in the lawsuit would justify legal action against any organization. It’s no secret that plenty of left-leaning Americans would be happy to see the NRA die. The allegations in James’ lawsuit suggest that those on the right should feel the same way.”

Mariah Kreutter, The Los Angeles Times, Aug. 6, 2020

Election results

Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District: Incumbent Rep. Ilhan Omar won with 57% of the vote, followed by Antone Melton-Meaux with 39%. Two other candidates each received less than 2%. This was the first time in more than 85 years that an incumbent U.S. representative from Minnesota had more than two primary challengers.

Governor of Vermont: David Zuckerman won with 51% of the vote. Rebecca Holcombe received 40%. Patrick Winburn and Ralph Corbo each received less than 10%. Zuckerman is Vermont’s lieutenant governor. Holcombe was Vermont’s education secretary from 2014 to 2018. Incumbent Gov. Phill Scott (R) won the Republican primary.

Lieutenant Governor of Vermont: Molly Gray defeated Timothy Ashe, Debbie Ingram, and Brenda Siegel in the Democratic primary. Gray received 46% of the vote. Ashe was second with 35%. Siegel and Ingram each received less than 10%. Gray is an assistant attorney general. Ashe is a state senator and serves as the chamber’s president pro tempore.

Vermont Auditor: Incumbent Doug Hoffer won with 59% of the vote to Linda Sullivan’s 41%. No Republican candidate filed for this race, meaning Hoffer’s only opposition in the general election will be Vermont Progressive Party nominee Cris Ericson.

Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney runoff: Fani Willis defeated incumbent Paul Howard, who has held the office since 1997. With 91% of precincts reporting, Willis had received 73% of the vote to Howard’s 27%. In the June 9 primary, Willis led with 42% of the vote to Howard’s 35%. She is unopposed in the November general election.

U.S. Congress

Working Families Party endorses Markey, Schiff endorses Kennedy

The Working Families Party endorsed Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) endorsed Joe Kennedy in the Senate primary in Massachusetts.

Maurice Mitchell, Working Families Party national director, said of Markey’s support for the Green New Deal, “A lot of members co-endorse pieces of legislation, but there’s a difference between having your staff put your name next to other names and those who are actually organizing within their caucus, and also organizing on the front lines of the fight. … It’s a significant distinction. [Markey’s] been one of the better champions on that and a host of other progressive issues.” 

Schiff said, “As a Framingham native, I feel strongly about many things, but two especially: the Red Sox and Joe Kennedy. From the moment I met Joe, I saw him as the powerful, progressive voice that Massachusetts needs. I hope you’ll support Joe as well, and go Red Sox.” Schiff is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and played a leading role in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Markey and Kennedy have each received endorsements from prominent Democrats. Markey’s endorsers include Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and former Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who died last month, endorsed Kennedy.

Markey has called Kennedy a “progressive in name only,” saying he has not led on issues such as Medicare for All, climate change, and the demilitarization of police during his time in the U.S. House. Kennedy says the state and country need a “new generation of leadership with the energy and courage to fight for change.” He has criticized Markey’s support of the 1994 crime bill and said Markey has been absent from the state.

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

The primary is Sept. 1.

Local Sunrise coalition retracts Morse endorsement in MA-01

The Sunrise Western Mass Coalition, a hub of local Sunrise Movement chapters, retracted its endorsement of Alex Morse for Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District, citing the College Democrats of Massachusetts’ allegation that Morse engaged in inappropriate conduct with college students. Morse, the mayor of Holyoke and a former lecturer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is challenging incumbent Richard Neal in the primary

On its Facebook page, the group said: “Alex has shown a disturbing pattern of poor judgement and abuse of power. Although we still strongly support the policies that Alex champions, including Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, we can no longer say that we trust him with the power of the MA-01 congressional seat.”

Morse said in a statement,

I want to be very clear about this. I have never, in my entire life, had a non-consensual sexual encounter with anyone. I have never used my position of power as Mayor and UMass lecturer for romantic or sexual gain, or to take advantage of students. I have never violated UMass policy. Any claim to the contrary is false. As I’ve acknowledged, I have had consensual relationships with other men, including students enrolled at local universities that I’ve met using dating apps.


While I am confident that a full investigation into these matters will clear my name completely of any unethical conduct, I also recognize that some students felt uncomfortable with interactions they had with me. I am sorry for that. This is unacceptable behavior for anyone with institutional power. 

The LGBTQ Victory Fund said in a statement, “Alex is taking responsibility for actions that made students uncomfortable and we support the independent investigation by UMass, despite no complaints having ever been made to the university. But it is critical the media and others avoid reinforcing tired homophobic tropes or sensationalizing this story because of Alex’s sexual orientation.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) appeared in an ad for Neal. She says he has helped lead the fight against Trump and delivered $1 billion for western and central Massachusetts. Neal is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. He was first elected to the House in 1988. 

The primary is Sept. 1.

State executives

New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate Dan Feltes releases energy plan

New Hampshire state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes (D) released his energy plan Aug. 6. Feltes’ proposal called for New Hampshire to expand its offshore wind capacity, allow customers to sell more power back to the grid, and ensure all state-owned buildings are carbon-neutral. Feltes’ goal is to eliminate coal, oil, and gas from New Hampshire’s energy production by 2050.

Feltes’ opponent in the Democratic primary, Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, released a three-part plan earlier in the year. Volinsky’s plan called on New Hampshire to hold future energy projects to a selective standard and reject those using environmentally-harmful means of generating energy. Volinsky called on New Hampshire to join the U.S. Climate Alliance and to join with other New England states in regional environmental projects. Volinsky also called for state-owned buildings to be carbon-neutral by 2030. 

Although both plans called for New Hampshire to end its use of natural gas, Feltes’ proposal would phase it out more slowly than Volinsky’s. Feltes said this was a reflection of the reality that most state residents use oil or natural gas to heat their homes and would need time to transition to a new heating method. Volinsky said the state was reliant on hydraulic fracturing for its natural gas and that it would not be sustainable to continue to use natural gas for another 20 years.

The winner of the Sept. 8 primary will face the winner of the Repubican primary, where Gov. Chris Sununu (R) faces two challengers. Two election forecasters say the Republican nominee is likely to win the general election, while a third says it leans in the Republican’s favor.

Race recap: Governor of Montana

In this series, we look back at recent state executive primaries and ahead to the November elections.

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney defeated Whitney Williams to win the Democratic nomination for governor of Montana in a primary on June 2. Cooney received 55% of the vote to Williams’ 45%. Incumbent Steve Bullock (D) is term-limited and running for U.S. Senate this year.

Cooney said he was an experienced public official who had won four statewide elections and was the best candidate to keep Montana’s governorship in Democratic hands. His endorsers included Bullock, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and former Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

Williams said she had extensive experience in the private sector and would represent a new generation of leadership. Her endorsers included 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D), former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), and EMILY’s List, which spent just under $700,000 on ads supporting her.

Cooney and his running mate, state House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner, will face the Republican ticket of Greg Gianforte and Kristen Juras. Election forecasters say the general election is a toss-up; while the last Republican to win election as governor of Montana was Judy Martz in 2000, the state has backed every Republican presidential candidate since Bob Dole (R) in 1996.


Outgoing Rep. RoseLee Vincent endorses Giannino in Mass.’s 16th Suffolk District House primary

On Aug. 10, outgoing 16th Suffolk District Representative RoseLee Vincent (D) endorsed Jessica Giannino in the two-way Sept. 1 primary to select the Democratic nominee. Vincent said, “I want our next state representative to have the tenacity and guts to stand up to Wheelabrator, Massport and other companies who dare to disrespect us and our communities. I want Jessica Giannino!”

Giannino faces Joe Gravellese in the primary, which has seen a number of endorsements in recent weeks. There are no other candidates filed in the race, meaning it is likely the winner of the Democratic primary will be the 16th Suffolk District’s next representative.

Giannino is an at-large city councilor in Revere. She was first elected in 2012 and served as city council president in 2016 and 2018. In addition to Vincent, she has received recent endorsements from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103 and EMILY’s List. View more of Giannino’s endorsement here.

Gravellese worked for Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo and state Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-8th Sussex), who recently endorsed him. Gravellese also received endorsements from 350 Mass Action, Act on Mass, and Progressive Massachusetts. View more of Gravellese’s endorsements here.

Ballotpedia previously reported on this primary on May 20 after the Massachusetts Retirees Association endorsed Giannino and two local union branches endorsed Gravellese.

Rayner leads in fundraising in Florida’s four-way House District 70 primary

On Aug. 9, Florida Politics’ Janelle Irwin Taylor reported that Michele Rayner leads in fundraising in the four-way Democratic primary for Florida’s House District 70. According to reports filed at the end of July, Rayner had raised $97,000. Mark Oliver raised $44,000. Keisha Bell and Michelle Grimsley have raised $26,000 and $20,000, respectively. 

Incumbent Rep. Wengay Newton (D-70) is not running for re-election and endorsed Grimsley in the primary.

Rayner is an attorney and founder of Civil Liberty Law. Rayner previously served as an assistant public defender for Hillsborough and Pinellas/Pasco Counties. On her website, she said, “It’s time for all residents to have equitable access to housing, clean air and water, education, employment and other basic essentials.”

Oliver is the CEO of Specially Fit, a fitness non-profit for young people with disabilities. He played college football at the University of South Florida. He lists healthcare, education, disabilities, the environment, and infrastructure as top priorities.

Bell’s professional experience includes work as an attorney and leading the Youth Conference Program in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. She is currently a columnist for the Weekly Challenger. She lists healthcare, education, reproductive rights, a livable wage, and anti-discrimination legislation as top priorities.

Grimsley currently serves as a legislative aide in House District 70 and as vice president of public relations with the ManaSota Black Chamber of Commerce. On her campaign website, Grimsley said, “I believe that the first step in getting us on the path to a Florida that works for everyone, is assuring access to affordable healthcare for all.” She lists workers’ rights to organize and a livable wage as other priorities.

There are no other candidates running, meaning it is likely the winner of the Democratic primary will be District 70’s next representative.

Power players

“Our goal is to build a mission-driven caucus in Congress by electing more leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, who will represent our communities in Congress and fight for bold, progressive solutions to our current crises.”

Justice Democrats is a political action committee founded in 2017 by Cenk Uygur, Kyle Kulinski, Zack Exley, and Saikat Chakrabarti. The organization says it recruits and supports candidates challenging Democratic incumbents, assisting them with policy messaging, training, and campaign infrastructure. 

As of June 30, the Justice Democrats PAC has raised $3,560,530 and spent $3,264,998 this election cycle. According to the Federal Elections Commission website, the only independent expenditures the PAC reported was $620,000 in support of Jamaal Bowman and $300,000 in opposition to Eliot Engel. In last week’s Missouri primaries, Justice Democrats-backed candidate Cori Bush defeated incumbent William Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary.

Click the following link to see Justice Democracts’ 2020 Candidates.