TagHeart of the Primaries

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 21 (June 3, 2020)

This week: Key June 2 election results, NRA endorses Caldarera over Trump-endorsed Malliotakis in NY-27, and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott to seek re-election.

On the news

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

On racism in America  

“While I understand the frustration and anger, I do not condone the violence spreading across this country in response to Floyd’s horrific killing. Rioting tearing apart Minneapolis and cities coast-to-coast will never lead to anything but more suffering. Those who are committing crimes are distracting us from the even larger group of people who are peacefully demonstrating.

But we cannot shrug off Floyd’s killing – along with the killings of so many other black Americans throughout our nation’s history and up through today.

How many more black people must die, and how many more times will statements of sympathy have to be issued? How many times will protests have to occur? How many more committees will have to be formed until America admits that racism is still a problem in this country?

Racism in America is a fatal wound. Every time another incident occurs we put a Band-Aid on it, but the Band-Aid keeps falling off. Band-Aids are not enough to ever stitch this country back together.”

Kay Coles James, Fox News, May 31, 2020

“When the violence began, what we needed more than anything was clarity in the middle of this. It’s hard to see when the tear gas starts. Someone in America needed to tell the truth to the country. Instead, almost all of our so-called conservative leaders joined the left’s chorus, as if on cue. … 

Meanwhile, Kay Coles James, who is the president of the Heritage Foundation — that’s the largest conservative think tank in the country. You may have sent them money, hopefully for the last time. Kay Coles James wrote a long scream denouncing America as an irredeemably racist nation: ‘How many times will protests have to occur?’

Got that? ‘Have to occur.’ Like the rest of us caused this by our sinfulness.

The message from our leaders on the right, as on the left, was unambiguous: Don’t complain. You deserve what’s happening to you.”

Tucker Carlson, Fox News, June 2, 2020

June 2 elections review


  • Iowa’s 4th Congressional District: State Sen. Randy Feenstra (R) defeated Rep. Steve King (R) in the Republican primary for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District. Feenstra received 45.7% of the vote to King’s 36.0%. The last Democrat to win election from the 4th district was Neal Smith (D) in 1992. King is the second member of the House to lose a primary this year; Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) was defeated by Marie Newman (D) in March. In 2018, four members of the House were defeated in primaries: Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), and Mark Sanford (R-S.C.).



  • Indiana’s 5th Congressional District: State Sen. Victoria Spartz (R) defeated 14 other candidates to win the Republican nomination to succeed outgoing Rep. Susan Brooks (R) in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. Spartz received 40.6% of the vote with 88% of precincts reporting. Beth Henderson (R) had 17.6%, while Micah Beckwith (R) had 13.7%. Over 90% of the satellite spending in the race took the form of mailers and advertisements released by Club for Growth in opposition to Henderson and Carl Brizzi (R). Spartz will face the winner of the Democratic primary in the general election, which two forecasters rate “Leans Republican” and a third rates “Likely Republican”.



  • Montana’s At-Large Congressional District: State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) defeated five other candidates, including Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R), to win the Republican nomination for Montana’s at-large U.S. House seat. Rosendale received 48.3% of the vote to Stapleton’s 33.2% with 94% of precincts reporting. Rosendale will face Kathleen Williams (D) in the general election. The national branches of both major parties are targeting this open seat currently held by outgoing U.S. Rep. and Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Gianforte. 



  • New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District: Yvette Herrell defeated Claire Chase and Chris Mathys to win the Republican nomination in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District. Herrel received 44.8% of the vote to 31.6% for Chase and 23.6% for Mathys with 96% of precincts reporting. Herrell, who was the GOP’s 2018 nominee, will again face Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D) in the general election. In 2018, Torres Small defeated Herrell 50.9% to 49.1%.



  • Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District: As of 10:00 a.m. on June 3, this race remained too close to call. Incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick led with 56.7% of the vote, followed by challenger Andy Meehan (R) with 43.3%. Although 99% of precincts had reported results, Bucks County’s election officials will continue to count mail-in ballots received through June 9, as long as they were postmarked by June 2. Fitzpatrick is one of the two House Republicans running for re-election this year in a district Hillary Clinton (D) carried in 2016.



  • Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District: As of 10:00 a.m. on June 3, this race remained too close to call. Lisa Scheller (R) led with 51.8% of the vote to Dean Browning’s (R) 48.2%. Both Scheller and Browning are former members of the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners. The National Republican Congressional Committee and President Trump (R) endorsed Scheller, while former candidate Matt Connolly backed Browning. The winner will challenge incumbent Susan Wild (D) in the general election.



  • Montana gubernatorial: U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) defeated Attorney General Tim Fox (R) and state Sen. Al Olszewski (R-06) to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Montana for the second election cycle in a row. Gianforte received 53.4% of the vote to Fox’s 27.2% and Olszewski’s 19.3% with 94% of precincts reporting. Gianforte was also the 2016 nominee for governor and lost to Steve Bullock (D), 50.2% to 46.4%. Bullock is term-limited and unable to run for re-election. Gianforte will face Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (D). The 2012 and 2016 gubernatorial elections were decided by margins of 1.6 and 3.9 percentage points, respectively.



  • Montana Secretary of State: As of 8:00 a.m. Mountain Time on June 3, this race remained too close to call. With 90% of precincts reporting, Christ Jacobsen (R) leads with 29.4% of the vote, followed by Scott Sales (R) with 25.3%, Brad Johnson (R) with 23.1%, and Forrest Mandeville (R) with 10.3%. Two other candidates each received under 10%. The winner will face Democratic nominee Bryce Bennett (D) in the general election.


U.S. Congress

Wagle drops out of Senate primary in KS

Susan Wagle dropped out of the Senate primary in Kansas. Nine candidates remain in the Aug. 4 primary.

Wagle cited family needs following the death of her daughter in March. She also said her duties as state Senate president to “stop Laura Kelly’s plan to advance socialized medicine and take the necessary steps to rein in her executive overreach during the pandemic” required her full attention.

As we reported earlier, Kansas Republican Party Chairman Mike Kuckelman sent Wagle and Dave Lindstrom letters asking them to drop out of the primary. State party executive director Shannon Golden said the party wanted a contest between Kris Kobach and Roger Marshall.

Wagle’s campaign representative Matt Beynon said at the time, “Private conversations with Mike Kuckelman over the past year have made it clear he’s been opposed to Susan’s campaign from the start, and today, he simply put that on paper. Others can speculate on his motives, but it may be as simple as he doesn’t support strong, pro-life conservative women.”

Kobach was Kansas’ secretary of state from 2011 to 2019. He defeated incumbent Jeff Colyer in the 2018 gubernatorial primary and lost to Democrat Laura Kelly in the general election 43% to 48%. Marshall was first elected to the House in 2016.

Bob Hamilton, a former owner of a plumbing business, led in fundraising through March 31 with $2.2 million, including $2 million in self-funding. Marshall raised $2.1 million. Wagle had raised $728,000, including $275,000 in self-funding, and was third in fundraising. Kobach had raised $595,000.

Incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R), who was first elected in 1996, is not seeking re-election.

NRA endorses Caldarera over Trump-endorsed Malliotakis in NY-27

The National Rifle Association (NRA) recently endorsed Joe Caldarera in New York’s 11th Congressional District primary. He faces state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis. President Donald Trump endorsed Malliotakis in February.

Caldarera said, “I have always been steadfast and strong in my support for our 2nd Amendment constitutional rights, and I am thrilled that the NRA has endorsed my campaign. Nicole Malliotakis does not share the values of the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn, and I am looking forward to offering them a loyal conservative choice on June 23rd.” 

Rob Ryan, a Malliotakis campaign representative, said, “It’s easy to get a high grade on any questionnaire when you’ve never held elective office. … For 10 years, Nicole Malliotakis has served in the legislature and has cast votes that reflect the views of her constituents. She is endorsed by President Trump and the Republican County Committees and Conservative Party in the 11th Congressional District and she is the conservative Republican candidate who can defeat Max Rose.”

The New York Post reported that the NRA gave Malliotakis a C- grade on her legislative record and that she voted for the NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act in 2013, which the NRA opposed. The bill, which became law, expanded the definition of assault weapon and expanded background checks, among other changes.

Malliotakis will appear on the general election ballot regardless of whether she wins the Republican Party primary, as she is the Conservative Party nominee. 

Incumbent Rep. Max Rose (D) was first elected in 2018, defeating incumbent Daniel Donovan (R) 53% to 47%. Three election forecasters rate the general election a Toss-up.

The primary is June 23.

State executives

Incumbent Jim Justice leads in first public poll of West Virginia’s gubernatorial primary

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) leads all six of his challengers ahead of the June 9 gubernatorial primary, according to a Triton Research & Polling survey released May 28.

The poll, the first in the primary to be publicly released, found Justice leading with 55% of the vote, followed by former state Del. Michael Folk with 16% support and businessman Woody Thrasher with 15%. No other candidate had more than 2% support. Eight percent of voters were undecided. The survey’s margin of error was 3.7 percentage points.

As of May 24, Justice also led the Republican candidates in fundraising with $630,000 raised to $450,000 for Thrasher and $100,000 for Folk. None of the other candidates reported raising more than $5,000.

Justice was elected as a Democrat in 2016 before joining the Republican Party in August 2017. His backers include President Trump (R) and the National Rifle Association. Thrasher, a former Justice administration official, has endorsements from the Charleston Gazette-Mail and the West Virginia University Republicans.

The June 9 primary is open only to registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters. The last Republican to win election as governor of West Virginia was Cecil Underwood (R) in 1996.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott to seek re-election

May 28 was the filing deadline for candidates seeking a major party’s nomination for governor of Vermont. Incumbent Phil Scott (R) announced that morning he would seek election to a third two-year term, setting up a primary with four challengers on Aug. 11. Scott said he did not intend to actively campaign as long as the state remained under a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Scott was elected governor 53-44 in 2016 over former Secretary of the Agency of Transportation Sue Minter (D) and defeated businesswoman Christine Hallquist (D) 55-40 to win re-election in 2018. He faced contested Republican primaries in both years, defeating Bruce Lisman (R) 60-39 in 2016 and Keith Stern (R) 67-33 in 2018.

Four other Republicans filed for the nomination: Douglas Cavett (R), John Klar (R), Bernard Peters (R), and Emily Peyton (R). Both Peters and Peyton ran in the 2014 gubernatorial election. Peyton received 1.6% of the vote on the Liberty Union ticket, while Peters won 0.7% of the vote as an independent candidate.

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


Alaska District 30 GOP asks incumbent Rep. Gary Knopp (R-30) not to run as a Republican

On May 29, Alaska’s House District 30 GOP committee published an open letter to incumbent Rep. Gary Knopp (R-30). In the letter, Chairman Thomas Daly wrote, “Since your election the team is disappointed and no longer supports your candidacy.” He added, “it falls to me to ask that you with draw [sic] from the primary as a Republican candidate. If you wish to continue affiliated [sic] with some other group, good luck to you.”

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

On June 1, Knopp responded, saying, “I represent all of my constituents, not just a handful of short-sighted individuals. Many people in our party have divergent views on many issues that will face the Legislature next session.” He continued, “I decline your invitation to withdraw from the Republican primary, however, I do look forward to debating with the other Republican candidates.” 

District 30 is a strongly Republican district. During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 71-21 in the district in 2016. Knopp will face Kelly Wolf and Ronald Gillham in the Republican primary. The District 30 GOP has not yet endorsed either candidate.

Tulsa Beacon and Tulsa World endorse competing candidates in Oklahoma’s House District 69 primary

On May 21, the Tulsa Beacon endorsed Angela Strohm (R) in Oklahoma’s House District 69 primary. Strohm is challenging Rep. Sheila Dills (R), who was first elected in 2018 after defeating incumbent Rep. Chuck Strohm (R), Angela Strohm’s husband, in the Republican primary 64-36%. On May 9, the Tulsa World endorsed Dills. Charter schools and school choice are top issues in the 2020 primary.

In Strohm’s endorsement, the Tulsa Beacon described the candidate as “a genuine conservative Republican who believes in smaller, more efficient government.” In a later piece, the paper wrote that “Dills opposes school choice options.”

In its Dills endorsement, the Tulsa World said she “is a realistic conservative, who has made a name for herself with work for common-sense reforms and transparency in the state’s online charter school system.” The paper added that Strohm’s website “advocates plans to starve public schools and fund voucher schemes for private schools.”

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

Power players

“Winning For Women is building an infrastructure that will allow right-of-center women leaders to succeed in their pursuit of leadership opportunities, and working to advance free-market principles and a strong national defense.” – Winning For Women website

Winning For Women is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that says it is “dedicated to identifying and creating paths forward for women leaders who share core values of economic freedom and strong national security.” 

Winning For Women is affiliated with WFW Action Fund, a hybrid political action committee. According to the group’s website, “WFW Action Fund recognizes that there is no shortage of qualified Republican women. But we’ve seen time and again that the most challenging part of running as a woman is getting through the primary.” The group says, “WFW Action Fund will be playing big in the 2020 primaries to make sure that Republican women have every advantage that their opponents may have – and that means giving them support from start to finish.”

Winning For Women released its second round of 2020 endorsements at the end of May, endorsing Kelly Loeffler for Senate and Tiffany Shedd, Mary Miller, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Claire Chase, and Renee Swann for the House. To see a full list of the candidates the group has endorsed, click here.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 21 (June 3, 2020)

This week: Key June 2 primary results, Andrew Yang endorses Perelman in FL-23, and Jennifer Carroll Foy launches 2021 campaign for governor of Virginia.

On the news

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

On property destruction in protests

“People are going out again, all over the United States. But it’s not to celebrate a vaccine or a debt jubilee. The first national connecting event coming out of lockdown is mass protest against police violence after the lynching of George Floyd, and the state’s attempt at suppressing it. The coronavirus—which disproportionately is killing Black Americans—drove us inside. Policing—which also disproportionately is killing Black Americans—is drawing us back out. Almost overnight, the streets have gone from largely empty—though the rate of police killings remained mostly unchanged—to filled with thousands of masked people, often being gassed or beaten. The conditions before, during and after the lockdown are part of a continuum in America—a miserable nation maintained by policing. …

As any military tactician or social justice organizer can tell you, direct action gets the goods. The destruction of a police precinct is not only a tactically reasonable response to the crisis of policing, it is a quintessentially American response, and a predictable one. The uprising we’ve seen this week is speaking to the American police state in its own language, up to and including the use of fireworks to mark a battle victory. Property destruction for social change is as American as the Boston Tea Party and the Stonewall Riots. And before he unconvincingly qualified a statement so violent Twitter put it behind a warning screen, the president saying he would order shots fired to protect property—that’s as American as the MOVE bombing and apple pie.”

Steven W. Thrasher, Slate, May 30, 2020

“There are folks who romanticize riots, at least when the destruction happens to someone else’s property. But fighting fire with fire will only burn the whole house down. Or, as the rapper Killer Mike said in an emotional press conference with the Mayor of Atlanta: ‘it is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy.’

Few living Americans have more moral authority when it comes to confronting the forces of racial oppression than Rep. John Lewis, who was almost killed by Alabama troopers while peacefully protesting on the Edmund Pettus Bridge 55 years ago. On Saturday, he again reminded us of the discipline that is required to ultimately triumph over injustice, stating: ‘I know your pain, your rage, your sense of despair and hopelessness. Justice has, indeed, been denied for far too long. Rioting, looting, and burning is not the way. Organize. Demonstrate. Sit-in. Stand-up. Vote. Be constructive, not destructive.’

Every word of this is true. We must confront the deep legacy of bigotry that leads too many black and brown and immigrant lives to be treated with callous disregard and sometimes become the victims of pure hate. But the answer does not lie in demonizing all police officers or indiscriminately destroying property. That will only spur a backlash and lead some to see moral equivalence between the two sides in the larger struggle between right and wrong. The riots in the late 1960s only succeeded in burning out inner cities and electing Richard Nixon on the back of his Southern strategy.”

John Avlon, CNN, May 31, 2020

June 2 elections review


  • U.S. Senate, Iowa: Theresa Greenfield defeated Michael Franken, Kimberly Graham, and Eddie Mauro to win the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Iowa. Greenfield received 47.8% of the vote to Franken’s 25.0%, Graham’s 15.0%, and Mauro’s 11.0%. Greenfield will face first-term Sen. Joni Ernst (R) in the general election.



  • Indiana’s 1st Congressional District: Frank Mrvan (D) defeated 14 other candidates to win the Democratic nomination in Indiana’s 1st Congressional District. Mrvan received 34.1% of the vote with 80% of precincts reporting. The only other candidate to win more than 10% of the vote was Thomas McDermott with 29.3%. This was the first open primary for the seat since 1932. Retiring incumbent Pete Visclosky (D) has held the seat since the 1984 election. Mrvan will face Mark Leyva (R) in the general election. Election forecasters rate the seat “Safe Democratic”.



  • Montana’s At-Large Congressional District: Kathleen Williams (D) defeated state Rep. Tom Winter (D-96) to win the Democratic nomination for Montana’s at-large U.S. House seat for the second election cycle in a row. Williams received 89.6% of the vote to Winter’s 10.4% with 79% of precincts reporting. Williams lost the 2018 general election to Greg Gianforte (R), 50.9% to 46.2%, which was the seat’s narrowest margin of victory since 2000. Gianforte is running for governor. Williams will face state Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) in the November general election. The national branches of both major parties are targeting the seat.



  • New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District: Teresa Leger Fernandez (D) defeated Valerie Plame (D), state Rep. Joseph Sanchez (D-40), and four other candidates to win the Democratic nomination for New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. Fernandez received 41.8% of the vote with 70% of precincts reporting. Plame received 22.9% and Sanchez 13.7%. Fernandez received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and groups like the Working Families Party and EMILY’s List. Outgoing Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-03) was first elected in 2008 and never received less than 55% of the vote running for re-election.



  • Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District: Christina Finello (D) defeated Skyler Hurwitz to win the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District. Finello received 77.4% of the vote to Hurwitz’s 22.6% with 99% of precincts reporting. Incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick (R) is one of the two House Republicans running for re-election in a district Hillary Clinton (D) carried in 2016. Finello will face the winner of the Republican primary—either Fitzpatrick or challenger Andy Meehan (R)—in the general election.



  • Montana gubernatorial: Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (D) defeated Whitney Williams (D) to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Montana. Cooney received 55.1% of the vote to Williams’ 44.9% with 79% of precincts reporting. Cooney will face U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R), who won the GOP nomination for the second election cycle in a row. The 2012 and 2016 gubernatorial elections were decided by margins of 1.6 and 3.9 percentage points, respectively.



  • New Mexico State Senate: All 42 New Mexico State Senate seats are up for election this year. There were 13 contested Democratic primaries, 10 of which had an incumbent running. As of 8:15 a.m. Mountain Time on June 3, the Associated Press had reported that at least two incumbents—Richard Martinez (D-05) and Gabriel Ramos (D-28)—had been defeated. In the 2016 elections, there were eight contested Democratic primaries, four of which involved incumbents. All four incumbents won their primaries that year.



  • Baltimore Mayor: As of 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time on June 3, this race remained too close to call. Former Mayor Sheila Dixon (D) led with 30.2% of the vote, followed by City Council President Brandon Scott (D) with 24.4%, former U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury Mary Miller (D) with 17.1%, and former state Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah (D) with 12.2%. Incumbent Jack Young (D) received 7.2% of the vote, followed by 19 other candidates. The winner of the Democratic primary is favored to win the general election.


U.S. Congress

Yang endorses Perelman in FL-23

Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang endorsed Jen Perelman in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District primary. Perelman faces incumbent Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Yang said, “Jen Perelman is first and foremost an activist. She was born and raised in Florida where she attended marches and protests with her parents growing up. Today, she uses her law degree to protect voting rights, defend women’s reproductive health, and help people navigate the criminal justice system—all pro bono.”

Schultz was first elected in 2004. She was re-elected in 2018 with 59% of the vote to Joe Kaufman’s (R) 36%. In her most recent contested primary in 2016, she defeated Tim Canova 57% to 43%. Schultz served as Democratic National Committee chairwoman from 2011 to 2016. She resigned as chair after WikiLeaks published emails indicating that party officials favored Hillary Clinton’s presidential primary campaign over Bernie Sanders’.

Perelman said, “It’s time for our representatives to stop putting the interests of corporations and wealthy CEOs before their constituents.” She supports Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. She says her campaign doesn’t take money from corporate interests. In addition to Yang, Perelman’s list of endorsers includes Brand New Congress, Our Revolution Broward, and former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson. 

Schultz’s campaign website says she is “a true progressive champion who will fight for South Florida families.” She says she passed legislation to make swimming pools safer, support federal child exploitation interdiction efforts, and make it easier for women who conceived a child by rape to terminate parental rights of the rapist. Schultz’s endorsers include Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, the Sierra Club, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

The primary is Aug. 18.

Jones releases first TV ad in NY-17

Mondaire Jones released his first TV ad in New York’s 17th Congressional District primary. The ad says he’s the only candidate who supports Medicare for All and who has endorsements from leading progressives, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). It highlights his background working in the Justice Department during the Obama administration and attending Harvard Law School. 

Incumbent Nita Lowey, who was first elected in 1998, isn’t seeking re-election. Six candidates are running in the June 23 primary. In addition to Jones, they are:

  • David Buchwald, a member of the state Assembly since 2013. Eight local Democratic committees have endorsed him. 
  • David Carlucci, a member of the state Senate since 2011. Carlucci was part of the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference in the state Senate until April 2018. (The group caucused with Republicans from 2013 to 2018, giving them an effective majority even when Democrats held a numerical majority.)
  • Asha Castleberry-Hernandez, a college professor and Army veteran
  • Evelyn Farkas, former deputy assistant secretary of defense during the Obama administration
  • Allison Fine, former chairwoman of the national board of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation and founder of Innovation Network, Inc., an evaluation and research firm that works with nonprofits
  • Adam Schleifer, former assistant U.S. attorney

Catherine Parker ended her primary bid last week but will still appear on the ballot.

As of March 31, Schleifer led in fundraising with $2.3 million, including $1.7 million in self-funding. Farkas was second with $925,000 and Jones third with $831,000.

State executives

Final pre-primary campaign finance report shows Stephen Smith leading West Virginia gubernatorial candidates in fundraising

According to campaign finance reports filed on May 29, Stephen Smith leads the Democratic gubernatorial field in fundraising.

The reports showed Smith raised $920,000. Ben Salango raised $720,000, and Ron Stollings banked $250,000. Two other candidates reported raising less than $3,000.

A Triton Polling & Research survey released May 28 found Salango at 30% and Smith at 27% support, respectively. Ron Stollings followed with 10% support, while 29% of voters were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of 6.4 percentage points.

The Stollings campaign criticized the survey, calling it “an unscientific poll with a high margin of error [that] only counts voters with landline phones. The poll misses everyone who uses a cell phone, which is everyone.”

Salango, a member of the Kanawha County Commission, is backed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D), former Gov. Gaston Caperton (D), and the state AFL-CIO. Smith’s backers include Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic.

The June 9 primary is open to registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters only. Democrats have won every West Virginia gubernatorial election since 2000.

Jennifer Carroll Foy launches campaign for governor of Virginia

Virginia state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D) kicked off her campaign for governor of Virginia on May 27. Foy has represented House District 2, a coastal district that includes the Marine Corps’ Quantico Base, since 2017.

In her campaign kickoff video, Foy said she was running because “We are still being told no. No to affordable health care. No to criminal justice reform. No to a clean and safe environment. No to common sense gun safety legislation.”

Foy is the first Democrat to kick off her campaign. Other figures who have indicated they were considering a run include Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), state Attorney General Mark Herring (D), and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). 

Virginia is the only state to prohibit governors from serving consecutive terms, meaning incumbent Ralph Northam (D) cannot run for re-election.

Virginia will elect its next governor on Nov. 2, 2021. Virginia is currently a Democratic trifecta, where a Democrat is governor and Democrats hold majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.


Washington District 37 Democrats and retiring incumbent endorse competing candidates

On May 19, Washington’s 37th Legislative District Democrats endorsed Kirsten Harris-Talley (D) in the seven-way primary for Legislative District 37, Position 2. This endorsement comes after retiring state Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-37-2) endorsed Andrea Caupain (D). Pettigrew’s retirement leaves the District 37-2 seat open for the first time since 2002.

Harris-Talley is the interim executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. She previously was an at-large member of the Seattle City Council for two months in 2017. The council appointed her to the seat following Tim Burgess’ resignation. She described herself as an “activist working shoulder to shoulder with community in Seattle … for over 20 years for racial, gender, and economic justice.”

Caupain has been the C.E.O. of Byrd Barr Place, a community advocacy organization, since 2008. She was appointed to the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs in 2018. Caupain said, “I have worked on behalf of Communities of Color and working-class families to make a positive change on issues of racial and social equality.”

Both Harris-Talley and Caupain could advance to the general election. Washington has a top-two primary system. All candidates, regardless of partisan affiliation, compete in a single primary with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general election. In District 37-2, there are five Democrats, one Republican, and one Progressive Party member competing in the top-two primary. The other Democrats in the primary include Chukundi Salisbury, a Seattle Parks and Recreation manager, Andy Goeres, a corporate financial consultant, and Robert Redwine. The remaining two candidates are Stephen Richter (R) and Kathy Woodward (P).

Progressive organization endorses challenger to incumbent Washington District 5 senator

On May 27, Fuse Washington issued a sole endorsement for Ingrid Anderson (D) in the Legislative District 5 Senate race. The group describes itself as “the state’s largest progressive organization,” and said that it is designed “to give ordinary people a strong voice in politics.” Anderson is challenging incumbent state Senator Mark Mullet (D) for the District 5 seat. 

Anderson and Mullet are the only two candidates in the election, which means both will progress to the general election in Washington’s top-two primary system. Organizations like Fuse Washington and others have opted to endorse only one of the two candidates, highlighting an ideological divide. 

Anderson is a psychiatric nurse. In addition to Fuse Washington, she received sole endorsements from the Washington Conservation Voters, the Washington State Labor Council, and the Working Families Party.

Mullet is a restaurant owner with a background in international finance. He was first elected in 2012 and won re-election in 2016. He received sole endorsements from the Washington Fire Chiefs, Washington State Realtors, and the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association. 

This is the first time Mullet will face a Democrat in the primary and general election. During his 2012 and 2016 campaigns, Mullet was the lone Democrat versus a Republican candidate.

Power players

“The LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus serves as a resource for Members of Congress, their staff, and the public on LGBTQ+ issues at the federal level. The Caucus works toward the extension of equal rights, the repeal of discriminatory laws, the elimination of hate-motivated violence, and the improved health and well-being for all regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.” – Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus website

Founded in 2008 by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus says it is “strongly committed to achieving the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. and around the world.” To view the members of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, click here.

The LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus is affiliated with Equality PAC, a political action committee that says it is “dedicated to bringing nearer the full legal and societal equality of LGBT people and creating a federal legislative environment conducive to that goal.” The group says it supports “openly LGBT candidates running for federal office, as well as members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus who are facing tough re-election challenges.” Equality PAC designates its endorsed candidates as Allies for Equality and LGBTQ Leaders

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 20 (May 27, 2020)

This week: Congressional caucus PAC leaders ask DCCC to back Valenzuela in TX-24 runoff, Indiana Chamber of Commerce endorses McDermott in IN-01, Incumbent state representative faces six-term former legislator in open Fla. state senate primary

On the news

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

On Biden’s comments on The Breakfast Club

“Donald Trump’s supporters, especially those black conservative racial mercenaries who criticize Democrats for supposed racism while serving as human defense shields and enablers for white conservatives, are bemoaning Biden’s comments.

To watch Trump defenders attack Biden for one clumsy remark — when they themselves are part of a white supremacist, neo-fascist regime — would be comedy gold if the stakes were not in fact so high. …  

The most basic way to intervene against such sideshow nonsense is to ask a basic, foundational question: Did Biden say anything that is not true? The answer is not a riddle or something unknowable. … 

As an empirical matter, across almost every public policy area Donald Trump and his administration — and the Republican Party as a whole — have consistently advocated and enacted policies that hurt black (and brown) people’s health, safety, incomes, opportunity, civil rights and freedoms, and diminish their life chances more generally. …

Biden was for all intents and purposes correct in his comments about black people and Donald Trump. To complain about his inartful language is to sidestep the core truth of what he expressed.”

Chauncey DeVega, Salon, May 25, 2020


“This country has a rather fraught history of white people, in particular, determining who is and who isn’t black. One-drop rules and paper bags not only assigned value by shades of melanin to the skins of our ancestors, but to their very humanity. I realize that Biden has not historically had too many barriers on his tongue and is prone to say much of anything. However, I would expect that the white man who served as vice president under the first black president — at a time when President Obama’s blackness and cultural authenticity were often unfairly called into question — might keep all of that in mind.

Campaign spokeswoman Symone Sanders tweeted after that Biden ‘was making the distinction that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period.’ However, that simply doesn’t wash with the actual syntax, joke or not. Biden said that black Trump voters ‘ain’t black’ in that remark, plain and simple. …

Less than six months from today, the Most Important Thing in the World will be ensuring Donald Trump doesn’t win re-election. We should not consider a different choice. However, the lack of options does not excuse us from a citizen’s duty of critical thinking. In fact, if Biden is as close to black people as he claims, invited to proverbial cookouts and prematurely given the labels of ‘Uncle’ and so forth, then he should understand what happens in families. You should expect tough love. In fact, demand it. It is most often what keeps your ass out of trouble.”

Jamil Smith, Rolling Stone, May 22, 2020  

U.S. Congress

Congressional caucus PAC leaders ask DCCC to back Valenzuela in TX-24 runoff

Minority and progressive caucus PAC leaders asked the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to add Candace Valenzuela to its Red to Blue program. Valenzuela faces Kim Olson in the primary runoff for Texas’ 24th Congressional District. 

The DCCC’s Red to Blue program provides funding and organizational support to candidates running in Republican-held districts.

Leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC, Congressional Black Caucus PAC, Asian American and Pacific Islander Members of Congress Aspire PAC, and Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC signed the letter to the DCCC. The letter said, “Texas’ 24th congressional district is a majority-minority district and should be represented by someone with ties to the community.”

DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos, who represents Illinois’ 17th Congressional District, said the committee will remain neutral in the runoff. DCCC spokesman Cole Leiter said, “The DCCC has not weighed in on any competitive Democratic primaries in the 2020 election cycle.”

According to Politico:

The letter comes nearly one year after Black and Hispanic Caucus members voiced displeasure with the DCCC’s handling of diversity in its ranks and efforts to prioritize minority candidates. Progressive lawmakers on the letter only recently came to a detente with Bustos over a ‘blacklist’ that inhibits consultants from working with candidates who primary a sitting member of the Democratic Caucus.

Seven candidates ran in the March 3 primary in Texas’ 24th. Olson received 41% of the vote to Valenzuela’s 30%. The runoff is July 14.

Incumbent Kenny Marchant (R) is not seeking re-election. Three race forecasters rate the general election Toss-up or Tilt Republican.

Indiana Chamber of Commerce endorses McDermott in IN-01

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce Congressional Action Committee endorsed Thomas McDermott in the June 2 primary for Indiana’s 1st Congressional District.

McDermott said, “The Indiana Chamber of Commerce doesn’t endorse Democrats very often, and if you are a Democrat to get endorsed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce you got to be a business-oriented Democrat — which I am.”

McDermott is mayor of Hammond.

This is an open seat in a safe Democratic district. Incumbent Rep. Peter Visclosky (D), first elected in 1984, is not seeking re-election. Fifteen candidates are running in the primary.

Some other notable endorsements in the race:

  • VoteVets and the Highland Democratic Precinct Organization also endorsed McDermott.
  • Six U.S. representatives, including Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and three former Congressional Black Caucus chairs, endorsed Melissa Borom.
  • Democracy for America, Progressive Democrats of America, and Our Revolution endorsed Jim Harper.
  • Visclosky, the American Federation of Teachers Indiana, and the Gary Democratic Precinct Organization endorsed Frank Mrvan. 
  • The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Bold PAC, U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, and Marie Newman—who defeated incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinksi in Illinois’ 3rd District primary—endorsed Mara Candelaria Reardon.

McDermott and two other candidates—Scott Costello and Sabrina Haake—have submitted responses to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. What to know what they said? Click on the candidate’s names to read their responses.

And if you’re a candidate, you can take the survey, too! Click here to get started.

Greenfield, Mauro release ads in Senate primary in Iowa

Candidates and satellite groups have released several ads ahead of the June 2 Senate primary in Iowa. Michael Franken, Kimberly Graham, Theresa Greenfield, and Eddie Mauro are running in the primary.

Greenfield released an ad listing a number of endorsers including organized labor groups; former Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg; and members of Iowa’s congressional delegation. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also endorsed Greenfield.

Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC that has spent $6.7 million supporting Greenfield, released an ad saying she stands for middle-class values and is “Iowa tough.”

Mauro’s ad says Greenfield’s 2018 congressional campaign forged signatures and that a company Greenfield led laid off workers. Greenfield has said she reported her campaign staffer’s misconduct when she found out about it and that her campaign is focused on workers.

Women Vote! Project released an ad opposing Franken, saying he moved to the state last year and is a former Republican. Franken’s campaign released responses from former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), and Serve America denouncing the group’s ad and saying Franken was away from the district serving in the military.

The winner will face incumbent Sen. Joni Ernst (R) in November. Three election forecasters rate the general election Lean Republican. 

State executives

Steve Bullock, Mark O’Keefe publish dueling op-eds in Montana gubernatorial primary

Former Montana Auditor Mark O’Keefe, who was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2000, published an op-ed saying he was supporting consultant Whitney Williams’ gubernatorial campaign Tuesday. Williams’ mother Carol was O’Keefe’s running mate in his 2000 campaign.

The same day, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock published an op-ed reiterating his support for Williams’ opponent, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney. Bullock endorsed Cooney in October 2019. 

The primary has attracted national attention, with EMILY’s List launching a $700,000 ad buy in support of Williams on May 19. According to KTVH, it was the first major ad buy from an independent group.

The June 2 primary will be open to all registered voters.

Charleston Gazette-Mail endorses Ben Salango for Democratic gubernatorial nomination

The Charleston Gazette-Mail endorsed Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango for the Democratic nomination for governor of West Virginia Saturday.

Salango is among five Democrats running in the June 9 primary. As of March 31, Salango was second in fundraising with $575,000 raised to activist Stephen Smith’s $660,000 and state Sen. Ron Stollings’ $225,000. Neither of the other candidates had raised more than $10,000.

Salango’s other backers include U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D), former Gov. Gaston Caperton (D), and the West Virginia AFL-CIO. Smith’s backers include Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic.

Although Democrats have won every West Virginia gubernatorial election since 2000, the party lost control of the office when current incumbent Jim Justice joined the GOP in 2017. Democrats last won a presidential election in West Virginia in 1996.

Mark Hass concedes Oregon Secretary of State primary to Shemia Fagan

Oregon state Sen. Mike Hass (D) conceded the Democratic primary for secretary of state to his legislative colleague Shemia Fagan (D) Friday.

Preliminary election results released the evening of Tuesday, May 19, showed Hass with a lead over Fagan. Wednesday afternoon, Fagan took the lead as mail-in ballots submitted late in the voting process began to arrive. Oregon elections are conducted entirely by mail. According to Willamette Week, “Oregon has a history of late ballots breaking toward the more progressive candidate.”

As of Tuesday, May 26, unofficial results showed Fagan in the lead with 36.16% of the vote to Hass’ 35.57% and 2018 congressional candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner’s 27.47%. Fagan and Hass were separated by 3,343 votes.

Fagan will face state Sen. Kim Thatcher (R) and any declared third party or independent candidates in the November general election.


Incumbent state Representative faces six-term former legislator in open Fla. state Senate primary

On May 19, state Sen. Kevin Rader (D-29) announced he would not seek re-election to the Senate District 29 seat in Florida. While announcing his retirement, Rader encouraged state Rep. Tina Polsky (D-81) to run for the District 29 seat. Polsky filed for the seat later that day. Former state Rep. Irv Slosberg (D) also filed to run for the seat following Rader’s announcement, setting up a Democratic primary.

Polsky, an attorney and mediator, currently represents House District 81, which is located entirely within Senate District 29. She was first elected in 2018 after winning a contested primary and running unopposed in the general election. In addition to support from Rader, she received endorsements from state Sen. Lori Berman (D-31) and Broward County Commissioner Mark Bogen (D). 

Slosberg currently serves as chairman of Dori Saves Lives, a non-profit focused on distracted driving, traffic, and road safety. He has served six terms in the state House of Representatives from 2000 to 2006 and 2010 to 2016. Slosberg received endorsements from Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner (D) and his daughter, Rep. Emily Slosberg (D-91).

Senate District 29 covers parts of Palm Beach County as well as Parkland in Broward County. The winner of the August 18 primary will likely face Brian Norton (R), the only Republican filed to run. The filing deadline is June 12.

Electrical workers’ union and The Philadelphia Inquirer issue competing endorsements in Pa. Senate District 1 primary

Over the past week, both candidates in the Philadelphia-area Senate District 1 primary received high-profile endorsements. On May 22, Nikil Saval (D) received an endorsement from the Local 98 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ union (I.B.E.W.) followed May 24 by the Philadelphia Inquirer endorsement of his opponent, state Sen. Larry Farnese (D-01).

Saval is a writer and community organizer. He said that he “is committed to justice for working people, whether white black or brown.” In addition to his endorsement from the I.B.E.W., the Philadelphia branch of the Democratic Socialists of America and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), among others, endorsed Saval.

Farnese, an attorney, was first elected to represent District 1 in 2008. He won re-election in 2012. In 2016, Farnese faced his only primary to date, defeating challenger John Morley (D) 74-26%. He discussed his “history of fighting for Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians,” saying, “the experience I have will allow me to continue those fights.” Farnese lists additional endorsements from Gov. Tom Wolf (D), Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC, and the Human Rights Campaign.

No Republicans are filed to run, meaning it is likely the winner of the June 2 primary will be the District’s next senator. 

Two candidates proceed to Senate District 17 primary following convention endorsement vote 

On May 19, Democratic delegates in Connecticut’s Senate District 17 voted 39-10 to endorse Jorge Cabrera (D) in the Senate District 17 race. Despite earning the endorsement, Cabrera will still face Justin Farmer (D) in an August 11 primary. The winner faces incumbent Sen. George Logan (R-17) in November.

At state senate conventions in Connecticut, a candidate can win a party endorsement without winning the nomination outright. If a candidate receives a simple majority vote of the delegates present, he or she receives the endorsement. Any candidate who receives more than 15 percent of the delegate vote earns a spot on the primary ballot.

Ballotpedia first reported on this race in February as the two candidates hosted fundraisers. According to the New Haven Independent, the candidates have found support among different groups. Farmer’s fundraiser consisted of younger voters focused on environmental issues, public transportation, and tax equity. Cabrera’s supporters included local Democratic assembly members. His campaign has focused on labor issues, municipal aid, and a progressive tax.

Cabrera was the Senate District 17 Democratic nominee in 2018. He lost to Sen. Logan in the general election 50.1-49.9%, a margin of 85 votes. Logan was first elected in 2016 when he defeated incumbent Sen. Joseph Crisco (D) 51-49%.

Power players

“The Voter Protection Project will fight back against President Trump’s and Republicans’ attacks on our right to vote, by leading the charge to make sure every American has the right to cast a ballot.” – Voter Protection Project website

The Voter Protection Project is a hybrid political action committee founded by Democrat 

Andrew Janz after his unsuccessful campaign against U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) in 2018. Janz said, “What I learned in my race is that you can’t begin to address the structural problems with our elections during the middle of a campaign. You need to take care of those things before the campaign starts.” 

According to the Voter Protection Project website, the group’s mission is “ending partisan gerrymandering and voter suppression by electing candidates at the state and federal levels that are forceful advocates for voting rights.” The group has a seven point agenda:


  • Automatic voter registration and online voter registration
  • Same day registration
  • Convenient early voting
  • ‘No excuse’ absentee voting
  • An adequate number of polling locations, personnel, and voting booths
  • Restoration of voting rights to previously convicted Americans who have successfully completed their sentences
  • Independent redistricting commissions to ensure politicians are not able to draw their own maps


On Tuesday, Politico reported that the group is spending $300,000 to run ads in support of Ritchie Torres in New York’s 15th Congressional District. To see a list of candidates the Voter Protection Project has endorsed, click here.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 20 (May 27, 2020)

This week: Wagle campaign ad depicts food fight between Kobach, Marshall in Kansas, Todd Rokita joins field of challengers to Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert endorses Spencer Cox

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 tweets about Joe Scarborough

“I would note that the president said this morning that this is not an original Trump thought, and it is not. In fact, 2003 on Don Imus’s show, it was Don Imus and Joe Scarborough that joked about killing an intern, joked and laughed about it. So that was, I’m sure, pretty hurtful to Lori’s family. And Joe Scarborough himself brought this up with Don Imus, and Joe Scarborough himself can answer it.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, quoted by the Washington Examiner, May 26, 2020

“No one goes to Donald Trump’s Twitter feed to be edified, but Trump’s series of tweets the last two weeks about MSNBC host Joe Scarborough has been grotesque even by his standards. …

It’s unworthy of a partisan blogger, let alone the president of the United States.”

The Editors, National Review, May 26, 2020

U.S. Congress

Wagle campaign ad depicts food fight between Kobach, Marshall in KS

Kansas state Senate President Susan Wagle released a TV ad in the U.S. Senate primary saying she’s getting things done while Kris Kobach and Roger Marshall engage in a food fight.

The ad’s narrator says Wagle has been busy “passing 15 pro-life bills, draining the swamp by ending bureaucrats’ luxurious taxpayer-funded travel, fighting the EPA to help Kansas farmers, protecting gun rights, and fighting Democrats’ socialized medicine.”

As we reported earlier, Kansas Republican Party Chairman Mike Kuckelman sent Wagle and Dave Lindstrom letters asking them to drop out of the Aug. 4 primary. State party executive director Shannon Golden said the party wanted a contest between Kobach and Marshall.

Wagle has served in the state Senate since 2001. Kobach was Kansas’ secretary of state from 2011 to 2019 and was the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2018. Marshall has represented Kansas’ 1st District in the U.S. House since 2017.

In Senate primary debates, Kobach has criticized Marshall over an op-ed Marshall wrote in May 2019 opposing additional tariffs. Marshall has said Kobach’s 2018 gubernatorial loss means he cannot win the Senate race. 

Keep Kansas Great PAC released an ad saying Kobach let President Donald Trump down and that he’d lose the 2020 election. Free Forever PAC released an ad featuring footage of Marshall saying he was “not sure a wall is the best way to do it” and that he supported John Kasich.

Incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R), in office since 1997, is not seeking re-election. A Democrat last won a Senate election in Kansas in 1932. Three race forecasters rate the general election Lean Republican or Likely Republican.

Jackson picks up endorsements in TX-13 runoff

The Club for Growth and Chris Ekstrom, who ran in the March 3 primary, endorsed Ronny Jackson in Texas’ 13th Congressional District Republican primary runoff.

Josh Winegarner received 39% of the primary vote to Jackson’s 20%. Ekstrom was third with 15%.

Jackson was physician to the president for Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Winegarner is the director of industry affairs for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association.

Ekstrom said, “I was truly shocked that in such a deeply conservative district, Winegarner accepted the most #NeverTrump endorsement in the Congress, Will Hurd.” A PAC associated with Rep. Hurd launched an ad campaign opposing Jackson.

Jackson’s other runoff endorsers include Texas Right to Life and the Young Conservatives of Texas. Both groups endorsed Ekstrom in the primary. Ahead of the primary, Trump endorsed Jackson.

Incumbent Mac Thornberry (R), who is not seeking re-election, endorsed Winegarner ahead of the primary.  State Sen. Charles Perry (R) and former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm (R) endorsed Winegarner in the runoff.

The runoff is July 14.

Club for Growth Action releases opposition ads in IN-05

Club for Growth Action released ads opposing Carl Brizzi and Beth Henderson in Indiana’s 5th Congressional District primary. The group endorsed Victoria Spartz.

One ad says Brizzi owes back taxes to the IRS. The other features footage of Brizzi saying he didn’t vote for Trump and calling Trump “the orange man.” 

A Brizzi campaign ad narrator calls Brizzi a pro-Trump conservative. Brizzi says he’ll work with Trump to build a wall and hold China accountable.

The ad opposing Henderson features footage of her in 2016 saying she doesn’t like Trump’s  “outbursts and his inappropriateness … and his scruples.” The ad’s narrator says she sounds like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) and that Henderson showed support for a group on Facebook that supported impeachment.

Henderson tweeted, “I am a proud supporter of President Trump, and it is unconscionable for Victoria Spartz’s DC special interest club to make the slanderous claim that I would ever have anything to do with Nancy Pelosi and her impeachment charade.”

Fifteen candidates are running in the June 2 primary. Incumbent Rep. Susan Brooks (R) is not seeking re-election. Three election forecasters rate the race either Lean Republican or Likely Republican.

State executives

Todd Rokita joins field of challengers to Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill

Former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita (R) announced he would seek the GOP nomination for state attorney general at next month’s convention. Rokita is the third challenger to incumbent Curtis Hill, whose law license was suspended earlier this month following allegations of misconduct.

The Indiana Supreme Court suspended Hill’s law license for 30 days on May 11 following a disciplinary hearing into allegations that he had inappropriately touched four women at a legislative gathering in March 2018.

Rokita was first elected to Congress from Indiana’s 4th Congressional District in 2010 after serving two terms as secretary of state. In 2018, he ran for U.S. Senate rather than seeking re-election, receiving 30% of the vote to now-Sen. Mike Braun’s (R) 41%.

Rokita joins Decatur County Prosecutor Nate Harter and attorney John Westercamp, who have already declared challenges to Hill. Rather than running in a primary, candidates for Indiana attorney general are nominated at a convention. 

Delegates will have the option of ranking their preference from among the candidates on the ballot. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes cast, then the last-place candidate will be eliminated and their votes retallied for the delegate’s next choice. The process continues until one candidate wins a majority.

The Indiana GOP’s virtual convention is scheduled for June 18, although results of delegates’ mail-in votes will not be tallied until July 10.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert endorses Spencer Cox

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) endorsed Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s (R) campaign to succeed him Thursday with his appearance in a Cox campaign ad. In the ad, Herbert says Cox is “a proven leader and a true conservative who is deeply committed to our state and its future.”

Herbert succeeded to the governorship in 2009 after then-governor, and current gubernatorial candidate, Jon Huntsman (R) was nominated U.S. ambassador to China. According to Brigham Young University political science professor Chris Karpowitz, Herbert’s endorsement of Cox over Huntsman is “dramatic and important news for Spencer Cox and his campaign and, I’m sure, a blow to the Huntsman campaign.” 

Cox, Huntsman, former state House Speaker Greg Hughes, and former state GOP chairman Thomas Wright are the four candidates who advanced to the June 30 primary. The winner will face University of Utah law professor Chris Peterson (D) and any declared third party or independent candidates.

Charleston Gazette-Mail endorses Woody Thrasher for GOP gubernatorial nomination 

The Charleston Gazette-Mail endorsed businessman Woody Thrasher for the Republican nomination for governor of West Virginia Saturday.

Thrasher is among six Republicans challenging incumbent Jim Justice’s (R) re-election in the June 9 primary. Justice, who was elected as a Democrat in 2016, joined the Republican Party in 2017.

Thrasher is the most well-funded of Justice’s challengers, having raised $435,000 to Justice’s $575,000 as of March 31. None of the other candidates had reported raising more than $100,000.

Justice’s supporters include President Trump and the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund, while Thrasher’s include the West Virginia University Republicans.


Dotres enters primary for Florida’s open House District 80 seat

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Victor Dotres (R) announced his candidacy to represent House District 80. His entrance in the race sets up a primary with Lauren Melo (R). Incumbent Rep. Byron Donalds (R-80) is not seeking re-election.

Dotres has worked in the Collier County Public School system as an educator and coach since 2001. On his campaign website, he writes, “I promise to fight for more educational opportunities for all of our students regardless of their zip codes.” Dotres ran for an open school board position in 2018 but withdrew before the election. 

Melo is a real estate broker, currently serving as the president of the Naples Area Board of Realtors. She describes herself as “a businesswoman who has flourished in a variety of fields,” referencing her background owning a trucking company and her brokerage firm. Rep. Donalds endorsed Melo in February.

Since district lines were redrawn following the 2010 census, the Republican nominee in District 80 has won more than 60 percent of the vote in each general election. The winner of the Aug. 18 primary will likely face Laura Novosad (D), the only Democrat filed to run. The filing deadline is June 12.

Albuquerque Journal endorses Red River mayor in House District 42 primary

On May 24, the Albuquerque Journal endorsed Linda Calhoun (R) in the primary for New Mexico’s House District 42. Calhoun, the mayor of Red River since 2006, faces Paul Anthony Martinez, a consultant, in the Republican primary. Incumbent Rep. Dan Barrone (D-42) is not running, leaving the seat open. 

The endorsement highlighted Calhoun’s background as mayor. She said, “I’ve been a nonpartisan mayor for 14 years, and I know what it takes to get work done and not have to worry about politics.”

Two Democrats—Mark Gallegos and Kristina Ortez—are running in their party’s primary. Democratic Rep. Barrone was appointed to the seat in 2020 after 13-term Rep. Roberto Gonzalez (D) was appointed to Senate District 6. This year is the first time since 2010 that any candidate other than Gonzalez has appeared on a primary or general election ballot in District 42. 

Power players

“FreedomWorks was founded to fight for liberty and brought together some of the best and brightest minds of the liberty movement. Since then, we’ve expanded our ambitions from a free-market think tank to a service center for the grassroots freedom movement across the whole country.” – FreedomWorks website

Founded in 1984 as Citizens for a Sound Economy, FreedomWorks says it is a “community of Americans devoted to promoting lower taxes, less government, and more freedom.” According to Politico, the group has helped to facilitate protests of government responses to the coronavirus pandemic and provided resources such as a #ReOpenAmerica Rally Planning Guide

Along with other conservative groups, FreedomWorks launched a Save Our Country Coalition in April with the following five principles:


  • Immediately reopen the economy, while implementing the best workplace practices to protect the health of our citizens.


  • Restore the essential principles of limited government and fiscal responsibility by stopping the trillions of dollars of federal spending that is imperiling America’s economic future and dangerously escalating our national debt.
  • Incentivize the rapid rebuilding of our economy through proven formulas: tax cuts, deregulation, and lawsuit reform
  • Preserve federalism within the rule of law and respect the rights of the states in dealing with crises like the coronavirus
  • Protect the individual liberties of our citizens from unconstitutional power grabs by the federal, state and local governments.



To view FreedomWorks’ 2020 platform, click here. To see the group’s latest congressional scorecards, click here

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 19 (May 20, 2020)

This week: McCarthy disputes King’s statement about committee assignment restoration, Protect Freedom PAC airs pro-Cawthorn ad in NC-11 runoff, and Virginia’s 5th and 7th District Republican convention dates set.

On the news

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

On federal aid to states

“Instead of bailing out state governments, the federal government should focus on helping workers and small businesses — the taxpayers — get back on their feet. Failure to do so will continue to hurt state economies, saddling them with insolvent balance sheets. …

We need officials in the federal government to get serious about supporting reforms that will balance the budget, and we need many state leaders to do the same. The debt and deficit problems faced by the federal government are a reminder that bipartisanship is not always a good thing.

The federal debt grew from just over $5 trillion to over $10 trillion under President George W. Bush and then up to nearly $20 trillion under President Barack Obama. Even without bailing out state governments, federal spending levels are unsustainable. It is exactly why we need a balanced-budget amendment to force politicians in Washington — in both parties — to get serious about balancing the federal budget.

Rather than propping up failing state bureaucracies, Americans deserve elected officials who will help get them back on their feet and working again.”

Scott Walker, The New York Times, May 20, 2020

“This won’t be the last fight over federal aid and posturing has become par for the course in Washington in recent years. Sometimes it’s the prelude to negotiation, sometimes to stalemate. But we would be remiss not to plead with our fellow conservatives: don’t shoot yourselves—and your constituents—in the foot by refusing to assist state and local governments. … 

Yes, conservatives are right to be leery of bailing out profligate state and local governments, especially for needs that bear little relationship to—and pre-date—the virus crisis and its economic consequences. It didn’t help when Illinois Democrats pleaded for a rescue package for the state’s miserably mismanaged pension system. It’s simply unfair to ask taxpayers in red states to pay the bill for expensive government services in blue ones. If progressives could count on the federal government to come to the rescue during every recession, it would create a moral hazard, giving them even more reason to create expensive programs that their own taxpayers can’t afford. … 

By all means, GOP leaders should push back against the parts of stimulus packages they find objectionable, and make sure than any state or local aid doesn’t go to bail out pensions or keep afloat other long-insolvent big-government programs. But as defenders of our federalist system and of local control, it makes no sense to allow our state and local institutions to crumble. Federal aid should always be a measure of last resort, reserved for times of true national crisis. Alas, fellow conservatives, that time is now.”

Michael J. Petrilli and Chad L. Aldis, The Bulwark, May 16, 2020

U.S. Congress

Protect Freedom PAC airs pro-Cawthorn ad in NC-11 runoff

Protect Freedom PAC aired an ad supporting Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina’s 11th District primary runoff

The ad says Cawthorn is “an outsider who supports term limits and a balanced budget amendment, and he will help President Trump secure our borders, enforce the rule of law, and ban sanctuary cities.”

The PAC says it supports “pro-freedom and liberty-minded candidates” and was “founded by seasoned political veterans with decades of national campaign experience, which includes working on the campaigns of both Ron and Rand Paul.”

Cawthorn, a motivational speaker and CEO of a real estate investment company, is running against Lynda Bennett. Bennett is a former vice-chair of the Haywood County Republican Party and a real estate broker.

Former 11th District incumbent Rep. Mark Meadows announced in December he wouldn’t seek re-election. He vacated the seat in March to become White House chief of staff. Meadows is a former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. He and the House Freedom Fund endorsed Bennett.

Court-ordered redistricting in 2019 affected the partisan composition of the 11th District, though the 2020 general election race rating remained Safe or Solid Republican. The Cook Political Report wrote that in the 2016 election President Donald Trump won the former 11th District by 29 percentage points and the redistricted 11th by 17 percentage points.

Bennett received 22.7% of the primary vote to Cawthorn’s 20.4%. The Mountaineer’s Kyle Perotti reported that “much of the territory Cawthorn claimed was only brought into the district after a three-judge panel approved the new Congressional district in December of last year.”

The runoff is June 23.

McCarthy disputes King’s statement about committee assignment restoration

Iowa’s 4th Congressional District incumbent Steve King said at a May 11 debate that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) agreed to ask the Republican Steering Committee to restore King’s committee assignments in the next session of Congress. King said, “I have Kevin McCarthy’s word that that will be my time for exoneration.”

McCarthy said May 15, “Congressman King’s comments cannot be exonerated and I never said that.” McCarthy also said King “has the right to go to the Steering committee and the Steering committee would take up the committee assignments just like every Congress, just like every single member.”

King was removed from his committee assignments in January 2019 after The New York Times published an interview in which King mentioned white nationalism and supremacy and Western civilization. King has said his comments were taken out of context.

A campaign official for King’s primary challenger Randy Feenstra said of King’s May 11 remarks, “The only thing worse than Steve King costing our district our voice on committees was lying to his constituents that they had been restored.” The Republican Main Street Partnership PAC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Feenstra in the primary.

Candidate Jeremy Taylor said, “The issues facing our 4th District families are too important to risk not having a voice on committees.”

King said following McCarthy’s comments that the minority leader “didn’t say that he wouldn’t go to the steering committee and advocate for me. If he wanted to clarify or if he wanted to rebut me, he would have had to say that but he didn’t clarify that either.”

King has been in the House since 2003. His closest election was in 2018 when he defeated Democratic J.D. Scholten 50% to 47%.   

King, Feenstra, and Taylor are among five candidates running in the June 2 primary.  

National Association for Gun Rights airs ad opposing Nehls in TX-22

The National Association of Gun Rights aired an ad opposing Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls in Texas’ 22nd Congressional District primary runoff

The ad says Nehls supports gun-free zones. It features footage of Nehls speaking against guns in churches and open carry in a local criminal justice building. The ad says Nehls sounds more like Beto O’Rourke, a former U.S. representative and former Democratic presidential candidate than a Texan or a Republican.

Nehls’ campaign website says, “I’m 100% pro-2A, endorsed by NRA board members, and as Sheriff famously told looters to stay out of Ft. Bend County because we believe in the 2nd Amendment and many of us are well armed, and they may leave in a body bag.”

The National Association of Gun Rights endorsed Kathaleen Wall, a tech startup investor, ahead of the March 3 primary. Nehls and Wall were the top two finishers in the 15-candidate field. Nehls received 40.5% of the vote to Wall’s 19.4%.

Incumbent Pete Olson (R), who was first elected in 2008, is not seeking re-election.

Independent election observers view the general election a Toss-up or as Tilt Republican.

Virginia’s 5th and 7th District Republican convention dates set

Republican parties in Virginia’s 5th and 7th Districts will hold conventions as opposed to primary elections. The 5th District convention will be held on June 13, and the 7th District convention will be July 18. 

The conventions were originally scheduled for April 25 but were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

State executives

Utah gubernatorial poll shows Cox ahead, Huntsman leading with unaffiliated voters

A poll of nearly 500 registered Utah Republicans shows Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox ahead of the four candidates seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination. 

Among registered Republicans who say they are likely to vote in the primary, Cox has 39% support. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) has 32%, while former state House Speaker Greg Hughes (R) has 23%. Six percent would vote for former state party chairman Thomas Wright (R).

Among voters who described themselves as strong conservatives, Cox had 37% support, followed by Hughes with 35%. Cox also led among Republicans who described themselves as moderate conservatives, with 43% support to Huntsman’s 34%.

The poll also surveyed 127 voters who were not Republicans but said they were likely to switch parties to take part in the primary. Huntsman led among that group with 48% support to Cox’s 31%.

Second Republican removed from Arizona Corporation Commission ballot

We reported earlier about Arizona Corporation Commissioner Boyd Dunn, who was removed from his re-election ballot following allegations of signature forging. The Arizona Supreme Court moved last week to uphold Dunn’s removal and to disqualify a second Republican candidate.

Dunn was disqualified from seeking re-election after one of his petition circulators admitted to having forged some signatures. Because the circulator did not identify which signatures were forgeries, all 166 signatures collected by the circulator were invalidated, leaving Dunn 92 signatures short of qualifying. The state supreme court upheld Dunn’s removal on May 13.

The court removed a second candidate, Kim Owens, on May 14. A lower court had ruled against a challenge to the validity of Owens’ nominating petitions. The challenge alleged the petitions contained signatures from ineligible voters. 

Owens said the state Republican Party’s voter records contained information corroborating the challenged signatures’ validity. The state supreme court ruled that because the records had not been made available to the court, they could not be used as evidence.

Owens and Dunn’s removal leaves two Republicans in the running for the three seats up this year. Additional candidates could still join the race. Arizona law allows a write-in candidate to proceed to the general election if he or she wins at least 6,663 votes in the Aug. 4 Republican primary.


Former S.D. governor endorses former bishop over state representative in Senate primary

On May 11, former South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) endorsed David Zellmer (R) in the Republican primary for Senate District 14. Zellmer faces Rep. Larry Zikmund (R-14), an incumbent state Representative from District 14. Incumbent Sen. Deb Soholt (R-14) is term-limited and unable to run for re-election.

Zellmer was bishop of the South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America from 2007 to 2019. In his endorsement of Zellmer, Daugaard said, “we worked closely together on many issues of importance for our state, such as healthcare and supporting kids.”

Zikmund was first elected to represent District 14 in the state House in 2014, winning re-election in 2016 and 2018. He previously served as the state director of Adult Vocational and Technical Education and president of S.D. Associated General Contractors Building Chapter. 

Zikmund’s re-election to the state House in 2018 was one of the closest general elections in the state that year. Zikmund and Rep. Tom Holmes (R) both sought re-election against Erin Healy (D) and Valerie Loudenback (D). All four candidates finished within a three-point, 538-vote range, with Zikmund receiving 26.5% of the vote, Healy 25.5%, Holmes 24.5%, and Loudenback  23.5%. 

The winner of the June 2 primary will likely face Timothy Reed (D) in the general election. Reed is the only other candidate filed to run for the seat.

County GOP rebukes South Carolina Republican Party for engaging in contested primary

In early May, we covered a dispute between the South Carolina GOP and Rep. Jonathon Hill (R-08) that emerged after the state party released mailers supporting Vaughn Parfitt (R) in his primary challenge against Hill in House District 8. 

On May 11, District 8’s local Anderson County Republican Party unanimously approved a resolution rebuking the state GOP for the mailers. According to the resolution, the local party “unequivocally condemns and censures the actions of the SCGOP which favor one Republican candidate over another” and asked the state Republican Party chairman to “apologize to the voters in District 8 for interfering with their right to select their own representative.”

The state GOP sent District 8 voters mailers encouraging them to vote for Parfitt in April. In a statement, the state GOP’s executive director Hope Walker wrote, “we are making resources available to a Republican candidate who will actually support Republicans.” According to the Greenville News, “Hill has a reputation for voting against spending provisions and other measures supported by the GOP rank-and-file.” In response to the mailers, Hill wrote, “I believe in the party platform, it’s why I choose to run as a Republican, and I have supported the party with my time and money for a decade now.”

The winner of the upcoming Republican primary will likely face Jackie Todd (Alliance Party of South Carolina) in the general election, the only other candidate running for the seat.

Incumbent Washington representative’s decision against re-election results in jockeying at the filing deadline

Incumbent state Rep. Matt Shea (R-04) did not submit papers to run for re-election in House District 4 by the filing deadline on May 15, leaving the position open. Shea was first elected to represent District 4 in 2008 and won re-election four times. He was removed from the House Republican Caucus in December 2019 after the release of a report regarding his alleged involvement with several armed standoffs.

Shea did not announce his retirement ahead of the filing deadline which led the other candidates to shuffle between positions. In Washington, every House District is divided into two positions with candidates running for those specific positions. All candidates participate in the same primary regardless of party affiliation. The top-two voter-earners in the primary then move to the general election.

Shea currently represents District 4-Position 1 while his seatmate Bob McCaslin (R) represents Position 2. Late on May 15, after learning that Shea was not filing for re-election, multiple shifts and filings took place. Here is the breakdown according to the Washington Secretary of State:

District 4-1: 

McCaslin, Mike Conrad (R), Dave Whitehead (R), and Lori Feagan (D) are running for the open Position 1 seat. On May 15, McCaslin switched his candidacy from Position 2 to Position 1. He has served in the state House since 2014. Conrad is the C.E.O. of the Savory Butcher, a meat delivery company. He initially filed to run against McCaslin in Position 2 but switched to Position 1 following McCaslin’s move. Whitehead has worked as a business education teacher and volleyball coach. Feagan is a registered nurse.

District 4-2:

Leonard Christian (R), Rob Chase (R), Nathan Sybrandy (R), and Lance Gurel (D) are running for the open Position 2 seat. Christian originally filed to run against Shea in Position 1 but coordinated with Conrad to switch to Position 2. He previously represented District 4-1 in 2014 after being appointed to fill a vacancy. Christian lost to McCaslin in the Republican primary that year. Chase is a former Spokane County Treasurer. He originally filed to run against U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R) in the 5th Congressional District but switched to state House District 4-2 after McCaslin moved to Position 1. Sybrandy is a registered nurse. Gurel is an accountant and 2019 candidate for Spokane City Council.

Power players

“Protect Freedom PAC was founded for the purpose of supporting pro-freedom and liberty-minded candidates using the tactics, technology, and strategy that best fits each race individually.” – Protect Freedom PAC website 

Protect Freedom PAC describes itself as “an independent organization dedicated to supporting pro-liberty and freedom-minded candidates.” The group was founded by individuals who had worked on campaigns for former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and his son, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Some of the group’s 2020 endorsements include Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, Matt Gurtler in Georgia’s 9th Congressional District, and Thomas Massie in Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District. 

To see press releases announcing candidate endorsements and PAC activity, click here. Ads released by the group can be seen here

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 19 (May 20, 2020)

This week: Two more Senate primary runoff endorsements in Texas, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorses Nabilah Islam in GA-07, and Vermont gubernatorial candidates meet for first debate.

On the news

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

On Biden’s appeal to progressives

“The overwhelming note I hear from establishment Democrats is ‘Ha-ha, you lost’ and ‘You’re going to cost us the election.’ I’ve never seen so many people planning their own funeral. I know that’s the record of wishy-washy establishment candidates: They almost always lose to Republicans. But this time maybe you can do something about that. You’ve got six months. Give it a shot. … 

What do we want? If you asked, you might have found out, for example, that Justice Democrats has one litmus test. It isn’t Medicare for All or the Green New Deal—it’s rejecting money from corporate PACs. Why? Because the central issue in U.S. politics is corruption. …

If Mr. Biden says passing the Clean Elections Act is his top legislative priority and he’ll have failed as president if he doesn’t get it done, then I’ll believe him. Loose talk about how he’d like to pass it, one day, won’t do.

The question is whether Mr. Biden will commit to that. If not, it proves the establishment is corrupt and hopeless. Then good luck getting progressives excited enough to vote for him.”

Cenk Uygur, The Wall Street Journal, May 17, 2020 

“Joe Biden ran as the most centrist candidate in the Democratic primary. Ultimately, despite the egghead objections of out-of-touch left-liberal bloggers, this strategy worked, and he recovered from a strong early push by Bernie Sanders to (presumptively) win the nomination. … 

Joe Biden has been part of the Democratic establishment even longer than Hillary Clinton has been, his record is more conservative than hers was, and he was even more emphatic than she was during their respective primaries about limiting public spending and uniting rather than dividing; while other candidates tried to slip a little Bernie-ism into their platforms here and there, Biden was firm that he would not do any of that angry anti-billionaire stuff. So what’s the deal? Since when do you win the more leftward party’s primary and then move to the left? … 

Having solidified his hold over his party, he is offering something to the younger and more economically insecure voters who were skeptical of him during the primary under the cover of associating himself, during a historic crisis, with the president who won WWII and pulled the country out of the Great Depression. It’s a win-win, except for the superrich, but they’ll get plenty of chances to talk Biden out of all this communist stuff if he actually gets elected. This is still America, after all.”

Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate, May 15, 2020

U.S. Congress

Two more Senate primary runoff endorsements in Texas

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) endorsed M.J. Hegar, and primary candidate Amanda Edwards endorsed Royce West in Texas’ U.S. Senate primary runoff, adding to a long list.

The Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek wrote the endorsements, “have helped fortify each campaign’s central pitch in the runoff, with Hegar’s backers touting her as Democrats’ best shot against Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and West’s allies promoting his deep experience in the Texas Senate and Democratic Party.”

Hegar, a former U.S. Army search and rescue and medevac pilot, ran for U.S. House in 2018, losing to incumbent John Carter (R) 51% to 48%. Since the March 3 Senate primary, Hegar has picked up endorsements from Brady PAC and Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. The latter group endorsed Amanda Edwards in the primary. Ahead of the primary, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and End Citizens United endorsed Hegar.

West, a state Senator since 1992, had endorsements from several state legislators heading into the March 3 primary.  Five former primary candidates, including Edwards, have endorsed him since, along with the Texas American Federation of Teachers and the University Democrats. The University Democrats had endorsed Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez in the primary.

The runoff is July 14.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorses Nabilah Islam in GA-07

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Nabilah Islam in the June 9 Democratic primary for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. 

Ocasio-Cortez said Islam’s “working-class background provides her with unique insight into what Americans go through on a regular basis.” U.S. Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), as well as Occupy Democrats have also endorsed Islam. 

Islam worked as the deputy southern states finance director for Hillary for America and as finance director for the Florida Democratic Party. She supports Medicare for All and a $15-an-hour minimum wage. 

Islam is one of six candidates in the primary, which includes the 2018 Democratic nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux, state Sen. Zahra Karinshak, and state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero.

Bourdeaux, Karinshak, and Lopez Romero each support a public option as opposed to Medicare for All.

U.S. Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), as well as former U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young endorsed Bourdeaux. 

VoteVets.org, the Second Service Coalition, and former Gov. Roy Barnes (D) endorsed Karinshak. 

Several of state representatives, including House Minority Leader Robert Trammell (D) and House Democratic Chair James Beverly (D), have endorsed Lopez Romero.

Bourdeaux, a public policy professor, lost by 433 votes to incumbent Rep. Rob Woodall (R) in 2018. Woodall, first elected in 2010, is not seeking re-election. 

BOLD PAC & Women Vote! spend in support of Fernandez in NM-03

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC spent $425,000 on an ad supporting Teresa Leger Fernandez in New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District. Women Vote! spent $131,000 on mailers supporting Fernandez.

BOLD PAC’s ad emphasizes that Fernandez grew up in the state and says that, as a breast cancer survivor, Fernandez would work to protect health insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

Fernandez is an attorney for Native American tribes and their business entities. Her other endorsers include the Working Families Party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Courage to Change PAC, and EMILY’s List. 

Seven candidates are running in the June 2 primary. The safe Democratic district’s seat is open as incumbent Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D)  is running for U.S. Senate.

Former CIA officer Valerie Plame led the primary in fundraising with $1.7 million raised through March 31. Fernandez had raised $1.1 million.

State executives

Vermont gubernatorial candidates meet for first debate

The three Democrats in the running for governor of Vermont met for their first debate on May 11. The candidates were scheduled to discuss healthcare, economic development, and who would be best suited to challenge incumbent Phil Scott (R). However, much of the back-and-forth between former state Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe and Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman centered on vaccination.

In her opening statement, Holcombe said Zuckerman had disputed the science behind vaccination in the past and that his views would be a liability in the general election. She referred to a 2015 debate on the state Senate floor in which Zuckerman said the science behind vaccinations remained untested and he opposed eliminating religious and philosophical vaccine exemptions.

Zuckerman said Holcombe had misrepresented his position and while he opposed eliminating vaccine exemptions, he voted in favor of the final version of the bill, which included a vaccination requirement. Zuckerman said that an eventual coronavirus vaccine should be provided to all who request it free of charge.

The third candidate, attorney Patrick Winburn, said he supported vaccines but was not involved in the back-and-forth between Holcombe and Zuckerman.

Steve Hobbs withdraws from Washington lieutenant gubernatorial election

State Sen. Steve Hobbs (D) dropped out of Washington’s lieutenant gubernatorial race Monday. Hobbs, an active-duty lieutenant colonel in the Washington National Guard, said an extension of his deployment because of the coronavirus prompted his decision.

Hobbs had been one of three Democrats, alongside state Sen. Marko Liias and U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, identified by local media sources as a frontrunner. 

With Hobbs out, the candidate list for August’s top-two primary has shrunk to 11, including four Democrats, five Republicans, and two Libertarians. In a top-two primary, every candidate for a particular office appears on the same primary ballot and the top two finishers advance to the general election. This means it is possible for two candidates of the same party to advance, as in Washington’s 2016 election for treasurer. 

Incumbent Cyrus Habib, who was first elected in 2016, is joining the Jesuit Order rather than seeking re-election. Democrats have won every Washington lieutenant gubernatorial race since 1996.


N.M. governor endorses challenger to state Senator she appointed

On May 13, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) endorsed Siah Correa Hemphill in the Senate District 28 primary against incumbent state Sen. Gabriel Ramos (D). Lujan Grisham appointed Ramos to fill a vacancy in District 28 in 2019. Later that year, Ramos voted against an abortion bill Lujan Grisham supported. 

House Bill 51 would have repealed a 1969 law prohibiting abortions except for cases where the mother’s life is in danger. Following Roe v. Wade, that law became unenforceable. Proponents of HB 51, Lujan Grisham included, sought to repeal the law after President Donald Trump (R) appointed Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. HB 51 failed in the Senate 24-18 with Ramos and seven other Democrats joining 16 Republicans to defeat the bill.

Ramos cited his Catholic faith as a reason why he voted against the bill. He said, “I stand unified against legislation that weakens the defense of life and threatens the dignity of the human being.” 

Regarding her stance on the 1969 law, Correa Hemphill said, “I support the decriminalization of abortion in New Mexico,” adding, “We need to focus on ensuring women have access to reproductive healthcare and family planning.”

In addition to Lujan Grisham, Correa Hemphill has received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Emily’s List, and Planned Parenthood Votes. Ramos has been endorsed by 41 town and county elected officials and the local branches of the National Education Association and United Steelworkers.

Early voting in New Mexico began on May 16 with the primary set for June 2. The winner of the primary will likely face James Williams (R). Williams is the only Republican filed to run for the seat.

Retirees’ association and unions endorse competing candidates in Mass.’s 16th Suffolk District House primary

Over the past week, a statewide retirees’ association and two local unions endorsed competing candidates in the 16th Suffolk District’s Sept. 1 Democratic primary. Jessica Giannino and Joe Gravellese are seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat currently held by retiring Rep. RoseLee Vincent (D).

The Massachusetts Retirees Association endorsed Giannino on May 15. 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.

On May 18, the local branches of the Tunnel Workers and Bricklayers & Allied Craftsmen union endorsed Gravellese. Gravellese worked for state Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-8th Essex) and Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo. The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 4 previously endorsed Gravellese.

There are no other candidates filed in the race, meaning it is likely the winner of the Democratic primary will be the 16th District’s next representative.

Kentucky Chamber of Commerce endorses in three-way House District 45 primary

On May 18, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce endorsed Shirley Mitchell (D) in the three-way Democratic primary for House District 45. Mitchell, a customer experience manager, is running against Corey Nichols (D), a criminal defense attorney, and Sean “Mike” Pickard (D), a 2nd-grade teacher. 

District 45’s incumbent, Rep. Stan Lee (R), is retiring after serving ten terms. In the 2018 election, Lee defeated the Democratic candidate, Josh Hicks, 51-49%.

The winner of the June 23 primary will face Killian Timoney (R), a Fayette County Public Schools employee, in the general election. Timoney announced his candidacy before Lee’s retirement announcement. He is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

In total, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce endorsed candidates in 14 contested state legislative primaries. The District 45 primary is the only Democratic primary in which the group issued an endorsement. The Kentucky Chamber PAC does not endorse candidates in uncontested primaries and announced that it would make general election endorsements closer to November.

Power players

“Latino Victory engages Latino voters and donors—in addition to developing Latino leaders—in order to elevate and advance values that are important to our communities. By closing the civic and leadership gap, we can help change the face of this country’s politics and position our nation for positive long-term policy change.” – Latino Victory website

Latino Victory describes itself as “a progressive organization working to grow Latino political power by increasing Latino representation at every level of government and building a base of Latino donors to support this critical work.” The group was founded in 2014 and comprises three organizations: the Latino Victory Fund PAC, the Latino Victory Project, and the Latino Victory Foundation.  

According to the Latino Victory website, the group raised $4.2 million in the 2018 election cycle, with approximately half of its total funding contributed by Latino donors. 

To view a list of candidates endorsed by the organization, click here.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 18 (May 13, 2020)

Heart of the Primaries

This week: Progressive groups split endorsements in Kentucky Senate primary, Kennedy launches $1.2 million ad campaign in Massachusetts, and Hillary Clinton endorses in Montana gubernatorial election

On the news

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

“Biden leads a largely unified party whose members widely consider his opponent a borderline sociopath who threatens democracy — not to mention prosperity, decency and human life. Under the circumstances, any sensible vice presidential pick will do. But Trump will be waging a culture war that, by November, will be but a few steps shy of civil war. Harris will have cultural resonance in the parts of America — immigrant, brown, black, female — that will be under sharpest attack. She can make manifest what’s at stake in this election, especially to those underwhelmed by the prospect of another old white guy in the Oval Office.

Harris’s face is the future of the Democratic Party, and of the nation, just as Biden is the face of receding power. She complements and strengthens him. She can be Biden’s Biden.”

Francis Wilkinson, Bloomberg Opinion, May 10, 2020

“Does it really matter who Joe Biden picks as his running mate? Maybe not, but with Trump in the White House, it might. It doesn’t require massive new votes in California (Democrats got 61.7 percent last time) or New York (Democrats got 59 percent) or Massachusetts (60 percent).

It requires someone who attracts Trump-fatigued Republicans in a few states: Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, for example.

Amy Klobuchar fits in those states. She is strongly liberal (a fact too often ignored in a slogan-driven atmosphere), but moderate in presentation and explanation.

If she were to become president, the country would cheer a woman of commitment, competence, and decency.”

Norman Sherman, The Hill, May 10, 2020

U.S. Congress

Progressive groups split endorsements in Senate primary in KY

Four local chapters of Indivisible endorsed Mike Broihier in the Democratic primary for Senate in Kentucky. 

Indivisible’s website says it is “a grassroots movement of thousands of local Indivisible groups with a mission to elect progressive leaders, rebuild our democracy, and defeat the Trump agenda.”

Ryland Barton of radio network WFPL wrote, “The endorsement indicates a split among progressives looking for an alternative to [Amy] McGrath. [State Rep. Charles] Booker was endorsed by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, another statewide progressive political group, in early March.” 

Booker’s endorsers also include the Sunrise Movement and Demand Universal Healthcare. Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson endorsed Broihier.

Amy McGrath, who says she is a progressive on some issues and conservative on others, is running with support from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and VoteVets, among others. She had raised $30 million as of March 31. Booker had the second-highest fundraising total in the primary at $316,000.

The primary is June 23. Ten candidates are running. The winner will face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He was first elected to the Senate in 1984. 

Salon interviewed Booker, Broihier, and McGrath in April. Each said why they think they’re the candidate to defeat McConnell. 

  • Booker: “I am the only person running that has actually won an election in Kentucky and worked across Kentucky building coalitions, the same type that we have to build now to actually not only beat Mitch McConnell but really transform our future. 

    “Louisville’s still one of the most segregated cities in the country, and so having to deal with structural racism in a very personal level. [In] my family, my grandad fought for desegregation. I’ve had family members lynched, enslaved in Kentucky. And having worked all across the commonwealth in rural communities and Appalachia alike, it’s really given me the ability to speak across seeming divides and build coalitions of folks regardless of party.”

  • Broihier:Over the last couple years it became more and more evident to me that Trump is just the symptom and McConnell is the problem. People like him are the problem. I looked at my resume and said, you know, as a Kentucky farmer, as someone who has taught at UC Berkeley and taught substitute teaching at the local public schools, and as a retired combat veteran, no one has ever run against Mitch McConnell like me before. We’ve been running Republican-lite against McConnell for 35 years and gotten creamed every time.”
  • McGrath: “We need a new generation of leaders who can put their country over their political party to do what’s right for Kentucky and are not bought off by special interests. I spent my entire adult life serving my country while Mitch McConnell has spent 35 years creating the Washington Swamp. I will give everyday Kentuckians a voice in Washington — not just special interests or the wealthiest 1%. I’m the only candidate who has built a team to take him on toe to toe.

Kennedy launches $1.2 million ad campaign in Senate primary in MA

Joseph Kennedy III spent $1.2 million on the first major ad buy of the Sept. 1 Democratic primary for Senate in Massachusetts. 

Kennedy’s ad focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic. Kennedy says, “It will take shared sacrifice and progressive willpower to fix the damage done by President Trump, but together we will recover.” He said he would lead the fight for guaranteed healthcare for all in the Senate. 

Kennedy, who has served in the U.S. House since 2013, faces incumbent Sen. Ed Markey. Markey was first elected to the Senate in 2013. Before that, he served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2013.

The Boston Globe asked Markey’s campaign if it planned to air TV ads soon. Markey’s campaign manager John Walsh said:

“Senator Markey has always found that the best advertising is doing your job well and right now the voters are responding. From recurring cash payments to providing relief to families and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, finding a cure for Alzheimer’s by 2025, and protecting our environment, Senator Markey’s legislative work is delivering real tangible results.”

Markey has released digital videos in recent weeks addressing Kennedy’s criticism that Markey has not been present in Massachusetts or effective at addressing the pandemic. One ad says Kennedy is “playing politics with the coronavirus” and features headlines about Markey’s actions related to COVID-19 in the Senate. Another ad features a former local school committeeman from Markey’s Malden neighborhood saying Markey is in touch with local issues. 

Meanwhile, 10 candidates are running in the 4th Congressional District Democratic primary for a chance to replace Kennedy. Former state Comptroller Tom Shack recently dropped out of that race and endorsed Dave Cavell, a speechwriter for former President Barack Obama (D).

Congressional Hispanic Caucus PAC spends for Reardon in IN-01

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ BOLD PAC has spent $170,000 on mailers and other activities supporting Mara Candelaria Reardon in Indiana’s 1st Congressional District primary. Reardon is a state representative. She was first elected in 2016. 

This is an open seat in a safe Democratic district. Incumbent Rep. Peter Visclosky, first elected in 1984, is retiring. Fifteen candidates are running in the June 2 primary. According to Daily Kos, there is no clear frontrunner. 

Six candidates reported campaign finance information to the Federal Election Commission for the first quarter of the year. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott led in fundraising with $441,000. Attorney Sabrina Haake followed with $270,000. Reardon had raised $214,000.

State executives

Hillary Clinton endorses Montana gubernatorial candidate Whitney Williams

2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (D) endorsed Whitney Williams for the Democratic nomination for governor of Montana May 5. Clinton’s endorsement came as Williams and her opponent Mike Cooney hit the airwaves to make their final arguments before voters ahead of the June 2 primary.

Cooney, the state’s current lieutenant governor, launched his first television ad May 5. The ad says Cooney is an experienced and trustworthy leader who assisted incumbent Steve Bullock in his push to expand Medicaid last year. Williams’ first ad, which she launched April 24, said she was the only gubernatorial candidate with experience in disaster recovery.

Among Williams’ other endorsers are former Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D), EMILY’s List, and the state branch of the National Organization for Women. Cooney’s endorsers include Sen. Jon Tester (D), Gov. Steve Bullock (D), and the state branch of the AFL-CIO.

The June 2 primary is open to all registered voters. 

Democrats’ Indiana gubernatorial nominee selects running mate

Woody Myers, the Democratic nominee for governor of Indiana, announced Friday he had selected former state Rep. Linda Lawson (D) as his running mate.

Lawson, who was first elected in 1998, served in the state House before announcing her retirement in 2018. Lawson was elected minority leader in 2012, becoming the first woman in Indiana history to serve as a legislative leader.

Myers said he picked Lawson because they both had a record of working across partisan lines. Lawson said she brought experience in employment issues to the ticket, saying that she served several terms on the state legislature’s employment committee. 

Party leaders will need to ratify Lawson’s place on the ticket at their virtual convention on June 13 before she formally becomes Myers’ running mate.

The last Democrat to win election as governor of Indiana was Frank O’Bannon in 2000.


Incumbent Minnesota state Senator will file for primary after losing party nomination to challenger

State Sen. Erik Simonson (D-07) announced on May 10 that he would proceed to a contested primary against Jen McEwen (D). According to results released on May 9, McEwen won the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party’s endorsement in the virtual convention for the Duluth-area District 7 over Simonson, receiving 70 percent of the delegate vote to Simonson’s 29 percent. 

The convention was held virtually with participants allowed to vote online or by mail. According to party officials, nearly 400 individuals participated, which was described as “a significant increase over in-person conventions.” 

Simonson criticized the convention format, saying, “Party endorsing conventions have become less and less effective over the past few years.” He said, “in the midst of a global pandemic, the process was even less inclusive than usual.”

McEwen said, “The processes put in place here actually allowed more people to participate” and “showed that democracy is not only possible during this pandemic, but we can find ways to make sure even more people are at the table.” 

Simonson said he “worked hard to build relationships across the aisle,” and that his “moderate and inclusive approach to legislating will resonate with Duluth voters.” According to the Duluth News Tribune, McEwen “has run on a progressive platform, touting health care, clean energy and housing priorities.” 

Simonson was first elected in 2016 after defeating Donna Bergstrom (R) 66-34%. He previously represented District 7B in the state House from 2013-2017. The window to file for a legislative primary extends from May 19 to June 2. The primary will be held on Aug. 11 with the winner likely facing Bergstrom, the 2020 Republican nominee, in the general election.

Orangetown Democratic Committee endorses local village trustee in four-way primary for N.Y. Senate District 38

On May 8, the Orangetown Democratic Committee announced its endorsement of Elijah Reichlin-Melnick in the four-way primary to replace outgoing Sen. David Carlucci (D) in Senate District 38. Reichlin-Melnick will face Justin Sweet, Eudson Francois, and Vladimir Leon in the June 23 primary.

Senate District 38 encompasses most of Rockland County and part of Westchester County. It contains the towns of Orangetown, Clarkstown, Ramapo, and parts of Ossining, each of which consists of several smaller villages. Three of the four Democratic candidates in the primary currently serve as a local elected official in the District.

Reichlin-Melnick has been a member of the Nyack Village Board of Trustees since 2017. He is also legislative director for state Sen. James Skoufis (D) of nearby Senate District 39. Nyack is located in Orangetown.

Sweet is the Clarkstown Town Clerk. He was elected to the position in 2010 after Carlucci, the previous town clerk, chose to run for state Senate. In addition to seeking the Democratic nomination, Sweet received the endorsement from the Working Families Party.

Francois is a member of the Spring Valley Board of Trustees, which is located primarily in Ramapo. He also serves as a Teacher Policy Board Member in the East Ramapo Central School District and is a member of the Spring Valley NAACP.

Leon owns a bakery in Ramapo. He ran for Rockland County Executive in 2013 and 2017 and is on the Board of Directors at the Monsey Medical Center. 

William Weber and Matthew Weinberg are seeking the Republican nomination. District 38 has been represented by a Democrat since Carlucci was first elected in 2010.

Power players

“We are organizing a political revolution to challenge the power of the plutocrats and prioritize the needs of people and our planet. With your support, we are building a national grassroots movement of local groups powerful enough to win progressive issue fights, elect progressive champions, transform the Democratic Party, and get big money out of politics.” – Our Revolution website 

Founded in 2016, Our Revolution is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization created by former Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to advocate for progressive policies and support progressive candidates. Sanders said in 2016, “If we are successful, what it will mean is that the progressive message and the issues that I campaigned on will be increasingly spread throughout this country. … The goal here is to do what I think the Democratic establishment has not been very effective in doing. And that is at the grass-roots level, encourage people to get involved, give them the tools they need to win, help them financially.” 

According to Our Revolution’s website, some of the policies it supports are Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, a $15 federal minimum wage, and canceling student debt. 

To view a list of candidates Our Revolution has endorsed in 2020, click here.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 17 (May 6, 2020)

This week: Super PACs release ads in Kansas’ Senate election, Minnesota GOP endorses primary candidates, and Montana gubernatorial candidates hold virtual debate

On the news

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

“The winners in the quarantine are those who would have been seriously infected by COVID-19 were it not for this lockdown. The losers are people like those mentioned above, and countless more. While the quarantines may have been justified on net, the hard fact remains that the losers are losing a lot.  It is naive to expect them to tolerate this indefinitely, especially in light of the actual course the disease has taken (as opposed to the initial estimates), the arbitrariness and political tinge of many government policies, and the uniformity of its imposition within states despite wildly divergent disease trajectories.  

This quarantine has been an incredibly destructive policy, and the harms have not been distributed evenly across the United States. Some people are suffering much, much more than others. It is a testament to the American spirit that so many have endured this hardship for so long — a tribute to our people’s commitment to the good of all. But these protests are an indication that this kind of fellow-feeling only goes so far. Absent a draconian police state or a massive system of bribery and patronage, respect for the law is ultimately premised on the belief that the law is good. If enough people conclude that these laws are ruining them, look out.”

Jay Cost, RealClearPolitics, May 3, 2020

“The movement to ‘reopen’ America is a fallacy based on a fantasy.

The fallacy is the notion that lifting stay-at-home orders will result in people going back to their normal routines. This is false. The state-issued stay-at-home orders did not determine most people’s desires to stay home—they merely ratified behaviors that the vast majority of people and institutions were already adopting in response to COVID-19.

The fantasy is that we can go back to what the world looked like 12 weeks ago. This is not possible now and will not be possible until we possess a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.”

Jonathan Last, The Bulwark, April 24, 2020

U.S. Congress

Amash presidential bid would make MI-03 an open race

Rep. Justin Amash announced last week he’d formed an exploratory committee for the Libertarian nomination for president. The race for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District will likely be open, as Amash can only run for one office under state law. 

Amash has been elected and re-elected to the House as a Republican since 2010. He switched his affiliation to independent in July 2019 before joining the Libertarian Party Friday.

Inside Elections‘ Nathan Gonzalez said, “Amash’s presidential run is a gift to House Republicans. … Without Amash running for reelection and complicating the race as an independent, Republicans shouldn’t have a problem taking his district back in November.”

Five candidates are running in the Aug. 4 Republican primary. Media outlets call army veteran Peter Meijer (of the Meijer supermarket family) and state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis the frontrunners. 

Both candidates have received support from the National Republican Congressional Committee. Afendoulis reached the first level of the Young Guns program and Meijer, the second level.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) endorsed Meijer last week. Former candidate and businessman Joel Langlois recently endorsed Afendoulis.

Afendoulis’ campaign spokesperson Peter Towey said of McCarthy’s endorsement, “With all due respect to the leader, Peter Meijer helped found a group that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to elect nine democrats who voted to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker and impeach President Trump.”

Meijer has donated to With Honor Fund, which supports armed forces veterans for Congress regardless of affiliation. Meijer said, “I’m not fazed now by baseless attacks from my opponent on how I’ve worked to help elect conservative war heroes like Dan Crenshaw, Mike Waltz, and Brian Mast.”

Meijer had raised $1 million through March 31, including $325,000 he loaned his campaign. Afendoulis raised $462,000. She loaned her campaign $56,000.

Super PACs release opposition ads in KS Senate primary

Club for Growth Action released an ad opposing U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall in the Senate primary in Kansas, while Keep Kansas Great PAC aired an ad opposing former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Club for Growth Action, which has not endorsed in the race, said in its ad, “In 2018, as the World Health Organization became China’s puppet, Marshall repeatedly voted to fund it.” 

Keep Kansas Great PAC supports Marshall and said in its ad that Kobach “is being bankrolled by an anti-Trump D.C. special interest group,” referring to Club for Growth. The ad also said Kobach will lose again, referring to the 2018 gubernatorial election, where Democrat Laura Kelly defeated him 48% to 43%.

Six candidates are running in the Aug. 4 primary

Candidate Bob Hamilton released his first TV ad, highlighting the plumbing business he started. He said, “If you want more of the same from Washington, I’m probably not your guy.”

Last week, the Kansas Farm Bureau endorsed Marshall and called on other candidates to unite behind him. We recently reported that the Kansas Republican Party chairman asked two candidates, former Johnson County Commissioner Dave Lindstrom and state Senate President Susan Wagle, to drop out of the race.

MN-02, MN-07 GOP endorse primary candidates 

District Republican parties endorsed Tyler Kistner in the 2nd District primary and Michelle Fischbach in the 7th District primary. The virtual conventions took place May 2.

In the 2nd District, five candidates are running. Kistner took 62% support on the first ballot at the convention. Candidates needed 60% for the endorsement.

Five candidates are running in the 7th District. Fischbach won the endorsement on the eighth round of voting, receiving 65%. 

Second with 35% was Dave Hughes, the district’s Republican nominee in both 2016 and 2018. In both elections, incumbent Rep. Collin Peterson (D) defeated Hughes.

President Donald Trump endorsed Fischbach in March.

Minnesota’s 2nd and 7th Districts are among 30 Democratic-held U.S. House districts that Trump won in the 2016 presidential election. 2nd District incumbent Angie Craig was first elected in 2018 with 53% of the vote. Peterson has been in the House since 1991.

State executives

Montana gubernatorial candidates hold virtual debate

Montana Republicans held their first televised gubernatorial debate of the primary season Saturday. Each of the three candidates—state Attorney General Tim Fox, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, and state Sen. Al Olszewski—appeared via webcam rather than gathering in person.

Fox criticized Gianforte for how he had run his campaign, accusing him of avoiding the press and his opponents and of buying the election by self-funding his campaign $1 million. Fox argued he was the only candidate who could win the general election, saying Gianforte’s policy proposals were not feasible and that he had lost the 2016 gubernatorial election to Steve Bullock (D).

Gianforte said he had sought to run a positive campaign and that Fox’s criticisms were untrue. In response to Fox’s argument that he would be best-positioned to win the general election, Gianforte said his internal polling numbers showed him outperforming Fox. He argued that his background as a business owner would leave him in an especially strong position to support economic growth.

Olszewski said neither of his opponents’ platforms had as much in common with the state GOP’s official platform as his does, citing his opposition to the Flathead Water Rights Compact and his proposal to find a legal mechanism for ending Montana’s expanded Medicaid program. Olszewski called for funding public education via natural resource taxes and royalties rather than property taxes, allowing the latter to be cut.

The June 2 primary is open to all voters. Republicans last won a Montana gubernatorial election in 2000.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner removed from primary ballot

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Boyd Dunn was disqualified from seeking re-election Thursday owing to the discovery of forged signatures among his nominating petitions. 

Following a pair of challenges to Dunn’s nominating signatures, a petition circulator who had worked with the Dunn campaign informed Dunn’s attorney she had forged more than 100 signatures. Because she could not identify which signatures were forgeries, all 165 signatures she had collected were rejected, leaving Dunn 92 signatures short.

In his ruling, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roger Brodman said the evidence suggested Dunn had been unaware of the forgery and had not committed any wrongdoing. Dunn released a statement saying he planned to appeal the decision.

Arizona’s corporation commission is a five-member board whose responsibilities mostly involve regulation and oversight of state utilities. Members are elected to four year terms in statewide elections, with three commissioners elected in each presidential election year and two in each midterm election year. All five incumbent commissioners are Republicans.

Four Republicans, including incumbent Lea Marquez Peterson, qualified for the Aug. 4 primary. The top three finishers will advance to the general election, where they will face the three Democratic nominees and any third party or independent candidates. The top three finishers in that race will be elected to the commission.

Republican Governors Association launches ad buy in support of incumbent governors

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) launched an online ad campaign Friday in support of all six Republican governors up for re-election this year. The ads praise the governors’ responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

Four of the ads feature governors who face at least one primary challenger. A fifth is running in support of Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, who has not yet declared whether he is running for re-election, but will face a contested primary if he does. The sixth incumbent, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, does not have a primary challenger.


Mailers target SD state Senate candidates over school vaccination bill

Mailers targeted two term-limited state representatives running for open seats in the South Dakota State Senate. The mailers criticized Reps. Lee Qualm 

(R-21) and Isaac Latterell (R-06) for their sponsorship of House Bill 1235 during the 2020 legislative session.

H.B. 1235 would have removed the requirement that students receive vaccinations before entering public or private school. Speaking in support of the bill, Qualm said he did not oppose vaccinations and described H.B. 1235 in terms of medical freedom, saying, “this bill provides the freedom to decide if you want to get all of the vaccinations as scheduled, some of the vaccinations, or none of the vaccinations.” The bill failed in committee 10-2.

Qualm and Latterell are both running in competitive primaries. In District 21, Qualm, the current House Majority Leader, faces a challenge from political newcomer Erin Tobin (R), a nurse practitioner. In District 6, Latterell faces Rep. Herman Otten (R), Latterell’s term-limited seatmate.

Over the past week, voters in Districts 21 and 6 received separate mailers urging them to oppose Qualm and Latterell in their respective primaries, citing their sponsorship of H.B. 1235, specifically. Both versions of the mailers included text that read, “It’s time to fight the science deniers as if our health depends on it” and “We need to stop the spread of fake health information now.”

The mailers were attributed to Pac’n Heat, a statewide political action committee chaired by Deb Peters (R), a former state legislator. Peters represented District 9 in the state House from 2005 to 2019. She resigned that year and took a job with the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO), where she is now the chief financial officer.

According to its website, the SDAHO is a lobbying and advocacy organization that serves “as the voice for South Dakota’s hospitals and healthcare organizations encompassing the full continuum of care.” Its C.E.O., Tim Rave (R), a former legislator, testified against H.B. 1235 in committee.

In addition to Qualm and Latterell, twelve other legislators sponsored or co-sponsored H.B. 1235, three of whom are also facing primaries: Reps. Thomas Brunner (R-29), Tim Goodwin (R-30), and Dayle Hammock (R-31).

South Carolina GOP supports primary challenge against incumbent Republican representative

Last week, the S.C. state Republican Party sent mailers to voters in House District 8 encouraging them to vote for Vaughn Parfitt (R) in the June 9 Republican primary, rather than incumbent Republican Rep. Jonathon Hill.

According to the Greenville News, “Hill has a reputation for voting against spending provisions and other measures supported by the GOP rank-and-file.” Hill was suspended from the House Republican Caucus in 2019, which he attributed to his vote against a 2017 constitutional-carry bill.

In a statement, the state GOP’s executive director, Hope Walker, wrote, “Due to extreme and unprecedented behavior, the incumbent was expelled from the Republican House Caucus … and we are making resources available to a Republican candidate who will actually support Republicans.”

After learning that the state party was supporting his opponent, Hill wrote, “I believe in the party platform, it’s why I choose to run as a Republican, and I have supported the party with my time and money for a decade now.”

Parfitt, an optometrist, said he’s running against Hill because “We’re not getting representation in this district,” adding, “I just felt like it was time that I had to something so I jumped in.”

Hill has faced a contested primary in every election since he was first elected to represent District 8 in 2014, when he defeated incumbent Rep. Don Bowen (R) 57-43% in a primary. The winner of the upcoming Republican primary will likely face Jackie Todd (Alliance Party of South Carolina) in the general election, the only other candidate running for the seat.

Power players

“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.” – U.S. Chamber of Commerce website 

Founded in 1912, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit membership organization that says, “Our organization has one overarching mission—to strengthen the competitiveness of the U.S. economy.”

The Chamber was established after President William Howard Taft proposed a group of business community representatives to function as a “central organization in touch with associations and chambers of commerce throughout the country and able to keep purely American interests in a closer touch with different phases of commercial affairs.” 

To view a brochure of the organization’s policy priorities for 2020, click here.

The Chamber has recently endorsed Randy Feenstra (R) in IA-04 and Matt Rosendale (R) for Montana’s at-large representative.  

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 17 (May 6, 2020)

This week: Major education groups split NJ-02 endorsements, Ossoff and Tomlinson release first TV ads in Georgia Senate primary, and Colorado Senate ballot access battles continue

On the news

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

“Believing women, that oft-rehearsed exhortation, must mean taking action if it’s to mean anything. A thorough and fully transparent investigation is critical, but nothing produced by any inquiry will entirely settle the question. It is still possible — if not likely — that all of this will simply fade away, and that Mr. Biden will continue his campaign without ever submitting to a full accounting, precisely the sort of thing #MeToo was meant to prevent.

But it is also possible that this won’t just go away, and that it will demoralize voters and place Mr. Biden at a disadvantage against Mr. Trump in the general election, despite the fact that Mr. Trump has a damning list of accusers alleging sexual offenses. For a candidate mainly favored for his presumed electability and the perception of empathy and decency, that’s a serious liability. To preserve the strides made on behalf of victims of sexual assault in the era of #MeToo, and to maximize their chances in November, Democrats need to begin formulating an alternative strategy for 2020 — one that does not include Mr. Biden.”

Elizabeth Bruenig, The New York Times, May 3, 2020


“Here’s the devilish thing about this Schrödinger’s cat scenario. In the version of reality in which Biden did assault Reade, we can at least debate the justice of throwing him off the ticket. In the version of reality in which he didn’t assault her, it would be a serious miscarriage of justice.

In other words, the progressives who want to force Biden off the ticket have given almost no thought to what would happen next, and what few ideas they have floated are in contradiction with each other. The replacement should either be a former candidate, or somebody who didn’t run, and they should either be picked by the remaining voters or by the party. Oh, and remember, there’s also an ongoing pandemic, which means there can’t be more campaigning and might not be an in-person convention. Good luck!

Had Reade told her story several months earlier, Democratic voters might have chosen a different nominee. In the meantime, the only mechanism to pick the nominee that is either practical or legitimate is the process we had: the actual votes of Democrats, who very clearly and deliberately decided to nominate Joe Biden.”

Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine, May 5, 2020

U.S. Congress

Ossoff, Tomlinson release first TV ads in Georgia Senate primary

Jon Ossoff and Teresa Tomlinson have released the first TV ads in the Senate Democratic primary in Georgia, both focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ossoff’s ad features his wife, who is a doctor. He says, “It’s never been clearer we need to stand up to the health insurance companies that have bought off Congress. … I’m not taking their money, and I won’t stop fighting until everyone has great healthcare.” 

Tomlinson criticizes Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) reopening plan and calls Sen. David Perdue (R) “an invisible senator” in her ad. She highlights her experience as the public safety director and mayor of Columbus.

Ossoff ran in the 2017 special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District—the most expensive House race in history, where candidates and satellite groups spent more than $50 million. Ossoff was also an investigative journalist. 

Tomlinson was mayor of Columbus from 2011 to 2019.

Also in the seven-candidate field is Sarah Riggs Amico, the 2018 Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor and former executive chairwoman of a trucking company.

Each candidate has highlighted their performance in previous elections as evidence they can win in November. 

On policy, each candidate supports expanding Medicare and background checks on gun purchases. Each opposes open borders and abolishing private health insurance. Each also said they would not accept money from corporate political action committees.

The primary is June 9. 

Major education groups split NJ-02 endorsements

The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) PAC endorsed Amy Kennedy in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District primary last week. The American Federation of Teachers New Jersey (AFTNJ) endorsed Brigid Callahan Harrison in January. 

Kennedy was a public school teacher and member of NJEA. 

NJEA President Marie Blistan said, “I know that Amy will keep the promises made to educators and make sure that at the end of their careers, New Jersey’s public school employees can count on retirement benefits we earn during a long career of service.”

Harrison is a political science and law professor at Montclair State University and a member of the AFTNJ, a teachers union.

AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera said, “Brigid stands where our members stand on key issues such as lifting the terrible burden of student loan debt, fighting for affordable health care, and investing in our schools and our infrastructure.”

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

The Democratic primary became an open race in December when incumbent Rep. Jeff Van Drew changed his affiliation from Democratic to Republican. He has one challenger in the Republican primary.

The primaries are July 7.

Colorado Senate ballot access battles continue

Four Colorado Senate candidates have filed lawsuits to get on the Democratic primary ballot, arguing either the state of emergency or changes to party rules amid the COVID-19 pandemic prevented them from qualifying. Two cases have been decided, and two are outstanding.

Diana Bray, Lorena Garcia, and Michelle Ferrigno Warren tried to qualify for the ballot via signature-gathering. They needed to submit 10,500 valid signatures——1,500 signatures from each of the state’s seven congressional districts—to qualify for the ballot.  

As we reported last week, district judge Christopher Baumann ordered Warren to be placed on the ballot, saying her 5,383 valid signatures were sufficient. The Secretary of State’s office appealed, and the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday to remove Warren from the ballot. The court said only the state legislature could change the election code.

April 28, Baumann ruled that Bray could not appear on the ballot, saying the 2,724 valid signatures she submitted were insufficient. 

Baumann ruled April 30 to place Garcia on the ballot. Garcia submitted 9,428 valid signatures. Tuesday, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled she shouldn’t be placed on the ballot. Garcia plans to appeal in federal court.

Erik Underwood tried to qualify for the ballot through the party’s state assembly, held virtually on April 18. Underwood received 1% of the vote. A candidate needed at least 30% to make the primary ballot. On April 28, Underwood filed a lawsuit arguing he was denied a fair election, citing alleged irregularities and emergency rules adopted by the party.

The primary is June 30. John Hickenlooper qualified for the ballot in February via signature collection, and Andrew Romanoff qualified by receiving 86% of the party’s state assembly vote.

Incumbent Cory Gardner (R) faces one primary challenger. Gardner is one of two Republican senators running for re-election in a state Hillary Clinton (D) won in the 2016 presidential election.

State executives

Vermont AFL-CIO endorses Zuckerman in Democratic gubernatorial primary

The Vermont branch of the AFL-CIO endorsed Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman for the Democratic nomination for governor Friday. Zuckerman, a member of the state’s Progressive Party, is among three Democrats in the running.

Among Zuckerman’s other supporters are former state Democratic chairwoman Cindy Metcalf and 350.org founder Bill McKibben. Former Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe’s endorsers include former state party chairwoman Dottie Deans and former Gov. Madeleine Kunin. Attorney Pat Winburn has not received any noteworthy endorsements.

The filing deadline is May 28. The Aug.11 primary is open to all registered voters. Incumbent Phil Scott (R), who was first elected in 2016, has not yet announced whether he will seek a third term.

Mark Hass receives newspaper endorsements in Oregon Secretary of State primary

Oregon’s largest newspaper endorsed state Sen. Mark Hass in the Democratic primary for secretary of state Sunday. The Oregonian’s endorsement followed that of Willamette Week, which endorsed Hass April 29. Hass faces his state Senate colleague Shemia Fagan and 2018 congressional candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner in the Democratic primary. 

Fagan’s endorsers include former Gov. Barbara Roberts, the state branch of the AFL-CIO, and Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon. Among McLeod-Skinner’s endorsers are former Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, the LGBTQ Victory Fund, and Our Revolution Portland.

The May 19 primary is open to registered Democrats only. Like all Oregon elections, it will be conducted entirely via mail-in ballot. Democrats last won an Oregon secretary of state election in 2012.

Follow-up: Montana Democrats meet for two more virtual events

Last week, we reported that Montana’s two Democratic candidates for governor had met for a virtual debate. Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and consultant Whitney Williams met for two more virtual events this week — a candidate forum on Thursday and a debate on Saturday.


Big Brother contestant kicks off campaign against incumbent Tennessee state representative

Reality T.V. contestant Ovi Kabir (D) kicked off his campaign against incumbent State Rep. Rick Staples (D) for House District 15 on May 4. A Democrat has represented the Knoxville-area 15th District since 1986.

Kabir was student body president at the University of Tennessee’s flagship campus in Knoxville from 2018 to 2019. After graduating, Kabir was selected to appear on the 21st season of the CBS reality series, Big Brother where he placed 15th. Kabir said, “I’m running to talk about big ideas—from expanding Medicaid to raising the minimum wage to how we can fight homelessness as a city.”

Staples was first elected to represent District 15 in 2016 after he replaced State Rep. Joe Armstrong (D) on the general election ballot following Armstrong’s conviction for filing a false tax return. Staples defeated independent candidate Pete Drew, 65-35%, and ran unopposed in 2018. Staples says he is “A champion of ordinary people,” and that “he is working hard to represent his district and give them the best they deserve.” This is his first contested primary.

Two other candidates—former Knox County Commissioner Sam McKenzie and Matthew Park, a business and technology consultant—are running in the primary for the reliably Democratic seat. The winner will likely face Troy Jones (I), the only other candidate filed to run, in the general election. 

Democrats tout experience in race for Connecticut State Senate seat

Two Democrats—former East Haven Mayor April Capone and the district party’s 2018 nominee, Aili McKeenkicked off their campaigns for Connecticut’s state Senate District 34 on April 29 and May 5, respectively. The current incumbent, Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R), is not seeking re-election.

Capone and McKeen are campaigning on their political and volunteer accomplishments.

Capone was elected mayor of East Haven in 2007 and served until 2011, when she was defeated by former Mayor Joe Maturo, Jr (R). She later worked for Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) in the Office of Policy & Management. Capone said, “we need experienced leaders,” adding, “I have the experience. I’ve not only served the municipal levels. I was part of state service.” 

McKeen is a personal property specialist. She also volunteers on Wallingford’s Inland Wetland & Watercourses Commission and with the Girl Scouts of Connecticut. McKeen was the Democratic nominee for District 34 in 2018. She defeated Josh Balter (D) in the primary, 71-29%, and lost to Sen. Fasano in the general election, 58.5-41.5%. McKeen said, “I’m not a career politician … Yes, April has a resume full of positions. But I’ve been an advocate for as long as she’s been a politician.” 

The winner will likely face business owner and North Haven Zoning Board of Appeals member Paul Cicarella, Jr. (R) in the general election. Cicarella is the only Republican who has announced. The filing deadline is June 9.

N.Y. state Planned Parenthood affiliate endorses incumbent Assemblyman over local Planned Parenthood board member

The statewide Planned Parenthood Empire State Votes PAC endorsed New York Assemblyman Steve Otis (D) in his bid for re-election to District 91. Otis received the endorsement over the only other candidate in the primary, Meg Cameron (D), who has served as an executive board member with the local Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic affiliate since 2010.

This is Otis’ first contested primary and second contested election since first winning the district in 2012. He faced a general election challenge that year from William Villanova (R), whom he defeated 63-37% after running unopposed in the primary. He ran unopposed in the primary and general elections in 2014, 2016, and 2018. Otis received the statewide Planned Parenthood endorsement in 2018, as well. 

Cameron chairs the Rye City Democratic Committee and has received endorsements from Rye’s mayor, Josh Cohn (D), and two Rye City Councilmembers—Ben Stacks (D) and Julie Souza (D). Cameron managed the “Moving Rye Forward” campaign in 2017 that worked to elect all three to office.

District 91 is located in Westchester County and includes the cities of Rye, Mamaroneck, and Rochelle. Since no Republicans filed to run, the winner of the June 23 Democratic primary will likely win the general election in November.

Power players

“314 Action was founded by members of the STEM community, grassroots supporters and political activists who believe in science.  We are committed to electing more STEM candidates to office, advocating for evidence-based policy solutions to issues like climate change, and fighting the Trump administration’s attacks on science.” – 314 Action website 

Founded in 2016, 314 Action is an organization that aims to elect STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) professionals to office. The group, which is named after the mathematical ratio Pi, says it is “the largest and only resource specifically created for scientists and STEM professionals seeking assistance running for office.” 

In addition to electing leaders from STEM backgrounds, 314 Action’s goals include “[strengthening] communication among the STEM community, the public and our elected officials”, “[making] science more accessible to the public,” “[educating, advocating for, and defending] the integrity of science and its use,” “[providing] a voice for the STEM community on social issues,” “[promoting] the responsible use of data driven fact based approaches in public policy,” and “[increasing] public engagement with the STEM Community through media.”

To view candidates endorsed by the 314 Action Fund, click here.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 16 (April 29, 2020)

This week: Texas AFT endorses Royce West in Senate runoff, Democracy for America endorses Jamaal Bowman in NY-16, and Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones (D) reverses his decision to resign and will seek re-election.

On the news

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

“Trump’s nightly news conferences, propaganda from the very beginning, are now aimed almost entirely at his base. They are campaign events. And if they are campaign events, the cable news outlets, which still carry the bulk of them live, ought to balance their programming. They ought to check in with the Joe Biden camp before, during and after each one.

There ought to be an army of Biden surrogates waiting to speak. Biden himself ought to be ready to speak: about reopening society in a rational, sane way that involves population-level testing and risk stratification, never forgetting to remind everyone we’re here because Trump ignored reality. Biden ought to be hosting live, regular conversations with his brain trust, past and future. …

“Biden’s media appearances thus far have been intermittent and a little lackluster … But watching his full appearance [during a coronavirus town hall with Anderson Cooper], you see, more or less, the same man who’s been handily winning state primaries this winter and spring: occasionally scattered, yes, but also diligent and empathetic and sufficiently well adjusted to heed the advice of experts. He could yet find the right format for himself during this peculiar time.”

Jennifer Senior, The New York Times, April 23, 2020

“A lot of Democrats have been hankering for Biden to try and get out to be more part of the daily media conversation. The latest numbers suggest that these voices are likely wrong. Biden’s proving that the less media he receives, the better it is for his electoral prospects.

Over the last month and a half, Trump has had the political spotlight shone on him. He’s had daily press conferences that the media has extensively covered. Meanwhile, Biden’s struggling to attract much of an audience as he is stuck at home. …

A 2020 election about Trump is likely an election Biden wins. We saw it in the 2018 midterms when feelings about Trump correlated extremely well with Democrats taking back the House.

Unless something changes dramatically, Biden is likely only to lose if the media attention comes back to him. Trump better hope that Biden starts getting some of the limelight. That won’t guarantee a Biden loss, but it’d give Trump a shot.”

Harry Enten, CNN, April 26, 2020

U.S. Congress

Texas AFT endorses Royce West in Senate runoff

The Texas American Federation of Teachers endorsed Royce West in the Senate primary runoff. West, a state Senator, faces former Army pilot M.J. Hegar in the July 14 runoff.

AFT President Zeph Capo said “what we leaned on was we have a valued relationship, we’ve had a longstanding relationship. … I have no reason to believe the other candidate may not … represent us well, but that’s very different than having years of tried and true conversations, direct work with the office, someone who actually has the experience to understand what our issues are.”

Since the March 3 primary, three primary candidates endorsed West in the runoff: Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, Michael Cooper, and Chris Bell. 

Brady PAC, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, and Texas Democratic Veterans have endorsed Hegar since the primary. Before the primary, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed Hegar.

Hegar raised $4.8 million and had $1.1 million on hand to West’s $1.4 million raised and $121,000 on hand through March 31. 

The runoff winner will face incumbent John Cornyn (R) in the November general election.

Judge allows candidate on Senate primary ballot, CO secretary of state appeals

A district judge ruled last week Michelle Ferrigno Warren could join John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff on Colorado’s Senate primary ballot. Secretary of State Jena Griswold’s (D) office is appealing the ruling.

Warren submitted 5,383 valid signatures, short of the 10,500 threshold to make the ballot. In her complaint, Warren argued the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting state of emergency prevented her from collecting more signatures.

The district judge said that reaching 50% of the required signatures was sufficient given the circumstances.

Assistant Attorney General Emily Buckley, who is representing the Secretary of State’s office in the appeal, wrote, “Stretching the substantial compliance standard so far as to allow a candidate who fell so short of the mark to access the primary election ballot is unfair to candidates who earned such access through full compliance with the election code, as well as those who fell short but chose not to pursue litigation to circumvent Colorado’s ballot access requirements.”

Warren said the state’s appeal “reeks of D.C-style politics and everything wrong with our government. The role of the Colorado secretary of state is to oversee fair and just elections and empower voters at the voting booth, not cherry pick who makes the ballot in the midst of a pandemic.”

Warren is the advocacy and strategic engagement director at the Christian Community Development Association.

The Denver Post reported that two other candidates have taken or plan to take similar legal action. 

The primary is June 30. Incumbent Cory Gardner (R) faces one primary challenger. Gardner is one of two Republican Senators running for re-election in a state Hillary Clinton (D) won in the 2016 presidential election.

Democracy for America endorses Jamaal Bowman in NY-16

Democracy for America endorsed middle school principal Jamaal Bowman’s primary challenge to Rep. Eliot Engel in New York’s 16th Congressional District. Yvette Simpson, the group’s CEO, said Bowman would be “a significant progressive improvement over the corporate Democrat he’s looking to replace.”

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

Bowman is running to Engel’s left, criticizing his votes for the Iraq War in 2002 and the 1994 crime bill. Bowman also says Engel has taken money from corporate PACs. Bowman’s campaign website says, “It’s time for a Democrat who will fight for schools and education, not bombs and incarceration.” 

Justice Democrats and the Working Families Party endorsed Bowman. As we reported earlier, the Working Families Party endorsed Engel in previous elections.

Engel’s campaign website says he has a proven track record and has “dedicated his time in Congress to pursuing progressive values, driven by a true commitment to humanity, justice and equality.” The website says The Center for Effective Lawmaking named him one of the top 10 most effective Democrats in Congress. 

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, the Sierra Club, and End Citizens United have endorsed Engel.

The primary is June 23.

State executives

Cooney and Williams meet for virtual debate

Montana gubernatorial candidates Mike Cooney and Whitney Williams met for a virtual debate hosted by the Montana Farmers Union Saturday.

Both candidates stated their support for reintroducing country-of-origin labeling for beef and pork, expanding grant programs for farmers, and expanding Medicaid. Cooney, the incumbent lieutenant governor, said his government experience would make him the more effective executive. Williams, a consultant, says her private sector experience would better position her to expand Montana’s economy.

Campaign finance reports covering financial activity between March 16 and April 15 were due April 20. During that period, Cooney raised $49,000 and spent $80,000 in primary funds, while Williams raised $150,000 and spent $79,000 (candidates for state office in Montana must maintain separate accounts for the primary and the general election). As of April 15, Cooney had $170,000 in his primary account to Williams’ $140,000.

The June 2 primary is open to all voters. Democrats have won every Montana gubernatorial election since 2004.

Planned Parenthood affiliate endorses Stephen Smith in West Virginia gubernatorial race

Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic, an affiliate of the national Planned Parenthood organization, endorsed activist Stephen Smith in the West Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary last Tuesday.

The group said Smith’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including publishing a resources page on his campaign website and instructing campaign volunteers to assist residents during the quarantine, was a key factor in its decision.

Smith is one of six candidates, including Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango and state Sen. Ron Stollings, seeking the Democratic nomination. The June 9 primary is open to registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters only.

Follow-up: Chris Peterson wins Democratic nomination for governor of Utah

Last week, we reported that the Utah Democratic Party would meet for a virtual nominating convention Saturday April 25 to determine which of the six gubernatorial nominees would advance to the primary election. At that convention, University of Utah law professor Chris Peterson won the support of 88% of delegates, enough to win the nomination outright and eliminating the need for a primary. Peterson will face the winner of the Republican primary in the November general election.


Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones (D) reverses his decision to resign and will seek re-election

On April 23, State Rep. Vernon Jones (D-91) said he would remain in the legislature and seek re-election. Jones previously announced he would resign on April 22 after his controversial endorsement of President Donald Trump (R). Party leaders have endorsed Jones’ opponent, Rhonda Taylor (D), in the June 9 primary.

Jones endorsed Trump’s re-election bid on April 14, saying, “It’s very simple to me. President Trump’s handling of the economy, his support for historically black colleges and his criminal justice initiatives drew me to endorse his campaign.”  Party leaders criticized Jones’ move. State Sen. Nikema Williams (D-39), who also chairs the Georgia Democratic Party, said, “Vernon Jones is an embarrassment to the Democratic Party and does not stand for our values.”

In his resignation announcement, Jones said, “I’m sick and tired of me and my family being attacked and harassed by the Democrat Party for putting my country before my party. I take pride in being an independent thinker.” The following day, Jones reversed his decision, citing an outpouring of support.

Rhonda Taylor (D), a community activist and consultant, was running against Jones in the primary before his resignation announcement. After Jones endorsed Trump, Taylor received endorsements from the three highest-ranking Georgia House Democrats including House Minority Leader Bob Trammell (D-132). Taylor says she is a real Democrat and said, “My opponent and the President are not good for Black Americans or any Americans.”

Jones has represented the Atlanta-area District 91 since 2016. He previously represented House District 71 from 1992-2000. This is the second time Taylor has challenged Jones. The two previously competed in the 2016 Democratic primary. Jones defeated Taylor in a runoff election, winning 2,056 votes to Taylor’s 1,755 (54-46%). No Republicans have filed to run in the District, meaning the winner of the primary will be the District’s next representative.

Holyoke city councilor becomes third candidate to qualify for Massachusetts House primary

Holyoke city councilor David Bartley (D), became the third Democratic candidate to receive a spot on the ballot in the open Hampden 5th House District after his signatures were certified during the week of April 20. The incumbent, five-term Rep. Aaron Vega (D), is not seeking re-election. 

Bartley joins Patricia Duffy, a legislative aide to Rep. Vega, and Patrick Beaudry, a public affairs manager, in the Sept. 1 primary. All candidates have focused on their connection to the city of Holyoke, which makes up a bulk of the 5th Hampden District.

Bartley has represented Ward 3 on the Holyoke City Council since 2012. He said, “I’ve been successful at the local level in terms of passing important legislation and promoting Holyoke.”

Duffy joined Rep. Vega’s legislative staff in 2014 and received his endorsement after announcing her campaign. She cited her experience working in the legislature and said it would help her tackle issues facing Holyoke.

Beaudry is a public affairs manager at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. He was a legislative aide to Rep. Vega’s predecessor, Rep. Michael Kane (D), and later for 2nd Hampshire District’s state Sen. Michael Knapik (R), serving as his Holyoke liaison.

There are currently no Republicans filed to run in the race. Kirstin Beatty announced she would run as an Independent in the general election.

LGBTQ Victory Fund endorses challenger in New Mexico Senate race marked by legal troubles

On April 21, the LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed Leo Jaramillo (D) in the contested Senate District 5 primary against five-term incumbent State Sen. Richard Martinez (D-05). In December 2019, Martinez was convicted of aggravated DWI and reckless driving after a June 2019 accident where he crashed into a stopped vehicle. Jaramillo also has a DWI conviction from a 1996 incident.

Jaramillo has worked at the Los Alamo National Laboratory since 2003. Jaramillo became the first openly gay man elected in Rio Arriba County when he became a county commissioner in 2019.

Martinez was first elected to Senate District 5 in 2000. Before his election, he served as a magistrate judge. He became chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2011 and held the position until stepping down in 2019 following his conviction.

On the Republican side, Diamantina Storment (R) is the only candidate filed. The last time a Republican candidate ran in District 5 was 1996. Libertarian candidate Lee Weinland is also running for the seat.

Power players

“VoteVets.org continues to focus on matters including, but not limited to, foreign policy, energy security, veterans’ unemployment, and opening military service to life-long Americans born to undocumented immigrants, as well as continued investment in care for veterans. … VoteVets.org has and will continue to work with all progressive allies representing labor, immigration, gay and lesbian rights, and environmentalists, when their issues coincide with the needs of troops and veterans.” – VoteVets.org

Founded in 2006, VoteVets.org comprises the nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization VoteVets Action Fund and the VoteVets Political Action Committee. The organization describes itself as “the largest progressive veterans group in America, representing over 700,000 veterans, families and supporters.” 

The group says, “the mission of VoteVets.org is to use public issue campaigns and direct outreach to lawmakers to ensure that troops abroad have what they need to complete their missions, and receive the care they deserve when they get home. VoteVets.org also recognizes veterans as a vital part of the fabric of our country and will work to protect veterans’ interests in their day-to-day lives.” 

According to NPR, VoteVets.org was started by Iraq war veterans and “[opposed] the Bush administration’s handling of the war.”

VoteVets PAC says its mission is to “elect Veterans to public office; hold public officials accountable for their words and actions that impact America’s 21st century service members, Veterans, and their families; and fully support our men and women in uniform.” To view a list of candidates endorsed by VoteVets PAC, click here