TagHeart of the Primaries

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 14 (April 15, 2020)

This week: Kobach releases ad featuring Trump in KS Senate primary, League of Conservation Voters endorses Fitzpatrick in PA-01, and Woody Thrasher outraises Jim Justice in West Virginia gubernatorial election.

On the news

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

“It is clear that the time is approaching that will be absolutely decisive for this presidency and for the country’s near-term future. The president will have to decide on an economic relaunch plan, and this will make or break him and his opponents. … 

Obviously, if the country strangles itself into a profound and lengthy recession, the Democrats’ electoral chances improve. The longer such a state of affairs continues, the harder and less relevant it will be to recall President Trump’s achievement in generating an immense economic boom and one that profoundly bettered the lot of the lower half of American income-earners, whose real income had stalled for over 15 years. …

If the president acts carefully and puts the issues squarely, he will succeed, the economy will recover quickly, and he will be invincible in November. He knows the gravity of what he must do. If he does it right, the exaggerated fears of disaster that will be expressed by his opponents, one more time and for the greatest stakes of all, will not occur.”

Conrad Black, American Greatness, April 13, 2020

“With some signs that the ‘curve is flattening,’ and growing concern about the impact of the epidemic on the economy, there is increasing pressure on President Trump and many governors to relax ‘stay-at-home’ orders, enabling more businesses to reopen and people to return to their jobs. President Trump describes himself as a wartime president, and I’d argue, that, like other wartime presidents, he should focus on the battlefield and not the politics. …

Whatever decision he makes in the coming days will not be judged until September or October, at the earliest. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, people know why the economy is tanking — and it’s neither party’s fault. Rather they want to see what happens during and after this crisis — and only then will voters make their decisions.

Just like other wartime presidents, he’s not going to be judged by the initial popularity of the war, but by its effectiveness. … 

The lesson for Trump: Beware of polls or pundits telling you in which direction to go: If you choose to reopen the country, and there’s a huge second wave of infection in September, the same folks will blame you — for following their advice. And if you choose to keep the country shut, and other economies start to boom, the same will occur.”

 Arnon Mishkin, Fox News, April 14, 2020

U.S. Congress

Kobach releases ad featuring Trump in Senate primary in KS 

Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach released his first TV ad of the Senate primary in Kansas. Politico reported the ad cost at least $48,000 to run on cable for two weeks.

The ad features footage of President Donald Trump speaking in support of Kobach at a rally in October 2018, when Kobach was the Republican nominee for governor. In the ad, Kobach says he’ll help get a border wall built if elected.

The president endorsed Kobach ahead of the 2018 Republican primary against incumbent Jeff Colyer. Kobach won the primary 40.6% to 40.5% and lost the general election to Laura Kelly (D) 43% to 48%.

The president has not endorsed in the 2020 Senate primary.

The current eight-candidate primary field includes U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, who Colyer endorsed

The Club for Growth has not endorsed in the race but spent $33,000 on newspaper and digital ads featuring criticisms of Marshall from women who said they were his patients when he was a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist. Marshall’s campaign called the ads “amateur garbage from a D.C. office.”

In 2019, The Associated Press’s John Hanna reported, “Many Republicans fear a repeat of last year, when Kobach narrowly won a crowded GOP primary only to lose the governor’s race to Democrat Laura Kelly,” and, “Some Republicans question whether Marshall can win over the hard right and even described him as a moderate in the weeks before he entered the race.”

The filing deadline is June 1. The primary is Aug. 4.

Incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts is not seeking re-election. Three forecasters rate the general election Lean or Likely Republican.

League of Conservation Voters endorses Fitzpatrick in PA-01

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Action Fund endorsed incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, saying he has a “strong record addressing climate change, fighting PFAS pollution, advocating for public lands and so much more.”

Roll Call wrote that Fitzpatrick is the only Republican the LCV has endorsed this cycle.

Fitzpatrick said, “Climate change and the irresponsible management of our resources put a strain on the health of our communities – and our children. Clean air and clean water are essential to the health, safety, and development of the next generation of Americans. That is why I have been fighting hard for these priorities during my time in Congress.”

Fitzpatrick is one of two Republican House incumbents seeking re-election in a district Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Financial advisor Andrew Meehan is challenging him in the June 2 primary.

On his campaign website, Meehan calls Fitzpatrick “the Anti-Trump RINO Congressman” and says, “Unlike the incumbent, Andy will go to Washington DC to stand up and fight for our Republican values, our President and his America First agenda.”

Fitzpatrick was first elected to represent the state’s 8th District in the House in 2016. Following redistricting, he was elected to the 1st District in 2018 with 51.3% of the vote to Scott Wallace’s (D) 48.7%.

Super PAC releases ad opposing Herrell in NM-02

The super PAC Citizens for a United New Mexico released a TV ad saying former state Rep. Yvette Herrell “worked to undermine Trump’s campaign for president” in 2016 and attended an anti-Trump gathering. The group spent $55,000 on the ad.

The Associated Press’s Russell Contreras reported, “All of the Republican candidates have tried to position themselves as Trump’s most reliable ally and have accused each other of not backing Trump enough.”

Claire Chase, director of government relations at Mack Energy Corporation, and Mathys Properties owner Chris Mathys are also running in the June 2 primary.

Herrell said the ad contained “false attacks from Claire’s desperate Super PAC should be immediately pulled from the airwaves.”

Chase’s campaign manager Mike Berg said the campaign “can’t control what outside groups do” and, “It looks like some folks got sick and tired of Yvette’s sleazy attack ads against Claire and decided to expose her for what she is: a lying never-Trumper hiding in the closet.”

Herrell has criticized Chase for social media posts she made criticizing Trump during his 2016 presidential bid. Chase said, “I’m going to say something politicians rarely say. I was wrong. … And I’ve been very pleased with President Trump and what he has done.”

Herrell was the district’s Republican nominee in 2018. Xochitl Torres Small (D) defeated Herrell 50.9-49.1%.

New Mexico’s 2nd is one of 31 House districts the president carried in 2016 and a Democratic House candidate won in 2018.

VA-05 GOP Convention delayed

We recently reported that Republican conventions to determine the party’s nominees in Virginia’s 5th and 7th Districts were up in the air because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 5th Congressional District Republican Committee has decided to delay their convention, originally scheduled for April 25. The Roanoke Times’s Amy Friedenberger reported, “The committee hasn’t selected a new date, but members said the end of May would be the earliest possible time it would hold a convention.”

State executives

Utah gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman qualifies for primary ballot

Jon Huntsman qualified as a gubernatorial candidate for the June 30 primary hours before Monday’s 5:00 p.m. deadline. He joined Spencer Cox and Thomas Wright as the third candidate to qualify for the ballot via signature collection. Jan Garbett was the other Republican candidate seeking to qualify by petition, but she did not submit the required 28,000 signatures by the deadline. 

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) endorsed Huntsman last week. In a statement, Lee said, “I have seen firsthand what a remarkable leader and a true conservative Jon Huntsman really is.”

In addition to the three candidates who qualified via petition, four candidates have focused on winning a spot on the primary ballot at their party’s nominating convention. Republican delegates can place up to two candidates on the primary ballot. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Republicans will hold a virtual convention on April 25.

The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only. The winner of the primary is likely to also win the general election—no Democrat has won election as governor of Utah since 1980.

Woody Thrasher outraises Jim Justice in West Virginia gubernatorial election

Campaign finance reports for the first quarter of the year show West Virginia gubernatorial candidate Woody Thrasher leading incumbent Jim Justice in receipts, while Justice finished with a cash-on-hand advantage. 

Thrasher raised $84,242 and loaned his campaign $1,045,000. He spent $1,193,184 and finished the period with $42,272 on hand. Justice raised $94,228, loaned his campaign $526,000, and spent $619,104 to finish Q1 with $68,306 on hand.

Justice’s campaign spokesman said the Governor was focused on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and instructed his campaign to cease fundraising. Thrasher said his campaign would focus on helping West Virginians through the pandemic.

The May 12 primary will be open to registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters only. No Republican has won election as governor of West Virginia since Cecil Underwood in 1996. In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton 69% to 27%. Justice was elected as a Democrat in 2016 before joining the Republican Party on August 3, 2017.

Legislatures

Oklahoma Republicans pick up Democratic House seat at the filing deadline

The filing deadline to run in Oklahoma’s state legislative races passed on April 10 and Republicans are already set to gain one seat currently held by a Democrat. 

House District 7’s current representative, Ben Loring (D), did not seek re-election. The only candidate filed to run in District 7 at the deadline was Steve Bashore (R). As the only candidate running for the seat, Bashore will likely be elected in November.

At the deadline, 46 of the legislature’s 147 incumbents have no opponents in either the primary or general elections, likely guaranteeing they will win re-election. Of those 46 incumbents, 41 are Republicans and 5 are Democrats. Republicans currently hold supermajorities in both the House (77-22) and Senate (38-9).

Two county commissioners will meet in WA state Senate primary

Washington’s state Senate District 19 will have a Republican primary between two commissioners—Wes Cormier (R) and Jeff Wilson (R)—after Wilson announced he would challenge Cormier in the Aug. 4 primary.

Cormier has been a Grays Harbor County commissioner since 2012. Before his election, he worked as a real estate appraiser. As a county commissioner, Cormier said he opposed the use of eminent domain and supported relief for flood victims. Cormier said, “I will continue to advocate for access to public lands and protect your property rights.”

Wilson was elected to the Port of Longview Commission in 2015 and currently serves as its vice president. Wilson said he led efforts to reduce taxes, bring jobs to southwest Washington, and eliminate fees. Wilson’s website says, “Jobs and an economy that is stable and sure are critical components to Jeff’s goals for the district.”

The winner of the Republican primary will likely face the incumbent, Sen. Dean Takko (D). Takko was appointed to the seat in 2015 and elected to a full four-year term in 2016. The filing deadline is May 15.

Special election set to fill vacancy in GA Senate District 4

On Monday, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) announced that a special election to fill the vacant 4th Senate District seat will be held on June 9. The District’s former incumbent, Sen. Jack Hill (R) died April 6. Candidates were given until Wednesday to pay the filing fee necessary to appear on the special election ballot.

So far, three candidates—Scott Bohlke (R), Billy Hickman (R), and Kathy Palmer (R)—have qualified for the special election.

Hill was first elected in 1990 as a Democrat before switching parties following his 2002 re-election. He was serving his fifteenth two-year term, making him the state’s longest-serving state Senator at the time of his death.

The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Hill’s term. A separate regularly scheduled general election for a full, two-year term will be held Nov. 3.

Power players

“VIEW PAC strives to support credible, electable Republican women running for federal office and encourages others to do the same.  What began as a way to raise money and contribute money now also serves as a network of people who care about helping other women succeed.  More women are taking the leap to run for federal office, in part because they believe they will have the support they need to be successful.” – VIEW PAC website 

Founded in 1997, the Value In Electing Women Political Action Committee (VIEW PAC) says its mission is “to raise money for direct financial contributions to viable Republican women candidates for Congress.” According to the VIEW PAC website, the group has raised over $8.5 million for candidates since its founding. The organization says, “Our singular goal is to strategically provide financial support where and when it is needed most; whether it be for a vulnerable incumbent or a competitive candidate.”

VIEW PAC says it does not have a litmus test for the candidates it supports. Click here to see the 50 congressional candidates currently supported by the organization.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 14 (April 15, 2020)

This week: Chamber of Commerce to support Caruso-Cabrera against Ocasio-Cortez, Plame releases ads highlighting CIA background in NM-03, and Tennessee Democratic Party removes incumbent representative from the ballot. 

On the news

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

“There have been a number of sneering columns accusing liberal feminists of hypocrisy for not championing [Tara Reade] as fervently as they did Christine Blasey Ford, who claimed, during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination fight, that he’d sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school. It’s a sly rhetorical move that dares feminists to violate their own ideals by publicly weighing one woman’s credibility against another.

The truth is, if Blasey had been so inconsistent in telling her story, feminists might still have believed her, but they likely wouldn’t have made her a cause célèbre, and Democrats on Capitol Hill never would have invited her to testify publicly. Advocates for victims of sexual harassment and assault would worry that using such an ambiguous case as a political weapon would undermine their cause.”

Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times, April 13, 2020

“It’s fair to say that Tara Reade has been treated unlike any high-profile accuser of the past three years.

While previous accusers of powerful men were widely covered in mainstream print, digital, and TV media, only a handful of outlets trickled out stories on Reade’s allegation. While widespread coverage greeted past accusers almost instantly, it has taken nearly three weeks for Reade’s mere existence to be acknowledged by a single major newspaper. And while there was no shortage of articles fiercely criticizing the media’s underplaying of another survivor’s story, those same critics have now taken to justifying the even more egregious media silence over Reade’s.

Defenders of this particular media silence are right to insist on vetting accusers’ claims, no matter how long it takes. Yet Reade’s story started out with as much corroboration as previous claims that saw no similar delay in reporting — in fact, it had more than several key cases.”

Branko Marcetic, Jacobin, April 14, 2020

U.S. Congress

Chamber of Commerce to support Caruso-Cabrera against Ocasio-Cortez 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce plans to fundraise for former CNBC anchor Michelle    Caruso-Cabrera in her bid against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th Congressional District. Five candidates are running in the June 23 primary.

The Chamber typically endorses Republicans, though it endorsed Henry Cuellar in Texas’ 28th District Democratic primary earlier this year. 

Scott Reed, senior political strategist for the Chamber, said Caruso-Cabrera’s “communication skills on jobs and growth will create a clear contrast with AOC.”

Caruso-Cabrera said she decided to join the race after Ocasio-Cortez opposed an Amazon campus in Queens over $3 billion in incentives the company would have received in exchange for creating an estimated 25,000 jobs. Amazon canceled plans to build the campus last year.

Caruso-Cabrera raised $1 million in the first quarter of 2020. Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign did not release figures ahead of the April 15 deadline. Ocasio-Cortez reported raising $5.4 million and having $2.9 million on hand at the end of 2019.

Ocasio-Cortez defeated incumbent Joseph Crowley, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, in the District’s 2018 Democratic primary.

Plame releases ads highlighting CIA background in NM-03

Valerie Plame released two TV ads highlighting her background as a former CIA officer. 

In one ad, Plame’s brother says her national security experience prepares her to address such issues as the coronavirus. The other ad discusses President Donald Trump’s pardoning of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was convicted in 2007 of perjury and obstruction of justice related to leaking Plame’s identity. 

Seven candidates are running in New Mexico’s 3rd District Democratic primary.

The Sante Fe New Mexican’s Milan Simonich reported Plame is “the only nationally recognized figure in the race, something that will not change in a campaign season where a disease gets most of the headlines.” She led in fundraising with $1.1 million at the end of 2019.

Second in fundraising was Teresa Leger Fernandez with $685,000. Fernandez leads the primary in prominent endorsements—including EMILY’s List, the Working Families Party, and the Latino Victory Fund—and she received a plurality of the vote at the state’s Democratic Party Convention on March 7. 

Two candidates reached the 20% threshold to qualify for the ballot via the convention vote as opposed to gathering petition signatures: Fernandez (42%) and Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya (20%). Plame received 5% support at the convention.

The primary is Aug. 4. Three forecasters rate the general election as Safe/Solid Democratic.

State executives

Retiring incumbent Cyrus Habib endorses Marko Liias in Washington lieutenant gubernatorial election

Retiring Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib (D-Wash.) endorsed Marko Liias in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. In a statement, Habib said, “Marko understands the role of Lieutenant Governor better than any other legislator. As Majority Floor Leader, he has worked very closely with me in my capacity as Senate President to ensure that key progressive legislation makes it to the Governor’s desk. His understanding of parliamentary procedure is second to none.”

Four other candidates are running in the primary, including Denny Heck (D), Steve Hobbs (D), and Joseph Brumbles (R). Candidates have until May 15 to file for the Aug. 4 primary

Under Washington’s top-two primary system, all candidates appear on the same primary ballot. The top two finishers, regardless of partisan affiliation, advance to the general election. No Republican has served as lieutenant governor of Washington since Joel Pritchard left office in 1997.

Montana Federation of Public Employees endorses Mike Cooney in Montana governor race

The Montana Federation of Public Employees endorsed Mike Cooney’s gubernatorial campaign. In a statement, the group’s president, Eric Feaver, said of Cooney, “We have worked with him throughout his long, distinguished career in public service, from the legislature, to Secretary of State, to the Montana Historical Society, to the Montana Labor Department, and now as Lieutenant Governor. Mike knows Montana. Mike knows good government.” 

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D) and incumbent Gov. Steve Bullock (D) have also endorsed Cooney. Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) and EMILY’s List have endorsed Whitney Williams (D).

Cooney and Williams are the only two Democrats running in the June 2 primary, which is open to all registered voters. Incumbent Steve Bullock (D) is term-limited, leaving the office open. The last Republican to win a gubernatorial election in Montana was Judy Martz in 2000.

Feltes receives sixth union endorsement in race for New Hampshire governor

Dan Feltes received his sixth union endorsement in his bid for New Hampshire Governor from the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 131. In a statement, the group’s business manager, David Pelletier, said, “Throughout his career, Senator Feltes has been standing up for working families. He understands what real people care about and the urgent challenges impacting Granite Staters.”

Andru Volinsky is the only other candidate running in the Democratic primary so far. The filing deadline is June 12. The Sept. 8 Democratic primary is open to registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters. Incumbent Chris Sununu (R) is running for re-election.

Legislatures

Tennessee Democratic Party removes incumbent representative from the ballot

On April 8, the Tennessee Democratic Party executive committee voted 41-18 to remove thirteen-term incumbent Rep. John DeBerry’s (D-90) name from the Democratic primary ballot in District 90. 

The complaint that led to his removal cited DeBerry’s stances opposing abortion and supporting school vouchers. It also mentioned DeBerry’s vote to elect Glen Casada (R) Speaker of the House over Karen Camper (D) in 2019. DeBerry was one of three Democrats who supported Casada.

Tennessee Democratic Party chair, Mary Mancini (D), voted in favor of DeBerry’s removal. She said the vote stemmed from “a longstanding series of actions in which [DeBerry] demonstrated more loyalty to the Republican Party than to the Democratic Party.”

Jackson city councilman and executive committeeman, Ernest Brooks (D), voted against DeBerry’s removal. He said District 90 voters should make that decision, saying, “We’ve taken that power from them … If they wanted to reelect him, they cannot.”

On April 9, DeBerry said he would appeal the decision. The deadline to submit the completed appeal is April 16. If DeBerry does not submit an appeal or fails to appeal the decision, he cannot file to run as a Republican or third-party candidate. The filing deadline to appear on the primary ballot in Tennessee passed on April 2. DeBerry was first elected to represent District 90 in 1994 and has been re-elected twelve times. Three Democrats—Torrey Harris, Anya Parker, and Catrina Smith—remain on the ballot. No Republicans filed to run for the seat.

At the same meeting, the executive committee also removed the names of the following four non-incumbent Democratic candidates from other races: Tharon Chandler (U.S. Senate), LaTroy Alexandria-Williams (TN-09), William Frazier (HD-84), and Michael Minnis (HD-93).

Eight-term New Mexico state senator faces primary from former state Democratic Party vice-chair

Sen. John Arthur Smith (D-35) announced he would run for re-election to the District 35 Senate seat, setting up a primary against Neomi Martinez-Parra (D), who announced her candidacy in July 2019.

Smith was first elected to the state Senate in 1988 and has won re-election eight times. He currently chairs the Senate Finance Committee and said he has “deep experience crafting equitable budgets that maximize every dollar.” 

Martinez-Parra is a special education teacher who was vice-chair for the Democratic Party of New Mexico from 2017 to 2019. She said, “It is time for our Senate to work for the people of New Mexico … especially in rural communities like my own.”

The most recent contested Democratic primary in District 35 was in 2012 when Larry Martinez (D) challenged Smith. Smith defeated Martinez 56-44%.

The Democratic primary is currently scheduled for June 2, 2020. The winner will likely face Crystal Diamond (R) in the general election. Diamond is the only Republican filed to run in the race.

Power players

“We are veterans, law enforcement officers, and gun owners standing together for safer laws. We are students and activists speaking up in communities across the nation. We are faith leaders, business leaders, lawyers, parents, and educators fighting for a safer future. Together we will save lives.” – Giffords website

Giffords is a nonprofit organization that says, “We fight for stronger gun laws, hold the gun lobby accountable, and support candidates who stand for safer schools & communities.” Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her husband Mark Kelly founded the organization, originally called Americans for Responsible Solutions, after Giffords was critically wounded in a shooting at a constituent meeting and in response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. 

The group’s website says, “Since 2013, Giffords has helped write, pass, and enact legislation that is reducing gun violence and saving lives. Against fierce opposition, we have helped pass more than 290 new gun safety laws in 45 states and Washington DC … Our political program has helped elevate gun safety from a third rail to a top electoral issue in some of the nation’s most competitive campaigns.”

Giffords publishes stances on a series of issues related to firearms, including universal background checks, gun violence research, concealed carry reciprocity, and others. 

Click here to view a list of candidates endorsed by the organization.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 13 (April 8, 2020)

This week: Trump campaign COO objects to Jeff Sessions mailer, O’Brien withdraws from New Hampshire U.S. Senate primary and endorses Messner, Utah gubernatorial candidate Jeff Burningham names running mate

On the news

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

“Anyone who has used modeling for any reason — for statistical research, for business planning, etc. — knows that these models don’t exist in a vacuum. They take new information in and change. So, when multiple states join in the shelter-in-place trend, the models adjust accordingly. Because so many people are not going out and about like they used to, there is no reason to expect that the current numbers will be out there, spreading the virus.

The habits of millions of Americans have changed due to state orders, so, naturally, you have to adjust to account for this new data. When the original models predicted deaths in the millions, there was no great collective of states telling their citizens to stay at home and shutting down non-essential businesses. We were largely going about our lives, and the models were taking that into account. As more states order a shelter in place, many more millions of Americans were essentially put out of harm’s way.

This isn’t some grand conspiracy meant to keep Americans at home, but it’s a sign that keeping Americans at home is the right thing to do for the moment. How we keep Americans at home and for how long is another matter entirely — and one we must learn to balance with the overall safety of the population.”

Joe Cunningham, RedState, April 7, 2020

“Historically, health officials have used quarantines to contain infectious diseases. Until now, a quarantine consisted of separating the sick from the general population and then doing everything possible to protect the especially vulnerable. In this case, that would include the elderly and immunosuppressed, among other groups. …

A year from now — and we should think about this — how will all of us feel about the decisions we’ve made in the face of this pandemic? Is there a single person who sincerely expects the coronavirus itself will hurt more people in the end than the damage we’re causing in our response to it? Probably not. … 

Once again, coronavirus is not the only bad thing that’s happening in America right now, horrifying as it is. We should never minimize the danger of this pandemic or minimize our obligation to respond to it wisely. … 

For most people, going to work cannot be more dangerous than buying produce at Safeway twice a week. And if it is more dangerous, tell us how it is more dangerous and be specific when you describe that. Otherwise, it’s time to start caring about the entire population. Healthy people are suffering badly, too.”

Tucker Carlson, Fox News, April 7, 2020

U.S. Congress

NC-11 runoff candidates on experience, hope amid COVID

Lynda Bennett released her first ad of the primary runoff for North Carolina’s 11th District. Entitled “Leaders,” the ad says the country needs “people with a lifetime of experience” during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Bennett has highlighted her background as a real estate broker and as vice chairwoman of the Haywood County Republican Party, along with the activism training she received from the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups.

She faces Madison Cawthorn, a 24-year-old motivational speaker and owner of a real estate investment company. Cawthorn has said he wants to be part of a new generation of leaders combatting socialism and advancing a conservative agenda.

Cawthorn released a Facebook video April 3 discussing the sixth anniversary of a car accident that left him paralyzed and the challenges he overcame. He said, “I believe I have the heart of a fighter, and I believe most Americans do, which is why I take heart and I have hope for this country.”

Mark Meadows vacated the seat in March to become White House chief of staff. He announced in December he would not seek re-election. Meadows endorsed Bennett in the primary.

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 (R) 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%. Kyle Perrotti of The Mountaineer 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 primary runoff is June 23.

O’Brien withdraws from Senate primary, endorses Messner in NH

Former New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien withdrew from the U.S. Senate primary, endorsing Bryant “Corky” Messner. 

O’Brien said, “Unfortunately, it has become apparent to me that my campaign is not going to be sufficiently financed” to face incumbent Jeanne Shaheen (D) in November. O’Brien said candidate Don Bolduc is “a good person, but in terms of understanding the issues and instinctively being in the mainstream of the Republican Party, Corky is the candidate that I can support.”  

Messner has self-funded his campaign $3.2 million. 

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

Republican consultant Jim Merrill said Messner “is going to be able to run as an outsider and as conservative running to the right of Gen. Bolduc. He’s got more funds and he’s going to be able to paint Bolduc as an establishment favorite who’s chronically underfunded and is not going to be able to prosecute the case against Sen. Shaheen.”

Bolduc said of O’Brien’s Messner endorsement, “We need experienced leaders in Washington who will focus on service and problem solving, not politics and money.”

Bolduc criticized Messner in March, saying, “I give him all the credit in the world for being a successful businessman in our country, but a rich Colorado attorney coming to New Hampshire and thinking he is going to use his own money to buy an election, I think the people of New Hampshire are smarter than that.”

Messner said, “When Granite Staters are rightfully worried about the well-being of their loved ones, their jobs, their homes, and their small businesses, it just isn’t appropriate to engage in this sort of divisive political gamesmanship.”

The primary is Sept. 8. Bolduc, Messner, and Andy Kim are running. 

Shaheen won the 2014 election with 51.5% of the vote to Republican Scott Brown’s 48.2%.

Trump campaign COO objects to Jeff Sessions mailer

Michael Glassner, chief operating officer of the president’s re-election campaign, sent a cease and desist letter to Senate candidate Jeff Sessions criticizing a campaign mailer saying that President Trump supported Sessions. 

Glassner wrote, “We only assume your campaign is doing this to confuse President Trump’s loyal supporters in Alabama into believing the President supports your candidacy in the upcoming primary run-off election. Nothing could be further from the truth.” Glassner said the mailer mentioned Trump 22 times.

The president endorsed Tommy Tuberville on March 10, a week following the primary. The Sessions campaign said the mailer went out several days before that endorsement. Sessions campaign representative John Rogers said, “The people of Alabama are going to decide this race, not Washington. Alabamians are an independent lot and they make their own decisions.”

Sessions and Tuberville have argued over who supports the president more. Sessions held the Senate seat for 20 years before Trump appointed him attorney general, a position from which Sessions resigned at Trump’s request. 

Tuberville, a former college football coach, has criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. Session has criticized Tuberville, saying he supports amnesty for people in the country illegally and has criticized Trump on veterans’ issues. Sessions also says Tuberville is from Florida and is a tourist in Alabama.

The runoff is July 14. The winner will face incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D), who Roll Call named the most vulnerable Senator up for re-election in 2020.

State executives

Cook Political Report downgrades Republican chances of winning Missouri governor race

The Cook Political Report updated its race ratings for this year’s 11 gubernatorial elections. Among the changes: Cook downgraded Republicans’ chances of winning Missouri’s gubernatorial election, shifting the race from Solid to Likely Republican. It did not adjust its ratings in the other 10 gubernatorial races.

Seven states with Republican governors and four with Democratic governors are holding elections this year. Cook rated six of the 11 contests as “safe”, meaning that one party is all but certain to win in November. Cook says Democrats are the likely winners in Delaware and Washington and Republicans in Indiana, North Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia. Missouri joins New Hampshire and Vermont as a state Cook projects will likely remain under Republican control. 

Cook projects North Carolina’s race leans towards incumbent Roy Cooper (D) over challenger Dan Forest (R). The only state currently listed as a toss-up is Montana, where incumbent Steve Bullock (D) is term-limited. Although Democrats have held the state’s governorship since 2004, Montana has leaned towards Republicans on the national level. The last Democratic presidential candidate to carry Montana was Bill Clinton (D) in 1992, and the state has not elected a Democrat to the U.S. House since 1994.

Cook believes the coronavirus pandemic and the relative strength of Democratic challenger Nicole Galloway (D-Mo.) are the two major factors behind their rating change. Cook said incumbent Mike Parson (R-Mo.) was one of four governors who had not taken public action in response to the coronavirus pandemic by March 17 and said that a perceived lack of action could harm his prospects in the general election. Parson faces three challengers in the Aug. 4 primary, while Galloway is among five Democrats in the running.

Utah gubernatorial candidate Jeff Burningham names Dan McCay as running mate

Entrepreneur Jeff Burningham named state Sen. Dan McCay as his running mate in his bid for governor of Utah. Burningham is the sixth of the eight Republicans in the running to name a running mate. Only businessman Jason Christensen and former state House Speaker Greg Hughes have yet to do so.

Gov. Gary Herbert (R) appointed McCay to fill a vacancy in the state House in 2012 and served until he was elected to the state senate in 2018. He is currently the chairman of the Senate’s Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee.

McCay is the fifth elected official to be selected as a running mate for governor of Utah. U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R) is Thomas Wright’s running mate, while state Sen. Deidre Henderson (R) is running alongside Spencer Cox, state Auditor John Dougall (R) is running alongside Aimee Winder-Newton, and Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi is running alongside Jon Huntsman.

A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll released Wednesday found Cox and Huntsman about even, finding 26% support for Huntsman and 24% for Cox. Burningham and Hughes received 7% support each, while the remaining candidates each had 2% support or lower. The poll had a margin of error of 5.4 percentage points. 

This is the group’s first poll this year showing Huntsman and Cox about even. Huntsman led Cox 32% to 20% in the group’s February poll and 35% to 25% in January. The 32% of voters who said they were undecided was the most so far this year, up from 30% in February and 25% in January.

The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only. The winner of the primary is likely to also win the general election—no Democrat has won election as governor of Utah since 1980.

Legislatures

TN state Rep. accused of sexual misconduct reverses decision, will seek re-election

State Rep. David Byrd (R-71) filed for re-election in November after previously indicating he would not. He said this reversal was due to concerns about the coronavirus, saying, “For District 71 to have a freshman Representative during this crucial time could definitely result in our rural counties being overlooked.” 

In 2018, three women accused Byrd of sexual misconduct during his time as a high school basketball coach in the 1980s. In 2019, former Speaker Glen Casada (R), removed Byrd from his position as chairman of the House Education Administration Subcommittee. Last fall, Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-25) announced the chamber would not pursue an effort to expel Byrd. Byrd was never criminally charged regarding the allegations.

Byrd was first elected in 2014 after defeating incumbent state Rep. Vance Dennis (R) in the primary. He won re-election in 2016 and 2018. Two other Republicans—former Savannah, Tenn., city manager, Garry Welch, and Lewis County commissioner, Austin Carroll—are also filed to run for the District 71 seat, setting up an August primary.

Christi Rice (D), one of Byrd’s accusers, is the only Democrat filed to run for the seat. However, Rice has indicated she plans to withdraw in order to care for her son who was in an accident last fall. The deadline to withdraw is April 9.

First-term Kansas representative set to challenge incumbent in state Senate primary

State Rep. Kellie Warren (R-28) announced she will leave the state House and run for Kansas’ 11th Senate District, setting up a primary against incumbent state Sen. John Skubal (R-11), who is running for re-election. Skubal was first elected to the 11th District in 2016.

This will be Warren’s second contested primary against an incumbent Republican. She was first elected to the state House in 2018 after defeating the incumbent, former state Rep. Joy Koesten, in the Republican primary 58-42%. After her primary defeat, but before leaving office, Koesten changed her party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

The winner of the August primary will likely face Koesten in the general election. Koesten filed to run as a Democrat for the 11th District seat in January and, currently, is the only candidate running in the Democratic primary.

Colorado House candidate removed from the Republican primary ballot for being an unaffiliated voter

The Arapahoe County GOP voted and removed Steve Monahan (U) from the Republican primary ballot in Colorado’s 3rd House District after learning that Monahan was an unaffiliated voter rather than a registered Republican. Under Colorado law, a candidate may run for state legislative office with a party only if they are a member of that party.

Monahan’s removal leaves Bill Klocek (R) as the only Republican on the primary ballot. The 3rd House District is currently represented by Rep. Meg Froelich (D). Froelich was appointed to the position in 2019 after her predecessor, Rep. Jeff Bridges (D), was appointed to fill a state Senate vacancy.

Power players

“The mission of The Heritage Foundation is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.” – The Heritage Foundation website 

Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a conservative 501(c)(3) nonprofit think tank that describes its work as “performing timely, accurate research on key policy issues and effectively marketing these findings to our primary audiences: members of Congress, key congressional staff members, policymakers in the executive branch, the nation’s news media, and the academic and policy communities.” 

On April 6, The Heritage Foundation announced the launch of a National Coronavirus Recovery Commission that would be led by the organization’s president, Kay C. James. The announcement said that the commission would include “top experts and thinkers from government, public health, disaster response and relief, academia and education, business, and the faith community” and “carefully examine decisions that policymakers are making that significantly impact the scope of this crisis and the duration of social restrictions, economic hardship, recovery, and the potential permanent effects.”

The Heritage Foundation is affiliated with Heritage Action for America, a 501(c)(4) organization. Founded in 2010, Heritage Action for America says it “takes the conservative policy visions outlined by our sister organization, The Heritage Foundation, and works to make them a reality.” Heritage Action also produces a scorecard that it says “measures votes and co-sponsorships to show how conservative Members of Congress are.” 



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 13 (April 8, 2020)

This week: Kennedy outraises Markey in latest quarter, MT Democratic Party objects to GOP-funded Green Party ballot qualification, and Rep. Denny Heck to run for lieutenant governor of Washington

On the news

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

“In the space of the last week, Democrats have delayed their national convention to August and then watched as their near-certain presidential nominee has suggested an in-person convention might not happen at all.


‘We may have to do a virtual convention,’ Biden said Sunday morning on ABC’s ‘This Week.’ ‘I think we should be thinking about that right now.

The idea of holding the convention is going to be necessary. We may not be able to put 10, 20, 30,000 people in one place.’

 

He’s right. Even if the spread of the coronavirus is largely limited by mid-summer, does anyone think it’s a good idea to gather tens of thousands of people in close quarters anytime soon?

 

It’s hard to imagine the Democratic National Committee will have much choice in the matter if the de facto nominee is on the record suggesting that an in-person convention is problematic.”

Chris Cillizza, CNN, April 6, 2020

 

“While Republicans have little to debate at their convention, Democrats are bracing for fights. Allies of Senator Bernie Sanders, who remains in the race despite Mr. Biden’s commanding advantage, are encouraging him to keep going to accumulate more delegates. That would enable him to influence the platform and rules discussions, debates that animated the 2016 Democratic convention. … 

 

And while Republican convention delegates will be a who’s who of Trump supporters without meaningful opposition, a virtual Democratic convention would leave would-be Sanders delegates without much prospect of pushing the party to the left.

 

‘How do you have a floor debate when the floor is a virtual Zoom room?’ said Valdez Bravo, a 2016 Sanders delegate from Lake Oswego, Ore., who is running to become a 2020 delegate.”

Reid J. Epstein and Annie Karni, The New York Times, April 1, 2020

U.S. Congress

Kennedy outraises Markey in latest quarter

Joseph Kennedy III raised $2 million in the first quarter of 2020 to Sen. Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) $1.2 million, according to figures released by the campaigns. Kennedy began the second quarter with $6.2 million in cash on hand to Markey’s $4.4 million. 

In the final quarter of 2019, Kennedy raised $2.4 million to Markey’s $1.4 million. 

Kennedy had $4.3 million on hand when he entered the primary in September.

Markey has been in the Senate since 2013 and served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2013. Kennedy has represented Massachusetts’ 4th District in the House since 2013. 

The state Democratic Party voted to cancel its May 30 convention due to COVID-19 and to request that the secretary of the commonwealth place both candidates on the September ballot.

Both campaigns supported the decision, agreeing that Markey would have won the party’s endorsement at the convention and that Kennedy would have surpassed the 15% delegate support threshold to make the ballot. 

Candidates also need to gather 10,000 signatures to make the ballot.

The primary is Sept. 1.

NJ-02 ballot, organization lines set

The ballot for New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary is now set with six candidates, two of whom have received county party endorsements: political science professor Brigid Callahan Harrison and former public school teacher Amy Kennedy.

Daily Kos wrote:

county party endorsements are typically very important in New Jersey primaries on both sides of the aisle. That’s because, in many counties, endorsed candidates appear in a separate column on the ballot along with other party endorsees, a big deal in a state where party machines are still powerful. (This designation is known colloquially as the ‘organization line.’)

Six county parties endorsed Harrison, and she has the organization line in five of them (Salem County doesn’t have an organization line). 

Kennedy has the organization line in Atlantic County. Daily Kos reported it’s the largest county in the district, making up 41% of the vote.

The district’s eighth county, Ocean County, is not endorsing in the race.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) endorsed Harrison. Democratic parties of Atlantic and Ocean counties endorsed Booker, but he is rejecting their organization lines and running in a column on the ballot with Harrison.

Incumbent Rep. Jeff Van Drew joined the Republican Party in December following his vote against impeaching President Donald Trump, leaving the June 2 Democratic primary open. 

MT Democratic Party objects to GOP-funded Green Party ballot qualification

Montana’s Green Party has qualified for a place on the 2020 ballot — without doing any work.

According to the Independent Record, the Greens earned their ballot slot thanks to Montana’s Republican Party, which funded the signature gathering effort that successfully qualified the third party.

Two Green Party candidates filed for the June 2 U.S. Senate primary: Dennis Daneke and Wendie Fredrickson.

MTN News reported, “Daneke, a retired professor of sustainable construction technology who lives in Lolo, says he was essentially recruited by Democrats to defeat Frederickson in the Green Party primary – and, then, once on the general election ballot, he might withdraw from the race.”

Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Sandi Luckey said, “The Republican Party contracted people to masquerade as Green Party members, and lied to Montanans in an effort to tamper with our elections.” She also called on the secretary of state to disqualify the Green Party from the ballot.

The state Democratic Party had filed a complaint March 16 asking the state commissioner of political practice to investigate who funded the signature-gathering effort, saying that the effort’s backer did not register appropriately with the commissioner’s office. 

The Independent Record reported that the committee funding the effort “was unable to register as a minor party qualification committee because that wasn’t set up as an option in a drop-down window on the Commissioner of Political Practices office’s website [according to Chuck Denowh, who helped set up the committee]. 

Instead, Montanans for Conservation registered as an independent committee and noted in a section of the form asking which candidates or issues it supported in the 2020 election that it would ‘Support conservation-minded candidates (and) serve as the minor party qualification committee to qualify the Green Party to hold primary elections in Montana.'”

Incumbent Sen. Steve Daines (R) and Governor and former presidential candidate Steve Bullock (D) are running in their respective parties’ primaries.

Lewis and Clark County Commissioner Susan Good-Geise is the Libertarian candidate in the general election. She became the party’s replacement candidate after Eric Fulton, who Libertarians say was planted by the Republican Party, withdrew just before the filing deadline.

Three election forecasters rate the Senate race Lean Republican. Daines was first elected in 2014 with 57.8% of the vote to state Rep. Amanda Curtis’ (D) 40.1% and Roger Roots’ (L) 2.1%.

State executives

Cook Political Report downgrades Republican chances of winning Missouri governor race

The Cook Political Report updated its race ratings for this year’s 11 gubernatorial elections. Among the changes: Cook downgraded Republicans’ chances of winning Missouri’s gubernatorial election, shifting the race from Solid to Likely Republican. It did not adjust its ratings in the other 10 gubernatorial races.

Seven states with Republican governors and four with Democratic governors are holding elections this year. Cook rated six of the 11 contests as “safe”, meaning that one party is all but certain to win in November. Cook says Democrats are the likely winners in Delaware and Washington and Republicans in Indiana, North Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia. Missouri joins New Hampshire and Vermont as a state Cook projects will likely remain under Republican control. 

Cook projects North Carolina’s race leans towards incumbent Roy Cooper (D) over challenger Dan Forest (R). The only state currently listed as a toss-up is Montana, where incumbent Steve Bullock (D) is term-limited. Although Democrats have held the state’s governorship since 2004, Montana has leaned towards Republicans on the national level. The last Democratic presidential candidate to carry Montana was Bill Clinton (D) in 1992, and the state has not elected a Democrat to the U.S. House since 1994.

Cook believes the coronavirus pandemic and the relative strength of Democratic challenger Nicole Galloway (D-Mo.) are the two major factors behind their rating change. Cook said incumbent Mike Parson (R-Mo.) was one of four governors who had not taken public action in response to the coronavirus pandemic by March 17 and said that a perceived lack of action could harm his prospects in the general election. Parson faces three challengers in the Aug. 4 primary, while Galloway is among five Democrats in the running.

Rep. Denny Heck to run for lieutenant governor of Washington

U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, who had announced last year he would not seek re-election, filed to run for lieutenant governor of Washington Friday. Incumbent Cyrus Habib (D) announced last month he would join the Jesuit Order rather than seeking re-election.

Heck was first elected to the U.S. House in 2012 and sits on the Financial Services and Intelligence committees. He served 10 years as a member of the state House between 1976 and 1986, including as majority leader. 

Four other candidates have so far declared for the office, including state Sens. Steve Hobbs (D) and Marko Liias (D) as well as Heck’s general election opponent for U.S. House in 2018, Joseph Brumbles (R). 

Under Washington’s top-two primary system, every candidate in the running will appear on the same ballot in the Aug. 4 primary. The top two finishers, regardless of partisan affiliation, will advance to the general election.

The Bend Bulletin endorses Shemia Fagan for secretary of state

The Bend Bulletin endorsed state Sen. Shemia Fagan for Oregon secretary of state Saturday. The Bulletin is the daily newspaper of Bend, Oregon, the state’s seventh-largest city.

Fagan, 2018 congressional candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner, and state Sen. Mark Hass are the three candidates in the running for the Democratic nomination for secretary of state. McLeod-Skinner’s other endorsers include the Victory Fund and former Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins, while Hass’ include former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and three of his colleagues in the state Senate.

The May 19 primary is open to registered Democrats only.

Legislatures

Newcomer cites generational divide in challenge to veteran SC state rep.

State Rep. Jimmy Bales (D-80) will face a June primary challenge from Jermaine Johnson (D) for House District 80. Bales, 84, was first elected to District 80 in 1998 and has won re-election ten times. Johnson, 34, was the chair of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s (D) campaign in South Carolina. He has not held office.

Drawing attention to the age difference between himself and Bales, Johnson said, “It’s time to move forward … the current representative doesn’t represent what my community looks like now.” Bales discussed seniority in state government, saying, “You have to be up there awhile before you can do much to help your district and get money appropriated for projects … Things don’t just happen quick.” The winner of the primary will likely face Vincent Wilson (R), the only Republican filed to run in District 80. 

14 of the 61 incumbent Democrats seeking re-election to the South Carolina state Legislature will have primaries.

First-term Missouri representative will not seek re-election

First-term state Rep. Matt Sain (D-14) announced he would not seek re-election to his Kansas City-area seat. Sain first won election to House District 14 in 2018 after defeating incumbent Rep. Kevin Corlew (R) 50.2-49.8%, a margin of 85 votes.

Sain’s decision leaves the House seat open. It also leaves Ashley Aune (D) as the only Democrat in the race. She will likely face Eric Holmes (R), the only Republican filed to run for the seat prior to the March 31 filing deadline. 

Former Wyoming House minority whip announces run for Senate seat setting up primary against school district trustee

James Byrd (D) announced he will run for Wyoming’s Senate District 8. Byrd previously represented House District 44, much of which is located in Senate District 8, from 2008 to 2018 and served as minority whip from 2013 to 2015. 

Byrd’s entry into the race sets up a Democratic primary against Nate Breen (D), who filed to run for the District 8 seat in February. Breen currently serves as an at-large representative on the Laramie County School District 1 board of trustees. He was first elected in 2016.

The winner of the primary will face Sen. Affie Ellis (R-08), who was first elected to District 8 in 2016 after defeating incumbent Sen. Floyd Esquibel (D) 61-29%.

Power players

“Progressive Turnout Project is the largest grassroots-funded field program in the country. Our mission: Get Democrats to vote. We design, test, and execute specialized voter turnout programs targeting inconsistent Democratic voters in the most competitive states and districts in the country.” – Progressive Turnout Project website

Founded in 2015, Progressive Turnout Project is a political action committee that describes itself as a “grassroots-funded organization dedicated to connecting with voters one-on-one and getting Democrats to the polls.” 

On April 2, The Hill reported that the organization planned to spend $2.9 million on a phonebanking campaign targeting an estimated 12 million swing-state voters. The group’s executive director stated, “With COVID-19, activists are looking for ways to engage with voters while practicing safe distancing and Turnout 2020 helps with that.” 

In December 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, the organization announced a $45 million plan to increase Democratic turnout by training 1,100 field staff with a goal of knocking on 7 million doors in 16 battleground states. The group subsequently increased that goal to 10.1 million doors in 17 states.

Progressive Turnout Project endorses candidates it deems “voting rights champions who will support the fundamental right to vote that’s central to our work as an organization.” To view a list of endorsed candidates, click here



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 12 (April 1, 2020)

This week: Nearly half of Jon Huntsman’s petitions rejected, Massie’s coronavirus bill procedural move becomes focus in primary, and we profile Senate Conservatives Fund.

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

On the news

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

“In the middle of the 20th century, conservatism went from being dismissed as a set of ‘irritable mental gestures’ to having several competing ideological frameworks—some more ‘libertarian,’ some more religious. These all found common cause in the fight against Soviet communism—but it is now clear, in retrospect, that in the absence of such a defined enemy (radical Islam served the role briefly), conservatism is falling apart. Not only is it losing whatever unity it had. It is losing its own sense of self-definition and instead is degrading back to the level of irritable mental gestures.

Nothing exposes this like the right’s response to the coronavirus. Conservatives have been almost comically prone to grasping at quack pseudo-science and wild speculation on social media, anything that will help them cast doubt on the real and evident epidemiology of a disease. Why? Simply to poke a finger in the eye of the mainstream media, the experts, the ‘Deep State,’ the ‘elites.’ All that is left of conservatism is ‘own the libs’: If their partisan enemies are for it, the conservatives are against it, and there is no other, deeper reality to consider.”

Robert Tracinski, The Bulwark, March 30, 2020

“Both the crude and sophisticated efforts [to psychologize the partisan divide] tended to agree, though, that the supposed conservative mind is more attuned to external threat and internal contamination, more inclined to support authority and hierarchy, and fear subversion and dissent. And so the political responses to the pandemic have put these psychological theories to a very interesting test. …

So one might say that the pandemic illustrates the power of partisan mood affiliation over any kind of deeper ideological mind-set. Or relatedly, it illustrates the ways in which under the right circumstances, people can easily swing between different moral intuitions. …

But the right’s varying responses to the pandemic also illustrate two further points. The first point is that what we call ‘American conservatism’ is probably more ideologically and psychologically heterogeneous than the conservative mind-set that social scientists aspire to measure and pin down.”

Ross Douthat, The New York Times, March 31, 2020

U.S. Congress

Massie’s coronavirus bill procedural move becomes focus in primary

Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District last week requested a roll call vote on the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, which was ultimately passed by voice vote. News of Massie’s plan, which would have required a majority of House members to be present to vote on the bill, led several House members to travel to D.C. amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Massie said that “if we’re going to pass the biggest spending bill in the history of mankind … people should go on record for this.” He also said, “If this is truly a national emergency, and you’re being paid $174,000 a year to work, and you haven’t been to work in, you know, 10 days, I think you can go to work for this.”

Todd McMurtry, who is challenging Massie in the June 23 primary, tweeted, “People’s livelihoods are at stake while he’s playing political games. His top priority is to make himself the purest Libertarian politician in the House while failing to deliver results for Kentuckians.”

President Donald Trump tweeted Massie should be thrown out of the Republican Party, saying, “Looks like a third rate Grandstander named @RepThomasMassie, a Congressman from, unfortunately, a truly GREAT State, Kentucky, wants to vote against the new Save Our Workers Bill in Congress. He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous & costly.”

Massie said he hoped to patch things up with Trump. 

Massie was first elected to the House in 2012. McMurtry is an attorney. He recently represented a Covington Catholic High School student who settled a defamation lawsuit with CNN regarding its coverage of a confrontation between the student and an activist.

VA-05, VA-07 Republican conventions up in the air

Republicans in Virginia’s 5th and 7th Congressional Districts are scheduled to select their party’s nominees for the general elections at conventions, as opposed to primaries, on April 25. Amid the coronavirus outbreak and prohibitions on large gatherings, Republican leaders are considering contingency plans.

Fifth District incumbent Rep. Denver Riggleman told Roll Call that prohibitions on gatherings could limit the convention vote to members of the 5th District Republican Committee. Roll Call‘s Stephanie Akin wrote the following: 

“That could shrink the number of eligible voters from about 3,000 registered delegates to less than 40 committee members, a potential political death sentence for Riggleman, who was censured by one county committee — the district includes all or part of 21 counties and two cities — last summer after he officiated a gay wedding. The larger district committee debated censuring him at the time as well. And the National Journal reported last month that at least four district committee members had donated to Good’s campaign.” 

Riggleman was first elected in 2018, defeating Leslie Cockburn (D) 53% to 47%. His 2020 challenger, Bob Good, said that “Republican voters within the 5th District want to choose a bright-red conservative over a purple, progressive Republican.”

In the 7th District, nine candidates are running for a chance to face freshman Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) in November. Before Spanberger took office in 2019, a Republican had represented the 7th District since 1971. Spanberger defeated Dave Brat in 2018. Brat defeated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the district’s 2014 Republican primary.

Brat endorsed Nick Freitas, a member of the state House of Delegates, for the 7th District Republican nomination. Freitas also has support from the Club for Growth PAC.  Former Trump administration Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Andrew Knaggs, House of Delegates Member John McGuire, and nonprofit founder Tina Ramirez are among the nine candidates.

NY-27 special election, regular primary to be held same day

New York’s 27th District special election was originally scheduled for April 28, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo changed the date of the state’s special elections and presidential primaries to June 23 because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Republican state Sen. Chris Jacobs is running in the special election and is one of four regular primary election candidates. Eight county Republican Party chairs selected Jacobs as the party’s special election nominee. Trump endorsed Jacobs in the special election.

The Buffalo News‘ Mary B. Pasciak wrote that, because the elections will be held on the same day, there is no chance Jacobs could enter the regular primary election as an incumbent.

The state Conservative Party and several county Conservative parties endorsed Beth Parlato in the regular primary election. Regarding the date change, Parlato said, “The people of NY-27 will be able to choose who they want to represent them. I have always felt confident going into the primary. (Jacobs’) voting record is too liberal for the voters in NY-27.”

Primary candidate Stefan Mychajliw Jr. said, “My opponent was banking on running as an incumbent. Now that potential strength has evaporated.” 

The special election will fill the vacancy left when Chris Collins (R) resigned Oct. 1, the same day he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements.

State executives

Nearly half of Jon Huntsman’s petitions rejected

Utah’s elections agency announced Thursday it had rejected nearly 20,000 signatures submitted by Jon Huntsman’s gubernatorial campaign. Huntsman must submit an additional 11,500 valid signatures before April 10 in order to earn a guaranteed spot on the primary ballot.

More than half of the 36,112 signatures the Huntsman campaign submitted—19,653—were rejected. According to UtahPolicy.com, Huntsman’s rejection rate is nearly twice that of the two campaigns that have submitted signatures so far. More than half of the rejected signatures were found to be from individuals who were not registered Republicans.

Candidates running for governor of Utah may qualify for the ballot by either submitting signatures from 28,000 registered party members or by winning a spot on the primary ballot at their party’s nominating convention. No more than two candidates can win a spot on the ballot at the convention.

Incumbent Gary Herbert (R), who is not seeking re-election, signed an executive order allowing campaigns to collect signatures online. Herbert said the measures were implemented to aid in social distancing. Huntsman and Jan Garbett are the only primary candidates yet to submit their signatures. Spencer Cox and Thomas Wright have already qualified for the ballot via signature. The other four candidates are focusing entirely on the nominating convention.

A Dan Jones & Associates poll of likely primary voters conducted on behalf of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce found Huntsman leading Cox 34% to 23%. No other candidate received more than 10% of the vote. The poll had a margin of error of 3.5%.

The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only. The winner of the primary is likely to also win the general election—no Democrat has won election as governor of Utah since 1980.

Jim Justice, Woody Thrasher launch ad buys

West Virginia gubernatorial candidate Woody Thrasher launched his tenth ad of the campaign season on March 26. The spot, titled “Leadership”, called for policy changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Thrasher outlined his support for expanding unemployment benefits, providing loans to small businesses, and allowing deferment of mortgage payments.

Incumbent Jim Justice launched his first television ad on March 18. It contains footage of Justice on stage with President Trump at a rally and says Justice has helped grow West Virginia’s economy while opposing regulations on firearms, supporting restrictions on abortion, and appointing conservative justices to the state supreme court.

The May 12 primary will be open to registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters only. No Republican has won election as governor of West Virginia since Cecil Underwood in 1996. In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton 69% to 27%. Justice was elected as a Democrat in 2016 before joining the Republican Party on August 3, 2017.

Legislatures

New York Senate Minority Leader will not seek re-election

State Sen. John Flanagan (R-02), once the state’s top Republican elected official, announced he would not seek re-election this November. Flanagan was elected to the state Assembly in 1986 and moved to the Senate in 2002. He became the highest-ranking Republican in New York in 2015 when he was elected Senate Majority Leader. After Democrats took control of the senate in 2018, he became Senate Minority Leader.

The Suffolk County GOP had already endorsed Flanagan for re-election. On March 30, the county party announced it had selected Mario Mattera, a member of the Suffolk County Water Authority Board, to replace Flanagan on the ballot. Democrat Mike Siderakis has also announced his intention to run.

Republicans currently hold 22 of the 63 seats in the New York state Senate. Flanagan is the eighth Republican senator not to seek re-election. The filing deadline for party-affiliated state legislative candidates in New York is April 2.

Term-limited South Dakota House Majority Leader faces first primary in bid for state Senate seat

State Rep. Lee Qualm (R-21) will run in a contested primary for the first time since winning election in 2012 as he attempts to switch chambers by running for state Senate.

Qualm is unable to run for another term in the House due to term limits. First-term state Sen. Rocky Blare (R-21) filed to run for one of the district’s two House seats. In February, Qualm filed to run for the Senate seat held by Blare, setting up the possibility of Qualm and Blare switching seats.

Later in March, Erin Tobin, a healthcare provider from Winner, also filed petitions to run for the state Senate seat. As a result, Qualm will face a contested primary for the first time since being elected to the state House in 2012. Qualm became Majority Leader in 2017.

Two candidates intend to run in primary after incumbent Tennessee representative announces his retirement

State Rep. Martin Daniel (R-18) announced he will not seek re-election this year. Following his March 24 announcement, two candidates—James Corcoran and Eddie Mannis—indicated their intentions to run for the Republican nomination.

Corcoran previously challenged Rep. Daniel in District 18’s 2016 Republican primary, placing third with 25% of the vote. Mannis ran for mayor of Knoxville in 2019 but lost to Indya Kincannon. Democrat Virginia Couch also intends to run for the seat. 

Daniel was first elected to represent District 18 in 2014 after defeating incumbent Rep. Steve Hall (R-18) in the Republican primary. The deadline to submit petitions to appear on the primary ballot is April 2.

Power players

“SCF seeks to bring bold conservative leadership to Washington by supporting candidates who have the courage to fight for limited government, a strong national defense, and traditional family values.” – Senate Conservatives Fund website 

Founded in 2008 by former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) is a political action committee that says it “helps candidates by bundling contributions for them from thousands of freedom-loving Americans across the country, and by running hard-hitting radio and television ads to promote their conservative campaigns.”

The SCF website lists policy goals in the following areas: “Stop Spending,” “Healthcare Freedom,” “Enforce Immigration,” “Term Limits,” “Ban Bailouts,” “End Earmarks,” “Protect Life,” and “2nd Amendment.”

SCF has endorsed seven Republican candidates in 2020 congressional races. Senate endorsements include incumbent Steve Daines (Mont.), challengers John James (Mich.) and Don Bolduc (N.H.), and Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), who is running for an open seat.  

The group says it supports “a select group of House candidates each cycle to bolster our farm team for future Senate races and to help take back the House.” In 2020 races, SCF endorsed incumbent Reps. Chip Roy (Texas) and Scott Perry (Pa.), and Lynda Bennett, who is running for the open seat previously held by Mark Meadows in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 12 (April 1, 2020)

This week: Tlaib, Jones rematch in MI-13, LaJeunesse withdraws from Senate primary in ME and endorses Gideon, and we profile Planned Parenthood Action Fund

On the news

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

“Though Biden has all but officially reached the position of the presumptive Democratic Party nominee, he continues to face overlying challenges that will make his path to the White House increasingly difficult. The first issue here is the impact of the pandemic on his strategy. For a politician whose greatest strength is his ability to connect with voters, which is traditionally done by traveling all around the country, speaking to voters at rallies, and of course shaking hands, Biden has been struggling to keep his campaign afloat during such untraditional and unprecedented times. …

While Biden holds a critical statistical advantage over Trump at this point, leading Trump by 9 points in the most recent Fox News poll with 49 percent of the vote, compared to 40 percent for Trump, the job approval ratings of the president both generally and regarding his handling of the coronavirus crisis have actually been rising.

The other problem is Sanders. Now that he plans to stay in the race, and both campaigns have effectively stalled because of the coronavirus, the momentum for Biden has come to a near halt. In a campaign that already lacked enthusiasm and the ability to draw in younger voters, Biden now faces the difficult task of seeking to do so from the confines of his house through pixelated online messages. This is hardly a way to win over more progressive voters, especially with Sanders still in the race.”

Douglas Schoen, The Hill, March 29, 2020

“It’s been a momentous few weeks, but one thing has not changed: Biden is still overwhelmingly likely to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, and he’s still better positioned than any other candidate to defeat President Trump in November. …

[Biden’s] perceived vulnerabilities are leading Sanders to stay in the race through this extended lull in the voting, ready to pounce as soon as Biden implodes, and also encouraging fantasies of some mysterious alternative mainstream candidate magically swooping in to take Biden’s place. …

It may well be true that Biden himself inspires only mild levels of enthusiasm among voters when pollsters ask them about it in the abstract. But in reality, when faced with a choice between Biden and Sanders, voters have showed up in states across the country to express their support for the former vice president. That’s a very good sign that they will do the same when his opponent is the far more widely loathed Republican in the White House.”

Damon Linker, The Week, March 30, 2020

U.S. Congress

LaJeunesse withdraws from Senate primary in ME, endorses Gideon

Ross LaJeunesse withdrew from the Democratic primary for Senate in Maine and endorsed the state’s House speaker, Sara Gideon. In a Medium post, he said the following:

“I cannot ask my supporters to continue working hard, to continue making financial contributions, to continue volunteering, to continue advocating for my campaign when the country is focused on an unprecedented health and economic crisis, and when the type of campaign I planned, meeting voters where they live and work and speaking person to person, is impossible.”

LaJeunesse, whom the LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed, ran on a 10-point tech policy agenda and criticized Gideon by saying she received special interest money.

Gideon had raised $7.8 million by the end of 2019. LaJeunesse was second in fundraising with $600,000. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, EMILY’s List, and NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsed Gideon early in her bid. 

Bre Kidman and Betsy Sweet are also running in the June 9 primary.

Majority Forward, a not-for-profit affiliated with the Senate Majority PAC, recently announced a six-figure ad campaign praising Gideon’s work on a coronavirus relief bill in the state legislature. The PAC also spent six figures on an ad campaign in November criticizing incumbent Sen. Susan Collins’ (R) votes related to Medicare and saying she hadn’t held a town hall in 20 years.

Three election forecasters rate the general election Toss-up, Tilt Republican, or Lean Republican. 

Tlaib, Jones rematch in MI-13

Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones entered Michigan’s 13th Congressional District Democratic primary, setting up a rematch against Rep. Rashida Tlaib. 

In August 2018, Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary election 31.2% to 30.2%, while Jones defeated Tlaib in a special primary the same day 37.7% to 35.9%. Jones completed the term to which John Conyers Jr. had been elected in 2016 until Tlaib took the seat in January 2019.

The Detroit Metro Times wrote,

“In the last election, Jones had the backing of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s formidable political machine.

But since Tlaib was elected, she has become a household name nationwide — thanks, in part, to her promise to ‘impeach the mother******’ on her first day in office — and raised $1.6 million this cycle, bringing her campaign chest total to $2.8 million.”

The primary is Aug. 4, and April 21 is the filing deadline.  

Sunrise Movement endorses Bowman in NY-16, Morse in MA-01

Sunrise Movement endorsed two challengers to longtime House incumbents last week: Jamaal Bowman in New York’s 16th District and Alex Morse in Massachusetts’ 1st District. The incumbents in both districts—Eliot Engel in New York and Richard Neal in Massachusetts—were first elected in 1988.

Sunrise Movement is a nonprofit organization that describes itself as “a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.” 

In New York’s 16th, six candidates are running, including Bowman and Engel. Engel chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Bowman is a middle school principal. He is running to Engel’s left and received the Working Families Party endorsement. The Working Families Party endorsed Engel in previous elections. The primary is June 23. 

Rep. Neal chairs the House Ways and Means Committee. Morse was elected mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts at age 22 and is running to Neal’s left. Neal and Morse are currently the only candidates running in the Sept. 1 primary.

Find our previous story on New York’s 16th District primary and our “Power Players” feature on the Sunrise Movement here.

State executives

Salango, Smith, Stollings participate in first debate

Three of the leading Democratic candidates for governor of West Virginia participated in the campaign’s first debate on March 24. Ben Salango, Stephen Smith, and Ron Stollings each discussed their platforms while criticizing incumbent Jim Justice’s (R) response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Salango, a Kanawha County commissioner, said he would prioritize workforce training and small business. Salango added that because different parts of the state face different challenges, he would be more inclined to support region-specific policies rather than trying the same programs throughout. Salango said he supported shifting the ideological balance of the state Democratic Party to expand its base.

Smith said West Virginia is wealthier now than at any point in its history but that large out-of-state businesses held too much of that wealth. Smith said he supports legalizing marijuana and ensuring that every resident has access to broadband. He said he was the only candidate to have published a plan to eliminate corporate tax breaks.

Stollings said his economic plan put small businesses and entrepreneurs first while encouraging growth in the state’s technology sector. He proposed opening an executive office focused on issuing grants and seeking partnerships to boost the post-coronavirus recovery. Stollings said his experience in the state Senate and relationships with key legislators in both parties made him the candidate best-positioned to implement his agenda.

The May 12 primary will be open to registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters only. No Republican has won election as governor of West Virginia since Cecil Underwood in 1996. In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton 69% to 27%. Justice was elected as a Democrat in 2016 before joining the Republican Party during his first term.

Former Kansas City Councilwoman Alissia Canady to run for lieutenant governor of Missouri

Former Kansas City Councilwoman Alissia Canady is laying the groundwork to run for lieutenant governor of Missouri, according to The Kansas City Star.

Canady was first elected to the city council in 2015 and served a single term. Rather than running for re-election in 2019, she ran for the city’s open mayoral office. Canady did not advance to the general election but was the third-place finisher in the nonpartisan primary with 13.6% of the vote.

So far, the only other Democrat in the running is venue owner Gregory Upchurch. Upchurch ran for a Republican-held state house seat in 2018, losing the Democratic primary 65% to 22%. The filing deadline was March 31.

Missouri is one of 17 states where the lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor. Missouri’s lieutenant governor presides over the state senate and casts tie-breaking votes. Additional powers may be delegated by the governor. The last Democrat to serve as lieutenant governor of Missouri was Joe Maxwell in 2005.

2021 race preview: Jennifer McClellan weighs run for governor of Virginia

In this year’s run of Heart of the Primaries, our coverage of state executive races will include stories on emerging state executive candidate fields in the 2021 and 2022 elections as well as the most recent news from this year’s races.

Virginia voters will choose a new governor in 2021 to replace term-limited Ralph Northam (D).

Among the possible contenders for the race is state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Va.), who has been a state legislator since 2005.

Richmond Times-Dispatch‘s Mel Leonor wrote,

“Before Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, McClellan was among Democrats mentioned as a potential replacement for U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a close mentor, if he was elected vice president as Hillary Clinton’s running mate.”

Other potential gubernatorial candidates include Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, and state Attorney General Mark Herring.

Legislatures

Six-term former South Dakota representative files to challenge incumbent in primary bid for his old seat

Former State Rep. Dean Schrempp (D) submitted petitions to run for South Dakota’s House District 28A last week, setting up a primary with incumbent Rep. Oren Lesmeister (D-28A), who filed his petitions earlier this year.

Schrempp served two separate two-year terms representing District 28A in the 1990s: 1992-1994 and 1996-1998. He later represented the district from 2008-2016, serving four consecutive two-year terms. Schrempp could not run for re-election in 2016 due to term limits. 

Lesmeister was first elected to represent District 28A in 2016 after running for Schrempp’s open seat and was re-elected in 2018. He ran unopposed in both races.

Unlike most districts in the state House of Representatives, District 28A elects only one representative. The filing deadline to appear on the primary ballot was March 31. At the time of publication, no Republican candidate had filed to run for the seat, meaning the winner of the primary will likely be the district’s next representative.

Former congressional candidate files to run for Kansas state senate seat

Tobias Schlingensiepen (D) announced on Wednesday he will run for District 18 of the Kansas State Senate. The incumbent, Sen. Vic Miller (D-18), has not yet announced if he will seek re-election. In May 2019, Miller was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in a case that is currently pending.

In 2012, Schlingensiepen challenged incumbent U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R) in a race for Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District. Jenkins defeated Tobias 57-39%.

Miller was appointed to District 18 in 2019 to replace outgoing Sen. Laura Kelly (D), who was elected governor in 2018. 

No Republican candidates have filed to run in District 18. The filing deadline to appear on the August 4 primary ballot is June 1.

Longest-serving state legislator in U.S. history to retire

Wisconsin State Sen. Fred Risser (D-26) announced Thursday he will not run for re-election in November. Risser was first elected to the Wisconsin state Assembly in 1956. He has represented District 26 in the state Senate since 1962. With 64 years as a state legislator, Risser is the longest-serving legislator in United States history. He is also the only remaining World War II veteran serving in a state legislature. He will be 94 at the time of his retirement.

Power players

“Planned Parenthood was founded over 100 years ago on the revolutionary idea that women have the right to access the information and care they need to live strong, healthy lives. Today, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) fights to protect that right — often in the face of extreme politicians trying to take it away.” – Planned Parenthood Action Fund website

Founded in 1989, Planned Parenthood Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that says it “works to advance access to sexual health care and defend reproductive rights.” The organization is affiliated with the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the super PAC Planned Parenthood Votes.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund website lists policy goals in the following areas: “Abortion Access,” “Birth Control,” “Health Care Equity,” “Attacks on Planned Parenthood,” “Judicial Nominees,” “Sex Education,” “Sexual Assault,” “State Attacks,” and “Voting Rights.”

Politico reported on March 26 that Planned Parenthood Action Fund recently endorsed the following candidates: Al Gross (AK-Sen), M.J. Hegar (TX-Sen), Phil Arballo (CA-22), Pritesh Gandhi (TX-10), and Hillary Scholten (MI-03). For a full list of over 200 federal candidates endorsed by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, click here.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 11 (March 25, 2020)

This week: End Citizens United endorses Ossoff, Warnock for Senate seats in GA, Brady PAC endorses Hegar in Senate runoff in TX, and the election dates changed in response to the coronavirus.

Election date changes

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted several states and localities to change election dates and administrative procedures. Here are the changes affecting party primaries right now:

  • Alabama: Primary runoff postponed to July 14
  • Alaska: In-person voting in Democratic presidential preference primary canceled; vote-by-mail deadline extended to April 10
  • Connecticut: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Delaware: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Georgia: Presidential preference primary postponed to May 19
  • Indiana: Primary postponed to June 2
  • Kentucky: Primary postponed to June 23
  • Louisiana: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 20
  • Maryland: Primary postponed to June 2
  • Mississippi: Republican primary runoff election for the state’s 2nd Congressional District postponed to June 23
  • North Carolina: Republican primary runoff for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District postponed to June 23
  • Ohio: In-person primary voting postponed to June 2
  • Puerto Rico: Democratic presidential preference primary postponed to April 26
  • Rhode Island: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Texas: Primary runoff elections postponed to July 14

On the news

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

“If Sanders drops out, as mainstream media and centrist liberals are urging him to do, Biden and the establishment won’t budge an inch, and a generation of socialists and progressives is demoralized. If Sanders stays in, his campaign is severely limited without the ability to hold big rallies or canvasses because of the pandemic, in addition to the many other enormous hurdles he faces.

There is another option, though: stay in the race, but make a wholesale transition from campaigning for the nomination to campaigning for Bernie’s coronavirus policy — not just redirecting some donations to charity or sending text messages to encourage social distancing, but transforming the entire organizational apparatus of the Bernie campaign into a virus-fighting machine.

… Bernie should use the considerable leverage he has right now to outflank the suddenly invisible Joe Biden to advocate for a more aggressive approach.”

Benjamin Y. Fong, Jacobin, March 24, 2020

“Could Biden become a different president than we imagined? He well might, if he can rise to the occasion.

When I say ‘different,’ I’m referring to one of the main reasons I was skeptical about Biden’s candidacy: his lack of policy ambition. … 

But if he takes office in the midst of a crisis, the calculations could change. There’s a good chance that the stimulus measures we take now will be insufficient — so he’ll be under pressure to pass new stimulus, which could well include some version of the Green New Deal. This public health crisis will almost certainly have been a disaster for our health-care system, which will give passing health-care reform new urgency. …

And though we all hope the public health crisis and the economic crisis are over as quickly as possible, if there’s a silver lining here, it may be that they’ll make Biden, should he win, a better and bigger president than he otherwise would have been. Let’s hope so.”

Paul Waldman, The Washington Post, March 19, 2020

U.S. Congress

End Citizens United endorses Ossoff, Warnock for Senate seats in GA

End Citizens United endorsed Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s May 19 regular Senate Democratic primary and Raphael Warnock in the Nov. 3 all-party special election.

Ossoff faced Karen Handel (R) in the 2017 special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District—the most expensive House race in history. Handel defeated Ossoff 51.8-48.2%.

Seven candidates are running in the May 19 Democratic primary, including business executive Sarah Riggs Amico and former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. The winner will face incumbent David Perdue (R). Three forecasters rate the general election Likely or Lean Republican.

End Citizens United’s endorsement of Warnock followed those from other national groups including, as we reported earlier, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He is a pastor and was chairman of the New Georgia Project, a voter registration group 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who has also endorsed him, founded.

Twenty-one candidates are running in the all-party special election—six Republicans, eight Democrats, five independents, a Green Party candidate, and a Libertarian. 

Former Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned in December. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Kelly Loeffler (R) to the seat. She is running in the special election. 

Three forecasters rate the election either Lean or Likely Republican.

Two candidates remain in NY-24 Democratic primary

Roger Misso dropped out of the Democratic primary for New York’s 24th Congressional District, leaving a contest between Dana Balter and Francis Conole. 

The 24th includes parts of Cayuga, Onondaga, Oswego, and Wayne counties. The Finger Lakes Times reported, “Wayne is not endorsing in the primary, while Onondaga and Cayuga have endorsed Conole. Balter won the endorsement of Oswego County Democrats.”

Balter challenged 24th District incumbent John Katko (R) in 2018, losing 47.4% to 52.6%. Conole is a military veteran who worked as a senior intelligence officer for the Department of Defense.

Katko is unopposed in the 2020 Republican primary. The 24th is one of three House districts that elected a Republican representative in 2018 after favoring Hillary Clinton (D) in the 2016 presidential election.

Brady PAC endorses Hegar in Senate runoff in Texas

Brady PAC endorsed M.J. Hegar over Royce West in the Democratic senatorial primary runoff election in Texas. 

The group’s executive director, Brian Lemek, said, “As a mother, veteran, gun violence survivor and gun owner, MJ understands this epidemic of gun violence and the reasonable solutions to fix it. Royce West, however, has voted multiple times to expand the places people can carry guns, including school grounds, and we think that is unacceptable.”

West, a state senator, co-authored a 2019 bill that would have removed a provision prohibiting school marshals who engage in regular, direct contact with students from carrying concealed guns.

West said, “Local school boards have a right to decide what measures they need to take in order to make sure that students and persons within that school are safe, and this is just another tool they can utilize to do that.” Regarding the Brady PAC’s endorsement of Hegar, West said, “I have supported the Brady group 95% of the time on measures they have proposed over the years.”

Since the March 3 primary, three primary candidates endorsed West in the runoff: Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, Michael Cooper, and Chris Bell. The runoff, originally scheduled for May 26, was moved to July 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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

State executives

Washington Lt. Gov. Habib to retire, leaving the office open

Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib (D-Wash.) announced Thursday he would retire from politics and join the Jesuit Order rather than seek re-election this year, setting up an open top-two primary for the office.

Washington is one of only two states, alongside California, using a top-two primary system for state executive offices. Under a top-two primary, all candidates for office appear on the same primary ballot and the top two finishers—regardless of their partisan affiliation—advance to the general election.

Washington’s lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor. The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate, casting tie-breaking votes, and serves as acting governor while the governor is out of state. 

Candidates have until May 15 to file for the Aug. 4 primary. The top two finishers will advance to the Nov. 3 general election. No Republican has served as lieutenant governor of Washington since Joel Pritchard left office in 1997.

Cooney reports narrow fundraising lead in Montana gubernatorial election

According to financial disclosure reports filed Friday, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney has raised more money in the gubernatorial primary so far this year than consultant Whitney Williams.

Between Jan. 1 and March 15, Cooney raised $245,000 while Williams raised $230,000. Cooney reported $265,000 cash on hand as of March 15 to Williams’ $230,000.

Cooney and Williams are the only two Democrats running in the June 2 primary, which is open to all registered voters.

Legislatures

A look at competitiveness in state legislative elections so far

Ballotpedia has been compiling information about competitiveness in state legislative elections for this year and comparing it to our 2018 data. 

When a state legislative filing deadline passes, we compile information about open seats, incumbents in primaries, total primaries, and total candidates. We then compare that data to figures for the same states as of the 2018 filing deadline. The 16 states highlighted in the graphic above show where we’ve been able to run this comparison so far.

In the states we’ve reviewed, competitiveness has fallen this year compared to the same point in 2018. This year, there are 273 open seats, versus 326 in 2018. The number of incumbents challenged in primaries is also down from 405 in 2018 to 357 in 2020. The number of primaries in general is also down from 845 to 702. All of these declines correspond with the overall drop in candidates seeking office. There are 416 fewer candidates running in state legislative races in 2020 compared to 2018.

Here are some specific highlights:

  • Ohio had the largest drop in the number of open seats. There were 42 open seats in 2018, and 22 this year. 
  • North Carolina, Oregon, and West Virginia had the largest increase in open seats. Each has eight more open seats this year than in 2018.
  • Both Texas and Oregon have 18 fewer incumbents facing primary challenges in 2020 than in 2018. In 2018, Montana had ten incumbents facing primary challenges versus 25 in 2020, the largest increase.
  • Illinois has the largest decrease in total primaries from 61 in 2018 to 37 in 2020. Montana again has the largest increase in total primaries from 38 in 2018 to 55 in 2020.
  • Only two states—Oregon (23) and Georgia (32)—have more candidates running this year than in 2018. Ohio has 86 fewer candidates running in state legislative races this year than in 2018.

Rep. Yoni Pizer concedes to Margaret Croke in Illinois House primary

Illinois Rep. Yoni Pizer (D-12) conceded to challenger Margaret Croke last Wednesday. With all precincts reporting, Croke won 46.4 percent of the vote to Pizer’s 41.0 percent with three other primary challengers receiving the remainder of the vote.

The outcome of this election marked the end of a proxy endorsement battle between Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D), and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D). In January 2020, Lightfoot endorsed Pizer, a month before party leaders appointed him to serve out the remainder of Rep. Sara Feigenholtz’s (D) term. Following Pizer’s appointment, Pritzker endorsed Croke, who had worked on his 2018 gubernatorial campaign.

Democrats currently hold a 74-44 supermajority in the Illinois House of Representatives. Since there were no other candidates filed to run in the general election, Croke will likely be the next representative for District 12, holding the seat for Democrats.

Former Republican candidate Kevin Stocker challenges Bill Conrad in Democratic primary for open New York State Assembly seat

Last Friday, Kevin Stocker filed to run in the Democratic primary for New York’s 140th Assembly District. Robin Schimminger (D) has represented the Buffalo-area district since its creation in 1976. In 2019, Schimminger announced he would not seek re-election.

Stocker’s announcement sets up a June 23 primary against Bill Conrad, a Tonawanda town councilman who has already been endorsed by the Niagara County Democratic Party.

Stocker most recently ran as a Republican for New York’s 60th Senate District in 2016 but lost in the primary. In 2014, Stocker was the Republican nominee in the 60th District, but lost in the general election 31.5% to 29.8%.

Power players

“The Working Families Party is a progressive grassroots political party building a multiracial movement of working people to transform America.” – Working Families Party website

The Working Families Party is a political party founded in 1998 by a group of labor unions, community organizations, and other public interest groups. The New York Times has described the party as “an influential, labor-backed organization that has helped push Democrats to the left.”

As of September 2019, it was a ballot-qualified party in Connecticut, New York, Oregon, and South Carolina. According to the party’s website, it has branches in Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington.

The party says its endorsement “is like a progressive seal of approval: it means these candidates can be counted on to fight for us on the issues that matter most, from fair funding of public schools and living wage jobs to ending mass incarceration and getting big money out of politics.” To view a list of endorsed candidates, click here.  



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 10 (March 18, 2020)

This week: Ohio, Kentucky, and Maryland postpone primaries, NRA, Club for Growth split endorsements in Senate runoff in Alabama, and former Rep. Brat endorses Freitas in VA-07 convention contest.

Election updates

Ohio among three states to postpone primaries—decision made less than 24 hours before polls open 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced Monday night that polls would be closed on Tuesday by the order of the state health director. Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) postponed in-person voting to June 2.

Ohio was scheduled to hold primaries for president, the state’s 16 U.S. House seats, both chambers of the state legislature, the Ohio Supreme Court, and local elections Tuesday. 

DeWine said:

During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus.

Later Monday, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams (R) announced that he and Gov. Andy Beshear (D) had agreed to postpone the state’s primary from May 19 to June 23. 

On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) postponed Maryland’s primary from April 28 to June 2. The special election for Elijah Cummings’ U.S. House seat will still take place April 28 but will be conducted via mail-in ballot only.

For an account of events related to the postponements, and for details on changes to the election calendar in other states, click here.

Election results

Here are some key primary results from March 17.

Illinois’ 6th Congressional District: Jeanne Ives defeated Gordon “Jay” Kinzler in the Republican primary for Illinois’ 6th Congressional District. With 99% of precincts reporting, Ives had received 70.8% of the vote to Kinzler’s 29.2%. 

Both candidates highlighted their military backgrounds and opposition to socialism. Ives graduated from West Point and came from a military family. She said, “Our family has served. So I’ll tell you what, we are all in to defeat any socialism that comes to sneak in the back door of this country.” Kinzler joined the U.S. Army Reserves and became a corporal. He said he entered the race out of a concern “that many in congress are promoting a socialist agenda that is taking our nation down a dangerous path.”

Incumbent Sean Casten (D) was unopposed in the March 17 Democratic primary. In the district’s 2018 general election, Casten won 54-47. Major race rating outlets vary in their assessments of the 2020 general election, with ratings ranging from Lean Democratic to Solid Democratic

Illinois’ 14th Congressional District: Jim Oberweis won the Republican primary for Illinois’ 14th Congressional District, defeating six other candidates. Oberweis received 25.6% of the vote, followed by Sue Rezin with 22.8%, Catalina Lauf with 20.1%, Ted Gradel with 13.3%, and James Marter with 11.0%. Jerry Evans and Anthony Catella also ran in the primary. 

Gradel, Oberweis, and Rezin led in fundraising and media activity, with the latter two candidates also receiving the majority of endorsements. Three groups—Illinois Conservatives PAC; Our Future, Our Fight PAC; and the New Prosperity Foundation—spent a combined $1.14 million opposing candidates in the race. Of that total, around $1.08 million was spent against Oberweis, roughly 94% of all oppositional satellite spending. 

Illinois’ 15th Congressional District: Mary Miller won the Republican primary for Illinois’ 15th Congressional District. Four candidates ran. With 95% of precincts reporting, Miller had 57%, followed by Darren Duncan with 22%.

Incumbent John Shimkus (R) announced he would not seek re-election, leaving the district open.

Both Miller and Duncan highlighted their support for President Donald Trump’s agenda. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), and the House Freedom Fund endorsed Miller. The House Freedom Fund and its affiliated super PAC, House Freedom Action, spent $489,000 to support Miller. In response to the satellite spending, Duncan said, “Mary Miller has sold out central and southern Illinois for hundreds of thousands of dollars from D.C. special interests.” U.S. Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) endorsed Duncan.

On the news

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

“As a particularly outspoken opponent of universal basic income, I would emphasize: 

Direct cash payments are the correct policy in this crisis and have nothing to do with UBI, whose entire premise (and greatest flaw) is that you know in advance you will receive it in perpetuity.

In the past I’ve made this point from the other direction, noting that short-term UBI pilots are bad tests of the UBI concept, precisely because they are random and short-term. Similarly, a crisis response does not share UBI’s characteristics or drawbacks.”

Oren Cass, Twitter, March 17, 2020 

“[Sen. Mitt Romney] wants the government to give every citizen a one-time cash payment of $1,000. This is intended to boost consumer spending and provide economic stability for those hardest hit by the virus’s ample negative economic impacts, as well as help avoid the general slowdown it has caused from spiraling into an all-out recession.

But this is, frankly, a foolish idea. Welfare for the rich and other workers who remain relatively unaffected won’t help us avoid a recession. …

If we do decide that civil society and charity are unable to step up and fill in this void, a narrowly tailored government response specifically helping only those most harmed by the coronavirus is what’s needed.”

Brad Polumbo, Washington Examiner, March 17, 2020

U.S. Congress

Former Rep. Brat endorses Freitas in VA-07 convention contest

Former Rep. David Brat (VA-07) endorsed state Del. Nick Freitas in the district’s Republican convention contest. The convention nominee will face incumbent Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) in November.

Brat was first elected to represent Virginia’s 7th in 2014, the year he defeated then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary. Spanberger defeated Brat in the 2018 election 50% to 48%.

Before Spanberger took office, a Republican had represented the 7th District since 1971. 

Brat said, “To beat Abigail Spanberger, we need a candidate that is a proven conservative leader, can articulate the conservative message, and has what it takes to overcome the millions of dollars that will pour into our district from billionaires like Michael Bloomberg as they try to save the congressional seat that they bought in 2018.”

Republicans in the 7th District will hold a nominating convention to select their nominee. The date is currently set as April 25. Delegates elected to the convention will choose the party’s general election nominee. Republican voters may run to be elected as convention delegates.

Nine candidates are currently running for the convention nomination. Freitas, a member of the state House of Delegates since 2016, is also backed by the Club for Growth PAC. Former Trump administration Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Andrew Knaggs, House of Delegates Member John McGuire, and nonprofit founder Tina Ramirez are among the candidates.


NRA, Club for Growth split endorsements in Senate runoff in Alabama

The National Rifle Association (NRA) Political Victory Fund endorsed Jeff Sessions in the Senate primary runoff in Alabama. The Club for Growth PAC endorsed Tommy Tuberville. 

NRA representative Lars Dalseide said Sessions “has long been a stalwart defender of Second Amendment freedoms for law-abiding Alabamians.”

Club for Growth PAC President David McIntosh said Tuberville “is a principled, free market conservative who has the support of President Trump and has put together a great campaign to defeat Doug Jones.”

As we reported earlier, the president endorsed Tuberville March 10. 

Sessions held the Senate seat for 20 years before the president appointed him U.S. attorney general in 2017. Sessions resigned in 2018 at Trump’s request. Tuberville is a former college football coach.

Tuberville received 33.4% of the vote to Sessions’ 31.6% in the March 3 primary. A candidate needed 50% to win the primary outright.

The runoff is currently scheduled for March 31. Secretary of State John Merrill has asked state attorney general Steve Marshall (R) for an opinion on whether the primary date can be postponed amid concerns around the coronavirus.

State executives

Former Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson files to run for his old office

Former Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson filed to run for his old office one day before the March 9 filing deadline, bringing the number of Republican candidates to six. 

Johnson was elected as secretary of state in 2004 and unsuccessfully sought re-election in 2008 and 2012. He was elected to the state’s utilities regulation board in 2014 and has served as its chairman since 2015.

Other Republicans in the running include state Supreme Court Clerk Bowen Greenwood, former state Senate President Scott Sales, Deputy Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, state Rep. Forrest Mandeville, and Kurt Johnson.

The June 2 Republican primary is open to all registered voters. The winner will face state Sen. Bryce Bennett (D), the only Democrat to file for the office. Incumbent Corey Stapleton (R) is running for U.S. House rather than seeking re-election.

Longtime Republican lawmaker to face former Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Oregon Secretary of State primary

The Republican primary for Oregon Secretary of State will pit a 15-year veteran of the state legislature against a former Democratic candidate for governor. State Sen. Kim Thatcher (R) and attorney Dave Stauffer (R) were the only two candidates who filed ahead of the March 10 deadline.

Thatcher was first elected to the state Senate in 2014 after serving ten years in the state House. She has served as vice chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee since the 2017 legislative session.

Stauffer is an attorney and environmental engineer who has run for governor twice in recent years. In the 2016 special election, Stauffer challenged incumbent Kate Brown for the Democratic nomination, receiving 2.8% of the vote. Stauffer ran as a Republican in the 2018 primary, where he received 0.7% of the vote.

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

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

The May 19 primary is open to registered Republicans only.

Legislatures

Four candidates vying for the Republican nomination in Portland-area house district

Following last week’s filing deadline, four candidates, including one former state representative, are on the ballot seeking the Republican nomination in Oregon’s 26th House District. The Portland-area district’s current representative is Rep. Courtney Neron (D) who narrowly defeated incumbent Richard Vial (R) 51-47 in 2018.

The candidates are Derrick Kitts, Dan Laschober, Larry McDonald, and Peggy Stevens. Laschober previously ran in the Republican primary against then-incumbent Vial in 2018. He lost 70-30. Kitts is a former Oregon state legislator. He represented Oregon’s 30th House District for two terms from 2002-2006 before leaving office to challenge U.S. Representative David Wu (D) of Oregon’s 1st Congressional District in 2006. Kitts lost 63-34.

Alaska representative charged with 2018 voter misconduct following loss of local party support

Last Friday, Alaska state prosecutors charged state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R-15) with voter misconduct and unlawful interference with voting over actions that took place during the previous Republican primaries in House District 15.

LeDoux was one of three Republicans who formed a majority coalition with 17 Democrats and two independents following the 2016 elections (where Republicans won 21 of 40 seats). In 2018, LeDoux faced a primary challenge from Aaron Weaver. She won the primary by a margin of 117 votes. 

Last February, before the charges, the District 15 Republican Convention formally withdrew support from LeDoux. Since then, David Nelson (R) has filed to run. District 15’s Republican chairwoman, Madeleine Gaiser, said: “We…plan to throw our full support behind him and his campaign.”

Following the filing deadline, Huseman retirement sets up three-way primary for Iowa House seat

Earlier this year, Iowa Rep. Dan Huseman (R-03) announced he would not seek re-election in 2020 for his northwestern Iowa seat. First elected in 1994, Huseman is the longest serving Republican member of the Iowa House of Representatives. 

Following the passage of the final filing deadline for state legislative candidates last Friday, three Republicans are running in the June 2 primary: Cherokee County supervisor Dennis Bush, former Alta-Aurelia superintendent Lynn Evans, and Mark McHugh.

Since no Democratic candidates filed before the deadline, the winner of the Republican primary will likely be the district’s next representative.

Power players

“The National Rifle Association is America’s longest-standing civil rights organization. Together with our more than five million members, we’re proud defenders of history’s patriots and diligent protectors of the Second Amendment.” – National Rifle Association website

Founded in 1871, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that says of itself, “While widely recognized today as a major political force and as America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights, the NRA has, since its inception, been the premier firearms education organization in the world.”

The lobbying arm of the NRA is called the Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA). The NRA-ILA was founded in 1975 and says it is “responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

The NRA’s political action committee, the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), grades and endorses political candidates. The group’s endorsement policy says, “NRA has a pro-gun incumbent-friendly policy that dictates our support for pro-gun incumbents seeking reelection. It is important that we stand with our friends who stand with us in Congress or the state legislature through their actions.” To search candidates endorsed by the NRA-PVF, click here.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 10 (March 18, 2020)

This week: Ohio, Kentucky, and Maryland postpone primaries, Newman defeats incumbent Lipinski in IL-03, and Tzintzún Ramirez endorses West in Texas Senate runoff

Election update

Ohio among three states to postpone primaries—decision made less than 24 hours before polls open 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced Monday night that polls would be closed on Tuesday by the order of the state health director. Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) postponed in-person voting to June 2.

Ohio was scheduled to hold primaries for president, the state’s 16 U.S. House seats, both chambers of the state legislature, the Ohio Supreme Court, and local elections Tuesday. 

DeWine said:

During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus.

Later Monday, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams (R) announced that he and Gov. Andy Beshear (D) had agreed to postpone the state’s primary from May 19 to June 23. 

On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) postponed Maryland’s primary from April 28 to June 2. The special election for Elijah Cummings’ U.S. House seat will still take place April 28 but will be conducted via mail-in ballot only.

For an account of events related to the postponements, and for details on changes to the election calendar in other states, click here.

Election results

Here are some key primary results from March 17.

Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District: With 99% of precincts reporting, Marie Newman defeated incumbent Rep. Daniel Lipinski 47.1% to 44.8%. 

Lipinski, who was first elected in 2004, said he was “the common-sense Democrat” and criticized what he called Newman’s socialist ideology and leftist fantasies. Newman said Lipinski was not a real Democrat. She said, “Since 2004, my opponent has ignored the concerns of wide swaths of his constituency. He voted against the Affordable Care Act, against the Dream Act, and has repeatedly stood with the Republican party to attack workers, women and the LGBTQ community.” Lipinski and Newman faced off in the district’s 2018 Democratic primary. Lipinski won that contest, 51.1% to 48.9%. 

A Democrat has represented the district since 1975, and major race rating outlets view the general election as Solid Democratic or Safe Democratic.

Illinois’ 7th Congressional District: Incumbent Danny Davis won Illinois’ 7th Congressional District Democratic primary. With 95% of precincts reporting, Davis had 61% of the vote. Davis was first elected in 1996. The Chicago Tribune, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton (D) endorsed Davis.

Cook County state’s attorney: Incumbent Kim Foxx won the Cook County state’s attorney Democratic primary. With 97% of precincts reporting, Foxx received 50% of the vote. Bill Conway followed with 31%. Four candidates ran. 

The election occurred against the backdrop of the case of former Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who filed a police report January 2019 alleging he was attacked. Smollett was later charged with multiple counts related to filing a false police report. Foxx dropped the charges against Smollett in March 2019 in favor of an alternative prosecution program. Foxx’s 2020 Democratic primary challengers criticized her handling of the case, while she defended it.

Conway raised $11.4 million to Foxx’s $3.6 million as of March 7.

On the news

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

“America’s catastrophically inadequate response to the coronavirus can be attributed largely to bad short-term decisions by one man. And I do mean short-term: At every stage, Donald Trump minimized the threat and blocked helpful action because he wanted to look good for the next news cycle or two, ignoring and intimidating anyone who tried to give him good advice. …

[T]here are only two potential loci of intelligent economic policymaking left in Washington. One is the Federal Reserve; the other is the congressional Democratic leadership. At this point, in other words, it’s pretty much up to Jay Powell, the Fed chairman, and Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House; the question is whether Trump and Senate Republicans will let them save the economy. … 

It’s now up to Powell and Pelosi to rescue the economy, and Trump and company need to get out of their way.”

Paul Krugman, The New York Times, March 16, 2020

“There’s an easy way to tell that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi negotiated a bad deal on the bipartisan coronavirus response bill that Congress is expected to pass this week. It’s not the liberal complaints that she let the White House limit paid sick leave to about one-fifth of U.S. workers. It’s not the Republican complaints that the bill doesn’t provide tax relief and cash for businesses and individuals hurt by the pandemic. It’s not even the general consensus that this initial legislation will need to be followed up by a much more aggressive economic stimulus bill.

No, the easy way to tell Pelosi negotiated a bad deal for Democrats is that she negotiated a deal at all—rather than dictating the terms and telling President Donald Trump to take them or leave them.

The lesson of the last congressional response to an economic emergency, President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill, is that when a president desperately needs legislation to address a crisis, anyone with the power to stop him can decide what’s in it.” 

Michael Grunwald, Politico, March 17, 2020

U.S. Congress

Tzintzún Ramirez endorses West in Senate primary runoff in Texas

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, the third-place finisher in the March 3 primary for Senate in Texas, endorsed Royce West in the May 26 primary runoff. West faces M.J. Hegar in that contest. 

Hegar received 22.3% of the primary vote, and West received 14.5%. Tzintzún Ramirez got 13.2%.

Michael Cooper, who received 5% of the vote, also endorsed West.

National groups including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, End Citizens United, and Giffords PAC endorsed Hegar ahead of the primary. West’s endorsers include four of his state Senate colleagues and 16 members of the state House. 

Tzintzún Ramirez’s backers included Reps. Joaquin Castro (D) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and the Working Families Party. 

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

Kennedy campaign says DSCC blocked joint fundraising effort

Joseph Kennedy’s campaign said the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has blocked his effort to form a joint fundraising committee with other Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate. Kennedy, who represents the state’s 4th congressional district, is challenging Sen. Ed Markey in Massachusetts’ Sept. 1 primary.

Kennedy’s campaign said he tried to enter a joint fundraising agreement with four Democratic Senate candidates running for seats currently held by Republicans: Barbara Bollier in Kansas, Cal Cunningham in North Carolina, Sara Gideon in Maine, and Jamie Harrison in South Carolina.

Victoria McGrane of The Boston Globe reported of Kennedy’s offer, 

The candidates were receptive, and everything appeared to be moving forward smoothly until the Kennedy team got a call from one of the other campaigns saying the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had told them they could not enter into an agreement with the Newton Democrat, according to a Kennedy campaign aide.

McGrane wrote, 

Joint fund-raising arrangements, which are federally regulated, allow participants to share the overhead costs of raising cash. They also mean wealthy donors can write one big check to the fund, which then splits the money among participants.

McGrane reported the DSCC and the Bollier, Cunningham, Gideon, and Harrison campaigns did not respond to requests for comment.

The DSCC supports Markey in the primary. The group has a policy of supporting incumbent Democratic senators. 

Kennedy reported raising $4 million by the end of 2019 to Markey’s $4.6 million.

State executives

Rebecca Holcombe leads Vermont gubernatorial candidates in fundraising, wins endorsement from former Gov. Kunin

According to financial reports filed Sunday, former Vermont education secretary  Rebecca Holcombe leads the field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates in fundraising.

Since launching her campaign, Holcombe has raised $380,000 to Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman’s $160,000 and attorney Patrick Winburn’s $110,000. Holcombe has reported contributions from 1,210 individual donors to Zuckerman’s 1,126 and Winburn’s nine.

Former Gov. Madeleine Kunin (D), who was elected in 1984 and served through 1991, endorsed Holcombe March 11.

The candidate filing deadline is May 28. The August 11 primary is open to all registered voters.

Joe Manchin, AFL-CIO endorse Ben Salango for West Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nomination

Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango (D) won the endorsements of Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and the state branch of the AFL-CIO in his bid for West Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination. 

The AFL-CIO endorsed Salango Monday, saying he was committed to the state’s working people. In the 2016 election, the group declined to endorse in the Democratic primary and backed Democratic nominee Jim Justice in the general election. Justice, who is running for re-election this year, joined the Republican Party in August 2017.

Manchin, who was elected governor in 2004 and re-elected in 2008, is one of two Democrats to hold a statewide elected partisan office in West Virginia.

Five candidates, including Salango, activist Stephen Smith, and state Sen. Ron Stollings, are running in the May 12 Democratic primary. The winner will face the Republican nominee in the November general election. Democrats have won each of the past six West Virginia gubernatorial elections.

Terry Van Duyn declines to seek runoff in North Carolina lieutenant gubernatorial race

Second-place finisher Terry Van Duyn announced March 10 that she would not pursue a runoff in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor of North Carolina. Van Duyn’s decision means that Yvonne Lewis Holley wins the Democratic nomination outright. North Carolina law allows the second-place candidate to request a runoff if no candidate receives more than 30% of the vote. Lewis Holley will face Mark Robinson (R) in the general election.

Legislatures

Oregon state Rep. Mitchell does not file for re-election following a recall effort

The filing deadline for state legislative candidates in Oregon passed last week and incumbent state Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell (D-32) decided not to seek re-election. Mitchell was first elected to Oregon’s 32nd House District in 2018, defeating Vineeta Lower (R) 49-32. In September 2019, an effort to recall Mitchell from her position was launched. Supporters of the recall effort failed to gather the required 4,883 signatures within 90 days.

Two candidates are currently filed to run for the Democratic nomination: Debbie Booth-Schmidt and George Kiepke. A Democrat has represented the district, which covers much of Clatsop County in northwestern Oregon, for nearly two decades.

Candidate drops out of Kentucky House race over concerns about age requirements

The Democratic primary for Kentucky’s open 56th House District narrowed to two candidates last week after Ben Nolan (D) withdrew his candidacy. Nolan cited ambiguities surrounding his age as a major reason for the withdrawal. 

In Kentucky, a state representative must be at least 24 years old. Nolan, 23, will not turn 24 until fifteen days after the general election. 

In a statement regarding his withdrawal, Nolan said, “I cannot spend contributors’ money or ask for contributions when the favorable result could very well lead us into an unknown territory of complications.”

Lamar Allen and Bob Gibson remain in the primary for the Democratic nomination to represent House District 56. The current incumbent, Rep. Joe Graviss (D-56), is not seeking re-election.

New Mexico state senator faces primary in first election after being appointed to seat formerly held by her grandfather

Incumbent State Sen. Shannon Pinto (D-3) could face a three-way primary to be the Democratic nominee for Senate District 3 in New Mexico. Dineh Benally and Shawn Nelson have both filed to run in the Democratic primary.

This will be Pinto’s first election. In 2018, her grandfather, John Pinto (D), ran unopposed in the district. He passed away in May 2019 after serving in the New Mexico State Senate since 1977. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) appointed Shannon Pinto to the seat in July 2019.

Power players

“We influence policy, hold politicians accountable, and win elections. This is how we fight to build a world with clean air, clean water, public lands, and a safe climate that are protected by a just and equitable democracy.” – League of Conservation Voters website

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that describes itself as a “potent political force for protecting our planet and everyone who inhabits it.” LCV says it has “built a powerful national movement with more than 2 million members, 30 state affiliates, and grassroots and community organizing programs across the country.” 

LCV released its 2019 National Environmental Scorecard on March 12.  According to The Hill, “Republicans and Democrats both saw improvements on a conservation group’s annual assessment of environmental voting records last year, though the new report largely praised Democrats while criticizing Republicans. … Republicans in both chambers had an average score of less than 13 percent, according to an LCV spokesperson, compared to an 8-percent average in 2018.” 

The LCV Action Fund endorses candidates it deems “environmental champions who will address the climate crisis and advance a more equitable clean energy future.” To view candidates endorsed by the LCV Action Fund, click here.

In addition to the LCV Action Fund, other groups affiliated with LCV are the LCV Education Fund, the LCV Victory Fund, and the LCV Political Engagement Fund.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 9 (March 11, 2020)

This week: Susan B. Anthony List partner announces pro-Lipinski spending in IL-03, McDowell endorses Valenzuela in TX-24 runoff, and PA Rep. draws primary challenge for first time in two decades

On the news

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

“According to Broockman and Kalla’s figures, Sanders loses a significant number of swing votes to Trump, but he makes up for them in support from young people who say they won’t vote, or will vote third party, unless Sanders is the nominee. On the surface, these Bernie-or-bust voters might seem like an argument for Sanders. After all, Sanders partisans sometimes insist that Democrats have no choice but to nominate their candidate because they’ll stay home otherwise, a sneering imitation of traditional centrist demands for progressive compromise.

But if Broockman and Kalla are right, by nominating Sanders, Democrats would be trading some of the electorate’s most reliable voters for some of its least. To prevail, Democrats would need unheard-of rates of youth turnout. That doesn’t necessarily mean Sanders would be a worse candidate than Joe Biden, given all of Biden’s baggage. It does mean polls might be underestimating how hard it will be for Sanders to beat Trump. …

In our age of extreme polarization, a widespread school of thought holds that swing voters are nearly extinct, and that turnout is everything. But that’s an exaggeration. While there seem to be fewer swing voters than in the past, they can still be decisive.

Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times, March 2, 2020

 

“In a recent piece in The New York Times, Michelle Goldberg describes academic research arguing that persuasion rather than higher turnout will be the critical factor in the upcoming presidential election. According to a piece of academic research she cites, electing a Democrat based on higher turnout would require a surge, especially among young voters, that would have to exceed the Obama surge among black voters in 2008.

These researchers think that is improbable. In fact, increasing turnout is the most likely path to Democratic victory. That is true whoever is the ultimate Democratic nominee. … 

More than anything, Democrats need a candidate—and campaign messaging—that inspires people. Inspiration addresses many of the most profound reasons people don’t vote. It makes potential voters feel empowered, and it makes voting seem important because it makes the outcome of the election a result that affects them and their personal aspirations as part of the campaign team—not just something that they observe as a spectator.”

Robert Creamer, The American Prospect, March 5, 2020

U.S. Congress

Susan B. Anthony List partner announces pro-Lipinski spending in IL-03

Women Speak Out PAC, a group affiliated with Susan B. Anthony List, announced a five-figure campaign supporting Rep. Daniel Lipinski in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District primary. The campaign will include digital ads, direct mail, and phone calls. 

Mallory Quigley, national spokeswoman for Women Speak Out PAC, said, “Congressman Lipinski has been a champion of commonsense, compassionate, and popular legislation to stop taxpayer funding of abortion, to end late-term abortion, and to protect babies born-alive after failed abortions. The current Democratic leadership may say there is no room for voices like Dan’s in their party, but we need him now more than ever.

Quigley called candidate Marie Newman, who also challenged Lipinski in 2018, “an abortion extremist who supports a radical agenda of abortion on demand through birth, and even beyond.”

Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL endorsed Newman. A line of her platform reads, “Reproductive health care for all, including access to birth control and abortion.”

Lipinski, Newman, Rush Darwish, and Charles Hughes are running in the March 17 primary.

Susan B. Anthony List reported six-figure spending on digital ads supporting Lipinksi in the 2018 Democratic primary against Newman. Lipinski won that race 51.1% to Newman’s 48.9%.

Also last week, Newman released an ad highlighting Lipinski’s vote against Obamacare, saying he would deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Lipinski’s campaign has called Newman’s healthcare position extreme and said her plan would take away people’s healthcare, put them on government plans, and raise taxes.

Romanoff wins Colorado caucus Senate preference poll

As of Monday night, preliminary results from the Colorado caucus Senate preference poll showed former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff with 55% support to former Governor and former presidential candidate John Hickenlooper’s 30%. None of the three other candidates reached 10%. The caucuses took place Saturday.

The caucus preference poll is part of the process for determining who makes the June 30 primary election ballot. Denver’s 5280 magazine explains the process:There are two ways to get on the primary ballot in Colorado. First, candidates can petition for signatures. … Candidates can also choose to go through the caucus and assembly process. The ultimate goal for Senate candidates is to get enough support at the caucus (15 percent in the preference poll) to move on to the county and state assemblies. If a candidate gets at least 30 percent of the vote at the state assembly, he or she will make the June ballot.

Worth noting: Candidates can gather signatures and go through the caucus process, they don’t have to choose one or the other. However, there is some risk to doing that. If a candidate gathers enough valid signatures but fails to get at least 10 percent of the vote at the state assembly, he or she will not make the ballot.

Romanoff is going through the caucus process to reach the ballot. Hickenlooper is going through the caucus and signature process.

John Frank and Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun wrote, “The results from the Saturday caucuses are expected to give Romanoff’s overlooked campaign a jolt of momentum, but the preference poll is not a reliable predictor of which candidate will win the Democratic nomination in the June primary.” 

Turnout was around 1% of registered Democrats in the state.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed Hickenlooper shortly after he announced his Senate bid in August 2019. Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), founder of Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, endorsed Hickenlooper Monday. He also has support from NARAL.Romanoff’s list of endorsers includes several current and former state and local elected officials.

The Democratic primary winner will face Sen. Cory Gardner (R) in November. Gardner is one of two Republican senators up for re-election in a state Hillary Clinton (D) won in 2016. Three ratings outlets view the race as either Toss-up or Lean Democratic. 

McDowell endorses Valenzuela in TX-24 runoff

Jan McDowell, who placed third in the March 3 primary for Texas’ 24th Congressional District with 10% of the vote, endorsed Candace Valenzuela in the May 26 runoff. Kim Olson and Valenzuela advanced to the runoff after Olson received 40.9% of the vote to Valenzuela’s 30.4%.

McDowell was the 2018 Democratic nominee for the district. She lost to Kenny Marchant (R) 50.6% to 47.5%. Marchant is not seeking re-election.

Olson is an Air Force veteran and former member of the Weatherford school board. Valenzuela serves on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school board and has worked as a teacher.

State executives

Smith ends secretary of state campaign while Hass gets labor endorsement

Former Oregon Director of Consumer and Business Services Cameron Smith ended his campaign for secretary of state Tuesday. Smith, who resigned his state government post in order to focus on his campaign, said his path to victory had narrowed since launching his campaign in November. His withdrawal leaves three Democrats in the running: state Sens. Shemia Fagan and Mark Hass, and 2018 congressional candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

The Joint Council of Teamsters No. 37, which represents 23,000 employees across Oregon, announced its endorsement of Hass Wednesday. The announcement followed the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees’ endorsement of Fagan the previous weekend.

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

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

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

Attorney Patrick Winburn files for governor of Vermont while Holcombe announces legislative endorsements

Bennington attorney Patrick Winburn became the third Democrat to enter Vermont’s gubernatorial election Wednesday, joining Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman and former state Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe

Winburn, who is running for his first elected office, says he has self-funded $100,000 since launching his campaign and that he plans to use the funds to boost his name recognition. Winburn said he considered opioids and climate change to be the biggest threats facing the state.

On Thursday, Holcombe announced endorsements from five current and six former members of the state legislature, including state Sen. Ann Cummings, chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee. Twelve current or former members of the state legislature previously endorsed Holcombe.

The candidate filing deadline is May 28. The August 11 primary is open to all registered voters.

Legislatures

PA Rep. draws primary challenge for first time in two decades

Jennifer Leith, a nonprofit executive from Haverford, filed to run against 14-term incumbent Rep. Greg Vitali (D) in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s 166th House District. Leith filed to run for the same seat in 2018 when Vitali initially announced a U.S. House bid, though his decision to run for re-election instead led her to drop out.

Leith criticized Vitali’s vote against a bill that would have expanded the statute of limitations for childhood victims of sexual assault. Vitali defended his vote, saying, “If you could just tailor the elimination of statutes of limitations to guilty Roman Catholic priests, I’d be all for that. But the reality is that statutes of limitations protect every person in our society.”

The primary challenge will be Vitali’s first since 2000. He was elected to the Pennsylvania House in 1992. District 166 includes portions of Philadelphia.

Scanlon endorses Kane in PA Senate primary

U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-5) endorsed John Kane in the Democratic primary for District 9 in the Pennsylvania state Senate. Scanlon is the second member of Congress to endorse Kane, joining Chrissy Houlahan. Kane faces Brett Burman in the Democratic primary, with the two competing to face Sen. Tom Killion (R) in the general election.

The two candidates have split endorsements from local party officials. District 9 covers portions of Chester and Delaware counties. The Delaware County Democratic Committee endorsed Kane, while the Chester County Democratic Committee endorsed Burman.

Killion was first elected to the Senate in an April 2016 special election, which he won 57-43. He then won re-election in November of that year 51-49. 

Hagenow retirement announcement sets up contest between college students for seat

Iowa Rep. Chris Hagenow (R-19), first elected in 2008, announced that he would not seek re-election in 2020. Carter Nordman (R), a senior at Northern Iowa University, announced his intention to run for the seat. Already in the race was Nick Miller (D), a student at Drake University. Hagenow won re-election 56-41 in 2018.

Power players

“Our vision is a government that reflects the people it serves, and decision makers who genuinely and enthusiastically fight for greater opportunity and better lives for the Americans they represent. We will work for larger leadership roles for pro-choice Democratic women in our legislative bodies and executive seats so that our families can benefit from the open-minded, productive contributions that women have consistently made in office.” – EMILY’s List website 

Founded in 1985, EMILY’s List is a political action committee dedicated to electing Democratic women who support legalized abortion. “EMILY” was originally an acronym for the phrase “Early money is like yeast; it makes the dough rise,” and the organization’s first logo was based on a Fleischmann’s yeast packet. Today, the organization says, “Now we know EMILY is more than a slogan — she’s a candidate, a voter, an operative, a member.” 

EMILY’s List says it works to “recruit the strongest candidates, support campaigns that can win, study the electorate, and turn out the vote.” Click the following links to view candidates endorsed by EMILY’s List in each category:  state and local, gubernatorial, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate.

In July 2019, EMILY’s List announced its Focus 2020 initiative, a $20 million effort to target over 500 state legislative races. The organization said, “This historic investment will focus on building a pipeline of future women leaders and flipping state legislative chambers in 2020 with an eye toward redistricting in 2021, by electing pro-choice Democratic women who will pass policies that support women and families and fight back against Republican efforts to roll back women’s access to health care.”