TagHeart of the Primaries

Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 5

January 13, 2022

In this issue: Taylor drops Senate bid in Alabama, endorses Durant and several Tennessee counties opt for partisan school board elections

Taylor drops Senate bid, endorses Durant in Alabama

Jessica Taylor, a business owner who lost the 2020 Republican primary for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, ended her campaign for U.S. Senate last week and endorsed aerospace company founder and former Black Hawk pilot Mike Durant.

The Hill’s Tal Axelrod wrote, “The nominating contest is largely a race between Rep. Mo Brooks (R) and Katie Boyd Britt, the former chief of staff to retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R).” Between Brooks, Britt, and Durant, Axelrod said, “The primary represents a clash of résumés that appeal to various flanks of a fractured GOP … And with none of the three establishing themselves as an early front-runner, Alabamians are gearing up for a slog.” 

Brooks has represented Alabama’s 5th Congressional District since 2011. He ran in the special U.S. Senate election in 2017, losing in the primary. A campaign spokesman said, “Mo Brooks has consistently been rated as the most conservative member of Alabama’s Congressional delegation. … The comparison of records couldn’t be clearer. Mo Brooks is a proven conservative, with a proven record. Katie Britt is a moderate.” Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Brooks in April 2021.

Britt was most recently president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama. A campaign spokesman said, “Alabamians are ready for fresh blood and are tired of do-nothing career politicians who make running for office a business model.”

Durant’s Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Somalia in 1993, an event depicted in the film Black Hawk Down. Durant said, “For too long, career politicians who have never held a real job in their life have made poor decisions that have left Alabama families behind and put America last. I’m running to change that.” 

The filing deadline is Jan. 28 and the primary is May 24. If no candidate receives over 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held on June 21. 

Thune, Johnson running for re-election

In other recent Senate news: Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) were the last senators up for re-election in 2022 to announce their plans, both deciding to run for re-election. Six senators—five Republicans and one Democrat—aren’t seeking re-election. Three of the open Senate races—in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio—have at least one competitive rating (Toss-up, Tilt Republican, or Lean Republican) from three election forecasters.

State Sen. Coram challenges U.S. Rep. Boebert in Colorado

State Sen. Don Coram announced last week he is challenging Rep. Lauren Boebert in the Republican primary for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. Coram said, “I’m looking at our state and our nation and I’m very concerned that the 10% on the right and the 10% on the left are making all the noise and getting all the attention, and the 80% in the middle are totally ignored.”

Boebert was first elected in 2020 after defeating five-term incumbent Scott Tipton (R), who had Donald Trump’s backing, in the Republican primary 55% to 45%. Trump endorsed Boebert for re-election last month. Boebert called Coram a “self-serving, super-woke social liberal who would have a far better chance of winning the Democrat nomination.”

The primary is scheduled for June 28. Marina Zimmerman, who has worked as a crane operator and businesswoman, is also running. 

Coram was appointed in 2017 to fill a vacancy in the state Senate and was elected in 2018. Due to redistricting, Coram cannot run for re-election in the 6th Senate District because he was drawn into a district with a state senator whose term doesn’t end until 2025. 

E-PAC, group supporting GOP women, makes first Senate endorsement

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik’s E-PAC endorsed its first U.S. Senate candidate since the group launched in 2019: former state GOP Chair Jane Timken in Ohio. The group has so far endorsed 10 U.S. House candidates in 2022 elections. 

E-PAC’s website says, “In the 116th Congress, only 13 Republican women served in the House of Representatives, making up only 2.9% of Congress. E-PAC was launched after the 2018 midterm elections to increase that number by supporting top Republican female candidates in primaries across the country.” The group says it is responsible for increasing the number of Republican women in Congress to 35 in the last election cycle. 

Sixteen percent of Senate Republicans and 14% of House Republicans are women compared to 40% of House Democrats and 32% of Senate Democrats.

Stefanik was first elected to represent New York’s 21st Congressional District in 2014. She previously served as the National Republican Congressional Committee’s recruitment chair, a role she left before launching E-PAC. The NRCC does not endorse in primary elections.

Other GOP primary candidates for Senate in Ohio include Matt Dolan, Mike Gibbons, Josh Mandel, Bernie Moreno, and J.D. Vance.

Multiple Tennessee counties switch to partisan school board elections 

At least eight of the 10 largest counties in Tennessee will hold partisan primary elections for school board in 2022. Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill in November giving county parties the ability to hold partisan primary elections. Before now, school board elections were nonpartisan with candidates prohibited from identifying or campaigning with any political party. 

Davidson, Knox, Hamilton, Rutherford, Williamson, Sumner, Sullivan, and Wilson counties will hold partisan primary elections for school boards this year. 

In Williamson County, the GOP made the switch first. County GOP Chairwoman Cheryl Brown said, “If you’re running for something, if you’re running for a particular position … you should state your political stance.” The county Democratic Party opposed the switch but followed suit.  The party said in a statement, “While the WCDP firmly believes partisanship has no place in school board elections, we can’t sit idly by while Republicans choose political power and polarization over the quality of education and safety of our children.”

Shelby County, the state’s largest county and home to Memphis, will continue holding nonpartisan school board elections in 2022. County Democratic Party Chairwoman Gabby Salinas said, “All of us, regardless of political affiliation, have a vested interest in the education of our children.” County GOP Chairman Cary Vaughn said the party “see[s] no advantage or benefit in changing our protocol.”

County Democratic and Republican parties had until Dec. 10 to alert county election officials as to whether they would hold a partisan or nonpartisan primary or caucus. In counties where candidates advance from a partisan primary to the general election, party labels will appear beside candidates’ names on the general election ballot.

Click here to learn about prominent conflicts in school board elections across the country.

Mastriano enters Penn. governor’s race, Kellyanne Conway joins Corman’s staff

On Jan. 8, state Sen. Doug Mastriano announced his Republican primary bid for governor of Pennsylvania. A supporter of Trump’s challenges to the 2020 election results, Mastriano has sparred with fellow Senate Republicans over how to run the investigation he launched in July 2021 into Pennsylvania’s election results. Mastriano wanted to subpoena three counties to provide access to their voting machines as part of the investigation and said that Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman undermined his efforts.

Corman is also running in the GOP gubernatorial primary. Pennsylvania State Capital Bureau’s Candy Woodall wrote, “Corman, who is typically regarded as the most powerful Republican in Harrisburg, in August replaced Mastriano on the committee leading the election review and also removed his staff — actions that are rare from chamber leadership.” Corman said Mastriano “was only ever interested in politics and showmanship and not actually getting things done.” 

After the committee voted to subpoena personal information on all Pennsylvania voters in September, Mastriano said that “the subpoenas do not go nearly far enough to begin a full forensic audit of the 2020 election.”

On Jan. 7, Corman announced former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway would join his campaign as a pollster and special advisor. Last month, Corman’s campaign announced it would employ Poolhouse, the agency that oversaw ad production for Glenn Youngkin’s (R) successful campaign for governor of Virginia.

In addition to Mastriano and Corman, at least 13 other Republicans are running in the primary, including former U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta and Melissa Hart, state Sen. Scott Martin, and former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William McSwain. The primary is scheduled for May 17. 

Three candidates for Alabama governor have more than $1 million on hand

Three of the seven Republicans running for Alabama governor—incumbent Kay Ivey, Lynda Blanchard, and Tim James—had at least $1 million on hand as of Dec. 31, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Alabama Secretary of State.

Blanchard reported ending 2021 with $3.5 million in her campaign account after loaning her campaign $5 million in December. Ivey ended 2021 with $2.6 million. James had $1 million, including a $500,000 loan. 

In December, Blanchard spent $1.5 million, Ivey spent $466,000, and James spent $10,000.

All three candidates have since filed supplementary reports, required for individual contributions of $20,000 or more. Blanchard increased her cash-on-hand lead with a further $2.8 million loan, while Ivey reported raising an additional $170,000 and James, an additional $600,000.

None of the other four primary candidates had more than $50,000 cash on hand as of Dec. 31. 

Ivey became governor following Robert Bentley’s (R) resignation in 2017 and was elected to a full term in 2018. Ivey says her record includes boosting the state’s economy, signing legislation that increases restrictions on abortion and the teaching of critical race theory, and resisting the Biden administration. Blanchard, who served as U.S. ambassador to Slovenia from 2019 to 2021 during the Trump administration, says she is running to bring conservative leadership to state government and that she is a political outsider. James, a real estate developer who ran for governor in 2010, has criticized Ivey for supporting an increase in the state gas tax in 2019 and says he would work to outlaw same-sex marriage.

Seven Republicans have filed to run in the May 24 gubernatorial primary. The filing deadline is Jan. 28. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the primary vote, a runoff will take place June 21.

Results from Arkansas’ state Senate special GOP primary runoff 

Colby Fulfer won the special primary runoff election for state Senate District 7 in Arkansas on Jan. 11. Fulfer and Steven Unger advanced from the Dec. 14 primary as the top two vote-getters of four candidates. Fulfer had 52% of the runoff vote to Unger’s 48%.

Fulfer faces Democrat Lisa Parks in the Feb. 8 special election.
Former incumbent Lance Eads (R) resigned in October to accept a position with the group Capitol Consulting Firm. Eads was first elected in 2016 and did not face Democratic opposition in either 2016 or 2020.

Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 4

January 6, 2022

In this issue: Hogan campaigns for GOP incumbents Trump opposes and gun policy becomes issue in Georgia gubernatorial primary

Hogan seeks to counter Trump influence in GOP primaries

We wrote last month that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed different candidates in Maryland’s gubernatorial GOP primary, which Hogan can’t run in due to term limits. The endorsement conflict doesn’t stop in Hogan’s current office. Hogan is campaigning for Republican incumbents around the country who have been critical of Trump and, in some cases, who face primary challengers Trump endorsed. 

Hogan has so far fundraised for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.). Politico reported that Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Idaho Gov. Brad Little may also receive Hogan’s support.

Hogan said, “It’s crazy. We’ve got the former president going after all these really good elected Republicans, and so I’m trying to support people who I think deserve to be in office. … We’re trying to help people wherever we can, and I’m sure we’re going to be doing a lot more of it.”

Hogan held a fundraiser with Herrera Beutler in December. She was one of 10 House Republicans to vote for impeaching Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol breach. Hogan has also hosted fundraisers for Kemp. Kemp and Trump clashed on the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Trump backed challengers to both Herrera Beutler and Kemp.

Media outlets have discussed Hogan as a potential 2024 presidential contender, and Hogan hasn’t confirmed or denied that he’ll run. Politico‘s Alex Isenstadt wrote, “A Hogan 2024 bid would be decidedly uphill given Trump’s ongoing, vise-like hold over the GOP. But the governor has argued there is an opening in the party for a Trump critic.”  

Incumbents Miller, Davis face each other in redistricted IL-15

U.S. Rep. Mary Miller announced she’ll run for re-election in Illinois’ redrawn 15th Congressional District. Miller faces Rep. Rodney Davis, who represents the current 13th District, in the Republican primary. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Miller. Thirty-two of 35 county GOP chairs in the new 15th endorsed Davis.

Davis was first elected in 2012. Miller won her first term in 2020. Part of the current 15th District, which Miller represents, lies within the new 15th District. Miller’s home is in the new 12th District. Davis lives within the new 15th District. Illinois lost one congressional district following the 2020 census.

According to CNN, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) encouraged Trump to endorse Miller, while House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) asked Trump not to get involved.

The Hill‘s Tal Axelrod wrote that Davis “has supported Trump in recent years but broke from him at times, including crossing the former president and House GOP leadership in voting to create a panel to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.” Davis criticized Trump in 2016 before the presidential election and went on to co-chair Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign in Illinois. 

Davis campaign spokesman Aaron DeGroot called Miller a carpetbagger and said Davis has “been hard at work highlighting his conservative accomplishments and work with President Trump during his time in office. … Rodney is an effective conservative member of Congress and Mary is not.” 

Miller said, “My life is spent in the real world, on my small family farm with my husband Chris, where we were blessed to raise our seven children and welcome our seventeen grandchildren. I bring those values to Washington, not the other way around.” Miller is a member of the House Freedom Caucus.

The primary is scheduled for June 28.

House GOP leadership backs Chris Smith for re-election after Trump calls for primary challenger

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) is running for a 22nd term in New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District with endorsements from the highest-ranking Republicans in the House—Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), and Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.). 

Smith was one of 13 House Republicans who voted for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, which President Joe Biden (D) signed into law in November. Trump encouraged people to launch primary challenges against Smith and several other Republicans who backed the infrastructure bill. 

So far, the primary field includes Mike Blasi, an Army veteran and retired law enforcement officer, and Mike Crispi, a talk show host. Save Jersey’s Matt Rooney reported that former Trump advisor Roger Stone would direct Crispi’s campaign. 

We wrote in a previous issue about Stone’s endorsement of Martin Hyde in Florida’s 16th Congressional District primary, where Hyde is challenging eight-term incumbent Vern Buchanan. 

New Jersey’s new congressional district map places Smith’s hometown in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. Smith said he’ll move to a new house in the 4th Congressional District.  

The filing deadline is scheduled for April 4 and the primary, for June 7.

Gun policy becomes early issue in Georgia gubernatorial primary

Gun policy is in the spotlight in Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial primary, with incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp and former Sen. David Perdue both issuing statements in recent weeks.

Perdue said in a statement last month, “As governor, I’ll work with the state Legislature to finally enact constitutional carry. Georgia needs a bold leader who will make waves to get things done – not a career politician who hasn’t delivered.” 

Constitutional carry is one term (along with permitless carry) for a policy allowing people to carry a firearm without a permit. 

On Jan. 5, Kemp joined state lawmakers and the National Rifle Association to announce support for related legislation in the next legislative session. Kemp wrote in a press release, “As I said on the campaign trail in 2018, I believe the U.S. Constitution grants our citizens the right to carry a firearm without the approval of government. For law-abiding Georgians, the 2nd Amendment is their carry permit, and I look forward to working with members of the General Assembly to get Constitutional Carry across the finish line this legislative session.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote, “Georgians are currently required to have a Weapons Carry License to carry a concealed weapon. The process requires a valid Georgia ID, fingerprinting, a background check, and that the owner be at least 21 (with some exceptions).” The AJC also wrote that Kemp “endorsed constitutional carry during his first run for governor, but it’s stalled in the Legislature.”

The primary is set for May 24.

Trump endorses Dunleavy in Alaska—with a condition

Former President Trump offered a conditional endorsement of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) in the 2022 gubernatorial election

Trump wrote that his endorsement “is subject to [Dunleavy’s] non-endorsement of Senator Lisa Murkowski who has been very bad for Alaska, including losing ANWAR, perhaps the most important drilling site in the world, and much else. In other words, if Mike endorses her, which is his prerogative, my endorsement of him is null and void, and of no further force or effect!”

After the House voted to impeach Trump in 2021, Murkowski was one of seven Senate Republicans to vote that Trump was guilty of inciting an insurrection.

A spokesman for Dunleavy confirmed Dunleavy accepted Trump’s endorsement. Dunleavy wrote to a Trump assistant, “Please tell the President thank you for the endorsement. With regard to the other issue, please tell the President he has nothing to worry about.”

In other endorsement news, on Jan. 3, Trump endorsed Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R) in the state’s gubernatorial election.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick endorses candidates in five GOP state Senate primaries

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R)—who serves as president of the state Senate—has endorsed candidates in five contested GOP primaries. 

Patrick endorsed GOP primary candidates in four districts where Republican incumbents aren’t seeking re-election: Mayes Middleton (SD-11), Tan Parker (SD-12), former state Sen. Pete Flores (SD-24), and Kevin Sparks (SD-31). 

Patrick also endorsed State Rep. Phil King in SD-10, which was substantially modified when Texas enacted new state legislative districts on Oct. 25. State Sen. Beverly Powell (D) currently represents SD-10. The Dallas Morning News‘ Sami Sparber wrote that SD-10 “previously favored President Joe Biden by eight points, according to election returns. But the redrawn district would have gone for Republican Donald Trump by 16 points, a 24-point swing that likely dooms Powell’s hopes for re-election.” Powell was among a group of plaintiffs that filed a lawsuit in federal court on Nov. 3 challenging Texas’ legislative redistricting plan.

Nine of 31 Texas state Senate districts have contested Republican primaries this year, including five open races and two districts Democrats currently represent.

Patrick is himself running for re-election in 2022 and faces five challengers in the Republican primary.

Texas’ primary elections are scheduled for March 1. The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in federal district court on Dec. 6 challenging Texas’ congressional and state House redistricting plans, arguing that the state’s new districts violate the Voting Rights Act and discriminate based on race and ethnicity. The lawsuit asks the court to block the state from conducting elections using those maps, which, if granted, would likely delay Texas’ primaries.

District leaders walk out of N.D. Republican State Committee meeting

Republican National Committeewoman Lori Hinz and seven district party chairs walked out of a Republican State Committee meeting in North Dakota last month in opposition to state Party Chairman Perrie Schafer’s appointment of eight temporary district chairs. The appointments followed a new state law allowing parties to appoint temporary district chairs to fill vacancies created during redistricting.

The Dec. 18 committee meeting was held to vote on bylaws and plan 2022’s convention. District 38 Chairman Jared Hendrix—one of the seven district chairs who walked out—said the meeting’s proceedings were illegitimate: “It was not proper to conduct very important business where the members of our party in those districts did not have elected representation at that meeting.”

The Minot Daily News wrote that Schafer “later explained that a short timeframe existed to replace the 25% of chairs who were removed from their districts due to redistricting. Some districts found their own replacements, but about eight were appointed by the state party after working with the district’s elected representatives.” Schafer said, “The only districts that were not represented were the ones that walked out.”

The state committee consists of 47 district chairs and the party executive committee.

Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 4

January 6, 2022

In this issue: Retiring Rep. Sires endorses predecessor’s son and an Ocasio-Cortez staffer challenges state Assembly incumbent

Rep. Sires retires, endorses predecessor’s son

On Dec. 21, U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D) announced he would not seek re-election, setting up an open-seat race for New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District. Sires endorsed Robert Menendez Jr., son of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D), for the district. Sen. Menendez was Sires’ predecessor in the House. 

Sires said of Robert, “I think he’s got the right temperament. He’s got the intelligence. I think he’s very well liked and he comes from good stock.” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D) also endorsed Menendez. 

Belleville Mayor Michael Melham said he is considering running for the district. Other local officials are reportedly considering bids as well. Hector Oseguera (D), who lost to Sires 27% to 70% in the 2020 Democratic primary, said, “I can guarantee that the progressives will not sit out the race. Who that candidate will be, I ultimately can’t say.” 

The Cook Political Report rated the 8th District Solid Democratic for the 2022 general election. Sires has represented the 8th District since 2013 and previously represented the 13th Congressional District from 2007 until 2012, when it was eliminated after the 2010 census. 

Since Sires’ announcement, two additional House Democrats, Bobby Rush (D) and Brenda Lawrence (D), have announced their retirements. Rush represents Illinois’ 1st Congressional District, a solidly Democratic district according to The Cook Political Report. Lawrence represents Michigan’s 14th Congressional District, which was eliminated after Michigan lost a congressional seat as a result of the 2020 census. Lawrence would have been in the new 12th District, which is solidly Democratic.   

Incumbent Reps. Levin, Stevens announce plans to run in redrawn MI-11

Democratic Reps. Andy Levin and Haley Stevens announced they will run in Michigan’s redrawn 11th Congressional District. Stevens represents the current 11th District and Levin represents the current 9th District. Both assumed office in January 2019.

Roll Call‘s Stephanie Akin wrote, “Levin, the more progressive of the two, has the advantage of a well-known family name. His father Sander Levin represented the region in the House for more than three decades and his uncle Carl Levin served as a senator for even longer. Stevens, though, brings more experience running competitive campaigns after two cycles as a top GOP target.”

FiveThirtyEight says the new 11th District has a partisan lean of D+15. Under the old map, the 11th District leaned R+2 and the 9th District, D+8.

This was the first redistricting cycle in which the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission was responsible for district maps. Voters approved a 2018 constitutional amendment that transferred redistricting authority from the state legislature to an independent commission. Michigan lost one congressional district following the 2020 census.

The filing deadline is April 19, and the primary is scheduled for Aug. 2.

Former county executive files for Maryland governor as Democrat

On Dec. 20, former Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman established a campaign finance committee to run for governor as a Democrat. Neuman said, “I’m exploring a run for governor because I believe every Marylander should have access to opportunity, regardless of where their story starts.”

In 2013, Anne Arundel County officials appointed Neuman, then a Republican, to the county executive position. She ran for a full term in 2014 and lost in the Republican primary. Since leaving office, Neuman changed her party registration to Democratic.

Candidates currently seeking the Democratic nomination include former Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, and former U.S. Education Secretary John King, among others. Neuman would be the first woman to join the Democratic field.

Maryland has a divided government, with a Republican governor and Democrats holding supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature. Incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is term-limited.

Candidates have until Feb. 22 to file to run. The primary is set for June 28.

Downing drops bid for Massachusetts governor

Former state Sen. Benjamin Downing (D) suspended his gubernatorial campaign over the holiday. Downing, who represented a district in the western portion of the state for 10 years before resigning in 2017, was the first Democrat to enter the race.

In an interview with WAMC, Downing cited challenges raising funds and incumbent Charlie Baker’s (R) announcement that he would not seek re-election as reasons for suspending his campaign. Downing said that “candidates who otherwise may have chosen not to jump in will likely get in at the start of the next year.” As of Nov. 30, Downing had raised $442,000 during 2021, the third-highest fundraising total out of four declared Democrats.

Downing’s withdrawal leaves three Democrats in the running so far: nonprofit executive Danielle Allen, state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, and business owner Orlando Silva. Local political observers expect Attorney General Maura Healey (D), who had $3.3 million in cash on hand as of Nov. 30, to enter the race. 

Although Democrats represent 82.5% of the state’s legislative districts—more than any other state besides Hawaii and Rhode Island—Republicans have won six of the 10 gubernatorial elections since 1982. The last Democrat to win election as governor was Deval Patrick in 2010.

The primary is set for Sept. 20.

Ocasio-Cortez staffer challenges incumbent in N.Y. Assembly primary

Jonathan Soto, a campaign staffer for U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D), announced he will challenge state Rep. Michael Benedetto (D) in Assembly District 82. In a Jan. 3 tweet, Soto said, “Bad news: It’s the first day of school & I can’t protect my kid through a remote option bc [Benedetto] authorized mayoral control [of New York City public schools] & the DOE now ignores us. Good news: The law expires in June. I’m running to end it & bring control back to my community.”

Before his campaign, Soto had worked for Ocasio-Cortez since 2020. He also challenged Benedetto in 2020 but withdrew before election day. Soto was a community liaison and director of the Center for Faith and Community Partnerships in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s (D) administration from 2015 to 2018. 

Benedetto, in addition to serving as state representative, is an adjunct instructor at Mercy College. He was a public school teacher and coordinated a special education unit. Benedetto told The City, “I welcome Mr. Soto back into the race for the 82nd District, again. Our democracy is vibrant when all challengers who feel they can do a better job decide to put their credentials forward and run.”

Benedetto was first elected in 2004 and since at least 2010 has either run unopposed in the Democratic primary or defeated challengers with at least 80% of the vote.

In 2020, six Democratic incumbents in the New York Legislature lost in primaries. That year saw the highest number of contested Democratic legislative primaries (53) in the state since at least 2014.

Parra drops U.S. House campaign to run for state Senate, Sens. Hurtado and Caballero face off 

Former California Assemblywoman Nicole Parra (D) announced she was ending her U.S. House campaign to run for California State Senate after redistricting left the district open. Parra initially launched her campaign for California’s 21st Congressional District, which Rep. David Valadao (R) currently represents, in December 2020.

Parra said, “I was 100 percent ready to run for Congress, but when that Senate seat opened up … I know I could make an immediate impact. … I already have a lot of good bill ideas in my head, things that we can work on with different state agencies.” According to The San Joaquin Valley Sun, current Fresno Planning Commissioner and civil rights attorney Rob Fuentes (D) is also running for the district.

The Bakersfield Californian’s Sam Morgen wrote, “Most of the area is currently represented by Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, but redistricting has altered political boundaries, splitting Hurtado’s district in two. Hurtado now plans to run in the district in which she lives, the 14th District, leaving the 16th District with no incumbent.” Sen. Anna Caballero (D), who currently represents the 12th District, will also run in the 14th District in a race that Vida en el valle’s Juan Esparza Loera wrote “will pit friends against each other.” 

California completed its redistricting process on Dec. 27. Currently, Democrats hold supermajorities in the state Assembly and the state Senate. CalMatters‘ Sameea Kamal wrote, “Republicans need to flip at least five seats in the Senate, or seven in the Assembly, to end the [Democratic] supermajority … While the Democratic majority in the state Senate might shrink under the new map, Democrats’ grip of the Assembly could tighten.” 
The filing deadline for the primary is March 11. The primary is scheduled for June 7.

Two incumbent Democrats to face each other in U.S. House primary in Georgia

Incumbent Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath each won congressional districts in Georgia previously held by Republicans. McBath (6th District) is running for re-election in the newly drawn 7th District, which pits her against Bourdeaux in the Democratic primary.

Daily Kos wrote that Bourdeaux currently represents about 57% of the new 7th District, while McBath represents 12%. Bourdeaux’s portion is also more Democratic than McBath’s based on 2020’s presidential election results.

McBath said the Republican-led Legislature redrew her district because “they would like nothing more than to stop me from speaking truth to power about the gun lobby and Republican Party in Congress.” McBath worked for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense after her son was fatally shot in 2012. She defeated incumbent Rep. Karen Handel (R) 50.5% to 49.5% in 2018.  

Bourdeaux, a professor of public policy and former director of the state’s Senate Budget and Evaluation Office, won the open 7th District race in 2020. Bourdeaux said, “I’m disappointed, of course. … I have a lot of respect for Lucy McBath.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Patricia Murphy and Greg Bluestein wrote in September that “Bourdeaux drew the wrath of progressive groups — and [Stacey] Abrams allies — for joining other moderates with a stand that threatened to derail a $3.5 trillion social policy plan.” Bourdeaux joined nine other Democrats in saying she wouldn’t vote for a budget resolution needed to pass President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda unless the House first voted on an infrastructure bill the Senate passed. Bordeaux said in August, “I believe in fiscal responsibility and that we need to pay for the things that we need to invest in, and I’m willing to stand up and talk about fiscal responsibility.” 

Ultimately, Bourdeaux withdrew from the effort and voted for the resolution. The House voted on the infrastructure bill and then the Build Back Better Act last month. Bourdeaux voted in favor of both.

In August, before the new district maps were drawn, Abrams endorsed McBath’s re-election bid, saying she “has not wavered on Georgia jobs and infrastructure, and she is a stalwart champion for our kids, for our democracy and more.”

Primaries are set to take place on May 24. 

In other Georgia news, Abrams announced on Dec. 1 that she is running for governor again. Current Gov. Brian Kemp (R) defeated Abrams 50% to 49% in 2018.

This story appeared in a Dec. 2 edition of The Heart of the Primaries, Ballotpedia’s newsletter capturing stories related to conflicts within each major party. Click here to see more stories from that edition and to find out how to subscribe.

Additional reading:

Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 1

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

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

Click here to follow developments on the Republican side. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

State, county Democratic Party conflict in Nevada affecting campaigns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James, Williams enter New York gubernatorial primary

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

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

Here’s some early messaging from the three candidates:

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

The primary is scheduled for June 28.

Third state lawmaker joins Democratic primary for Wisconsin lt. governor

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

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

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

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

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

Beto O’Rourke to run for governor of Texas

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

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

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

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

The NY state legislators facing primary challenges (so far)

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

The following incumbents have challengers:

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

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

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

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

Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 1

November 18, 2021

Welcome to the first edition of the 2022 election cycle’s The Heart of the Primaries!

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

Click here to follow developments on the Democratic side. 

Where Trump has endorsed challengers to GOP incumbents so far

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump endorsement follows conflict between Little and McGeachin in Idaho

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

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

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

The primary is scheduled for May 17.

Massachusetts Republican Party conflict manifests in governor’s race

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

Baker recently called himself a “Bill Weld Republican,” referring to the former Republican governor who was Gary Johnson’s vice presidential running mate on the Libertarian ticket in 2016 and who ran for president in 2020 as a Republican.

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

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

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

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

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

Three candidates running in primary against Texas AG Paxton

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

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

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

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

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

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

Redistricting shapes N.C. Senate district candidate field

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the news

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

On 2024:

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

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

Pat Buchanan, Newsmax TV, Aug. 29, 2020


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

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

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

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

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

“This contrast with Democrats is a GOP commonplace. …

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Congress

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

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

The Concord Monitor’s Ethan DeWitt wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

Previewing New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District Republican primary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State legislatures

Race recap: Kansas’ state legislative elections

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the news

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

On whether the presidential race is tightening:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

George Packer, The Atlantic, Aug. 28, 2020

Election results

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

State executives

Previewing New Hampshire’s gubernatorial primary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previewing New Hampshire’s Executive Council District 2 primary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the news

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

On President Trump’s second-term agenda

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

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

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

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

Steve Hilton, Fox News, Aug. 24, 2020


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


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


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


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


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

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

Election results

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

U.S. Congress

Endorsements for Mayberry, Mowers in NH-01

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Mayberry:

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

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

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

Matt Mowers:

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

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

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

Gonzales wins TX-23 primary runoff following recount

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

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

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

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

State executives

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu leads primary challenger in fundraising

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

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

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

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

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

Race recap: Governor of Missouri

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

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

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

On the news

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

On former Kansas House candidate, Aaron Coleman (D)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Aug. 21, 2020


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

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

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

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

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


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

Megan Garber, The Atlantic, Aug. 25, 2020

U.S. Congress

Pelosi endorses Kennedy against Markey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The primary is Sept. 1.

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

Reeves endorses Strickland over Doglio in WA-10

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

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

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

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

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

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

State executives

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

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

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

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

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

Race recap: Governor of Vermont

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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