TagHeart of the Primaries

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

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

On the news

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

On Riggleman’s defeat in VA-05

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

Tim Miller, The Bulwark, June 15, 2020

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

John Binder, Breitbart, June 14, 2020

U.S. Congress

Riggleman is third incumbent to lose nominating contest in 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump endorses Messner in Senate primary in NH

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colyer, Kansas Farm Bureau endorse Mann in KS-01

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

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

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

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

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

House Freedom Action airs ad in NC-11 runoff

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

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

The runoff is June 23.

State executives

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

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

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

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

Both polls found 17% of voters remain undecided.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The June 30 primary is open to registered Republicans only. 

2020 battleground primary recap: Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Satellite spending draws criticism in Colo. Senate District 8 primary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

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

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

ACU also publishes federal and state legislative ratings.



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

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

On the news

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

On protests and coronavirus risk

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

 

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

 

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

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, June 11, 2020

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

U.S. Congress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Booker raised $793,000 through June 3.

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

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

The primary is June 23.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFT Massachusetts endorses Markey for Senate

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

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

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

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

The primary is Sept. 1.

Carolyn Bourdeaux wins GA-07 primary outright

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

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

State executives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 battleground primary recap: Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rep. Brandon Woodard endorses Christina Haswood in Kansas House primary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

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



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 22 (June 10, 2020)

This week: Trump endorses Bennett in NC-11 runoff, McCarthy endorses Mowers in NH-01, and Utah Attorney General candidates participate in debate

On the news

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

On qualified immunity 

“Cornell Law defines qualified immunity as ‘a type of legal immunity… [that] protects a government official from lawsuits alleging that the official violated a plaintiff’s rights, only allowing suits where officials violated a “clearly established” statutory or constitutional right.’ In practice, this requirement for exact prior cases makes it impossible in most cases to sue a government official who violates your rights in civil court. … 

“It has resulted in too many such horror stories and unjust anecdotes to count. …

“It’s, of course, true that no single reform can eliminate racism or repair the structural flaws in our justice system. But within the right-leaning criminal justice reform community, a consensus has formed that eliminating qualified immunity is a great place to start.”

Brad Polumbo, The Dispatch, June 8, 2020

“[What qualified immunity is] going to cause is a flight away from serving in police duty, and what that means ultimately is … if this passes the way she described it may you’re going to actually see increases in crime rates because police officers, nobody’s going to want to be a police officer because you’re going to have some immunity problems. Instead of the department taking the immunity, it will be the individual, and nobody is going to want to put their lives and their family in that kind of harm’s away. And so that’s going to be a real problem in the future. …

I’m not sure Congress is the best place to provide a unique situation with a one-size-fits-all solution.”

U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), quoted by Breitbart, June 8, 2020

June 9 elections review

 

  • West Virginia gubernatorial: Gov. Jim Justice defeated former Secretary of Commerce Woody Thrasher, former state Del. Mike Folk, and four others to win the Republican nomination for governor in West Virginia. As of 9:30 a.m. on June 10, Justice had received 63.0% of the vote to 18.3% for H. Woody Thrasher and 12.3% for Michael Folk. No other candidate had received more than 10% of the vote. The race featured a high level of self-financing. According to campaign finance reports, Justice contributed $1.5 million to his own campaign. Thrasher and Folk contributed roughly $3.4 million and $261,000, respectively. Justice first won election to the governorship as a Democrat in 2016 with 49% of the vote to Republican Bill Cole’s 42%. He will face Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango (D) in the general election.
  • Georgia’s 7th Congressional District: Rich McCormick defeated six other candidates in the Republican primary for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. With 97% of precincts reporting, McCormick had received 55.2% of the vote to Renee Unterman’s 17.4%. No other candidate received more than 10% of the vote. Incumbent Rob Woodall (R) did not seek re-election. McCormick, who was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Club for Growth PAC, focused on his experiences as a military pilot and an emergency medicine physician, while Unterman highlighted her record in the Georgia State Senate and was endorsed by former Gov. Nathan Deal (R), Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R), and the Susan B. Anthony List. Election forecasters rate the general election a toss-up.
  • Georgia’s 9th Congressional District: Matt Gurtler and Andrew Clyde were the top two finishers in the nine-candidate Republican primary for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District and will advance to an August 11 runoff. As of 9:30 a.m. on June 10, Gurtler had received 22.4% of the vote to Clyde’s 18.6% with 97% of precincts reporting. Three other candidates—Kevin Tanner, Paul Broun, and John Wilkinson—each received more than 10% of the vote. The seat had been left open following Rep. Doug Collins’ (R) announcement that he would run for U.S. Senate rather than seek re-election. Election forecasters rate the district as solidly Republican, meaning the winner of the runoff is likely to win the general election.
  • Georgia’s 14th Congressional District: Marjorie Taylor Greene and John Cowan were the top two finishers in the Republican primary for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District and will advance to a runoff on August 11. As of 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time on June 10, Greene had received 40.7% of the vote to Cowan’s 19.8%. None of the seven other candidates had received more than 10% of the vote. Incumbent Tom Graves (R) is not seeking re-election, leaving the seat open. Election forecasters rate the district as solidly Republican, meaning the winner of the runoff is likely to win the general election.
  • Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District: As of 6:45 a.m. Pacific Time on June 10, the Republican primary in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District remained too close to call. With 70% of precincts reporting, Dan Rodimer led with 43.5% of the vote followed by Dan Schwartz with 32.6% and Mindy Robinson with 13.4%. Rodimer, a former professional wrestler, had been endorsed by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and the National Rifle Association. Schwartz, a former state treasurer, was endorsed by 2018 nominee Danny Tarkanian (R) and the Nevada Veterans Association. The winner will face incumbent Susie Lee (D). Two election forecasters rate the seat likely Democratic and a third says it leans towards Democrats.
  • South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District: State Rep. Nancy Mace defeated Kathy Landing, Chris Cox, and Brad Mole to win the Republican nomination in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Mace received 57.5 percent of the vote, above the 50% required to win without a runoff. Landing took second place with 25.9%. Mace will face incumbent Rep. Joe Cunningham (D), who is running for re-election. The 1st District is one of 30 House Districts represented by a Democrat in 2020 that voted for Donald Trump (R) in 2016. Election forecasters rate the general election a toss-up.
  • West Virginia State Senate: Seven Republican members of the state Senate faced primary challengers. State Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R) and state Sen. Sue Cline (R) were defeated in their primaries. Carmichael received 34.9% of the vote to challenger Amy Nichole Grady’s 39.1%, while Cline received 40.0% to 60.0% for challenger David Stover. 

 

U.S. Congress

Trump endorses Bennett in NC-11 runoff 

President Donald Trump endorsed Lynda Bennett in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District primary runoff

Mark Meadows (R) represented the district before resigning to serve as White House chief of staff in March. He endorsed Bennett, as did the House Freedom Fund.

Bennett faces Madison Cawthorn in the June 23 runoff. 

Bennett has campaigned on her endorsements and experience. In a campaign ad, the narrator says, “Like President Trump, Lynda built a successful business, fought through tough economies, and won.” She owns a real estate company and served as vice chairwoman of the Haywood County Republican Party. Bennett received activism training from the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups.

Cawthorn has said Bennett was picked by “Washington, D.C. insiders and political bosses” to represent the district. He argues that his youth is an asset, saying in a recent video, “We as Republicans have a generational time bomb going off inside our party. Millennials are not registering Republican. … We conservatives have a great message, but we don’t have enough messengers to reach my generation. As your congressman, I can do that.” 

Cawthorn turns 25 years old in August. He owns a real estate investment company and is a motivational speaker. He was paralyzed in a car accident at age 19.

Bennett received 23% of the primary vote to Cawthorn’s 20%. This is the first primary in the newly-drawn 11th district after North Carolina adopted a new Congressional district map in December 2019. The Mountaineer’s Kyle Perotti reported that “much of the territory Cawthorn claimed was only brought into the district after a three-judge panel approved the new Congressional district in December of last year.”

McCarthy endorses Mowers in NH-01

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) endorsed Matt Mowers in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District primary.

McCarthy said, “We need to win competitive districts like New Hampshire’s First Congressional District to win back the majority in November. That’s possible when we nominate strong grassroots campaigners like Matt Mowers who will fight tirelessly for the people of New Hampshire and join me in supporting President Trump’s agenda.”  

Mowers was a senior advisor in the State Department during the Trump administration and was executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party. Former Trump campaign senior advisor Corey Lewandowski also endorsed Mowers. 

Matt Mayberry is also running in the Sept. 8 primary. He served as vice chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party and as a city councilor and school board member in Dover. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) appointed Mayberry chairman of the New Hampshire Commission on Human Rights in 2018. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) and U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) endorsed Mayberry.

Both Mayberry and Mowers have endorsements from state legislators. 

The 30-year-old Mowers says he is running “to usher in a new generation of innovative conservative leadership.” 

Mayberry said of himself, “It’s kind of funny. … The guy who’s been involved in hundreds of New Hampshire campaigns is the outsider.” He said the 1st District general election would be the first major election featuring two openly gay candidates if he won the primary and that he would be the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress if he won in November.

Incumbent Rep. Chris Pappas (D) won in 2018 with 54% of the vote to Eddie Edwards’ (R) 45%. The 1st District changed party hands five times between 2006 and 2016, alternating between Democrat Carol Shea-Porter and Republican Frank Guinta.

Club for Growth spends $179,000 on pro-Jackson ad in TX-13

We recently reported that the Club for Growth endorsed Ronny Jackson in the primary runoff for Texas’ 13th Congressional District. The group has spent $179,000 on an ad supporting Jackson, highlighting Trump’s endorsement.

State executives

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and challenger David Leavitt debate in Salt Lake City

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Utah County Attorney David Leavitt met for a debate in Salt Lake City on June 2, where they discussed their priorities for the office, campaign finance practices, and their views on ongoing protests and demonstrations following the death of George Floyd.

Leavitt said he would wind down the use of plea bargains in favor of jury trials for criminal cases in line with his practice as Utah County Attorney. He said jury trials were better than plea bargains because they required prosecutors to prove their case and would reduce the state’s prison population. Reyes said there was not enough funding for the state to carry out a jury trial for each criminal case and that such a practice was not constitutionally required. 

Leavitt criticized Reyes for accepting campaign contributions from private businesses and the Republican Attorneys General Association, saying they threatened the integrity of the office. Reyes said his donors knew they would receive no special treatment and he had participated in a federal lawsuit against Google despite having received a contribution from the company.

The two differed in their views of the attorney general’s role in responding to the ongoing demonstrations following the death of George Floyd. Leavitt said prosecutors were too reluctant to act as a check on police and that Reyes had not done enough to oversee county prosecutors. Reyes said Leavitt’s criticism was uninformed and that he had filed multiple suits against law enforcement officers. He disagreed with Leavitt’s call for more oversight over county prosecutors and said he had received more complaints about Leavitt than any other public official.

The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only.

Candidates begin airing ads, announce endorsements in Indiana Attorney General race

Ahead of the June 20 virtual GOP convention, two of the candidates running for the Republican nomination for Indiana Attorney General unveiled endorsements from local leaders, while a third released a trio of ads.

Incumbent Curtis Hill, who was first elected in 2016, unveiled an endorsement from Elkhart City Clerk Deborah Barrett on June 3 and an endorsement from Sullivan County GOP Chairman Bill Springer on June 8. State Rep. Steve Bartels, who represents a district on the Kentucky border, endorsed Decatur County Prosecutor Nate Harter June 5.

Attorney John Westercamp released a series of ads outlining his priorities if elected. In a pair of 30-second spots released June 2 and 3, Westercamp said he would limit the scope of government and expand restrictions on abortion. A one-minute ad Westercamp began airing June 9 said his entrance into the race demonstrated leadership.

Harter, Westercamp, and former Rep. Todd Rokita are Hill’s three challengers at this year’s convention. All three say they are challenging Hill because four women accused him of sexual misconduct at a party in March 2018. Major party candidates for Indiana Attorney General are nominated at a convention rather than in primaries.

Legislatures

State Senator and conservative PAC endorse competing candidates in Kentucky House District 39

On June 5, state Sen. Tom Buford (R-22) and the Freedom’s Heritage Forum issued competing endorsements in the Kentucky House District 39 primary. 

Railroad executive Jay Corman and Jessamine County GOP chairman Matt Locket are seeking the Republican nomination on June 23. The incumbent, Rep. Russ Meyer (D), is not seeking re-election, leaving the seat open.

Sen. Buford, whose Senate District 22 encompasses all of House District 39, endorsed Corman. Buford said, “Corman has contributed to the needs of Central Kentucky and employs over 1,600 individuals.” The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce also endorsed Corman.

The Freedom’s Heritage Forum endorsed Lockett. The group says it “strive[s] to promote liberty … while supporting life, the second amendment, and traditional marriage.” Kentucky Right to Life also endorsed Lockett.

Rep. Meyer ran unopposed in 2018 but defeated Republican challengers in 2016 and 2014 with roughly 56 percent of the vote in each election. The winner of the primary will likely face Carolyn Dupont (D), the only Democrat filed to run.

U.S. Term Limits group publishes ads supporting and opposing candidates in open Kentucky House race

On June 1, U.S. Term Limits (USTL) began airing ads supporting two candidates and opposing two others in the June 23 primary for Kentucky House District 22. USTL describes itself as “the voice of the American citizen… [that] advocates for term limits at all levels of government.” 

Four Republicans—Nathan Brace, Brian Gann, Shawn McPherson, and Tim Miller—are running in the primary. The incumbent Rep. Wilson Stone (D) is not seeking re-election. 

USTL contacts and encourages state legislative candidates to sign a pledge saying he or she “will cosponsor, vote for, and defend the resolution applying for an Article V convention for the sole purpose of enacting term limits on Congress.” The group says it will promote all pledge signers through press releases, emails to supporters, and social media.

USTL launched social media ad campaigns supporting Gann and Miller, both of whom signed the pledge. At the same time, the group released ads opposing the remaining candidates, Brace and McPherson, who did not sign the pledge. Three of the four candidates commented on the pledge:

  • Gann: “While I agree that experience matters, I do not agree with career politicians.”
  • McPherson: “If elected I will always take time to research the problem … I do not ever want to paint myself into a corner.”
  • Miller: “I say term limits is what we need to help our president drain the swamp.”

 

 

The winner of the June 23 primary will likely face David Young (D), the only Democrat filed to run. In 2018, Rep. Stone won re-election with 53 percent of the vote after running unopposed in 2014 and 2012.

Power players

“Over the last 30 years, GOA has built a nationwide network of attorneys to help fight court battles in almost every state in the nation to protect gun owner rights. GOA staff and attorneys have also worked with members of Congress, state legislators and local citizens to protect gun ranges and local gun clubs from closure by overzealous government anti-gun bureaucrats.” – Gun Owners of America website

Founded in 1976, Gun Owners of America describes its mission as follows: “To preserve, protect and defend the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, including promoting and developing a greater understanding and awareness regarding the importance and benefits of firearms ownership, and conducting education and policy related to such rights.” The organization has a political action committee called Gun Owners of America, Inc. Political Victory Fund.

Gun Owners of America also has an affiliated research arm called the Gun Owners Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that says it “exists in order to educate the public about the importance of the Second Amendment and to provide legal, expert and support assistance for law-abiding individuals involved in firearms-related cases.”

To view a report of what the organization considers its top 10 accomplishments in 2019, click here. To view the group’s congressional ratings, click here



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 22 (June 10, 2020)

This week: Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez endorse Bowman while Pelosi endorses Engel in NY-16, Hickenlooper and Romanoff release first TV ads in the Colorado Senate primary, and Indiana Attorney General candidates make final arguments ahead of convention

On the news

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

On defunding the police

“Their argument, then, is not necessarily that we don’t need police officers. It’s, how we can best ensure that police officers are serving the communities they are tasked with policing?

“But that subtlety is lost in chants of ‘Defund the Police.’ And Trump, desperate for an issue to latch onto as he watches his poll numbers both nationally and in swing states tumble, will destroy any nuance in the conversation over police funding in order to paint Biden (and Democrats more broadly) as wanting to get rid of the police entirely. … 

“The political problem for Democrats is this: They are now being backed into a corner by activists who are demanding radical change. But it’s not at all clear that a majority of the country supports a policy that would defund the police. Democratic leaders need to change the conversation to be about reforming police departments and re-allocating some resources for more community building and less militarization.

“If they can’t, the call to ‘Defund the Police’ will continue to be music to Trump’s ears.”

Chris Cillizza, CNN, June 8, 2020

“The call to defund police is landing in a way it should have landed a long time ago. That’s really encouraging. … 

“What’s different now? From our point of view, for too many years, advocacy organizations were not run by people from the community. It allowed for people to make compromises in the halls of policy change that betrayed the most acute needs of the community in exchange for an expedited political victory that could then be fundraised off of. We cannot rely on Democratic Party consultants who are alienated from the community. Nothing we are demanding is impossible. We’re demanding things that are completely sensible, completely feasible, often more economically feasible. They’re just different from what some of these folks are used to.

“Too much is happening in plain sight now. It was really interesting in the last couple of days to watch mainstream news outlets covering the protests throughout the country. It seemed like they really wanted to provide a narrative that sided with the police. And the police made it impossible because over and over and over again, in city, after city, after city, the instigators and the aggressors were the police. That’s nothing new. But the surfacing of a dialog that acknowledges that is new. If you work really hard to crack open opportunities to tell the truth, it eventually works. I think we’re in a moment where that is starting to work.”

Lex Steppling, quoted by Mother Jones, June 5, 2020 

June 9 elections review

  • U.S. Senate, Georgia: As of 9:30 a.m. on June 10, this race was too close to call with 93% of precincts reporting. Jon Ossoff led the seven-candidate field with 48.6% of the vote, followed by Teresa Tomlinson with 14.8%, Sarah Riggs Amico with 13.2%, and Maya Smith with 10.3%. If Ossoff receives more than 50% of the vote, he will win the nomination outright. If not, he and the second-place finisher will advance to a runoff on August 11.

  • West Virginia gubernatorial: Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango defeated Douglas Hughes, Jody Murphy, Stephen Smith, and state Sen. Ron Stollings to win the Democratic nomination for governor of West Virginia. As of 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time on June 10, Salango had received 39.0% of the vote followed by Smith and Stollings with 33.4% and 13.5%, respectively, with 98% of precincts reporting. No other candidate received more than 10% of the vote. Salango will face incumbent Gov. Jim Justice (R) in the general election. Justice was elected in 2016 as a Democrat before switching to the Republican Party in 2017. Democrats have won every gubernatorial election in West Virginia since 2000.

 

  • Georgia’s 7th Congressional District: Carolyn Bourdeaux and Brenda Lopez Romero advanced to an August 11 runoff election in the Democratic primary for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. With 97% of precincts reporting, Bourdeaux had received 46.0% of the vote to Romero’s 14.5%. Incumbent Rob Woodall (R) did not seek re-election. In 2018, Woodall defeated Democratic nominee Bourdeaux by 433 votes — a margin of 0.15 percentage points — in the closest U.S. House race that year.

 

U.S. Congress

Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez endorse Bowman; Pelosi endorses Engel in NY-16

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Jamaal Bowman in New York’s 16th Congressional District primary. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) said she supports incumbent Elliot Engel, who was first elected in 1988. 

Sanders endorsed Bowman and five other Congressional candidates in a Medium post.

Along with her endorsement, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “This moment requires renewed and revitalized leadership across the country AND at the ballot box.”

Engel said of Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement, “This is not a dictatorship. This is a democracy. We shouldn’t have one person, from high, even though she’s a colleague of mine, think that she can anoint whoever is elected to Congress.”

The 16th District shares a boundary with the 14th District, where Ocasio-Cortez defeated incumbent Rep. Joseph Crowley in the 2018 Democratic primary. Crowley had been in office since 1999.

Pelosi said after Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement, “I firmly support Eliot Engel for Congress and I support Alexandria for Congress as well.” Pelosi said Engel has privilege as a longtime House member, “which is unique and it wouldn’t happen again. … [He is] not only the chairman of Foreign Affairs, he is a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.”

Pelosi said in September 2019 that she has a policy of endorsing Democratic incumbents.

Two other candidates are running in the primary. On June 1, Andom Ghebreghiorgis dropped out and endorsed Bowman.

Also last week, the Working Families Party and Justice Democrats announced they plan to spend $500,000 on ads and phone outreach supporting Bowman. As we reported earlier, the Working Families Party endorsed Engel in previous election cycles. 

On June 2, all 16th District primary candidates participated in an online debate. That day, a News 12 anchor tweeted a clip of Engel asking Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. for speaking time at a press event about local vandalism. Engel said, “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care.”

Afterwards, Engel said, “In the context of running for reelection, I thought it was important for people to know where I stand, that’s why I asked to speak. … I would not have tried to impose on the Borough President if I didn’t think it was important.”

Bowman said, “To say if I didn’t have a primary I wouldn’t care, it captures everything not just wrong with him but the political system.”

The primary is June 23.

Hickenlooper, Romanoff release first TV ads in the Colorado Senate primary

John Hickenlooper and Andrew Romanoff released their first TV ads in the June 30 Senate primary in Colorado. 

In his ad, Hickenlooper says:

When I was sworn in as governor, Colorado ranked 40th in the country in job creation. But together we built the number one economy in America. We did it the Colorado way, from the bottom up, and that’s what Washington needs now. Instead of handing out loans to big corporations, they should be helping small businesses stay in business.

In his ad, Romanoff says in his ad

It shouldn’t take a crisis to teach us our healthcare system is broken. If you have enough money, you can buy the best care in the world. If you’re an insurance company, you can even buy Congress. I’m Andrew Romanoff. I approve this message and I’m running for the Senate because when you’re fighting for your life, you shouldn’t have to worry about how to pay for it.

Hickenlooper was governor of Colorado from 2011 to 2019. He also sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Romanoff was a state representative from 2001 to 2009. He served two terms as speaker of the state House.

Also last week, the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission ruled that Hickenlooper violated a state gift ban law when he flew on a donor’s jet and took a limousine ride at a conference. Former Republican state House Speaker Frank McNulty filed the complaint against Hickenlooper on behalf of his nonprofit, Public Trust Institute, in 2018.

Hickenlooper has said the complaint was politically motivated and denied that his travel arrangements violated state law. Hickenlooper sought to have the hearing postponed until August. The commission held him in contempt. It will reconvene on June 12 to determine whether Hickenlooper will be sanctioned for the violations and contempt finding.

Hickenlooper campaign representative Melissa Miller said, “We fully expect the special interests who’ve exploited this process to continue to mislead Coloradans with negative attacks because they know John Hickenlooper will be an independent voice in the U.S. Senate.”

Romanoff said, “The commission’s message is clear — and Coloradans agree: no one is above the law.”

Incumbent Cory Gardner (R) is seeking re-election. He was first elected in 2014 after defeating incumbent Mark Udall (D), 48% to 46%. Gardner is one of two incumbent Republican senators running for re-election in a state Hillary Clinton (D) won in the 2016 presidential election. 

State executives

Indiana Attorney General candidates make final arguments ahead of convention

Both of the Democrats seeking the nomination for Indiana Attorney General made their case for the nomination in a televised convention preview on June 4. Democratic delegates will select either state Sen. Karen Tallian or former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel as their nominee in a virtual convention Saturday, June 13.

Tallian has represented District 4 in northwestern Indiana in the state Senate since 2004. She said her political experience gives her a better chance than Weinzapfel of winning the general election. 

Weinzapfel was Evansville’s mayor from 2004 to 2011 and was a state legislator for four years. He said his mix of private and public sector experience gave him a different perspective from Tallian or any of the four candidates seeking the Republican nomination. 

Both Tallian and Weinzapfel have said their top priority would be ending Indiana’s participation in a multistate lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. 

In an interview with the Indianapolis Star, Tallian said her other priorities would be emphasizing anti-fraud efforts, expanding legal protections for workers and employers, and reducing Indiana’s incarceration rate. 

Weinzapfel said he would focus on investigating charter schools’ finances, managing the money the state could potentially receive from a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, and investigating nursing home deaths during the coronavirus pandemic.

Major party candidates for Indiana Attorney General are nominated at a convention rather than in primaries. The winner of the Democratic nomination will be announced June 18.

People for the American Way endorses David Zuckerman for governor of Vermont

People for the American Way endorsed Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman for governor of Vermont Friday. The group says it supports what it describes as equality and civil rights.

Earlier in the week, Zuckerman, former state Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe, and attorney Patrick Winburn attended a virtual town hall hosted by Sunrise Middlebury. The three discussed the tone of politics, responses to the coronavirus pandemic, and protests following the death of George Floyd. A fourth candidate, Ralph Corbo, did not attend the event.

The Aug. 11 primary will be open to all registered voters. On the Republican side, five candidates are running, including incumbent Phil Scott (R). 

Legislatures

Ocasio-Cortez endorses Brisport in Brooklyn-area Senate primary

On June 9, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Jabari Brisport (D) in the New York Senate District 25 Democratic primary. Brisport faces Jason Salmon (D) and Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright (D-56) in the June 23 primary. 

Brisport and Salmon initially filed to run against incumbent Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-25), who had served in the state Senate since 1985. In January, Montgomery announced she would not seek re-election and endorsed Assm. Wright, who then entered the race.

In addition to Ocasio-Cortez, Brisport, a public school teacher, has received endorsements from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), state Sen. Julia Salazer (D-18), the Democratic Socialists of America NYC, and the New York Working Families Party.

Salmon, a former legislative staffer for Montgomery, received endorsements from the Public Employees Federation and United Autoworkers alongside Equality New York and the Stonewall Democrats of NYC.

Wright has received more endorsements from elected officials than her two competitors. According to her website, eight Senators and eight Assembly members have endorsed her campaign as well as U.S. Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (D).

2018 gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon endorses in N.Y. Assembly District 125 race

Actress and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon (D) endorsed Tompkins County legislator Anna Kelles (D) in the seven-way primary for Assembly District 125. 

Nixon said, “Anna Kelles has the courage and the experience to effect real change for the many, not just the few.”

Earlier this year, incumbent Rep. Barbara Lifton (D) announced she would not be seeking re-election, leaving the Assembly District 125 seat open for the first time since 2002. Assm. Lifton won re-election eight times. Her most recent contested general election was in 2016 when she defeated Herbert Masser, Jr. (R) 70-30%.

We previously reported on this primary on April 22 following the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 241 endorsement of Ithaca city alderman Seph Murtagh. In addition to Kelles and Murtagh, two other town and county officials are seeking the Democratic nomination: Cortland County legislator Beau Harbin and Dryden Town Supervisor Jason Leifer. Rep. Lifton’s legislative counsel, Jordan Lesser, is also seeking the nomination alongside community members Sujata Gibson and Lisa Hoeschele

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

Power players

“The Progressive Promise is rooted in four core principles that embody national priorities and are consistent with the values, needs and aspirations of all the American people, not just the powerful and the privileged.  They reflect a fundamental belief in government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” – Congressional Progressive Caucus website

The Congressional Progressive Caucus was founded in 1991 by six members of the U.S. House. Its current membership includes Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and 97 members of the U.S. House. The caucus lists the following four principles of its agenda, which it calls “The Progressive Promise–Fairness for All”:

  1. Fighting for economic justice and security for all;
  2. Protecting and preserving our civil rights and civil liberties;
  3. Promoting global peace and security; and
  4. Advancing environmental protection and energy independence

The caucus’ affiliated political action committee, the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC (CPC PAC), says it “has a mission of electing strong, progressive leaders to Congress who share the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC’s vision for America’s future.” To view candidates endorsed by the PAC, click here.

According to Politico, CPC PAC recently made its first independent expenditure, spending in support of Mondaire Jones in New York’s 17th Congressional District.



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

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

On the news

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

On racism in America  

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

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

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

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

Kay Coles James, Fox News, May 31, 2020

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

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

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

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

Tucker Carlson, Fox News, June 2, 2020

June 2 elections review

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

U.S. Congress

Wagle drops out of Senate primary in KS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The primary is June 23.

State executives

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott to seek re-election

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

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



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

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

On the news

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

On property destruction in protests

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

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

Steven W. Thrasher, Slate, May 30, 2020

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

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

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

John Avlon, CNN, May 31, 2020

June 2 elections review

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

U.S. Congress

Yang endorses Perelman in FL-23

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

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

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

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

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

The primary is Aug. 18.

Jones releases first TV ad in NY-17

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

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

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

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

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

State executives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer Carroll Foy launches campaign for governor of Virginia

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

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

Washington District 37 Democrats and retiring incumbent endorse competing candidates

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

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

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

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

Progressive organization endorses challenger to incumbent Washington District 5 senator

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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



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

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

On the news

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

On Biden’s comments on The Breakfast Club

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

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

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

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

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

Chauncey DeVega, Salon, May 25, 2020

 

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

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

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

Jamil Smith, Rolling Stone, May 22, 2020  

U.S. Congress

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

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

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

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

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

According to Politico:

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

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

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

Indiana Chamber of Commerce endorses McDermott in IN-01

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

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

McDermott is mayor of Hammond.

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

Some other notable endorsements in the race:

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

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

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

Greenfield, Mauro release ads in Senate primary in Iowa

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

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

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

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

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

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

State executives

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

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

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

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

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

Charleston Gazette-Mail endorses Ben Salango for Democratic gubernatorial nomination

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

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

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

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

Mark Hass concedes Oregon Secretary of State primary to Shemia Fagan

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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



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

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

On the news

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

On Trump’s tweets about Joe Scarborough

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

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

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

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

The Editors, National Review, May 26, 2020

U.S. Congress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson picks up endorsements in TX-13 runoff

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

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

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

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

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

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

The runoff is July 14.

Club for Growth Action releases opposition ads in IN-05

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

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

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

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

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

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

State executives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert endorses Spencer Cox

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

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

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

Charleston Gazette-Mail endorses Woody Thrasher for GOP gubernatorial nomination 

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

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

Albuquerque Journal endorses Red River mayor in House District 42 primary

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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



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

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

On the news

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

On federal aid to states

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Congress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The runoff is June 23.

McCarthy disputes King’s statement about committee assignment restoration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State executives

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

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

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

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

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

Second Republican removed from Arizona Corporation Commission ballot

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

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

District 4-1: 

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

District 4-2:

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

Power players

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

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

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

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



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

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

On the news

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

On Biden’s appeal to progressives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate, May 15, 2020

U.S. Congress

Two more Senate primary runoff endorsements in Texas

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

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

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

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

The runoff is July 14.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorses Nabilah Islam in GA-07

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State executives

Vermont gubernatorial candidates meet for first debate

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

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

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

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

Steve Hobbs withdraws from Washington lieutenant gubernatorial election

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Massachusetts Retirees Association endorsed Giannino on May 15. Giannino is an at-large city councilor in Revere. She was first elected in 2012 and served as city council president in 2016 and 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

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