TagHeart of the Primaries

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

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

On the news

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

On college football

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

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

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

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

“Let’s play some football this fall.”

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

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

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

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

Jim Geraghty, National Review, Aug. 13, 2020

Election results

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Congress

Bolduc on the air in Senate primary in NH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Club for Growth ad opposes Bice ahead of runoff

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

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

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

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

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

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

State executives

New Hampshire Republicans split endorsements between Executive Council candidates

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

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

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

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

Race recap: Utah Attorney General

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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



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

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

On the news

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

On Biden Republicans

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Branko Marcetic, Jacobin, Aug. 17, 2020

Election results

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

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

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

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

U.S. Congress

Cavell drops out, endorses Mermell in MA-04

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Auchincloss was second in fundraising with $1.4 million.

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

The Intercept questions allegations against Morse in MA-01 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The primary is Sept. 1.

State executives

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

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

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

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

When asked about his priorities, DePalo said: 

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

In response to the same question, Rafferty said:

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

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

Feltes, Volinsky launch first television ads

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The primary is Sept. 1.

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

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



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

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

On the news

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

On Trump’s coronavirus executive orders

 

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

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

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

Ari Flesicher, Fox News, Aug. 10, 2020

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

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

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

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

Election results

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

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

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

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

U.S. Congress

Georgia United Victory spends $6.5 million supporting Loeffler in GA

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

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

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

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

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

Three election forecasters rate the election Lean Republican.

Gaetz endorses Spano challenger Franklin in FL-15

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

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

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

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

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

State executives

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

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

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

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

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

Convention recap: Indiana Attorney General

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

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



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

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

On the news

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

On the National Rifle Association lawsuit in N.Y.

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

Election results

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Congress

Working Families Party endorses Markey, Schiff endorses Kennedy

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

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

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

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

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

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

The primary is Sept. 1.

Local Sunrise coalition retracts Morse endorsement in MA-01

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

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

Morse said in a statement,

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

 

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

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

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

The primary is Sept. 1.

State executives

New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate Dan Feltes releases energy plan

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

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

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

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

Race recap: Governor of Montana

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

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

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

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

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

Legislatures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

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



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 29 (August 5, 2020)

This week: Jake LaTurner defeats incumbent Rep. Steve Watkins, Marshall wins Kansas Senate nomination over Kobach, Hamilton, and Collins launches TV ad against Loeffler in Georgia.

Election results

Here are some key primary results from Aug. 4.

  • United States Senate, Kansas: Roger Marshall defeated Kris Kobach, Bob Hamilton, and eight others. Marshall received 40% of the vote followed by Kobach and Hamilton with 26% and 19%, respectively. No other candidate received over 10% of the vote. Incumbent Pat Roberts (R), who was first elected in 1996, is not seeking re-election. The last time Kansas had an open Senate seat was in 2010.
  • Kansas’ 1st Congressional District: Tracey Mann won. He received 54% of the vote to Bill Clifford’s 33%. Incumbent Rep. Roger Marshall (R) is running for U.S. Senate, leaving this safe Republican seat open. 
  • Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District: Jake LaTurner won with 49% of the vote to incumbent Steve Watkins’ 34% and Dennis Taylor’s 17%. Watkins and William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) were the sixth and seventh incumbent representatives defeated in a primary in 2020. Watkins was first elected in 2018, defeating Paul Davis (D) by less than 1 percentage point. 
  • On July 14, Watkins was charged with voter fraud, having used the address of a UPS store on his voter registration form. Watkins said he mistakenly used his mailing address instead of his residential address and that the charges were politically motivated. 
  • Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District: Amanda Adkins won with 31% of the vote, defeating Sara Hart Weir (23%) and Adrienne Vallejo Foster (20%). Adkins will face incumbent Sharice Davids (D) and Steve Hohe (L) in the general. Davids was first elected in 2018 after challenging and defeating incumbent Kevin Yoder (R), who had represented the 3rd District since 2011. 
  • Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District: Peter Meijer won with 50% of the vote and 51% of precincts reporting. Lynn Afendoulis received 26% and Tom Norton received 16%. The seat was left open after incumbent Justin Amash joined the Libertarian Party and decided not to pursue a third-party candidacy. 
  • Michigan’s 10th Congressional District: With 80% of precincts reporting, Lisa McClain led with 41% of the vote, followed by Shane Hernandez with 38% and Doug Slocum with 21%. Incumbent Paul Mitchell (R) did not seek re-election, leaving this safe Republican seat open. 
  • Missouri governor: Incumbent Mike Parson won the primary with 75% of the vote. Four candidates ran. 
  • Washington governor, top-two primary: Incumbent Jay Inslee (D) and Loren Culp (R) were the top two finishers among a field of 36 candidates and will compete in the general election. With half of precincts reporting, Inslee received 52% of the vote and Culp received 17%.
  • United States Senate, Arizona: Incumbent Martha McSally won with 76% of the vote, followed by Daniel McCarthy with 24%. Sean Lyons, a write-in candidate, also ran. As of 9:55 a.m. Eastern Time, write-in vote totals had not yet been reported. McSally will face Mark Kelly (D) in the general election. Both candidates have raised over $40 million for their respective campaigns as of mid-July.
  • Kansas State Senate: Ten Republican incumbents faced primary challengers. Six incumbents were defeated, three won, and one race remains too close to call. High Plains Public Radio reported that “Control of the Kansas Legislature could turn on dozens of down-ballot races … in which many of the contests … pit conservative Republicans against moderate incumbents.”
  • Arizona State Senate: Wendy Rogers defeated incumbent Sylvia Allen in Senate District 6. Rogers received 59% of the vote to Allen’s 41%. We covered this primary on July 29 after Allen received an endorsement from the Gila County GOP, which does not usually weigh in on primaries. Both candidates were opposed and supported by satellite spending totaling over $300,000.
  • Sheriff, Maricopa County, Arizona: Jerry Sheridan leads former Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the Republican primary, 37% to 36%. Arpaio lost his 2016 re-election bid to Democrat and current incumbent Paul Penzone. Sheridan was chief deputy under Arpaio. In July 2017, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt when a judge ruled that he had violated a court order requiring him to stop detaining people suspected of being in the country illegally without reasonable suspicion that they had committed a crime. In August 2017, President Donald Trump (R) pardoned Arpaio.

On the news

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

On voting by mail

“We have also seen that voting by mail can slow the counting of votes. Particularly in close races, this sometimes makes it impossible to declare a result on election night. Occasionally, as some primary races have shown us this year, it can take days or even weeks. But the fact that results take longer does not mean those results are tainted. The work of counting mail-in votes, and especially of verifying signatures and resolving disputes, can take time, but this is precisely the work of assuring that results are legitimate and reliable.

“It’s essential that public officials help the American public understand this in advance of the fall election, to help voters see that the fact that results may not be available within hours doesn’t mean the results aren’t reliable.”

Yuval Levin, National Review, July 30, 2020

“Americans should insist on their right to vote in-person in their polling places in November, where they can be sure their ballots are safely received and counted.

 

“No one disputes that those most at risk from the coronavirus pandemic may want to vote by absentee ballot. But as the New York Times correctly said back in 2012, ‘votes cast by mail are less likely to be counted, more likely to be compromised and more likely to be contested than those cast in a voting booth.’

 

“That assessment is just as true today as it was eight years ago. Voters should not be forced to deal with the problems that massive voting by mail would create.”

Hans von Spakovsky, Fox News, July 30, 2020

U.S. Congress

Collins’ first TV ad criticizes Loeffler on stock sales, wealth

Doug Collins’ first TV ad criticizes incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) over stock sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The ad says Loeffler is using her family fortune to attack Collins and “high-priced lawyers to help her get away with” her stock transactions.

In March, media outlets began reporting that Loeffler and her husband, Jeff Sprecher, sold $3 million in stocks at the beginning of the year following a briefing for senators on COVID-19 that Loeffler attended. Financial disclosures released in April showed more than $18 million in stock sales on Loeffler’s behalf from mid-February to mid-March. Loeffler denied wrongdoing, saying in March, “There is a range of different decisions made every day with regard to my savings and 401(k) portfolios that I am not involved in.” 

Loeffler launched a $4 million ad campaign in May defending herself against criticisms around the stock sales. The ads say the allegations of wrongdoing are lies. The ads also highlight $1 million Loeffler donated to a hospital and the use of her personal plane to bring home four Georgians stranded on a cruise ship.

Loeffler and Collins are among 21 candidates running in the all-party special election on Nov. 3—six Republicans, eight Democrats, five independents, a Green Party candidate, and a Libertarian. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held Jan. 5, 2021. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler to the Senate seat after Johnny Isakson (R) resigned in December. 

Six primary candidates have filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, designed to elicit insightful and thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. Click on candidates’ names below to read their responses.

If you’d like to learn more about the survey, or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here.

Club for Growth spends $2.4 million supporting Donalds, opposing Askar in FL-19

Club for Growth Action has spent $1.4 million supporting Byron Donalds and $937,000 opposing Casey Askar in Florida’s 19th Congressional District Republican primary

The group has released ads calling Donalds a true conservative who has fought for lower taxes and stands with police. The group’s ads say Askar donated to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and not Donald Trump’s.

Donalds has served in the Florida House of Representatives since 2016. Askar is a franchisee for Dunkin’ Donuts, Church’s Chicken, and other businesses. They are among nine candidates running in the primary. Incumbent Francis Rooney (R) is retiring, leaving this safe Republican district open.

Most other satellite spending in the race has surrounded Dane Eagle, who has served in the state House since 2012. Conservative Outsider PAC spent $251,000 opposing him, and Concerned Conservatives Inc. spent $167,000 supporting him.

Six primary candidates submitted responses to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. To read their responses, click on candidates’ names below. 

The primary is Aug. 18.

State executives

Riggleman considers independent gubernatorial run in 2021 after Republican primary defeat

Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) said he is considering running for governor of Virginia in 2021 as an independent candidate. Riggleman lost his re-election bid for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District in June. Bob Good (R), a former member of the Campbell County Board of Supervisors, defeated him at the Republican Party’s district convention by a margin of 16 points.

“The Virginia Republican Party is so broken. Maybe it is time for a third-party run,” Riggleman said in an interview. He added that he would decide by September or October.

Former Virginia State House Speaker Kirk Cox (R) also announced this week that he was looking at joining the race. Cox would join state Sen. Amanda Chase (R), who has already declared her candidacy. 

Virginia is the only state to prevent governors from serving consecutive terms, meaning the office is open in every election year. The gubernatorial election will take place 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. Except for the 2013 election, every Virginia gubernatorial race since 1973 has been won by the party that lost the previous year’s presidential election.

Legislatures

*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Alaska AFL-CIO, former challenger encourage voters to support Sen. Cathy Giessel (R) in Senate District N primary

On Aug. 2, Must Read Alaska’s Suzanne Downing reported that the Alaska AFL-CIO, headed by Vince Beltrami (I), has been conducting door knocking and literature drops encouraging voters to request a Republican ballot and support Senate President Cathy Giessel (R) in the Senate District N primary.

Beltrami challenged Giessel in the district’s 2016 general election. Giessel received 52% of the vote to Beltrami’s 48%. This year, Giessel faces a primary challenge from Roger Holland (R), a state Department of Transportation employee and Coast Guard reservist.

The contest between Giessel and Holland has centered on Alaska’s Permanent Fund dividends (PDF), a yearly dividend paid out to Alaska residents. In December 2019, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s (R) budget proposed setting the dividend at nearly $3,000 per person. Dunleavy would have used state savings to supplement the payment.

Giessel opposed the plan, saying, “Should we institute an income tax, even a statewide sales tax, for the sole purpose of paying a very large dividend?” She recommended the state modernize its formulas used to calculate the PFD rather than using savings. The 2020 PFD ultimately paid out at $992 per recipient.

On his campaign website, Holland wrote, “Now is not the time to take PFD funds from Alaskans to allow continued irresponsible spending by state government.” He said, “proposed changes should be studied by the experts and put before the people for a vote.”

The AFL-CIO is also distributing materials encouraging voters to support Rep. Chuck Kopp (R-24) in his House District 24 primary against challenger Tom McKay, which we covered on July 29.

Candidates participate in forum for open Wyoming Senate District 18 seat

On July 23, the Park County Republican Women hosted a candidate forum for the upcoming Aug. 18 primary in Wyoming’s Senate District 18. Four candidates—Stefanie Bell, Tim French, Richard Jones, and state Rep. David Northrup—are running. Incumbent Sen. Henry Coe (R-08) is not seeking re-election, leaving the seat open for the first time since he took office in 1989.

Each of the four candidates has held or currently holds a public office. Bell is a member of the Park County School District Board of Trustees, a position she has held for 20 years. French served as a Park County Commissioner from 2000 to 2018. Jones served on the Planning and Zoning Boards for the City of Cody and Park County. Northrup has represented House District 50 since 2013.

The forum’s first question asked candidates whether they supported increases in a state income tax, corporate income tax, or sales tax. Currently, Wyoming does not have a personal income or corporate income tax. 

Bell and Jones said they generally oppose tax increases and instead suggested the state take a closer look at spending and efficiencies. Bell said the budget should be simplified so more citizens can weigh in each year. Jones went into greater detail in his Candidate Connection survey, saying, “New taxes and fees may be needed but should have the approval of the voters not just imposed by legislation.”

French said he opposed raising any taxes, citing the economic conditions associated with the coronavirus pandemic. “What are you gonna tell those people,” French said, “‘I want you to cut this out of your life,’ ‘I need you to cut this’? They’re already struggling, what are they supposed to cut?”

Northrup also mentioned the economy. He said financial reserves could be used to balance the budget over the upcoming two years, but the state needed to have a longer-term strategy. “If we blow all of our … savings right off the bat trying to figure out how to get through this, then what?” Northrup said one option to explore would be an optional penny sales tax with a sunset provision.

Power players

“The NRRT focuses on the unique legal and data demands of redistricting and coordinates a nationwide redistricting strategy with the Republican Party’s national and state committees and conservative organizations around the country.” – National Republican Redistricting Trust website

Launched in 2017 in response to the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, the National Republican Redistricting Trust (NRTT) says it aims to position Republicans favorably for redistricting through litigation and data analysis. Adam Kincaid acts as executive director, and in 2019 former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was brought on as financial director.

The NRRT has previously said that it planned to raise $35 million by 2020. In May 2020, the organization filed paperwork to establish the National Republican Redistricting PAC. Kincaid told The Hill that this “would give his group access to small-dollar donors who are increasingly crucial to political success.”



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 28 (July 29, 2020)

This week: Sen. Pat Roberts endorses Roger Marshall, Hagerty and Sethi line up support in Tennessee Senate contest, and Vermont Republicans hold first gubernatorial debate

On the news

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

On the Silent Majority

“Trump announced that Bill Stepien, a longtime aide, would be his new reelection campaign manager and that his outgoing campaign manager, Parscale, would remain a senior adviser to the campaign focused on digital and data strategies.

 

“I think we can take this as affirmation that the Trump campaign does not believe that it is on track to win in a landslide, and that all of the public polling is wildly wrong.

 

“Are there ‘secret Trump voters’ out there, Americans who are certain to vote for him but unwilling to say so to a pollster? Sure. I don’t know how many there are, and what percentage of the electorate they are. If they’re not close to ten percent, Trump’s in deep trouble. The available polling shows Trump down by a lot in states he won last time around — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida. When you say this, Trump supporters scoff that their man won states he was trailing last time, which is true — but he didn’t jump ten points on Election Day. Pollsters have attempted to correct their errors in sampling from the 2016 cycle. It’s worth noting that Nate Silver crunched the numbers and concluded, ‘the 2017-19 cycle was one of the most accurate on record for polling.’”

Jim Geraghty, National Review, July 16, 2020

“As we saw in 2016 … the reluctance of right-of-center voters to argue with puffed-up progressives simply meant they wanted to avoid shaming and social ostracism. They kept their peace until it really mattered — when they reached the voting booth. That’s the beauty of the secret ballot — people who decline to be bullied by ‘strong liberals’ can make their voices heard loud and clear in November. According to the [July 22] Cato survey, the number of people choosing this path is far larger than it was in 2016. Moreover, they span the entire demographic spectrum …

“Trump’s silent majority is real, and it is much larger than it was four years ago. What should scare the pants off any sentient Democrat is the number of Latinos (65 percent) and black Americans (49 percent) who self-censor. For them, there is no risk of social ostracism for supporting Biden or any other Democrat. The only plausible reason for their reticence is support for Trump. The president is about to make history with the magnitude of his victory and, more importantly, who will vote for him.”

David Catron, The American Spectator, July 24, 2020

U.S. Congress

Roberts endorses, groups spend, in Senate primary in Kansas

Sen. Pat Roberts (R) endorsed Roger Marshall in the Senate primary in Kansas. Roberts was first elected to the seat in 1996 and is retiring.

Marshall’s other endorsers include National Right to Life and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has endorsements from the National Association for Gun Rights, the National Border Patrol Council, and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

Open Secrets reports $9.3 million in satellite spending on the race. More than half has come in recent weeks. Kelly Arnold, a former Kansas Republican Party chairman, said, “I am just shocked about the amount of outside money. … These are numbers that you normally would see in a general election where it’s very competitive, and the national Democrats and national Republicans are battling it out in the state.”

Of the $9.3 million spent, $4.4 million went to activities opposing Marshall and $2.5 million went to activities opposing Kobach. Some recent expenditures:

  • The super PAC Sunflower State is spending more than $4 million on ads. Media outlets wrote that the group has Democratic connections. Politico’s James Arkin wrote that one of the group’s ads was “engineered to drive conservative voters toward Kobach. A narrator in the ad calls Kobach ‘too conservative’ because he ‘won’t compromise’ on building President Donald Trump’s border wall or on taking a harsher stance on relations with China. By contrast, the ad labels Marshall a ‘phony politician’ who is ‘soft on Trump.'” 
  • Plains PAC said it would spend $3 million on a television, radio, and online ad campaign criticizing Kobach.
  • The Senate Leadership Fund booked $1.2 million in airtime for an ad campaign supporting Marshall.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce began a $400,000 ad campaign supporting Marshall on July 13.
  • Free Forever PAC spent $365,000 on an ad supporting Kobach.

Click here for a compilation of satellite group ads.

Click here for a compilation of candidates’ campaign ads.

Eleven candidates are running in the Aug. 4 primary. Three election forecasters rate the general election Lean Republican or Likely Republican.

Charges against Watkins a focal point of KS-02 primary

On July 14, Rep. Steve Watkins (R) of Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District was charged with three felony counts and one misdemeanor count related to using an incorrect address on his voter registration form.

Watkins said he accidentally listed his mailing address as opposed to his residential address and corrected the error when he realized it. On July 17, Watkins said he was temporarily resigning his House committee memberships. House Republicans require any member charged with a felony carrying a sentence of two or more years to resign committee membership pending the charges.

Watkins, state Treasurer Jacob LaTurner, and former Kansas Secretary of Labor Dennis Taylor are running in the Aug. 4 primary.

LaTurner released an ad in which a narrator calls Watkins a fraud and calls LaTurner an honest conservative. The narrator says LaTurner would “bring integrity back to Congress.”

Watkins released an ad in which a narrator refers to the charges as a witch hunt and LaTurner as a swamp creature. The ad compares the charges against Watkins to the impeachment effort against President Donald Trump (R). It also says the district attorney who filed the charges shares a consultant with LaTurner. 

Kansas for Life switched from endorsing both Watkins and LaTurner to only endorsing LaTurner. Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kans.) endorsed LaTurner, saying, “Kansans deserve the best representation in Congress and Steve Watkins’ actions have unfortunately put this seat in danger of being handed over to a Nancy Pelosi liberal who doesn’t represent our Kansas values.”

Watkins’ endorsers include the National Rifle Association, National Right to Life, and the National Federation of Independent Business. The Kansas Farm Bureau endorsed LaTurner.

The Cook Political Report changed its general election race rating from Likely Republican to Lean Republican following the charges. Two other outlets see the contest as Solid Republican or Likely Republican. In 2018, Watkins defeated Paul Davis (D) 47.6% to 46.8%.

Blackburn endorses Hagerty, Paul appears in pro-Sethi ad in Senate race in TN

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) endorsed Bill Hagerty for the Senate seat held by Lamar Alexander (R). Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) appeared in an ad supporting Manni Sethi. 

Alexander was first elected in 2002 and is retiring. 

Blackburn said, “I need a true Tennessee conservative to stand with me to protect our Tennessee values.” She said Sethi had defended Obamacare and donated to ActBlue, an online fundraising platform for Democratic campaigns and progressive groups.

A Protect Freedom PAC ad features Paul saying, “Tennessee is too conservative a state to keep sending Democrats in Republican clothing to represent Tennessee. Manni Sethi is the real deal.” 

Other satellite groups and the candidates themselves have released ads recently. The group Standing with Conservatives released an ad criticizing Sethi’s donations and saying he isn’t a Tennessee conservative. Conservative Outsider PAC released an ad saying Hagerty backs Romney, who, according to the ad, betrayed conservatives by supporting Trump’s impeachment.

A recent Hagerty ad criticizes Sethi by saying he is friends with Tom Perriello, a Democrat who ran for governor of Virginia in 2017. A Sethi ad features his wife defending Sethi against the Democratic donation line of criticism, saying she donated $50 12 years ago. She says Hagerty gave Romney and Al Gore over $100,000.

Hagerty served as ambassador to Japan from 2017 to 2019. Sethi is an orthopedic trauma surgeon. 

Fifteen candidates are running in the Aug. 6 primary.

State executives

Vermont Republicans hold first gubernatorial debate

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and all four primary challengers participated in their first debate July 22, discussing Scott’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and his style of governance.

Scott, who is seeking election to a third two-year term, said he had led an effective pandemic response and was seeking re-election in order to continue to manage Vermont’s economic recovery.

Each of Scott’s challengers said his response to the coronavirus pandemic was too drastic and damaged the state’s economy. Scott said he was proud of Vermont’s response to the pandemic, saying it had a low number of positive cases both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the population.

Douglas Cavett, a former educator, said he was running to correct what he described as injustices in Vermont’s criminal justice system, using his conviction on a charge of aggravated assault of a minor as an example. He said the charges against him were fabricated and evidence of a broader problem in the system.

John Klar, an attorney and farmer who is running alongside a slate of candidates for other state offices, including the state legislature. Klar says he is running because Scott supports policies he says are out of touch with Vermont Republicans, mentioning firearms regulations and abortion as areas of specific disagreement.

Bernard Peters, a former employee of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, said he was concerned about Scott’s stance on firearms. Peters said Scott’s decision to sign a bill imposing new regulations on firearms in 2018 amounted to signing away Vermonters’ constitutional rights. Scott said as a gun owner, he did not feel as if his constitutional rights had been infringed and he preferred action to inaction.

Emily Peyton, a hemp farmer who earlier ran for governor in 2012, 2014, and 2018, said she was running to limit the state government’s power. She said Scott’s response to the coronavirus pandemic represented an overextension of the state government’s power.

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

Race recap: Governor of Utah

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

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) won the Republican nomination for governor of Utah in a primary on June 30, receiving 36.1% of the vote to second-place candidate Jon Huntsman’s (R) 34.9%. Huntsman earlier served as governor for four years before resigning to serve as ambassador to China under President Barack Obama (D).

Two other candidates advanced to the primary: former state House Speaker Greg Hughes (R) and former state GOP chairman Thomas Wright (R). Up to two candidates could earn a spot on the ballot if they were among the top finishers at the state party convention’s nominating vote. An unlimited number of candidates could win a spot on the ballot by submitting nominating petitions containing the signatures of 28,000 registered Republicans. Four additional candidates did not make it onto the ballot.

Cox, who has served as lieutenant governor since 2013, said he was running because he believes Utah has a bright future and that he would focus on managing the state’s economic recovery. Huntsman said his past experience as governor would make him a better leader in a time of crisis.

Cox faces University of Utah law professor Chris Peterson (D) as well as Gregory Duerden (Independent American Party of Utah), Daniel Rhead Cottam (L), and Richard Whitney (I) in the general election. Republicans have won each of the past 10 gubernatorial elections in Utah, the GOP’s longest ongoing winning streak nationwide.

Legislatures

The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Alaska Family Action announces it will not endorse in House District 24 primary featuring incumbent citing power-sharing agreement

On July 25, Alaska Family Action (AFA) announced it would not endorse incumbent Rep. Chuck Kopp (R-24) in the 2020 primary. 

AFA is a branch of the Alaska Family Council, which operates to “inspire biblical leadership” and “to see an Alaska where families thrive, religious freedom flourishes, life is cherished, and God is honored,” according to the group’s website.

AFA’s decision not to endorse Kopp is a break from 2018, when it supported his candidacy in that year’s Republican primary. 

Kopp 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 Kopp and seven other Republican representatives created a power-sharing agreement with Democratic members to establish a bipartisan majority. 

The AFA wrote, “This bi-partisan majority is dominated by progressive liberals, and they have successfully blocked virtually all attempts to advance pro-life and pro-family legislation.” The announcement went on to say, “The policy issues that are most crucial to Alaska Family Action are routinely assigned to FOUR key committees: Health & Social Services, Education, Judiciary, and State Affairs. What do all these committees have in common? They’re all chaired by progressive lawmakers who are endorsed and bankrolled by Planned Parenthood.”

As part of the power-sharing agreement, Democrats were to lead six of the ten standing committees, including the four listed above. Three committees have bipartisan co-chairs. Kopp chairs the Rules Committee, which controls the flow of legislation to the floor.

On his campaign website, Kopp says he is “a proven and effective leader who values all Alaskans and will keep our legislature focused on issues that matter.” He won the 2018 primary with 70.5% of the vote. AFA has not endorsed his Aug. 18 primary opponent Thomas McKay (R).

Gila County GOP launches rare opposition ads against challenger in Arizona’s Senate District 6 primary

On July 24, the White Mountain Independent’s Peter Aleshire reported that the Gila County GOP launched ads and messaging opposing Wendy Rogers (R) and supporting incumbent Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-06) in Arizona’s Senate District 6 Republican primary. Aleshire wrote, “The Gila County Republicans normally don’t take a position in a party primary. However, … the committee considered Rogers such a flawed candidate that she might lose in the general election.” 

Rogers, an Air Force veteran and owner of a home inspection business, is the only candidate challenging Allen in the primary. 

The Gila County GOP ads claim, in part, that Rogers lives at a home owned in Tempe outside of the district rather than the Flagstaff mobile home listed as her address. In a Facebook post, Allen wrote, “That’s a direct violation of tax law and residency requirements,” adding, “She doesn’t even go here! So how can she accurately represent our district and our issues?”

Eric Frizzell, Rogers’ Fake News Response Director, said, “This is nothing but a bunch of losers trying to dig up fake dirt on Wendy,” adding that Rogers only visits her Tempe home to be with grandchildren.

Rogers leads Allen in fundraising, reporting $551,000 raised with $100,000 cash on hand. Allen has raised $127,000 with $16,000 available. Both candidates have been targeted and supported by satellite spending. Arizona’s campaign finance reports show that groups have spent $118,000 supporting Rogers and $86,000 in opposition. $93,000 has been spent supporting Allen with $131,000 spent in opposition.

Rogers has sought elected office five times, including four runs for U.S. House, twice in District 9 and twice in District 1. Most recently, Rogers ran against incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-01), receiving 46% of the vote to O’Halleran’s 54%. Allen currently serves as President Pro Tempore of the Senate. She was first elected to represent District 6 in 2014. She previously represented Senate District 5 from 2008 to 2013.

Kansas City Star endorses incumbent Skubal in Kansas Senate District 11 primary

On July 24, the Kansas City Star endorsed Sen. John Skubal (R-11) in the Kansas Senate District 11 primary, calling him “a solid, moderate voice in the Kansas Senate.” Skubal, first elected to the seat in 2016, faces a primary challenge from state Rep. Kellie Warren (R-28) on Aug. 4. The editorial board wrote, “the policy differences between the candidates are not subtle. But the starkest contrast between them is in how they see COVID-19, and what they think we should do about it.”

On the usage of masks, Skubal said “The science says that we should wear a mask … We’re not just protecting ourselves, we’re protecting others.” Warren said, “the science really hasn’t even been that clear,” adding, “the [Center for Disease Control] first said, don’t wear masks, you don’t need them.” The candidates vary on other issues like Medicaid expansion, which Skubal supports and Warren opposes. 

We previously covered this primary on April 8 following Warren’s announcement of her candidacy. This will be Warren’s second contested primary against an incumbent Republican. She was first elected to the state House in 2018 after defeating incumbent Rep. Joy Koesten 58-42% in the Republican primary. After her primary defeat but before leaving office, Koesten changed her party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

The winner of the August primary will advance to the general election and will likely face Koesten, who is the only candidate running on the Democratic side.

Power players

“As an independent Super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund has one goal: to protect and expand the Republican Senate Majority when Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer, together with their army of left-wing activists, try to take it back in 2020.” – Senate Leadership Fund website

Founded in 2015 by supporters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate Leadership Fund is a super PAC with the goal of supporting Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate. As of June 30, the fund has raised $102 million this cycle compared to $134 million for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senate Republicans’ official campaign PAC.

During the 2018 campaign cycle, the Senate Leadership Fund reported more than $95.5 million in satellite spending, spending more than $10 million each to oppose four Democratic Senate candidates: Claire McCaskill in Missouri ($20.5 million), Jacky Rosen in Nevada ($15.9 million), Joe Donnelly in Indiana ($15.0 million), and Phil Bredesen in Tennessee ($13.3 million). Rosen was the only candidate among the four to win her race.

So far this cycle, the Senate Leadership Fund has reported spending more than $500,000 in two races. The group has spent $1.3 million in support of Roger Marshall (R) ahead of his Aug. 4 primary for Kansas’ open Senate seat. It has also spent $770,000 opposing Rep. Doug Collins’ (R) campaign challenging incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) in Georgia’s upcoming Senate special election.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 28 (July 29, 2020)

This week: Ilhan Omar challenger raises $3.2 million in second quarter, Working Families Party spends in support of Rashida Tlaib, and Bernie Sanders endorses in Vermont gubernatorial primary

On the news

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

On Medicare for All in the Democratic Party platform

“The platform does nod to ‘Medicare for All,’ the policy backed by Sanders, saying: ‘We are proud our party welcomes advocates who want to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and those who support a Medicare for All approach.’

“Platform committee co-chair Denis McDonough, who served as former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, called it the ‘boldest Democratic platform in American history.’

“Still, anticipating virtual floor fights and frustration from progressive activists who want the party to set an even more aggressive policy course, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said at the top of the committee meeting that ‘we should never confuse unity with unanimity, nor should we confuse debate with division.’”

Denis McDonough, Tom Perez, quoted by Scott Detrow, NPR, July 27, 2020

“History teaches a clear lesson: The fact that our nation is the only advanced industrial country without universal healthcare cannot be blamed on Republican obstruction alone. It was also caused by Democratic leaders who’ve spent decades catering to corporate interests (while collecting their campaign donations)—and refusing to fight for universal coverage. 

“This history of Democratic obstruction and vacillation is why hundreds of elected delegates to next month’s Democratic convention have put their foot down. They’ve signed a petition pledging to vote down the party platform if it ‘does not include a plank supporting universal, single-payer Medicare for All.’ The petition’s initiator is Judith Whitmer, chair of the convention’s Nevada delegation. She told Politico: ‘This pandemic has shown us that our private health insurance system does not work for the American people. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their healthcare at the same time.’

“By demanding of the party leadership what Harry Truman called for 72 years ago, Whitmer and other Democratic activists are indeed ‘giving ’em hell.’” 

Jeff Cohen, Common Dreams, July 28, 2020

U.S. Congress

MN-05: Melton-Meaux raises $3.2 million in second quarter

Antone Melton-Meaux raised $3.2 million to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s $480,000 in the second quarter of 2020. They and three others are running in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District primary on Aug. 11.

As of June 30, Omar raised $3.9 million to Melton-Meaux’s $3.7 million. 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Torey Van Oot wrote, “Much of the money on both sides comes from out of the state, reflecting Omar’s national profile as one of the first Muslim women in Congress and an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.”

Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party Chairman Ken Martin and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison—who previously represented the 5th District—held a press conference July 20 in which Martin said contributions to Melton-Meaux’s campaign were efforts to “silence a progressive champion rooted in xenophobia.” Martin said the average ActBlue contribution Melton-Meaux received in May was $650 compared to Omar’s average of $18. Melton-Meaux said he received five times the amount of contributions Omar did from within the 5th District. Omar said her campaign received more individual contributions from within the state than Melton-Meaux’s.

Omar is among four House members often referred to as the squad, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) recently endorsed Omar. Pelosi said in September 2019 that she has a policy of only endorsing incumbents. 

Working Families Party spends in support of Tlaib in MI-13

The Working Families Party and Detroit Action are spending $100,000 in support of Rep. Rashida Tlaib in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District primary. Tlaib faces Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

Politico’s Holly Otterbein reported that the independent expenditure campaign “will be focused on young Black and Latino voters, and is expected to highlight [Tlaib’s] record on racial justice, including her promotion of the BREATHE Act, which seeks to eliminate federal programs ‘used to finance and expand’ law enforcement.”

The Detroit News’ Melissa Nann Burke and Christine Ferretti wrote:

Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, made history as one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress. But Jones’ surrogates are pitching their candidate, who is African American, as a better choice to lead the majority-Black district amid a national movement for racial justice. Blacks comprise nearly 54% of the district’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The primary is a rematch. Tlaib and Jones ran against one another in both the regular and special election primaries in 2018. Jones defeated Tlaib in the special primary election 37.7% to 35.9%, while Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary 31.2% to 30.2%. Jones completed the term to which John Conyers Jr. had been elected in 2016. Tlaib assumed office in January 2019.

The Michigan AFL-CIO recently endorsed Tlaib. In 2018, the group endorsed Jones. Jones’ 2020 endorsers include several local elected officials and Black pastors.

The primary is Aug. 4.

AG commissioner endorses Vazquez in FL-18

Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and the only Democrat to win statewide office in 2018, endorsed Oz Vazquez in Florida’s 18th Congressional District primary.

Fried said in her endorsement, “Florida’s 18th Congressional District deserves a Congressperson who will fight to protect Social Security and Medicare, will be a champion for clean water, and will work to get things done for the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches.”

Vasquez is a lawyer and former Americorps volunteer. He faces Pam Keith, a lawyer and Navy veteran.

The Florida AFL-CIO endorsed Vasquez in June. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) endorsed Keith.

Both Keith and Vazquez completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey questions are designed to elicit insightful and thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. Read Keith’s responses here and Vazquez’s responses here.

Incumbent Rep. Brian Mast (R), first elected in 2016, is seeking re-election and faces a primary challenger. Three election forecasters rate the general election Safe or Solid Republican. The primary election is Aug. 18.

State executives

Candidates prepare runs for Virginia lieutenant governor, attorney general

Candidate fields have begun to emerge for two top-level executive offices in Virginia ahead of next year’s primaries. This month, five Democrats, including three members of the legislative class of 2017, announced their intention to run for executive office.

Although there are no term limits on the offices of attorney general or lieutenant governor, Virginia is the only state where governors are prohibited from serving back-to-back terms. Both Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) have suggested they will run to succeed Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

Delegate Jay Jones (D), who was elected to the Norfolk-area district his father represented during the 1990s, became the first member of either major party to declare his intention to run for state attorney general on July 13. Jones, who is Black, would be Virginia’s first nonwhite attorney general. He said in his campaign kickoff video that challenging efforts to limit the Affordable Care Act would be among his priorities.

On July 14, Del. Hala Ayala (D), who defeated incumbent Rich Anderson (R) to win a district representing Prince William County, said she would run for lieutenant governor in 2021, becoming the first candidate to officially enter the race. She said she was running to ensure Virginia was better-prepared for future public health emergencies, including expanding Medicaid coverage.

State Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D), who defeated incumbent Scott Lingamfelter (R) in another Prince William County contest, said she was exploring a run for lieutenant governor. 

On July 22, Norfolk city Councillor Andria McClellan (D) announced she was also exploring a run for lieutenant governor. McClellan was first elected to the city council in 2016, defeating incumbent Barclay Winn. Ayala, Guzman, or McClellan would each be the first woman elected to the office.

Sean Perryman said on July 27 that he was exploring a run. Perryman, a former counsel to the House Oversight Committee under Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), is the president of the Fairfax branch of the NAACP, Virginia’s largest.

Other Democrats who have indicated they are considering a run for lieutenant governor include former Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman and Mike Pudhorodsky.

Bernie Sanders endorses David Zuckerman for governor of Vermont

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman’s (D) run for governor Monday. The announcement came as Zuckerman and former state Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe (D) aired their first television ads ahead of the Aug. 11 primary.

Holcombe’s ad, titled “Believe”, first aired July 16. The ad introduces Holcombe as a former educator and says she believes Vermont can emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in a stronger position than when the pandemic started if it takes the opportunity to expand healthcare and education and attract high-paying jobs.

Zuckerman’s ad, titled “Building our Future”, displays clips of Zuckerman working on his farm. The ad says that while daily life has been disrupted by the pandemic, farm work needs to continue.

A third candidate, attorney Pat Winburn, began running television ads when he entered the race in March. Winburn, who has not previously held elected office, says he is running to bring a new perspective to state government.

Legislatures

The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Preliminary New York legislative results show progressive challengers defeated five incumbents

New York’s primaries occurred on June 23, but due to the coronavirus, results have been delayed as absentee ballots continue to be counted. Within the past week, additional votes counted show at least five progressive challengers defeating incumbent state Assembly members.

The New York Times’ Jesse McKinley and Luis Ferre-Sadurni wrote, “A slew of progressive challengers upset entrenched incumbents in the New York Legislature … cementing their movement’s influence in Albany and making it likely that the state government will become one of the most liberal in the nation.”

The NYC Democratic Socialists of America, for example, endorsed one incumbent, Sen. Julia Salazar (D-18), and four others—Jabari Brisport (D), Phara Souffrant Forrest (D), Zohran Mamdani (D), and Marcela Mitaynes (D)—in the primaries. Of those five, Salazar, Forrest, Mamdani, and Mitaynes won their primaries. Brisport’s primary for the open Senate District 25 seat remains uncalled, but he has claimed victory.

Below is a list of races where challengers defeated incumbents. Vote totals have not been finalized, but in each instance the incumbents have either conceded or the challenger’s victory has been widely reported:

  • AD-34: Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, an immigrant and healthcare activist, defeated Assm. Michael DenDekker, who first assumed office in 2009.
  • AD-36: Mamdani defeated Assm. Aravella Simotas. Simotas was first elected in 2010. She ran unopposed that year. Before Mamdani’s 2020 primary challenge, her only other contested election, general or primary, happened in 2012.
  • AD-50: Emily Gallagher defeated Assm. Joseph Lentol. Lentol was first elected in 1972. The NYC DSA did not endorse Gallagher, but she says she is a democratic socialist.
  • AD-51: Mitaynes defeated Assm. Felix Ortiz. Ortiz was first elected in 1994 and served as Assistant Speaker of the Assembly.
  • AD-57: Souffrant Forrest defeated Assm. Walter Mosley, who was first elected in 2012. Mosley will appear on the general election ballot on the Working Families Party ticket.

12 primaries featuring Democratic incumbents in the state Assembly remain uncalled. In the Senate, one such race remains uncalled.

Candidates participate in primary forum for Hawaii’s House District 20

On July 20, the four candidates running in the Democratic primary for Hawaii’s House District 20 participated in a virtual forum hosted by the Oahu County Democratic Party. 

This is the first election since 1976 when Rep. Calvin Say (D-21) will not appear on the ballot. The longtime incumbent and former House Speaker announced in May he would run instead for Honolulu City Council in 2020.

House District 20 encompasses the Honolulu neighborhoods of St. Louis Heights, Palolo, Maunalani Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, and Kaimuki.

The candidates are Kaimuki Neighborhood Board member Becky Gardner (D), state Department of Labor program specialist Jay Ishibashi (D), St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board member Jackson Sayama (D), and attorney Derek Turbin (D).

The candidates were asked to speak about the intersection of economic and public health amid the coronavirus outbreak. All four candidates said public health should be the top priority while acknowledging the influence tourism has on the local economy. Ishibashi and Turbin suggested Hawaii begin marketing to tourists in countries with less severe coronavirus outbreaks. 

Sayama, Turbin, and Gardner also said they would prioritize creating jobs in industries distinct from tourism. Sayama mentioned growing the state’s renewable energy and cybersecurity sectors. Turbin said he would direct federal funds towards the local agriculture industry and develop a remote-worker economy. Gardner supported the Green New Deal as a means to recover from the economic downturn. 

The winner of the primary will face Julia Allen (R) in the general election.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorses Sherod in six-way primary for Missouri’s open Senate District 5 seat

On July 25, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed former deputy State Auditor Michelle Sherod (D) in the six-person Democratic primary for the open seat in Missouri’s Senate District 5. The paper said: “Sherod, 58, has the maturity and broad-based experience to advance [an urban-centric] agenda without brow-beating or lecturing conservatives about causes and concerns they don’t necessarily prioritize.” 

The editorial board also mentioned state Rep. Steven Roberts (D-77), another candidate in the primary, saying, “it’s important for voters to know that they have a strong alternative candidate in [Roberts], 32, … a former prosecutor,” adding, “Although Roberts has more legislative experience, Sherod clearly has more life experience.” Roberts was first elected to represent House District 77 in 2016.

Of the six candidates running, three have raised more than $10,000 according to pre-primary campaign finance reports. Sherod, Roberts, and St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green (D) raised $138,000, $273,000, and $101,000, respectively. Each candidate reported at least $20,000 cash on hand. 

Incumbent Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D) is not running for re-election. She was first elected to represent District 5 in 2012.

Former St. Louis Public Schools Board member Bill Haas (D), non-profit consultant McFarlane Duncan (D), and property manager Jeremiah Church (D) are also running in the primary. The winner of the Aug. 4 primary will face Michael J. Hebron Sr. (R).

Power players

“In 2019-2020, we will work to elect Democratic senators who are committed to an economy that provides opportunity and security for America’s working families and who stand up to protect the rights of all Americans.” – Senate Majority PAC website

Founded in 2010 by supporters of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate Majority PAC is a super PAC with the goal of supporting Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate. As of June 30, the PAC has raised $148 million this cycle compared to $125 million for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senate Democrats’ official campaign PAC.

During the 2018 campaign cycle, the Senate Majority PAC reported more than $111.6 million in satellite spending, spending over $10 million each to oppose four Republican Senate candidates: Josh Hawley in Missouri ($18.0 million), Rick Scott in Florida ($15.8 million), Dean Heller in Nevada ($14.4 million), and Mike Braun in Indiana ($14.2 million). Other than Heller, each of the four won their races.

So far this cycle, the Senate Majority PAC has reported spending more than $1 million in three races, having already spent $5.2 million to oppose John James in Michigan, $3.6 million to oppose Susan Collins in Maine, and $1.9 million to oppose Steve Daines in Montana.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 27 (July 15, 2020)

This week: M.J. Hegar wins Senate nomination in Texas, Super PAC spends $900,000 to support Ed Markey in Massachusetts, and Vermont gubernatorial candidates differ on ethics policy

On the news

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

On ‘cancel culture’

“A specter is haunting Western democracies. No, it is not the surging pandemic, mass death or catastrophic unemployment. It is, if you believe Donald Trump and some of his critics, the end of free speech and the advent of ‘cancel culture.’ … 

“… free speech has never been more widely available than it is today. So much so that the cacophony of voices liberated by digital media too frequently drowns out well-informed and sensible opinion. Trump, who blurts out several hot takes every day, is himself an example of the verbal incontinence enabled by Twitter in recent years. … 

“… the picture that Trump and highly prominent writers draw of narrowed and darkened intellectual horizons seems wholly unrecognizable, even paranoid.

“Could it be that increasingly diverse voices and rich conversations are a threat to their free speech — more accurately, the prerogative of famous and powerful people to speak at length on all sorts of things without interruption or disagreement? … 

“No doubt this networked minority will continue to protect its privileges by invoking various dangers to free speech. But no one should mistake its fear of obsolescence and irrelevance for any kind of liberalism.”

Pankaj Mishra, Bloomberg Opinion, July 14, 2020

 

“In recent years, there has been a marked and disquieting increase in the willingness of a raft of actors left, center, and right, both in government and in civil society, to engage in a practice and attitude of censorship and to abandon due process, presumption of innocence, and other core civil liberties.

“There have been some attempts from different quarters at a pushback against this, but the most recent such effort at a course correction is an open letter decrying the phenomenon appearing in Harper’s magazine. …

“What is true is that to limit this discussion to the acts of the extremely online mob, to, say, British author Jon Ronson’s concerns about Twitter public shaming, or to the ill-defined term ‘cancel culture,’  entirely misses the far wider atmosphere of an aggressive and accelerating threat to civil liberties.

“It is understandable that a brief open letter would not offer a catalog of episodes, but this is nevertheless unfortunate, as it allows Robinson and others to maintain a ‘nothing to see here, please move along’ stance.

“When we do in fact consider such a catalog, we find that to deny that this is happening, or to diminish it as inconsequential is untenable. There are simply too many examples.”

Leigh Phillips, Jacobin, July 12, 2020

Election results

U.S. Senate in Maine: Sara Gideon defeated Betsy Sweet and Bre Kidman in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Maine. As of 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time on July 15, Gideon had received 70%of the vote followed by Sweet and Kidman with 23% and 7% of the vote, respectively, with 87% of precincts reporting. Gideon was endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the official Senate campaign wing of the national Democratic Party. According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, she had raised $23,001,088, more than all but four other Senate candidates across the country so far in 2020. Gideon will face incumbent U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R) in the general election. Collins is one of two incumbent Republican senators running for re-election in a state that Hillary Clinton (D) won during the 2016 presidential election. Clinton received 48% of the vote in Maine to Donald Trump’s (R) 45%.

U.S. Senate in Texas:  M.J. Hegar defeated Royce West in the Democratic primary runoff for U.S. Senate in Texas. Hegar received 52% of the vote to West’s 48%. Hegar’s endorsers included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and End Citizens United. She is a former U.S. Army search and rescue and medevac pilot. Hegar ran for the U.S. House in Texas’ 31st District in 2018, losing to incumbent John Carter (R) 51% to 48%. The Texas Working Families Party and several state House members endorsed West. West has served in the state House since 1992. Incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R) is running for re-election. Democrats last won a statewide election in Texas in 1994. In the most recent U.S. Senate election, incumbent Ted Cruz (R) defeated then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) 51% to 48%.

Texas’ 10th Congressional District: Mike Siegel defeated Pritesh Gandhi in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 10th Congressional District. Siegel received 54% of the vote to Gandhi’s 46%. The candidates split on healthcare and climate policy, with Siegel supporting a single-payer healthcare plan and the Green New Deal and Gandhi backing a plan he described as Medicare for All who want it and a carbon fee structure to reduce emissions. The Austin American-Statesman endorsed Gandhi, while the Austin Chronicle and Houston Chronicle endorsed Siegel.

Texas’ 24th Congressional District: Candace Valenzuela defeated Kim Olson in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 24th Congressional District. Valenzuela received 60% of the vote to Olson’s 40%. Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro (D), U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), several members of the U.S. House, and multiple congressional caucus PACs endorsed Valenzuela, who served on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school board. The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and multiple organizations supporting military veterans in politics endorsed Olson, a retired Air Force colonel. In 2018, retiring incumbent Kenny Marchant (R) won re-election by three percentage points.

Texas’ 31st Congressional District: Donna Imam defeated Christine Eady Mann in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 31st Congressional District. Imam received 57% of the vote to Eady Mann’s 43%. Imam, a computer engineer, received an endorsement from former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang (D), who said, “Imam is one of the most solutions-oriented candidates I’ve ever spoken to, which is no surprise as she’s an engineer and entrepreneur.” Imam will face incumbent Rep. John Carter (R) in the general election. Carter has represented the 31st District since its creation in 2003. He most recently won re-election in 2018 over M.J. Hegar (D), receiving 51 percent of the vote to Hegar’s 48 percent, the first time a Democratic candidate had won over 40 percent of the vote in the district.

U.S. Congress

Super PAC spends $900,000 supporting Markey in Mass.

The super PAC United for Massachusetts spent $900,000 on TV and digital ads saying Sen. Ed Markey was progressive on healthcare and the environment before crises developed in these areas. The Sunrise Movement and Environment America Action Fund formed the PAC. 

Markey faces U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy in the Sept. 1 primary. Kennedy has pledged to disavow satellite spending in the race and called on Markey to do the same. Markey says he wants to allow progressive voices to be heard.

Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer endorsed Markey on June 29, saying he’s “been leading the fight in Congress to tackle our climate crisis.”

Markey introduced a Green New Deal resolution into Congress with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2019. Kennedy says he supports the Green New Deal and that Markey hasn’t done enough to implement it.

Kennedy released an ad last week saying America has left people behind and, “If you think this is as good as we can possibly be, then great, vote for the status quo. But if you believe that we actually can do better, this has to be the moment where we finally reject the policies of the past and we build something better, something stronger for the future.”

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

Groups focused on Israel policy fundraise for Omar challenger Melton-Meaux

Antone Melton-Meaux, who is challenging Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District primary, raised $1.5 million in May. Some of his contributors cite policy differences between him and Omar on Israel as the reason for their support.

Melton-Meaux has received about $450,000 from Pro-Israel America and NORPAC. NORPAC says it supports candidates who “demonstrate a genuine commitment to the strength, security, and survival of Israel.” Pro-Israel America collected about $300,000 in individual donations for Melton-Meaux, and NORPAC collected about $150,000.

Omar has supported the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s approach of using economic pressure in an effort to change Israel’s policies regarding Palestine. Melton-Meaux opposes BDS. Both candidates say they support a two-state solution.

Omar has apologized for a 2012 tweet in which she said Israel “has hypnotized the world.” In 2019, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) said he would take action against Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for their statements on Israel and BDS. Democratic and Republican members of Congress criticized Omar for responding that McCarthy’s statement was “all about the Benjamins,” saying she was playing on anti-Semitic tropes. Omar said she was referring to lobbying money from groups supporting Israel and apologized for her comment. 

Through March 31, Omar reported raising $3.4 million to Melton-Meaux’s $484,000. John Mason had raised $108,000. Data was unavailable for the remaining two primary candidates.

Omar was first elected in 2018. She is part of a progressive group of representatives of color known as the Squad, including Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).

The primary is Aug. 11.

State executives

Vermont gubernatorial candidates differ on ethics regulations

Former Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe’s (D) proposed ethics rules have split two of her opponents in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Holcombe’s proposal, released July 9, calls for expanding the Vermont Ethics Commission’s powers as well as a five-year lobbying ban on former governors and administration officials and a two-year lobbying ban on former state legislators.

Attorney Pat Winburn said he backed Holcombe’s proposal and that lobbyists should have less influence in state politics. Holcombe’s other opponent, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, said her proposal went too far. 

Zuckerman said Vermont’s two-year gubernatorial terms already put the state at a disadvantage when attempting to hire top administration officials from the private sector and that a five-year lobbying ban was a step in the wrong direction. 

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters. Incumbent Phil Scott (R), who was first elected in 2016, is running for a third term this year. Two election forecasters say Scott is likely to win and a third says he is a solid bet to win.

Vermont Auditor, challenger clash over state audit release

Vermont Auditor Doug Hoffer and primary challenger Linda Sullivan released dueling statements following Hoffer’s release of an audit of Vermont’s healthcare system. 

Sullivan, a member of the state House, criticized the timing of the report’s release. Sullivan said the report had been deliberately timed to coincide with the start of early voting in the primary. She said Hoffer’s campaign had sent a message to supporters touting the audit the same day it was published. 

Sullivan also criticized the substance of the audit, saying it did little beyond state known risk factors and describe existing problems without offering any suggestions for improvement. Sullivan campaign manager Jim Salsgiver said the report was evidence that Hoffer did not have the technical knowledge necessary to oversee an office of auditors since he was not a licensed accountant or auditor.

Hoffer, who was first elected in 2012, said Sullivan’s criticisms were politically motivated and contained multiple factual errors. He said the report was intended to be a first step in a larger audit process and that it was appropriate for his campaign to promote it since it was directly related to the responsibilities of the office. He described Sullivan’s criticism as an attempt to gain voters’ attention ahead of the primary.

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters. The winner of the Democratic nomination will face Progressive nominee Cris Ericson in the general election. No Republican candidate filed for state auditor in Vermont this year.

Legislatures

*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Minn. state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party warns incumbent to stop implying he received the party’s endorsement

Minnesota Democratic-Famer-Labor Party (DFL) Chairman Ken Martin wrote a letter to state Sen. Erik Simonson (D-07) last week warning him over his campaign practices. The letter requested that Simonson stop implying the party has endorsed him in the Aug. 11 primary.

In a now-inactive Facebook ad, Simonson wrote, “As a Senate DFL assistant leader, public servant and fierce advocate of Duluth, it comes as no surprise that labor and local DFL organizations are standing by Senator Simonson.”

In his letter to Simonson, Martin wrote, “I … request that you cease and desist the manner in which you reference your affiliation with the ‘DFL.’” He added, “An unendorsed candidate like you wishing to identify himself as a member of the DFL Party must use words such as ‘member of’ or ‘affiliated with’ in conjunction with the party name.” 

On May 13, we reported that challenger Jen McEwen (D) received the party’s endorsement over Simonson at a virtual convention with 70 percent of the delegate vote to Simonson’s 29 percent. McEwen’s campaign manager, Bridget Holcomb, said, “While it must be difficult for Sen. Simonson to have lost the support of local Democrats, it’s important that we all play by the rules.”

Simonson said he addressed the issues on July 9: “I wasn’t trying to be sneaky, I get it … I am an assistant minority leader of the DFL caucus in the state Senate.”

Campaign finance reports show challenger outraising incumbent in Hawaii’s House District 13

Campaign spending reports covering the period from January 1 to June 30 showed Walter Ritte (D) outraising incumbent Rep. Lynn DeCoite (D-13) in Hawaii’s House District 13. 

According to The Maui News Colleen Uechi, reports from across the state showed that “incumbent candidates unsurprisingly led the field in total campaign funds,” but that “Ritte was one of the few challengers to stay financially competitive with his opponent.” During the first half of the year, Ritte raised $39,076.83, giving him $23,127.60 cash on hand. DeCoite raised $16,050, bringing her cash total to $29,872.95.

Ritte is a Native Hawaiian activist who helped form Hui Alaloa, a group focused on water and land access rights, in the 1970s. Since then, he has been involved in a number of movements on the island of Molokai. He received endorsements from Our Revolution Hawaii, the Sierra Club, and the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

DeCoite owns and operates L&R Farms Enterprises on Molokai. She was appointed to District 13 in 2015 following the resignation of Rep. Mele Carroll (D). She won election to a full term in 2016 and was re-elected in 2018. DeCoite received contributions from the campaigns of state Sens. J. Kalani English (D-07), Michelle Kidani (D-18), Donna Kim (D-14), and Gil Keith-Agaran (D-05).

The winner of the Aug. 11 primary will face Republican Robin Vanderpool and Aloha Aina Party candidate Theresa Kapaku in the general election.

Power players

“BOLD PAC is the fastest growing Democratic Political Action Committee dedicated to increasing the diversity of our leadership in the House and Senate. It champions progressive Democrats fighting for change.” – BOLD PAC website 

BOLD PAC was founded in 2001 as the fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The group says it supports “strong Hispanic candidates and candidates who embrace BOLD policies.” As of May 2020, the group said it was spending $2.75 million on 2020 congressional primaries. 

BOLD PAC Chairman Tony Cárdenas said, “BOLD PAC is proud to support Latino candidates to help hold the Democratic House majority and expand the Hispanic Caucus. Democrats made historic gains in 2018 and secured the majority in the House with the most diverse Congress in our nation’s history. With so much at stake, BOLD PAC is fully committed to building on the success of 2018 and helping elect a new wave of Latino leaders to Congress.”

Click the following links to view the group’s endorsed Hispanic candidates, endorsed candidates, and BOLD members



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 27 (July 15, 2020)

This week: Tuberville defeats Jeff Sessions in Alabama Senate runoff, PAC spends $3 million to oppose Kobach in Kansas Senate primary, and Washington gubernatorial candidates hold debate

On the news

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

On Roger Stone

“Bill Clinton pardoned his own brother for felony distribution of cocaine. And a key witness in the Whitewater scandal for which he and Hillary Clinton were under investigation. And three others convicted in independent counsel Ken Starr’s probe. And Marc Rich, in what was a straight up political payoff. And his CIA director. And his HUD secretary. And eight people convicted in an investigation of his Agriculture Department. …

“Clinton also commuted the sentences of convicted terrorists, some of whom hadn’t even asked for clemency. Shameless as he was, though, even he couldn’t bring himself to pardon Oscar Lopez Rivera, the defiantly unrepentant FALN leader.

“President Obama took care of that.

“Obama also commuted the sentence of a U.S. soldier who passed top-secret information to WikiLeaks. He pardoned his former Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman, who’d been convicted of making false statements about a leak of classified information to the New York Times. And when he couldn’t get Congress to amend federal drug laws the way he wanted them amended, Obama used the pardon power to slash hundreds of sentences, under an executive initiative later sharply criticized by the Obama-appointed DOJ inspector general. …

“So, as abuses of the pardon power go — and they do go — I can’t get too whipped up over President Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s 40-month sentence for non-violent criminal obstruction of a bogusly based and ridiculously over-prosecuted investigation.”

Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, July 11, 2020

 

“The fact that Obama and Clinton ‘got away with it’ does not make Trump’s commutation of the sentence of his longtime political dirty trickster, Roger Stone, less of an affront to the system. …

 

“There is no defensible excuse for eliminating Stone’s sentence. Stone tried to enable a hostile foreign power to influence an election, in ways illicit and bordering on illegal, and then illegally and unambiguously lied about it. For this, he should serve jail time.

 

“There is one way in which Trump’s commutation is worse than some of the outlandish commutations and pardons from Obama and Clinton. Those earlier clemencies included neither crimes directly connected to the sanctity of our elections nor ones involving illicit foreign activities related to elections

 

“The worst of those other presidents’ clemencies also came when they were on their way out the door, leaving office and thus unable to benefit electorally from them. Trump’s action, in the run-up to the next election, sends a signal that foreign shenanigans to benefit his candidacy are likely to go unpunished. …

 

“This is corruption. It is wrong each time any president engages in it. Trump’s commutation of Stone is particularly galling and is one more sign of his unfitness for the presidency.”

Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner, July 13, 2020 

Election results

U.S. Senate in Alabama: Tommy Tuberville defeated Jeff Sessions in the Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate in Alabama. Tuberville received 61% of the vote to Sessions’ 39%. President Donald Trump endorsed Tuberville, a former college football coach. Sessions held the Senate seat for 20 years before Trump appointed him as U.S. attorney general in 2017. Club for Growth PAC and FarmPAC—the political action committee of the Alabama Farmers Federation—were among Tuberville’s other endorsers. Sessions’ endorsers included the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, and several U.S. senators. Tuberville will face incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D) in November. Roll Call named Jones the most vulnerable incumbent senator up for re-election in 2020.

Alabama’s 1st Congressional District: Jerry Carl defeated Bill Hightower in the Republican primary for Alabama’s 1st Congressional District. Carl had 52% of the vote to Hightower’s 48%. Alabama Daily News‘ Todd Stacy described the race as “a battle between the activist and business wings of the Republican Party.” Carl received endorsements from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the outgoing incumbent Rep. Bradly Byrne (R). Hightower received endorsements from the National Right to Life and Club for Growth, which spent over $1 million in the race primarily opposing Carl.

Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District: Barry Moore defeated Jeff Coleman in the Republican primary runoff for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. Moore received 60% of the vote to Coleman’s 40%. Incumbent Martha Roby (R) did not seek re-election, leaving this safe Republican district open. Moore served in the state House from 2010 to 2018 and is a U.S. Army and Alabama National Guard and Reserves veteran. Club for Growth PAC, the House Freedom Fund, and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) were among his endorsers. Coleman is chairman of Coleman Worldwide Moving. His endorsers included Roby, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Business Council of Alabama.

Maine’s 2nd Congressional District: As of 10:45 a.m. Eastern Time on July 15, the Republican primary in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District remained too close to call. With 86% of precincts reporting, Dale Crafts led with 44.8% of the vote to Adrienne Bennett’s 32.4% and Eric Brakey’s 22.8%. The primary was carried out using ranked-choice voting, in which voters rank candidates from their first to their third choice. Should no candidate receive more than 50% of the vote in the final tally, the last-place candidate will be eliminated and their voters’ votes distributed to their second-choice candidate. The winner will face incumbent Jared Golden (D), who unseated Bruce Poliquin (R) in 2018.

Texas’ 13th Congressional District: Ronny Jackson defeated Josh Winegarner in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 13th Congressional District. Jackson received 56% of the vote to Winegarner’s 44%. President Donald Trump (R), U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) endorsed Jackson. Incumbent Rep. Mac Thornberry (R), who did not seek re-election, endorsed Winegarner, along with U.S. Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Lance Gooden (R-Texas), and Kenny Marchant (R-Texas). Thornberry, who was first elected in 1994, won his last election in 2018 by a margin of victory of 65 percentage points. 

Texas’ 17th Congressional District: Pete Sessions defeated Renee Swann in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 17th Congressional District. Sessions received 54% of the vote to Swann’s 47%. Sessions was a member of Congress from 1997 to 2019, representing Texas’ 32nd Congressional District (2003-2019) and Texas’ 5th Congressional District (1997-2003). He campaigned on his record and said he voted in support of Trump 98% of the time. Incumbent Rep. Bill Flores (R) endorsed Swann, citing her desire to work with President Trump and her stances on immigration and social issues. Swann’s campaign highlighted her experience in business and healthcare. Flores won re-election by 15 percentage points in 2018. 

Texas’ 22nd Congressional District election: Troy Nehls defeated Kathaleen Wall in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 22nd Congressional District. Nehls received 70% of the vote to Wall’s 30%. The Houston Chronicle, SEAL PAC, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Nehls. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), the National Association for Gun Rights, and the Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Wall. According to campaign finance reports, Wall spent $2 million to Nehls’ $98,000 between April 1 and June 24. Incumbent Pete Olson (R), who was first elected in 2008, did not seek re-election. Since 1979, Republicans have represented the district for all but two years, when Nick Lampson held the seat from 2007 to 2009. In 2018, Olson won re-election 51.4% to 46.5%. 

Texas’ 23rd Congressional District: Tony Gonzales and Raul Reyes Jr. ran in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. As of 8:30 a.m. Central Time on July 15, the race was too close to call with 100% of precincts reporting. Gonzales and Reyes each had 50.0% of the vote. A margin of seven votes—0.028% of the total votes cast—separated them. Incumbent Will Hurd (R), who was first elected in 2014, did not seek re-election. Both Gonzales and Reyes highlighted their military backgrounds. Gonzales served in the Navy, and Reyes served in the Air Force. President Donald Trump (R), U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and U.S. Reps. Hurd, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Steve Scalise (R-La.) endorsed Gonzales. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Young Conservatives of Texas, Texas Family Action, and Texas Right to Life endorsed Reyes. Hurd won his last election in 2018 49.2-48.7%.

U.S. Congress

PAC spends $3 million opposing Kobach in Senate primary in KS

Plains PAC announced $3 million in spending opposing Kris Kobach in the Senate primary in Kansas. The group released an ad criticizing Kobach’s 2018 gubernatorial election defeat and says he employed an aide with a history of making racist comments. Kobach’s campaign fired the aide, and Kobach denounced the comments. 

Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state from 2011 to 2019, defeated incumbent Jeff Colyer in the 2018 gubernatorial primary. He lost to Democrat Laura Kelly in the general election 43% to 48%.  

U.S. Chamber Action, affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spent $400,000 on an ad campaign supporting U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall in the primary. The group’s ad says Marshall, a veteran, fought for educational and economic opportunities for veterans. Marshall was first elected in 2016. 

As we recently covered, Club for Growth Action suspended its ad campaign opposing Marshall. The group had planned to spend $2.1 million in the primary.

Meanwhile, Marshall released an ad criticizing Bob Hamilton, saying he hired someone in the country illegally to work for his plumbing business and put families in danger. Hamilton’s campaign said the employee in question stole an identity and Hamilton did not know he was in the country illegally.

The primary is Aug. 4. Eleven candidates are on the ballot. Incumbent Pat Roberts (R), first elected in 1996, is not seeking re-election. Three election forecasters rate the general election Lean or Likely Republican.

Club for Growth spends $550,000 supporting Hill in TN-01

Club for Growth Action spent $550,000 on an ad campaign supporting Timothy Hill for Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District. The ad says Hill would support President Donald Trump (R) on term limits for members of Congress and defend law enforcement against defunding efforts. 

Hill has served in the Tennessee House of Representatives since 2012.

Sixteen candidates are running in the Aug. 6 Republican primary. Incumbent Phil Roe (R), first elected in 2008, isn’t seeking re-election. This is a safe Republican district.

Center for Responsive Politics data as of July 14 showed Club for Growth Action had spent to support or oppose 49 candidates in the 2020 election cycle. The group’s expenditures supporting Hill were their eighth-highest on any candidate and their fourth-highest in support of a candidate.

After the Club for Growth endorsed him, Hill said, “The question is not ultimately whether the First Congressional District will be Republican. … It’s will we be conservative, and that’s where those endorsements, that’s where those groups are coming in and saying, ‘hey, we think we can make a difference, Timothy has demonstrated that he’s conservative.'”   

A Spry Strategies poll showed pharmacist Diana Harshbarger leading the primary field with 22% support among likely voters. Rusty Crowe, a state senator, was second with 14%, and Hill was third with 11%. Twenty-one percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The poll included nine of the 16 candidates by name and had a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points.

State executives

Seven Republican candidates for governor of Washington discuss homelessness, pandemic response, in debate

The Clark County Republican Women hosted a debate attended by seven Republican candidates for governor of Washington on July 9. The candidates discussed Washington’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as their proposals to address homelessness.

Fundraising leader Loren Culp, the chief of police for the town of Republic, criticized incumbent Jay Inslee (D) for ordering businesses to close and residents to remain in their homes during the pandemic. Culp said Inslee’s order was unconstitutional and that he should have focused on making sure the public was aware of the risks associated with the pandemic instead. Culp said he would offer homeless individuals accused of substance abuse a choice between treatment or prison.

Tim Eyman, an activist and the sponsor of 17 measures that have appeared on Washington’s statewide ballot in the past 22 years, said the issues of homelessness and the coronavirus pandemic were related. Eyman said while homelessness was a problem before the pandemic began, Inslee’s orders shutting down businesses and government services had made the situation worse.

State Sen. Phil Fortunato, the only current elected officeholder among the Republican gubernatorial candidates, said Inslee’s response to the coronavirus had frozen most sectors of the state’s economy. Fortunato said Washington did not have a clear and consistent standard for determining which businesses were essential. He said Washington’s homeless population had grown because cases where homeless individuals were accused of committing a crime were not being prosecuted.

Businessman Joshua Freed, the former Mayor of Bothell, said he had successfully sued the Inslee administration over regulations prohibiting religious gatherings during the pandemic. Freed proposed the state launch a public/private partnership to give homeless addicts the option of undergoing a one-year treatment program or going to jail.

Raul Garcia, a physician, said he was concerned by what he described as a need to control the people on behalf of the state government during the pandemic. Garcia compared the feeling to growing up in his native Cuba under Fidel Castro. He said the best option for reducing Washington’s homeless population would be to create a program offering the homeless addiction treatment and job training.

Businessman Anton Sakharov said Washington should have been better prepared for the coronavirus pandemic. He said all businesses should have been allowed to remain open. Sakharov said he would seek to reduce Washington’s homeless population by 90% within three years of taking office and proposed a partnership between state, city, and county governments to meet that goal.

Businessman Martin Wheeler criticized the economic shutdown Gov. Inslee ordered, saying it had had a particularly strong effect on rural areas. Wheeler said expanding law enforcement’s power to combat drug trafficking while expanding training for mental health professionals would be the most effective way to reduce rates of homelessness.

The seven are among the 36 gubernatorial candidates who will appear on the Aug. 4 top-two primary ballot. The top two finishers, regardless of partisan affiliation, will advance to the November general election. Sakharov will appear on the ballot as a member of the Trump Republican Party while the other six are running as members of the Republican Party. In all, there are 11 Republican Party candidates, three Trump Republican Party candidates, and one Pre-2016 Republican Party candidate among the 36.

Erin Stewart launches PAC to change the direction of the Connecticut GOP, sparking questions about a 2022 gubernatorial run

Fourth-term New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart (R) announced on July 7 she would launch a political action committee supporting what she described as moderate Republican candidates in this year’s state elections. Stewart’s said the PAC is part of an effort to change the ideological direction of the state GOP. It has fuelled speculation among political observers that she is planning a run for governor in 2022.

Stewart’s new effort is a relaunch of STEWPAC, the political action committee supporting her mayoral campaigns. Stewart said the new STEWPAC’s mission would be to promote Republican state legislative candidates who share her policy priorities. In an interview with the Hartford Courant, Stewart said the GOP should emphasize its stances on the role of government and fiscal policy: “We have to elevate our voices even louder to say ‘Here’s why you should vote for Republican ideology — less government, pro-business, not necessarily the things spewing from President Trump.”

Stewart has served as mayor of New Britain, Connecticut’s eighth-largest city, since 2013. She won the 2019 mayoral election 61% to 37%. In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton (D) defeated Donald Trump in New Britain 69%-27%. Stewart says her brand of politics is the key to the Connecticut GOP’s future success: “I know if the Republican Party wants to survive in this state, they need to change the narrative — they need to start listening to people like me.”

Some political observers have suggested Stewart’s move could foreshadow a run for governor in 2022. Stewart ran for governor briefly in 2018 before switching to the lieutenant gubernatorial primary, where she lost to state Sen. Joe Markley (R) 48% to 33%.

 

Legislatures

*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Satellite spending opposing incumbent senator in Missouri’s Senate District 23

The Republican primary in Missouri’s Senate District 23 has seen an influx of satellite spending from the Missouri-based political committee Voters for Good Government with mailers opposing incumbent Sen. Bill Eigel (R-23) and supporting one of his primary opponents, attorney Eric Wulff (R). A third candidate, Dan O’Connell (R), is also running in the primary. Earlier this month, the group received a $390,000 donation from the national political committee Americans for Limited Government, a portion of which has been spent in District 23.

Typical of the mailers are images of Eigel with text saying the incumbent supports “de-funding law enforcement … funding Planned Parenthood … [and] raising taxes.”

Eigel is a co-founder of the legislature’s six-member Conservative Caucus, which, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jack Suntrup, “routinely needles GOP leadership and others, pushing an agenda that supports charter schools and opposes income taxes and corporate incentives.” He received endorsements from Gov. Mike Parsons (R), the Missouri Right to Life, and the National Rifle Association.

In response to the mailers, Eigel asked, “Why would Eric Wulff be funded by $390,000 in secret money to lie about me?” He added, “They’re mad that I work for the people, not the establishment.”

William Hardin, treasurer of Voters for Good Government, said, “The word was out there that I wanted to do something in that race and a contribution came.” He said the decision was not based on Eigel’s Conservative Caucus membership, adding that he made a $2,500 contribution to one of the caucus’ members, Sen. Eric Burlison (R-20). Hardin added that the entire $390,000 donation will not be spent in District 23.

Wulff is an attorney and a municipal judge in St. Charles. He previously served on the Orchard Farm School Board. Regarding the mailers, Wulf said Voters for Good Government seemed “very sympathetic to me … They like me a whole lot more than Bill Eigel.” Wulff supports increased funding for public schools and incentives for a local GM plant, positions he described as counter to Eigel’s.

Fiona McFarland receives endorsement from Sarasota County Commissioner in Florida’s House District 72 primary

On July 10, Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines (R) endorsed Fiona McFarland (R) in Florida’s House District 72. McFarland faces Donna Barcomb and Jason Miller in the three-way Republican primary. The incumbent, Rep. Margaret Good (D-72), is not seeking re-election.

McFarland is a U.S. Navy reservist and consultant with McKinsey and Company. In his endorsement of her campaign, Hines said, “[McFarland’s] military service to our country combined with her fresh outlook and energy … are characteristics we need right now in government.”

Barcomb is a member of the Sarasota County Charter Review Board, a countywide elected position, and the owner of an outpatient physical therapy clinic. She previously served on the Sarasota Hospital Board. Barcomb received an endorsement from County Commissioner and former state Sen. Nancy Detert (R).

Miller is a U.S. Army reservist and an assistant attorney general with the criminal appeals division of the Florida Attorney General’s office. He previously served as assistant state attorney in the area. Miller received endorsements from fellow assistant attorneys general, Jeffrey Seigal and Clifford Chapman.

As of June 26, McFarland led the field with $175,199 cash on hand followed by Barcomb with $70,952 and Miller with $2,941.

According to Florida Politics’ Jacob Ogles, “District 72 is among a handful of House seats where voters in 2016 favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton but are held by Democrats.” The winner of the primary will face attorney Drake Buckman (D) in the general election.

Joseph Orgeron wins special election for Louisiana House District 54 outright

On July 11, voters in Louisiana’s House District 54 cast their ballots in a special primary to fill the remainder of the late Rep. Reggie Bagala’s (R) term. Joseph Orgeron (R) won the election outright after receiving 55 percent of the vote in the six-way primary, more than the 50 percent needed to avoid a later general election. 

Orgeron received endorsements from the Republican parties in Jefferson and Lafourche Parish, both of which make up a bulk of District 54. The special election was open to members of any party, but only Republican challengers filed.

Power players

“Concerned Women for America is the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization with a rich 40-year history of helping our members across the country bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.” – Concerned Women for America

Founded in 1979, Concerned Women for America says its mission is to “protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens – first through prayer, then education, and finally by influencing our society – thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation.” The group defines its core issues as follows: sanctity of life, defense of family, education, religious liberty, national sovereignty, sexual exploitation, and support for Israel. To view a list of the organization’s concerns and goals related to these issues, click here.

The Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) endorsed the following candidates in 2020, whom it says meet “qualifications required for leadership with regards to CWALAC’s seven core issues:” 

U.S. Senate: Cynthia Lummis (Wyoming) and Daniel Gade (Virginia)

U.S. House: Kathaleen Wall (TX-22), Beth Parlato (NY-27), Amy Phan West (CA-47), Darrell Issa (CA-50), and Tina Ramirez (VA-07).



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 26 (July 8, 2020)

This week: Van Drew wins Republican primary in NJ-2, Trump and Cruz back separate candidates in TX-23 runoff, and TN Gov. Lee endorses in a state Senate primary. 

Election results

This section includes election results for each July 7 battleground Republican primary we followed, as well as the results from those June 23 battleground primaries in New York and June 30 battleground primaries in Utah that were too close to call at the time we published last week’s edition.
July 7

New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District: Incumbent Jeff Van Drew defeated challenger Bob Patterson to win the Republican nomination in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District. As of 9:15 a.m. Eastern Time on July 8, Van Drew had received 81% of the vote to Patterson’s 18% with 54% of precincts reporting. Van Drew was first elected to the seat as a Democrat in 2018 and joined the Republican Party in December 2019. Van Drew will face Amy Kennedy, the winner of the Democratic primary, in the general election. Two forecasters say the race leans towards Van Drew and a third says it tilts towards him.

New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District: David Richter defeated Kate Gibbs to win the Republican nomination in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District. As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on July 8, Richter had received 67% of the vote to Gibbs’ 33% with 53% of precincts reporting. Richter will face incumbent Andy Kim (D), who was first elected in 2018, in the general election. Two forecasters say the race leans towards Kim and a third says it is a toss-up.

June 30

Utah’s 1st Congressional District: Blake Moore defeated Bob Stevenson, Kerry Gibson, and Katie Witt to win the Republican nomination to succeed Rob Bishop (R) in Utah’s 1st Congressional District. Moore received 31% of the vote to Stevenson’s 29%, Gibson’s 24%, and Witt’s 17%. Election forecasters say Moore is a solid favorite to win the general election.

Governor of Utah: Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox defeated former Gov. Jon Huntsman, former state House Speaker Greg Hughes, and former state GOP Chairman Thomas Wright to win the Republican nomination for governor of Utah. As of 7:45 a.m. Mountain Time on July 8, Cox had 36% of the vote to Huntsman’s 35%, Hughes’ 21%, and Wright’s 8%. Cox and his running mate, state Sen. Deidre Henderson, will advance to the general election, where election forecasters say they have a solid chance to win.

Utah Attorney General: Incumbent Sean Reyes defeated Utah County Attorney David Leavitt to win the Republican nomination for a second full term as state attorney general. As of 7:45 a.m. Mountain Time on July 8, Reyes had received 54% of the vote to Leavitt’s 46%. Reyes said he was running to continue his record of success since taking office in 2013, while Leavitt said he would change Utah’s approach towards criminal justice. 

June 23

New York’s 2nd Congressional District: Andrew Garbarino defeated Mike LiPetri to win the Republican nomination for a chance to succeed Peter King (R) in New York’s 2nd Congressional District. The Associated Press called the race for Garbarino on July 3. At the time, Garbarino led LiPetri 61% to 38%. Garbarino will face Jackie Gordon (D) in the November general election. Election forecasters say the race leans towards Garbarino. 

On the news

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

On President Donald Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore

“President Donald Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore may be the most important and historic speech of his career. If he continues to echo and reinforce the message of this profound speech, he will become as essential to the preservation of freedom in America for the 21st century as President Abraham Lincoln was in the 19th century and President Ronald Reagan was in the 20th century.

 

“Not since Reagan has a president laid out the core values that make America free – and stood defiantly in defense of those values despite the ridicule and hostility of the elites, news media, academics and his political opponents. … 

 

“We are fortunate that President Trump has the courage to say and do what he believes without regard to his critics. It’s exactly what American needs.”

Newt Gingrich, Fox News, July 6, 2020

“Yes, Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech lauded American greatness. For some, that immunizes it against criticism. But at a moment of heightened racial tensions, when millions of his fellow citizens feel embattled and betrayed, it’s morally obtuse to fail to devote any words of comfort and inclusion toward them. It is not enough to name-check Louis Armstrong or Jesse Owens. A president should acknowledge that we have not yet lived up to the ‘true meaning of [our] creed,’ and vow to do better.  It is especially important to do so on the Fourth of July. …  

 

“Leadership of a large, diverse nation requires certain grace notes that every president in living memory has found it in his heart to pronounce on important occasions.

 

“This president has chosen, and continues to choose, division and vitriol.”

Mona Charen, The Bulwark, July 6, 2020

U.S. Congress

Trump endorses Gonzales, Cruz endorses Reyes in TX-23 runoff

Last week, President Donald Trump endorsed Tony Gonzales in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District primary runoff, while Sen. Ted Cruz endorsed Raul Reyes Jr. 

Trump said of Gonzales, “A Navy veteran, he is Strong on the Economy, Life and the Second Amendment.” Cruz’s leadership PAC released an ad in which Cruz said, “We need to send conservative warriors to defeat Nancy Pelosi’s agenda and show some of our Republicans what a backbone is.”

Gonzales’ other endorsers include Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). William Hurd (R), the 23rd District’s retiring incumbent, also endorsed Gonzales. Reyes’ other endorsers include the Young Conservatives of Texas, Gun Owners of America, and Texas Right to Life.

Hurd won his last election in 2018 with 49.2% of the vote to Gina Ortiz Jones’ (D) 48.7%. Three election forecasters rate the 2020 general election as Lean Democratic.

The primary runoff is July 14.

Rubio endorses Eagle in FL-19

Sen. Marco Rubio endorsed Dane Eagle in Florida’s 19th Congressional District primary. Nine candidates are running for a chance to succeed retiring incumbent Francis Rooney (R) in this safe Republican district.

Rubio said, “As Republican Majority Leader of the Florida House of Representatives, Dane has proven time and time again his commitment to our conservative values, and his principles and track record of results make him the most qualified person in this race.”

Other elected officials in the race are state Rep. Byron Donalds (whom the Club for Growth PAC endorsed) and Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson. Dan Severson served in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

The other five primary candidates submitted responses to Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. To read their responses, click on candidates’ names below. 

If you’d like to learn more about the survey, or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here.

As of March 31, Askar led in fundraising with $3.5 million, including a $3 million personal loan to his campaign. Next was Figlesthaler with $1.3 million, including $1.1 million he loaned his campaign. Eagle raised $552,495 from contributions and was third in fundraising.

The primary is Aug. 18.

State executives

In Vermont lieutenant gubernatorial race, Milne leads in spring fundraising while Hansen retains overall advantage

Scott Milne was the top fundraiser in the five-candidate Republican field for lieutenant governor of Vermont this spring. But according to reports filed July 1 with the Vermont Secretary of State, Meg Hansen has raised the most money overall.

Milne reported raising $5,300 since launching his campaign May 28. He was the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2016 and for governor in 2014.

Hansen reported raising $3,800 since the March 15 reporting cycle, bringing her overall fundraising to date to just under $26,000. She is an entrepreneur and health policy writer.

Dana Colson reported raising $1,300, bringing his overall fundraising to $1,500. He owns a welding supply business. 

Two other candidates did not file campaign finance reports.

Vermont is one of 17 states where the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately and one of three where the offices are currently held by different parties. Incumbent David Zuckerman (D) is running to challenge Gov. Phil Scott (R) rather than seeking re-election as lieutenant governor, leaving the office open.

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters. Since 2000, Republicans have won seven lieutenant gubernatorial elections to Democrats’ three.

Race recap: Montana Secretary of State

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

Montana’s current Secretary of State, Corey Stapleton (R), ran for U.S. House this year rather than seeking re-election, leaving the office open. The secretary of state is responsible for keeping Montana’s state seal, serving as Montana’s chief elections officer, and sitting on the Montana Board of Land Commissioners, which administers school trust funds.

Deputy Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen defeated five other candidates in the Republican primary on June 2 to win the nomination to succeed Stapleton. She received 29% of the vote, followed by Scott Sales with 25%, Brad Johnson with 23%, and Forrest Mandeville with 10%. Each of the candidates said they had the most experience with the job.

Jacobsen said she had the most firsthand experience with the secretary of state’s responsibilities and that she had Stapleton’s endorsement. 

Sales, the president of the Montana state Senate and a former state House speaker, said he had the most private sector and agricultural experience of any candidate. 

Johnson, a former Secretary of State who currently chairs the Montana Public Service Commission, said he was the candidate with the most experience in election security.

Mandeville, a member of the state House, said he would encourage natural resource development and bring a new generation of leadership to Montana.

Jacobsen will face state Sen. Bryce Bennett (D), who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, in the general election. Elections for Montana secretary of state tend to be competitive; Democrats and Republicans have each won five of the past 10 elections.

Election forecasters project that Montana’s statewide races will be competitive this year. Two ratings agencies say the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Steve Daines (R) and Gov. Steve Bullock (D) leans towards Republicans, while a third calls it a toss-up. All three forecasters say the gubernatorial race is a toss-up.

As of the June campaign finance reports, Bennett had outraised Jacobsen, with $200,000 in overall fundraising and $140,000 in cash on hand to Jacobsen’s $160,000 in fundraising and $20,000 cash on hand.

Legislatures

*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 40 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

TN Gov. Bill Lee endorses first-term incumbent facing primary challenge in Senate District 22

On July 2, state Sen. Bill Powers (R-22) announced an endorsement from Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tenn.) in the Senate District 22 primary. Powers, first elected in 2018, faces Doug Englen (R) in the primary.

Powers is a managing partner at Wyatt Johnson Automotive Group. He represented Ward 11 on the Clarksville City Council from 2015 to 2019. Gov. Lee recently appointed Powers to serve on the Tennessee Economic Recovery Group. On his campaign website, Powers lists job growth, career readiness, and veterans’ issues as three priorities.

Englen is a retired senior warrant officer with the U.S. Army. Discussing his decision to challenge Powers, Englen said, “I need something to problem-solve. If there is a mission that doesn’t have a clear objective then that is perfect.” The Tennessee Star’s Chris Butler wrote that Englen said he “would make Tennessee’s gun laws more clear … [and also] protect the unborn and work hard on veterans’ affairs.”

The winner of the primary will face Ronnie Glynn (D). In 2018, Powers defeated Juanita Charles (D) in the general election, receiving 54 percent of the vote to Charles’ 44 percent.

FL House Speaker accused of funding opposition ads against possible future speaker

Some Florida Republicans have accused state House Speaker Jose Oliva (R) of funding opposition ads against Rep. Daniel Perez (R). Perez represents Florida’s 116th District and faces a primary challenge from Gabriel Garcia. 

Perez won a leadership race to become House Republican leader in 2024, meaning he is in line to be the future House speaker if Republicans hold a majority in the chamber that year. The Miami Herald‘s David Smiley and Bianca Padro Ocasio wrote, “The [primary] challenge is unusual: it’s been eight years since a Republican in line to become Florida House speaker was forced to run a primary campaign.”

Politico‘s Matt Dixon wrote

In the past week, Perez was hit with online and direct-mail ads from Citizens for Ethical & Effective Leadership, a committee chaired by Zavier Garcia. Garcia is a vice president for David R. Custin Associates, a firm run by David Custin, an Oliva adviser. …

The Citizens committee has received $400,000 over the past two months from Conservative Principles for Florida, which is run by Oliva. Expenditure reports show that some of that money was spent on the Miami-Dade mayor’s race, but line items for other expenses are generic and don’t identify a specific race. Custin’s firm managed the spending.

Dixon further reported Oliva’s statement about the $400,000:

Oliva did not address questions about whether he was trying to knock Perez out of the race. He said he sent the money to Custin’s committee to oppose Alex Penelas, a Democratic candidate for Miami-Dade County mayor.

“If you follow the dollars, I put in to Custin’s [political committee] you will see them deployed in an effort to educate the voters of Miami-Dade about Alex Penelas,” Oliva said in a text message.

Citizens for Ethical & Effective Leadership sent out mailers and ran digital ads criticizing Perez. One mailer called him a “disgrace to Republicans and our exile community” for taking engagement photos in Cuba. Perez said he and his then-fiancee were in Cuba to visit her uncle and that he opposes the Cuban government. 

Perez was first elected to represent the 116th in a special election in 2017. He was re-elected in 2018. Garcia is a retired Army captain who opened a construction business. The primary is Aug. 18.

Power players

“With our rapidly expanding membership of 4.5 million grassroots activists, the National Association for Gun Rights has led the charge to halt the radical anti-gun agenda across the nation. Accepting NO COMPROMISE on the issue of gun control, NAGR works tirelessly to hold politicians accountable for their anti-gun views, and has made great strides in protecting and preserving the Second Amendment.” – National Association for Gun Rights website

Founded in 2005, the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) is a 501(c)(4) organization that says its mission is “[e]mpowering Americans to stand for freedom and defend their inalienable right to keep and bear arms.” NAGR describes itself as the “nation’s largest no-compromise defenders of the Second Amendment” and says it “works to defeat the radical anti-gun agenda through grassroots activism.”

NAGR lists its two key issues as opposing ‘red flag’ gun confiscation bills, which it describes as bills that “call for legally owned firearms to be forcibly confiscated from law-abiding Americans without due process, based on unsubstantiated accusations …” and supporting constitutional carry, which it defines as “the basic principle that if you are legally eligible to purchase a firearm, you should be able to carry that weapon, concealed, for self-defense without government ‘permission.’”

NAGR is affiliated with the political action committee NAGR-PAC, which endorses candidates for political office and recently endorsed Tommy Tuberville in the Alabama Senate primary runoff, and the super PAC Gun Rights America, which aired its first ad in June attacking Todd McMurtry and supporting Thomas Massie in Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District.