TagSpecial Elections

Two incumbents defeated in Kentucky state legislative primaries so far

On June 23, 2020, voters across Kentucky cast their ballots in the state’s legislative primaries.

In total, there were six party primaries for state Senate seats and 32 primaries in the state House. By partisan affiliation, there were 13 Democratic primaries and 25 Republican primaries for a total of 38, a decrease from the 51 primaries held in 2018. Overall, the total number of major party candidates seeking state legislative offices in Kentucky has decreased from 289 in 2018 to 242 this year. Democrats experienced a greater decrease in candidates, down from 150 in 2018 to 106 in 2020. There were 136 Republican candidates this year, down from 139 in 2018.

Seventeen incumbents are not seeking re-election in 2020, three in the Senate and 14 in the House. In the Senate, one incumbent was defeated, so of the 19 seats up for election, 15 will feature an incumbent in the general election. One incumbent was also defeated in the House with one race remaining too close to call as of July 2. This means that of the 100 seats up this year, at least 84 will feature incumbents in the general election.

Incumbents defeated in the primary:

• Sen. Albert Robinson (R), Senate District 21
• Rep. Les Yates (R), House District 73

As of July 2, the primary between first-term incumbent Rep. R. Travis Brenda (R) and Josh Bray (R) remained too close to call. On July 1, Brenda officially requested a canvas of the vote after initial results showed Bray with 50.2 percent of the vote to Brenda’s 49.8 percent, a 30-vote margin.

Heading into the general election, Republicans hold a 29-9 majority in the Senate and a 61-37 majority in the House. In Kentucky, a simple majority of votes in each chamber is required to override a gubernatorial veto. In 2019, Andy Beshear (D) was elected governor, making Kentucky one of the 14 states with divided government. General election winners will be responsible for redrawing district lines after the 2020 census. In Kentucky, the legislature is responsible for drafting congressional and state legislative district plans, both of which are subject to gubernatorial veto.

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New Jersey to hold primary election on July 7

The statewide primary election for New Jersey is on July 7, 2020. The filing deadline to run passed on March 30, 2020. Candidates are running in elections for the following offices:

• U.S. Senate (1 seat)
• U.S. House (12 seats)
• State Senate District 25 (special election)
• State House District 25 (special election)

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:
• Essex County
• Hudson County

New Jersey’s primary election was postponed from June 2 to July 7 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020.

New Jersey’s primary is the 30th to take place in the 2020 election. The next primary is on July 14 in Maine.

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Louisiana to hold special elections July 11

Ballotpedia will be covering three special elections on July 11 in Louisiana. Offices on the ballot include a state House seat located in the Jefferson and Lafourche parishes and two judicial positions in Baton Rouge. A general election is scheduled on August 15, 2020, in case no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the special primary election. Early voting for the July 11 election ends at 6 p.m. on July 4.

In state House District 54, six candidates are running to replace Reggie Bagala (R). James Cantrelle (R), Dave Carskadon (R), Kevin Duet (R), Phil Gilligan (R), Donny Lerille (R), and Joseph Orgeron (R) are facing off in the election. Bagala died on April 9 from coronavirus-related health complications. He was first elected to the position in 2019 with 58.2% of the vote.

Baton Rouge is holding special elections for the Division C seat on the City Court and for the Division M-Section 2 seat on the state’s 19th Judicial District Court. The special primary election was originally scheduled to take place on April 4, with a general to be held May 9, if necessary. The dates were moved amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Greg Cook (D), Donald Dobbins (D), Whitney Greene (R), Jonathan Holloway, Sr. (D), and Johnell Matthews (D) will face off in the special primary election for the vacant City Court seat. The special election became necessary when Judge Tarvald Smith vacated the seat after being elected to the 19th Judicial District Court in 2019.

Yvette Alexander (D), Tiffany Foxworth (D), Eboni Johnson-Rose (D), and Jennifer Moisant (D) are running in the special primary election for the Division M-Section 2 seat on the 19th Judicial District Court. The special election became necessary when Judge Beau Higginbotham vacated the seat after being elected to the Division C-Section 3 seat on the 19th Judicial District Court in 2019.

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Four state legislators resign at the end of June

Four state legislators in three states stepped down from their positions on June 30, bringing the number of state legislative vacancies that have occurred this year to 75.

The former legislators had a cumulative total of more than sixty years of legislative experience among them. Gary Jackson (R) had served in the Mississippi State Senate since 2004. Gary Chism (R), another Mississippi legislator, first began serving in the state’s House of Representatives in 2000. Jerry W. Tillman (R), who left the North Carolina State Senate, was first elected to the chamber in 2002. Chris Richey (D) first joined the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2013.

The process by which state legislative vacancies are filled varies by state. In both chambers of the Mississippi state legislature and in the Arkansas House of Representatives, the governor must call a special election to fill the vacant seat. In the North Carolina Senate, the governor is responsible for appointing a replacement senator.

As of July 2020, 48 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for this year in 25 states. The elections will decide 17 previously Democratic and 31 previously Republican seats. The partisan composition of state legislatures nationwide as of July 1 is 46.8% Democratic and 52.2% Republican, which has remained consistent since April of this year.

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Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 25 (July 1, 2020)

This week: Club for Growth Action suspends ads in Senate primary in KS, Right for Alabama PAC spends to counter Club for Growth spending in AL-01 runoff, and Missouri Right to Life PAC endorses state Senator in open Missouri House District 147 primary

On the news

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

On the Supreme Court decision in June Medical Services v. Russo

“The process bothers me as much as the result. The chief justice today joined with the four liberals on the court to strike down the Louisiana statute. Four years ago, in a case out of Texas, same statute, same issue, the chief justice voted with the conservatives. Today, he voted with the liberals. He changed his vote. He flip-flopped. He flip-flopped like a banked catfish. And that’s why I say the process worries me as much as the result. This is why so many people think the — that our federal courts, our federal judges have become nothing but politicians in robes. Now, the chief justice famously says all the time that he’s just an umpire, all he does is call balls and strikes. Well, four years ago, he called a ball. Today, same pitch, he called a strike.”

– Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), quoted by Breitbart, June 29, 2020

“I agree with the Supreme Court’s decision in June Medical, which recognizes the burden that the Louisiana statute could impose. Some have tried to suggest that this opinion is an indication of how certain justices would vote on the question of whether abortion will remain legal. That is reading too much into this specific decision. As Justice Gorsuch noted, ‘In truth, Roe v. Wade is not even at issue here.’”

– Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), quoted by Maine Public Radio, June 29, 2020

Election results

Governor of Utah: As of 7:45 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, the Republican primary for governor of Utah was too close to call. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox led with 37.0% of the vote, followed by former Gov. Jon Huntsman with 34.3%. Former state House Speaker Greg Hughes had 20.7% of the vote and former state GOP Chairman Thomas Wright had 8.0%.

Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District: Challenger Lauren Boebert defeated incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton in the Republican primary for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. As of 7:30 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, Boebert had received 55% of the vote to Tipton’s 45% with 88% of precincts reporting. Tipton, who was first elected in 2010, is the fifth member of the U.S. House to lose renomination this year, joining Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Steve King (R-Iowa), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and Denver Riggleman (R-Va.).

Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District: Terry Neese and Stephanie Bice were the top two finishers in the Republican primary for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, with 36.5% and 25.4% of the vote respectively. Since neither candidate won 50% of the vote, the two advanced to an Aug. 25 runoff. Nearly all of the satellite spending in the primary came from either Club for Growth Action, which opposed Bice, or American Jobs & Growth PAC, which supported her. 

Utah’s 1st Congressional District: As of 7:45 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, the Republican primary in Utah’s 1st Congressional District remained too close to call. Blake Moore led with 30.2% of the vote, followed by Bob Stevenson with 29.6%. Incumbent Rob Bishop (R) ran for lieutenant governor rather than seeking re-election.

Utah’s 4th Congressional District: Super Bowl XV Champion Burgess Owens won the Republican primary in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. As of 7:45 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, Owens had received 44% of the vote, followed by Kim Coleman with 24%. Owens will face incumbent Ben McAdams (D) in the November general election. Two election forecasters say the race leans towards McAdams and a third says it tilts towards him.

Utah Attorney General: As of 7:45 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, the Republican primary for Attorney General of Utah remained too close to call. Incumbent Sean Reyes led with 54.4% of the vote, followed by Utah County Sheriff David Leavitt with 45.6%. Reyes, who has served as attorney general since 2013, says he is running to continue his record, while Leavitt says he is running to change Utah’s approach to criminal justice.

U.S. Congress

Club for Growth Action suspends ads in Senate primary in KS

Club for Growth Action announced it is suspending its TV advertising in the Republican primary for Senate in Kansas. The group has run ads opposing Roger Marshall.

Club for Growth President David McIntosh said, “We continue to believe Rep. Marshall is not a strong pro-growth candidate. … But the Club for Growth PAC is not endorsing in this race, and Club for Growth Action will be deploying resources in other critical House and Senate primaries.”

Politico reported on March 31 that the PAC had booked $2.1 million for ads to run between June 9 and Aug. 4, the date of the primary.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Marshall. Chamber CEO Thomas J. Donohue said, “As our country faces many challenges and is collectively working to not just reopen our economy, but return to growth and expanded opportunities for all Americans, we need leaders like Representative Roger Marshall. He has a proven track record of leading responsibly and standing up for good policies.” 

Also last week, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach released his first broadcast TV ad. The ad criticizes Marshall for voting in favor of a 2018 immigration bill.  

Marshall and Kobach have led the 11-candidate primary field in noteworthy endorsements. Marshall’s endorsers include former Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), the Kansas Farm Bureau, and National Right to Life. Kobach’s endorsers include the National Border Patrol Council, the Kansas Coalition for Life, and the National Association for Gun Rights.

Right for Alabama PAC spends to counter Club for Growth spending in AL-01 runoff

Right for Alabama PAC spent $29,000 on ads supporting Jerry Carl in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District Republican primary runoff. It’s the first satellite spending in support of Carl. Club for Growth Action has spent $1.1 million opposing Carl and $217,000 supporting Bill Hightower.

Right for Alabama PAC said the following in a statement to Alabama Daily News:

For some time now, a D.C.-based special interest group has tried to buy this election and attack the good name and character of Jerry Carl. … We could not sit back and continue to watch this happen to an honorable man like Jerry Carl. This D.C.-based special interest group did not support Donald Trump in 2016 and it continually opposes the Farm Bill, the National Flood Insurance Program and other critical policies that help South Alabama.

Club for Growth Action has criticized Carl by saying he supported “handing out over $20 million of tax money to billion-dollar corporations.”

Carl was elected to the Mobile County Commission in 2012 and said he is “a vocal fiscal hawk and advocate for pro-growth, job-creating policies.” Carl says his experience running small businesses has made him a problem-solver. 

Hightower was a state senator from 2013 to 2018. He has emphasized bills he introduced or sponsored, including proposals to ban the sale of fetal body parts and to institute term limits for Alabama state legislators. 

Incumbent Rep. Bradley Byrne (R), first elected in 2013, ran in the U.S. Senate Republican primary rather than seeking re-election to the House. The runoff is July 14.

Update: Trump rally for Tuberville in Alabama reportedly canceled

Last week, we reported that the president planned to hold a rally in Alabama supporting Tommy Tuberville ahead of the July 14 Senate primary runoff. On June 30, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Kevin Liptak wrote that “Trump’s campaign has scrapped plans to hold a rally in Alabama next weekend amid concerns about coronavirus infections rising in the US.”

State executives

Bill Carrico considering a run for governor of Virginia in 2021

Former state Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Va.) said he is considering running for governor next year and will announce his final decision this fall. 

Carrico, a former state trooper, was elected to the state House in 2001 and to the state Senate in 2011. He retired from the legislature in 2019. He said he was considering running for governor because of the ongoing debate over policing and race relations. 

Carrico made the announcement in an interview with former state Del. Chris Saxman June 25.

Carrico said he supported expanding training programs for police officers, creating a statewide list of officers who had been the subject of complaints, and mandating body camera usage. He said he was opposed to measures to reduce funding for police departments in favor of other social services because they would be costly and put first responders at risk.

State Sen. Amanda Chase (R) is the only Republican to have filed so far for 2021. Chase was first elected to the state Senate in 2015. She said she was inspired to run by Democratic proposals to tighten restrictions on firearms.

Virginia is the only state to prevent governors from running for 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.

2020 battleground primary recap: Governor of West Virginia

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

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) is running for re-election this year. Although this is Justice’s second gubernatorial run, it is his first campaign as a Republican. Justice was elected as a Democrat in 2016 before joining the GOP the following year.

Justice defeated six challengers to win the Republican nomination on June 9. Justice won 63% of the vote, followed by former state Secretary of Commerce H. Woody Thrasher with 18% and state Del. Michael Folk with 12%.

Justice emphasized his endorsements from West Virginians for Life, the National Rifle Association, and President Trump. He said he was running to build on policies from his first term, including increasing teacher pay and funding repairs to West Virginia’s roads.

Thrasher, who served as Justice’s Secretary of Commerce for the first two years of his term, said Justice was not treating the office of governor as a full-time position and criticized his leadership during his first term.

Folk said both Justice and Thrasher were former Democrats who had only recently joined the GOP. He said West Virginia needed to change its approach towards governance in order to reverse its downward trend in population.

Justice will face Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango (D) and any declared independent or third-party candidates in the November general election. Two election forecasters say Justice is a solid favorite to win re-election and one says he is likely to win.


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 21 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Arizona State Troopers Association endorses incumbent in Arizona Senate District 15 primary

On June 27, the Arizona State Troopers Association endorsed incumbent state Sen. Heather Carter in the Republican primary for Senate District 15. Carter faces state Rep. Nancy Barto in the primary. The Arizona Republic’s Andrew Oxford wrote that Barto’s challenge “pits a staunch conservative against one of the GOP’s moderate state senators.”

Carter and Barto were both elected to represent District 15 in 2010, Carter as a state Representative and Barto as state Senator. Both legislators were unable to run for re-election in 2018 due to term limits and chose to run for the opposite chamber. 

When announcing her candidacy for Senate in 2020, Barto said, “District 15 should … have a representative that challenges government overreach,” adding, “Lately I’ve become deeply concerned to see our current senator is not representing our freedoms and values. It is vital that we bring back strong, conservative leadership.”

Carter, responding to Barto’s announcement, wrote, “Maybe she has unfinished business like protecting Big Tobacco … [or] promoting her dangerous anti-vaxer views,” continuing, “I’ve spent my entire legislative career focused on economic growth and creating jobs.”

No other candidates are running for the seat, meaning the winner of the August 4 primary likely will be the next Senator.

Missouri Right to Life PAC endorses state Senator in open Missouri House District 147 primary

On June 24, the Missouri Right to Life State PAC endorsed state Sen. Wayne Wallingford (R-27) in the primary for House District 147. Wallingford is facing former Cape Girardeau city councilman John Voss (R) in the primary. Incumbent Rep. Kathy Swan (R-147) is term-limited.

Wallingford represented House District 158 for one term from 2011 to 2013. He won election to two terms representing Senate District 27 in 2012 and 2016. Wallingford said, “[O]ur district needs a strong, proven, conservative fighting for us.”

Voss served on the Cape Girardeau city council from 2006 to 2014, including two years as Mayor Pro Tempore in 2013 and 2014. He entered the race after Wallingford. Voss described himself as “a fresh set of eyes — a new conservative voice.” 

The winner of the August 4 primary will likely face Andy Leighton (D), the only other candidate running for the seat. The Republican candidate has either run unopposed or received over 60 percent of the vote in each of the District’s past four general elections.

Power players

A weekly feature on an influencer shaping the direction of the party.

“National Right to Life is the nation’s largest pro-life organization, with 50 state affiliates and approximately 3,000 local affiliates nationwide. NRL works through legislation, education and political action to protect those threatened by abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and assisted suicide.” – NRLC PAC website

The National Right to Life PAC and National Right to Life Victory Fund are a political action committee (PAC) and super PAC that together constitute the political arm of National Right to Life.

Founded in 1968, National Right to Life describes its mission as “to protect and defend the most fundamental right of humankind, the right to life of every innocent human being from the beginning of life to natural death.” 

The group’s policy page lists “Abortion”, “Federal Funding of Abortion”, “Planned Parenthood”, “Euthanasia/Assisting Suicide”, “Heath Care Rationing”, “Medicare”, “Advance Care Planning”, “Living Wills/Will to Live”, “International Issues”, “Free Speech”, and “Campaigns & Elections” as issue areas.

To view candidates endorsed by the National Right to Life Political Victory Fund, click here.

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 25 (July 1, 2020)

This week: Gov. Murphy endorses Kennedy in NJ-02, Professional Fire Fighters of MA endorses Becky Grossman in MA-04, and King County Democrats endorse Denny Heck for lieutenant governor of Washington

On the news

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

On the Democratic vice presidential nominee

“Senator [Elizabeth] Warren has also proposed some of the most comprehensive policy plans to deal with the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. She has the tenacity and expertise to help ordinary Americans steer through this crisis, and she’d be ready to govern on day one. For all of these reasons, we’re asking you to choose her as your vice president. Biden-Warren would represent a unity ticket, one capable of generating enthusiasm from across the Democratic Party and beyond – and defeating Donald Trump in November.”

– RootsAction and Progressive Democrats of America, in an open letter to Joe Biden, June 30, 2020

“I don’t support an all-white ticket. That was a tremendous mistake in 2016. We have a party that’s half people of color and a quarter Black. The ticket needs to reflect that.”

– Aimee Allison, president of She the People, quoted by NBC News, June 27, 2020

Election results

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

June 30

U.S. Senate in Colorado: Former Gov. John Hickenlooper defeated former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff to win the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). As of 7:15 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, Hickenlooper had received 60% of the vote to Romanoff’s 40% with 83% of precincts reporting. The Colorado Sun described the race as reflecting a broader split within the national Democratic Party. Hickenlooper’s endorsers included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee while Romanoff’s included the metro Denver branch of Our Revolution.

Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District: Former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush defeated Seattle Fish Company executive chairman James Iacino to win the Democratic nomination in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. As of 7:15 a.m. Mountain Time on July 1, Bush had received 61% of the vote to Iacino’s 39% with 83% of precincts reporting. The two differed on healthcare, with Bush supporting a single-payer system and Iacino supporting an opt-in public insurance plan.

June 23

U.S. Senate in Kentucky: Amy McGrath won the June 23 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate nomination in Kentucky. As of 5:00 p.m. Central Time on June 30, McGrath had received 45% of the vote, followed by Charles Booker with 43%. No other candidate had more than 10% of the vote. McGrath will face incumbent Mitch McConnell (R) in the November general election.

New York’s 16th Congressional District: Jamaal Bowman defeated incumbent Eliot Engel and three other candidates to win the Democratic nomination in New York’s 27th Congressional District. As of 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time on June 30, Bowman had 61% of the vote to Engel’s 36%. Engel released a statement June 24 saying it would be too soon to call the election before absentee ballots had been tallied. 

New York’s 24th Congressional District: Dana Balter defeated Francis Conole to win the Democratic nomination in New York’s 24th Congressional District. As of 6:00 p.m. on June 30, Balter had received 64% of the vote to Conole’s 35%. Balter will face incumbent John Katko (R). Two election forecasters say the race leans towards Katko and the third says he is likely to win.

U.S. Congress

Gov. Murphy endorses Kennedy in NJ-02

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) endorsed Amy Kennedy in the state’s 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary.

Murphy said, “South Jersey needs strong and compassionate leaders with integrity and commitment to community. As a former public school teacher and mental health advocate, Amy Kennedy is just the type of leader who’ll bring progressive change to South Jersey.”

The Press of Atlantic City‘s Michelle Brunetti Post wrote that political science professor Brigid Callahan Harrison “is backed by State Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and Democratic powerbroker George Norcross of Camden, both of which have sparred with Murphy in the past.” In 2019, Murphy clashed with Norcross and Sweeney on the Economic Development Authority’s use of tax incentives.

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

Harrison, Kennedy, and Will Cunningham participated in a debate on June 25. Harrison and Kennedy agreed on several policy issues, including support for single-payer healthcare and increasing infrastructure spending. Harrison criticized Kennedy for receiving campaign contributions from executives of Wellpath, a private correctional healthcare services company. Kennedy criticized Harrison for not taking an End Citizens United pledge to refuse contributions from corporate PACs. End Citizens United endorsed Kennedy in the race.

The Democratic primary became an open race in December when incumbent Rep. Jeff Van Drew changed his affiliation from Democratic to Republican. Van Drew is running in the Republican primary.

The primaries are July 7. Five candidates are running in the Democratic primary, and Van Drew faces one challenger.

Professional Fire Fighters of MA endorses Becky Grossman in MA-04

The Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts endorsed Becky Grossman in Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District Democratic primary. She is one of 10 candidates running for a chance to succeed incumbent Joe Kennedy (D), who is running for U.S. Senate. This is a safe Democratic district. 

Union President Rich MacKinnon Jr. said Grossman “stands out in a crowded field of candidates for her unwavering and genuine support of firefighters and their families.”

Recently, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Massachusetts State Council endorsed Jesse Mermell. The Ironworkers Local 7 union endorsed Jack Auchincloss. 

Auchincloss and Grossman are on the Newton City Council. Mermell is a former Brookline Select Board member.

Four candidates in the race raised more than $500,000 as of March 31. Auchincloss and Alan Khazei led with $1,096,000 and $1,074,000, respectively. Grossman had raised $638,000, and Mermell, $560,000. 

The primary is Sept. 1.

Nine of 10 candidates in this race have filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Click candidates’ names below to view their profile pages and survey responses.

State executives

Former Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin endorses Molly Gray for lieutenant governor

Former Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) endorsed Assistant Attorney General Molly Gray’s (D) run for lieutenant governor of Vermont on June 25.

Gray, state Sen. Timothy Ashe, state Sen. Debbie Ingram, and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Brenda Siegel are the four Democrats running in the Aug. 11 primary. 

Gray’s other backers include former Gov. Madeleine Kunin (D) and former Lt. Gov. Doug Racine (D). 

Vermont is one of 17 states where the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately. Vermont’s lieutenant governor is first in line to succeed the governor and serves as president of the state Senate, where they may cast tie-breaking votes. 

Incumbent David Zuckerman (D) is running for governor against Gov. Phil Scott (R), leaving the office open. Vermont is one of three states where the governor and lieutenant governor are members of different parties. North Carolina and Louisiana both have a Democratic governor and a Republican lieutenant governor.

Vermont is one of 21 states where the governor is not permitted to delegate some of their responsibilities to the lieutenant governor.

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

King County Democrats endorse Denny Heck for lieutenant governor of Washington

The King County Democratic Party’s executive committee endorsed U.S. Rep. Denny Heck (D) for lieutenant governor of Washington June 25. King County, home to Seattle, is Washington’s largest county and accounts for 30% of the state’s overall population.

Washington is one of two states, along with California, to use a top-two primary system for state executive elections. Under this system, every candidate for a particular office appears on the same primary ballot and the top two finishers advance to the general election regardless of their partisan affiliation.

Heck is among 11 candidates, four of them Democrats, who will appear on the Aug. 4 top-two primary ballot. Incumbent Cyrus Habib (D), who is not running for re-election, endorsed state Sen. Marko Liias (D).

The King County Democrats also endorsed Gov. Jay Inslee, state Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz, and state Auditor Pat McCarthy, each of whom faces Democratic primary challengers, for re-election. The group endorsed the Democratic candidate in four other state executive races where only one Democrat was on the ballot and backed incumbent Chris Reykdal in the nonpartisan race for Superintendent of Public Instruction.


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 21 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Newly-formed Rhode Island Political Cooperative announces 17 state legislative candidates

On June 25, the newly-formed Rhode Island Political Cooperative announced 17 Democratic candidates supporting its platform filed to run for General Assembly seats ahead of the July 10 deadline. Of those 17 candidates, 12 are challenging Democratic incumbents.

The organization says the candidates “are committed to a common platform of a Green New Deal, $15 minimum wage, single-payer healthcare, and racial and economic justice.” 

The R.I. Political Cooperative, founded in 2019, describes itself as “a non-profit corporation that provides campaign services to progressive political candidates in Rhode Island.” According to Uprise RI, the group “directly addresses the challenges candidates face when running against establishment politicians who are backed by corporate money.” Jennifer Rourke, former state Senator Jeanine Calkin (D), and former Secretary of State Matt Brown (D) are its co-chairs.

As of July 1, the 12 candidates challenging Democratic incumbents include Lenny Cioe (D) who is facing Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (D-04) in the Senate District 4 primary. 

Of the five candidates not challenging Democratic incumbents, one—Rep. Moira Walsh (D-03)—is an incumbent facing a challenger. Two—Kendra Anderson (D) in Senate District 31 and Michelle McGaw (D) in House District 71—are running in primaries for open seats. In Senate District 34 and House District 39, Jennifer Douglas (D) and Megan Cotter (D) are challenging Republican incumbents.

Candidates debate in primary for open Wisconsin Senate District 16 seat

On June 25, Andrew McKinney and Melissa Sargent met in a debate in the Democratic primary for Wisconsin’s open Senate District 16 seat. 

The debate was held over Zoom and moderated by The Capital Times’ Briana Reilly. In a post-debate recap, the Times’ Steven Elbow wrote, “Candidates for the District 16 state Senate seat were largely on the same page on major issues … [and] share similar priorities: health care, housing, education, and tackling racial disparities.”

Sargent has represented District 48 in the Wisconsin State Assembly since 2013. She said, “I am proud to continue to be a champion of progressive policies,” and, “my experience, compassion, and proven leadership will serve our community.” 

McKinney is the Monona Grove School Board President. He said “I’m the new kid on the block in this, but I do have the experience of working with policies, working with our community,” adding, “I can get all of these Republican and Democrats together to work on these issues so it can be a better tomorrow.”

The winner of the primary will likely face Scott Barker (R), who is running unopposed on the Republican side. The retiring incumbent, Sen. Mark Miller (D-16), ran unopposed in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 primary and general elections.

Power players

“Our democracy is under attack. It’s not just foreign interference in our elections: Politicians here in America are attacking our right to vote. Politicians are trying to pick their voters instead of voters picking their politicians. We can’t let that happen.” – Let America Vote website

Let America Vote is a 527 group founded in 2017 by former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D). The group describes its mission as: “When politicians make it hard to vote, we make it hard for them to get re-elected.”

Let America Vote merged with End Citizens United, another voting policy group which has backed Democrats in recent elections, in January. Click here to read our profile of End Citizens United, first published in Issue 7 of the Heart of the Primaries.

As of June 2020, Let America Vote’s website said it had endorsed over 110 successful candidates for elected office. Its endorsements in 2020 primaries included Dan Feltes (D) for governor of New Hampshire and U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), and Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), who are each seeking re-election.

Click here for a full list of the group’s 2020 endorsement announcements.

Special primary election being held in Oklahoma Senate district

A special primary election is being held on June 30 for District 28 of the Oklahoma State Senate. Christian Ford, Mike Haines, and Zack Taylor are competing in the Republican primary. No Democratic candidates filed to run for election.

The seat became vacant when Jason Smalley (R) resigned on January 31 to take a private-sector job with Motorola Solutions Corporation. Smalley had represented the district since 2014.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 38-9 majority in the Oklahoma State Senate with one vacancy. Oklahoma has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Regularly scheduled elections are being held in odd-numbered Oklahoma State Senate districts in 2020. A primary is being held on June 30, and a primary runoff is scheduled for August 25, 2020. The general election will be held on November 3.

As of June, 48 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 25 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:

Special election to be held June 23 for Kentucky Senate seat

A special election is being held on June 23 for District 26 of the Kentucky State Senate. Karen Berg (D) and Bill Ferko (R) are running in the special election. Party county executive committees choose nominees for state legislative special elections in Kentucky.

The seat became vacant when Ernie Harris (R) retired from the legislature on April 15. Harris had represented the district since 1995. He last won re-election in 2018, defeating Berg in the general election with 51.8 percent of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 28-9 majority in the Kentucky Senate with one vacancy. Kentucky has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Regularly scheduled elections are being held in odd-numbered Kentucky State Senate districts in 2020. A primary is being held on June 23. The general election will be held on November 3.

As of June, 47 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 24 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Additional reading:

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

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

On the news

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

On racism in America  

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

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

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

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

Kay Coles James, Fox News, May 31, 2020

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

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

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

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

Tucker Carlson, Fox News, June 2, 2020

June 2 elections review


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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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


U.S. Congress

Wagle drops out of Senate primary in KS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The primary is June 23.

State executives

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott to seek re-election

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the news

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

On property destruction in protests

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

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

Steven W. Thrasher, Slate, May 30, 2020

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

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

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

John Avlon, CNN, May 31, 2020

June 2 elections review


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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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


U.S. Congress

Yang endorses Perelman in FL-23

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

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

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

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

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

The primary is Aug. 18.

Jones releases first TV ad in NY-17

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

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

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

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

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

State executives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer Carroll Foy launches campaign for governor of Virginia

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

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

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

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

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


Washington District 37 Democrats and retiring incumbent endorse competing candidates

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

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

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

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

Progressive organization endorses challenger to incumbent Washington District 5 senator

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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