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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

State legislative special elections scheduled in Louisiana, Washington

A new state legislative special election has been added to our list. The special election is for the District 54 seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives on July 11, 2020. There is no primary, and the filing deadline was on May 22.

A new state legislative special election has been added to our list. The special election is for the District 38 seat in the Washington State Senate on November 3, 2020. The primary is on August 4, and the filing deadline was on May 15.

Cutrona appointed to Ohio House of Representatives

A Republican committee in the Ohio House of Representatives appointed Alessandro “Al” Cutrona (R) to the District 59 seat on May 28. The seat became vacant when late state Rep. Don Manning (R) died unexpectedly in March. Cutrona was sworn in on May 28.

Cutrona is an attorney and works as the chief operating officer and in-house counsel at an infectious disease medical practice in Youngstown, Ohio. He will serve the remainder of Manning’s unexpired term, which ends on December 31, 2020.

Cutrona fills the only vacancy that has occurred in the Ohio legislature this year. With his appointment, the partisan composition of the Ohio House of Representatives is 61 Republicans and 38 Democrats. Ohio has a Republican state government trifecta, which exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

The Republican Party has held a majority in the Ohio State Senate continuously since 1992 and a majority in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1994 until 2008 and again from 2010 to the present.

Additional reading:

Candidate filing period for state executive and legislative races ends in Vermont and Wyoming

The filing deadlines to run for state-level offices in Vermont and Wyoming have passed. Vermont’s deadline was on May 28, and Wyoming’s deadline was on May 29.

In Vermont, prospective candidates filed for the following state offices:
• Governor
• Lieutenant Governor
• Secretary of State
• Auditor
• Attorney General
• Treasurer
• Vermont State Senate (30 seats)
• Vermont House of Representatives (150 seats)

In Wyoming, prospective candidates filed for the following state legislative offices:
• Wyoming State Senate (15 seats)
• Wyoming House of Representatives (60 seats)

Wyoming is also holding retention elections for two state Supreme Court justices on November 3, 2020.

Vermont’s primary is scheduled for August 11, and Wyoming’s primary is scheduled for August 18. The general elections in both states are scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Vermont’s statewide filing deadline was the 39th and Wyoming’s deadline was the 40th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadlines are on June 1 in Alaska, Kansas, and Wisconsin.

Wyoming 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. Vermont has a divided government where no party holds a trifecta.

Additional reading:

Candidate filing period to pass in five states

The filing deadlines to run for state-level offices in Alaska, Kansas, Wisconsin, Hawaii, and Minnesota will pass next week. Alaska’s, Kansas’, and Wisconsin’s filing deadlines will pass on June 1. The filing deadlines in Hawaii and Minnesota will pass on June 2.

In Alaska, prospective candidates may file for the following state offices:
  • State Senate (10 seats)
  • State House (40 seats)
  • Additionally, Alaska will hold retention elections for one supreme court justice and one court of appeals justice.
In Kansas, prospective candidates may file for the following state offices:
  • State Board of Education (5 seats)
  • State Senate (40 seats)
  • State House (125 seats)
  • Additionally, Kansas will hold retention elections for one supreme court justice and six court of appeals justices.

Ballotpedia is also covering local offices in Sedgwick County, Kansas.

In Wisconsin, prospective candidates may file for the following state offices:
  • State Senate (16 seats)
  • State House (99 seats)
In Hawaii, prospective candidates may file for the following state offices:
  • Office of Hawaiian Affairs (4 seats)
  • State Senate (13 seats)
  • State House (51 seats)

Ballotpedia is also covering local offices in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In Minnesota, prospective candidates may file for the following state offices:
  • State Senate (67 seats)
  • State House (134 seats)
  • Supreme Court (2 seats)
  • Court of Appeals (6 seats)
Ballotpedia is also covering local offices in the following areas:
  • Minneapolis Public Schools (4 seats)
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Hennepin County, Minnesota
  • Ramsey County, Minnesota

Kansas’ primary is scheduled for August 4, and Hawaii’s primary is scheduled for August 8. Minnesota and Wisconsin’s primaries are scheduled for August 11. Alaska’s primary will be held on August 18. The general elections in all five states are scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Alaska, Kansas, Wisconsin, Hawaii, and Minnesota’s statewide filing deadlines are the 41st, 42nd, 43rd, 44th, and 45th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on June 11 in Connecticut.

Hawaii has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Alaska, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota have a divided government where no party holds a trifecta.

Additional reading:

Michigan legislature asks state Supreme Court to take up lawsuit challenging governor’s emergency powers

On Friday, May 22, Republicans in the Michigan Senate and House asked the Michigan Supreme Court to consider a lawsuit filed by House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R) and Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R) challenging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) emergency declarations issued in response to the coronavirus.

A Michigan Court of Claims Judge ruled against the legislature on Thursday, May 21, but attorneys for the House and Senate asked the state’s highest court to grant the lawsuit an “emergency-bypass review” to avoid a decision from the Court of Appeals.

Gov. Whitmer has issued emergency declarations, including the state’s stay-at-home order, under two laws, one from 1976 and one from 1945. The legislature’s lawsuit challenges the Governor’s authority to issue statewide and indefinite emergency declarations under both laws. The Court of Claims ruled that Gov. Whitmer exceeded her authority under the 1976 law but not the 1945 law, and dismissed the lawsuit.

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

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

On the news

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

On Biden’s comments on The Breakfast Club

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

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

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

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

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

Chauncey DeVega, Salon, May 25, 2020


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

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

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

Jamil Smith, Rolling Stone, May 22, 2020  

U.S. Congress

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

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

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

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

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

According to Politico:

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

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

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

Indiana Chamber of Commerce endorses McDermott in IN-01

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

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

McDermott is mayor of Hammond.

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

Some other notable endorsements in the race:

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

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

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

Greenfield, Mauro release ads in Senate primary in Iowa

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

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

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

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

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

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

State executives

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

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

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

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

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

Charleston Gazette-Mail endorses Ben Salango for Democratic gubernatorial nomination

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

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

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

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

Mark Hass concedes Oregon Secretary of State primary to Shemia Fagan

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

On the news

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

On Trump’s tweets about Joe Scarborough

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

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

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

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

The Editors, National Review, May 26, 2020

U.S. Congress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackson picks up endorsements in TX-13 runoff

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

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

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

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

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

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

The runoff is July 14.

Club for Growth Action releases opposition ads in IN-05

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

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

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

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

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

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

State executives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert endorses Spencer Cox

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

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

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

Charleston Gazette-Mail endorses Woody Thrasher for GOP gubernatorial nomination 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Albuquerque Journal endorses Red River mayor in House District 42 primary

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

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

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

Power players

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

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

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


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


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



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

Oregon state legislative primaries see no incumbents defeated and an increase in competitiveness from 2018

May 19, 2020, was the ballot return due date for voters participating in Oregon’s 2020 primary elections. This year, 16 of the 30 seats in the state senate and all 60 seats in the state house are up for election. There were 33 contested state legislative primaries, six of which were for state senate seats and 27 of which were for state house seats. Twenty of the contested primaries were Democratic races and 13 were Republican. Oregon’s 33 contested primaries are a 32% increase from the 25 held in 2018 and are the most since at least 2010.

In all, 189 major-party candidates filed for state legislative seats in Oregon this year, including 104 Democrats and 85 Republicans. This is an 18% increase from the 160 candidates who filed in 2018.

Both chambers had an above-average number of open seats relative to recent elections. Between 2010 and 2018, an average of 2.2 state senate seats and 9.8 state house seats were open in Oregon each even-numbered year. This year, there were four open state senate seats and 12 open state house seats. This was more than in 2018—when there was one open senate seat and seven open house seats—but less than in 2016, when there were four open state senate seats and 14 open house seats.

Four incumbents faced primary challengers: state Sens. Ginny Burdick (D-18) and Bill Hansell (R-29) and state Reps. Paul Holvey (D-08) and Rob Nosse (D-42). All four advanced to the general election. An incumbent seeking re-election will appear on the general election ballot for 12 of the 16 senate districts and 48 of the 60 state house districts.

Oregon’s only state legislative district with both a contested Democratic primary and a contested Republican primary was House District 32. Located in Oregon’s northwestern corner, District 32 is currently represented by Tiffiny Mitchell, who is not running for re-election. Mitchell was the target of a recall campaign in 2019 that did not make the ballot.

Heading into the general election, Democrats hold an 18-12 supermajority in the state senate and a 37-22 supermajority in the state house. Because Gov. Kate Brown is also a Democrat, Oregon is one of 15 Democratic trifectas.

The winners of the general election will be responsible for drawing up new state legislative and congressional district boundaries after the 2020 census is completed.

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