The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
We’ll cover the results of Tennessee’s primaries in a future Digest. In the meantime, you can find the results here.
• Netroots Nation: The Daily Kos Elections team is in New Orleans this week for Netroots Nation, the annual progressive conference, and today at 4:15 PM local time (5:15 PM ET), we’ll be hosting a Q&A panel on the 2018 elections. We dispense with the PowerPoints and proceed directly to questions from the audience about the races folks are most interested in. If you’re unable to attend in person, good news: You can watch our livestream right here, and you can even ask us questions online. And if you’ll be there, please come by and say hello after the panel. See you in the Big Easy!
• AZ-Sen: The National Association of Realtors, which has a record of spending sizable sums on candidates from both parties, has endorsedDemocratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema over the eventual Republican nominee ahead of Arizona’s primaries at the end of this month.
• FL-Sen: Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has booked $18 million for ads starting just one day after the Aug. 28 primary. Nelson has been getting hammered on TV by GOP Gov. Rick Scott and his allies, who have already spent more than $25 million against him over the last several months, but unlike the wealthy governor, Nelson doesn’t have the bottomless resources that would have let him similarly saturate the airwaves. However, while Nelson has yet to air his ads this cycle, outside groups have been coming to his aid in recent weeks.
• MO-Sen: The Democratic groups Priorities USA and Senate Majority PAC are spending $950,000 on digital ads to attack Republican state Attorney General Josh Hawley. Their spot claims Hawley “looked the other way”when one of his donors was accused of bribing a state lawmaker in return for favors, and they accuse him of launching an investigation into Google just days after receiving a donation from a “shady San Francisco billionaire.”
• NV-Sen: The Democratic group End Citizens United has launched two ads (here and here) against Republican Sen. Dean Heller, with a theme of “follow the money.” The first ad shows a Heller lookalike pushing a wheelbarrow full of cash through the desert as the narrator hits him for taking $220,000 in donations from the pharmaceutical industry while voting to block Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices.
The second spot features the Heller doppelgänger pushing his wheelbarrow past a payday lending business while the narrator blasts him for taking nearly $100,000 from “predatory lenders,” whom he sought to shield from oversight by trying to shut down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The spots are part of ECU’s $1.7 million TV buy in the state for the first 17 days of August.
• WI-Sen: Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s latest ad hits both of her Republican rivals ahead of the Aug. 14 GOP primary. The narrator praises Baldwin for making sure the U.S. government “hires American and buys American,” but says GOP state Sen. Leah Vukmir called that notion “too expensive.” The spot also cites a recent Associated Press report that detailed how businessman Kevin Nicholson made more than $1 million “advising companies that shut down Wisconsin plants and laid off 1,900 people.” The commercial notably spends considerably more time attacking Nicholson than it does Vukmir.
• Senate: Senate Majority PAC recently reserved another $17 million in TV ad time across the country, and we now know this amount is only for the month of August. SMP is spending on races in Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia, although they haven’t given a breakdown of how much money they’re allocating to each state.
• MI-Gov, MI-Sen: On behalf of the local Michigan political tipsheet MIRS News, Mitchell Research takes a look at the Aug. 7 GOP primaries. They give Attorney General Bill Schuette a 40-18 lead over Lt. Gov. Brian Calley in the race for governor, while wealthy physician Jim Hines and state Sen. Patrick Colbeck are at 10 and 9 percent, respectively. Every single poll we’ve seen has shown Schuette ahead, though two recent surveys found him up by smaller high single-digit margins.
In the Senate race, Army veteran John James leads wealthy venture capitalist Sandy Pensler 44-30. The poll was taken Monday, days after Donald Trump tweeted out his endorsement for James.
• RI-Gov: State House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan is out with a poll from National Research that shows her trailing Cranston Mayor Allan Fung 44-33 in the Sept. 12 GOP primary. That’s better for her than Fung’s Public Opinion Strategies poll from a few weeks ago that showed her getting trounced 62-22, but it’s still hardly encouraging news. It doesn’t help Morgan that Fung, who was Team Red’s 2014 nominee, had a hefty$438,000 to $138,000 cash-on-hand lead over her at the end of June.
• LA-Gov: On Thursday, state Attorney General Jeff Landry clarified that he would defer to Sen. John Kennedy if his fellow Republican decides to challenge Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards next year.
• FL-06: With Honor Fund, a super PAC that spends on behalf of veterans from both parties, has launched a $104,000 TV buy for businessman and retired Green Beret Michael Waltz ahead of the Aug. 28 GOP primary. On the Democratic side, former deputy National Security Advisor Nancy Soderberg has unveiled endorsements from five members of Florida’s House delegation: Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, and Darren Soto.
• HI-01, HI-02: Merriman River Group takes a look at both Aug. 11Democratic primaries for Civil Beat, and neither result offers good news for progressives. In the crowded contest for the open 1st District, they give former Rep. Ed Case a hefty 34-19 lead over Lt. Gov. Doug Chin; state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim takes 15, while no one else clears 6 percent.
Case, who represented the 2nd District from 2002 until he unsuccessfully challenged then-Sen. Dan Akaka in the 2006 primary, was a Blue Dog Democrat who supported the Iraq War even though his district was dark blue. However, while Case only dove into the race in early June months after the other candidates, it seems that his name recognition has helped him stand out from the pack.
In the 2nd District, Merriman gives Rep. Tulsi Gabbard a 69-16 lead over environmental scientist Sherry Campagna. While Gabbard has alienated plenty of national Democrats for cozying up to murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and for her long refusal to criticize Trump, voters at home unfortunately don’t seem upset enough with her to fire her.
• KS-02: With Honor Fund has launched a $265,000 ad buy for Army veteran Steve Watkins in next week’s crowded GOP primary.
• MA-07: MassInc takes another look at the Sept. 4 primary for this safely blue seat, and they give Rep. Mike Capuano a 48-35 lead over Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. That’s almost identical to the 47-35 lead they gave Capuano in February.
• MI-11: MIRS News also has commissioned a poll from Mitchell Research for next week’s GOP primary in this competitive seat. They give wealthy businesswoman Lena Epstein a 27-18 lead over former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski, who narrowly lost a competitive 2010 race for a district that included part of this territory. Former Rep. Kerry Bentivolio is just behind with 14, while state Rep. Klint Kesto and state Sen. Mike Kowall are at 11 and 10, respectively. The results aren’t too different from a recent EPIC-MRA survey that had Epstein leading Raczkowski 29-22.
• NY-24: Well, whoa. A progressive organization called Speak Out Central New York has released a new survey of New York’s previously unpolled 24th Congressional District, and if the numbers are accurate, they should make Democrats very happy on multiple levels. The survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling, finds Democrat Dana Balter leading GOP Rep. John Katko by a 47-43 margin, with both Katko and Donald Trump sporting underwater favorability ratings of 39-49 and 42-55, respectively.
Like literally every congressional district in upstate New York, the 24th moved to the right in 2016, and sharply so: Barack Obama had carried the area by a wide 57-41 margin in 2012, but four years later, Hillary Clinton won it just 49-45. Still, as a “Clinton-GOP” district, Katko’s seat should have been a top target for Democrats in 2018. But Katko himself, in his short electoral career, had proved unusually adept. He demolished Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei 59-40 in the 2014 Republican wave, then beat a credible opponent by an even wider 61-39 spread last cycle, running an enormous 25 points ahead of the top of his party’s ticket.
Katko’s strength was likely a, if not the, key reason Democrats struggled to recruit a well-known challenger last year. Ultimately, local Democrats coalesced around Balter, an assistant visiting teaching professor at Syracuse University, but her fundraising didn’t match the grassroots enthusiasm behind her. The DCCC, not sold on Balter, belatedly wooed Juanita Perez Williams, a former corporation counsel for the city of Syracuse, into the race. Perez Williams, however, had badly lost a bid for Syracuse mayor the year before, and during her brief House campaign, it emerged that she had posted online several times about her “pro-life advocacy.” Balter crushed Perez Williams in the June primary 63-37.
Balter’s fundraising ticked up in the second quarter of the year but still was well behind the gonzo sums many other first-time candidates were racking up across the country. That left her at the end of June with an enormous 14-1 cash disadvantage against Katko, who had $1.6 million in the bank versus just $113,000 for Balter. With the House playing field so large, it looked like this race might get left behind by major outside groups on both sides.
But this poll could shift perceptions, particularly if Katko and his allies fail to respond with contradictory numbers of their own. And beyond the confines of this one race, this poll could suggest something even more worrying for the GOP: that even “strong” incumbents who have carefully distanced themselves from Trump, are taking their re-election campaigns seriously, and have significant advantages over their opponents could still face armageddon this fall. Daily Kos Elections currently rates this race Likely Republican, but we’ll be watching the next developments here very closely.
• House: The Hill reports that the DCCC has reserved another $7.4 millionin fall TV time across several media markets.
Tucson, AZ: $700,000 (AZ-02)
Bakersfield, CA: $50,000 (CA-21)
Fresno, CA: $100,000 (CA-21)
Sacramento, CA: $900,000 (CA-10)
San Diego, CA: $932,000 (CA-49)
Denver, CO: $927,000 (CO-06)
Paducah, KY: $500,000 (IL-12)
Topeka, KS: $117,000 (KS-02)
Kansas City, MO: $133,000 (KS-02, KS-03)
The Hill adds that, in addition to this latest round of reservations, the DCCC “quietly” reserved an additional $9.2 million in airtime back in May. However, they did not say what markets that money went to.
- AZ-Sen: Red and Gold (D) (against Martha McSally)
- AL-Gov: Kay Ivey (R-inc)
- MN-Gov: Tim Walz (D)
- NM-Gov: Michelle Lujan Grisham (D)
- PA-Gov: Tom Wolf (D-inc)
- FL-03: Judson Sapp (R)
- FL-18: Lauren Baer (D)
- MA-03: Lori Trahan (D)
- OH-12: Danny O’Connor (D)
- OH-12: Congressional Leadership Fund (R) (against Danny O’Connor)