Election2018 … make sure your vote is counted


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.

LEADING OFF

• KS-GovOn Thursday, election officials in Thomas County announced that they’d discovered an error by the secretary of state’s office that had initially cost Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer 100 votes in Tuesday’s incredibly tight GOP primary with Secretary of State Kris Kobach (the state transcribed Thomas’ tally for Colyer as 422 votes rather than 522). However, another error discovered later in the day netted Kobach 30 votes in Haskell County. But wait! Another discrepancy, not yet resolved as of this writing, was discovered in Wyandotte County even later in the day. With both confirmed errors corrected, Kobach’s lead over Colyer goes from 191 votes to just 121. These kinds of typos are fairly common in elections, but they don’t attract much public attention unless the race is tight.

No matter what, it’s going to take a while for Republicans to learn who won on Tuesday. There are still between 8,000 and 10,000 provisional ballots left to count (though not all of them will be for the GOP primary). State law also allows mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted as long as they arrive by Friday, so we still don’t know how many of those votes are out. The director of Kansas’ election office says there will be a new statewide vote tally Friday that will include mail-in ballots, but not provisional votes.

The counties will be holding a canvas to review their provisional ballots over the next several days. Johnson and Sedgwick Counties will review their combined 3,700 provisional ballots on Monday, but two other large counties, Wyandotte and Shawnee, won’t hold their canvasing meetings until Aug. 16. The deadline for counties to finish their canvas is Aug. 20.

There is no automatic recount in Kansas, but the trailing candidate may request one after counties have counted their mail-in and provisional ballots: The deadline to make this request is Aug. 17. The recount would be finished five days after it is requested, and the State Board of Canvassers (which is made up of Colyer, Kobach, and the attorney general) would certify the results by Aug. 31.

While Kobach initially said Wednesday that he wouldn’t recuse himself from overseeing a recount, he changed his tune Thursday evening. Kobach, while insisting that his role in the process was purely symbolic, told CNN he’d “be happy to” recuse himself if Colyer wanted, and would formally do so on Friday. Hours before, after the first voting discrepancy was announced in Thomas County, the governor had sent a letter to Kobach asking him to step aside. Whomever emerges with the GOP nomination when all is said and done will face Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly and wealthy independent Greg Orman.

Primary Day

• Primary Day: The one that’s past our bedtime: Hawaii goes to the polls Saturday for its party primary, and we’ve put together our preview here.

The big contest to watch will be Gov. David Ige’s Democratic primary against Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, and it’s looking a whole lot more competitive than it did just a few months ago. While polls initially showed Ige down in the dumps, especially after January’s false ballistic missile alert, two July surveys found the governor in the lead. However, Hanabusa’s allies have spent heavily against the governor, and no one’s sure how this contest will go. We also have a crowded Democratic primary to succeed Hanabusa in a safely blue Honolulu seat.

Polls close at 6 PM local time on Saturday, which is midnight eastern time. The first wave of results (known as printouts) usually come in an hour after polls close, with additional waves coming hourly. We won’t be liveblogging this one, but we’ll be posting an open thread at Daily Kos Elections for anyone who wants to discuss the results as they come in.

Senate

• MS-Sen-B: The GOP firm Triumph Campaigns is out with a poll for the state blog Y’all Politics of the November special election, but there are some big caveats we need to address before we get to the results. The sample notably is just 12 percent black, even though African Americans make up about 38 percent of the state’s residents. The poll also has voters over the age of 65 making up a gigantic 71 percent of the sample, even though they’re about 16 percent of the population.

Now, to the poll. In the officially nonpartisan Nov. 6 primary, they find appointed GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith leading former Democratic Rep. Mike Espy 41-27, with GOP state Sen. Chris McDaniel at 16. If no one takes a majority, there would be a runoff three weeks later. They find Hyde-Smith leading Espy 48-34 in a one-on-one, but Espy beating McDaniel 41-26. They did not release results for a runoff between Hyde-Smith and McDaniel.

• WI-SenTuesday’s GOP primary is coming to an expensive and nasty conclusion with Solutions for Wisconsin, a group funded by conservative megadonor Richard Uihlein, spending $912,000 on another TV buy against state Sen. Leah Vukmir.

Their spot features a long clip of Vukmir saying of Trump, “he’s offensive, but he’s offensive to everyone. He’s offensive to women, he’s offensive to men,” and she continues by saying he’s offensive to “little people” and “fat people,” and “everyone.” It’s actually kind of surprising we haven’t seen a lot more of this clip in TV ads before the final week of the contest.

Gubernatorial

• FL-Gov: Rep. Ron DeSantis is out with a poll from North Star Opinion Research giving him a 50-30 lead over state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam ahead of the Aug. 28 GOP primary. Most polls show DeSantis, who is reminding voters every chance he gets that he’s backed by Trump, well ahead of the former frontrunner.

• MD-Gov: Democrat Ben Jealous is out with the first poll we’ve seen since he won the primary in late June, and the mid-July survey from Garin-Hart-Yang finds him trailing GOP Gov. Larry Hogan 49-40.

The memo argues that, when respondents get positive and negative information about both candidates, Hogan’s lead goes to just 47-45. However, the big problem for Jealous is that right now, the TV battle is very one-sided. Hogan and his allies at the RGA have spent the last month running ads portraying Jealous as too extreme and irresponsible to govern, while viewers aren’t seeing many (if any) commercials hitting Hogan or praising the Democrat. It’s not a good sign that Jealous is releasing a poll that shows him down by so much, but he may just feel that he needs to assure donors and outside groups he has a path to victory and is worth investing in.

However, the Laborers’ International Union of North America announced Thursday that they were backing the Republican. Four years ago, LIUNA gave Democrat Anthony Brown a $500,000 loan in the final days of his unsuccessful campaign against Hogan.

• MN-Gov: We have our first negative TV ad of the entire Democratic primary, with Attorney General Lori Swanson taking aim at Rep. Tim Walzjust days before Tuesday’s contest. Her 15-second spot argues that Walz has been missing too many votes in Congress while campaigning, including a vote to stop higher premiums for pre-existing conditions.

• VT-Gov: GOP Gov. Phil Scott has looked secure as he seeks a second two-year term, but his allies at the RGA are still lending him a hand. The committee has already transferred $1 million to A Stronger Vermont, a PAC supporting Scott. The group has spent $216,000 on ads, leaving them with a $855,000 war chest.

Scott faces an underfunded primary challenge next week from grocer Keith Stern. While Scott should have little trouble winning, he may need to worry about an underwhelming performance. Scott, who has always portrayed himself as a moderate, signed a bill to tighten gun restrictions in April over loud conservative objections, and it may have done him some damage with the base. Morning Consult’s poll of the second quarter of 2018 gave Scott just a 47-42 approval rating, with only 41 percent of Republicans giving him the thumbs up compared to 61 percent of Democrats.

If Scott wins on Tuesday with little trouble, this race probably won’t attract much more attention, but if there’s a strong vote for Stern, national Democrats may become a lot more interested.

House

• AZ-02: Former state Rep. Matt Heinz is out with a poll from FM3 that gives him a 31-26 lead over former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick ahead of the Aug. 28 Democratic primary for this competitive Tucson seat, while the other candidates take a combined 13 percent. The last poll we saw was in May, when FM3 gave Heinz a similar 27-23 lead, and Kirkpatrick has yet to release any surveys.

However, Kirkpatrick and her allies are acting quite worried with less than three weeks to go. The former congresswoman recently ran an adaccusing Heinz of voting with the GOP to cut health care and of siding with the NRA, and EMILY’s List has now launched a $240,000 TV buy against him. (Their spot is not available yet.) Heinz has spent the last several months arguing that Kirkpatrick, who represented a neighboring northern Arizona seat until last year, is a carpetbagger, and he went up with his own commercial a few weeks ago featuring 2010 footage of her bragging about having an A-rating from the NRA.

• FL-09: SurveyUSA is out with a poll of the Aug. 28 Democratic primary for Spectrum 13 News, and they give Rep. Darren Soto a 45-38 lead over former Rep. Alan Grayson. This is the first poll we’ve seen of the contest for this safely blue Orlando-area seat. However, Soto went up with a negative spot in late July, so he seems worried.

• KY-06: Opening spots from Democrat Amy McGrath and the Congressional Leadership Fund give us a window to their strategies in this 55-39 Trump seat. McGrath’s ad emphases her military background as she tells the audience that it was never just about her when she was in her fighter jet, and “for every one of my 89 combat missions, there were hundreds of Marines who were part of a team.” She then bemoans the fact that Congress doesn’t work that way, and says she’ll “never take orders from a party leader,” but will work with anyone to get things done.

The CLF unsurprisingly does everything they can to portray McGrath as too liberal and too dangerous. One of their spots features a woman praising the GOP’s tax bill for saving her money and expressing confusion that McGrath would oppose it while wanting to fund “more welfare for people who can work, but don’t.” Their other commercial argues that McGrath is backed by unnamed “liberal extremists” who want to eliminate ICE, and declares her support for open borders will put Kentucky families in danger.

As we’ve written before, the GOP is already running these kinds of commercials across the country to caricature Democrats as radicals who want to allow crime and drugs to flow across the border, and there will be a whole lot more where they came from especially now that Republicans are finding their tax bill isn’t the electoral winner they thought it would be.

Trump and his allies very much are betting that kind of message will resonate, especially in conservative and heavily white seats like this one, and it will be up to Democratic candidates to come up with a good strategy to push back against this type scurrilous attack. McGrath’s biography (as she noted in her ad, she flew 89 combat missions) notably gives her a good way to hit back on these kinds of ads and portray her opponents as dishonest and desperate the way Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam did last year.

• PA-08: Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright notably is using his first TV spotto go right after wealthy Republican John Chrin and interestingly, the congressman himself delivers the attack lines rather than some unseen narrator.

Cartwright tells the audience that they may know him and his family, “but you don’t know John Chrin.” He explains that Chrin is “a Wall Street banker who lives in New Jersey, (who) doesn’t understand how people in our area struggle to make ends meet, especially our senior citizens.” Cartwright then declares that Chrin talks about cutting cost of living increases for Social Security benefits.

Chrin, who has already poured $1.4 million of his own money into his campaign, has been running commercials over the last few weeks introducing himself and portraying Cartwright as a liberal out-of-touch rich guy. This Scranton-based seat flipped from 55-43 Obama to 53-44 Trump, and while national Republicans haven’t shown much interest in targeting it, Chrin’s money might let him make things interesting.

• SD-AL: Democrat Tim Bjorkman is out with a PPP survey showing Republican Dusty Johnson leading him 43-33. Bjorkman’s move comes days after Johnson dropped his own poll from Public Opinion Strategies that gave him a wider 54-33 lead over the Democrat.

• VA-02: Democrats have asked Virginia’s Department of Elections to remove independent Shaun Brown from the ballot because of allegedly fraudulent signatures gathered for her by staffers for GOP Rep. Scott Taylor. Prominent Democratic attorney Marc Elias, who argued that Brown submitted too many invalid signatures to qualify, says he’ll go to court to get her removed if the state doesn’t do it.

• House: The conservative Heritage Foundation’s political arm has announced that they’ll spend a total of at least $2.5 million in 12 House districts, with $200,000 to $400,000 in mail, TV, and digital advertising going to each contest beginning in the second week of September. The full list of seats and their GOP candidates is:

  • IA-01 — Rep. Rod Blum
  • KY-06 — Rep. Andy Barr
  • MI-08 — Rep. Mike Bishop
  • MO-02 — Rep. Ann Wagner
  • NC-09 — Mark Harris
  • NC-13 — Rep. Ted Budd
  • NJ-11 — Jay Webber
  • NM-02 — Yvette Herrell
  • OH-01 — Rep. Steve Chabot
  • PA-10 — Rep. Scott Perry
  • PA-17 — Rep. Keith Rothfus
  • VA-07 — Rep. Dave Brat

The group says that, in addition to helping their allies, they’re hoping to beat Democrats they’re afraid will be rising stars if they win this year.

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