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.
● PA-18 (special): Monmouth released their final poll of this race on the eve of Tuesday’s special election, and they found Democrat Conor Lamb with a 51-45 lead over Republican Rick Saccone. One month ago, Monmouth gave Saccone a 49-46 lead.
There haven’t been many polls here, but we’ll find out where things stand very soon. However, Saccone didn’t exactly reassure his supporters when he responded to the survey by saying that he hadn’t seen the poll but “I don’t put a lot of credence in that … I’m a walking poll. My wife and I meet thousands of people a day.” Apparently, the only poll that matters isn’t on Election Day, it’s in Rick Saccone’s sole.
But whether walking poll Rick Saccone is right or about to establish his place in loser-speak history, we’ll be here Tuesday liveblogging the results. Polls close at 8 PM ET, and our liveblog will begin then at Daily Kos Elections. You can also follow us on Twitter, where we’ll be live-tweeting the results. And by popular demand, David Jarman is out with county-level benchmarks for the race. This will give us an idea on election night if Lamb is doing what he needs to do in each of the district’s four counties to pull off a narrow win.
● CA-Sen: One of two filing deadlines passed in California on Friday. Candidates were required to file by last week for races where an incumbent was seeking re-election or where an incumbent was termed-out. In contests where an incumbent was voluntarily retiring, contenders have until Wednesday night to file.
It will be some time before the state has an official candidate list, but one thing was clear at the end of Friday. While the GOP was hoping to find a credible candidate to challenge Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, no one of any note is running for Team Red. Feinstein faces a challenge from state Senate Leader Kevin de Leon, a fellow Democrat, in the June top-two primary, and it looks likely that they’ll both advance to the general election. Team Red had little hope of actually putting this Senate seat into play, but they at least wanted a viable candidate to reach the general election and get voters to turn out for more competitive races down the ballot. The GOP has a better chance to get a candidate in the general election for governor, but that’s not assured.
Assuming the Feinstein-de Leon fight goes until November like we expect, things could get interesting. Feinstein has considerably more money and internal party support than de Leon, both of which matter a great deal in this huge and expensive state. But Feinstein has never had a great relationship with the party’s progressive base, and she made things worse in August when she called for “patience” for Trump, adding that, “The question is whether he can learn and change. If so, I believe he can be a good president.”
However, de Leon’s challenge in a general election would be putting together a coalition of enough Democrats, Republicans, and independents to oust Feinstein. Feinstein may have an easier time winning over Republicans and independents as the more moderate candidate. Still, it’s always possible that the GOP base, which is used to opposing Feinstein, will decide for de Leon just to get rid of their longtime foe.
● FL-Sen: Clearview Research is out with a new survey of a hypothetical Florida Senate matchup between Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and GOP Gov. Rick Scott, and they find Scott prevailing by 43-41. Scott hasn’t officially joined the race yet, but he’s widely seen as a likely candidate. However, most other reputable polls have given Nelson a modest advantage, and one reason Clearview’s poll may lean to the right is their turnout model: Election expert Michael McDonald noted they based their 2018 electorate composition on the 2014 midterm, but it’s likely that Democrats will be much more eager to vote in 2018 with an unpopular Republican in the White House than they were in 2014 with Obama in office.
● MT-Sen: Democratic Sen. Jon Tester is out with his first re-election ad, and he put $ 53,000 behind it. The spot starts off with Tester speaking to the camera to bemoan how Washington’s a mess, but he argues that isn’t stopping him from getting Trump to sign 13 bills into law to help Montana. Tester starts to rattle off the new laws by counting the first one on his finger, after which veterans, a law enforcement officer, retirees, and a firefighter each hold up their fingers to count the subsequent laws that are supposedly designed to help their respective groups. Tester, who lost three of his fingers in meat-grinder accident when he was a child working on his family’s farm, holds up all his fingers when he gets to number eight and says, “I’m out of fingers! But I’m not finished getting things done for Montana,” which is a clever way make lemonade out of lemons and emphasize his working-class upbringing.
● TN-Sen: Former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen is out with another ad in Tennessee’s Senate race. It features Bredesen sitting in an office looking slightly off-camera as if he were being interviewed, and Bredesen says, “Look, I’m not running against Donald Trump. I’m running for a Senate seat to represent the people of Tennessee.” Bredesen continues by stating he can separate the message from the messenger, and if Trump has an idea that’s good for Tennesseans, he’ll support it no matter who came up with it, and he’ll oppose the idea if it’s bad.
● UT-Sen, UT-02: While Rep. Chris Stewart had previously said he was considering joining the GOP primary for Senate even as Mitt Romney’s then-unannounced candidacy was Utah’s worst-kept secret, Stewart finally bowed to the political reality that Romney will likely be very tough to beat and announced he would seek re-election instead.
● WV-Sen: Rep. Evan Jenkins has released a Harper Polling survey of the GOP primary for Senate, and let’s just say the results aren’t exactly impressive. Harper says Jenkins leads disgraced coal baron Don Blankenship just 29-27, while state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey takes 19 percent. What makes Jenkins’ decision to release this poll even stranger is that Harper had him up by a wider 33-25 over Morrisey with Blankenship at 18 percent just a month ago.
Blankenship has been running wacky, almost incomprehensible ads in recent weeks. And while one candidate dominating the airwaves might normally explain why they surged in the polls thanks to increased name recognition, Blankenship was already perhaps the most notorious person in West Virginia thanks to his conviction and incarceration over his company violating federal mine safety laws, which caused the deaths of 29 miners back in 2010.
However, a recent New York Times article may shed some light on Blankenship’s almost paradoxical appeal. Although it relies on anecdotal evidence, it’s plausible that in an age where cultural identity politics has increasingly supplanted class as the driver of partisan politics, West Virginians who identify heavily with the state’s declining coal industry would also identify with the once despised boss man who claims he was persecuted by hated national libruhls like Obama and Hillary Clinton. That bogus message of persecution is the one Blankenship has been hammering on the airwaves, and he’s almost certainly wealthy enough to continue self-funding as much as he pleases.
Nevertheless, Jenkins has finally launched his first TV ad. It’s a positive biographical spot that hits several generic conservative Republican themes: Jenkins is a family man, father of a Marine, and fought to defund Planned Parenthood. The spot also boasts how Jenkins has supposedly been working to combat the “drug crisis,” and it also makes sure to link him to Trump.
● AK-Gov: Former state House Speaker and current state Rep. Mike Chenault had filed to run in the GOP primary for governor months ago, but he must have declared he was running at some point, since he recently appeared at a state party convention candidate forum. Also making an appearance was former state Sen. John Binkley, who confirmed that he is indeed considering a campaign of his own. Meanwhile, former Gov. Sean Parnell once again refused to rule out running by saying he is “making no plans to run for governor,” which isn’t a “no.” So far the only other notable Republicans who are running are former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy and businessman Scott Hawkins.
● FL-Gov: Former Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala, who resigned late last year after facing multiple accusations of sexual harassment, has finally pulled the plug on his zombie gubernatorial campaign, whose death had been obvious for months to apparently everyone not named Jack Latvala.
● IL-Gov: A new We Ask America survey for Capitol Fax continues to find venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker with a sizable lead over his Democratic primary rivals. Pritzker takes first place with 35 percent, while businessman Chris Kennedy earns just 16 percent, and state Sen. Daniel Biss takes 15 percent. That’s an improvement for Pritzker from their late January survey, where he beat Biss by 30-17, with Kennedy at 12.
Nevertheless, the ads keep flying as we enter the last week of the primary. Biss’ latest spot takes aim at the billionaire class, although he doesn’t mention either of Pritzker or GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner by name. Biss says it’s time to make billionaires pay their fair share so Illinois can afford health care and good schools for everyone. Meanwhile, Pritzker blasts both Kennedy and Biss in his latest ad, which asserts they want Illinois to start taxing retirement income like pensions and Social Security. Pritzker argues he’s the one who really wants to make the tax system fairer by replacing Illinois’ flat income tax with a progressive system of rates that makes the wealthy pay more.
● MI-Gov: Reps. Brenda Lawrence, Dan Kildee, Debbie Dingell, and Sandy Levin, who comprise all four of the sitting Democratic House members in Michigan, have endorsed former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer in the Democratic primary for governor. Whitmer faces former Detroit health commissioner Abdul El-Sayed and self-funding businessman Shri Thanedar in the August primary.
● MN-Gov: State Rep. Tina Liebling, who hadn’t promised to abide by the outcome of the Democratic nominating convention in June, has instead decided to drop out and seek re-election. Liebling had been struggling to gain traction in a field that includes better-known rivals, and her departure from the race leaves just Rep. Tim Walz, state Auditor Rebecca Otto, and state Rep. Erin Murphy as the only notable Democrats who are still competing for the nomination.
● NM-Gov, NM-01, NM-02: State Democrats recently held their pre-primary convention, where it takes at least 20 percent to make it onto the primary ballot without gathering signatures and coming in first gets candidates the top spot on the ballot. In the gubernatorial contest, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham utterly dominated her two notable opponents by taking 67 percent. Former Univision executive Jeff Apodaca’s 21 percent was just barely enough to guarantee him a spot on the ballot, while state Sen. Joe Cervantes only took 10 percent. Cervantes pledged to continue his campaign, but he’ll have to spend resources to gather the signatures needed to make the ballot.
Democrats also have a crowded contest to succeed Lujan Grisham in the solidly blue Albuquerque-based 1st District, but former party chair Deb Haaland unsurprisingly took first place with 35 percent, while retired law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez also won a spot on the ballot with 25 percent. Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, former deputy Bernalillo County assessor Damian Lara, and former U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez were all stuck in the low double digits. It’s unclear if any of those three will continue their campaigns, but only Martinez had raised a decent amount of money. Indeed, Martinez actually led the field in the fourth quarter of 2017, with $ 148,000 raised and $ 323,000 on-hand. He may have the resources to continue on to the primary, but if his fifth-place convention result is any indication, he may not fare much better with primary voters.
Finally, Democrats are hoping to flip GOP Rep. Steve Pearce’s open 2nd District in southern New Mexico, which favored Trump by 50-40. Attorney Xochitl Torres Small has the DCCC’s backing under their Red to Blue program, and she unsurprisingly scored a dominant 65-35 edge over professor Mad Hildebrandt. While both women will make the ballot without having to gather signatures, Torres Small is looking like the clear front-runner.
● CA-10: There were a few late developments in this competitive Central Valley seat. Former Turlock City Councilman Ted Howze jumped in on the final day of candidate filing against Rep. Jeff Denham, a fellow Republican. There’s very little chance that Howze, a large animal veterinarian who left the city council in 2010 and went on to coach high school football for a year, actually beats Denham. However, some Democrats are worried that there’s a chance that Denham and Howze both advance through the June top-two primary and lock Team Blue out of the general for this 49-46 Clinton seat.
One Democrat, nurse Dotty Nygard, announced Friday that she was exiting the race. However, Nygard had already filed to run, and it’s not clear if she can remove her name from the June ballot.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times has put together a list of candidates running here. Including Nygard, six Democrats and one independent have filed. Denham beat beekeeper Michael Eggman 56-44 during the GOP wave, but he won by a smaller 52-48 margin in 2016. Eggman originally announced that he wouldn’t run again, but national Democrats reportedly were unhappy with their candidates and recruited him late last year, and he jumped in at the end of January.
Venture capitalist Josh Harder has been running for months, and he had a formidable $ 675,000 war chest at the end of 2017. However, the DCCC reportedly felt that Harder’s profile wouldn’t go over well in this seat (back in December the National Journal wrote that they feared Hader “won’t resonate in a district with a median income of $ 54,000”), which is one of the reasons they seem to prefer Eggman.
Former Riverbank Mayor Virginia Madueno, who describes herself as a moderate, is also in. Madueno initially had trouble raising money, but she ended 2017 with $ 115,000 on hand. Madueno has since picked up an endorsement from EMILY’s List. Emergency room nurse Sue Zwahlen, a former member of the Modesto City Schools Board of Education, is also running, and thanks in large part to self-funding had $ 132,000 on-hand. The remaining Democrat is perennial candidate Mike Barkley. The state Democratic Party did not endorse here anyone last month.
● CA-21: There were no last-minute developments in this Central Valley district. Engineer T.J. Cox appears to be the only Democrat who filed to challenge GOP Rep. David Valadao for this seat, which stretches from the Fresno suburbs into Bakersfield. Cox had been running against GOP Rep. Jeff Denham in the 10th District until he switched races a week ago. Cox moved to the 10th last summer but still has a home in Fresno, which is just a few miles outside the 21st.
This district backed Clinton 55-40, but Democrats have struggled to turn out voters here in midterm cycles; Valadao has won plenty of crossover votes against weak Democratic nominees in 2012 and 2016. Cox, whose group has invested in community clinics and alternative energy around the Central Valley, had been doing some self-funding for his bid against Denham, and he ended 2017 with $ 280,000 on-hand. However, the San Jose Mercury News reports that Cox has some potential vulnerabilities.
Cox spent years in a legal dispute after a self-storage chain sued his real-estate firm over problems in the roof of a storage property he had sold them. In 2016, an arbitrator ruled that Cox had known about the problems when the sale happened, and ordered his company to pay $ 1.3 million for breach of contractual warranty. During that lawsuit, Cox’s own lawyers sued him for not paying his legal bills, and a judge ordered him to give them $ 49,000. Cox and his wife also were hit with a $ 48,000 tax lien by the IRS last year for unpaid income tax; the lien was lifted in January.
Cox argues that the lien was an IRS mistake and the roofing problem was a contractor’s fault, and that a delayed insurance payment was to blame for the dispute over his legal bills. That’s not going to appease Valadao and his allies, and Cox will need to come up with a strategy to deal with this story if he wants to unseat him.
However, Valadao may have his own issues. On Monday, the congressman was named as a defendant in two lawsuits against the local dairy farm he owns with other family members. The agricultural bank Rabobank sued this farm, Triple V, for defaulting on $ 8.3 million in loans, while a cattle supply company named Lawley’s filed a lawsuit last month saying they failed to pay $ 1 million in products they brought on credit. Valadao’s spokesperson says the congressman is not involved in Triple V’s day-to-day operations, though he remains a partner there.
● CA-45: This is probably the only competitive district in Orange County where Democrats don’t need to seriously worry about being locked out of the general election. While Mission Viejo Mayor Pro Tem Greg Raths set up an exploratory committee in January for a third potential bid against Rep. and fellow Republican Mimi Walters, he filed to run for the state Board of Equalization instead. Walters was the only Republican to file for this Orange County seat, while five Democrats and one independent (in California, candidates running without a party are official classified as “no party preference”) are in.
This seat, which includes Irvine, Mission Viejo, and Tustin, has been in GOP hands for decades, but it became a Democratic top target after it swung from 55-43 Romney to 50-44 Clinton. Last month, the California Democratic Party endorsed Dave Min, a law professor at UC Irvine and a former aide to Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. However, this didn’t scare off most of Min’s intra-party foes. Obama administration technology adviser Brian Forde; fellow UC Irvine law professor Katie Porter, who has the support of Sen. Kamala Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; and Kia Hamadanchy, a former legislative assistant to Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown; and a little-known candidate named James Baxter all filed to run. However, 2016 nominee Ron Varasteh’s name isn’t listed on the Orange County candidate list nor on the Los Angeles Times’ candidate list, though it’s not clear if and when he dropped out.
The only poll we’ve seen of the June top-two primary was a late February survey from PPP on behalf of the pro-Porter Progressive Change Campaign Committee. They found Walters leading with 42 percent while Porter edged Min 16-12 for second, and Hamadanchy and Forde took 6 and 4, respectively. However, it’s possible the state party’s endorsement will give Min a lift. Forde, Porter, and Min also all look like they’ll have enough money to run a serious campaign: Forde had a $ 561,000 war chest at the end of December, Porter had $ 510,000, and Min had $ 410,000 on-hand. However, Hamadanchy had a considerably smaller $ 128,000 on-hand, so he may have the toughest time getting his name out.
● CA-50: Whether national Republicans like it or not, Rep. Duncan Hunter is officially running for re-election. Hunter also got some good news hours before the Friday filing deadline when conservative radio host Carl DeMaio announced that he wouldn’t challenge him after all. And while neighboring Rep. Darrell Issa didn’t rule out trying to stay in Congress by taking on Hunter, he didn’t file either. The only prominent Republican who ended up filing was El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells. It’s far from clear who will advance past the top-two primary, or what parties will even be represented in the general election.
This inland San Diego County seat backed Trump 55-40, and this area has been represented by someone named Duncan Hunter since 1981: Duncan Lee Hunter was a congressman until he retired in 2008 as he waged a quixotic presidential run; his son. Duncan Duane Hunter, won with ease and is the seat’s current occupant. However, the younger Hunter is under FBI investigation for allegedly misusing campaign money for personal things, including a $ 600 flight for his family’s pet rabbit. Hunter recently suggested that his wife, who is also his former campaign manager, was to blame for misusing the campaign credit card, saying, “You can see where I was during the transactions … and you can draw your conclusion.” However, the San Diego Union-Tribune reviewed his social media posts and found Hunter was regularly present with his family when those allegedly improper transitions occurred.
Politico also recently reported that “many people close to the congressman” believe that Hunter had an affair with a lobbyist, and some congressional aides speculated that he was intoxicated when he angrily confronted Speaker Paul Ryan in December. Hunter’s fundraising has slowed to a crawl, and he’s been spending heavily on legal fees. However, none of this stopped the state party from endorsing Hunter.
Hunter’s intra-party foes will want to see if Wells can give the embattled congressman a strong challenge. However, only about 7 percent of this district covers El Cajon (about half the city is in the neighboring 53rd District), so it’s unclear how much name recognition Wells begins with. It’s also not clear if there are major Republicans in the district who are pulling for Wells, or if they’ve accepted that Hunter will be their nominee again. One little-known Republican is also in.
Democrats haven’t seriously targeted this seat in a long time, but two noteworthy candidates are in. Josh Butner, a retired Navy SEAL and local school board member, has received donations from some senior House Democrats, while former U.S. Labor Department official Ammar Campa-Najjar has the endorsement of the state Democratic Party. At the end of December, Campa-Najjar had a small $ 299,000 to $ 277,000 cash-on-hand lead over Butner. Patrick Malloy, who lost to Hunter 63.5-36.5 in 2016, is also in, as is one independent.
● IL-03: Conservative Rep. Dan Lipinski faces an expensive Democratic primary battle with Marie Newman next week, but it seems like he was slow to take her seriously. Politico’s Natasha Korecki notes that, while Newman and her allies began airing ads $ 300,000 worth of ads against Lipinski weeks ago, the incumbent only spent $ 54,000 during that time, and he only started his first sizable buy last week. And Lipinski probably wasn’t slow because he saw polls that found him well ahead: Lipinski’s campaign filings say he only paid for a poll in February.
However, Lipinski has still been campaigning in person at local events, and his campaign says they’ll spend a total of $ 700,000 on TV. Lipinski also has air support from a group called United for Progress, which is primary funded by a trio of wealthy CEOs, including White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
● IL-06: We have one week to go before the crowded Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Peter Roskam in this suburban Chicago seat, and one candidate has been decisively outspending the rest of the field. Barrington Hills Planning Commission member Kelly Mazeski, who has the support of EMILY’s List, spent $ 514,000 from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 (what the FEC calls the “pre-primary period”). That’s well ahead of the $ 191,000 that clean energy businessman Sean Casten spent during this time, though Casten had a $ 503,000 to $ 154,000 cash-on-hand lead for the final weeks of the race. (Both Mazeski and especially Casten have done some self-funding.)
Of course, outspending your opponents doesn’t guarantee success as all, a lesson many candidates learned the hard way in last week’s Texas House primaries. Also in the running are 2016 nominee Amanda Howland, who spent just $ 54,000 but may benefit from old name recognition; Naperville City Councilor Becky Anderson, who deployed $ 108,000; and Carole Cheney, a former chief of staff to neighboring Rep. Bill Foster, who spent $ 112,000. Casten also has a new commercial out that promotes his clean energy background and says he’ll stand up to Trump.
● NJ-07: On Sunday, former State Department official Tom Malinowski won the endorsement of the Union County Democratic Party over former bank executive Linda Weber in a seven-to-six vote, a win that could have some big repercussions in the race to take on GOP Rep. Leonard Lance. Both candidates had been working hard to win here, and Weber’s campaign said afterwards that she hadn’t decided whether or not to stay in the race. Unnamed sources also told Insider NJ that they expected her to drop out. Weber is from Union County, so her defeat, while narrow, doesn’t look good for her.
As we’ve written before, county party endorsements are typically very important in New Jersey for both parties. That’s because endorsed candidates appear in a separate column on the ballot along with other party endorsees, a big deal in a state where party machines are still powerful. (This designation is known colloquially as the “organization line.”) Weber got the support of Somerset, which is the largest county in the district, as well as Essex County (which only makes up about 3 percent of this seat’s population), and she initially looked like the front-runner in what was a crowded June primary.
However, Malinowski began to turn things around when he won in Hunterdon in February, and he followed that up with a victory in Warren and Morris. Two candidates, including well-funded teacher Lisa Mandelblatt, also dropped out and backed Malinowski. Attention soon turned to Union, where local Democrats had been waging an intense fight to lead the county party. That battle had far more to do with local politics than this primary, but the winning faction was closer to Malinowski than to Weber, which may have made all the difference on Sunday.
Weber was one of several candidates who spent months running against Lance, but she had trouble raising cash. Malinowski jumped in during the fall and amassed a $ 446,000 to $ 133,000 cash-on-hand lead over Weber by Dec. 31 (Malinowski did no self-funding). Weber and her allies hit Malinowski for only recently relocating from the Washington area to New Jersey, and she faulted him for taking a homestead deduction on his Maryland home. However, Malinowski told the Hunterdon Democrats before their endorsement meeting that he was “away defending our country,” and the message seemed to resonate.
Attorney Goutam Jois and 2016 nominee Peter Jacob are also running. Jois had $ 259,000 on-hand at the end of December, while Jacob had only $ 27,000. However, it will be tough for either of them to win the June primary if Malinowski has both the most money and most of the organization lines.
● NV-04: University of Nevada Regent Allison Stephens set up a campaign fundraising committee a month ago, and she announced on Monday that she would seek the Democratic nomination for this suburban Las Vegas seat. Stephens, who is also one of the two state members of the Democratic National Committee, will face at least former Rep. Steven Horsford and state Sen. Pat Spearman in June. Unfortunately, Rep. Ruben Kihuen, who decided to retire in December after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, is rethinking his decision to leave. The filing deadline is Friday.
● PA-05: Chemist Julie Eble entered the Democratic primary a little whole ago for this new 63-34 Clinton seat, and she’s already dropped out and endorsed former federal prosecutor Ashley Lunkenheimer.
● SC-04: On Monday, Josh Kimbrell resigned as chair of the Spartanburg County Republican Party and announced he was joining the June primary to succeed retiring Rep. Trey Gowdy. Kimbrell, who co-founded an investment group and hosted a daily show on a religious radio station until he jumped in the race, is one of several candidates seeking this 60-34 Trump seat in the northern part of the state.
Also in the running are Attorney Stephen Brown, the former chairman of the Greenville County GOP (Greenville and Spartanburg are the only two counties in the seat); state Rep. Dan Hamilton; state Sen. William Timmons, who says he plans to spend $ 500,000 of his own money; and televangelist and 2016 Trump surrogate Mark Burns. However, while Spartanburg County Clerk of Court Hope Blackley considered running, she announced this week that she’d stay out. The filing deadline is at the end of this month; if no one takes a majority in the primary, there would be a runoff two weeks later.
This seat is likely to stay red without much trouble, but Democrats got a candidate who might have some connections in recent days. Brandon Brown, who served as an aide to former Vice President Joe Biden, jumped in. As we always say, it’s always good to field credible candidates in tough seats in case lightning strikes: See Lamb, Conor and Jones, Doug.
● Special Elections: We have one Tennessee legislative special election on Tuesday: While the state always holds their primaries on Thursday and usually has special elections then, this one is indeed on Tuesday. Here’s Johnny Longtorso:
Tennessee SD-14: This is an open Republican seat stretching from Murfreesboro down to the Alabama state line. It was vacated by Jim Tracy (who famously lost a 2014 primary to scandal-tarred Rep. Scott DesJarlais by 38 votes) following his appointment to a position with the USDA. The Democratic nominee is Gayle Jordan, an attorney and farmer who ran for this seat in 2016 and lost 74-26. The Republican nominee is Shane Reeves, a businessman. This seat went 70-26 for Donald Trump in 2016 and 67-32 for Mitt Romney in 2012.
● Nashville, TN Mayor: There will be a special election this year for the final year of former Mayor Megan Barry’s term, but it’s not clear when it will be. The Davidson County Election Commission voted to hold the nonpartisan race in August, with a September runoff in the event that no one takes a majority. But candidate Ludye Wallace, a former councilor and the current head of the local NAACP, filed a lawsuit on Monday to move the special to May, arguing that the law requires an earlier date.
The filing deadline is set for April 5, though the lawsuit could impact things. Acting Mayor David Briley has announced that he will run for the remainder of Barry’s term. Metro Councilor Erica Gilmore (the city council is known as the Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County), whom The Tennessean identified as “one of the city’s top African-American leaders,” has also set up a campaign committee, though she hasn’t announced she’s in. The paper also says that businessman Bill Freeman, who took a close third place in 2015 after spending much of the race as the front-runner, and Councilor John Cooper, the brother of local U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, are also both exploring.
● Deaths: George Sinner, who is the most recent Democrat to serve as governor of North Dakota, died Friday at the age of 89. Sinner, who like much of his family was a farmer, got his start in politics when he was elected to the state Senate in 1962, but he lost re-election four years later. Sinner, who soon became a member of the State Board of Higher Education, ran for governor in 1972, but lost the party endorsement to eventual winner Art Link. He returned to the legislature in 1982 and became chair of the state House Finance and Tax Committee.
Sinner challenged GOP Gov. Allen Olson in 1984, and he ran a memorable TV spot that featured a farmer pitching cow manure, which the Democrat compared to his opponent’s campaign statements. Sinner won 55-45, but the Republican did not go quietly. Olson argued that his term ended Jan. 6, while Sinner maintained that he was supposed to take office on Jan. 1. The defeated governor didn’t say why he was dragging things out, but Sinner said he wanted to take office at the start of the year so he could consider the legality of bonuses awarded to state employees the previous day. On Jan. 5, the state Supreme ruled in Sinner’s favor and said that he had indeed been governor for days, but Olson still didn’t vacate the office until the next day.
Sinner easily won re-election 60-40 in 1988, but he didn’t have an easy tenure. Sinner pushed for higher sales and gasoline taxes, but voters rejected his plans. Sinner, who had heart bypass surgery in 1991, also notably vetoed what would have been the country’s toughest law restricting abortion. The state was hit hard by a drought, falling oil prices, and a farm crisis during his tenure, and Sinner acquired the nickname “Governor Gloom and Doom.” Sinner responded to the problems by establishing economic development programs, including low-interest loan programs. However, he did not run for a third term in 1992, and Republican Ed Schafer won 58-41.
Sinner hoped to serve as Bill Clinton’s agriculture secretary, but he was passed over twice and went on to become an executive at the American Crystal Sugar Co. Sinner’s son and namesake, George B. Sinner, went on to be elected to the state Senate in 2012, but he lost a 2014 bid for Congress and narrowly lost re-election two years later.
● Pres-by-CD: Because we at Daily Kos Elections are completists when it comes to elections data, we have calculated the 2008 presidential election results by district for Pennsylvania’s new court-drawn congressional map to go along with our previous compilation of the 2016 and 2012 presidential results. Consequently, we now have 2016, 2012, and 2008 results for all 435 of the country’s districts here, where you can also find our detailed calculations for each state.
These 2008 Pennsylvania numbers are based off of Dave’s Redistricting App data and don’t account for split precincts, so they aren’t as precise as our 2016 and 2012 figures. However, any differences caused by split precincts are likely very minor. One noteworthy finding is that Obama actually carried GOP Rep. Mike Kelly’s new Erie-based 16th District by 50-49 in 2008, but this heavily white working-class district flipped to 52-47 Romney in 2012 and favored Trump by a wide 58-38 in 2016. Finally, redistricting enthusiasts can download the Dave’s App file for Pennsylvania’s new congressional map here.