The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Daniel Donner, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
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● NE-01: FiveThirtyEight's keen-eyed Nathaniel Rakich has uncovered an astonishing fact about Tuesday's special election for Nebraska's vacant 1st Congressional District: It will take place under the new lines that Republicans passed last year, despite the fact that it's being held to fill the remaining months of a former congressman who was elected under the old map.
Election officials claim, however, that the "the old lines remain in place for purposes of representation," Rakich reports. As a result, according to Daily Kos Elections' calculations, the 75,000 people who live in the old 1st District but not the new version will not be able to vote for their own representative, while the 69,000 people who live in the new district but not the old one will get the chance to vote for someone who won't represent them at all. That amounts to about 11% of each district, old and new, since Republicans made considerable changes to the map in order to gerrymander the swingy 2nd District to their benefit.
It's an absurd situation, and almost certainly unconstitutional as well. It's also unheard of, as every other special election that's taken place this year—whether for Congress or state legislatures—has been held under old lines. Officials say the new districts "went into effect immediately" because the map was passed with an emergency clause, but that cannot trump the right to vote. And what if the new map had been renumbered or even more radically redrawn? Which new district would election administrators have chosen for the special?
With the race between Republican Mike Flood and Democrat Patty Pansing Brooks just days away, it's unlikely that anyone will challenge this decision, even though any eligible voters among the tens of thousands of Nebraskans who were redistricted out of the old 1st District would have a ready-made case. Nonetheless, this is an extremely anti-democratic practice that deserves to be called out—and should never be repeated.
● CO-Sen, CO-Gov: The Democratic firm Global Strategy Group, polling for the ProgressNow Colorado, finds that Sen. Michael Bennet and Gov. Jared Polis would start out well ahead of whomever the Republicans nominate next week. In the former contest, Bennet leads state Rep. Ron Hanks and wealthy businessman Joe O'Dea 50-37 and 49-36, respectively; Democratic outside groups have been spending heavily to help Hanks, a vocal proponent of the Big Lie who attended the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, under the assumption that he'd be an easier opponent to beat than O'Dea.
In the race for governor, Polis posts an identical 51-32 edge over both University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl and businessman Greg Lopez, with far-right candidate Danielle Neuschwanger nabbing 5% both times as the nominee of the American Constitution Party. Democrats are also intervening to boost Lopez next week.
● GA-Sen: Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock is airing an ad focusing on one of the many unflattering stories about Republican Herschel Walker's business history. The spot shows multiple clips of Walker claiming that his company had "over 800 employees" before the narrator interjects that "official loan documents show Walker's company has just eight employees."
● PA-Sen, PA-Gov: The AARP has released a joint survey from the Democratic firm Impact Research and the Republican pollster Fabrizio, Lee & Associates that shows Team Blue with a stronger lead in the Senate contest than in the race for governor, numbers that closely match what Suffolk University found last week. AARP's Senate portion has Democrat John Fetterman beating Republican Mehmet Oz 50-44, a margin twice as large as Democrat Josh Shapiro's 49-46 edge over QAnon ally Doug Mastriano for governor. Suffolk showed Fetterman and Shapiro ahead 46-37 and 44-40, respectively.
Both parties have long treated Mastriano as a truly weak candidate, and Shapiro even ran commercials designed to help him win the nod last month. However, AARP's numbers give us an idea of why, contrary to the early conventional wisdom, Mastriano seems to be better situated than Oz right now: Mastriano posts a negative 37-44 favorable rating which, while still bad, is far better than the former TV personality's atrocious 30-63 score. Perhaps the biggest reason for this divergence is that, while Oz had to go through a truly nasty and expensive primary, Mastriano's intra-party critics never began focusing their negative commercials on him until it was too late. Shapiro and Fetterman, by contrast, are on positive territory at 47-34 and 46-36.
Shapiro, though, is now trying to drag Mastriano's numbers into the land of Oz by launching his first negative ad of the general election. The minute-long spot attacks Mastriano over his opposition to abortion rights and same-sex marriage, climate change denial, and presence at the Jan. 6 riot. The narrator also notes that the Republican "says he could overturn future election results and let politicians hand pick the winners, ignoring the vote of the people."
● IL-Gov: Fabrizio, Lee & Associates newest survey for state Sen. Darren Bailey's allies at People Who Play by the Rules PAC shows him defeating venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan 37-17 in Tuesday's Republican primary, with Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin slipping to third with just 14%. That would be a very gratifying result for the DGA, which NBC says is spending an additional $1.5 million on a very pricey ad campaign aimed at ensuring that Bailey, rather than Irvin, is Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker's opponent this fall.
Irvin has received $50 million in donations from Ken Griffin, who is Illinois' wealthiest man, but that spigot seems to have run dry because Politico reports that Sullivan and Bailey are both outspending the mayor in ads for the final week of the contest. Griffin also made news of a different kind Thursday when he announced that his hedge fund, Citadel, was moving its headquarters from Chicago to Miami.
Capitol Fax's Rich Miller writes that unnamed sources say it's no coincidence that Griffin made this declaration as more polls show Irvin in bad shape: Miller writes that "Griffin, who was already looking at leaving, decided to hang it up when he saw" another conservative megadonor, Bailey ally Dick Uihlein, "so willingly team up with Gov. Pritzker. The party, at that point, was just not worth saving." (Uihlein also created and funds People Who Play by the Rules.)
● MA-Gov: State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz announced Thursday that she was dropping out of the September Democratic primary, a move that leaves Attorney General Maura Healey as Team Blue's only remaining contender in the contest to succeed retiring Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. Hours later, UMass Amherst publicized a YouGov survey that showed Healey beating the state senator 53-20, a finding that reinforced Chang-Díaz's declaration that "there is no path that I can responsibly, in good faith, lead my supporters on that results in me becoming governor this year." Chang-Díaz will remain on the ballot, though, as the deadline passed several weeks ago for her to withdraw.
Healey, along with Oregon Democrat Tina Kotek, would be the first lesbian to serve as governor of any state, but Healey had a far easier task than her West Coast counterpart even before Chang-Díaz dropped out. A different YouGov survey released earlier this week for UMass Lowell showed Healey easily beating each of the two Republican candidates, former state Rep. Geoff Diehl and businessman Chris Doughty, by margins of 61-30 and 58-30, respectively. (Kotek, by contrast, is locked in a very competitive three-way general election.)
A Healey victory would also give Democrats a pickup in a state where the electorate is fond of sending moderate-sounding Republicans to the governor's office (Massachusetts is one of just five states that doesn't provide its chief executive with an official residence) to balance out Team Blue's control of most other major posts: Republicans have won six of the eight most recent gubernatorial elections, with Democrat Deval Patrick's 2006 and 2010 wins (the latter against Baker) marking the only breaks in that streak. It's possible that the self-funding Doughty, a self-described "pragmatic, common sense, businessman, fiscally conservative" candidate, could put up a fight if he makes it through the GOP primary against the Trump-endorsed Diehl, though those YouGov numbers indicate he'd still start deep in the hole.
Healey would additionally make history as the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts: Republican Jane Swift became acting governor in 2001 when Paul Cellucci left to become ambassador to Canada, but she didn't run in the 2002 contest that Mitt Romney ultimately won. The Democrat is also on track to become one of the rare non-incumbents to win a governor's race anywhere without having to beat any prominent opponents in either a primary or general election.
● IL-14: Conservative radio host Mike Koolidge has earned an endorsement from 18th District Rep. Darin LaHood, who represents a downstate Illinois seat to the south of this Chicago-area constituency, days ahead of what's been a pretty low-key Republican primary to take on Democratic incumbent Lauren Underwood.
Koolidge faces Kendall County Board Chair Scott Gryder, businessman Jack Lombardi, businesswoman Jaime Milton, and perennial candidate James Marter in a contest where no one has raised much money. Democratic map makers sought to protect Underwood by augmenting Biden's margin of victory from 50-48 to 55-43 in this constituency in Chicago's western exurbs, but it could still be in play in a red wave year.
● NY-04: EMILY's List has endorsed former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen in the August Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Kathleen Rice, who backed Gillen herself in March.
Secretaries of State
● MA-SoS: UMass Amherst has unveiled a survey from YouGov that shows longtime Secretary of State Bill Galvin leading by just 38-25 against Boston NAACP head Tanisha Sullivan in the September Democratic primary, which makes this the first poll we've seen of this matchup. The survey was released days after Sullivan received an endorsement from Boston-area Rep. Ayanna Pressley, the prominent progressive who represents what is by far the bluest of Massachusetts' nine congressional districts.
● Hennepin County, MN Attorney: Former Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty has earned an endorsement from Attorney General Keith Ellison, who represented Minneapolis during his six terms in Congress, ahead of the August nonpartisan primary for this open seat.
Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.