Morning Digest: GOP senator who voted to convict Trump draws first notable GOP challenger for 2022

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This appears to be the first time Tshibaka has run for office, though she has some prominence from her two years in Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s cabinet leading the huge Department of Administration. The Associated Press writes that during her tenure, Tshibaka came into conflict with “unions and lawmakers over procurement issues or a proposal to close some Division of Motor Vehicle offices.”

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Murkowski has not yet said if she’ll seek re-election, but Trump has made it clear he’d try to help defeat her if she does. Murkowski famously lost her 2010 primary in a huge upset only to win that fall with a write-in campaign, but she’d compete under very different rules if she ran again. Last year, Alaska voters approved a referendum that would require all parties to now run together on a single primary ballot, with the top four vote-getters advancing to November. Such a system would make it all but impossible to block Murkowski from the general election, when voters would then choose a winner by means of an instant runoff.

Senate

FL-Sen: Former Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson used the weekend to file paperwork with the FEC to raise money for a potential campaign against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and also close down the committee he established in January for Florida’s not-yet-existent 28th Congressional District. Grayson, though, told Florida Politics he had not yet decided if he’d be running for the Senate.

MO-Sen: Republican state Sen. Dave Schatz told the Columbia Missourian on Friday that he was thinking about entering the race for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat. Schatz, who holds an influential post in the chamber as president pro tem, said he likely would decide after the legislative session ends in May.

Meanwhile, disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens has released a survey from Fabrizio, Lee & Associates that shows him well ahead of several other Republicans in next year’s primary. Greitens leads state Attorney General Eric Schmitt 48-11, while Reps. Ann Wagner and Jason Smith take 9% and 7%, respectively. Both Greitens and Schmitt announced their campaigns last week, while Wagner and Smith are still considering.

NC-Sen: Lara Trump, the wife of Donald Trump’s son Eric, said on Monday that she hadn’t yet decided whether she’d run for the Senate in her home state of North Carolina but would “hopefully sometime soon.” Trump recently signed on to be a paid contributor to Fox News, though she told her now-coworkers that this wouldn’t have any impact on her deliberations.  

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Thom Tillis disclosed Monday that he’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer and would undergo surgery next week. Tillis said that the cancer was detected early before he had any symptoms and that he “expect[s] to make a full recovery.”

OH-Sen: A spokesperson for Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup said Monday that his boss would not run for the Senate, but one of Wenstrup’s colleagues is loudly reaffirming his interest in this open seat.

While fellow GOP Rep. Mike Turner had said he was considering in January, right after incumbent Rob Portman surprised the political world with his retirement announcement, he’d largely gone quiet since then. Turner, though, rolled out a 3-minute video on Monday that promoted him as a Trump ally who had won several tough elections. Turner later told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he didn’t have a timeline for when he would decide if he’ll seek a promotion.

If Turner runs, he’d join a primary that currently includes former state party Chair Jane Timken and ex-state Treasurer Josh Mandel. The Republican ad tracking firm Medium Buying reports that Timken has already spent just over $400,000 on TV and radio ads, while Mandel is using $27,000 for his opening TV spot.

PA-Sen: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that unnamed people close to Montgomery County Commission Chair Val Arkoosh expect her to announce a bid for the Democratic nod “in the coming weeks.”

UT-Sen: Utah already is represented in the U.S. Senate by one former office holder from another state who is utterly despised by Trumpworld, so why not make it two? In an op-ed for the Deseret News looking at possible intra-party challengers to Republican Sen. Mike Lee, Frank Pignanelli and LaVarr Webb relay that former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake is “receiving pressure to run.” They also note that Flake “is spending a great deal of time in Utah,” though there’s no word if he’s interested in taking on his former colleague.

The GOP primary field currently consists of former state Rep. Becky Edwards, who, like Flake, backed Joe Biden last year, and Brendan Wright, who works for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an area planning manager. Attorney Erin Rider also said she was considering earlier this month.

Pignanelli and Webb additionally name-drop former Gov. Gary Herbert and Dan Hemmert, who is the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, as possibilities, though there’s also no indication that either man is thinking about running against Lee. They do convey, though, that Hemmert, a former state senator who ran an aborted 2019 campaign for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, has been mentioned by “numerous insiders.”

Lee, for his part, has yet to announce if he’ll be seeking re-election. Lee has sponsored unsuccessful legislation to limit senators to two terms, though that’s hardly stopped him from raising money this year for a potential bid for a third term.

Governors

AR-Gov: Businesswoman Supha Xayprasith-Mays announced Friday that she would seek the Democratic nomination to succeed termed-out Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Xayprasith-Mays, who immigrated to the United States at the age of 6 from Laos, would be the first woman or person of color to serve as governor of Arkansas.

Xayprasith-Mays would have a very uphill battle ahead of her in the general election in a state that has veered hard towards the Republicans over the last several years, though she does have some notable connections in state Democratic politics. Xayprasith-Mays is married to Richard Mays, whose 1979 appointment to the state Supreme Court by then-Gov. Bill Clinton made him the state’s second Black justice.

Xayprasith-Mays also entered the race with an endorsement from former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, who took over from Clinton after the 1992 presidential election but resigned in 1996 after being convicted of fraud.

GA-Gov: While pro-Trump attorney and conspiracy theorist Lin Wood was mentioned late last year as a possible Republican primary foe for Gov. Brian Kemp, Wood has since moved to South Carolina and announced a bid to lead its state Republican Party.

MA-Gov: State Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz said Monday that she was considering seeking the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. Chang-Díaz has been an ardent critic of Baker’s handling of the coronavirus crisis: Earlier this month, after the state’s widely-panned vaccine rollout, Chang-Díaz argued, “This pandemic has shown the governor not to be the great manager that he convinced Massachusetts he was.”

Chang-Díaz, who is of Chinese and Costa Rican descent, became the first Latina elected to the chamber after she won a Boston state Senate seat in 2008, and she is currently the only woman of color in the 40-member chamber. The Boston Globe‘s Matt Stout writes that Chang-Díaz, whom he characterizes as a “longtime advocate for school funding reform,” last year “helped negotiate the Legislature’s sweeping policing bill.” Chang-Díaz would be the first woman of color to serve as governor and the first woman elected to the post.

MD-Gov: Nonprofit executive Jon Baron recently formed an exploratory committee for a potential bid for the Democratic nomination, and he tells Maryland Matters that he expects to decide whether to run in a couple of months.

MN-Gov: Republican state Sen. Carla Nelson told Minnesota Public Radio over the weekend that she was considering taking on Democratic Gov. Tim Walz.

Nelson campaigned in 2018 to succeed Walz in the 1st Congressional District, but she lost the GOP primary 60-32 to the eventual winner, Jim Hagedorn. Nelson then sought re-election in 2020 and prevailed 51-49 even as Joe Biden was carrying her Rochester-based 26th Senate District 54-44, a result that saved the GOP’s majority in the chamber.

NY-Gov: Upstate New York resident Sherry Vill accused Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday of kissing her without her consent when he visited her home on an inspection tour following a flood in 2017, making her the tenth woman to charge the governor with making an unwanted advance. Vill says that Cuomo kissed her on both cheeks when he was first introduced, then before leaving told her, “You are beautiful” and kissed her again, making her feel “manhandled.” Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to the allegations.

OH-Gov, OH-Sen, OH-10: Democratic Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley told WVXU last week of her 2022 plans, “I’ve made up my mind what I am going to do. I’ll make an announcement, probably in mid-April.” Whaley has generated the most chatter in recent weeks as a potential candidate against Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, though she hasn’t closed the door on a bid for the Senate or for the House.

TX-Gov, TX-AG: Former state Sen. Don Huffines has been talking about launching a Republican primary bid against Gov. Greg Abbott, and the Dallas Morning News‘ Gromer Jeffers writes that “[s]everal people with knowledge of his plans say an announcement could be made in April.”

State GOP chair Allen West, who is also a former Florida congressman, also didn’t rule out campaigning against Abbott last year. However, Jeffers adds that West is “said to be considering other options” including a possible primary campaign against scandal-plagued Attorney General Ken Paxton. Note that Texas doesn’t actually require its attorney general to hold a law license or degree, which is fortunate for West, because his only legal experience came as a defendant in a military tribunal.

VA-Gov: Candidate filing closed last week for both parties, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a list of contenders for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.

Republicans will be choosing their statewide candidates at a May 8 party convention, which will employ instant-runoff voting, while Democrats will take part in a traditional state-run primary election on June 8. Virginia backed Joe Biden by a solid 54-44 margin last year, but Team Red is hoping that enough voters will be looking for change after eight years of Democratic governors.  

Seven Republicans are competing to succeed Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam in the only state where governors are unable to seek a second consecutive term. Two wealthy businessmen, Glenn Youngkin and Pete Snyder, have already been pouring their resources into a contest that will be decided by a relatively small number of convention delegates: The Republican ad-tracking firm Medium Buying reported Monday that Youngkin had spent about $1.2 million on TV and radio so far, while Snyder had deployed a similar $1.1 million.

The contest also includes two sitting elected officials, Del. Kirk Cox and state Sen. Amanda Chase, who have very different backgrounds. Cox served as speaker of the House until Democrats took control of the chamber following the 2019 elections, which gives him plenty of establishment credentials. The same cannot be said for Chase, a self-described “Trump in heels” who has long had an awful relationship with her party’s leaders.

While GOP conventions usually favor extremists, Chase is so deeply on the outs with fellow Republicans that her ability to muster the necessary support among delegates is extremely weak. Chase herself very much recognizes the system puts her at a disadvantage, and she recently told the Times-Dispatch, “If it’s a fair process, heck, I’ll support the nominee. If it’s not fair, I’ll run as an independent.” She added, “I’ve already collected my signatures to do that.” Chase announced back in December that she’d run as an independent, but she backed down a week later.

The other three GOP contenders are former Roanoke City Sheriff Octavia Johnson, businessman Peter Doran, and former Defense Department official Sergio de la Peña. This trio, along with Chase, very much looks like longshots, though conventions can be very unpredictable.

Five Democrats, meanwhile, are running in the primary. The contender with the most name-recognition is Northam’s predecessor, Terry McAuliffe, and he also enjoyed a huge financial edge at the end of 2020. The other candidates are Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who remains in office two years after two women accused him of sexual assault; former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy; state Sen. Jennifer McClellan; and Del. Lee Carter, a self-described socialist. Fairfax, Foy, and McClellan would be the state’s second-ever Black governor, while Foy and McClellan would also be the first woman to hold this office.

Polling has been very limited, but so far, McAuliffe appears to be benefiting from a crowded field of foes. Politico noted earlier this month that, while many organizations want an alternative to the former governor, they have yet to consolidate behind anyone.

House

AL-05: On Monday, Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong became the first notable Republican to announce a bid to succeed Rep. Mo Brooks, who is giving up this safely red northern Alabama seat to run for the Senate. Madison County, which includes most of Huntsville, makes up about half of the current 5th District, but as we’ve noted before, this seat could look very different for the 2022 election in the likely event that Alabama loses one of its seven congressional districts.

AZ-01: Republican state Rep. Walt Blackman recently announced that he would take on Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran by proclaiming, “President Trump was a gift from God to us and when they did not certify him as the president, God said to us, ‘I will be with you as I was with President Trump.”

This is far from the first time that Blackman has pretended that Trump, who lost the current 1st District 50-48 last year, also won the state. Blackman at one point even suggested that the state legislature could try to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona and instead award its 11 electoral votes to Trump, and he was one of three legislators to call for the U.S. Senate to reject the state’s electors.

Blackman, an Army veteran whose 2018 win made him the legislature’s first Black Republican member, also has made a name for himself by attacking Black Lives Matter as a “terrorist organization.” Blackman also posted a video about George Floyd on Facebook that the state representative titled, “I DO NOT support George Floyd and I refuse to see him as a martyr. But I hope his family receives justice.”

NM-01: The Republican State Central Committee convened Saturday and nominated state Sen. Mark Moores for the June 1 special election to succeed Democrat Deb Haaland, who resigned earlier this month to become secretary of the interior. Moores won the support of 39 out of the 121 committee members while his nearest opponent, radio host Eddy Aragon, took 24.

Moores will be the clear underdog in the general election for this 60-37 Biden seat in the Albuquerque area, though some politicos have speculated that a good showing could help raise his profile for a bid against Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham next year.

Moores probably won’t learn the identity of his Democratic foe for a few more days. The Democratic State Central Committee will gather Tuesday morning, but, unlike the Republicans, Team Blue requires its eventual nominee to earn a majority of the vote. In the event that none of the eight contenders wins outright on the first round, the Albuquerque Journal‘s Ryan Boetel writes that there would be “runoff elections on subsequent days with the smallest number of candidates who, together, earned more than 50% of the vote.” Boetel says this will keep happening until one contender takes a majority.

OH-11: The regional branch of the United Auto Workers has endorsed Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown in the August Democratic primary for this safely blue seat.

TX-06: The State Republican Party Executive Committee has endorsed party activist Susan Wright, who is also one of its members, in the May 1 all-party primary.

Legislative

Special Elections: There’s a special election in Massachusetts on tap for Tuesday:

MA-HD-19th Suffolk: Longtime Democratic state House Speaker Robert DeLeo vacated this seat late last year when he took a job with Northeastern University. Former Winthrop Town Council President Jeffrey Turco is the Democratic candidate taking on Republican Paul Caruccio, a businessman. Additionally, Emerson College student Richard Fucillo is seeking this seat as an independent.

Turco, who took 36% in a four-way Democratic primary earlier this month, is a strong favorite to win this seat which backed Hillary Clinton 60-36 in 2016. However, Turco has received backlash for many of his positions. He has drawn the ire of groups such as NARAL for his stances on reproductive rights issues, open support of Donald Trump, and donations to multiple Republican Senate candidates during the 2020 election. For his part, Turco, who considers himself a “working class Democrat,” has been endorsed by multiple local labor unions.

This is the only vacancy in this chamber, where Democrats have a 128-30 supermajority (with one independent member).

Mayoral

Omaha, NE Mayor: Omaha’s local AFL-CIO affiliate, the Omaha Federation of Labor, has backed developer RJ Neary in the April 6 nonpartisan primary. There’s little question that Republican Mayor Jean Stothert will secure enough support to advance to the May 11 general election, so the big thing to watch is whether Neary or one of her four other opponents will face her in the second round.

Other Races

VA-LG: Eight Democrats and six Republicans are campaigning to succeed Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is giving up this post to run for governor. The stakes for this office, which is responsible for breaking deadlocks in the state Senate, are always high, and this year is no different. Democrats enjoy a narrow 21-19 majority in the upper chamber, and Team Blue would have no room for error on key votes if they lost the lieutenant governor’s key tie-breaking vote.

The June Democratic primary field consists of:

  • Del. Hala Ayala
  • Former state party chair Paul Goldman
  • Del. Elizabeth Guzman
  • Del. Mark Levine
  • Norfolk City Council member Andria McClellan
  • Fairfax County NAACP President Sean Perryman
  • Del. Sam Rasoul
  • Businessman Xavier Warren

The Republicans competing at the May party convention are:

  • Businessman Puneet Ahluwalia
  • Businessman Lance Allen
  • Del. Glenn Davis
  • Former Del. Tim Hugo
  • Businessman Maeve Rigler
  • Former Del. Winsome Sears

VA-AG: Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring is seeking a third term, and he faces a well-funded primary challenge from Del. Jay Jones. Jones, who would be the first Black person to hold this office, also has the endorsement of Gov. Ralph Northam.

Four Republicans, meanwhile, are competing at their May nominating convention. The field consists of Chesterfield County Supervisor Leslie Haley; Del. Jason Miyares; 2017 candidate Chuck Smith; and attorney Jack White.

Data

Pres-by-CD: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to announce the publication of a comprehensive statement of methodology that explains how we calculated the 2020 presidential election results by congressional district, down to the last detail. Armed with this document, anyone wishing to will be able to replicate our calculations (which can be found here) in full or double-check all of our work, which we encourage.

The bulk of our guide is devoted to the two hardest problems posed by calculating presidential results by congressional district: votes that are unassigned to any geographic precinct (often those cast before Election Day), and precincts that are split between multiple districts. We’ve developed a number of different methods for allocating these votes to the proper district, and our confidence in their accuracy is high. The necessity of these approaches underscores, however, that some calculations are estimates (albeit very carefully considered ones), and highlights the need for state election authorities to calculate this data themselves.

We’ve also included a section that explains which methods we’ve used to allocate unassigned votes and split-precinct votes on a state-by-state basis, and that includes links to all of the raw election results we’ve relied on for our calculations. Our methodology is applicable to calculating district-level results of other statewide races (such as for Senate or governor), and for state legislative districts as well as congressional districts. As we begin the process of calculating the most recent presidential results by legislative district, we will update this document.

You can find all of our district-level data at this bookmarkable permalink. We invite any and all questions about our methodology statement and will continue to refine it based on your feedback.

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