The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● Ad Reservations: The Washington Post reported this week that the DCCC had reserved $10 million in TV time in markets across the country, and a source with knowledge of Democratic media buys has broken down the amounts for us by House district. We’ve assembled this new data into a spreadsheet and added it to our reservations tracker.
The DCCC is the first major outside group to book time in Alaska, where it’s reserved a total of $495,000 to unseat Republican Rep. Don Young. By contrast, there was very little outside spending here from anyone in 2018 when independent Alyse Galvin, who sought and won the Democratic nomination, held Young to a 53-47 victory. Galvin, who remains an independent, again won Tuesday’s Democratic primary without any trouble.
While it will still be difficult for Galvin to defeat Young, who has represented the entire state in the House since 1973, the DCCC’s reservation is the latest indication that this contest will be even more competitive than their last bout. A June Data for Progress Poll showed Galvin ahead 43-42, while a July survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, which was conducted on behalf of election enthusiasts on Twitter, gave her a similar 43-41 edge.
Galvin is also in a far better financial position than she was at this point in the 2018 race. Young enjoyed a $435,000 to $250,000 cash-on-hand lead just before last cycle’s primaries, but in late July of this year, it was Galvin who had a $1.4 million to $710,000 edge.
The DCCC and its allies at House Majority PAC had already booked millions in the Phoenix media market, which could either go towards defending Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran in Arizona’s 1st District or going after Republican Rep. David Schweikert in the 6th District, but our source says that the D-Trip’s new $1.1 million reservation is intended to be used against Schweikert. By contrast, neither of the two major GOP groups, the NRCC or Congressional Leadership Fund, have announced any reservations in Phoenix.
Both HMP and CLF have booked millions in the Los Angeles media market, which covers a number of competitive House seats. We’re told the DCCC’s $1.1 million reservation is entirely for California’s 48th District, where freshman Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda faces a very expensive campaign against Republican Michelle Steel. CLF earlier said that $600,000 from its reservation would go to this race.
The DCCC’s new $725,000 reservation is also going towards helping Democratic Rep. Max Rose in New York’s 11th District. The committee had earlier announced it was booking ad time in the market to defend Rep. Tom Malinowski in New Jersey’s 7th District and to flip New York’s open 2nd District.
The DCCC’s $1.4 million reservation for Montana’s only House district comes about two weeks after CLF said it was reserving $500,000 to defend this open GOP-held seat. The D-Trip’s $975,000 reservation to go after Republican Rep. Steve Chabot also comes just after CLF booked $775,000 to aid him.
● MA-Sen: In an unusual move, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed Rep. Joe Kennedy’s Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Ed Markey. Pelosi rarely takes sides in Senate primaries, and it’s especially surprising to see her oppose a Democratic incumbent backed by his chamber’s leadership.
● NH-Gov: Campaign finance reports are in for the period from June 16 to Aug. 17. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who does not face any serious opposition in the Sept. 8 Republican primary, raised $148,000 and had $776,000 on-hand. On the Democratic side, Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky narrowly outraised state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes $119,000 to $117,000, but Feltes had a hefty $328,000 to $86,000 cash-on-hand lead for the final weeks.
● VA-Gov: The Virginia Public Access Project reports that former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe filed paperwork on Wednesday to create a gubernatorial campaign committee. A spokesperson for McAuliffe, who served from 2014 to 2018, said that the former governor would not decide whether to run for his old job until after this November’s election.
If McAuliffe won the 2021 contest to succeed fellow Democrat Ralph Northam, he would be only the second Virginia governor to be elected to two nonconsecutive terms since the 1851 constitution allowed voters, rather than the legislature, to select the chief executive. (The Old Dominion is the only state that forbids incumbent governors from running for re-election, but there’s no limit on the number of nonconsecutive terms they can serve over their lifetimes.) The first was Mills Godwin, a segregationist who was elected as a Democrat in 1965 and a Republican in 1973.
IN-05: Tulchin Research (D) for the DCCC: Christina Hale (D): 50, Victoria Spartz (R): 45 (55-42 Biden)
NY-01: Tulchin Research (D) for the DCCC: Nancy Goroff (D): 48, Lee Zeldin (R-inc): 46 (51-45 Biden)
PA-01: DFM Research (D) for SMART Pennsylvania: Brian Fitzpatrick (R-inc): 47, Christina Finello (D): 35 (52-43 Biden)
We’ve seen two other polls from Indiana’s 5th District, a suburban Indianapolis seat that supported Donald Trump 53-41 but has been rapidly moving to the left. A late June GBAO poll for Democrat Christina Hale showed her beating Republican Victoria Spartz 51-45, while Biden led 53-43. Spartz’s allies at the anti-tax Club for Growth fired back last week with a WPA Intelligence survey that showed the Republican up 47-40, though it notably did not include presidential numbers.
Earlier this week, Democrat Nancy Goroff released a Global Strategy Group poll that showed her trailing Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin 47-42. That sample also found Donald Trump ahead 46-42 in this eastern Long Island seat which, while still a large drop from his 55-42 victory here in 2016, was notably more pessimistic than the Biden lead Tulchin finds. The only other poll we’ve seen here was a July Public Policy Polling internal for Goroff’s allies at 314 Action Fund that showed Zeldin leading 47-40 as the presidential race was tied 47-47.
DFM once again is polling on behalf of the transportation workers union SMART, which does not appear to have backed either candidate in Pennsylvania’s 1st District, as part of a survey on rail issues.
We’ve seen four other polls of this 49-47 Clinton seat, which is centered around Bucks County in Philadelphia’s northern suburbs, and both parties have very different views of the state of the race. In June, a Public Policy Polling survey for Democrat Christina Finello showed her narrowly leading Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick 40-38, while Biden carried the seat 56-40. Later that month, the Democratic group House Majority PAC dropped a Victoria Research survey that had the congressional race deadlocked 46-46, while Biden led 53-40.
Republicans countered the following month with their own pair of polls. A Public Opinion Strategies survey for Fitzpatrick had him up 53-39 even as Biden took the seat 51-42. The Congressional Leadership Fund’s survey from American Viewpoint had the incumbent ahead by a similar 50-35 margin, though it did not disclose any presidential numbers.
● Where Are They Now?: On Wednesday, former North Carolina Rep. Robin Hayes, who stepped down last year as leader of the state Republican Party, was sentenced to a year of probation for his part in a major corruption scandal.
Hayes accepted a plea bargain last year and cooperated with federal investigators’ inquiry into billionaire Republican donor Greg Lindberg and two of his associates, John Palermo and John Gray, who had been indicted along with Hayes for their part in an alleged scheme to bribe GOP state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. (Causey informed the FBI afterwards and was not accused of wrongdoing.) On Wednesday, Lindberg was sentenced to seven years in prison, while Gray was sentenced to two-and-a-half years; Palermo, though, was found not guilty.
● Massachusetts: Becky Walker Grossman, one of eight Democrats running for Massachusetts’ open 4th Congressional District, has filed a lawsuit with the state’s Supreme Judicial Court asking that ballots postmarked by Sept. 1 (the day of the primary) and received within 10 days be counted, citing a surge in mail balloting and problems with the Postal Service. Under current state law, ballots must be received by Election Day.
● Missouri: Voting rights advocates and a trio of voters have filed a lawsuit in state court challenging several Missouri laws, including a requirement that most–;but not all–;types of mail voters have their ballots notarized. They also want officials to count any ballots postmarked by Election Day and received within a minimum of 10 days; currently, ballots must be received by Election Day.
In addition, plaintiffs want to lift Missouri’s ban on voters returning mail ballots in person. Under state law, all such ballots can only be returned by U.S. mail. Many states, however, allow voters to deposit mail ballots at polling sites, election offices, or secure drop boxes, an option that experts have increasingly promoted to help voters avoid both the health risks of voting in person and the uncertainties surrounding mail delivery thanks to the Trump administration’s cuts to the Postal Service.
● Nebraska: Republican Secretary of State Bob Evnen says he will send absentee ballot applications for the November general election to all voters who have not already received one from their county election officials. Several counties, including the state’s three largest, had already announced plans to mail applications to voters. Evnen previously sent applications to all voters ahead of Nebraska’s May primary, leading to record turnout.
● New York: Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed three bills to ease voting access that New York’s Democratic-run legislature passed last month. The most important reform will allow all voters to request an absentee ballot due to the coronavirus pandemic, a change that was also enacted before the state’s June primary via executive order.
In addition, voters will be able to request absentee ballots starting right away, repealing a law that prohibited election officials from accepting requests more than 30 days before an election. Finally, a third bill requires officials to count any ballots missing a postmark so long as they are received by the day after Election Day.
Two other election-related bills are still awaiting Cuomo’s approval or veto. One measure would require that absentee voters be notified of any problems with their ballots and given a chance to correct them, while another would obligate every county to place at least one early voting location in its largest city.
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