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, and David Beard.
● Pres-by-CD: Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide arrives in Virginia, a state whose politics have shifted dramatically in a very short span. You can find our complete data set here, which we’re updating continuously as the precinct-level election returns we need for our calculations become available. You can also click here to learn more about why this data is so difficult to come by.
While Virginia began the 21st century as a reliably red state in presidential elections, the commonwealth has swung sharply to the left since then. Joe Biden carried the Old Dominion 54-44, which was a notable improvement on Hillary Clinton’s 50-45 performance four years earlier. Biden took the five congressional districts that Clinton carried and flipped an additional two, leaving Trump with just four districts. The results were the same down the ticket: Democrats House candidates prevailed in all seven Biden districts, while Republicans will continue to represent the four Trump seats.
We’ll start with a look at the Trump/Biden seats. The 2nd District in the Virginia Beach area swung from 49-45 Trump to 51-47 Biden, while freshman Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria won her rematch with Republican Scott Taylor, whom she’d unseated in 2018, 52-46. Over in the Richmond suburbs, the 7th District swung from 50-44 Trump to 50-49 Biden; freshman Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger held on 51-49 against Republican Del. Nick Freitas.
Biden carried the five Clinton districts with ease, including one seat that was competitive turf not long ago. The 10th District in Northern Virginia favored Clinton 52-42, but Biden took it by an even stronger 59-40 margin. Two years ago, Republicans spent heavily to save Rep. Barbara Comstock, but she lost to Democrat Jennifer Wexton 56-44. Team Red didn’t seriously contest the seat this time, and Wexton prevailed 57-43.
In the Trump seats, the largest move to the left came in the 1st District, which includes the western Chesapeake Bay and exurbs of D.C. and Richmond: Trump took this district 54-41 in 2016, but he carried it only 51-47 this year. However, Republican Rep. Rob Wittman, who first was elected to Congress in a 2007 special election, won by a far stronger 58-42 margin.
Trump also lost support in the 5th District, which contains Charlottesville and south-central Virginia, but not by enough to cost Team Red control of the seat. The 5th went from 53-42 to 54-45 Trump, while Republican Bob Good won a very expensive open seat contest 52-47 against Democrat Cameron Webb.
Perhaps the best illustration of just how much Virginia has changed, though, can be seen in two districts that were once competitive around a decade ago but now are anything but. From 1994 to 2008, Republicans held a prior iteration of the 11th District in the D.C. suburbs, something hard to imagine today given that it went for Biden by a lopsided 70-28 spread. Meanwhile, at the state’s far southwestern tip in coal country, the 9th District remained in Democratic hands until 2010, when Rep. Rick Boucher lost in the GOP wave. This district also went 70-28 at the presidential level, except that it was Trump who carried it.
● GA-Sen-A, GA-Sen-B: If the Jan. 5 Georgia runoffs don’t each break the record for most money spent in a Senate race, it won’t be for lack of trying. AdImpact reported Friday that $206 million had already been reserved, and there’s a whole lot more to come over the next several weeks.
Meanwhile, both Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are up with commercials declaring that Democratic wins would empower radicals, which has been the GOP’s main argument during the runoff.
● AZ-Sen: NRSC chair Rick Scott recently told Politico that he’s hoping to recruit Gov. Doug Ducey, who will be termed-out in 2022, to challenge Democratic Sen.-elect Mark Kelly, though there’s no word on the governor’s interest. Kelly unseated Republican incumbent Martha McSally, who was appointed by none other than Ducey, 51-49 in this month’s special election, and he’s now up for a regular six-year term.
P.S. According to Eric Ostermeier of the University of Minnesota, Arizona will now have two Democratic senators for the first time since the end of the 82nd Congress in early 1953. Democratic Majority Leader Ernest McFarland had lost re-election months before to Republican Barry Goldwater, who would later be Lyndon Johnson’s opponent in the 1964 presidential election.
● CO-Sen, CO-Gov: The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul recently asked Republican Rep. Ken Buck, who currently serves as state party chair, about his interest in a 2022 Senate or gubernatorial bid, and Buck did not reject either idea.
Paul inquired, “There’s been some talk in the party about you running for governor or U.S. Senate in 2022. I may be putting the cart before the horse here, but are you thinking about those at all?” The congressman responded, “I don’t think there’s a cart and I don’t think there’s a horse. I don’t know which one you want to put in front of the other.” Buck continued, “Right now, I am stuck in the swamp, trying to figure out how to get good things done for America. I have not focused on any of the issues you just talked about.”
Both Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, who beat Buck 48-46 during the 2010 GOP wave, and Democratic Gov. Jared Polis are up for re-election.
● MD-Sen: Republican Gov. Larry Hogan didn’t rule out a 2022 campaign against Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen in July but he didn’t seem especially interested either, telling the New York Times, “It’s not something I’m actively considering. Senate has not been the focus.” However, unnamed Democratic sources recently told Politico that the senator is “very concerned” about the termed-out Hogan challenging him.
NRSC chair Rick Scott also recently said, “I think Larry could [run],” adding, “I think he likes the political process.” Hogan, for his part, does seem to want to remain active in politics, but he’s been mentioned far more as a possible 2024 presidential candidate than as a Senate hopeful.
● NC-Sen: The Hill’s Juliegrace Brufke reported Friday that multiple North Carolina politicos expect outgoing Republican Rep. Mark Walker to announce a Senate bid in early December, with a kick off coming as soon as Dec. 1. A number of other Republicans are also mulling bids to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr, and Brufke name-drops Rep. Ted Budd as a possibility as well.
● NH-Sen: NRSC chair Rick Scott recently confirmed to Politico that he was trying to recruit Gov. Chris Sununu to challenge Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. Sununu himself didn’t rule out a bid last month.
● PA-Sen: The Washington Post’s Paul Kane recently interviewed Democratic Rep. Chrissy Houlahan for a profile about her Chester County base, and Kane added that Houlahan is considering a 2022 bid for the state’s open Senate seat. There’s no direct quote from Houlahan about her interest in the race, though she didn’t rule out a bid last month after Republican incumbent Pat Toomey announced his retirement.
● TX-Gov: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is seeking a third term in 2022, and there are a few Democrats who seem interested in taking him on. 2018 Senate nominee Beto O’Rourke didn’t rule anything out in April, and Politico wrote in October that he “has his eye on the 2022 Texas gubernatorial race.”
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro explicitly didn’t reject a bid against Abbott back in July, and the Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek now writes that O’Rourke and Castro “were among the names most discussed as potential Democratic challengers.” (Both men unsuccessfully sought the 2020 presidential nomination.)
Another possibility is Rep. Joaquin Castro, who is Julián Castro’s identical twin brother. There’s no word from the congressman, who is currently trying to secure the chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, about his interest yet, though an unnamed person close to the brothers said that neither Castro had ruled anything out. However, this person also says that neither of the Castros are rejecting a 2024 campaign for the Senate, when Republican incumbent Ted Cruz will next be up.
Abbott, meanwhile, may also need to be on guard for a potential primary challenger. Svitek writes that state party chair Allen West, who was elected to his only term in Congress from Florida in 2010, hasn’t said no to a campaign against Abbott.
West, though, has been very vocal in picking fights with the governor during his first few months as chair; as Svitek recently put it, West “sued fellow Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for extending the early voting period due to the coronavirus, protested outside the Governor’s Mansion over pandemic-related shutdowns and assailed the likely next state House speaker — also another member of West’s own party — as a traitor.”
Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, whose habit of spreading far-right lies on Facebook has attracted national attention, has also been mentioned as a possible Abbott opponent. Miller’s team told Svitek, “Commissioner Miller’s name will be on the Republican primary ballot in 2022,” which very much isn’t a no.
● LA-02: LAPolitics’ Jeremy Alford writes that Public Service Commissioner Lambert Boissiere, a Democrat who serves on the five-person body that regulates utilities, is considering competing in the special election to succeed outgoing Rep. Cedric Richmond. Alford also reports that people close to Democratic state Sen. Cleo Fields, who has expressed interest in returning to Congress after a 24-year absence, say he’s “leaning against a bid.”
● St. Louis, MO Mayor: President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed announced over the weekend that he would run next year to succeed retiring incumbent Lyda Krewson in what will be the first big city mayoral race in American history conducted using a version of approval voting.
Reed, who like every major figure in city politics is a Democrat, unsuccessfully sought this post twice back when candidates were nominated through partisan primaries. In 2013, Reed challenged four-term Mayor Francis Slay and lost 55-44. Slay retired four years later and Reed ran again, but he placed third in the primary: Krewson edged out city Treasurer Tishaura Jones 32-30, while Reed took 18%. In 2019, Reed won renomination to his citywide elected office in a close 36-32 contest.
The March 2 race already includes Jones, as well as Alderwoman Cara Spencer, and restaurant owner Dana Kelly, and more candidates could still join. Collector of Revenue Gregory Daly said this week that he was considering, while state Rep. Donna Baringer did not rule it out. The filing deadline is Jan. 4.
Under the new approval voting system, though, all the contenders will face off on one nonpartisan ballot on March 2, and voters could cast as many votes as there are candidates, with up to one vote per candidate. The top-two vote-getters will then advance to an April 6 general election.