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.
● GA-Gov: Donald Trump’s hostility toward yet another sitting Republican governor once again risks begetting yet another primary challenge: In a bonkers interview on Fox News on Sunday (which reporters for actual news outlets slammed as “propaganda”), Trump complained bitterly that Gov. Brian Kemp hadn’t sought to overturn the results of Georgia’s elections and moaned, “I’m ashamed that I endorsed him.”
That outburst led the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Greg Bluestein to suggest that it “appears increasingly possible” a fellow Republican might seek to unseat Kemp in 2022, adding that “perhaps” outgoing Rep. Doug Collins could be the one to do it. Collins already lost his own challenge to a sitting GOP office-holder this year when he fell 6 points short of squeezing past Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the first round of Georgia’s special election for the Senate. But Collins remains a favorite of Trump, who tapped him to lead his recount team in the state.
Trump had also wanted Kemp to select Collins over Loeffler to succeed Sen. Johnny Isakson after he resigned last year, though he never explicitly offered his endorsement to the congressman when he decided to take on Loeffler anyway. But the ever-vengeful Trump could use Collins to extract some payback, and Kemp will be mindful of the fact that late support from Trump in his own gubernatorial runoff two years ago helped turn his race into a rout.
Trump’s already been goading would-be challengers to run against Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who committed the sin of acknowledging Joe Biden’s victory. He hasn’t called for anyone to take out Georgia’s governor quite so explicitly yet, but Kemp’s crime—he refused to interfere in the certification of his state’s results—is very similar, so it may only be a matter of time before Trump amps up the rhetoric.
● GA-Sen-A, GA-Sen-B: There’s plenty of Georgia news to catch up on after the holiday weekend, so we’re slinging it at ya bullet-point style:
- Donald Trump says he will “probably” head down to Georgia to support Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on Saturday. Mike Pence will be in Savannah on Friday, his second trip to the state for the runoffs.
- RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel was savaged by Republican attendees at a gathering in the Atlanta suburbs on Saturday who echoed Trump’s attacks on the integrity of Georgia’s elections, with one demanding, “Why should we trust this election when it’s already been decided?”
- Just how worried are Republicans that disgusted Trumpists will sit this race out? No one can say, of course, whether it’s much more than a few hecklers online and off, but Donald Trump Jr.’s compadres are reportedly starting a new super PAC to run ads on conservative media aimed at keeping MAGA-heads in the fold. The sums involved, however, are very small (“six figures”), and the spots will feature Don Jr., so it may just be traditional Trump-world grift aimed at promoting Junior’s political future.
- Just how small? According to Ad Impact (the artists formerly known as Advertising Analytics), ad reservations and spending across both runoffs now total $283 million. That also helps put in perspective a new $2 million buy from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is painfully on the outs with Senate Republicans after its minimal investment on their behalf in 2020.
All this spending means we’ve got plenty of ads, of course:
- Jon Ossoff features a restaurateur attacking Perdue for looking out for his stock portfolio instead of supporting small businesses during COVID. (Perdue, meanwhile, attacked Ossoff for eating at a popular Black-owned restaurant in Atlanta over the weekend.)
- Ossoff narrates his own ad in Spanish on healthcare and infrastructure.
- The Senate Leadership Fund revisits some bogus attacks on Ossoff (more on those here).
- Raphael Warnock says that Washington has forgotten the value of “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
- Warnock also uses nothing but clips of Republican Rep. Doug Collins attacking Kelly Loeffler as a phony who’s “trying to buy an election.”
- Loeffler runs footage of Warnock decrying police brutality and mass incarceration from the pulpit.
- A joint Loeffler/NRSC ad in Spanish calls Warnock a socialist.
- American Crossroads features a sheriff named Mike Jolley calling Warnock an “anti-police extremist.” Jolley is a pro-gun extremist who posted a sign on the grounds outside his office reading, “Welcome to Harris County, Georgia. Our citizens have concealed weapons. If you kill someone, we might kill you back. We have ONE jail and 356 cemeteries. Enjoy your stay!”
- Best for last: Loeffler has a conservative activist, Janelle King, tell the audience, “We need someone who understands how to not only write paychecks and sign paychecks but how it feels like waiting on that paycheck.” Loeffler is worth anywhere from $800 million to $1 billion.
P.S. The only scheduled debates of the runoffs are taking place on Sunday—though stick an asterisk after that. Warnock and Loeffler will take the stage together at 7 PM, but Ossoff will appear alone for an hour at 5 PM, because Perdue, who bailed on their final faceoff just before Election Day after some clips of Ossoff kicking his butt at late October debate went viral, is refusing to attend.
● NC-Sen: In her first public comments on the possibility of running for Senate in her home state of North Carolina, Lara Trump recently told Fox News, “It would be an incredible thing,” but added, “Let’s get through this one and then we’ll talk about the next one.” Earlier news accounts had reported that Trump, who is married to Donald Trump’s son Eric and worked for Trump’s presidential campaign, was interested in a bid to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr.
For Democrats, Hotline’s Madeline Pisani throws a few more names into the mix, starting with state Sen. Sam Searcy, who says he is “considering” the race. Also mentioned are Attorney General Josh Stein, who just narrowly won re-election, and former Obama Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who previously served as mayor of Charlotte.
Pisani adds that Gov. Roy Cooper, who likewise just earned a second term, is “unlikely” to run and says that Republican state House Speaker Tim Moore is “rumored” to be interested. We took our own look at the initial playing field in a recent Digest.
● OH-Sen: Josh Rultenberg of Spectrum News adds a new name to the list of potential Democratic contenders who could take on Republican Sen. Rob Portman in 2022: Portage County Commissioner Kathleen Clyde, a former state representative who lost an open-seat race for secretary of state to Republican Frank LaRose 51-47 in 2018. Clyde does not yet appear to have commented on her interest. We recently ran down a list of other possible candidates.
● PA-Sen, PA-Gov: Erie News Now’s Matt Knoedler recently asked Republican Rep. Mike Kelly if he might run for Senate or governor in 2022, to which he responded, “It’s like anything else in life: You want to take a look at what’s out there.” (This is not in fact true of life.) Kelly, however, cautioned, “I’m very, very comfortable being in Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District,” which he handily won this year after an unexpectedly close scrape in 2018.
Knoedler also checked in with another Republican congressman, 15th District Rep. Glenn Thompson, who didn’t rule out a run but noted, “I’d like to be the first member of Congress from Pennsylvania in 202 years to chair the House Agriculture Committee.” Barring an extraordinary series of events, that couldn’t happen until 2023 at the soonest (Republicans would have to take back the House first), but Thompson is in line to become the highest-ranking GOP member of the committee next year thanks to Texas Rep. Michael Conaway’s retirement.
Meanwhile, according to Brad Bumsted at Lancaster Online, former state House Majority Leader Dave Reed is “weighing his options,” though there’s no direct quote. Reed was first elected to the state House in 2002 at the age of 24, but he retired in 2018 and abandoned a bid for the House after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the state to adopt a fairer congressional map in place of its existing Republican gerrymander.
● MD-Gov: Maryland Matters’ Josh Kurtz, who has done an assiduous job tracking potential candidates for his state’s open-seat gubernatorial showdown in 2022, adds two more Democratic names to the list of people to watch. One is former Rep. John Delaney, whose doomed-to-fail presidential bid showed hardcore election watchers (but luckily for him, absolutely no one else) just how weird his politics are. However, he’s personally worth some $200 million, a fortune that helped him win a seat in Congress in 2012 but didn’t exactly get him to the White House.
The other is former Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, who served as running-mate to then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown when he lost the 2014 governor’s race to Republican Larry Hogan, who is now term-limited. Ulman, who opened a consulting firm after that loss, has not publicly commented yet (nor has Delaney), though Brown himself has expressed interest in taking another swing. We recently took stock of the potential field to succeed Hogan, though so far, Democrat Peter Franchot, the state comptroller, is the only candidate to announce a campaign.
● RI-Gov: Rhode Island is on track to lose a congressional seat once 2020 census data is released, which in theory would set up an intra-party battle between the state’s two Democratic congressmen, 1st District Rep. David Cicilline and 2nd District Rep. Jim Langevin. Politico speculates, however, that Langevin could instead enter the contest for governor, which will see an open-seat race in 2022 because Democrat Gina Raimondo is term-limited.
That move might make sense because Langevin would bring a major liability to a one-on-one matchup with Cicilline: his stance on abortion rights. Langevin describes himself as “pro-life” and has often voted for measures to restrict abortion access, leading to mixed ratings from advocacy groups over the years. Cicilline, by contrast, is unambiguously pro-choice and overall has compiled a more progressive voting record in Congress.
Langevin’s relatively moderate profile could of course cause him difficulty in a gubernatorial primary as well, but that election is likely to see a large number of top-shelf Democrats participate. A winner could therefore emerge with only a plurality, since Rhode Island, like most states, does not use runoffs, instant or otherwise.
● VA-Gov: The New York Times‘ Reid Epstein reports that Democratic Del. Lee Carter plans to make an announcement about seeking the governorship “before the end of December” and says he is “likely” to run. Earlier this month, Carter confirmed he was “strongly considering” a bid.
● GA-05: Georgia’s 5th Congressional District will hold a runoff in the special election to fill the final month of the late John Lewis’ term on Tuesday between two Democrats, former Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall and former Morehouse College president Robert Franklin. Hall led Franklin 32-29 in the first round of voting in late September, a contest that featured seven total candidates. That slate, however, did not include state Sen. Nikema Williams, who was chosen by party leaders to replace Lewis on the November ballot following his death this summer and easily defeated a Republican opponent on Election Day.
● OH-01: Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, who just won a difficult re-election campaign, has already announced that he will “run again in 2022,” regardless of “whatever happens with redistricting this time around.” Last time around, Chabot was a huge beneficiary of a hyper-aggressive GOP gerrymander that shattered the city of Cincinnati and transformed the 1st District from one that Barack Obama had carried 55-44 to one that John McCain would have won 52-47.
Chabot’s fellow Republicans may try to do him a similar solid next year, though it remains to be seen whether a largely toothless redistricting reform amendment voters passed in 2018 does in fact have any bite to it. Earlier this year, the longtime congressman said he’d wait to see what the new lines look like before making a decision about his political future, but evidently he’s changed his mind. Chabot may be hoping to influence map-makers, and he may also be trying to forestall more retirement rumors, which dogged him last cycle.
● CA-21: Three-and-a-half weeks after Election Day, the Associated Press has called the rematch in California’s 21st District for Republican David Valadao, who currently leads Democratic Rep. TJ Cox 50.5 to 49.5. Two years ago, Cox ousted Valadao by a similar margin in one of the biggest upsets of the midterms.