The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Matt Booker, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● NY-Gov: The New York Times, citing an unnamed source, reports that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie believes “he has the support from most, if not all, of the Democratic majority” to impeach Gov. Andrew Cuomo, though at a Monday news conference, he was hazy about the timeline for proceeding. Heastie told reporters he thinks that lawmakers’ impeachment investigation will be “dealt with in weeks, and not months,” though it would then be some time before articles of impeachment could be drafted and voted on.
To get a sense of just how vague Heastie’s guidance was, North Country Public Radio suggested that articles “could come as early as this month,” while the Times said they “might not be considered until early September,” and the Albany Times Union went with “mid-September.” If and when the Assembly does impeach Cuomo (and for what it’s worth, every Republican in the chamber is in favor), a trial could not take place in the Senate any sooner than 30 days later. All told, a vote on whether to convict Cuomo and remove him from office—assuming he doesn’t resign first—may therefore not happen until October at the earliest.
Cuomo has also been trying to convince legislative leaders not to impeach him in exchange for him not running for a fourth term, The City reported, but Heastie shot down the idea at Monday’s press event. In the now-likely event of a Cuomo-less Democratic primary next year (or one featuring a deranged and mortally wounded ex-governor), our old friend the Great Mentioner is warming up for a very busy season of would-be candidacies. Politico starts us off with an extremely long and detailed list of potential successors, including a number of names we haven’t previously cited, though there’s pretty much no word yet as to whether any are interested. Don’t worry, though: There will be, soon.
● CA-Sen: Rep. Ro Khanna, who’d been the lone holdout among California House Democrats in not yet backing Sen. Alex Padilla for re-election, has at last endorsed the incumbent for a full six-year term. Khanna had previously declined to rule out a challenge to Padilla, who was appointed to replace Vice President Kamala Harris in January, but with no major opponents in sight, the senator should be a lock next year.
● MD-Sen: If Republican Gov. Larry Hogan wanted to put to rest any speculation that he might run against Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen next year, he could simply crib from ol’ William Tecumseh Sherman, whose famous Statement™ they teach on the first day of politician school. Instead, he’s continued to keep the door open just a crack, most recently telling Maryland Matters, “I’ve said like a million times I haven’t really expressed any interest whatsoever in that.” Added Hogan, “Van Hollen should not lay awake at night, every night, worrying about me.” Precisely what Hogan would like—a complacent opponent! Seriously, though, this is getting silly, but it can end if Hogan wishes it to.
● NY-Sen: When asked by CNN’s Dana Bash whether she might challenge Sen. Chuck Schumer in next year’s Democratic primary, sophomore Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez didn’t rule out the possibility but also did not sound particularly interested in the prospect. The congresswoman insisted that she hasn’t seriously considered the race, saying, “I can’t operate the way that I operate and do the things that I do in politics while trying to be aspiring to other things or calculating to other things.” She also added that she and Schumer “have been working very closely on a lot of legislation and that, to me, is important.”
Ocasio-Cortez did not offer any sort of timetable for making a decision, however, and her comments were made in late June as part of a taping for a CNN special, so it’s possible her stance has shifted since then.
● CA-Gov: California Republicans aren’t endorsing anyone in next month’s gubernatorial recall election … and neither are California Democrats. Well, sort of, for the latter: Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday encouraged supporters to leave the second question on the recall ballot blank rather than choose a replacement candidate, saying his team is “just focusing on ‘no’ ” on the first question, which asks voters whether they want to recall Newsom from office.
That’s in keeping with Newsom’s strategy all along, which was to discourage any high-profile Democrats from entering the race and unite the party behind him and him alone. Whether that’ll work, though, is the number one question facing Democrats, especially since at least one pollster has suggested that the variety of options open to Republican voters on question two has generated enthusiasm on the GOP side that Team Blue lacks.
But that wide-open field has created its own problem for Republicans, who voted not to back any candidate at a state party gathering over the weekend. With several welterweights running, that could lead to a split vote among the various GOP choices and possibly allow a little-known Democrat like Kevin Paffrath to prevail on the second question—an outcome that a recent independent poll suggested could indeed come to pass.
That survey—which was the first to show the recall succeeding, by a 51-40 margin—also found Paffrath with a 27-23 edge on conservative radio host Larry Elder, though Paffrath was the only Democrat named along with six Republicans. Elder has emerged as the top Republican fundraiser in the race after he reported raising $4.5 million since kicking off his campaign last month, though Newsom has amassed 10 times as much, bringing in $46 million through the end of July, and has been spending heavily on ads.
● CO-Gov: Jason Salzman of the Colorado Times Recorder writes that Republican state Sen. John Cooke, who is also the assistant minority leader of the chamber, did a radio interview last Thursday and shared some unflattering thoughts on his own party’s outlook in next year’s governor’s race.
Cooke said he did not think Democratic Gov. Jared Polis could be beaten and even praised the governor as “smart and popular.” He did name-check businessman Greg Lopez, the only officially announced candidate so far for the GOP but bemoaned his lack of money and name recognition.
Cooke also mentioned former state Sen. Ellen Roberts as someone who could give his party a chance in the race, but he said she told him she’s not interested in running. Roberts thought about a statewide bid in 2016 for Senate but decided against it after receiving backlash from some Republicans for not being sufficiently conservative.
● AR-01: State Rep. Brandt Smith kicked off a Republican primary bid against Rep. Rick Crawford, who’s represented eastern Arkansas’ 1st Congressional District since 2011. Smith claimed Crawford’s lack of accessibility and responsiveness to his constituents, rather than any specific policy disagreements, as his reasons for taking on the incumbent, a lower-profile Trumpnik who voted to overturn the results of last year’s election.
● MO-04: Former Republican state Sen. Ed Emery died last Friday at age 71, just a few days after collapsing at a campaign event. Emery had launched a bid for Missouri’s open 4th Congressional District in June.
● GA-LG, GA-Gov, GA-Sen: As expected, Republican state Sen. Burt Jones will seek Georgia’s lieutenant governorship, rather than run for Senate or governor. Jones is a wealthy businessman who was booted as chair of a key legislative committee by fellow Republicans for leading an effort to overturn last year’s election, a demotion he refashioned as a badge of honor in his campaign kickoff.
Another state senator, Butch Miller, is already running for the GOP nod, but Donald Trump dumped on him last month, saying he “will not be supporting or endorsing” Miller “because of his refusal to work with other Republican Senators on voter fraud and irregularities in the State.” Two notable Democrats, state Reps. Erick Allen and Derrick Jackson, are in the race, which is open because Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan chose not to seek re-election after disputing Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen.