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.
● CO-08: Expect plenty of this over the next year: wrangling over congressional districts that don’t yet exist. This week, Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo announced a bid for Colorado’s 8th Congressional District, even though its borders won’t be finalized until the end of the year. All we have to go on at the moment is a preliminary map from the state’s new redistricting commission that sketches out a Democratic-leaning 8th District in the suburbs to the north of Denver.
But the commission is in the midst of public hearings and has until Sept. 28 to settle on a plan, which in turn will go to the state Supreme Court for its own review, with a deadline of Dec. 15. Lots could therefore change between now and then, though if the current version of the 8th winds up in the final map, Caraveo could find herself in a good position: Her legislative district, which she first won in 2018, lies entirely inside the proposed congressional district.
A pediatrician who would be the first Latina to represent Colorado in Congress, Caraveo says she’s “confident” the new 8th will include her hometown of Thornton, though she says she’s unsure what her plans will be if it does not. (Members of the House do not have to live in the districts they represent.) But if she does wind up sticking with her campaign, the juicy temptation of an open seat guarantees that she’ll have company.
For starters, former state Rep. Joe Salazar, who used to represent Caraveo’s seat in the state House, says he, too, is considering a bid, though he’s also talked about a potential primary challenge to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. However, one Democrat who had been weighing a bid, state Sen. Faith Winter, has taken herself out of the running by endorsing Caraveo, citing the historic nature of her candidacy and her medical background.
Plenty of Republicans could also be in the mix, but it’s less clear who’s actually expressed interest versus who’s had their name bandied about by the proverbial Great Mentioner. That will change, though, as the 8th District gets closer to becoming reality.
● GA-Sen: Former NFL star Herschel Walker, who has been very squirrely about his political plans, filed paperwork to create a campaign committee with the FEC on Tuesday, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Greg Bluestein reports that a “formal announcement is expected within days.” Walker himself, however, still hasn’t commented publicly, and as of Tuesday afternoon, hadn’t said anything about his intentions on his Twitter account.
● FL-Gov, FL-Sen: A new poll for the progressive group Future Majority finds close races in the marquee contests that’ll be on Florida’s ballot next year, but Republicans retain the edge in both. The survey, from Change Research, has Gov. Ron DeSantis ahead of his top Democratic opponents by almost identical margins, giving him a 49-45 lead on Rep. Charlie Crist and a similar 49-44 advantage over state Agriculture Secretary Nikki Fried. Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio is up 47-44 on Democratic Rep. Val Demings. Polling in both races has been very limited, but these numbers are on the more optimistic side for Democrats compared to what little we’ve seen so far.
● VA-Gov: In addition to its Florida poll (see just above), Future Majority released a companion survey from Change Research of this fall’s gubernatorial race in Virginia that finds Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Glenn Youngkin 47-44. Youngkin has never led in any publicly released poll of the contest.
● FL-20: Businesswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is up with two new TV ads ahead of the Nov. 2 Democratic primary. The spots do not appear to be available online, but according to descriptions from Florida Politics, they both play up her progressive bona fides, with the first touting her support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and the second coming out in favor of repealing the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds from being used to pay for abortions in nearly all instances.
The deep-pocketed Cherfilus-McCormick, who self-funded $2 million to her campaign in the last fundraising quarter, is reportedly spending $400,000 to air these commercials.
● IA-02: State Rep. Christina Bohannan kicked off a bid against freshman Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks on Tuesday, giving Democrats their first high-profile challenger in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. Bohannan, a law professor, won her seat in the legislature last year in an upset, defeating 20-year incumbent Vicki Lensing by a wide 66-34 margin in the primary after arguing the district needed a more progressive and aggressive advocate.
Miller-Meeks, meanwhile, won an open-seat race last year by just 6 votes over Democrat Rita Hart as Donald Trump was carrying southeastern Iowa’s 2nd District 51-47. While Hart has yet to announce whether she might seek a rematch, an unnamed former campaign aide tells the Quad-City Times that her old boss has “no intentions” of running, in the paper’s phrasing.
While Iowa’s 2nd has generally been competitive turf, the GOP’s complete control of state government gives legislators the chance to draw up friendlier lines for Miller-Meeks next year. Under state law, a nonpartisan agency proposes maps to the legislature, but while lawmakers always adopted them in prior decades when government control was divided, Republicans now can simply reject the agency’s proposals and implement their own gerrymanders.
● IL-13: Former Biden administration official Nikki Budzinski, who’d reportedly been preparing a run, launched a campaign against Republican Rep. Rodney Davis on Tuesday. Budzinski is politically well-connected: She recently stepped down as chief of staff at the Office of Management and Budget and prior to that served as a top adviser to Gov. J.B. Pritzker. She also has a long history in the labor movement and managed labor outreach for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Budzinski joins a primary field that already includes financial planner David Palmer. The biggest question, though, is how Democrats in the legislature will redraw the swingy 13th District, which could be made decidedly bluer.
● TX-23: Businessman Raul Reyes, who narrowly lost last year’s Republican primary in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, says he’s considering a rematch with the ultimate winner of that race, Rep. Tony Gonzales. In a statement, Reyes complained about Gonzales’ various apostasies, including his vote for a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and charged that the congressman’s “number one priority is to help illegal aliens come into the country.”
Gonzales had Donald Trump’s endorsement and was the favorite of the party establishment, but the little-regarded Reyes made it a race in part thanks to the support of Ted Cruz. Gonzalez wound up winning by just 45 votes in a runoff after leading 28-23 in the first round of voting (strangely, Reyes claimed in his press release that he “came within seven votes” of victory, even though official results confirm the 45-vote margin). But because Reyes pursued a recount, the result wasn’t final until five weeks later, hampering Gonzales’ finances.
Despite the prolonged nomination battle, though, Gonzales wound up prevailing over Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones 51-47, aided by a sizable swing to the right among Latino voters. One notable Democrat, Marine veteran John Lira, has announced a bid for this sprawling rural district that stretches along the Mexico border from San Antonio west to the El Paso area, though Republican state lawmakers are apt to try to make it redder next year.
● Atlanta, GA Mayor: Attorney Sharon Gay is up with what appears to be the first TV ad from anyone ahead of the crowded November nonpartisan primary, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the size of the buy is $300,000.
The spot stars a neighborhood leader named David Patton, who describes how the housing project Perry Homes was once “full of violent crime and drugs.” He then extols Gay for helping build a new community called West Highlands in its place, which brought down crime. “At the heart of it, Sharon was fighting inequity,” Patton says, adding, “She demanded affordable places for people to live, and real neighborhood investment.”
● Boston, MA Mayor: City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George has released an internal poll from Change Research, which is the first survey we’ve seen of this race in nearly two months, that shows her fighting for the important second-place spot in the Sept. 14 nonpartisan primary.
Fellow City Councilor Michelle Wu takes a strong first with 27%, while Essaibi George and Acting Mayor Kim Janey are deadlocked 15-15 for the second spot in the November general election. Another member of the City Council, Andrea Campbell, is at 10%, while former city cabinet member John Barros brings up the rear with 5%.