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.
● 3Q Fundraising: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to unveil our new charts rounding up third-quarter fundraising figures for the House and Senate. Our data includes the numbers for every incumbent (excluding those who've said they're not seeking re-election) and notable announced or potential candidates.
The Senate numbers show that, while Democrats unquestionably face a tough fight to hold the upper chamber, Team Blue's most vulnerable incumbents are bringing in enormous sums to defend themselves. The quarter's fundraising champ was Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock, who took in an enormous $9.4 million and ended September with $17 million in the bank.
Former NFL star Herschel Walker, the longtime Texas resident whom Donald Trump recruited to run back in his home state of Georgia, raised a smaller but still credible $3.8 million and had $2.5 million to spend. Walker's haul was larger than any of his Republican primary opponents and left him with the most cash-on-hand, though several of his foes still have more than enough to get their own message out.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly raised $7.2 million and had $13 million available. Unlike in Georgia, though, no Republican has emerged as the big favorite to take on the incumbent. The GOP candidate who brought in the most money was businessman Jim Lamon, who raised a mere $133,000 from donors but self-funded $3 million and had by far the largest war chest in the primary with $3.6 million.
Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters was the one Republican to raise $1 million from contributors, and he had $865,000 to spend. But while Attorney General Mark Brnovich arguably begins the race with the most statewide name-recognition, the nunchuck enthusiast took in an underwhelming $560,000 and had only $515,000 on-hand.
Next door in Nevada, Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto raised $3 million and had $8.3 million on-hand. Adam Laxalt, the 2018 gubernatorial nominee who is the clear primary frontrunner to take her on, brought in $1.4 million since launching his campaign in mid-August and had a similar $1.3 million left over, but surprisingly, an unheralded intra-party foe also did well. Sam Brown, an Army veteran we hadn't previously mentioned, took in $1 million from donors and finished September with $655,000; Brown also launched TV ads on Fox last week, though there's no word on the size of his buy.
Another vulnerable Senate Democrat, New Hampshire's Maggie Hassan, raised $2.9 million and had $6.5 million to defend herself. Hassan, unlike her counterparts, doesn't currently face any well-funded opposition, but that would immediately change if Senate Republicans successfully recruit Gov. Chris Sununu.
There's much more to see in other Senate contests across the nation, including in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin—all of which are states where Team Blue is on the offensive. A very expensive race is also shaping up in Florida where Rep. Val Demings outraised Republican Sen. Marco Rubio $8.4 million to $5.9 million. Rubio, though, still ended September with a $9.6 million to $6 million cash-on-hand lead.
The battleground is far less certain in the House thanks in part to redistricting, which will likely pit several pairs of incumbents against one another in both primaries and general elections. The only such matchup that's already set, though, is in West Virginia's new 2nd District, where Republican Reps. David McKinley and Alex Mooney said last week that they'd run against one another (albeit after each accidentally announcing for the wrong seat.)
McKinley represents far more of the new district, but Mooney begins with the financial edge: While Mooney only outraised McKinley $175,000 to $170,000 during the quarter, he ended September with an enormous $2.6 million to $630,000 cash-on-hand lead.
There's a lot to see, so check out our House and Senate charts.
● TX Redistricting: Texas' Republican-run Senate and House, which had previously each passed new redistricting plans for their own chamber, gave approval to one another's maps on Friday, sending them to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature. Both maps will lock in GOP majorities by diminishing the voting strength of Black and Latino voters.
The two houses were not quite so agreeable with regard to congressional districts, however: The House made small modifications to the map on Sunday, only to have those changes rejected that same day by the Senate, which asked that the dispute be handed over to a conference committee made up of legislators from both chambers. That committee soon released a new proposal, which lawmakers still have to vote on. The current special session end of the legislature is set to end on Tuesday.
● FL-Gov: State Sen. Annette Taddeo entered the Democratic primary to take on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday, joining a field that includes Rep. Charlie Crist and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. Though her opponents are both better-known, Taddeo, who was born in Colombia, stands apart as the only notable Hispanic candidate in the race.
Taddeo ran for office unsuccessfully several times before finally winning a special election to the state Senate in 2017. In 2008, she lost a bid to Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen after the chair of the DCCC's Red to Blue program, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, refused to get involved in the race due to her fondness for the incumbent. Two years later, she sought a seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission but fell short; then in 2014, she actually served as Crist's running-mate in his gubernatorial comeback bid, which their ticket lost by just a 48-47 margin.
In 2016, she narrowly lost a primary for the 26th Congressional District to former Rep. Joe Garcia, who went on to get whooped by Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, the man who'd ousted him two years earlier. Luck finally broke Taddeo's way the following year, when Republican state Sen. Frank Artiles resigned after using racial slurs to describe fellow lawmakers. In an ensuing special election for Artiles' Miami-area district, Taddeo defeated Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz by a 51-47 margin, then secured a full four-year term the following year.
Taddeo, whom the Miami Herald describes as "a frequent guest on Miami's Spanish-language radio stations," has long been critical of Democratic outreach to Latino voters, a key constituency that shifted sharply to the right last year. Though she starts out at a considerable disadvantage in name recognition and fundraising, she could chart a path to the nomination similar to the one taken in 2018 by former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who beat out better-funded opponents in part because his rivals were reluctant to attack a prominent Black man, knowing they'd need to rely heavily on African American voters to win in the general election.
● OH-Gov: Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown endorsed Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley for governor on Monday, a few days after he backed Rep. Tim Ryan in the race for Senate. Whaley faces Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley for the right to take on Republican Gov. Mike DeWine next year.
● OK-Gov: Oklahoma City-based pollster Amber Integrated has released a new poll showing Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt winning 49-33 over schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, who recently left the GOP and became a Democrat specifically to challenge Stitt. The governor is far better known, with a 46-37 favorability rating, while Hofmeister posts a 30-27 score. Amber Integrated is a Republican firm but appears to have conducted this survey on its own behalf.
● VA-Gov: New fundraising reports show that Democrat Terry McAuliffe outraised Republican Glenn Youngkin $12.6 million to $7 million during the month of September and outspent him $17.5 million to $9.5 million. Despite spending more, however, McAuliffe still enjoyed a sizable cash advantage of $7.8 million to $3.5 million heading into the final stretch of the campaign.
Meanwhile, another McAuliffe ally is getting in on the action. Politico reports that the American Federation of Teachers is launching a "high six-figure" buy to run a new TV ad in which parents and educators slam Youngkin for wanting to reduce funding for public education and praise McAuliffe for his efforts on behalf of students and teachers.
● WI-Gov: For whatever reason, Donald Trump issued a not-tweet over the weekend exhorting Sean Duffy, the former congressman and "Real World" star, to run for governor of Wisconsin … even though Duffy sold his home in central Wisconsin last month and now appears to live in New Jersey, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Duffy's name hasn't come up since a brief aside in Politico back in February, and he's never said anything about his potential interest. But what stands out most is Trump's snub of the most prominent Republican in the race, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who of course sought to tie herself as closely to Trump as possible when she kicked off her campaign just after Labor Day.
● CA-21: Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas announced Monday that he would take on Republican Rep. David Valadao, a move that gives Team Blue a long sought-after candidate in a Central Valley seat that Joe Biden carried 54-44 last year. Salas represents over 60% of the current 21st Congressional District, though there's no telling what Valadao's constituency will look like after California's independent redistricting commission completes its work.
Salas ran in a competitive Assembly race in 2012 at a time when California Democrats were fighting hard to secure a two-thirds supermajority in the legislature that would allow them to overcome years of GOP intransigence. Salas ultimately beat Republican Pedro Rios 53-47 as Barack Obama was carrying his seat 56-42, and Democrats won what would prove to be a transformative supermajority. Two years later, he won a rematch 55-45 despite the horrible political climate for his party.
During his tenure, Salas established himself as the one of the leaders of the informal moderate Democratic caucus. Among other things, Salas pissed off the Democratic leadership in 2017 when he voted against a gas and vehicle registration tax to fund infrastructure and road repairs. Salas lost his chairmanship of the Business and Professions Committee as a consequence, but he was picked two years later to run the Joint Legislative Audit Committee. Though there was talk of him taking on Valadao in 2018, he decided to stay put, only to watch Valadao lose in a shocker to Democrat TJ Cox. (Valadao managed to unseat Cox two years later.)
The assemblyman joins a crowded top-two primary to take on Valadao, who was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump. None of the other Democrats, though, had so much as $80,000 on-hand at the end of September, while Valadao had just over $1 million to spend. Valadao faces an intra-party challenge from former Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys, who unsuccessfully ran for office in New Mexico in 2018 and 2020 before retiring to California. Mathys had just under $300,000 in the bank, almost all of it self-funded.
● IL-03: Former Blue Dog Rep. Dan Lipinski responded to the release of draft congressional districts last week by publicly expressing interest in a third primary battle with freshman Democratic Rep. Marie Newman. "I've always said that I'd need to see the map before considering it," said Lipinski, adding, "Now that this map is out, I'm taking a look, understanding that the map may still change." Newman, who narrowly lost to Lipinski in 2018 but won a rematch in 2020, raised $230,000 during the third quarter and had $440,000 on hand at the end of September.
● NC-04: Democratic Rep. David Price, who was elected in 1986, lost in 1994, and won again in 1996, announced Monday that he would not seek an 18th term next year in North Carolina's 4th Congressional District.
Price's constituency, which currently includes the Durham and Chapel Hill area, backed Joe Biden 67-32. The Republican legislature has drawn up the 4th to be safely blue turf in each of the three maps it passed over the last decade in order to strengthen its hold on other constituencies, and the new version of Price's district is likewise almost certain to remain heavily Democratic.
State Sen. Wiley Nickel quickly responded to Price's departure by declaring his candidacy to succeed his fellow Democrat. The Raleigh-area legislator had opened up a fundraising account all the way back in November without declaring what seat he was running for (his paperwork listed his race as "House District 00"), saying at the time that, while he didn't intend to run in a primary against Price or nearby Rep. Deborah Ross, "if there's an open seat, we'll strongly consider it." Nickel ended September with $192,000 on-hand for his bid for the 00th District, money he can now spend to win the 4th.
Nickel is unlikely to have the primary to himself, though. State Utilities Commissioner Floyd McKissick, a former state senator and the son and namesake of the late civil rights figure, told the News & Observer he was interested, though he acknowledged, "The biggest question is what the district will look like." State Sen. Mike Woodard and Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam also said they were considering, while state Sen. Natalie Murdock didn't rule it out, saying she also wanted to see what happened with redistricting. State Rep. Graig Meyer, though, quickly said no.
Price's departure will end a long career in both politics and academia. The Tennessee native, who attended the University of North Carolina for his undergraduate degree, first arrived on Capitol Hill in 1963 as an aide to Alaska's first U.S. senator, Democrat Bob Bartlett. Price went on to earn his doctorate in political science and teach at Yale in Connecticut, where his wife successfully ran for local office, before returning to the Tar Heel State in 1973 to teach at Duke. He concurrently worked for Jimmy Carter's 1976 state campaign and served as the North Carolina Democratic Party's executive director.
Price was chair of the state party in 1984, a disastrous year for Democrats that included the loss of three House seats, but it proved formative: He'd later recount that he "made a fairly quick decision to try to recapture one of those seats." Price did just that in 1986 when he went up against Republican Rep. Bill Cobey, a freshman who had narrowly defeated a Democratic incumbent two years earlier. Price won the primary 48-32 ahead of an ugly general election against Cobey, who apologized that September for his fundraising appeal arguing the Democrat wouldn't "take a strong stand for the principles outlined in the word of God."
Price dispatched Cobey 56-44 and had no trouble holding on until the 1994 GOP wave hit him hard. His Republican foe that year was Fred Heineman, who stepped down as Raleigh police chief to run and dealt Price a 50.4-49.6 defeat. The ex-congressman went back to teaching but was by no means done with politics, soon seeking a rematch with the new incumbent.
Heineman turned out to be a bad fit for this Democratic-leaning seat, but he became best know for remarks he made early in his tenure declaring, "When I see a first-class individual who makes $80,000 a year, he's lower middle class. When I see someone who is making anywhere from $300,000 to $750,000, that's middle class. When I see anyone above that, that's upper middle class."
Price made use of those comments in a 1996 spot titled, "Earth to Fred" and likewise made sure to tie the incumbent to Speaker Newt Gingrich's hardline policies. Heineman himself was also forced off the campaign trail for weeks after being hospitalized with a serious fever, and he scarcely appeared in public during the remainder of the race. While both sides saw a close race just weeks ahead of Election Day, Price ended up reclaiming his seat by a comfortable 54-44 margin.
Price never had another tough race for the rest of his career. It looked that his lucky streak might end in 2012 after the GOP legislature placed Price together in the same district with fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Miller, but Miller decided to retire rather than go through a primary in which he acknowledged he'd have been the "the underdog."
Price himself would continue to write political science texts from Congress, including his 1992 work "The Congressional Experience: An Institution Transformed." Price, who just published the fourth edition of that book this year, explained, "A political science colleague persuaded me that I should keep a journal and at some point write up what it's like to get elected and get situated in an institution. And so I reluctantly did that [and] found out that I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would."
● OH-15: The GOP firm Medium Buying reports that the NRCC will start a coordinated TV buy on Tuesday with Republican Mike Carey ahead of next month's special election. However, unlike independent expenditures, which can be unlimited, the FEC sets a cap of $52,500 when party committees work directly with House campaigns. Separately, Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo said she'd raised $549,000 between July 15 and Oct. 13. Carey does not appear to have shared his fundraising numbers yet, though reports are not due at the FEC until Thursday.
● OR-05, OR-06: In new remarks, Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader's team would not reveal whether the incumbent would run for the new 5th Congressional District, where he lives, or the bluer 6th District, which includes more of his constituents. His communications director merely said, "His home is in Canby, which remains in Oregon's 5th Congressional District. While I can confirm Rep. Schrader is running for Congress again, I have no further announcements at this time."
Several Democrats are eyeing the 6th District, but the moderate Schrader, who apologized earlier this year for comparing the idea of impeaching Donald Trump to a "lynching," may be in for a primary even if he runs in the 5th. Fellow Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who recently finished a stint as interim city manager of the small community of Talent, last week confirmed her interest in the new 5th District. She addressed the possibility of taking on Schrader, saying, "Normally I wouldn't consider challenging an incumbent Democrat. However, with Kurt Schrader, I don't have to make much of an argument to persuade a lot of people."
McLeod-Skinner served as Team Blue's 2018 nominee in the safely red 2nd District, a race in which she raised $1.3 million but lost to Republican incumbent Greg Walden 56-39. She ran last year for secretary of state and took last in the three-way primary with 28%; the winner, with 36%, was Shemia Fagan, who went on to prevail in the general election.
On the Republican side, meanwhile, state Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis has said no to a bid for the 5th. Former state Rep. Knute Buehler, the GOP's 2018 gubernatorial nominee who lost last year's primary to succeed Walden, also made it clear he wasn't running for Congress again.
● PA-18: Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Doyle, who was one of the rare House Democrats to flip a seat during the 1994 Republican wave, announced Monday that he was retiring after 14 terms in office. The current version of the 18th Congressional District, which includes most of Pittsburgh, supported Joe Biden 65-34, and there's little question it will remain safely blue turf after redistricting is complete.
The Democratic field here already includes law professor Jerry Dickinson, who was seeking a rematch against Doyle after losing last year's primary 67-33. Dickinson, who ended September with $160,000 on-hand for his new campaign, probably won't be the only notable candidate for long, however, as state Rep. Summer Lee filed FEC paperwork hours before the congressman made his plans known. WPXI reported a few weeks ago that Lee intended to challenge the congressman for renomination, though she hadn't publicly signaled her interest before Monday.
Doyle got his start in local politics as a Republican when he was elected to the Swissvale Borough Council in 1977. Two years later, he went to work as chief of staff to the newly elected Republican state Sen. Frank Pecora. Doyle still held that post in 1992 when Pecora switched parties, a move that gave Democrats control of the chamber for the first time in 12 years. (They would lose it in 1994 and have yet to regain power in the Senate.)
Doyle, who himself had also recently joined the Democratic Party, decided to run for the 18th District in 1994 to succeed none other than Rick Santorum, the hardline Republican congressman who was leaving to challenge Democratic Sen. Harris Wofford. Two years earlier, Santorum had decisively defeated Pecora, who'd won an extremely crowded Democratic primary amidst what Congressional Quarterly called "easily the most convoluted House race in the state, if not the nation." However, George H.W. Bush's poor performance in the Pittsburgh area seat made Team Blue optimistic about taking the seat back.
Like his old boss, Doyle also took part in a packed nomination battle that included many of the same foes Pecora had beaten in 1992. Doyle ended up squeaking past Mike Adams, who was also the runner-up in the prior primary, 19.9-18.0, an accomplishment that makes him one of very few sitting House members to win a nomination with less than 20% of the vote.
Doyle's general election opponent was John McCarty, who had served as an aide for the late Sen. John Heinz, a moderate Republican (whose widow Teresa would later marry Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry). This turned into an unusual contest between a Republican who identified as pro-choice and the anti-abortion Doyle. While 1994 was a devastating year for Democrats across the nation, Doyle flipped the seat by a decisive 55-45 margin. (Three other House Democrats also picked up open GOP-held House seats that year. Santorum, meanwhile, ousted Wofford 49-47.)
The new congressman won the following cycle 56-40 and never came close to losing re-election during the rest of his career. Doyle continued to oppose abortion, but unlike Dan Lipinski, his former colleague from Illinois, he rarely inflamed the base. In 2011, for example, Doyle explained his vote against a law barring women from receiving tax credits or deductions for abortion procedures by saying, "This is a huge step beyond restricting federal funding for abortion – it would limit how Americans spend their OWN money and deny American women access to a full range of health care services, and I can't support that."
Doyle, though, remained a supporter of the infamous Hyde Amendment, which keeps federal money from funding most abortions, until 2019, something Dickinson used against the incumbent in their primary last year. Though Doyle won 67-33, the margin was his smallest in a nomination fight since his initial 1994 squeaker.
● TX-08: Christian Collins, who previously served as campaign manager for retiring Rep. Kevin Brady, announced Monday that he would seek the Republican nomination to succeed him. This seat, which includes Houston's northern suburbs, has been safely red turf for a long time, and that's not going to change after redistricting.
● TX-10: Manor Mayor Larry Wallace, a Democrat, announced Friday that he was suspending his campaign against Republican Rep. Michael McCaul. The Texas Tribune notes that the GOP legislature is set to make the new 10th District redder and leave out Wallace's community.
● TX-37, TX-35: While redistricting is still incomplete in Texas (see our separate TX Redistricting item above), Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett announced on Monday that he'd seek re-election in the proposed 37th District, a safely blue seat that would include much of the city of Austin, rather than in the 35th, which he represents now. The new 35th would also remain deep blue and largely retain its current configuration, a preposterous gerrymander that links the Austin area with San Antonio by means of a pencil-thin corridor along Interstate 35.
● VA-07: Republican Del. John McGuire, who attended the infamous Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded that day's attack on the Capitol, indicated this week that he was interested in a second campaign against Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger.
McGuire's team announced that he'd brought in $372,000 for the quarter to use in his re-election to his heavily Republican legislative seat and added, "If McGuire were running in a congressional race, his total would be the largest amount raised by any GOP congressional candidate or incumbent in the state of Virginia." If McGuire were running in a congressional race, of course, he couldn't actually use any of this money for that campaign, nor could he take advantage of Virginia's nonexistent contribution limits.
McGuire ran for Congress in 2020 but lost the GOP’s nominating convention 56-44 to fellow Del. Nick Freitas, who went on to lose to Spanberger 51-49.
● Los Angeles, CA Mayor: Democratic Rep. Karen Bass picked up an endorsement Friday from Antonio Villaraigosa, who served as mayor from 2005 to 2013.
● Former Republican Rep. Dan Benishek, who flipped a northern Michigan seat in the 2010 GOP wave after winning a primary by 15 votes, died Friday at the age of 69. Benishek went on to win a tight 2012 general election before easily prevailing in 2014, and while he initially planned to blow off his pledge to serve just three terms, he ultimately retired for the 2016 cycle.
Benishek worked as a surgeon before he decided to run against veteran Rep. Bart Stupak, a well-known leader of conservative Democrats, in Michigan's 1st District, which included the state's Northern Peninsula as well as areas to the south. The previously little-known contender attracted national attention when he appeared as a Sean Hannity guest in April of 2010. He got even better news days later when Stupak, who had always won by double digits, decided to retire.
However, while Democrats quickly consolidated around state Rep. Gary McDowell in their quest to hold this seat, which had backed Barack Obama 50-48 two years earlier, Benishek now had to make it through an incredibly messy primary. State Sen. Jason Allen jumped in following Stupak's retirement and consolidated establishment support, while Benishek pitched himself as a conservative outsider. Benishek ultimately prevailed by just 15 votes in a contest that took two weeks to settle, but the political climate helped propel him to a decisive 52-41 win over McDowell in November.
McDowell sought a rematch despite that wide loss, and this time, their race almost ended very differently. McDowell went after the new congressman's support for Speaker Paul Ryan's budget, which the Democrat said would "end Medicare within 10 years." Mitt Romney carried the district 54-45, but Benishek only survived by a 48.1-47.6 margin. That close call gave Democrats hope they could retake the seat in 2014, but another GOP wave helped the incumbent turn back retired Army Gen. Jerry Cannon 52-45.
Benishek announced in March of 2015 that he was disregarding the term-limits pledge he’d made in 2010, but it quickly became clear that he'd be in for a rough ride. Fellow Republicans, including his old foe Allen, began making noises about challenging him in the primary, while former state Democratic Party chair Lon Johnson soon emerged as a formidable rival.
Benishek, citing that formerly abandoned term-limits promise, ended up declaring months later that he would retire after all, and the outgoing congressman went on to back state Sen. Tom Casperson to succeed him. GOP voters, however, opted to go with retired Marine Lt. Gen. Jack Bergman over Casperson and Allen, and the new GOP nominee went on to decisively hold the seat in the fall.