Daily Kos Elections

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  1. Daily Kos Elections weekly open thread

    The Pioneers — “Long Shot Kick De Bucket”

  2. GOP state Sen. Dino Rossi will run for Washington's 8th District to succeed GOP Rep. Dave Reichert

    Will the fourth time be the charm? Republican state Sen. Dino Rossi announced on Thursday that he'll make his fourth bid for higher office next year, this time to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Dave Reichert in Washington’s 8th Congressional District. About four-fifths of the district covers the outer suburbs on the eastern edge of the greater Seattle-Tacoma area, while the other one-fifth includes more rural territory east of the Cascades. Rossi is a commercial real estate developer who has served in the state Senate on and off again since his initial 1996 victory, with his most recent stint following an appointment last year to replace a Republican incumbent who died.

    Rossi was Team Red's nominee for Senate in 2010 and governor in 2008 and 2004, but lost all three times in heavily contested races. His first bid for governor was for an open seat against Democrat Christine Gregoire, which saw him fall shy by just 129 votesafter an ugly and drawn-out recount during which Rossi had unsuccessfully fought for a new election to take place. He lost their 2008 rematch by 53-47, but considerably outran John McCain's 57-40 defeat in that year's presidential race. Rossi then challenged longtime Democratic Sen. Patty Murray in 2010, but fell short of victory by 52-48.

    Although Rossi failed to win at the statewide level in those three contests, he carried the 8th District each time, including a solid 55-45 edge over Murray here in 2010. This seat backed Hillary Clinton 48-45 and Obama by 50-48 in 2012, but it's no stranger to supporting down-ballot Republicans like Rossi. For instance, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee lost it by 54-46 last year even as he was winning statewide by that same margin. Rossi will consequently be a formidable candidate if he ends up as the GOP's standard-bearer

    However, Rossi isn't the only Republican who is interested in this seat. State Rep. Drew Stokesbary confirmed that he's still considering a bid of his own. No other prominent Republicans have formally joined the race yet, but if Rossi draws just one other notable GOP rival, it could complicate things for Democrats thanks to Washington's electoral system.

    All candidates run on a single primary ballot, and the top-two finishers advance to the general election regardless of party. With several Democrats running before Reichert announced his retirement and more interested in the race afterward, a fractured Democratic field could allow Rossi and another Republican to take both general election spots if they more evenly divide the GOP vote.

    While this sort of debacle hasn't yet happened in Washington since the adoption of top-two, the very same thing occurred in a 2012 House race in California, costing Democrats a seat that easily backed Obama that year. However, if no additional strong candidates run for Republicans, it significantly increases the odds that a Democrat will face Rossi in what is one of Team Blue's top pickup opportunities next year.

  3. Voting Rights Roundup: ACLU plans new push for voting rights after Trump sparks a fundraising surge

    Leading Off

    American Civil Liberties Union: The American Civil Liberties Union is perhaps best known for its storied efforts at litigation to protect the rights of Americans to free speech and other guarantees in the Constitution, no matter how popular those crucial rights may be. However, Donald Trump's victory has helped the ACLU to quadruple its membership and raise a staggering $83 million online since last year’s election compared to a more typical $3 million to $5 million. The advocacy group is now looking to flex its newfound muscles by expanding the scope of its fight to advance voting rights.

    Campaign Action

    With recalcitrant Republicans firmly in control of Congress, the ACLU plans on launching a new effort in October called "Let People Vote" that will take a 50-state approach toward preserving and expanding the right to vote at the state level. Not only will they still back litigation against repressive voting laws, but they plan on funding and organizing for reforms tailor-made for each state. Those measures include establishing independent redistricting commissions, restoring voting rights for citizens with past felony convictions, repealing voter ID laws, and allowing voters to register and cast a ballot on the same day.

    This latest news follows on the heels of the ACLU's announcement in August that it is putting at least $5 million toward a 2018 ballot initiative campaign to restore the voting rights of those with past felony convictions in Florida. If this measure makes it onto the ballot and passes (the yes side would need to take at least 60 percent of the vote to prevail), it could have a major impact, since Florida's lifetime ban means it disenfranchises more of its citizens than any other state. These planned reform efforts won't just target states where largely Republican legislators have actively tried to suppress voters, but also Democratic-run states where legislators simply aren't doing nearly enough to expand access to the franchise.

    Ballot measures can be particularly costly to fund for nonpartisan advocacy groups with more limited budgets and donor bases than political parties have access to. However, by avoiding some of the polarization that comes along with partisan election contests, campaign spending on ballot initiatives can be particularly potent for persuading voters. The ACLU taking a more active role in advocating for ballot measures and reform legislation to end partisan gerrymandering and increase access to the ballot could go a long way toward making it easier for Americans to vote and have their vote count equally.

  4. Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 9/22

    Welcome to the Daily Kos Elections Live Digest, your liveblog of all of today's campaign news.

    Please note: This is a 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential primary-free zone.

    Sign up here to receive the Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest in your inbox each weekday.

    Friday, Sep 22, 2017 · 3:56:55 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    NY-Gov, NY-24: Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, a Democrat, faces term limits this November and is often talked up as a potential candidate for higher office next year. She has previously refused to rule out challenging GOP Rep. John Katko in the 24th Congressional District or Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the gubernatorial primary, but Miner has now acknowledged that she is indeed actively considering the latter option.

    Miner conceded that a primary challenge against the incumbent would make her "a huge underdog," particularly given Cuomo's massive $26 million war chest as of the end of June. However, Cuomo has frequently raised the ire of the progressive base by supporting continued Republican control of the state Senate, while dissatisfaction with the state of key government services like transportation could help a primary challenger make inroads across ideological lines.

    Friday, Sep 22, 2017 · 4:04:52 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    FL-01: Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz only won his first term last year in this dark-red western panhandle seat, but he had previously earned buzz as potential candidate for state attorney general next year. However, Gaetz recently endorsed former judge Ashley Moody instead, making a re-election bid his most likely course of action.

    Friday, Sep 22, 2017 · 5:04:40 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    IA-01: Democratic state Sen. Jeff Danielson had formed an exploratory committee back in July while he decided on whether to run for the 1st Congressional District next year, but he announced on Thursday that he ultimately won't be joining the race against Republican Rep. Rod Blum. Danielson's decision leaves state Rep. Abby Finkenauer as the only elected official currently running for Democrats, though she faces former U.S. Labor Department staffer Thomas Heckroth in the primary. This northeastern Iowa seat flipped from 56-43 Obama to 49-45 Trump, but Democrats are optimistic they can put it into play next year.

    Friday, Sep 22, 2017 · 5:11:20 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    TX-23: Democrat Judy Canales, a former U.S. Department of Agriculture official, had previously said she was considering running for the 23rd District, and she recently filed with the FEC to do so. Canales hasn't officially announced her campaign yet, but her entry would add to the growing Democratic primary, which includes former federal prosecutor Jay Hulings and former Air Force intelligence officer Gina Ortiz Jones. Democrats are seeking to oust Republican Rep. Will Hurd next year in this heavily Latino seat, which spans from San Antonio to El Paso and backed Hillary Clinton 50-46.

    Friday, Sep 22, 2017 · 5:35:16 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    PA-15: The Morning Call recently reported that former Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan, a Democrat, is considering running for the Lehigh Valley-based 15th District again next year, although Callahan hasn't said anything publicly. Callahan was recruited to run 2006 and 2008 when Democrats were eager to challenge GOP Rep. Charlie Dent in a district that backed both Obama in 2008 and John Kerry in 2004, but Callahan refused. However, Callahan took the plunge in 2010, but he lost 54-39 as that year's Republican wave crashed down hard on the Keystone State, marking the last time Democrats seriously contested this district.

    Callahan's last attempt to return to elected office didn't go all that well when he lost by 52-48 in his 2013 campaign for Northampton County's open executive office. Republicans also redrew the 15th District after 2010 to become several points redder, meaning Callahan or another Democrat still faces an uphill battle in this 52-44 Trump district even with Dent retiring in 2018.

    Callahan isn't the only Democrat who may run here, though. Alan Jennings, who directs a nonprofit that fights poverty and discrimination, told the Morning Call that he is considering a campaign but may not decide until November. Jennings doesn't appear to have run for office before.

    Friday, Sep 22, 2017 · 6:21:38 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    WA-08: Will the fourth time be the charm? Republican state Sen. Dino Rossi announced on Thursday that he'll make his fourth bid for higher office next year, this time to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Dave Reichert in the 8th Congressional District. About four-fifths of the district covers the outer suburbs on the eastern edge of the greater Seattle-Tacoma area, while the other one-fifth includes more rural territory east of the Cascades. Rossi is a commercial real estate developer who has served in the state Senate on and off again since his initial 1996 victory, with his most recent stint following an appointment last year to replace a Republican incumbent who died.

    Rossi was Team Red's nominee for Senate in 2010 and governor in 2008 and 2004, but lost all three times in heavily contested races. His first bid for governor was for an open seat against Democrat Christine Gregoire, which saw him fall shy by just 129 votes after an ugly and drawn-out recount during which Rossi had unsuccessfully fought for a new election to take place. He lost their 2008 rematch by 53-47, but considerably outran John McCain's 57-40 defeat in that year's presidential race. Rossi then challenged longtime Democratic Sen. Patty Murray in 2010, but fell short of victory by 52-48.

    Although Rossi failed to win at the statewide level in those three contests, he carried the 8th District each time, including a solid 55-45 edge over Murray here in 2010. This seat backed Hillary Clinton 48-45 and Obama by 50-48 in 2012, but it's no stranger to supporting down-ballot Republicans like Rossi. For instance, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee lost it by 54-46 last year even as he was winning statewide by that same margin. Rossi will consequently be a formidable candidate if he ends up as the GOP's standard-bearer

    However, Rossi isn't the only Republican who is interested in this seat. State Rep. Drew Stokesbary confirmed that he's still considering a bid of his own. No other prominent Republicans have formally joined the race yet, but if Rossi draws just one other notable GOP rival, it could complicate things for Democrats thanks to Washington's electoral system.

    All candidates run on a single primary ballot, and the top-two finishers advance to the general election regardless of party. With several Democrats running before Reichert announced his retirement and more interested in the race afterward, a fractured Democratic field could allow Rossi and another Republican to take both general election spots if they more evenly divide the GOP vote.

    While this sort of debacle hasn't yet happened in Washington since the adoption of top-two, the very same thing occurred in a 2012 House race in California, costing Democrats a seat that easily backed Obama that year. However, if no additional strong candidates run for Republicans, it significantly increases the odds that a Democrat will face Rossi in what is one of Team Blue's top pickup opportunities next year.

    Friday, Sep 22, 2017 · 7:52:39 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    Soon after Dino Rossi joined the race, King County Councilor Reagan Dunn announced on Friday that he will not launch his own campaign and will instead back Rossi, a fellow Republican. Dunn is the son of former GOP Rep. Jennifer Dunn, who represented the 8th from 1992 to 2004. The younger Dunn carried this district during his 2012 attorney general campaign loss, which could have made him a strong candidate had he chosen to run.

    Friday, Sep 22, 2017 · 7:55:02 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    MA-03, MA-07: Cambridge City Councilor Nadeem Mazen, a Democrat who is Massachusetts' highest-ranking Muslim elected official, had previously filed to run in the primary against Democratic Rep. Mike Capuano in the Boston-based 7th District. However, he filed with the FEC on Thursday to run to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Niki Tsongas in the 3rd District. The 3rd covers the Merrimack Valley and isn't even adjacent to the 7th, but Mazen is originally from Andover and played up his hometown roots. Mazen says he'll "share an announcement" regarding his plans on Oct. 1 in Andover, but it sounds like he's leaning strongly toward running.

    It's rather unusual for an official who has been elected in one part of a state to run in a district in another region, but Mazen would be far from the first candidate to successfully thread that needle. He also likely stands a better chance of victory for an open seat than taking on an incumbent like Capuano, who has done nothing to anger core Democratic primary constituencies.

    However, Mazen is unlikely to have the primary to himself in the 3rd. Two Democrats have already formed exploratory committees: state Sen. Barbara L'Italien and Daniel Koh, who recently stepped down as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh's chief of staff and is also an Andover native. Several other notable Democrats are also considering joining the primary for this seat, which favored Clinton 58-35 and should remain in Democratic hands.

    Friday, Sep 22, 2017 · 8:27:16 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    Pres-by-LD: Daily Kos Elections has been rolling out our calculations of the 2016 presidential election result by legislative district for every state over the last several months, and we've now released a whopping 40 states, with just 10 to go. One statistics you'll often see us mention is what's called the "median seat." In other words, if you sorted every district in a legislative chamber from Hillary Clinton's greatest margin of victory to Trump's biggest edge, the median seat would be the one in the middle (or in chambers with an even number of seats, an average of the middle two).

    This median is useful because comparing its presidential margin to the statewide margin can give us an idea of how much of an advantage the maps confer on a particular party. For instance Trump won Michigan by a slim 0.2 percent overall, but he won the median state Senate district by a far more daunting 10 points, while his edge was 9 points in the state House. Consequently, it would likely take a huge Democratic popular vote advantage statewide for the party to overcome the maps and actually win majorities in 2018. Real election results confirm that notion too, since Democrats won the House popular vote by 8 points in 2012 yet still didn't take a majority that year.

    Accordingly, we've now published a spreadsheet that compiles the median seat values for all 80 legislative chambers where we have data so far, and we'll continue to add the remaining 19 chambers as we complete our calculations. One thing you'll notice is how there are far more chambers where the median seat confers an advantage on Republicans than it does for Democrats, and how those GOP advantages are far more often bigger than in the chambers with Democratic leans as well. This isn't an accident. While geography does hamper Democrats to a degree, Republicans benefited enormously from getting to draw the district lines in far more states than Democrats after the 2010 census thanks to their midterm wave election that year.

    Our spreadsheet also has a second tab where we count up the number of legislators who fall into several distinct categories based on their partisan affiliation and whether Clinton or Trump won their district. This can help give you an idea of what the low-hanging fruit might be for both parties as they seek to win control of legislative chambers, since historically low rates of ticket-splitting mean it's typically going to be easier to defeat a Republican in a district that voted for Clinton than one whose seat backed Trump, and vice versa for Democrats when they're on defense.

  5. Morning Digest: Ed Gillespie's racist new ad in Virginia goes straight into Willie Horton territory

    The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

    Leading Off

    VA-Gov:  Republican Ed Gillespie has dropped another "anti-immigration" ad that makes his first one look positively tame by comparison (it's still terrible, though).

    Campaign Action

    Gillespie's new spot essentially equates "dangerous illegal immigrants"—itself a racist anti-Latino trope—with MS-13, a dangerous and violent street gang that actually heavily targets undocumented Latinos. The ad further equates Democrat Ralph Northam's vote against prohibiting "sanctuary cities" with "increasing the threat of MS-13." It uses photos of imprisoned MS-13 members and flashes the gang's "Kill, Rape, Control" motto across the screen in a positively Willie Horton-esque attempt to stoke racially charged fears among Virginia voters.  

    And here's a fun fact about that Northam vote on "sanctuary cities": The vote Gillespie hits Northam for in the ad was almost certainly engineered by GOP lawmakers to force Northam to break a tie in the state Senate—solely to give the Republican an anti-immigration talking point, because Virginia doesn't technically have any "sanctuary cities" to ban in the first place.