Daily Kos Elections

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  1. Morning Digest: 'Hillbilly Elegy' author J.D. Vance dashes GOP hopes of a run in Ohio Senate race

    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

    OH-Sen: On Friday, author J.D. Vance announced for the second time this cycle that he would not seek the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. Vance rose to fame in 2016 after writing the bestselling memoir Hillbilly Elegy about his experience growing up poor in working-class Appalachia, and his promoters argued that he had the Rust Belt cred to negate Brown's populist profile.

    Campaign Action

    Vance said in September that he'd sit the race out, but after presumptive GOP nominee Josh Mandel dropped out of the race two weeks ago, Vance's consultant said he was reconsidering. Politico even reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had spoken to Vance about running and "ha[d] told associates that he would prioritize the race if Vance jump[ed] in." However, Rep. Jim Renacci quickly announced he would run here, and the National Journal's Josh Kraushaar wrote that McConnell was fine with Renacci. Vance's people still insisted he was very interested, but it seems that Renacci's campaign took the wind out of his sails.

    If Vance had run, he would have had a hellish time getting through the GOP primary. During the 2016 election, Vance was very anti-Trump on Twitter. On October, he asked, "What percentage of the American population has @realDonaldTrump sexually assaulted?" and later tweeted, "Trump makes people I care about afraid. Immigrants, Muslims, etc. Because of this I find him reprehensible." Renacci is running as a Trump ally, and if Vance had jumped in, the wealthy congressman wouldn't have had to work hard to make his opponent toxic to primary voters. Vance has talked about seeking office in the future when the timing is better for his family, but as long as the GOP base remains enamored with Trump, it's very tough to see him ever winning a primary.

    The May primary remains a duel between Renacci and businessman Mike Gibbons. Gibbons has said he'd self-fund $5 million of his own money, but there's little question he's the clear underdog. On Friday, Renacci also unveiled endorsements from the rest of Ohio's GOP House delegation. The candidate filing deadline isn't until Feb. 7, but it looks very unlikely that any other noteworthy Republicans will join the race.

  2. Daily Kos Elections weekly open thread

    Porcupine Tree — “Dark Matter”

  3. Republican says opponent's 'associates' trespassed at his home. The cops say nope, never happened

    Uh, is Ryan Costello cracking under the pressure? The sophomore Republican, who represents Pennsylvania’s swingy 6th District in suburban Philadelphia, popped on Facebook the other day to accuse two "associates" of his leading challenger, Democrat Chrissy Houlahan, of trespassing on his property to take photos of his home and "intimidate" his wife. The only problem is that the police investigated and determined there had been "no crime committed," calling the matter "closed."

    Apparently, a couple of canvassers for Planned Parenthood did stop by the Costello household and were asked to leave by the congressman's wife, which they did. But when reporter Holly Otterbein explained this non-mystery to Costello, he bizarrely declared, "I think that just makes it all the more weird and creepy, to be honest with you." No, no it doesn't, but it does make him seem all the more weird and creepy.

    And it certainly wouldn't be the first time we've seen a politician unused to tough races—Costello skated by against weak opponents in his first two elections for Congress—start to go wobbly when faced with a serious challenge, which Houlahan is poised to provide. In describing his 2004 re-election campaign, then-Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning infamously accused his Democratic opponent of being responsible for "little green doctors pounding on my back." (Bunning, a Hall of Fame pitcher, barely escaped his chartreuse medical tormenters with a 51-49 win that fall; he died last year.)

    A bit closer to Costello's imaginings was a 2012 incident when the late Rep. Bill Young, who represented a seat in the Tampa, Florida area, claimed that he and his wife had been stalked and their home broken into twice. Young, who for the first time in ages had to contend with a credible challenger that cycle, blamed it all on Occupy Wall Street, saying, "The Occupiers are after me." However, police in that case also determined there had been no intrusions, explaining that an alarm had gone off after "a storm blew open a garage door with a faulty lock."

    A storm is blowing this year, too, and it looks like Costello's hair is getting a bit mussed. He might want to get himself a hat—and a zipper for his lips.

  4. Voting Rights Roundup: Pennsylvania Supreme Court poised to strike down GOP's House gerrymander

    Leading Off

    Pennsylvania: On Wednesday, Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a major case that has challenged the GOP's congressional gerrymander as a violation of the state constitution, and a plurality of the justices seem to be leaning toward striking down the map. Although the judges appeared to concede that map-makers may take some level of partisan consideration into account, they strongly implied Republicans' extreme gerrymandering crossed the line. What remains uncertain is what standard these judges might rely on to determine when such maps take partisanship too far. Nevertheless, the odds of a favorable ruling for plaintiffs ahead of the 2018 election cycle appear strong.

    Campaign Action

    Importantly, Democrats hold a five-to-two majority on the state court, whose members are elected in partisan elections. That gives plaintiffs a good chance of success, though of course there are no guarantees. If the court does strike down the map, Republican legislators would likely have the chance to draw a new one, but Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf would be able to veto it. That would force the court to draw its own, nonpartisan map, which would likely yield major gains for Democrats and a much more equitable distribution of seats in this closely divided swing state. (Republicans currently hold a 13 to five advantage.) Consequently, redrawn boundaries could offer a big boost to Democrats in their quest to retake the House this fall.

    And most critically, because the plaintiffs are relying solely on the state constitution's guarantees of equal protection and freedom of association, the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court would have very little ability to stay or override the state court's interpretation of Pennsylvania's own constitution. If the plaintiffs do indeed prevail, as looks likely, Pennsylvania could be well on its way toward eliminating one of the worst Republican gerrymanders in the country.

    Meanwhile, plaintiffs in a separate federal case who recently lost at the district court level have now appealed to the Supreme Court. However, the state-level case stands a much better chance of victory and a quicker resolution.

  5. Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 1/19

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

    Please note: The Live Digest is a 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential primary-free space. It’s also an elections-only zone. If you'd like to discuss policy, please visit the latest Daily Kos Elections policy open thread.

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

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 4:54:43 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    NC Redistricting: As expected, the Supreme Court has stayed a recent lower court ruling that struck down North Carolina’s Republican-drawn congressional map as an illegal partisan gerrymander. While the court has not yet decided when or even if to hear the GOP’s appeal, this ruling means the existing congressional gerrymander will remain in effect for the 2018 midterms. The Supreme Court will likely either hear the appeal during its 2018-2019 term, or it could eventually send the case back to the lower court for reconsideration if the high court ends up establishing a national precedent against gerrymandering in upcoming cases concerning Maryland and Wisconsin.

    Although this development is unsurprising, it is nevertheless deeply disappointing given how North Carolina Republicans had explicitly defended their map as a nakedly partisan gerrymander designed to elect 10 Republicans and just three Democrats in this evenly divided swing state. Furthermore, it means that Republicans will have gotten away with unconstitutional gerrymanders for an infuriating four out of five election cycles this decade. And when the courts are that slow to remedy the violation of voters’ constitutional rights, GOP legislators will continue to draw illegal gerrymanders in the future when they can get away with them for at least one election cycle or more.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 5:12:02 PM +00:00 · Jeff Singer

    OH-Sen: On Friday, author J.D. Vance announced for the second time this cycle that he would not seek the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. Vance rose to fame in 2016 after writing the bestselling memoir Hillbilly Elegy about his experience growing up poor in working-class Appalachia, and his promoters argued that he had the Rust Belt cred to negate Brown's populist profile.

    Vance said in September that he'd sit the race out, but after presumptive GOP nominee Josh Mandel dropped out of the race two weeks ago, Vance's consultant said he was reconsidering. Politico even reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had spoken to Vance about running and "has told associates that he would prioritize the race if Vance jumps in." However, Rep. Jim Renacci quickly announced he would run here, and the National Journal's Josh Kraushaar wrote that McConnell was fine with Renacci. Vance's people still insisted he was very interested, but it seems that Renacci's campaign took the wind out of his sails.

    If Vance had run, he would have had a hellish time getting through the GOP primary. During the 2016 election, Vance was very anti-Trump on Twitter. On October, he asked, "What percentage of the American population has @realDonaldTrump sexually assaulted?" and later tweeted, "Trump makes people I care about afraid. Immigrants, Muslims, etc. Because of this I find him reprehensible." Renacci is running as a Trump ally, and if Vance had jumped in, the wealthy congressman wouldn't have had to work hard to make his opponent toxic to primary voters. Vance has talked about seeking office in the future when the timing is better for his family, but as long as the GOP base remains enamored with Trump, it's very tough to see him ever winning a primary.

    The May primary remains a duel between Renacci and businessman Mike Gibbons. Gibbons has said he'd self-fund $5 million of his own money, but there's little question he's the clear underdog. On Friday, Renacci also unveiled endorsements from the rest of Ohio's GOP House delegation. The candidate filing deadline isn't until Feb. 7, but it looks very unlikely that any other noteworthy Republicans will join the race.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 5:23:40 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    FL-Sen: It's apparently open season for celebrities to flirt with bids for top-tier political offices. After notorious Republican political strategist Roger Stone recently suggested Hulk Hogan as a Senate candidate in Florida, the retired World Wrestling Entertainment star isn't ruling things out. Hogan said, "I don't want to run, okay. I have a great life here on the beach. ... Right now, this moment, it's a flat-out no." However, he also stated, "If I run, I would win."

    Republicans still have no notable candidate running against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, but that's almost certainly because GOP Gov. Rick Scott is widely considered to be a likely candidate. However, if Scott decides to sit things out, there could be a flood of interest from other Republicans. It's unclear if a celebrity with limited political experience like Hogan would stand much of a chance of winning the nomination, but in the age of Donald Trump, we'd be crazy to entirely rule out that unlikely prospect.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 5:26:48 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    MO-Sen, NV-Sen: Politico reports that Mike Pence will go to Missouri in March to campaign for state Attorney General Josh Hawley, while he will travel to Nevada in April to stump for Sen. Dean Heller. Hawley is undoubtedly the front-runner to face Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, although he does have a few lesser-known primary rivals. However, Heller faces a tough primary challenge from fire-breathing perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 5:48:52 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    AK-Gov: Former state Sen. Charlie Huggins has suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination for governor, although Huggins' statement sound like he's essentially dropping out of the contest for good. Meanwhile, conservative blog Must Read Alaska reports that ex-state Sen. John Binkley "is still on the fence but expected to announce his decision within days," while businessman Bob Gillam has opted not to run. However, neither man has confirmed things publicly. So far, former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy and businessman Scott Hawkins are the only notable Republicans in the race against independent Gov. Bill Walker.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 6:05:27 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    IL-Gov: Whelp, it turns out that GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner's latest ad was designed to win media attention only, not reach actual TV viewers. Rauner put only $12,000 behind the 14-minute ad, which plays the recording of an old wiretapped call between current Democratic front-runner J.B. Pritzker and disgraced then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Rauner has been harping on the call in an attempt to portray Pritzker as having done something corrupt in exchange for political favors, though there's no indication that Pritzker acted unethically in the matter.

    Meanwhile, Rauner's primary rival has screwed up something once again. State Rep. Jeanne Ives campaign initially said it had $662,000 on hand at the end of 2017, but in what they're claiming was a "glitch in filing software," Ives actually had $404,000 on hand. This isn't the first mistake Ives' campaign has made, since she initially botched her filing petitions and had to circulate corrected versions when she was trying to qualify for the ballot.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 6:18:58 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    NY-Gov: Back in August, actress Cynthia Nixon didn't rule out running in the primary against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and she recently once again didn't dismiss the idea. Nixon has taken on an activist role within state Democratic politics, and at a recent event where she was asked if she had plans to challenge Cuomo, Nixon reportedly smiled and said "maybe."

    Cuomo has a huge campaign war chest of over $30 million and still maintains a relatively strong approval rating. However, his years of facilitating Republican control of the state Senate, which in turn has prevented New York from enacting a slew of progressive policies, could create an opening for a more progressive primary challenge.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 6:45:42 PM +00:00 · Jeff Singer

    MN-Gov: The biggest question hovering over the Democratic primary to succeed retiring Gov. Mark Dayton is what Attorney General Lori Swanson will do. Swanson has been quiet about her interest for months, but the Minneapolis Star-Tribune writes that there's a "widespread belief she will be a candidate." Swanson's office is still playing coy, with a spokesperson saying she’s "at an important juncture in fulfilling her responsibilities as attorney general and cannot at this time divert her focus to commenting on the governor’s race."

    The paper also says that if Swanson gets in, she'll likely skip the party's endorsement convention. As we've written before, both major parties will hold nominating conventions of activists the weekend of June 1. Many candidates will, in local parlance, "abide" by the party endorsement process and drop out instead of proceeding to the August primary if they aren't chosen. And while a party’s endorsement carries weight with plenty of voters, candidates can still win their primary without it.

    Indeed, in 2010, Dayton announced he would not abide by the party endorsement and would proceed to the primary no matter whom the convention picked. Convention delegates gave their backing to state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, and a number of defeated candidates, most notably Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, ended their campaigns then and there. Nevertheless, a few months later, Dayton beat Kelliher in the primary by a tight 41-40 margin.

    The Star-Tribune also commissioned Mason-Dixon to conduct a new statewide poll, featuring early looks at both primaries. However, we aren’t writing them up because both polls sampled too few voters. The Democratic primary poll included 298 respondents while the Republican portion included just 218. Daily Kos Elections requires a poll to include a minimum of 300 respondents in order to make it to the Digest.

    The reason for this cutoff is that the smaller the sample size, the less accurate a poll tends to be. Small sample sizes are also are more prone to produce fluctuations where there aren’t any, creating statistical noise that pundits invariably insist has to mean something, even when it really doesn’t. This seminal chart that compares Gallup’s up-and-down 2012 presidential polling with the Obama campaign’s much more sophisticated—and much more stable—polling illustrates the problem well.

    On the down-ballot level, the University of New Hampshire’s habit of releasing polls of House races with small sample sizes likewise highlights this issue. UNH's results often shift wildly from one poll to the next, and while the changes often get hyped (the Democrat is surging! ... oh no, she's plummeting now!), they’re often simply the result of random error. As Daily Kos Elections' Daniel Donner has explained, this problem could largely be eliminated simply by polling more people in each poll.

    We've seen very little polling in Minnesota, so we won't see large swings from one candidate to another just yet. However, because Mason-Dixon sampled so few voters for each primary, especially on the GOP side, it's tough to know where each candidate actually stands: Are they truly ahead, or are they just benefiting from random error? Hopefully, we'll see some larger sample sizes and more polls here soon to get a better feel for where these races stand.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 7:02:54 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    MS-03: Politico reports that state Sen. Sally Doty will announce she's joining the Republican primary for outgoing GOP Rep. Gregg Harper's seat on Jan. 26, though Doty has yet to confirm things publicly. Along with Vermont, Mississippi is one of just two states that has never sent a woman to Congress, which could help Doty stand out in a crowded field if she's the only major candidate who is a woman. Meanwhile, state Rep. William Shirley's name has also surfaced as a Republican who is reportedly considering it, although there's no direct quote from Shirley. This seat stretches across the state from suburban Jackson to northeastern Mississippi and favored Trump by 61-37.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 7:11:57 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    NV-04: Former Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy has filed to run again for his old seat, although he has yet to formally announce his intentions. Located in Las Vegas' northern suburbs and several rural counties, the 4th District sent Hardy to Congress in an upset in 2014 thanks to unexpectedly terrible Democratic turnout in that year's GOP wave. However, after doing little to moderate his hardline views once he lucked into office, Hardy lost re-election by 49-45 to Democrat Ruben Kihuen in 2016 as the seat went for Clinton by a similar 50-45. Although Kihuen is foregoing re-election this fall due to a sexual harassment scandal, Hardy could still have a tough time winning such a blue-leaning seat in a year when the national political environment is strongly favoring Democrats.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 7:18:20 PM +00:00 · Jeff Singer

    FL-09: Back in December of 2016, soon-to-be ex-Rep. Alan Grayson filed to raise money for another federal campaign. Grayson, a Democrat, put on his FEC papers that he was running in GOP Rep. Daniel Webster’s 11th District, which had just gone from 59-40 Romney to an even-worse 65-32 Trump. However, Grayson said at the time that he wouldn't actually decide if or where to run until the May 2018 filing deadline. Grayson has now told the Orlando Sentinel that he still hasn't made either of those decisions, but he seems most interested in running for his old 9th District in the Orlando area. Grayson once again said he didn't need to make up his mind until the filing deadline.

    That seat went from 56-43 Obama to 55-42 Clinton, so it's much more friendly territory for a Democrat. The problem is that there's already a Democrat in that district, freshman Rep. Darren Soto. However, Grayson doesn't seem remotely concerned with that. When he was asked if he was considering challenging an incumbent, he declared, "I think that in that circumstance, it would a Democrat challenging me."

    If Grayson challenged Soto (which is what would be happening everywhere outside of Grayson's head), it would be the second time in as many cycles that Soto has tangled with a member of the Grayson family. In 2016, Soto took first place in the primary with 36 percent of the vote, while Grayson's wife, Dena Grayson, took third with 28 percent. That same day, Alan Grayson lost his Senate primary to fellow Rep. Patrick Murphy 59-18 after he attracted despite awful headlines on topics ranging from potential ethics violations to alleged domestic abuse. Our numbers have Grayson winning his district 39-36, a whole lot better than his statewide performance, but not a sign he's beloved at home.

    If Grayson does try to return to his old seat, this unfortunately will be a race to watch. However, while the former congressman is wealthy and has a huge fundraising list, he's never been good about keeping the money he raised. Grayson brought in $600,000 from July to September of 2017 (even though he wasn't actually running for anything) and loaned himself another $100,000. However, Grayson spent $511,000 during that time (again, even though he wasn't actually running for anything), and he had $261,000 in the bank, as well as $2.5 million in debt.

    Grayson also might have a tough time convincing voters to oust Soto. While Soto had a moderate reputation when he was in the state legislature, he's been a reliable Democratic vote in the House. This seat also is home to a large Hispanic population that may not want to fire Soto, who is the state's first Puerto Rican congressman.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 7:20:53 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    CA-Gov: Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has scored the endorsement of the California Professional Firefighters, which is the largest firefighters’ union in the state. Newsom has so far led every poll ahead of the June top-two primary election, where he faces several notable opponents from both parties.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 7:22:52 PM +00:00 · David Nir

    PA-06: Uh, is Ryan Costello cracking under the pressure? The sophomore Republican, who represents a swingy seat in suburban Philadelphia, popped on Facebook the other day to accuse two "associates" of his leading challenger, Democrat Chrissy Houlahan, of trespassing on his property to take photos of his home and "intimidate" his wife. The only problem is that the police investigated and determined there had been "no crime committed," calling the matter "closed."

    Apparently, a couple of canvassers for Planned Parenthood did stop by the Costello household and were asked to leave by the congressman's wife, which they did. But when reporter Holly Otterbein explained this non-mystery to Costello, he bizarrely declared, "I think that just makes it all the more weird and creepy, to be honest with you." No, no it doesn't, but it does make him seem all the more weird and creepy.

    And it certainly wouldn't be the first time we've seen a politician unused to tough races—Costello skated by against weak opponents in his first two elections for Congress—start to go wobbly when faced with a serious challenge, which Houlahan is poised to provide. In describing his 2004 re-election campaign, then-Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning infamously accused his Democratic opponent of being responsible for "little green doctors pounding on my back." (Bunning, a Hall of Fame pitcher, barely escaped his chartreuse medical tormenters with a 51-49 win that fall; he died last year.)

    A bit closer to Costello's imaginings was a 2012 incident when the late Rep. Bill Young, who represented a seat in the Tampa, Florida area, claimed that he and his wife had been stalked and their home broken into twice. Young, who for the first time in ages had to contend with a credible challenger that cycle, blamed it all on Occupy Wall Street, saying, "The Occupiers are after me." However, police in that case also determined there had been no intrusions, explaining that an alarm had gone off after "a storm blew open a garage door with a faulty lock."

    A storm is blowing this year, too, and it looks like Costello's hair is getting a bit mussed. He might want to get himself a hat—and a zipper for his lips.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 7:29:26 PM +00:00 · Jeff Singer

    FL-27: On Thursday, Latin Grammy award winning songwriter Angie Chirino announced she would seek the GOP nomination for this open seat. Chirino has worked with popular singers like Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, Celia Cruz, and Marc Anthony, and she's the daughter of Cuban pop star Willy Chirino. This Miami-area seat backed Clinton 59-39, and the GOP has had a very tough finding a viable candidate. Chirino gives them an interesting and well-known contender, and we'll see if she can run a credible campaign in a tough environment.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 7:36:45 PM +00:00 · Jeff Singer

    4Q Fundraising

    Click here for our chart rounding up all Senate fundraising numbers. As per usual, we'll have a chart of House numbers after the reporting deadline, which is Jan. 31.

    NY-Gov: Brian Kolb (R): $16,000 raised (in December), $15,000 cash-on-hand

    PA-Gov: Tom Wolf (D-inc): $11.1 million raised (for 2017), $11 million cash-on-hand

    NY-01: Kate Browning (D): $163,000 raised (in five weeks)

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 7:40:12 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

    WV-03: State Del. Shirley Love has jumped into the Democratic primary for West Virginia's 3rd District. Love is a longtime legislator and former TV broadcaster with 44 years experience, so he may have some decent name recognition in this southern West Virginia seat. He previously served as a state senator and as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention many times. However, at 84 years old, Love would become the second-oldest member of the entire Congress if he were to win, which could make him a tough sell with voters (only 88-year-old New York Rep. Louise Slaughter would be older).

    Love joins a Democratic primary that includes state Sen. Richard Ojeda and Tri-State Transit Authority CEO Paul Davis. However, Huntington Mayor Steve Williams recently decided to drop out of the Democratic primary. This seat favored Trump by a brutal 73-23, but it’s ancestrally Democratic and possibly still open to supporting state Democrats.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 7:48:39 PM +00:00 · David Nir

    NY State Senate: Alessandra Biaggi, a former attorney in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office who recently filed paperwork to challenge state Sen. Jeff Klein in this year's Democratic primary, has now made her campaign official. Biaggi made her announcement in the wake of former Senate staffer's accusation that Klein had forcibly kissed her in 2015, calling the allegations "disturbing" and adding "#timesup." Klein has denied the charges, and horrifyingly, the Senate is refusing to investigate, a cover-up Biaggi also cited as inspiring her to run.

    Despite this new hit to Klein's reputation, Biaggi will face some very steep obstacles. As head of the turncoat faction of Democrats known as the IDC that for years has allowed the Republican minority to remain in power in the Senate, Klein has proven his never-ending willingness to serve as chamberlain for the state's moneyed business interests and is a monster fundraiser as a result. In addition, there's already another Democrat in the race, attorney Lewis Kaminski. To stand a chance at unseating Klein, mainstream Democrats need to rally behind a single standard-bearer; with two challengers running, that can only help split the anti-incumbent vote.

    Biaggi, though, appears to have the inside track among anti-IDC activists, with law professor and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout offering encouragement on Twitter following Biaggi's entry. But even if she can ease Kaminski aside, Biaggi will still need to work incredibly hard and raise a ton of cash to have any shot at defeating Klein.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 7:51:17 PM +00:00 · Jeff Singer

    NJ-Sen: On Friday, the Justice Department announced that they intend to retry Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. Menendez, who is up for re-election this year, was indicted back in 2015 on charges of bribery, fraud, conspiracy, and making false statements. Prosecutors allege that Menendez used his office to benefit a friend of his, wealthy eye surgeon Salomon Melgen, who had provided Menendez with lavish gifts, including private air travel. In November, a judge declared a mistrial after jurors failed to reach a verdict.

    Menendez has maintained his innocence and is planning to seek re-election this year. New Jersey's powerful Democratic leaders have supported the senator through this whole ordeal, and no major candidates have even hinted at challenging him in the June primary. The Republicans are hoping that Menendez's problems will give them a shot in this blue state, and wealthy pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin reportedly plans to run. If Menendez resigns, newly-inaugurated Gov. Phil Murphy will appoint a successor for the final months of his term.

    Friday, Jan 19, 2018 · 8:28:28 PM +00:00 · David Nir

    Babka: With Virginia's seemingly never-ending elections finally, well, coming to an end, we can now announce the winner of this last year's Daily Kos Elections prediction contest! Out of a maximum possible 16 points, the winner was user Octa, who scored an impressive 14. That tied with user jv, but due to a much closer answer on our tiebreak question, the delicious Green’s babka goes to Octa.

    To find out how you did, you can check out our scoreboard and also see how well everyone else guessed on average. The toughest question by far was, appropriately enough, how many seats Democrats would wind up with in Virginia's House of Delegates. Thanks to an epic, historic night, the final total ended up at 49—far higher than almost anyone had imagined, and which just one person (out of 355 entrants!) nailed. We're delighted so many people participated, and we look forward to our next contest this fall. In the meantime, a big congrats to Octa, and be on the lookout for an email from us!