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New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires (D), whose allies just released opposition research on his opponent, attorney Hector Oseguera.

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.

Leading Off

NJ-08: Next week's Democratic primary in New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District between Rep. Albio Sires and attorney Hector Oseguera hasn't attracted much outside attention, but Politico's Matt Friedman reports that there are some signs that the incumbent and his allies are taking the contest for this safely blue seat in the Jersey City area seriously.

Notably, the Hudson County Democrats released opposition research last week claiming that Oseguera registered to vote as a Republican when he turned 18 in 2006, and that he remained with Team Red for the next three years. Oseguera, who is challenging Sires from the left, said in response that he'd never been a Republican, calling the information in question the result of a clerical error. He also attacked Sires for voting in eight GOP primaries from 1986 to 1993.

The oppo on Oseguera isn’t all that interesting on its own. What’s notable, rather, is that that local Democrats, in one of the last areas where machine politics still means something, even bothered to attack the challenger at all. As Friedman put it, "I don't know if the machine is going after Oseguera over an abundance of caution or because it's real."

Campaign Action

Either way, Sires isn’t taking any chances. On Thursday, he unveiled endorsements from several notable Democrats, including Gov. Phil Murphy, Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, and Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise. Sires' own campaign spending also suggests he's taking this contest seriously. The congressman deployed $130,000 from April 1 to June 17 (the time the FEC defines as the pre-primary period), which isn’t a massive sum but amounts to more than half the money Sires had in his war chest at the end of March.

Oseguera spent only $26,000 during this time, though, and Sires had a $115,000 to $17,000 cash-on-hand advantage for the final stretch. An upset would be a major surprise, but given the many close shaves—and at least one apparent loss—that House incumbents experienced just across the river in New York last week, unexpectedly competitive primaries may just be a new reality.

Primary Preview

Primary Night: Snow White and the Huntsman: We have another primary night on Tuesday, as Colorado, Oklahoma, and Utah hold their nominating contests for federal and statewide offices. As always, we've put together our preview of what to watch.

The most high-profile contest will be the Democratic primary for Colorado's Senate seat, where former Gov. John Hickenlooper faces a challenge from former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. We'll also be watching the four-way Republican contest for governor of Utah, where polls consistently show a tight race between ex-Gov. Jon Huntsman and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. Republicans have unpredictable primaries in Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District and Utah's 4th, which are both held by vulnerable Democratic incumbents.

Importantly, we may not know all the winners for many days or even longer. Because of the pandemic, more voters are casting ballots by mail than ever before, so a sizable number of votes may not be tallied until after election night. We may also need to wait for a while after official poll closing times to even get any votes: In Utah, for instance, a new law passed during the pandemic prevents any results from being released until at least two hours after the polls have closed.

Our live coverage will begin at 8 PM ET at Daily Kos Elections when polls close in Oklahoma. You can also follow us on Twitter for blow-by-blow updates. And you'll want to bookmark our primary calendar, which includes the dates of the presidential and downballot primaries in all 50 states—many of which have been changed—as well as our separate calendar tracking key contests further down the ballot taking place nationwide this year.

Election Changes

Please bookmark our litigation tracker for a complete compilation of the latest developments in every lawsuit regarding changes to election and voting procedures.

Kentucky: Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear says he would like to allow Kentucky voters to cast absentee ballots without an excuse for the November general election, just as they did in last week's primary. Beshear had signed an executive order two months before the primaries that made it easier to vote after reaching an agreement with Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams, leading to record-breaking turnout. Adams, however, said in a statement that it's "still too early to discuss what plans need to be put in place for November elections."

New Mexico: Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed a bill that will allow local election officials to send absentee ballot applications to voters. The legislation also contains provisions allowing for all-mail elections under emergency circumstances.

Texas: The Supreme Court has declined to vacate a stay that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had imposed on a lower court ruling that had ordered that all voters be allowed to vote absentee due to the pandemic. Democrats have challenged Texas' law on the grounds that it violates the 26th Amendment's ban on age discrimination in voting because the state permits voters 65 or older to request mail ballots without an excuse.

Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee, which are the plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit seeking to make it easier to vote, have dropped their claims with regard to Wisconsin's Aug. 11 primary but will keep pressing for changes for the November general election.


AL-Sen: The anti-tax Club for Growth is out with a football-themed commercial touting former Auburn University coach Tommy Tuberville ahead of the July 14 Republican primary runoff. The narrator takes a brief shot at ex-Attorney General Jeff Sessions by declaring, "Alabama wants winners, not recusers."

The Cook Political Report's Jessica Taylor observes that the ad concludes with images of football helmets that strongly resemble those worn by the University of Alabama—not Auburn, the rival school that Tuberville coached. Oddly, as Bloomberg’s Jack Fitzpatrick notes, the ad has two helmets from the same “team” smash into one another, which, unintentionally, is very much in keeping with the sort of UA trolling Tuberville enjoyed throughout his career.

GA-Sen-B: Pastor Raphael Warnock's allies at End Citizens United are out with a Public Policy Polling survey that shows a tight three-way race in the Nov. 3 all-party primary. Republican Rep. Doug Collins takes first with 23%, while appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler edges Warnock 21-20 for the second spot in the all-but-certain January runoff. Two of Warnock's fellow Democrats, businessman Matt Lieberman and former U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver, are far behind at 11 and 3, respectively. This sample also favors Joe Biden 49-45.

This is the first poll we've seen in the last month. A mid-May survey from Civiqs for Daily Kos had Collins firmly in first with 34%, while Warnock edged Lieberman 18-14 and Loeffler took just 12%. During the time between the two polls, both the Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee each announced that they were dropping their investigations into Loeffler's sales of millions in stock just before the markets tanked due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s possible Loeffler’s campaign has stabilized as a result, but it’s also possible that Civiqs and PPP, which use different methodologies, simply see the race differently.

PPP also tests Warnock in hypothetical runoffs against both Republicans. Collins leads the Democrat 43-41, but Warnock outpaces Loeffler 43-40. Civiqs had Warnock edging Collins 45-44 but defeating Loeffler by a wide 45-32 margin.

KS-Sen: Rep. Roger Marshall got some very welcome news on Friday when the anti-tax Club for Growth announced that it was suspending its ad campaign opposing him in the Aug. 4 Republican primary. And it doesn't sound like the Club plans to go back on TV in the final month of the race, since its president said, "We continue to believe Rep. Marshall is not a strong pro-growth candidate. But the Club for Growth PAC is not endorsing in this race and Club for Growth Action will be deploying resources in other critical House and Senate primaries."

The candidate who’s probably most bummed by the Club’s recusal is former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. While Kobach, who lost the 2018 gubernatorial election to Democrat Laura Kelly, has an ardent fan base in the party, his campaign had little money to spend at the end of March for its own attacks on Marshall and had largely been relying on the Club to do the heavy lifting. However, the congressman could still take fire on the air from wealthy businessman Bob Hamilton, who has so far been spending heavily on positive ads.


KS-03: Former state GOP chair Amanda Adkins declares in her new TV ad, "Radical Democrats, the media, and coronavirus are devastating our economy, in that order." That's not the type of argument you'd expect to hear in a suburban swing district that has been moving to the left, but Adkins has to win her August primary before she can focus on Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids.

OK-05: The anti-tax Club for Growth is out with one more spot against state Sen. Stephanie Bice ahead of Tuesday's Republican primary, and it tries to use her support for businesswoman Carly Fiorina in the 2016 presidential primaries against her.

"When President Trump was running back in 2016," the narrator begins, "Stephanie Bice backed somebody else." After explaining that Bice backed Fiorina, the ad continues, "Since then, the candidate Bice backed called for President Trump to be impeached. And now the candidate Bice backed says she's going to vote for Joe Biden, not Donald Trump." The commercial concludes, "If Stephanie Bice had her way, Donald Trump would not be president." The Club, of course, opposed Trump in 2016 in favor of Ted Cruz, whose seven-day running mate was none other than ... Carly Fiorina.

TN-01: State Rep. Timothy Hill tries to cram as many Donald Trump-approved far-right talking points and racist dog whistles as possible in his new ad for the Aug. 6 Republican primary.

After the narrator begins, "Rioters burning our churches and businesses," the spot moves on to show a clip of Colin Kaepernick and two other Black NFL players taking a knee. The narrator responds, "[O]thers kneeling, and giving our flag and the police the middle finger." The commercial goes on to argue that Hill agrees with Trump: "Call antifa what it is, a terrorist group." It also pledges that Hill will "defund Planned Parenthood, not the police."

TX-10: 2018 nominee Mike Siegel is up with what the Texas Tribune reports is a six-figure TV buy ahead of the July 14 Democratic runoff to take on Republican Rep. Michael McCaul. Siegel touts his background as a teacher, union organizer, and civil rights attorney, and argues, "We have a wonderful opportunity to elect a government that's actually responsive to the people." Siegel led physician Pritesh Gandhi 44-33 in the March 3 primary.

TX-17: Former Rep. Pete Sessions (who used to represent the far-off 32nd District) recently went up with a commercial declaring that his Republican runoff foe, businesswoman Renee Swann, "publicly admitted she voted for Hillary Clinton for president." Now Swann is out with a response spot.

The narrator begins by declaring that Sessions is trying to lie about Swann because he can't defend his own record, saying that Swann "voted for Donald Trump, and Pete knows it." Swann has said in the past that she voted for Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary as part of Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos," which aimed to prolong the contest between Clinton and Barack Obama.

TX-22: Wealthy businessman Kathaleen Wall is out with another commercial arguing that her opponent in the July 14 Republican runoff, Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, has done a poor job combating human trafficking. The spot features Courtney Litvak, a local woman who says she was a victim of sex trafficking and later founded a nonprofit, taking Nehls to task for failing her.

Litvak begins by telling the audience that she'd been "drawn into the life of sex trafficking as a minor." Her mother continues, "When we went to sit down with Sheriff Troy Nehls for a two-hour meeting, I felt so confident that he was going to immediately sound the alarms. But instead, Sheriff Troy Nehls has publicly blamed and shamed our family."

Litvak's father then declares, "Sheriff Troy Nehls knows what's going on in his county, and has the gall to revictimize a young lady, a mom, a dad who have been through hell. That's not serving the public. That's harming the public." He continues by addressing Nehls: "And I'd love to look you in the eye and have you tell me how you can possibly sit there and not do your job and not protect my family, because that's what you've done for years."

DCCC: The DCCC has added four more candidates to its Red to Blue program:

  • KS-02: Michelle De La Isla
  • MI-03: Hillary Scholten
  • NY-24: Dana Balter
  • VA-05: Cameron Webb

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Brigid Harrison Concedes to Amy Kennedy in U.S. House Democratic Primary

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Political analyst Brigid Harrison conceded on Tuesday to former schoolteacher Amy Kennedy in the New Jersey Democratic primary contest to take on U.S. Representative Jeff Van Drew, who abandoned that party for the Republicans, in the November election.

Kennedy, who is married to former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a member of the storied political dynasty, led a crowded field of candidates including Harrison in early results from New Jersey's 2nd district.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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