President Trump’s latest controversies are only fueling the fire on the left, and the primary runoff Tuesday in South Carolina’s 5th District kicked off another special general election that will test just how much Democrats can overperform in a Republican-held seat.
The district has been red since Mick Mulvaney unseated Budget Chair John Spratt in 2010 and is solidly Republican, but it doesn’t lean as far to the right as some might think.
Kansas’s 4th District, where Republican Rep. Ron Estes won last month by a surprisingly close margin, is 6 points more Republican than SC-05, according to the Cook PVI. And the Montana and Georgia districts that have attracted substantial outside spending for upcoming specials are relatively close in their partisan scores.
One question is whether national Democrats’ polling indicates enough of an opportunity to expend resources on behalf of tax attorney Archie Parnell, who won’t have the luxury of sneaking up on national Republicans as did Estes’s opponent.
Parnell appears likely to face former state Rep. Ralph Norman, who was backed by the Club for Growth and has said he will join the House Freedom Caucus if elected.
— Kyle Trygstad
“President Trump asked” former F.B.I. director James Comey “to shut down the federal investigation into … Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo. … Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.” (New York Times)
“The bad-news stories slammed into the White House in pitiless succession on Tuesday, leaving President Trump’s battle-scarred West Wing aides staring at their flat screens in glassy-eyed shock. The disclosure that…Trump divulged classified intelligence to Russian officials that had been provided by Israel was another blow to a besieged White House staff recovering from the mishandled firing of … Comey. … And the day was capped by the even more stunning revelation that the president had prodded…Comey to drop an investigation into … Flynn.” (New York Times)
REPERCUSSIONS. “It’s hushed right now, and almost all off the record — but it’s there, and it’s Republicans who are beginning to grapple with the real — but far off — possibility that the president might’ve gone too far this time. That’s not to say President Donald Trump will be impeached, but the prospect is beginning to creep into Republicans’ minds, and it’s noteworthy that they are not ruling it out. There’s a sense Mike Schmidt’s story that Trump asked Jim Comey to drop an investigation into Mike Flynn is going to have drastic consequences for everyone in the White House.” (Politico)
Trump’s disclosure of classified national security information to Russian officials meant that “[t]he life of a spy placed by Israel inside ISIS is at risk tonight, according to current and former U.S. officials…The spy provided intelligence involving an active ISIS plot to bring down a passenger jet en route to the United States, with a bomb hidden in a laptop that U.S. officials believe can get through airport screening machines undetected.” (ABC News)
“Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he would be willing to provide the U.S. Congress a record of President Trump’s meeting with top Russian envoys, bringing scoffs on Capitol Hill that the Kremlin could help shed light on the disclosures of reportedly highly classified intelligence.” (Washington Post)
Conservative blogger Erick Erikson said he knows one of the sources who conveyed the classified information story, describing them as a Trump loyalist who likely leaked the information knowing Trump pays more attention to the news than his own advisors.
ACTUAL PROBE UPDATE. Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is target of investigative inquiries involving his move to take out a mysterious $3.5 million mortgage after leaving the Trump campaign, which he never paid taxes on. (NBC News)
FIRST FOREIGN TRIP. Trump is taking nearly all his top staff with him on his first trip abroad as president, with the exception of senior counselor Kellyanne Conway and his communications director. (Politico)
ALL ABOUT THE $$. Two former Trump campaign aides are forming a new email fundraising group. (Washington Post)
The Center for American Progress’s “Ideas Conference” wrapped Tuesday. The event, “packed with some of Democrats’ leading operatives and donors — repeatedly bumped up against the party’s current predicament: most of the left’s big new ideas must contend with an environment dominated by President Donald Trump and the latest news out of a White House under siege. …This was no dry policy forum — it veered from tryout to pep rally and back again, with chatter ranging from concrete policy proposals and party strategy floats to enraged discussion of the president’s conduct with respect to Russia.” (Politico)
Among many other speakers, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) talked about her plan for a national family leave plan. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) talked about criminal justice reform. (Los Angeles Times) Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) urged Democrats to stop only focusing on turning out those who already agree with them in election, using his own 2016 reelection win as an example. (Billings Gazette)
Leaders also delivered “a stark warning: Their party needs to do more than just talk about President Donald Trump.” (McClatchy)
CONSPIRACY THEORY DEBUNKED. The Fox News report claiming that Seth Rich, a former DNC staffer who was killed last summer, had connections to Wikileaks has been debunked. “For months, right-wing media outlets have floated unproven theories that Rich was the person who provided Wikileaks thousands of internal DNC emails, and that his death might have been connected with the supposed leak. No real evidence has been provided to support such claims and Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, which continues to investigate the murder, says there is evidence to suggest he may have been the victim of a botched robbery.” (CNN)
DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE. DNC chair Tom Perez was in Seattle on Tuesday addressing various Democratic groups. (KING-TV) Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), meanwhile, is considering making an endorsement in the newly open Seattle mayoral race. (KUOW-TV) New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley is addressing a local county party on the DNC’s reform efforts. (Portsmouth Herald)
DEMOCRATIC LEGISLATIVE CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE. The DLCC announced a big round of new hires on Tuesday, including new regional political directors, a major gifts director, and data, digital, and social media directors. (release)
IN THE STATES. “Dozens of Democratic campaign field organizers who worked around the country leading up to the 2016 presidential election have joined a class action federal lawsuit, claiming the national party and state party organizations didn’t pay minimum wages and overtime.” (Newsweek)
In California, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), “who is running for governor, announced Tuesday that he is supporting Kimberly Ellis’ run to become the new chairperson of the California Democratic Party. Newsom endorsed Ellis’ rival, Eric Bauman, last year and said that he still supports him in an email to state party delegates.” (Los Angeles Times)
“As the White House faced a fresh onslaught of negative news stories on Tuesday about the FBI’s Russia investigation, President Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee apparently saw a money-making opportunity. The Trump Make America Great Again Committee blasted out an email Tuesday evening to supporters with the subject line, “SABOTAGE.” … The Trump Make America Great Again Committee is a joint fundraising committee that collects money for Trump’s re-election and the national party.” (USA Today)
REPUBLICANS ON EDGE. “House oversight committee chairman Jason Chaffetz said Tuesday that if a memo FBI Director James Comey wrote detailing President Donald Trump’s request to end an investigation exists, then his committee is willing to issue subpoenas to get it. … A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan showed support for Chaffetz’s push.” (CNN)
“‘I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda,’” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “said on Bloomberg Television on Tuesday morning, reflecting the Republican majority’s increasing frustration over the White House’s mishaps.” (New York Times) Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “reportedly said Tuesday that scandals within President Trump’s administration are reaching a ‘Watergate size and scale.’” (The Hill) Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) weighed in on the ordeal during a town hall hosted by CNN on Tuesday. (CNN)
The Wall Street Journal slammed Trump in an op-ed, arguing “the Russian intel story shows the price of Trump’s lost credibility.”
But at least “historically speaking, even the biggest scandals don’t wash away partisanship.” FiveThirtyEight went “back and looked at key congressional votes during three relatively recent periods in which a president was accused of wrongdoing: Watergate (Richard Nixon), Iran-contra (Ronald Reagan) and the Monica Lewinsky scandal (Bill Clinton). Two trends stick out. First, partisanship still matters. And in a big way. Second, when defections do come, they’re more likely to come from the centrist wing of a party.” (FiveThirtyEight)
UTAH GOP. “Utah GOP chairman James Evans will compete this weekend for a third term as his party’s leader, but he’s facing two challengers unhappy with the way he waged a legal battle with the state over a law changing how political parties nominate candidates.” (AP)
"American Bridge is running Google search ads linking Republican House members eyeing Senate runs to the Trump administration's Russia-related troubles."
"Why Did Trump Fire Comey?" the ads ask. "Demand Answers on Trump-Russia."
The ads are targeting: Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN 04), Luke Messer (R-IN 06), Ann Wagner (R-MO 02) and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO 04), Fred Upton (R-MI 06), Lou Barletta (R-PA 11) and Mike Kelly (R-PA 03). (Politico)
“Democrats pushing for a special prosecutor to investigate Russian election interference say they’re not afraid to grind Senate business to a halt if needed—even as a large chunk of their caucus barrels toward tough reelection races in states that Donald Trump won. … Though slowing down Senate business is par for the course in the minority, such a move could come at an awkward time for Democrats. On one hand, their base is demanding answers for a series of unprecedented moves from the White House, including the surprise firing of FBI Director James Comey, and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. On the other hand, Democrats face a largely defensive map in the 2018 midterms, including a slew of incumbents in red states where Trump remains popular.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI): “I strongly believe there should be a special prosecutor appointed and the most immediate opportunity to discuss that in greater depth is when Rosenstein appears before the Senate later this week." (National Journal)
State Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) will not run in the special election for Sen. Luther Strange's (R) seat. Meanwhile, "two other candidates - Mary Maxwell and Joseph F. Breault - have ... qualified, according to the Alabama Republican Party." (Al.com)
Former state Rep. Perry Hooper Jr. (R), the Alabama co-chair of President Trump’s campaign in 2016, is expected Wednesday to enter the special election for Strange's seat. (Al.com)
Businessman Bryan Peebles (R) is also set to run. He is a “a territory manager for Heartland Payment Systems and President and CEO of Peeples Consulting.” (Al.com)
State Senate president Del Marsh (R) was set to announce his Senate plans Wednesday morning, though the New York Times cited a "wired" source who said he would not run.
The primary is on Aug. 15.
State Rep. Ed Henry (R) “has called a press conference for Wednesday that he's teasing with new allegations of corruption against” Strange. (AL.com)
Meanwhile, state auditor Jim Zeigler (R), a frequent critic of former Gov. Robert Bentley (R), said he will not run for Senate. (WALA)
Senate candidates “may find ‘fertile’ ground in coastal Alabama where the local vote is up for grabs, according to political insiders.”
"The bottom line is its wide open in Mobile and Baldwin counties," said Steve Flowers, a political commentator, historian and author. "There is a void there." (Al.com)
On the Democratic side, environmental advocacy group leader Michael Hansen (D) declared his candidacy.
"Let's not kid ourselves, this is a long shot," Hansen wrote in the blog post announcing his candidacy. " I'm 35, gay, and a Democrat -- but it's one we have to take." (Al.com)
Consultant Jason Fisher (D) also announced a bid. Mobile’s Robert Kennedy Jr. is the other Democrat running in the race. (Al.com)
Meanwhile, 2016 candidate Ron Crumpton (D) dropped out of the race, citing a back injury. (Al.com)
Republicans are overwhelmingly favored in the deep-red state.
ON THE AIR. Strange released a new TV ad casting him as an "Alabama conservative" who took on corrupt public officials and a state House speaker as Attorney General. The spot also touts work alongside President Trump. Strange also released a new radio ad who fights liberal and corrupt politicians. (Politico)
Sen. Jeff Flake (R) tweeted that “Congress needs to see the Comey memo,” following a report that Comey allegedly wrote a memo about President Trump asking him to the end the investigation of Michael Flynn. (Twitter)
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D), who faces reelection in 2018, announced Tuesday she has been diagnosed with kidney cancer, will continue to work while undergoing treatment at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital, and is expected to make a full recovery. (release)
Rep. Ann Wagner (R-02), a likely Senate candidate, “strongly defended the president, saying his conversation with the Russians was ‘wholly appropriate,’ and that criticism came from ‘Democrats and the Washington press corps’ who are 'desperate ... for a win.'" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
TIMING. Following a report that Wagner would jump into the Senate race in July, her chief of staff said that the political environment is so “crazy” that Wagner " “may not need as early of an announcement.”
“We’ll see,” he said. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Rep. Kevin Cramer (R), a close ally of President Trump and a potential Senate candidate, “complained that the White House keeps changing its story on big controversies and lashed out at the administration ford a lack of ‘message discipline.’” (CNN)
CROSSING THE AISLE. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) “is breaking with her party to push for a top conservative issue: regulatory reform.” Heitkamp is working with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) “on a proposal to reform the rulemaking process and force federal agencies to chose the ‘most cost-effective’ ways to regulate.” (The Hill)
State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) by far “listed the most sources of income, investments and gifts as statewide officials filed financial-disclosure statements this week.” Mandel “also appeared to travel extensively in 2016 ahead of his senatorial campaign." He announced his bid in December.
"Mandel listed 184 sources of income, largely from stock dividends and capital gains."
"Mandel also reported accepting 74 gifts ... and filed records indicating spending of about $73,000 on travel paid by his political action committee, Justice Opportunity Strength Honor PAC or JOSHPAC.” (Columbus Dispatch)
Sen. John Cornyn (D) took himself out of the running to become FBI director, removing the possibility of a potential Senate vacancy. (release)
Reps. Mike McCaul (R-10), Joaquin Castro (D-20), and Beto O'Rourke (D-16) had expressed interest in Cornyn's seat if it became open.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D), said President Trump’s alleged Russia disclosure “flies in the face of how he and other Intelligence Committee members have been trained to treat classified information.”
"I know the severity of what happens and people's lives are out on jeopardy," Manchin said. "This is not the way we conduct business. This is not the way you do things." (Politico)
The NRCC raised $10 million last month, a record for April fundraising. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) transferred $2.75 million to the committee, bringing his total for 2017 to $20 million. The committee raised $46 million in the first four months of the year, compared to $24.9 million during that same period in 2015. (Hotline reporting)
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA 12) said Democrats will file a discharge petition, forcing a vote on a measure that would establish an independent commission to investigate President Trump’s ties to Russia. (MSNBC)
Vulnerable House Republicans are quickly losing patience with President Trump after reports that he pressured ousted FBI director James Comey to drop an investigation on ex-NSA adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia and revealed top secret intelligence to Russia.
Reps. Leonard Lance (R-NJ 07) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL 26) called for ousted FBI director James Comey to testify before Congress. Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-VA 10) and Pat Meehan (R-PA 07) were among those who forcefully called for Trump to brief Congress on what classified information was disclosed.
Comstock: “Once again we are faced with inexplicable stories coming from the White House that are highly troubling.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA 25) called for a special prosecutor to look into Russian election interference. (Roll Call/Washington Post/Philadelphia Inquirer/Los Angeles Times)
ON THE WEB. House Majority PAC is targeting six GOP lawmakers who voted for the AHCA. “The spots draw attention to House Republicans’ reckless health care plan that includes an ‘age tax’ – costing Americans over 50 years old up to five times more for their premiums.” Targeted members: Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), Brian Mast (FL-18), Erik Paulsen (MN-03), Lee Zeldin (NY-01), John Faso (NY-19) and John Culberson (TX-07). (release)
An example ad, online in Mast’s district, can be found here.
TALKING STRATEGY. “A day after a report that the president revealed highly sensitive intelligence from a U.S. ally to Russian leaders, a litany of top Democratic officials and possible 2020 presidential candidates tried to find a balance between denouncing the latest Trump controversy and making time to explain their own vision and agenda.” (McClatchy)
“In a significant development, party operatives say they now expect Democrats will poll-test the public’s views on impeachment, trying to acquire hard data about an issue that until now has not been seriously analyzed. Others strategists also say candidates and party organizations to begin conducting focus groups on the question.” (McClatchy)
A new report on gerrymandering by the Brennan Center for Justice found in “the 26 states that account for 85 percent of congressional districts, Republicans derive a net benefit of at least 16-17 congressional seats in the current Congress from partisan bias.” Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania are cited as having the most extreme partisan bias.” (Politico)
Former Navy physician Steve Ferrara (R) entered the race for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D) suburban Phoenix district.
Ferrara, the former Chief Medical Officer of the Navy, “was born and raised in Phoenix and joined the Navy at the outset of the first Gulf War. As a combat doctor, he pioneered new and lifesaving therapies on the battlefields of Afghanistan.” (release)
Hillary Clinton won the district by 16 points in 2016 and it has a PVI of D+4. It was created in 2012 when Sinema won the seat.
The Los Angeles Times endorsed Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D), praising his “clear policy platforms and significant experience” and a “his wonky understanding of the legislative process.” The newspaper said it was “no contest” between Gomez and his runoff competitor former L.A. city planning commissioner Robert Lee Ahn (D), whose positions are “for the most part general and vague.” (Los Angeles Times)
The race to replace Rep. Xavier Becerra (D) is on June 6.
“If the Senate special election to replace” GA-06 candidate Judson Hill (R) “really is an indicator for how next month’s 6th District runoff will turn out, then Republicans are feeling a bit more confident.”
Physician Kay Kirkpatrick (R) “easily defeated” lawyer Christine Triebsch (D) “in Tuesday night’s vote, calming some conservatives who worried that the ‘Jon Ossoff effect’ could cost them Hill’s deep-red seat. The Senate district stretches through a swath of east Cobb and Sandy Springs that overlaps Georgia’s 6th District, and Triebsch showed surprising strength in a first-place finish in the April 18 vote.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
The DCCC is launching a five-figure ad campaign hitting Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R) for contacting the employer of a constituent involved in a Democratic activist group. The congressman sent a fundraising letter to a board member of a local bank, and wrote a message telling him “a ringleader” of the group worked at the bank. That activist, Saily Avelenda, said she resigned after being interrogated by the company. The campaign will target voters in the district on Facebook and Instagram. (release)
The Campaign for Accountability filed a complaint Tuesday with the Office of Congressional of Ethics “requesting an investigation into whether the New Jersey Republican violated House ethics rules by singling out the employee.” (Politico)
Hospital exec Sue Sullivan (D) entered the race to challenge Rep. John Faso (R).
A lifelong resident of the district, nonprofit director and small business owner, Sullivan said she decided to enter the race after the Women’s Match in Washington, D.C. “Congress is paralyzed by partisanship and Congressman Faso won’t even meet with his constituents. He just toes the party line voting with President Trump 90% of the time, including the devastating Trumpcare,” she said in a statement. (release)
Faso beat 2014 gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout in 2016 in an open seat race to replace retiring Rep. Chris Gibson (R).
Rep. Claudia Tenney (R), “an early supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, has decided to hold a big-donor fundraiser at the luxury Trump International Hotel near the White House. The $500 per person event at 3 p.m. May 22 is billed as a ‘Women’s Tea with Tenney at Trump.’” (Syracuse Post-Standard)
The DCCC has already hit back at Tenney in an email blast, accusing her of being in “Trump’s corner” and accused her of “lining his pockets.” (release)
“Congressional ethics investigators are probing” Rep. Chris Collins’ (R) “role in attracting investors to an Australian biotech company, interviewing several of them in the Buffalo area Tuesday and Wednesday, according to two sources familiar with the situation who asked not to be identified.”
“Earlier this year reporters overheard Collins in a cellphone conversation just off the House floor, saying ‘how many millionaires I’ve made in Buffalo the past few months.’ … Since then, the ethics office has received at least four complaints involving the Clarence Republican and his Innate investments.” (Buffalo News)
Legally blind sled-dog racer Rachael Scdoris-Salerno (D) filed paperwork Monday to challenge Rep. Greg Walden (R), a former NRCC chairman and current chairman of the Energy and Commerce committee, who holds an R+11 district that President Trump won by 19 points. Scdoris-Salerno “competed in four Iditarod races with a “visual interpreter,” and also has engaged in cross-country running and went to the Paralympics in tandem cycling.” (KTVZ)
The GOP primary runoff between former state Rep. Ralph Norman (R) and state Speaker Pro Tem Tommy Pope (R) is headed for a recount after Norman had just a 203-vote lead. Still, Norman claimed victory “and the Club for Growth, whose political arm backed Norman, sent out an email message congratulating him. Pope’s campaign didn’t have an immediate comment on the runoff results.” (AP)
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Norman had 17,755 to Pope’s 17,552.
The winner is heavily favored to win over tax attorney Archie Parnell (D) in the June 20 general election. The GOP primary split along typical party fault lines. Norman is backed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and vowed to join the Freedom Caucus. Pope has more establishment support, boasting endorsement from the Chamber of Commerce and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-04).
Two more candidates have entered the race to challenge Rep. John Culberson (R). Lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D) and activist Laura Moser (D) both launched bids. Hillary Clinton won the district in 2016. Seven Democrats are now in the race. (Houston Chronicle)
Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) “announced on Tuesday that he will seek reelection next year, saying he has ‘made and kept’ his 2014 promises to grow jobs, lower taxes, reform government, and promote computer literacy.”
“No major candidates have declared bids to challenge the former congressman and Drug Enforcement Administration chief.” (National Journal)
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) endorsed former Rep. Gwen Graham (D).
Lewis: “The things we care about most — from preserving our voting rights and access to health care, to protecting our environment and holding Wall Street accountable — are under attack like never before. Only one Democrat for Governor of Florida —my good friend Gwen Graham — has the passion and commitment, the track record and the leadership skills to stand up, speak out, protect our priorities, and get things done.” (release)
TRUMPED UP. “The 2018 races will in part serve as a referendum on how voters feel about Trump, who won Florida by about 1 percentage point. Asked about Trump’s performance,” state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R) “praised his choice of Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court and his effort to cut regulations.
“When asked about Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, Putnam offered a speck of mild criticism. ‘I find the timing curious,’ he said. … Putnam punted when asked if he disagrees with any actions by Trump.” (Miami Herald)
“Smelling a chance to change the campaign narrative, opponents of” billionaire J.B. Pritzker (D) “jumped all over news that he got an 83 percent tax break on a supposedly ‘uninhabitable’ historic mansion in the city’s Gold Coast.
“Both a top surrogate for” Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) “and, in more restrained form, the campaign of” businessman Chris Kennedy (D) “attacked one of his key sources of strength: the backing from inside party and labor groups that he’s rapidly been pulling in.” (Crain’s Chicago Business)
“Pritzker has said he applied ‘only one year’ to have property taxes reduced for a mansion he bought next to his Chicago home. Pritzker told WVON radio Monday that what he did was common and ‘many people do it every year.’” (AP)
State Rep. Todd Prichard (D) is “proposing ‘free’ community college tuition for all Iowans as the centerpiece of his campaign.”
Prichard: “An educated workforce allows employers to grow and it attracts employers to come to the state and it commands high wages.” (Radio Iowa)
Prichard also released a biographical web video highlighting his “simple” life, military service, and career as a legislator.
Prichard: “I’m going to be a governor for all 99 counties. … Des Moines has a lot of opportunities. But we need to make sure the entire state has that same opportunity.” (release)
Former state Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty (D) “says he’s running for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018. Svaty announced his candidacy Tuesday in his central Kansas hometown of Ellsworth.” (AP)
“Dressed casually in jeans and an open-collared shirt, Svaty told a small crowd of supporters that he was running to ‘undo the damage’ done to education, health care and the state’s transportation system by” Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) “economic policies.”
“Svaty has the backing of several prominent Democrats in his race for the nomination against former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer.” State House Minority Leader Jim Ward (D) “could make it a three-way race for the Democratic nomination. It would be the party’s first gubernatorial primary since 1998.” (KCUR)
Environmentalist Bob Massie (D) “told about 200 supporters during his formal campaign kickoff Tuesday night that he is ‘irrevocably committed to liberty and justice for all.’” (Boston Globe)
“Newton Mayor Setti Warren (D), who has spent months considering a run for governor, plans on Saturday to announce ‘the first step he’ll take to lead the commonwealth forward,’ according to an email circulated Tuesday by his wife, Tassy Warren. … Warren’s 2 p.m. block party will be held on Beaumont Avenue in Newton.” (State House News Service)
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) “this week unleashed negative ads against” Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R).
“The first came in the form of a web ad, which … charges him with flip-flopping.
“The second – ‘Jack it up’ – appeared on cable television this morning. The 30-second spot hammers the assemblyman on a variety of issues, including the gas tax. In the debate last week, Ciattarelli acknowledged that he favored an incremental gas tax increase over time.” (InsiderNJ)
“The ad began running statewide this week.” (release)
“[A]lthough he has closed the gap and sources in his camp insist that the contest has narrowed to a single-digit slug-fest, Ciattarelli faces the daunting prospect of trying to galvanize mountain men, skeet-pulling gun owners, and movement conservative voters who strenuously resist so-called RINOs and general election GOP brand names. In short, the assemblyman arguably must seal the deal with that 25-30% Schundler-Lonegan-Doherty wing of the Republican Party in the final weeks of the campaign to finish off establishment Republican Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, while not moving too far to the right to jeopardize his general election standing.” (InsiderNJ)
THE TRUMP EFFECT. “Standing a few miles from the Bedminster golf club that President Donald Trump owns,” former Treasury Undersecretary Jim Johnson (D) “said Tuesday that the Republican president has been a ‘nightmare’ so far and proposed a ‘Trump Protection Plan’ to defend New Jersey from his policies ‘of hate and fear.’”
“Johnson said he would … create a pool of lawyers to work for free on immigration cases” and “support a single-payer health care system with Medicare for all if the Affordable Care Act is overturned.” (NJ Advance Media)
“Johnson melded his anti-Trump message with a call to break the Democratic machine that has long held sway in New Jersey.” (Politico)
“Johnson … envisions a liberal paradise in the post-Chris Christie New Jersey that will be achieved without pain or sacrifice — unless, of course, you’re a millionaire.” (Bergen Record)
ME, THREE! Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D) announced Tuesday he has joined legislators’ lawsuits against Christie’s plan to renovate the statehouse. (release)
This post has been updated with video of Guadagno’s ad and details about the buy.
“Ending months of speculation, state Attorney General Hector Balderas (D) announced Tuesday that he will run for re-election in 2018 rather than enter the Democratic primary election for governor.”
Balderas: “It has been an honor to serve New Mexico and I plan on running for re-election next year in order to continue to fight for our state.” (Santa Fe New Mexican)
“That puts” Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) “in the catbird’s seat to secure the nomination with the important caveat that here is still a year to go until the primary and other major entries are possible, if increasingly unlikely. ABQ businessman Jeff Apodaca and anti-alcohol educator Pete Debenedettis are the only other Dem contenders in the contest and both have a major hill to climb in raising money and garnering name ID. … Despite the lure of a race with no incumbent, observers see the high cost of running a primary election—upwards of $2 million—as a major disincentive to join the fray.” (Joe Monahan)
Businessman Paul Mango (R) “kicks off his 2018 bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination [today] with a two-day, statewide tour.” (PennLive)
WOLF’S DEN. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) “is working to make the case for his re-election. The first-term Democrat gave a keynote speech Monday morning at a breakfast event attended by lawmakers and business leaders from around the region. And he took the opportunity to set himself apart from the corruption fears that have lately plagued Washington.
“When Wolf ran for governor, one of the most important figures in his campaign wasn’t a person. It was his 2006 Jeep Wrangler. Three years later, the vehicle’s still very much in the picture. It remains an important symbol for the governor, as does the fact that he donates his salary and doesn’t live in the governor’s mansion. … In Wolf’s pitch to voters, these deliberate moves are meant to signify that he’s not a lifelong politician. Pennsylvanians, he argues, can trust him.” (WITF)
“The Democratic candidates for governor seemed to be running against different opponents in their fourth debate Tuesday night, as” former Rep. Tom Perriello (D) “repeatedly attacked President Trump and” former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie (R) “instead of his primary opponent, Lt.Gov. Ralph Northam (D). Northam, by contrast, kept his focus on state issues and invoked his Democratic allies in Virginia politics.” (Washington Post)
“Throughout the debate, the two candidates rarely addressed the other’s platform and background directly. One exception, though, was Northam’s repeated reference to Perriello receiving an ‘A’ rating from the National Rifle Association when he was in Congress. … One of the other differences highlighted by Northam is that Perriello supported the Stupak-Pitts Amendment while he was in Congress.”
Northam: ”I have unequivocally been pro-choice. We don’t need someone who’s going to be multiple choice.” (Virginian-Pilot)
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS. Perriello’s “ad featuring President Barack Obama has an added bonus for viewers in the D.C. area: tiny lettering indicating Perriello is speaking direct to camera from Alexandria, Va. The location isn’t noted in versions of the ad that have been running outside of the northern Virginia suburbs.” (Politico)
OLD DOMINION. “Northam … has taken heat from environmentalists for refusing to condemn a pair of natural gas pipelines being built in the state, but a recent letter from Virginia’s biggest utility suggests the potential political payoff from his neutral stance.
“Dominion Energy chief executive Thomas Farrell sent a letter May 12 to the company’s 76,000 employees, retirees and shareholders throughout Virginia that urged them to consider Dominion’s pipeline project when voting in the June 13 gubernatorial primary.” (Washington Post)
CAP & TRADE. McAuliffe on Tuesday “directed the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to begin assembling regulations to reduce carbon emissions from Virginia power plants.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Northam: “Very proud that our administration is doing the work to combat climate change in Virginia—you can bet I’ll continue it as governor.” (Twitter)
Perriello: “Gov. McAuliffe’s bold move finally shifts Virginia into a 21st Century energy economy and gives us a better shot at good-paying jobs and at protecting our coastline and climate. … In Congress, I supported cap-and-trade, which would have led to job creation in rural communities around alternate energy and put tradesmen and construction workers on the job.” (release)
Gillespie: “We all want cleaner air; we all want cleaner water. We can get those things without these excessive regulations that are job-killing and cost-increasing.” (release)
GILLESPIE’S CONUNDRUM. “After the June 13 primaries to decide the gubernatorial nominations of both parties, Gillespie may no longer have the luxury of strategic silence. Gillespie can yammer all he wants about Virginia slipping in the ratings of business-friendly states, about Democrats’ hostility to the ban on compulsory union membership as a condition for a job, about his proposed income tax cut that Republican legislators privately concede the state can’t afford, and Obama-like overreach by departing” Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
“But in a state comfortably carried by Hillary Clinton and where a fresh poll by The Washington Post shows that hostility for Trump is greater than in the nation as a whole, the political environment will fully test the verbal acuity of a guy who, as an aide to the second George Bush, artfully used sound bites and stagecraft to help an unpopular president out of a jam or two.”
“Gillespie gets away now with diaphanous platitudes about health care and the Comey dismissal” for now because “Stewart and Wagner badly lag Gillespie” and “Gillespie has the good fortune of a powerful distraction: the Democratic primary fight between Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello, both of whom have said they fully intend to link the presumed Republican nominee to Trump.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
The establishment-versus-tea party divide in the SC-05 recount has echoes of a GOP primary last year in another 5th District, AZ-05, where a former Freedom Caucus member also vacated his seat. In that race, to replace former Rep. Matt Salmon (R), now-Rep. Andy Biggs (R), who had the support of conservative groups, narrowly prevailed over the more establishment-aligned Christine Jones (R), after a recount gave him a 27-vote lead.
" I spend time in a place where a Democrat is as rare as a tweetless Twitter feed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the early-morning hours. " Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), in a speech at the Center for American Progress’ Ideas Conference, Billings Gazette, 5/16.