VA Democrats start with an early lead ahead of next year’s gov race


VA-Gov: Quinnipiac has our first look at next year’s gubernatorial race in Virginia, and as you’d expect, there are a lot of undecideds. But the good news is that Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who faces no serious opposition for the Democratic nomination, has early leads on all of his potential GOP rivals:

38-34 vs. former RNC chair Ed Gillespie

38-29 vs. Prince William County Supervisor Corey Stewart

39-30 vs. state Sen. Frank Wagner

And in a hypothetical GOP primary, Gillespie, who almost won a bid for Senate in 2014 in what would have been a massive upset, leads the way with 24, while Stewart, a whacked-out Trump supporter, takes 4 percent, as does Wagner. However, this poll also included Rep. Rob Wittman, who announced he wouldn’t run a few days ago, and found him getting 10 percent. Wittman didn’t issue any endorsements on his way out, but another member of Congress, Rep. Morgan Griffith, just gave his backing to Gillespie.

Another bit of good news for Northam from Quinnipiac is that Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who by law is limited to just a single term, sports a healthy 52-30 job approval rating, and a wide majority, 63 percent, describes Virginia’s economy as “good.” Of course, Barack Obama’s positive numbers weren’t enough to help Hillary Clinton, but if you’re the party in power, you’d still much rather voters be happy than not.

GUBERNATORIAL

AZ-Gov: Even though Hillary Clinton turned in the best Democratic performance in Arizona in decades last month, we haven’t heard much about possible challengers to GOP Gov. Doug Ducey. Now, though, Tucson state Sen. Steve Farley says he’s considering a bid in 2018, though he didn’t offer a timetable for making a decision. But despite Clinton’s showing, Ducey will be tough to beat, as he won his first term easily two years ago, and Arizona remains a red state. But Farley, like a lot of other Democrats in his shoes, is hoping that backlash to Trump generates a good midterm year for Team Blue. We’ll just have to see if the usual patterns still hold.

HOUSE

CA-34: Sen.-elect Kamala Harris, one of the very top Democrats in California politics and a rising star in the Democratic Party nationally, has endorsed Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez in the race to succeed Rep. Xavier Becerra, who’s been nominated to succeed Harris as state attorney general. Meanwhile, Arturo Carmona, a former strategist for Bernie Sanders, has also entered the race. Two other Democrats are already running: former Los Angeles City Council aide Sarah Hernandez and labor activist Wendy Carillo.

In addition, the Los Angeles Times suggests two new possible candidates: former Obama White House staffer Alejandra Campoverdi and Jesse Leon, who works for City Councilman John Huizar (the same member, as it happens, that Hernandez used to work for). A few other names have also been mentioned, but so far as we’re aware, no one else is publicly considering the race for this dark blue, majority Hispanic seat in downtown L.A.

FL-06: GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis may be a member of the House Freedom Caucus, but he wasn’t enough of a nihilist to continue on with what would have been a suicidal Senate campaign after Marco Rubio unexpectedly decided to seek re-election. Instead, he dropped back down to run for House once more and easily won a third term. However, DeSantis may yet harbor ambitions for higher office, and according to the site Florida Politics, he’s scouting out a possible bid for attorney general. That post will be open in 2018 because the current incumbent, Republican Pam Bondi, is term-limited. (You might remember Bondi from such scandals as, “Declined to sue Trump University for fraud after receiving an illegal $25,000 campaign contribution from the Trump Foundation” and “Delayed a death-row inmate’s execution to attend a campaign fundraiser.”)

If DeSantis once again tries to take wing, that would open up his House seat along Florida’s northeast coast, which went 57-41 for Donald Trumpaccording to Matthew Isbell. Presumably, hopefuls from the same cast of characters that abortively tried to succeed DeSantis this year would give it another go.

SD-AL: Oh joy. Nathan Gonzales suggests that awful conservative Twitter celebrity and Trump shill Tomi Lahren, a native of South Dakota, could runfor Rep. Kristi Noem’s House seat now that Noem is leaving it open to seek her state’s governorship. Lahren, who hasn’t said anything publicly, is just 24 but would be old enough to serve in Congress come 2019. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

House: Just horrifying. As a companion to their lengthy piece detailing how Russia hijacked the U.S. elections by hacking Democratic organizations to help elect Donald Trump, the New York Times also details how Republicans used those same stolen materials to attack Democrats in House elections around the country. The story will make you sick to your stomach, and we’re not going to summarize it. We insist you read it in full.

But there is one particular detail we’ll call attention to. Over the summer, DCCC chair Ben Ray Lujan sent a letter Greg Walden, his counterpart at the NRCC, asking him to stop using these stolen documents, saying that if Republicans continued to do so, they’d “be complicit in aiding the Russian government in its effort to influence American elections.” Nancy Pelosi also sent a similar letter to Paul Ryan. Neither Republican responded.

MAYORAL

Charlotte, NC Mayor: Earlier this month, state Sen. Joel Ford formed an exploratory committee to prepare for a potential 2017 campaign against Mayor Jennifer Roberts, a fellow Democrat. On Monday, Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles announced that she had also formed an exploratory committee for the Democratic primary. Charlotte only holds a primary runoff if no one takes more than 40 percent of the vote, so a split field could boost Roberts.

New York, NY Mayor: For all his woes, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio still hasn’t picked up a top-tier challenger in next year’s Democratic primary, and news that state Sen. Tony Avella has filed paperwork to create a campaign committee doesn’t really change that. Avella, a member of a renegade faction of Democrats in the state Senate that sides with the Republicans, ran for mayor once before in 2009, when he was a member of the city council. It didn’t go well, with Avella getting crushed in the primary by City Comptroller Bill Thompson 71-21. Avella also came close to losing his own Senate primary in 2014, escaping with a narrow 53-47 win over former Comptroller John Liu, who challenged Avella over his support for the GOP.

And we’ll have to see if Avella actually even runs—so far, he hasn’t commented, which is a weird way to launch a bid, if that’s what he’s even doing. But even if he does, he’s probably not a major threat to de Blasio.

GRAB BAG

Pres-by-CD: We hit Indiana, Massachusetts, and West Virginia for our project to calculate the presidential election results by congressional district. We have a chart of all 435 congressional districts here, which also includes results from 2012. That’s the page you’ll want to bookmark, since we’re updating it continuously. We’ll be pushing out new data on a rolling basis as the final results are officially certified and the precinct-level election results we need for our calculations become available.

Indiana backed Donald Trump 57-38, a big swing to the right from Mitt Romney’s already-strong 54-44 win in 2012. Trump carried the same seven congressional districts that Romney took, while Hillary Clinton carried the same two seats that Barack Obama won; all nine seats are represented in the House by the party that won them in the presidential race. The closest seat was the 5th District north of Indianapolis. Trump carried it 53-41, a bit smaller than Romney’s 58-41 win, but still not particularly close.

Democrats targeted the open 9th District, located in the southern part of the state, after the GOP nominated Trey Hollingsworth, a Tennessee businessman who had ties to several other states that weren’t named Indiana. But Trump carried the 9th 61-34, stronger than Romney’s 57-41, and Hollingsworth won 54-40. Both of Indiana’s Democratic-held seats look safe for Team Blue right now. Clinton’s 54-42 win in the Gary-based 1st District was much weaker than Obama’s 62-37, but this is still blue turf. The 7th District, which includes most of Indianapolis, backed Clinton 59-36.

Clinton carried Massachusetts 61-33, a bit better than Obama’s 61-38 win over ex-Gov. Mitt Romney. Like Obama, Clinton carried all nine of the Bay State’s congressional districts, and each seat has a Democratic representative. The closest district was the 9th along Cape Cod, which drifted a little to the right. Obama carried the seat, which is represented by Rep. Bill Keating, 56-43, while Clinton held it 53-42. The 9th is much more competitive in non-presidential races. The 9th backed Republican Gabriel Gomez 53-46 even as he was losing the 2013 Senate race to Democrat Ed Markey 55-45, and Republican Charlie Baker carried it 53-42 as he was winning the 2014 gubernatorial race 48-47.

P.S.: Massachusetts’ 7th District, the home of Daily Kos Elections’ Jeff Singer, backed Clinton 84-12. You’re welcome, America.

West Virginia went for Trump 69-26, making this his best state after Wyoming. Trump carried every one of the Mountain State’s 55 counties and with them, all three congressional districts. Until 2014, Democrats had held the 3rd District in the southern part of the state for generations, and longtime incumbent Nick Rahall managed to win re-election 54-46 in 2012even as Romney carried his seat 65-33. But Rahall fell to Republican Evan Jenkins in the 2014 GOP wave, and Trump’s 73-23 win here makes it very unlikely that Democrats will hold it again for a long time.

The other two seats were slightly less bad for Democrats. Trump won the 1st in the north 68-24, and carried the Charleston-area 2nd 66-29. Democrats made a serious play for the 2nd in 2014 after former Marylandstate Sen. Alex Mooney grabbed the GOP nod, and Mooney won just 47-44. Last month, Mooney ran considerably behind Trump against underfunded ex-Del. Mark Hunt, but his 58-42 win still wasn’t very close.

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

To advertise in the Morning Digest, please contact advertise@dailykos.com.

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