NV-02: On Tuesday, tea partying ex-Nevada Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, who is best known for losing the legendary 2010 U.S. Senate race to Democrat Harry Reid, announced that she would challenge GOP Rep. Mark Amodei in the primary for the 2nd Congressional District. Trump carried this northern Nevada seat 52-40, but Angle could give Team Blue an opening if she upsets Amodei. However, Angle lost last year’s Senate primary to party favorite Joe Heck by a brutal 65-23 margin, so that’s a massive if.
Angle is running as a Trump ally but Amodei served as Trump’s state chairman, so she’ll likely have a tough time portraying the incumbent as insufficiently pro-Donald. Amodei is considering leaving this seat behind to run for state attorney general and Angle would almost certainly have a better shot in a crowded open seat race, but she doesn’t seem to have many allies left even in Nevada’s far-right political community.
Still, even if this bid goes as badly for Angle as her last campaign did, we’ll always have our many memories of the former assemblywoman. Angle ran for the last version of this House district in 2006 and almost took the GOP nod, losing the open seat race to now-Sen. Dean Heller just 36-35. Angle rose to national prominence four years later when she rallied support from influential tea party groups to win the primary to face then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who appeared to be one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats in the nation.
However, Angle’s career soon took off in the wrong direction. Angle made a ton of avoidable mistakes during her Senate campaign, including (but not limited to) telling several Hispanic students that “some of you look a little more Asian to me;” suggesting that Sharia law rather than the U.S. Constitution applied in the cities of Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas (a place that hasn’t existed in decades); and falsely saying that terrorists had come to the U.S. through Canada. Angle lost 50-45 but a few months later, she flirted with running for president. Angle soon faded into obscurity and tried to revive her political career last year when she launched her Senate bid at the last minute. But Angle raised almost no money and attracted no major outside help, and she got flattened by Joe Heck.
• FL-Sen, FL-Gov: On behalf of the conservative Florida Chamber of Commerce, the GOP pollster Cherry Communications takes a look at the hypothetical matchup between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and GOP Gov. Rick Scott, and gives Nelson a 48-42 lead. St. Leo University also weighed in with a survey of their own, which gives Nelson a similar 39-34 edge.
These are the third and fourth polls we’ve seen this month pitting the two against each other, and the results have been quite consistent so far. A University of North Florida poll gave Nelson a 44-38 edge, while Mason-Dixon had Nelson leading 46-41. It’s always better to have an early lead than an early deficit, but as wary Democrats will remember, early polls gave Charlie Crist a double-digit edge over Scott in the 2014 gubernatorial contest, and Scott didn’t lead in any public surveys until early April of 2014.
St. Leo also took a very hypothetical look at a general election between wealthy Democratic attorney John Morgan and GOP state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, and gave Morgan a 26-20 lead. The pollster also surveyed both parties’ primaries, but they sampled fewer than 300 people per primary, which falls below what we consider an acceptable sample size.
• IN-Sen: Well, then. A few days ago, freshman GOP Rep. Jim Banks said he would discuss a possible bid against Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly with his family in a few months. But on Monday, Banks told Roll Call‘s Simone Pathé, “No, I’m not running for Senate next year.”
However, a different member of the Hoosier State’s House delegation isn’t sending mixed signals. Rep. Luke Messer recently said that he would decide in a couple of months, but this week, Messer announced that he was forming a statewide campaign finance committee. Messer could still back out, but he’s clearly laying the groundwork to get in. GOP Rep. Todd Rokita is also flirting with a bid.
• MN-Gov: A Democratic source recently told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Democratic Rep. Tim Walz was telling people he had decided to run for governor, and it sounds like we’ll know where things stand with him shortly. Walz told Roll Call on Monday that he expects to decide “in the very, very near future,” and, when asked if that meant he’d make up his mind within a week, Walz responded, “I think so.” Walz’ southern Minnesota seat swung from 50-48 Obama all the way to 53-38 Trump and Democrats won’t have an easy time holding it without Walz, though the congressman expressed confidence Team Blue could do it.
• NJ-Gov: Ex-Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy has launched his second spot of the year ahead of the June 6 Democratic primary. This ad goes directly after Donald Trump, superimposing unflattering video of Trump on Trump Tower as the narrator hits his ultra-conservative policies and how “his administration brags about ‘alternative facts.'” Murphy is then shown speaking to a crowd pledging to fight back. There is no word on the size of the buy, but Murphy can afford to spend whatever he wants to get his message out in this expensive state.
Meanwhile… we’ll talk about “comedian” Joe Piscopo again. Yay. Piscopo has confirmed that he will not seek the GOP nomination, and that if he runs, he’ll run as an independent. Piscopo says he’ll make a decision by May; the filing deadline to run as an independent in New Jersey is June 6.
• TN-Gov: Apparently, there aren’t enough Tennessee Republicans considering running for this open seat. State Sen. Mark Green kicked off his bid early, but Trump is reportedly planning to nominate him to serve as secretary of the Army. Fellow state Sen. Mae Beavers tells The Tennessean, after she heard that Green may be quitting the race, she “decided to explore the possibility” of running. Beavers, an ardent social conservative who is still trying to define marriage in Tennessee as between one man and one woman, did not explicitly say she would only consider running if Green doesn’t.
The only other declared candidate is rich guy Randy Boyd, the former commissioner of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development. However, he may have some company soon. In response to reports that she was calling people to tell them she’s going to run, state House Speaker Beth Harwell says she’ll make her decision after the legislative session ends in the middle of April. A number of other Republicans are also eyeing this seat.
• KS-02: While Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins announced that she would retire almost two weeks ago, no credible candidates from either party have announced that they’ll run here. However, that may change soon. Brian McClendon recently left his position as Uber’s vice president of maps and business platform and said he was moving back to Kansas to “explore politics.” McClendon didn’t explicitly say what he was looking at, though on Twitter he hinted he was interested in this Topeka-area seat. It’s unclear if McClendon identifies with a party, though his many anti-Trump tweets mean he probably won’t run as a Republican if he seeks office.
Trump carried this seat 56-37, so it will be a tough lift for a Democrat. If McClendon runs, he may have the connections he’d need to raise money. However, McClendon hasn’t lived in Kansas in 30 years, and his opponents would undoubtedly portray him as a carpetbagger. Ex-state House Minority Leader Paul Davis, who carried this seat 51-45 during his unsuccessful 2014 bid against Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, has acknowledged he has been approached to run here, though he’s expressed interest in another gubernatorial campaign.
• MI-01: Democrats targeted this northern Michigan seat last cycle, but tea partying Republican Jack Bergman defeated a well-funded opponent 55-40 as the district swung from 54-45 Romney to 58-37 Trump. It’s unlikely Democrats will prioritize this race next year after that depressing result, but at least one potential candidate is considering. Matthew Morgan, whom Politico describes as “a retired Marine lieutenant colonel who worked in two presidential administrations and the office of the secretary of defense,” says he’s considering and thinks he could reverse the awful trends here.
• Where Are They Now?: Louisiana Republican John Fleming, who gave up his House seat last year to badly lose the 2016 Senate race, has accepted a job as deputy assistant secretary for health technology in the Department of Health and Human Services, a post that will allow him to continue his fight against The Onion’s imagined Planned Parenthood Abortionplex.
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.
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