Follow us on Twitter | Like us on FacebookThe 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.
• NY-27: On Tuesday, the New York Post (sorry, sorry) reported that unnamed sources say that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo might be looking to replace his current lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, with Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren when he presumably seeks a third term this November. But even if she gets bumped, Hochul might not get left out in the cold: The same Post report, citing a “source close to Hochul” says that none other than Nancy Pelosi has “personally appealed” to her to run against GOP Rep. Chris Collins in the conservative upstate seat Hochul used to hold.
It’s unclear whether either of these two moves might come to pass, though. In response to the Post’s story, Hochul told The Buffalo News that her “choice is to continue on as lieutenant governor and to run for re-election with the governor and not be distracted by individuals who would like me to consider beating Chris Collins this year.” Sounds like she doesn’t want to run for Congress, huh?
Not so fast: Hochul also twice refused to say if Cuomo had asked her to run with him again and wouldn’t rule out a bid against Collins either, instead saying, “I know that’s an option. I’ve been approached and I’ve been firm in my position all along that if it’s something I wanted to do, I assure you I’d know how to do it. I would be running. I would have the resources and we’d have a path.”
It’s possible that Hochul is simply trying to stay in Cuomo’s good graces while not foreclosing plan B. The story of the possible running-mate swap emerged after New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who last year had formed a campaign committee that would have allowed him to challenge Cuomo in the Democratic primary, said he’d instead explore a run against Hochul. Both Williams and Warren are black, so if Cuomo were to make such a move, it’d be a pretty obvious attempt to cut the legs out from under Williams by playing racial politics 101—and it’s exactly the kind of counterpunch Cuomo revels in throwing.
Notably, Cuomo’s own people haven’t done anything to tamp down on the speculation, with a Cuomo spokesperson saying on Tuesday that she would leave it to Hochul to “make that announcement” as to whether she’ll run for re-election. Well, it seems Hochul has announced what she wantsto happen, and it’s up to Cuomo to decide what will happen. For her part, Warren said Tuesday that she hadn’t been contacted by the governor’s team, but would “not comment on speculation from Albany.”
If Hochul does end up running against Collins, she’s in for a tough and familiar fight. Hochul won an already-conservative House seat (then numbered the 26th) in the Buffalo area in a 2011 special election, but lost it the following year after a court-drawn map made it even redder. Still, she ran far ahead of the top of the ticket, falling to Collins by just a 51-49 margin even as Mitt Romney carried the new 27th 55-43. But like the rest of upstate New York, the 27th has gotten even worse for Team Blue since then, and Donald Trump won it by a stark 60-35 margin.
Collins has some major personal problems that could put this seat in play regardless, however. In particular, he’s currently being investigated by the House Ethics Committee over allegations that he engaged in insider trading by sharing nonpublic information about an Australian biotech firm he had a $17 million investment in. (In what may have been a bit of karma, Collins’ entire investment was wiped out last year after the company’s lone drug failed in clinical trials, though he’s still worth tens of millions of dollars.)
Hochul was as a fairly conservative Democrat in Congress and even earned the NRA’s endorsement when she sought re-election, which helps explain how she almost won in 2012 under rough conditions. When she became Cuomo’s running-mate in 2014, however, she had to re-position herself on a number of issues, since of course she was running in a state that’s as blue as the 27th District is red. (Her former allies in the gun world were furious when she came out in favor of the SAFE Act, which increased regulations on firearms.) Since then, she’s spent the last several years speaking out in favor of Cuomo’s many liberal policies, which could alienate her from voters in her old district if she chooses to make a comeback.
Still, Hochul would be by far the highest-profile option for this district. In fact, given her past electoral success here, there probably isn’t anyone comparable to her. At the very least, she’d make Collins sweat—though flipping this district would be extraordinarily heavy lift. A few other Democrats are already running against Collins, and the Jan. 31 fundraising deadline will give us a chance to see if anyone is raising the type of money they’ll need to compete here. Hochul, though, would be the overwhelming favorite in the June primary no matter how late she might enter.
4Q 2017 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.
• FL-18: Brian Mast (R-inc): $419,000 raised, $1 million cash-on-hand
• MI-07: Gretchen Driskell (D): $305,000 raised
• NY-23: Linda Andrei (D): $132,000 raised (since December)
• MN-Sen-B, MN-Gov: On Wednesday, GOP Rep. Tom Emmer announced he would seek re-election to the House. There were reports that Emmer was considering a run for the Senate in this year’s special election, and the local tip sheet Morning Take even relayed that he was being pressured to jump in if ex-Gov. Tim Pawlenty declined. Pawlenty did indeed decline on Tuesday, but Emmer’s chief of staff said last week that the congressman wasn’t looking to go anywhere. Emmer also didn’t rule out a bid for governor in the fall, but he showed no further interest.
• CT-Gov: On Wednesday, wealthy businessman Ned Lamont announced that he would run to succeed retiring Gov. Dan Malloy, a fellow Democrat. While Democrats usually do well in federal races in Connecticut, Malloy is incredibly unpopular, and Republicans are optimistic they flip the governor’s office. Lamont too is arguing that the status quo is unacceptable, declaring, “It’s been a little frustrating sitting with my feet on my desk in Fairfield County watching a state budget crisis and businesses stepping out the door.”
Lamont has been largely out of the public eye for most of the decade, but there was a time when he was one of the most famous Democrats in America. In 2006, Lamont captured the imagination of progressives across the nation when he launched a primary bid against Sen. Joe Lieberman, an ardent supporter of the Iraq War. Lamont ended up beating Lieberman 52-48, but Lieberman turned right around and ran in the general election as the first and last nominee of the Connecticut for Lieberman party. Lieberman earned the support of most Republican voters and enough Democrats and independents to prevail 50-40.
Lamont ran for governor in 2010, and he faced off against Dan Malloy in the primary. Lamont spent months as the frontrunner, but Malloy had the support of much of the state Democratic establishment, and he scored points by attacking Lamont for layoffs at his company. While late polls showed Malloy closing in, it was still a big surprise when he defeated Lamont by a decisive 57-43 margin.
Several other Democrats are raising money to run in the August primary, and there’s no clear frontrunner. While Lamont may not have much name recognition left after so long off the ballot, he has a few potential assets that the rest of the field doesn’t have. Lamont has access to plenty of money, and he may be able to outspend his rivals. And since Lamont, unlike the rest of the field, actually ran against Malloy, he may be able to convincingly appeal to Democratic voters who want change. However, Lamont’s surprisingly bad 2010 loss does demonstrate that he’s far from unbeatable in a primary.
• IA-Gov: Labor leader Cathy Glasson, who leads a prominent SEIU local that represents many nurses in the state, became the third Democrat to take to the airwaves ahead of the June primary. Glasson’s ad, which her campaign says has more than $100,000 behind it, features her giving a speech and calling for universal healthcare. Glasson highlights her time as an intensive care nurse, saying she’s “seen it up close and I believe in my heart that health care is a fundamental human right.”
• IL-Gov: Campaign finance reports for the final quarter of 2017 are in. Gov. Bruce Rauner faces a tough re-election campaign in this very blue state, but he has to get through his March 20 primary first. State Rep. Jeanne Ives entered the race after Rauner pissed off prominent conservatives and signed a law allowing public funding for abortions earlier this year, and she raised $434,000 in her first few weeks in the race. Ives also had some money in her state House account that she transferred to her new campaign, and she ended 2017 with $662,000 on-hand.
Ives has exponentially less money at her disposal than Rauner, who had $55.6 million to spend and can throw down as much as he feels like, and for some reason hedge fund manager Ken Griffin continues to subsidize his fellow billionaire as well. Griffin gave Rauner $20 million in the spring, and he provided $2.5 million of the $2.9 million that Rauner raised in the last quarter of 2017. Still, Ives at least might have enough money to boost her name recognition in the next two months and attack Rauner. Rauner may just not be as vulnerable as she needs him to be, however: A November poll gave him a 64-19 lead in the primary, and no one has released any data showing him in trouble in March.
On the Democratic side, billionaire venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker unsurprisingly dominates the money race. Pritzker, who is relying entirely on contributors named J.B. Pritzker, self-funded another $21 million, and he had $7.86 million-on-hand; like Rauner, Pritzker can reload his campaign account whenever he feels like it.
Pritzker’s two main opponents don’t have that luxury. Businessman Chris Kennedy raised $750,000 and self-funded another $250,000, but he had only $737,000 on-hand at the end of December. Kennedy has donated a total of $500,000 to his campaign, which doesn’t seem like much in a race with Pritzker and Rauner. Kenendy’s campaign told Politico that this week he’ll be giving himself a “significant boost” with more self-funding, though they didn’t indicate how much. State Sen. Daniel Biss raised $1.09 million for the quarter and ended 2017 with $3.1 million on-hand.
• ME-Gov: Campaign finance reports for 2017 are all in, giving us our first good look at all the candidate’s financial strength in this very crowded race. The Bangor Daily News’ Michael Shepherd rounds up all the reports, and he helpfully provides an interactive graph that not only tells us how much each contender raised and had in the bank on Dec. 31, but also how much each candidate self-funded. More of this kind of thing, please!
This is a very complicated race, and before we get to the numbers, we have a few things to note. The most important is that the June primaries may be conducted under an instant runoff voting (IRV) system: Voters would be allowed to rank their top choices, and if no candidate takes a majority initially, the last-place candidate gets eliminated and has their votes reassigned to their voters’ next preferences. This process repeats until a candidate obtains a majority of votes. However, we won’t know whether this system will be used in June or if it will just take a plurality of the vote to win the primary until early February.
Why all the confusion? In 2016, Maine voters backed a ballot measure to institute IRV for all state and congressional races. However, the legislature never liked this idea, and they were happy the state Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion last May saying that IRV couldn’t be used for general elections for governor or state legislature, though it would have left the primaries (and federal races) alone. The legislature responded by passing a law to effectively repeal IRV for everything. Supporters of IRV are now collecting signatures to get a measure on the June 2018 primary ballot to overturn the legislature’s repeal bill, and those signatures are due by early February.
If IRV supporters have enough valid signatures, the legislature’s law will be suspended until voters have their say, so the primaries would be done under IRV while voters also decide whether they want to keep that system in a simultaneous referendum. If there aren’t enough signatures, it’ll just take a plurality to win each party’s nomination.
There’s one other big thing we need to hit. Several candidates are trying to qualify for taxpayer-funded Clean Election money. These candidates need to collect $5 donations from 3,200 Mainers by early April. But right now, they can raise “seed money” from any U.S. citizen in $100 increments; the most they can raise in seed money is $200,000. Candidates who qualify can get up to $1 million for the primary from the program, and up to $2 million if they make it to the general election.
Now to the numbers. We’ll start with the Democrats’ fundraising, and note any candidate trying to qualify for Clean Elections money:
Former state Sen. James Boyle: $40,000 raised, additional $80,000 self-funded, $58,000 cash-on-hand
Attorney Adam Cote: $527,000 raised, $351,000 cash-on-hand
State Sen. Mark Dion: $14,000 raised, $12,000 cash-on-hand
Former state House Speaker Mark Eves: $160,000 raised, $39,000 cash-on-hand
Former Bangor Mayor Sean Faircloth (Clean Elections): $640 raised (since mid-December), $640 cash-on-hand
Attorney General Janet Mills: $350,000 raised, $231,000 cash-on-hand
Former state Rep. Diane Russell: $50,000 raised, $5,000 cash-on-hand
Lobbyist Betsy Sweet (Clean Elections): $88,000 raised, $77,000 cash-on-hand
Polling has been incredibly limited here. It’s likely that Mills, who has been the state’s appointed attorney general for years, starts out with the most name-recognition. Maine Democrats may also remember Eves, who was in the news quite a bit in 2015. GOP Gov. Paul LePage, who is thankfully termed-out, had threatened to cut off funding for a charter school if it didn’t withdraw its job offer to Eves to serve as its president; legislators discussed impeachment, but it never happened. Cote hasn’t been on the ballot since 2008, when he lost a House primary to eventual winner Chellie Pingree 44-28, but he has by far the most money of any of the field.
Of course, money never is the be-all, end-all of American politics, especially in Maine. TV time in the Pine Tree State isn’t expensive, so a fairly small war-chest can go a long way. Maine’s also a small state, so plenty of voters can become acquainted with their candidates by meeting them in person rather than seeing them on television.
Indeed, political observers remember how in 2010, Waterville Mayor Paul LePage decisively won the GOP primary despite being badly outraised. The Bangor Daily News’ Matthew Gagnon writes that LePage had raised just $59,000 by the end of 2009, while businessman Les Otten took in $663,000, and future Rep. Bruce Poliquin raised $443,000. LePage ended up beating Otten 39-17, while Poliquin took sixth place with just 5 percent of the vote.
With that, we’ll hit the considerably-smaller GOP field:
State House Minority Leader Ken Fredette: $14,000 raised, $12,000 cash-on-hand
State Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason (Clean Elections): $32,000 raised, $2,000 cash-on-hand
Former state cabinet official Mary Mayhew: $198,000 raised, $95,000 cash-on-hand
Businessman Shawn Moody: $136,000 raised, additional $150,000 self-funded, $260,000 cash-on-hand
State Senate President Mike Thibodeau: $88,000 raised, $59,000 cash-on-hand
While Fredette, Mayhew, and Moody are all LePage allies, LePage’s political network has consolidated behind Moody. By contrast, Thibodeau has come into conflict with LePage, while Mason is closer to the state’s Evangelical political network.
There may also be room for another Republican before the March 15 filing deadline. Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro said Tuesday that he’s considering, arguing that the field is offering up an “incredibly low-energy campaign.” Isgro also pitched himself as someone who could “excite the grass roots.” It didn’t escape notice that LePage was also the mayor of Waterville when he won his first term in 2010.
We also have a few independents raising money:
Businessman Alan Caron: $30,000 raised, additional $250,000 self-funded, $242,000 cash-on-hand
State Treasurer Terry Hayes (Clean Elections): $34,000 raised, $4,000 cash-on-hand
Independents often do very well in Maine elections. Notably, LePage beat independent Eliot Cutler 38-36 in the 2010 general election, while Democrat Libby Mitchell was a distant third with 19 percent. Cutler did significantly worse in 2014, but he still took 8 percent of the vote. And of course Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, will also be on the ballot this fall.
One big question is which party has the most to lose if Caron and Hayes do well, and Democrats may have reason to fear that Caron could appeal to left-leaning voters. Caron, who founded a nonprofit that works on ways to improve Maine’s economy, has called on his campaign site for “two years of no-cost college” and “health care for all,” not exactly themes Republicans are running on. Caron also was a Portland Press Heraldcolumnist before he entered the race, and he frequently bashed Trump and congressional Republicans who weren’t Maine’s GOP Sen. Susan Collins. It’s quite possible that Caron will take more votes from Democrats, while voters who like Trump will stick with the GOP.
Hayes was a Democratic state representative, but she had a falling out with the party in 2012 when the caucus picked Eves to serve as speaker instead of her. In 2014, Hayes ran against Democratic state Treasurer Neria Douglass. In Maine, the treasurer is picked by a joint sitting of the legislature; while Democrats maintained a narrow edge in the House, Hayes secured enough support from Republicans and a few Democrats to beat Douglass. Two years later, Hayes was re-elected the same way against ex-Democratic state Rep. Adam Goode.
• NV-Gov: Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani is trying to push back on talk that her colleague and Democratic primary rival Steve Sisolak would be the stronger candidate in a general election, and she’s out with a TargetSmart poll that shows them both trailing GOP Attorney General Adam Laxalt. The survey, which was conducted this month, shows Laxalt leading her 39-34, while posting a similar 37-34 edge against Sisolak. The only case the memo makes for why Giunchigliani would be a stronger candidate is that she leads Laxalt among voters who recognize her name, while Sisolak is tied among voters who know him.
The survey also shows that neither Democrat has made much of an impression with general voters, with Giunchigliani posting a 20-16 favorable rating and Sisolak at 20-19, while Laxalt is at 35-35. Really, all this poll really does is demonstrate that both Democrats are blank slates right now, so there’s no reason either of them should be performing much better than the other.
Sisolak and his allies, who include powerful former Senate Leader Harry Reid, have been pushing the argument that he’d have an easier time against Laxalt than the considerably more liberal Giunchigliani. Unlike many Democrats, Sisolak has embraced his moderate reputation, arguing in June he’s “not real liberal, I’m not real conservative.” He also had a considerable $5.75 million to $1 million cash-on-hand edge over Giunchigliani at the start of the year.
Sisolak certainly does have some liabilities that could make him unappealing to general election voters. Notably, he backed a controversial $750 million hotel tax to pay for part of a new $1.9 billion football stadium to bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, while Giunchigliani was the one member of the Clark County Commission to vote against it. However, since both candidates are unknown to most of the state, there’s no reason why most voters would know that right now. Giunchigliani may have a compelling case to make for why Democrats should nominate her over Sisolak, particularly those who are worried about losing a sixth gubernatorial election in a row, but this poll doesn’t really make that case.
• WI-Gov: GOP Gov. Scott Walker has a lot of reasons to worry about this fall, but money isn’t one of them. Walker took in $7.2 million in 2017 and has $4.2 million in the bank, far more than all his Democratic foes combined.
Walker won’t learn the identity of his Democratic rival until after the August primary, in which there’s no clear frontrunner. All the candidates fundraising reports from the entirety of 2017 are below. Note that Madison Mayor Paul Soglin only entered the race last week, so he has no fundraising to report.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers: $312,000 raised, additional $28,000 self-funded or transferred from old campaign account, $115,000 cash-on-hand
Former state party chair Matt Flynn: $310,000 raised, additional $40,000 self-funded, $305,000 cash-on-hand
Businessman Andy Gronik: $94,000 raised, additional $450,000 self-funded, $98,000 cash-on-hand
Campaign finance activist Mike McCabe: $79,000 raised, additional $25,000 self-funded, $21,000 cash-on-hand
Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin President Mahlon Mitchell: $310,000 raised, $242,000 cash-on-hand
Former state Rep. Kelda Roys: $34,000 raised, additional $113,000 self-funded or transferred from old campaign account, $151,000 cash-on-hand
State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout: $93,000 raised, additional $20,000 self-funded or transferred from old campaign account, $17,000 cash-on-hand
State Rep. Dana Wachs: $280,000 raised, additional $235,000 self-funded or transferred from old campaign account, $163,000 cash-on-hand
It’s far too early to say who has the edge here, but it’s notable that Evers, Flynn, and Mitchell all raised almost the exact same amount from donors, while Wachs wasn’t far behind. It’s also surprising that Flynn, who was state party chair in the 1980s and lost his fourth and most recent bid for Congress in 2004, also took in more than $300,000 from donors. Also interestingly, a large chunk of Mitchell’s fundraising came from labor groups. While Gronik seems willing and able to self-fund, it’s odd he spent so much so far away from the primary.
The only primary poll we’ve seen was a recent internal for Evers that gave him the lead with 29 percent of the vote, far ahead of Vinehout’s 11. However, at least some of these other candidates may have the resources to get their names out before the August primary.endorsed a challenger to a colleague from their own party on Wednesday when Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez gave their backing to businesswoman Marie Newman, who is running against Chicago-area Rep. Dan Lipinski in the March Democratic primary. What’s more, both Schakowsky and Gutierrez are also from Illinois, and Gutierrez’s district even abuts Lipinski’s (though demographically they are very different).
Schakowsky was completely blunt about why she’s supporting Newman, repeatedly calling out Lipinski by name at a press conference on Capitol Hill:
Marie supports the Affordable Care Act and believes health care is a right; Dan Lipinski was the only Illinois Democrat to vote against the ACA. Marie supports the Dreamers and comprehensive immigration reform; Dan Lipinski voted to build a fence on the U.S.-Mexican border, voted against the DREAM Act, and said Donald Trump will be the champion of immigration reform. Marie Newman is an unequivocal supporter of a women’s right to make her own health care decisions while Dan Lipinski championed over 50 bills to restrict a woman’s right to choose and repeatedly voted to defund Planned Parenthood.
Right on! Gutierrez likewise harped on Lipinski for his hostility to DREAMers. Again, though, what’s remarkable is not what was said but who’s saying it. Lipinski must have worked pretty hard not to make friends with members of his own delegation, but there’s something more at play here. As Gutierrez noted, “This is a very special, and I think dangerous, time in America.” The old go-along, get-along rules of protecting fellow incumbents might just be a casualty of our present circumstances, though unlike most other norms, this would be a good one to chuck.
For Newman, the fact that these two members of Congress have now rallied to her side could inspire others to do the same. This stamp of approval means that other potential supporters and donors who until now had been sitting this one out have serious cause to take a second look at this race and consider getting behind Newman themselves, and that would be a big deal for her campaign.
• IL-17: This seat, which includes part of Rockford and the Quad Cities, swung from 58-41 Obama to 47.4-46.7 Trump, and the GOP made some noises about challenging Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos. However, Team Red chances at flipping this district pretty much went up in smoke on Tuesday when businessman Mark Kleine announced he was dropping out of the March primary.
Kleine had raised a credible $373,000 during his first quarter in the race and self-funded another $135,000, but he said as he was departing the race that he could never contribute enough of his own money to “satisfy the experts,” adding, “At what point do we say enough is enough. How many millions of dollars does it really take to run for office?” Kleine concluded by declaring, “I’ve learned this is an industry that celebrates wasteful spending, encourages inflated campaign budgets and has no regard for operational oversight just to ‘win the race’ but more importantly for others to prosper,” which is certainly very Vulcan of him.
Kleine’s departure leaves Bill Fawell as the only candidate in the GOP primary. Fawell said on Tuesday that he hasn’t raised enough money to require him to report his fundraising to the FEC, which pretty much says it all we need to know about his chances. It would have always been difficult for the GOP to knock off Bustos in a seat that only barely went for Trump, but in a year where they’re mostly on the defensive, one of their few offensive opportunities is now history.
• OH-12: On Wednesday, former state Rep. Jay Goyal announced he wouldn’t seek the Democratic nod for this open suburban Columbus seat. Neighboring Rep. Joyce Beatty had publicly urged Goyal to run, and Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther reportedly was interested in backing him.
The filing deadline is Feb. 7. So far, the most notable Democrat to enter the race is former Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott, who badly lost the 2015 mayoral race to Ginther and narrowly lost renomination in 2016 to a Ginther-backed opponent. There will be a special election on Aug. 7 to complete the final months of former Rep. Pat Tiberi’s term, and the primary for both the special and the regular term are in May. Trump won 53-42 here.
• PA-01: Minister Michele Lawrence, a former bank executive who also hosts a radio show, announced on Monday that she would join the Democratic primary to take on Rep. Bob Brady in this safely blue Philadelphia seat. Lawrence is the first major black candidate to enter the race.
Brady is being investigated by the FBI for corruption, and he looks vulnerable in the May primary for the first time. However, former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Nina Ahmad, who has given her campaign $464,000, and financial planner Lindy Li are also running, and they could split the vote with Lawrence enough to allow Brady to win with just a plurality.
As we’ve written before, however, the continued interest of notable Democrats in running here could be a sign they don’t believe Brady will run in the end. And even if he does, there’s a chance the state Supreme Courtwill strike down the current congressional map and that this primary could take place in a very different district.
• Special Elections: Look out! Democrats just chalked up a fronking yuge upset in Wisconsin on Tuesday night. Johnny Longtorso:
Iowa HD-06: This was a hold for the Republicans. Republican Jacob Bossman defeated Democrat Rita DeJong by a 56-44 margin. This seat went 62-33 for Donald Trump in 2016 and 54-44 for Mitt Romney in 2012.
South Carolina HD-99: This was also a Republican hold. Republican Nancy Mace defeated Democrat Cindy Boatwright by a 57-43 margin. This seat went 58-35 for Trump in 2016 and 66-32 for Romney in 2012.
Wisconsin SD-10: Democrats continued their string of special election pickups with this seat. Democrat Patty Schachtner defeated Republican Adam Jarchow by a 55-45 margin. This seat went 55-38 for Trump in 2016 and 52-46 for Romney in 2012.
Wisconsin AD-58: Republicans held on to this one. Republican Rick Gundrum defeated Democrat Dennis Degenhardt by a 57-43 margin. This seat went 67-28 for Trump in 2016 and 68-31 for Romney in 2012.
A few thoughts here:
1) All four of these races took place on deep red turf, and even in the three elections Democrats lost, they once again outperformed recent presidential results by large margins, continuing a trend that began immediately after Donald Trump won office in 2016. Indeed, in that big Wisconsin Senate race in the 10th District, the Democrat outperformed Trump’s margin-of-victory by a giant 28 points—despite getting outspent at least two-to-one.
2) The Wisconsin result also shrunk the GOP’s majority to 18-14, with one vacancy. That helps inch the chamber closer to flippable territory for 2018. What’s more, that other vacant district, the 1st, is also held by Republicans and has similar stats in the last two presidential races to the 10th. Ordinarily, you wouldn’t expect a seat like that to be competitive, but see point #1.
3) This is now the 15th legislative seat Democrats have flipped in a special election in the Trump era, and the 34th overall when you include the regularly scheduled elections that took place in Virginia and New Jersey in November. The portents look good indeed.