Politics

Morning Digest: Two South Carolina Republicans who crossed Trump will learn their futures tonight

Several House incumbents face serious primary challenges, but only northern Nevada Republican Mark Amodei is going up against an opponent as … determined as the one and only Danny Tarkanian. Tarkanian, who is the son of the late UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, unsuccessfully ran for office six times while still living in the Las Vegas area (not including abortive runs for the Senate and state board of regents), but he finally broke his legendary losing streak in 2020 by winning the job of county commissioner in his new rural home of Douglas County.

Tarkanian is hoping to avenge his many defeats by running to Amodei’s right in the 2nd District, but the congressman is using every chance he has to portray his opponent as an interloper. Notability in one ad, Amodei unsubtly donned a jersey from his local alma mater―and UNLV’s rival―the University of Nevada, Reno to make his case that primary voters should “stick with the home team.” Back in Vegas, Democratic Rep. Dina Titus faces a primary challenge on the left from activist Amy Vilela in the 1st District, a seat that legislative Democrats made considerably more competitive in order to shore up incumbents elsewhere, while the GOP has a crowded race to take on the winner.

And over in South Carolina, Trump and his allies are targeting GOP Reps. Nancy Mace and Tom Rice in their respective primaries, with the pro-impeachment Rice looking to be the more vulnerable of the pair. If no one wins a majority of the vote in the Palmetto State, runoffs would take place two weeks later on June 28. You can find more on all these races, as well as the other big elections on Tuesday’s ballot, in our preview.

Our live coverage will begin at 7 PM ET at Daily Kos Elections when polls close in South Carolina. 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 for primaries in all 50 states.

Senate

AL-Sen: Donald Trump on Saturday backed Katie Britt, the former Business Council of Alabama head he’d derided less than a year ago as “not in any way qualified” to serve in the Senate, ahead of next week’s Republican runoff against Rep. Mo Brooks. Trump, though, characteristically used much of his statement to trash the congressman, whom he’d unceremoniously unendorsed in March, saying, “Mo has been wanting it back ever since-but I cannot give it to him!”

Trump made his new endorsement the day after the GOP firm JMC Analytics and Polling, surveying on behalf of unnamed “private subscribers,” showed Britt ahead 51-39. Britt outpaced Brooks 45-29 last month in the first round of voting.

AZ-Sen: While former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters’ allies have largely focused on targeting Attorney General Mark Brnovich ahead of their crowded August Republican primary, the Club for Growth has launched a new $665,000 buy attacking a different Masters rival, wealthy businessman Jim Lamon. “His company sued for stiffing contractors out of $1 million pay,” the narrator says of Lamon, “Penalized six times for delinquent taxes.” He continues, “But not everyone got stiffed: A group linked to Lamon gave Pelosi and the Democrats over $75,000.”

CO-Sen: Democratic Colorado’s spending ahead of the June 28 Democratic primary has increased to $1.3 million, which is considerably more than the $780,000 the Colorado Sun initially reported that the super PAC was spending in an unsubtle attempt to help underfunded far-right state Rep. Ron Hanks pass wealthy businessman Joe O’Dea.

FL-Sen: Democratic Rep. Val Demings’ campaign says it’s spending eight-figures on an opening TV buy designed to insulate the former Orlando police chief from GOP attempts to caricature the congresswoman as soft on crime. After several voices extol her record reducing violent crime Demings tells the audience, “In the Senate I’ll protect Florida from bad ideas, like defunding the police. That’s just crazy.”

OK-Sen-B, OK-Gov: The GOP pollster Amber Integrated’s newest look at the June 28 special Republican Senate primary shows Rep. Markwayne Mullin in the lead with 39%, which is below the majority he’d need to avoid an August runoff, with former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon enjoying a 19-6 edge over former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for second. The survey also shows Gov. Kevin Stitt winning renomination with 61% despite the expensive efforts of dark money groups to bring him crashing down, while an unheralded challenger Mark Sherwood lags in second with 8%.

WA-Sen: Democratic Sen. Patty Murray has launched an early ad campaign hoping to define her only serious Republican opponent, motivational speaker Tiffany Smiley, as an ardent Trumpist before the challenger can adequately respond.

The audience sees a photo of Smiley eagerly posing with Trump in the Oval Office as audio plays of her saying, “I met with President Trump, and I was so impressed.” The narrator, following footage of the Jan. 6 rioters, jumps in and highlights how Smiley “still has serious questions about the 2020 elections.” Smiley is later heard saying, “I am 100% pro-life.”

Governors

MI-Gov: Wealthy businessman Perry Johnson got some more bad news Monday when a federal judge refused to halt the printing of the August Republican primary ballots that lack Johnson’s name.

House

AZ-01: After airing some positive commercials ahead of the August Republican primary, self-funder Elijah Norton is now going up with a spot highlighting the ethics problems that dogged GOP incumbent David Schweikert during his ultimately successful 2020 re-election campaign. “How could anyone vote for David Schweikert?” asks one woman, before another castmate tells the audience that the congressman “was reprimanded unanimously by Congress.”

More people incredulously ask, “$250,000 in illegal contributions? A fake loan of $100,000?,” before the first woman informs the audience, “Schweikert even voted against building the border wall.” The second half of the commercial extols Norton as “a true conservative outsider who will secure our border.”

GA-06: School Freedom Fund, a Club for Growth ally bankrolled by conservative megadonor Jeff Yass, is spending at least $470,000 on an ad buy for next week’s GOP runoff arguing that former state ethics commission chair Jake Evans is “woke.” The narrator explains, “In the Race & Social Justice Law Review, Evans claimed our justice system is, quote, ‘laden with racial disparities.’ And Evans called for, quote, ‘reallocating public funding away from criminal justice.'” The spot concludes, “Don’t want to defund the police? Defeat Jake Evans.”

The Club’s man, physician Rich McCormick, also picked up an endorsement this week from former state Rep. Meagan Hanson, who took fourth place with 8% in the first round of voting on May 24. McCormick back then outpaced Evans, who is Trump’s endorsed candidate, 43-23 in a newly gerrymandered suburban Atlanta seat.

IL-15: The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, which often airs ads for Democratic candidates in general elections, is getting involved in the June 28 Republican primary with a spot that portrays far-right Rep. Mary Miller as a perennial tax delinquent. The narrator declares, “It was so bad that Miller had her business license revoked,” before the commercial concludes with an animation of a prison door slamming in front of her. The union, which has spent $520,000 so far in this race, does not mention Miller’s intra-party foe, fellow Rep. Rodney Davis.

MN-05: Rep. Ilhan Omar has publicized an internal from Change Research that shows her turning back former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels 60-21 in the August Democratic primary.

MS-03: Republican Rep. Michael Guest is finally going negative against Navy veteran Michael Cassidy a week after the challenger outpaced him in a 47.5-46.9 shocker in the first round of the primary. Guest’s narrator declares that Cassidy “just came to Mississippi from Maryland and only registered to vote here last year” and that he was “grounded and put under an investigation” when he was a Navy Reserve pilot. She concludes, “Mississippi doesn’t need a carpetbagger. We need a conservative. A conservative like Michael Guest.” Guest and Cassidy will compete again in their June 28 runoff.

NY-12: EMILY’s List has endorsed Rep. Carolyn Maloney in her August Democratic primary battle against fellow veteran incumbent Jerry Nadler.

NY-17: The Working Families Party announced Monday both that it was withdrawing its support for Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and backing state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi’s primary bid against him in the new 17th District. The WFP supported Biaggi during her successful 2018 effort to deny renomination to turncoat Democratic state Sen. Jeff Klein, a move she says “gave my campaign legitimacy.”

Attorneys General

SD-AG: Republican Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges for striking and killing a man with his car in September of 2020 but avoided jail time, on Friday finally confirmed reports that he would not seek re-election this year. Ravnsborg made his announcement two months after the Republican-run state House voted to impeach him, and the Senate will hold its trial later in June.

In South Dakota nominees for attorney general and several other statewide offices are chosen at party conventions rather than in primaries, and the GOP’s gathering is set for June 23-25. Ravnsborg was already facing serious intra-party opposition from predecessor Marty Jackley, who left office due to term limits in 2018 and unsuccessfully ran for governor that year. In addition, Dave Natvig, a top Ravnsborg deputy described by Goss as a “long-time political ally” of the incumbent, also kicked off a campaign last month, a move that foreshadowed Ravnsborg’s departure.

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