Issue #76

Tennessee Primary Preview included

Incumbent Challenges

MA-Sen

A SuperPac backing Joe Kennedy is set to drop $1.3 million on ads for this particular step in America’s largest political dynasty. Markey is mostly relying on his own campaign funds for ads, and he just put up a doozy. Markey’s new ad focuses on Alexandria Ocasio Cortez as she gives an enthusiastic endorsement, praising his leadership on the Green New Deal, and getting in the oblique jab at Kennedy “it’s not your age that counts, it’s the age of your ideas”.

We also got a new look at the state of this race this week, via a poll from JMC. The good news is that Markey leads in the poll, 44% to 41% when leaners are pushed. The bad news is that we have a serious problem with the methodology. JMC is a Lousiana-based firm, and thanks to intense racial polarization in that state, successful polling doesn’t require weighting on anything but race, including education. This poll does not appear to have any reasonable education weighting. It’s is roughly evenly split between those with no college degree, those with a bachelor’s only, and those with graduate degrees. It doesn’t seem like any weighting took place, since the 2:1 relationship between college and non-college voters is the only way to reconcile the crosstabs. That is very unlikely to be the reality for the electorate, to the detriment of Markey, who leads in college educated voters.

Finally, Markey was endorsed by the Working Families Party. It’s good to see national progressives stepping up to defend one of the best members of the US Senate when he needs it most.

MA-01

The Working Families Party endorsed Holyoke mayor Alex Morse’s primary challenge against House Ways & Means Committee Chair Richard Neal this morning. This comes at a time when the race is clearly heating up, with allies of both candidates spending heavily on TV advertising: per FEC filings, Fight Corporate Monopolies, a group associated with former Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir and former OH-03 candidate Morgan Harper, has spent $300,000 attacking Neal so far, and Justice Democrats, which has endorsed Morse, waded into the race with an additional $100,000 supporting Morse. Meanwhile, a PAC called American Working Families--not to be confused with the Working Families Party--has spent just over $180,000 attacking Morse, and the National Association of Realtors recently spent a little over $63,000 supporting Neal. Both sides are acting as if this is a tight race, and it’s worth noting that all of this spending came before Cori Bush’s stunning upset of Lacy Clay in MO-01. The center and the left both viewed this as competitive even before the left got an unexpected shot in the arm.

MN-05

The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (the state affiliate of the Democratic Party) has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Antone Melton-Meaux, who is challenging Ilhan Omar in the primary next week. Melton-Meaux, who is backed by Republican and centrist Democratic donors, has a lot of money--and he is using it in a peculiar way, funneling most of his campaign expenses through shell companies.

MinnPost, a nonprofit news outlet, reported that the campaign had spent nearly $100,000 on two newly-formed Delaware consulting firms (both of which were tax delinquents, by the way) that Melton-Meaux’s campaign even admits have little experience doing political consulting. (Since they were formed so recently, do they have experience doing...anything?) Both firms seem to be associated with a disgruntled former Omar staffer, K. Davis Senseman, but the campaign has signed a non-disclosure agreement with the firms--so, beyond the incredibly vague “strategic consulting,” we have no idea what the firms actually do for Melton-Meaux. Pretty shady, and of questionable legality--campaigns are supposed to make public the true recipient of all expenses, and if either consulting firm spent the money on campaign-related expenses, it could be a violation of the law.

Additionally, freelance reporter Andrew Perez found that Melton-Meaux actually funneled $1.2 MILLION through shell companies. Newly-formed Delaware shell company WPCA, which is even more opaque than the two consulting firms, has received $1.1 million--and given the size of Melton-Meaux’s media buys, which were made by Canal Partners Media, this means an unknown amount was routed through the shell companies to Canal Partners Media, which is not listed on Melton-Meaux’s FEC filings. We’re not lawyers, but that doesn’t seem aboveboard.

This all seems like an inventive way to circumvent the DCCC’s vendor blacklist (though an ultimately pointless one, since FCC filings revealed that Canal Partners Media, a well-established mainstream Democratic consulting firm, is violating the blacklist.) The blacklist is bad, but the centrist firms that would help a candidate like Melton-Meaux may be unwilling to violate it--but unfortunately for them, and Melton-Meaux, that may be illegal.

Ilhan Omar is the last member of the Squad to face a primary: AOC and Rashida Tlaib were easily renominated, and nobody filed to run against Ayanna Pressley. It’s not a good sign for the center that their well-funded challenger is potentially violating the law to the tune of over a million dollars.

Los Angeles County District Attorney

California Attorney General Xavier Berreca has filed charges against the husband of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey for pointing a gun at protesters who had showed up to the couple’s house. At the time, Lacey definitely stood behind her husband’s actions at a press conference, but she has not commented on the charges. This is a scandal which will not be forgotten by election day.

Open Seats

CA-53

We have another poll of CA-53, courtesy of RMG group, which seemed to be primarily interested in support for term limits for some reason. RMG is the new outfit for Scott Rassmussen, previously of Rassmussen polling, which never had the best reputation. They find Jacobs up 32% to 17%, which isn’t too far off from the 29% to 20% finishing in the March primary. Both candidates are still mostly unknown, and it’s reasonable to say the race has largely been stagnant.

MA-04

Jake Auchincloss is emerging as the man to beat in this race, much to the chagrin of everyone who would prefer, you know, a Democrat in the office instead. On Thursday, he was endorsed by Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan. Fall River is on the far other end of the district, away from the Boston suburbs where all the candidates are from. Fall River isn’t entirely in the district and will only contribute about 5% of the primary voters, but as the largest city in that region of the state, the endorsement could signal to more voters than just those inside the city limits.

On Friday, the Super PAC his parents are funding waded into the race with a $180,000 ad buy. Luckily, this won’t make up a large proportion of the ad spending in this crowded race, but it is another example of self-funding in a race that already has too much of it, and could portend much more spending.

Also on Friday, Politico uncovered a handful of social media posts from Auchincloss: one wondering why “we” can’t burn the Quran if “they” [Muslims] can burn “our flag”, another calling attempts to change the name of Columbus Day “taking PC too far”, and a third about his desire to give Steve Bannon a speaking slot a campus. We’d actually found the Bannon tweet back when he announced. 

So the Boston Globe took it all in: his recent past as Republican operative, his bigoted posts,  defence of the Confederate flag, his undisclosed money likely coming from his parents, the literally 8 other candidates who haven’t done those things, and endorsed him. After pushback, the Globe restated that they would be sticking by Auchincloss, and would in fact be giving him more media space to campaign in so he could justify their endorsement. All-around great choices here from the Globe. One opinion columnist used her editorial space to make the case for Mermell the week after, but the Globe’s endorsement stands.

A variety of endorsements came in for other candidates, and it’s a total crapshoot: NARAL for Jesse Mermell, Michael Bennet and former NAACP President Cornell William Brooks for Alan Khazei, and state Sen. Cynthia Green for Becky Grossman.

Election Results

Note: we don’t know the results of many races in Washington and Arizona yet due to the large number of mail ballots, so we’re only going to cover races in those two states where it is abundantly clear who won.

Successful and near-successful primary challenges in the House from the left usually shared a few traits, in 2018 and in 2020. White incumbents in majority-minority districts often struggled: Joe Crowley, Mike Capuano, and Eliot Engel’s losses all fit into this category. Incumbents who were extreme ideological outliers also had a rough go of it: Dan Lipinski’s 2018 near-loss, Henry Cuellar’s 2020 near-loss, and Lipinski’s 2020 loss. Districts undergoing rapid population changes, and with large numbers of young, college-educated whites, were also quite willing to find alternatives to their incumbents: Joe Crowley and Mike Capuano’s losses, Yvette Clarke and Carolyn Maloney’s 2018 close calls, and Carolyn Maloney’s 2020 closer call. And past House primary challenges have shown that voters are unforgiving of representatives embroiled in high-profile scandals, particularly corruption: Chaka Fattah and Corrine Brown’s defeats in 2016, for example. These commonalities allowed the Democratic establishment to brush off defeats, because most Democratic representatives don’t have any of the aforementioned vulnerabilities. Of course, it’s still earth-shattering that multiple members of Democratic leadership have lost renomination to insurgent leftist campaigns; we never said the establishment’s logic was good, exactly. But there was an element of truth to it: many incumbents didn’t have much demonstrable reason to fear. The left could threaten a lot of Democratic representatives, including some very high-ranking members, but enough of the rank and file (and enough of leadership) still felt safe. That should change after last night.

Lacy Clay fit into none of the aforementioned categories of primary losers, which is why he was always going to be difficult to defeat, and why Cori Bush’s 20-point loss in 2018 was itself pretty damn good. So when absentee votes came in, showing Clay leading Bush by a similar margin as he did in 2020, we were disappointed, but not crushed; it wasn’t a landslide, and Clay’s vulnerability in 2018 wasn’t a fluke. Then election day votes came in, and holy shit.

Missouri has fairly restrictive rules for absentee voting, so the bulk of votes were still cast on election day, but Clay’s margin in absentees was strong, so much so that Decision Desk HQ, an AP competitor, called the race for him. As the first batch of election day votes came in, it was immediately clear the call was premature; in the end, Bush won on the strength of a crushing election day performance, leading Clay by a margin of three percentage points and just over 4,600 votes. Clay made many poor campaign decisions, but he wasn’t caught napping; he ran an extremely negative campaign against Bush, including a mailer which leaned heavily on Islamophobia and artificially darkened Bush’s skin (first reported by one of your beloved authors.) He attacked Bush for once losing her nursing license (over unpaid fees), for previously struggling to pay her taxes (because she was broke), and for taking a modest salary from campaign funds (because she needed to keep the lights on, and taking a salary is legal)--all of which were because Bush, like most of this district, is working-class, not the scion of one of St. Louis’s preeminent political dynasties like Clay. Some of his attacks may have backfired, or at least fallen flat, but the fact remains that Lacy Clay took Bush seriously, had all of the demographic and biographical advantages previous losers lacked, and still lost. If Lacy Clay isn’t safe, no establishment Democrat is.

With that, the rest of Missouri’s results are below:

SD-05: Establishment favorite state Rep. Steve Roberts narrowly won this open seat over St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green, who was backed by Bernie Sanders, DSA, the Working Families Party, and several local unions. Her near-win is impressive for a white candidate in a plurality-Black senate district, and it’s also heartbreakingly close.

SD-07: establishment favorite state Rep. Greg Razer easily prevailed over former Kansas City Councilman Michael R. Brown.

SD-09: labor favorite state Rep. Barbara Anne Washington easily beat Raytown Alderman Ryan Myers.

SD-13: Angela Mosley, a candidate from two prominent Black political families, narrowly beat state Rep. Tommie Pierson Jr., with awful anti-abortion state Rep. Al Green in a very distant third.

HD-19: State Rep. Ingrid Burnett appears to have narrowly held off a challenge from Phyllis Hardwick, but punk musician and “pansexual glam rockstar” Wick Thomas pulled a strong 25% of the vote.

HD-23: As expected, Michael L. Johnson won the primary to succeed Barbara Anne Washington in this Kansas City district.

HD-24: Emily Weber, who was both the establishment pick and the most identifiably progressive candidate, easily defeated her two opponents for this open seat.

HD-25: Healthcare exec Patty Lewis was actually the more progressive candidate here, and she easily defeated attorney Drew Rogers, the choice of cruelly anti-homeless ex-mayor Sly James.

HD-36: State Rep. Mark Sharp held on, despite controversy over past misogynistic and homophobic statements on Facebook.

HD-66: Moderate Marlene Terry easily won Tommie Pierson Jr.’s open seat.

HD-67: Moderate Neil Smith narrowly defeated Aaron Craig, the choice of the AFL-CIO.

HD-68: Jay Mosley, the husband of SD-13 winner Angela Mosley, held on to his seat with ease against business-friendly opponent Mike Moehlenkamp.

HD-74: State Rep. Mike Person held on to his seat against Yolonda Fortson and Gary Johnson (not that one), but it was a weak finish befitting a man who almost lost a deep-blue seat to a Libertarian.

HD-75: State Rep. Alan Gray held off third-time candidate Teona McGhaw-Boure’, but this was McGhaw-Boure’’s best performance yet, getting 40.5% of the vote.

HD-76: In a result we did not see coming at all, state Rep. Chris Carter lost renomination to local attorney Marlon Anderson.

HD-77: Kimberly-Ann Collins defeated Darryl Gray 61% to 39%; we preferred Gray, but both candidates were great, so this isn’t a bad result at all.

HD-83: Jo Doll and Tyler Merkel both ran as progressives, but Merkel, who had the support of labor unions and progressive groups, lost to Doll 61.5% to 38.5%.

St. Louis City Circuit Attorney: Kim Gardner, one of the first reform prosecutors elected in the wave of reform prosecutors that still shows no signs of stopping, had no trouble fending off her primary challenge from Mary Pat Carl.

St. Louis Sheriff: Unfortunately, incumbent Vernon Betts won another term easily, 61% to 27% for his main challenger, Alfred Montgomery.

Jackson County Sheriff (Kansas City): Darryl Forté defeated crooked ex-Sheriff Mike Sharp, and it wasn’t close: 77% to 23%.

Arizona:

In AZ-01, Tom O’Halleran has been renominated against Eva Putzova, but it’s embarrassingly close for an incumbent; Putzova already has 41% of the vote, and late ballots tend to lean left.

SD-24: Incumbent Lela Alston has defeated challenger Ryan Starzyk in a race without the clearest ideological stakes.

SD-26: Progressive state Sen. Juan Mendez easily turned back more moderate primary challenger Jana Granillo.

HD-02: Winners unclear.

HD-03: Incumbents Alma Hernandez and Andrés Cano have clearly won renomination.

HD-10: State Rep. Domingo DeGrazia has won renomination, and he’ll be joined at the state capitol by Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, who leads Paul Stapleton-Smith 37% to 22% for the second Democratic spot on the November ballot.

HD-19: Activist Leezah Sun’s progressive challenge to incumbents Diego Espinoza and Lorenzo Sierra fell short.

HD-26: Winners unclear.

HD-27: Conservative ex-state Rep. Catherine Miranda failed in her comeback bid, falling short of incumbent Diego Rodriguez by more than 10 percentage points.

HD-29: Moderate state Rep. Cesar Chavez is getting another term, but it’s not clear yet whether progressive state Rep. Richard Andrade or business-backed challenger Teddy Castro will join him.

Pima County DA: Laura Conover, the most progressive and decarceral candidate by a long shot, currently has 57% to Jonathan Mosher’s 36%. No Republican has filed, meaning Conover is the next DA by default.

Pima County Recorder: Gabriella Cázares-Kelly, an indigenous activist backed by Arizona progressives and Tucson DSA, easily defeated Kim Challender, the choice of the outgoing county recorder; Cázares-Kelly has 62.5% of the vote so far, while Challender has 37.5%.

Kansas

HD-10: Christina Haswood, who had both progressives and the establishment behind her, defeated inscrutable self-funder AJ Stevens in a landslide, getting more than 70% of the vote.

HD-22: Moderate Lindsey Vaughn defeated progressive businessman Randen Smith in a true blowout, getting 87% of the vote.

HD-32: Incumbent Pam Curtis defeated little-known underdog Oscar Irenia 75% to 25%. If Curtis sticks around in 2022, a better-funded Hispanic candidate might be able to beat her.

HD-35: Incumbent Broderick Henderson turned back a challenge from moderate former Louisiana state Rep. Nelson Gabriel 65% to 35%.

HD-37: Aaron Coleman, a 19-year-old left-winger best known for a joke gubernatorial run in 2018 and for saying he’d laugh if Republican politicians died of COVID (the latter got him denounced by many Kansas Democrats), leads incumbent Stan Frownfelter by one vote, 768 to 767. Provisional ballots and other uncounted votes will decide this one.

Douglas County Prosecutor: Punitive incumbent Charles Bronson is a goner, but it’s not clear that’s a good thing; Branson is in third with 27.6%, while conservative Suzanne Valdez leads progressive Cooper Overstreet 39.8% to 32.7%.

Michigan

MI-12: Rep. Debbie Dingell won with 81%, unsurprisingly.

MI-13: Rashida Tlaib was certainly favored to win renomination, but crushing Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones 66% to 34% is definitely what was seen as on the higher end of plausible outcomes beforehand. Jones had support from much of the city’s Black establishment, as well as all of the other candidates her and Tlaib had run against in 2018’s Democratic primary. In the end, it meant little, as she got about the same share of the votes as she did in 2018--but in a one-on-one contest. Encouragingly, Tlaib did nearly as well in the city itself (65% to 35%) as she did in the suburbs (68% to 32%.)

HD-02: State Rep. Joe Tate easily defeated progressive challenger Taylor Harrell, 69% to 31%.

HD-03: Unfortunately, rich carpetbagger and failed 2018 gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar is headed to Lansing, with 35% of the vote enough to put him comfortably ahead of a crowded field.

HD-04: Sanders-endorsed progressive Abraham Aiyash has easily won the Democratic nomination for both the special and regular elections to replace the late state Rep. Isaac Robinson, who tragically died of COVID earlier this year.

HD-05: After beating Rita Ross, sister of Motown legend Diana Ross, by just 7 votes in 2018, state Rep. Cynthia Johnson put up a much stronger showing this year, with nearly two-thirds of the vote.

HD-07: Helena Scott, an organizer for the labor activist group Southeast Michigan Jobs with Justice, came out well ahead of a crowded field, with 36% to labor favorite Cynthia Johnson’s 18%.

HD-08: Former executive director of the Community Education Commission Stephanie Young, the candidate preferred by organized labor, defeated business-friendly candidate Reg Davis 45% to 31%.

HD-09: Trump-loving, hydroxychloroquine-promoting state Rep. Karen Whitsett looks set to hold on to her seat over progressive Roslyn Ogburn, who had the support of everyone from the Democratic establishment to Bernie Sanders. This is a disappointing result.

HD-10: Mary Cavanagh, the Chamber of Commerce-endorsed daughter of former state Rep. Phil Cavanagh, has defeated Kevin Lamont Harris, a criminal justice reform activist endorsed by most labor unions, 29% to 21%.

HD-12: State Rep. Alex Garza has easily defeated his two challengers, Romulus School Board President Ed Martell and Derrick Gyorkos.

HD-13: Tullio Liberati, the brother of term-limited state Rep. Frank Liberati, won the race to succeed his brother. There was no clear ideological divide in this race.

HD-21: Obama administration alum Ranjeev Puri, who was backed by both establishment and progressive groups, easily defeated Democratic activist Ethan Petzold.

HD-22: As expected, Roseville City Clerk Richard Steenland easily won.

HD-27: Oak Park City Councilor Regina Weiss, who seemed to be the favorite, won in a rout, with 47% of the vote; the next-closest candidate, attorney Kevin Kresch, had just 18%.

HD-34: State Rep. Cynthia Neeley, the wife of Flint mayor Sheldon Neeley, easily won her first full term in the legislature, with two-thirds of the Democratic primary vote. She had appeared vulnerable because of her weak victory in the special election to fill this seat after her husband resigned to become mayor.

HD-35: State Rep. Kyra Harris-Bolden easily defeated centrist, anti-tax real estate agent Shadia Martini.

HD-37: Union-backed candidate Samantha Steckloff defeated her fellow Farmington Hills city councilor Michael Bridges 49% to 30.5%, with former Farmington Hills city councilor Randy Bruce in third with 20.5%.

HD-53: Democratic Floor Leader Yousef Rabhi won renomination with more than 90% of the vote.

HD-60: Julie Rogers, a county commissioner who had recently been ousted from her position as chair of the commission over allegations of staff mistreatment and public intoxication, narrowly defeated fellow county commissioner Stephanie Moore; the ideological stakes were unclear here, but before the allegations, Rogers led in endorsements. (It’s unclear how many endorsers, if any, retracted.)

HD-95: Saginaw County Commissioner Amos O’Neal, the choice of organized labor and the Democratic establishment, won this open seat with 46% of the vote.

Oakland County Executive: Appointed incumbent Dave Coulter defeated his more progressive opponent, County Treasurer Andy Meisner, 54% to 46%.

Genesee County Prosecutor: Old-school incumbent David Leyton defeated establishment-friendly and vaguely reform-oriented challenger Trachelle Young 66% to 34%.

Oakland County Prosecutor: Incumbent Jessica Cooper was resoundingly defeated by reform-oriented challenger Karen McDonald, getting just 34% of the vote to McDonald’s 66%. Criminal justice reform won, and the era of tough-on-crime politics lost, in the wealthy Detroit suburbs of Oakland County.

Washtenaw County Prosecutor: Sanders-endorsed decarceral candidate Eli Savit prevailed over his more moderate opponent Arianne Slay, 50% to 43%. This is a huge win for criminal justice reform, and a blow to mass incarceration.

Wayne County Prosecutor: A strong performance in absentee ballots allowed incumbent Kym Worthy to overcome her narrow loss in election day ballots, and defeat decarceral challenger Victoria Burton-Harris 63% to 37%.

Washington

WA-02: Rick Larson has over 50%, while Jason Call and a host of Republicans are fighting it out in the low teens of vote share for the #2 spot.

WA-06: The vast majority of Republicans coalesced around one candidate, locking Rebecca Parson out of the top 2, despite her being in the 20-30% of Democratic vote share range that seemed like it would have been enough beforehand.

WA-10: Centrist ex-Tacoma mayor Marilyn Strickland is currently leading with 21.5% of the vote, a disappointing result. Luckily, progressive Beth Doglio is currently in second place over Kristine Reeves, and only solidifying that position as mail-in ballots come in.

Lt. Governor: Marko Liias and Denny Heck will advance to the runoff, but Heck’s 27% to 17% lead is distressing.

SD-05: Anti-tax warrior Mark Mullet is currently trailing progressive nurse Ingrid Anderson by a handful of votes, a gap which is likely only to grow as late ballots arrive. Still, this is just a preview of November.

HD-11(1): Landlord and anti-tenant (but we repeat ourselves) incumbent Zack Hudgins trails his challenger David Hackney 42% to 36%. Late ballots should widen this gap even more.

HD-22(2): Establishment but pretty progressive choice Jessica Bateman won this one easily.

HD-23(1): Centrist Bremerton Councilor Leslie Daugs got crushed by Tara Simmons.

HD-29(2): Centrist and political fossil Steve Kirby is currently up Bernie-endorsed Sharlett Mena 33.0% to 28.3%. That’s not quite enough to call the race yet, as stranger things have happened with late ballot returns, but it’s not looking good for Mena.

HD-30(1): As expect, Jamila Taylor won this in a walk over AirBnB host Cheryl Hurst.

HD-32(1)/HD-32(2): Despite finding some purchase with party activists, neither Shirley Sutton nor Gray Petersen came close to ousting the incumbents in these races.

HD-36(2): Business-friendly Jeffrey Cohen was absolutely destroyed, leaving Liz Berry and Sarah Reyneveld to fight it out in November, with Berry starting slightly ahead.

HD-37(1): Incumbent Sharon Tomiko Santos will face John Stafford in November, but considering she got over ¾ of the vote here, she doesn’t have to worry.

HD-37(2): Former interim Seattle City Councilor and head -tax-supporting progressive Kirsten Harris-Talley crossed the 50% threshold, which is a seriously good sign for November. As expected, she will be facing Chukundi Salisbury.

HD-43(2): Big happenings in Seattle. Ex-speaker Frank Chopp is only at 53%, and will likely finish under 50% against two challengers to his left. His opponent for November will be sex worker advocate Sherae Lascelles, who currently has 28% of the vote, but that will rise. To give you a sense of how sharply late ballots can change things in this part of the state, on election night Chopp led Lascelles by 26.1%. The first ballot drop yesterday was Chopp+15.4%. And it only goes left from there.

HD-44(2): April Berg, the more progressive candidate favored by labor beat painfully centrist Anne Anderson

Tennessee Primary Preview

Tennessee holds its state primaries today, on a Thursday. It’s the only state that does this, and we’re still not sure why. At any rate, this very Republican state is relatively quiet as far as Democratic primaries go.

TN-05: Jim Cooper (i) vs Keeda Haynes

Tennessee’s 5th is primed for a primary challenge: incumbent Jim Cooper is an old-school Southern Blue Dog who’s been in office forever and is out of sync with an increasingly liberal and diverse Nashville district. It hasn’t received as much attention as it could have, because of one glaring problem: the district likely isn’t going to exist in two years. It’s trivially easy to carve this district up in 3 or 4 districts that Trump won by 20% or more. Republicans in Tennessee almost did that in 2011, but chickened out, probably because they weren’t sure if rural Tennessee would stay as red as it had been in 2010. Rural Tennessee has instead gotten redder since then, so it’s a pretty safe bet that the district will be gone.

Cooper is being challenged by formerly incarcerated public defender Keeda Haynes. She’s running on a broadly progressive platform, with a focus on criminal justice. She has endorsements from local defense attorneys, a city/county councilor, PCCC, DFA, and Our Revolution, among some other groups and local figures. Haynes raised about $100,000, which isn’t much, and that’s in no small part because this district’s in its final days.

TN-09: Stephen Cohen (i) vs Corey Strong

While holding onto this majority-Black district, Steve Cohen’s faced his share of Black challengers who seem, on paper, to be somewhat formidable challengers, but their bids all fizzled and Cohen dispatched them with ease. The same looks to be the case for Corey Strong, former chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party, who never raised much money, nor particularly differentiated himself from the incumbent.

HD-15: Rick Staples (i) vs. Matthew Park vs. Sam McKenzie

Longtime Knoxville incumbent Rick Staples has run into issues with money before, but this year he’s been in scandal after scandal regarding campaign spending, so he’s seen as vulnerable. Former Big Brother contestant Ovi Kabir was running for a few months before residency issues ended his campaign. Matthew Park, a young, gay progressive and Sanders supporter is running with the support of the Sierra Club, Sunrise, and local DSA, among a few other local progressive groups. Sam McKenzie, a scientist at nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, launched a campaign in mid-June. HD-15 is majority white, but has a significant Black population. Park is white, while Staples and McKenzie are Black.

HD-52: Mike Stewart (i) vs. James Turner II

Rev. James Turner has made social justice a key facet of his work in the ministry, and has been involved in multiple protests since the George Floyd killing. Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Stewart has represented this district, which covers part of Nashville and its inner suburbs, since 2008. He’s been a reliable vote, and is best known for buying an AR-15 online and then bringing it into the House Chamber to make a point about gun control. This majority nonwhite district, which has been changing as Nashville grows, may be looking for someone like Turner, who is more involved in the daily struggles of Nashville, but Stewart has been active and involved as well, unlike most of the representatives who get taken by surprise in similar situations.

HD-54: Vincent Dixie (i) vs Terry Clayton

Vincent Dixie and Terry Clayton both ran for this open seat in 2018, which resulted in Dixie being elected 34% to 30%. This rematch between the two doesn’t have massive ideological stakes, but in 2018 Clayton’s girlfriend took out a restraining order on him alleging domestic abuse, so here’s hoping for another Dixie victory.

HD-84: Joe Towns Jr (i) vs. Dominique Primer

Joe Towns is on the perpetual shit list for being a supporter of Lyndon LaRouche, which is just the weirdest fucking thing. Lyndon LaRouche, if you’re not aware, is a onetime leftist who went insane in the 70s and formed a syncretic political conspiracy cult that has some left and right wing beliefs, but is mostly concerned with issues such as Queen Elizabeth’s drug trafficking and the dispute between Platoism and Aristotelianism (note: neither exists). He’s a crank, and by the time Towns was attending his conferences in the late 90s/early 2000s, the LaRouchites were known primarily for getting together randomly to protest about some generally unexpected, invariably insane, issue. Super crazy that Towns is into that, right? At any rate, he has a primary challenger, and she seems like she’d be a good representative.

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