we promise no Met Gala discourse
Is that [shudders] velour or something? (No, seriously, I can’t tell, I definitely need a stronger prescription for my lenses.) This man’s fashion sense will not be missed—nor will the gall it took him to attend the Met Gala while the Rikers Island jail complex he oversees is spiraling into a deadly health and safety crisis, a far more serious matter than his sartorial choices, and one he is paying far less attention. He can’t be bothered to save lives via clemency with a stroke of his pen, but he’s got time to awkwardly lope around an Anna Wintour soirée in a suit louder than the crowd at any of his ill-fated presidential campaign’s public events. Appalling.
Polls close at 8 PM Pacific (11 PM Eastern)
Governor (recall election)
The California recall isn’t really in the scope of stuff we cover—it is, effectively, a Democrat-vs.-Republican election with extra steps. However, the cost of an unlikely victory for Larry Elder, the leading Republican candidate, is so high that we feel obligated to urge our California readers to vote in person, or drop off your mail ballot at your polling place or local election office, if you haven’t voted already. Vote no on the recall, even though Gavin Newsom sucks, because Larry Elder is a terrifying right-wing extremist who absolutely cannot be given any sort of power, much less the governorship of the biggest state in the union.
Polls close at 8 PM Eastern
Boston finishes voting today for the preliminary round of local elections. Mayor and all Council positions elected by district will send two candidates to the general election in November, while the at-large field will be winnowed down to 8 candidates who will face off on a top 4 ballot. The mayoral race has seen a flurry of polling in the last month, all of which points to progressive favorite City Councilor Michelle Wu finishing first, and a three way dead heat for the second spot between City Councilors Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, and Kim Janey (who is also acting Mayor). All three non-Wu candidates carry their own weaknesses in a potential runoff: Janey’s short-lived tenure as mayor has been beset by self-induced controversy after self-induced controversy; Essaibi George reads as considerably more conservative than the rest of the field; and Campbell has close ties to charter schools and a campaign that never really found a message.
In the Council, most of the district races are either uncontested, or only have two candidates, resulting in both getting shuffled off to the general election with no primary needed. In District 6, progressive/DSA/labor-backed activist Kendra Hicks and moderate former school board member Mary Tamer are overwhelming favorites to move on, making this round more a test of where the candidates are than an actual election. The more interesting races with large fields are District 4, District 7, and the at-large election. In District 4, the favorite is ex-state Rep. Evandro Carvalho, while the left is excited about teacher Joel Richards. District 7 is a total free-for-all without clear ideological divisions, or many outside organizations willing to get involved in the first round. The exception is organized labor, which is behind Angie Camacho, more of a progressive than not.
In the at-large race, this round is mostly about filtering out the joke candidates. The top three spots should go to moderate incumbent Michael Flaherty, progressive incumbent Julia Mejia, and Ruthzee Louijeune, a consensus pick of progressive organizations, establishment politicians and most labor unions. There’s little consensus beyond that. Progressives like Carla Monteiro and David Halbert, while moderates and trade unions like Erin Murphy and Bridget Nee-Walsh. If we had to guess who will round out the top 8, it would be Alex Gray, Jon Spillane, and Kelly Bates, who have scattered support from some unions and electeds. The big things to watch are who comes in fourth, and if anyone behind them is close. If either incumbent places below the top 3, that should also be a big warning sign.
Polls close at 7:30 PM Eastern
This is a weird one, even by the standards of Cleveland politics. Former Congressman and (very) former mayor Dennis Kucinich’s campaign has consistently been the funniest and weirdest thing happening in politics, but all these months later he’s still the frontrunner, and no one seems to know what exactly he’d do as mayor. Kucinich was a self-appointed voice of the left during the Bush years, but the campaign he’s running now is financed in large part by Republicans and pathologically obsessed with crime. He has a collection of great ideas—developing the waterfront, building new houses, cutting utility bills—but he’s shown no interest in raising the taxes to actually make them happen, let alone do so while spending millions more on police.
Who will join Kucinch in the runoff? Will it be Kevin Kelley, the sitting City Council president, creature of the city’s establishment, choice of outgoing mayor Frank Jackson, and most overtly establishment candidate in the field? Will it be Zack Reed, the former city councilman who made it into the mayoral runoff in 2017, and may not have cleared the very low bar of even being to Jackson’s left? Could it be City Councilman Basheer Jones, who has often allied himself with the progressives, but who has made extremely concerning statements about vaccines and women during this campaign? Maybe it’ll be state Sen. Sandra Wiliams, a typical Democrat whose quiet (or, one could say, boring) campaign has left her struggling in the polls but still doing well enough that Kevin Kelley attempted to buy her out of the race (allegedly)? Maybe Justin Bibb, a nonprofit exec who is taking his first crack at running for office and whose lack of any overt problems inspired the Cleveland Plain Dealer and many progressives to turn to him, in the latter’s case out of exhaustion?
Polls close at 8 PM Eastern
Who the new council will work with (or fight with) in the mayor’s office is also on the ballot: there are four mayoral candidates, but only two general election slots. City councilors Katjana Ballantyne and Will Mbah are running as progressives (Mbah much more so, and progressive groups consequently favor him); they are joined by former city auditor Mary Cassesso and local right-wing crank Billy Tauro.
Somerville is a modestly-sized city (just over 81,000) and isn’t central to a state or metro area, so you may wonder why we’re covering it. We’re covering it because Boston DSA has seven candidates running for Somerville’s 11-member city council—meaning that socialist control of an American city is actually on the table. Two of those candidates are facing preliminary elections tonight: Tessa Bridge in Ward 5 and Becca Miller in Ward 7. (The rest are in races which do not have enough candidates to require a preliminary election, meaning they automatically advance to November.)
Polls close at 8 PM Eastern
State Rep. Caroline Simmons is mounting a strong challenge to incumbent mayor David Martin; unfortunately, she appears to be doing so from the right, with the support of the center-right Connecticut Independent Party. She narrowly won the endorsement of the Stamford Democratic Committee in July, earning her an automatic spot on the primary ballot, but Martin quickly gathered enough signatures to force a primary. The winner of this primary will face a well-funded independent candidate in former Mets and Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who has collected donations from prominent Republicans including Linda McMahon and George W. Bush.
After months in a holding pattern, this race saw major upheaval in recent weeks. Last week, in a development we meant to include in our last issue, state Rep. Randy Friese dropped out of the race to focus on his medical practice, leaving state Rep. Daniel Hernandez alone in the moderate lane in this primary. This week, state Sen. Kirsten Engel went in the other direction, resigning her seat in the legislature to focus on her congressional campaign. Even before Friese dropped out, Engel was the only elected official in the race who could be described as progressive; now, Engel and outsider Marcos Urrea, a legal assistant at an immigration nonprofit, both find themselves competing for progressive support. Meanwhile, Hernandez—who easily survived a 2020 primary aided by a small fortune’s worth of spending from big business, charter schools, and literal Republicans—can leisurely collect endorsements and campaign checks from the local establishment.
San Diego Rep. Scott Peters has been way worse than his district requires for a long time, but has previously gotten away with it by reminding Democratic leadership that he won a tight race way back in 2012. (His district is much bluer today than it was in 2012, and no Republican could realistically beat a Democrat there now.) He seems intent on testing Democratic leaders’ patience, today announcing his opposition to their signature prescription drug pricing policy because it does too much to make prescription drugs affordable.
Who knows, maybe we get lucky and they just dismantle his seat in redistricting, but that’s doubtful. Here’s hoping California Democrats have grown sufficiently tired of his shit to decline to protect him if a primary emerges. (Working in tandem with Peters is OR-05 Rep. Kurt Schrader, but Schrader is a Blue Dog and a perennial contender for Worst Democrat In Congress, so there’s nothing new with that.)
Four local mayors endorsed state Rep. Ben Diamond this week. Unfortunately for Diamond, the largest of the mayors’ four cities is Safety Harbor, with a population of just 17,072—and Safety Harbor isn’t even in the current FL-13. And only Gulfport (pop. 11,783) is a Democratic city; the other three are at least slightly Republican. Still, it’s a sign that the local establishment prefers Diamond (which is unsurprising, given he was in line to be the minority leader in the state House after the 2022 elections before he decided to run for Congress.)
Baltimore Del. Brooke Lierman, likely the progressive choice in this race, was endorsed by Rep. Jamie Raskin yesterday. It’s a good sign for Lierman: if this race becomes regional, as Maryland primaries often do, she’s got a big name in the DC suburbs on her side (Raskin is from Takoma Park, not to be confused with the neighboring DC neighborhood of Takoma) to augment her Baltimore base.
Byron Brown has gone on TV with his first ad, a standard spot touting his accomplishments as mayor, including guns of the streets and kids enrolled in a reading program. Interestingly, it ends with the tagline “Byron Brown Democrat for Mayor”, even though he lost the Democratic primary. This is technically allowed, but suspect considering he lost the Democratic primary. It also doesn’t help him remind any voters that they’ll need to do something other than vote the Democratic line if they want him to be mayor.
Whether Brown will actually be on the ballot in any form is still in limbo. A federal appeals court judge stayed last week’s ruling ordering Brown on the ballot, pending a full ruling on the issue. The Erie County Board of Elections has been ordered to hold off on printing election material until a final order is issued, likely this week.