Primary School 2/18/22
Before we get to our regular orders of business, one very large state’s primary is fast approaching—and the last FEC reports before the primary are in.
Pre-primary reports were due to the FEC, covering campaign activities from 1/1-2/9. Early voting is underway, and the primary is 3/1, 11 days from now. Here’s an overview of the big races to watch as we enter the home stretch.
If you remember March of 2020, it felt like the entire political world was suddenly converging on this district as people started to realize in the last couple weeks that upstart Justice Democrat Jessica Cisneros might really beat arch-conservative Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar. She ultimately came up just short, but progressives resolved to try again, so this year the money started flying much earlier, and the scale of both campaigns is larger than ever. In the last week alone, independent expenditures have included:
$165,000 of TV ads and $75,000 of mailers from Justice Democrats
$100,000 of canvassing efforts from SEIU-COPE
$100,000 of digital ads from J Street
$61,000 of mailers from In Union USA (a SuperPAC funded by various unions)
$35,000 of GOTV efforts from the Working Families Party
That’s $461,000 in pro-Cisneros expenditures, which is somehow barely an increase in the pace from before. The Justice Democrats ad follows Jessica Cisneros’s lead and attacks Henry Cuellar over the FBI raid of his house, while the J Street ad goes after him on his opposition to abortion and worker rights. It’s not quite the outside spending bonanza we saw in NY-16 last year—groups that wish to tip the scales in TX-28 don’t have to pay the exorbitant ad rates of the New York City media market, the nation’s largest and priciest, like they did in NY-16—but it’s still a lot of money.
Of course, the biggest spenders have been the candidates themselves. Pre-primary reports were due on 2/17, and the show Cuellar going for broke in this race, literally. Amidst fundraising that’s slowed to a trickle, he spent over $1.2 million in the first 40 days of the year, leaving him with $1.3 million left to spend. Jessica Cisneros, who managed to be outspent but not outclassed, at $786K. That leaves her with only $409K left for the home stretch, which would be a matter of concern if it weren’t for her incredible fundraising pace. She’s taking in money as fast as she’s spending it. Even better news is that the spending disparity isn’t as bad as it looks on paper—the gap in TV ad dollars was a much more manageable $787K to $583K, and she outspent him $51K to $17K online. Much of the difference comes from Cuellar spending $140K on a paid canvassing operation while Cisneros has access to a volunteer army. (Since we included it last time, the tally of meals Cuellar charged to his campaign from 1/1 to 2/9 is 29.)
Of course, this election will be decided by more than just money. Last weekend, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez headlined a dual rally in San Antonio for Cisneros and TX-35 candidate Greg Casar, while Elizabeth Warren plans to do separate San Antonio and Austin rallies for Cisneros and Casar, respectively, this weekend. Bernie Sanders and the National Nurses United both endorsed Cisneros this week as well.
Cuellar is clearly feeling the heat, and has fully pivoted to a hard negative campaign. His latest ad is the most overt right-wing fear mongering we’ve ever seen from him, warning of police defunding and open borders if Cisneros is elected, as images of broken fences and drugs flash on the screen. Part of the reason he’s running negative ads might be that the dark money group run by his campaign manager Colin Strother and tasked with attacking Cisneros has now gone dark, and is probably no longer in operation following the FBI raid and reporting that Strother’s running the group was likely a violation of campaign finance laws. More surreptitious support for Cuellar came from a large network of extremely obvious, semi-literate bot accounts boosting Cuellar and denigrating Cisneros on Twitter, but the site has since banned most of them.
What is going on here? It’s not surprising that most candidates wouldn’t raise too much money. After all, plenty of Dallas races are more about on-the-ground connections and political networks than glitzy ads. It’s not even that weird that there’s a lot of hard-to-parse proxy war stuff going on behind the scenes. But what the hell are $2 mil worth of cryptocurrency ads doing here? Seriously—Protect our Future PAC, which is founded and funded by two crypto magnates but is not specifically devoted to crypto issues, and Web3 Forward PAC, which, well, it’s in the name, have both put down $1 mil for ads backing state Rep. Jasmine Crockett. Crockett has never given any indication of caring about crypto issues, and neither have her opponents, so this is just weird. While the spending from Protect our Future, the project of a guy who got into politics a couple years ago and whose endorsement list makes little sense, is entirely believable as a product of whoever catches the leader’s ear first, Web3 Forward is affiliated with the GMI SuperPAC, which is a joint venture between 4 crypto investment firms, so they’re clearly playing at something here. Crockett, for her pairt, has been silent about these groups, and maintains she’ll be joining the Congressional Progressive Caucus if elected. (The CPC officially endorsed her this week.)
As mentioned in the TX-28 piece, Greg Casar has had a great week as the national progressive cavalry came in. (Most of those groups are treating TX-28 and TX-35 as a combined front—NNU was the only group not to endorse in both.) Good news for Casar means bad for State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, whose desperation is palpable at this point as he takes his anti-homeless attacks on Greg Casar to TV. The mailers of last week were just a prelude as Rodriguez, who has seen substantial financing from donors to anti-homeless org Save Austin Now, obviously sees this as his ticket to Washington, and has been relentlessly on message on paid ads or earned press coverage about the dangers Casar allowed the homeless to pose to “the public”. He’s also begun blaming Casar for inspiring Republicans to undo some of the Council’s actions, which is a hilariously cynical thing to say during a campaign for the highest legislative body in the country.
Yesterday’s campaign filings reveal something surprising about Rodriguez’s campaign—despite thousands of dollars of help from even more Save Austin Now donors, including Richard Anderson, their fourth largest individual donor, as well as PAC money from the New Democrats, realtors, and even a landlord association currently suing the federal government over the eviction moratorium, Rodriguez is out of money. Casar only outspent him $463K to $354K, but that left Rodriguez with less than $36K to spend, while Casar still has $168K, and is benefiting from the aid of progressive outside groups. The Working Families Party is putting another $90,000 into mailers, and Mijente PAC is continuing its GOTV work.
If you have the money you might as well spend it, we guess, but it’s still weird to see a campaign drop half a million dollars against opposition that most people regard as insubstantial. Is Lloyd Doggett actually worried?
Modesto-based U.S. Rep. Josh Harder’s gambit to carpetbag into a totally different, Stockton-centered district looked like it was going to go off without any friction for a while there—his only Democratic opponent, Harpreet Chima, wasn’t raising much money, and Harder was getting spoken about as a presumptive nominee. But this week, two more Democrats stepped up to challenge him: tech executive Andrew Engdahl filed with the FEC to run, while former astronaut and 2012 Democratic CA-10 nominee José Hernandez filed with the county for the same purpose. Ironically, Hernandez ran for CA-10 while living in CA-09 and is now in a primary with Harder, who is running for CA-09 while living in CA-10. Hernandez ran as a fairly typical Democrat in 2012, and has stayed out of politics since then, while Engdahl was never politically active before this, so the ideological dimensions of this race aren’t yet clear.
For all the money sloshing around the Bay Area, there had been a surprising absence of polling in this barnburner of an election pitting bland against blander and blandest. Our first poll came this week courtesy of Tulchin Research. They found San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa leading Assemblymember Kevin Mullin 19% to 17%, with Burlingame City Councilor Emily Beach at 7%. Republicans took 15% total, but with three Democrats running in a seat this blue, the odds of one making it to a runoff are low.
Former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry finally launched her campaign after filing weeks previously. State Sen. Sydney Kamlager is the clear favorite here, but Perry could give progressives another alternative to Kamlager (Culver City Mayor Daniel Lee, a veteran and DSA member, is already running, but has struggled to gain traction thus far.)
On Monday, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser rolled back the District’s vaccine mandate for businesses right before it was scheduled to take full effect; the DC Council, which is often just a rubber stamp for Bowser, freaked out. At-Large Councilor Robert White, who is challenging Bowser in this year’s Democratic primary, went after Bowser for blindsiding the rest of the District government, including the council. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, generally one of the most conservative councilors, also expressed his discomfort, and Ward 1 Councilor Brianne Nadeau proposed a resolution to override the mayor, though she ultimately withdrew it because she couldn’t get the nine-councilor supermajority necessary for an override. Bowser’s catering to business interests and anti-vaxxers at the expense of the hundreds of thousands of people who live and work in DC is nothing new, but it’s an unusual choice for her to make so close to a seriously contested Democratic primary. According to a new poll from the Washington Post, she’s surprisingly weak in that upcoming primary—despite having eight years of incumbency and a split opposition, she’s below 50%, with Robert White and Ward 8 Councilor Trayon White (who can be charitably described as idiosyncratic, and more frankly described as totally nuts) at 19% and 17%, respectively.
While Rep. Kai Kahele weighs a run for governor, a new poll, paid for by 314 Action and fielded by PPP, suggests that he’d start as an underdog. The poll finds LG Josh Green leading the field 46% to Kahele’s 14%, former First Lady of Hawaiʻi Vicky Cayetano’s 10% and former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s 5%.
Candidates have continued trickling into this open Chicago seat. This week saw two new entrants: one from the world of business and one from the world of politics. The latter is Charise Williams, who has some sort of mid-level staffer position in a criminal justice-related state agency. We’re honestly kind of unsure what she does there. However, before that she was Director of External Affairs with the Chicago Federation of Labor, giving her an inside track with Chicago-area unions, who are currently unattached in this primary. She’s run for political office once before: a 2018 primary for Cook County Board District 3, where she had substantial labor support but lost 33% to 18%.
The other recent entrant is Nykea Pippion McGriff, realtor and recent president of the Chicago Association of Realtors. The best skill a candidate can have as far as raising money for a campaign is knowing a large number of people who can each spare a couple thousand dollars, and realtors (along with doctors and lawyers) are the best people to know in that regard. Realtors are also notorious for playing both sides of the political aisle, a tradition that Pippion McGriff, who has given money to Republicans before, fits squarely within. Though Rush has already endorsed a different candidate, Pippion McGriff served as a liaison from Realtors to Rush before, and they evidently grew close enough for Rush to put out a statement when her son was killed in a shooting in 2017.
State Rep. Delia Ramirez had a good week, picking up three endorsements: IL-14 Rep. Lauren Underwood, IL-04 Rep. Chuy García, and EMLY's List. While Underwood undoubtedly has quite the email list, García is the real get here. In addition to representing a large portion of this district currently, García is by far the city's most prominent Hispanic politician, and has a powerful network throughout the city. The EMILY's List support is mostly useful for fundraising, but it doubles as a sign that no other prominent women are looking at this race.
Progressive Harvard professor Danielle Allen dropped out of the race this week, narrowing the primary field to just mainstream liberal AG Maura Healey and progressive state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz. This is good for Chang-Díaz, we suppose, but Chang-Díaz is still a huge underdog.
After almost a decade out of office, and a disastrous failure of a campaign for Prince George’s County Executive in 2018, there were some doubts that former Rep. Donna Edwards would have the juice for a triumphant return to congressional campaigning, but her revival tour looks like it’s gotten off to a good start. After just 11 days in the race, she raised $300,000, and last week she 4 former colleagues endorsed her: Diana DeGette (CO-01), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Gwen Moore (WI-04), and Chellie Pingree (ME-02). Ironically, two of those four—DeGette and McCollum—face primaries from the left, while Edwards was a favorite of the progressive grassroots during her four terms in the House.
Rep. Brenda Lawrence endorsed Rep. Haley Stevens over Rep. Andy Levin this week. This endorsement was apparently a while in the making, and may have been retaliation against the Levin dynasty for backing a different candidate in her first primary. Regardless, Lawrence represents about a third of the new district, and her endorsement is valuable.
When predatory loan lobbyist and failed politician Shanelle Jackson announced she was running for Rashida Tlaib’s newly-adopted 12th district, we noted Tlaib's preternatural ability to attract only the least capable, most obviously doomed challengers for what, on paper, could be very challenging reelection contests. When Janice Winfrey said she was looking at running for Congress after the 13th district opened up, we noted that while the miserable failure of a City Clerk may have been able to make it through her own renomination contests on sheer force of inertia, she had no chance in a race where she actually had to campaign and win over new voters. You Won't Believe What Happened Next.
Just like IL-01, which saw its incumbent retire the same week and has also been subject to a field to replace them slowly growing to an unwieldy length, MI-13 has three new candidates:
Former state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, who previously said she was looking at running for Congress without specifying where, has filed for the open MI-13. No great surprise there.
Detroit’s “night mayor” Adrian Tonon switched his campaign from MI-07 to MI-13. This was mentioned as a possibility when the seat first opened up, especially since why a public-facing Detroit government official was running for the Lansing congressional district was never clear. Tonon brings with him over $160,000 he had on hand for his run in the 7th, money he raised without any self-funding, meaning he does have to be taken seriously as a contender here. Tonon is white, but so is Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who he now works for.
Finally, Michigan Human Rights Commissioner Portia Roberson has filed to run, but hasn’t announced a campaign yet. In addition to her time on the Human Rights Commission, Roberson is a lawyer, nonprofit executive, regular local news guest, and former appointee in the Obama Department of Justice. While she was floated as a possible candidate immediately after MI-13 became an open seat, she hasn’t done anything public to indicate a bid until now.
Rep. Betty McCollum’s campaign went on TV this week. The ad itself may not be too interesting—a cheap slideshow/voiceover positive spot—but the fact she’s going on the air at all is very much so. McCollum is facing her first serious primary challenge ever from organizer Amane Badhasso, and this ad is saying she’s going to taking it seriously.
Former Minneapolis City Councilor Don Samuels now says he’s exploring a run against Ilhan Omar from the right. Samuels was on the City Council from 2003-2014, after which he was elected to a single 4 year term on the School Board. Samuels was never all that progressive or conservative on the Council, but he took a hard right turn amidst the George Floyd protests. He worked hard to defeat Measure 2, which would have tasked the Council with starting a new public safety department from scratch, and to support conservative slate of Council candidates in 2021. He’s also sued the city to force them to hire new cops, regardless of quality. He’s always loved the police, of course—he blamed racial disparities in police on Black residents not calling the police enough, and famously called them to shut down a nonprofit who opposed his reelection for giving away free hot dogs—but the ferocity with which he’s been attacking defund activists and similar police reform campaigners is a product of the last two years. Samuels has been a critic of Omar her entire career, and campaigned with her 2020 primary challenger Antone Melton-Meaux, so it’s not hard to guess why he’s considering running now. Still, Samuels is in his mid-70s, and, besides that school board election, the last time he was on a ballot this decade was a 2013 mayoral election he barely got 10% in. He’s not an ideal candidate to take on Omar, though the odds that the conservative money that targeted her last time won’t find someone this cycle is low.
In the recently completed redistricting, Omar’s district shrank slightly, losing the suburb of Hopkins, as well as a precinct in Edina. Omar’s district shed territory which she won 50-46 in that 2020 primary, while winning 58-39 districtwide, making the new version of her district more favorable to her, but only slightly—by about half a percent (going by 2020 primary margin.)
Organizer Ricardo Rojas dropped out of the race on Friday, leaving progressive activist David Ocampo Grajales as the only opponent to Rob Menendez Jr., the son of notoriously corrupt U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and a commissioner on the board of the notoriously corrupt Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Menendez Junior did finally put up a campaign website and social media this week—nearly two months after locking up the support of pretty much every one of New Jersey’s various Democratic machines, an impressive feat considering they’re always at war with one another.
The Working Families Party endorsed New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams for governor; Williams has been struggling to gain traction as he challenges Gov. Kathy Hochul from the left, but at least he now has WFP, which is reasonably powerful in New York. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party committee in Williams’s home of Brooklyn has backed Hochul. Not too surprising—the Brooklyn Democratic machine is pretty hostile to progressives—but endorsing Hochul rather than staying neutral is worth noting. And finally, Rep. Tom Suozzi, who’s running way to Hochul’s and Williams’s right, continued in his endeavor to make his campaign reminiscent of the 2006 gubernatorial primary (which he lost 82-18 to then-New York AG Eliot Spitzer.) He announced a pair of retreads from the Bloomberg era would be joining his campaign: former Brooklyn Council Member Diana Reyna, who left office in 2013, will be his running mate, though the lieutenant governor goes through a separate partisan primary, so being someone’s running mate in the primary doesn’t mean anything beyond shared campaign resources. (Amusingly, City and State’s Rebecca Lewis notes that Reyna appears to be not just Suozzi’s running mate, but his first endorser.) And former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, the Democratic nominee against Bloomberg in the 2005 mayoral election, will be Suozzi’s campaign chair.
2020 NY-02 nominee Jackie Gordon was endorsed by EMILY’s List, snubbing Suffolk County Legislators Kara Hahn and Bridget Fleming, who like Gordon are pro-choice women candidates; EMILY’s List is generally cautious about involvement in incumbent-free primaries with multiple viable pro-choice women.
Incumbent Rep. Tom Suozzi took a brief break from his doomed gubernatorial campaign to speak out against state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi succeeding him—unsurprising, because Biaggi is a progressive and Suozzi is terrible. This might be a sign that Suozzi will soon endorse one of the more moderate candidates in the race—Nassau County Legislator Joshua Lafazan, Suffolk County Deputy Executive Jon Kaiman, or DNC member Robert Zimmerman—in an attempt to stop Biaggi and fellow progressive Melanie D’Arrigo, who challenged Suozzi in 2020. Biaggi, for her part, rolled out the endorsements of a dozen of her State Senate colleagues, including both of the chamber’s DSA members (Jabari Brisport and Julia Salazar, both of Brooklyn.) D’Arrigo’s preexisting support among much of New York’s progressive activist community doesn’t appear to be serving as a roadblock for Biaggi yet, even though they’re both chasing the same progressive-minded primary voters.
Incumbent Rep. Kathleen Rice surprised everyone by announcing her retirement. Good riddance. We’ve written at length about Rice’s horrible record, from overly putative prosecutor and DA, to her time in Congress serving as a warrior for the party’s right flank, including as part of the 2018 effort to oust Pelosi and replace her with a more conservative speaker. Recently, she was one of six Democrats who killed the party’s efforts to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Kathleen Rice: Gone, But Not Missed.
Given that Rice dropped this on everyone at the last minute, no one really knows who’s going to run for this Biden+12 district. Early speculation centered on moderate ex-Nassau County Exec. Laura Curran, who was narrowly defeated for reelection last November, and moderate state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who badly lost the Nassau County DA race on the same ballot, but Kaminsky has already bowed out (and given up on reelection too); Curran also appears to be out, according to City and State’s Rebecca Lewis. That’s it for the big names, now onto the B listers.
Former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, who lost reelection to Republican Donald Clavin in 2019, is apparently planning to get in. The Town of Hempstead isn’t a city in the standard sense, but the jurisdiction has more than 700,000 residents (accounting for a large majority of NY-04’s population), and the town’s supervisor is essentially its chief executive. Gillen, like most municipal politicians on Long Island, is not someone you’d want in Congress. Her private career was as a lawyer for the banking industry, and her term as Town Supervisor was dominated by her desire to reign in “out of control spending” and cut taxes (which she did).
The first candidate to actually file to run, though she has yet to make any campaign announcement, was Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe. Bynoe clears the low bar of acting like an actual Democrat, which is not a guarantee in Long Island. She led opposition to fellow Legislator (and now NY-03 candidate) Josh Lafazan’s anti-protest bill, and took the unpopular position of fighting for more oversight of county police. In 2019, when progressives were searching for a primary challenger to Rice for her role in the anti-Pelosi coup attempt, Bynoe wasn’t against the idea, though she wound up not running.
Bill de Blasio appears to have decided against running for Congress, sorta-announcing his decision in a Twitter thread where he confusingly refuses to say that outright. Former Rep. Max Rose isn’t out of the woods yet: he still faces leftist military veteran Brittany Ramos DeBarros, who’s been raising good money and running a spirited campaign since long before this district took on the huge, left-leaning Brooklyn neighborhoods of Sunset Park and Park Slope. Rose’s grip on the local Democratic establishment may be loosening as well. Assemb. Charles Fall, a moderate who represents Staten Island’s diverse and heavily Democratic North Shore, rescinded his endorsement of Rose in a vague but scathing statement implying Rose or his allies had attempted to undermine candidates of color and intimidate Fall, who is Black. The tiff relates to an argument the two had over whether Rose should endorse Fall's girlfriend for state Senate, though what followed that is disputed.
Suraj Patel, two-time loser and forever sex pest, says he’s going to run against Carolyn Maloney a third time, blowing up the currently (mostly) two-way contest between incumbent Carolyn Maloney and Justice Democrats-endorsed Rana Abdelhamid. He started off his campaign by using Twitter’s “hide replies” function to hide a half-dozen replies that linked to a story about his gross, predatory comments about then-16-year-old Team USA Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney.
Someone has been polling a potential challenge to Rep. Jamaal Bowman from Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, a moderate and former Republican who’s been mulling a primary challenge. While no one knows for sure who the mystery party running the poll is, it’s almost certainly Spano himself, who’s been publicly mulling a run for the last couple weeks. Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi recently filed with the FEC as well; Gashi, an immigrant from Kosovo with roots in the northern Bronx’s large ethnic Albanian community, represents purple suburbs in northern Westchester County. His home of Yorktown was drawn into Bowman’s district as a consequence of New York’s new Democratic gerrymander, which used Bowman’s district to mop up Republicans in the Hudson Valley and shore up Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. One local paper says they’ve heard he plans to launch a campaign today. Already challenging Bowman from the right is Manuel Casanova, a Democratic District Leader from New Rochelle.
Climate-focused venture capital director Vanessa Fajans-Turner filed to run, giving us an excuse to take a look at the field for this new district.
The new NY-22 is the successor to the old, Syracuse-based NY-24, and we’ll assume that the Democratic candidates who had been running for NY-24 are going to continue running in the new 22nd, since they all live in Syracuse’s Onondaga County, which was entirely in the old 24th and is entirely in the new 22nd. The incumbent is retiring Republican John Katko, but Republicans have little hope of holding the seat, which traded red rural communities for a bunch of ultra-Democratic college towns such as Ithaca in redistricting.
Fajans-Turner joins DeWitt Town Councilor Sarah Klee Hood, Syracuse Common Councilor Chol-Awan Majok, local attorney and veteran Steven Holden, veteran and former Defense Department official Francis Conole, and local attorney Josh Riley. Conole and Riley have a lot of money, Majok and Klee Hood have elected experience, and Conole has some leftover name recognition from his unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination in NY-24 in 2020. Despite this, none of these candidates strike us as particularly strong, nor do any strike us as particularly well-suited to a safely Democratic district chock full of left-leaning college students.
More like Nick Krist-off-the-ballot, amirite?
New York Times columnist Nick Kristof, who resigned his lucrative job at the Times to run a vanity campaign for governor, has been officially barred from running. Weeks ago, Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan issued a preliminary ruling that Kristof failed to meet the state’s residency requirement for gubernatorial candidates; Kristof and Fagan’s office went to the Oregon Supreme Court for clarification. The court issued a final ruling this morning: Kristof is ineligible to run for governor of Oregon in 2022. As it turns out, voting in New York, paying taxes in New York, and holding a New York driver’s license—all of which Kristof did as recently as December 2020—were less than helpful to Kristof’s claim of Oregon residency.
EMILY’s List endorsed Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle this past week. Hoyle, a pretty standard Democrat, is one of two pro-choice women running for this seat, but she’s certainly more EMILY’s speed than progressive climate activist Doyle Canning, who challenged outgoing Rep. Peter DeFazio from the left in the 2020 primary, something DeFazio is still bitter about.
Business Insider found that Rep. Kurt Schrader, the most conservative House Democrat after Henry Cuellar, violated the insider-trading law known as the STOCK Act by failing to disclose stock trades by the 45-day deadline as required. It’s just more ammunition for progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner, after the Intercept found last week that Schrader doesn’t really live in Oregon by any reasonable definition.
Edgewood Borough (pop. 1,600) Council Member Bhavini Patel, a tech startup CEO, joined the race this week, while Brentwood Borough Councilor Stephanie Fox dropped out and opted to challenge progressive state Rep. Jessica Benham from the right instead. Patel seems to be trying to position herself somewhere between progressive and centrist, but we’re skeptical unless we see indications that the local Democratic establishment likes her more than it likes centrist attorney Steve Irwin (no relation to the nature program host.)
US Commerce Dept. official Sarah Morgenthau is considering running; she was brought along to Commerce by Gina Raimondo, who as governor of Rhode Island was quite conservative for a Democrat, so we wouldn’t expect great things from Morgenthau if she runs.
From now on, we’re going to put most news items relating to elections for state offices other than governorships at the end of each issue, after a divider.
San Francisco held a special election this Tuesday, though it was mostly a perfunctory first round. Despite the swarm of tech money for Bilal Mahmood, everyone knew the runoff was going to be between Supervisors David Campos and Matt Haney, who currently sit at 35% and 37%, respectively. Mahmood is at 22%. This sets up a runoff which, like every election in San Francisco, is going to be about housing. Call it NIMBY vs. YIMBY or anti- vs pro-developer (we’re not going to talk about San Francisco's housing wars again, it’s exhausting), but Campos is in the former camp and Haney is in the latter. Otherwise, they’ve been pretty similar on the issues, which is perhaps why labor unions are split in this race. Haney, unlike many San Franciscans with his views on housing (cough cough Scott Wiener) has been very progressive. Both candidates supported Bernie Sanders for president, pledge to support the progressive bills filed this session, voted the same way on the school board recalls, etc. A possible split developing in this race (besides housing) is on criminal justice, where Haney has begun raising the spectre of retail theft, while Campos is the choice of reform DAs Chesa Boudin and George Gascón.
Andrew Cuomo’s spokesman, Rich Azzopardi, firmly told Politico that the former governor isn’t running for his old job as Attorney General, as anonymous sources had said he was considering doing last week. Sure, it may be good for democracy, people’s sanity, etc. but there’s a part of us that’s a little sad we won’t get to witness that shitshow of a campaign.
NY state legislature
Following the remap, there’s been a flurry of activity in New York’s state legislative races. We’re going to quickly buzz through the big points:
NY-AD-60: The results for this special election were rough for WFP nominee Keron Alleyne, who lost to Democratic nominee Nikki Lucas 78-19, though the turnout was only 2,670 people. He says he’s still running in the regular primary this summer.
NY-SD-17: The legislature created an entirely new Senate district, running from lefty hubs of Greenpoint and Sunnyside to more conservative central Queens. It’s about ⅓ Hispanic and has a substantial South Asian population. It’s also going to be the marquee contest in Queens this year, with Kristen Gonzalez, a 26-year-old tech worker on the fast track to a DSA endorsement, pitched against Queens establishment mainstay Elizabeth Crowley, who you may remember from the time she lost the primary for Borough President. Or the other time she lost the primary for Borough President. Or from the time she lost reelection to a conservative Democrat running on the Republican ballot line in 2017, when the national mood was quite sour on the GOP. Or from being Joe Crowley’s cousin.
NY-SD-23: Diane Savino, the last remaining IDC member who hasn’t had her career ended with a horrible primary loss, is retiring after her district got more progressive parts of Brooklyn. There’s no progressive running here yet; we’re just happy she’s gone.
NY-AD-37: Right after the legislature drew her a district to protect her in redistricting, Cathy Nolan decided to retire, which is for the best—a moderate should not be representing Sunnyside. WFP-backed 2021 City Council candidate Juan Ardila looks to be the main progressive running here. While she was looking at it for a while, DSA staffer and local Democratic District Leader Émilia Decaudin isn't running.