Primary School 4/13
we suggest not committing petition fraud
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Sorry, but we do have to ask…again. We got a fair number of subscriptions from our last ask for money, and we’re almost halfway to our goal; we also have a subscriber-first piece out now which analyzes the money race in Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district, for the campaign finance nerds among you.
St. Louis was a near-sweep for progressive candidates. Tishaura Jones, the current city treasurer and the progressive favorite, defeated Ald. Cara Spencer, a progressive who was nevertheless not as progressive as Jones. Jones won 52% - 48%, a closer race than some expected, but nonetheless a victory. Embarrassingly for Spencer, Ward 20, which she represents on the Board of Alders, voted for Jones by a margin of 9%. Socialist Ald. Megan Ellyia Green’s effort to Flip the Board was a success, with two of her endorsed challengers (Anne Schweitzer and Bill Stephens) toppling incumbents (Beth Murphy and Vicky Grass, respectively) and a third (Tina “Sweet-T” Pihl) narrowly winning an open seat, while another progressive challenger unaffiliated with Green, James Page, unseated Ald. Tammika Hubbard. While a healthy dose of pessimism is always warranted in municipal politics, Jones has—at least in theory—a progressive majority on the Board of Aldermen to implement her agenda.
Aurora, IL Mayor
Moderate incumbent mayor Richard Irvin looked vulnerable heading into last week’s election, but he ended up winning reelection easily with 55% of the vote. His more conservative opponent, Alderman Judd Lofchie, got 24%; his more progressive opponent, John Laesch, got 21%. A disappointing result in this Chicago suburb of 200,000, but...at least it’s not the worst-case scenario?
Each of the latter two races has its own item further down. We’re also mentioning them here because Rep. Mondaire Jones, who challenged moderate House Appropriations Committee Chair Nita Lowey in 2020 and then won the race for her open seat when she retired rather than face a real primary, is starting a PAC, with the intent of electing more progressives to the House. The Policy Is Personal PAC’s first two endorsements are Karen Carter Peterson and Nina Turner, the leading progressives in the LA-02 and OH-11 special elections. House progressives working to increase their own power within Congress is, simply put, the kind of shit we love to see.
Another candidate has filed to run for this Tucson-based open district: local immigration paralegal Marcos Urrea. He’s got a Twitter account, but little online presence outside of that, and it’s unclear how serious of a candidate he is.
Rep. Alcee Hastings died of pancreatic cancer last week at the age of 84. Hastings’s tragic death closes out a long and colorful career, which started with an appointment to a federal judgeship by Jimmy Carter and included the dubious honor of being one of just eight people ever convicted by the Senate in an impeachment trial—all before his election to Congress in 1992, three years after his Senate conviction.
Florida’s 20th district includes predominantly Black cities and neighborhoods across Broward and Palm Beach counties, from the cities of West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miramar, to rural Belle Glade, along with plenty of suburbs in between. It is an incredibly safe Democratic seat, and pretty much every ambitious Black Democrat in Broward and Palm Beach counties has had their eye on this seat for a while. The field is already quite crowded: state Sen. Perry Thurston, Broward County Commissioners Barbara Sharief and Dale Holness, former National Urban League chief of staff Elvin Dowling, and 2018/2020 primary challenger Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick have all either filed or announced. (Sharief and Cherfilus-McCormick were already running before Hastings’s death.) Holness has the endorsement of a long list of Broward County political figures, including Hastings’s son Alcee “Jody” Hastings II. Sharief has $100,000 of her own money, and very little money from anyone else; she also has the potential baggage of having been running against Hastings before his death. Dowling’s book has a foreword written by Hastings. Cherfilus-McCormick ran against Hastings twice before. And Thurston, who would have to resign from the state Senate to run, said he planned to run practically in the same breath as he extended his condolences to the Hastings family in a conversation with Politico. In short, Alcee Hastings looms large over the field to succeed him. We won’t have a full list of candidates, or even a date for the election, for some time; however, we do know that this will be a very crowded race. Florida Democrats do not often have opportunities to move up the ladder, because Florida Democrats are bad at winning things; however, FL-20 is just too blue to lose, and it provides South Florida Democrats itching for a promotion with their first chance at an open congressional seat since 2012.
If you read Politico’s Morning Score newsletter, you learned yesterday that a Republican super PAC is spending in opposition to state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, the progressive choice in the runoff for the House seat left open by the resignation of Biden adviser Cedric Richmond. If you read us, though, you heard about American Jobs & Growth PAC’s spending against Carter Peterson all the way back in February, when they made their first ad buy. (One reason Politico may not have caught the earlier spending? The PAC’s latest filing, which is the only one flagged by Politico, erroneously says the April expenditures are the PAC’s first in LA-02 since the beginning of the calendar year; in fact, they had already spent more than $80,000 against Carter Peterson before their April expenditures totaling $21,121.65. Sloppy FEC filing work on the part of American Jobs & Growth PAC.)
In other LA-02 news, EMILY’s List is spending big on behalf of Karen Carter Peterson, and Carter Peterson recently got the endorsement of New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell—a major boost to Carter Peterson’s campaign, though not a surprising one given that state Sen. Troy Carter, Carter Peterson’s opponent in the April 24 runoff, was an early supporter of Desiree Charbonnet’s 2017 mayoral bid; Charbonnet and Cantrell were the top two finishers in the first round of that 2017 election, and Cantrell ultimately won that election by an impressive 20-percentage-point margin.
Yesterday, both campaigns filed their pre-general election FEC reports. Once again, Troy Carter clocked in with more money raised: $611,000 to Karen Carter Peterson’s $363,000. Carter’s winning the airwaves in the final stretch, though his ads continue to be bland. The most recent one focuses on Cedric Richmond’s endorsement, and it barely distinguishes itself from his others. Carter Peterson’s only new ad since the primary round of voting is similar, and makes sure to mention third place challenger Gary Chambers Jr.’s support.
Nina Turner has been on a roll this week with endorsements, rolling out the support of a series of 7 local and state politicians, ranging from the first two Black women in the state senate to a couple of white local dynasty cases. She also got the IUE-CWA, the industrial division of the Communications Workers of America, as well as the CWA’s District 4, which covers territory including all of Ohio; on top of that, she got SEIU Local 1, which represents thousands of janitors in the state of Ohio, including 500 in Congressional District 11. Turner now has 8 union endorsements, including the large and powerful SEIU 1199, which represents tens of thousands of healthcare workers and public employees. This is yet another example of Shontel Brown’s difficulty in converting her powerful position within the party into tangible support among officials and organizations within it. We’ve heard from some people on the ground that Brown’s power comes mostly from Marcia Fudge, and that since she got in control, she’s not been particularly interested in gaining allies, a dynamic that may be coming back to bite her now. Her union support comes from the United Auto Workers and three building trades unions, some of the most establishment-oriented unions in the Midwest—groups that she had no real chance of losing to anyone else.
In the 36 hours following her campaign announcement, activist Odessa Kelly raised $100,000 for her bid against Blue Dog incumbent Jim Cooper. That is an astounding amount of money in such a short amount of time. For comparison, Jessica Cisneros, the first Justice Democrats-endorsed challenger of 2020, raised $147,000 in her first month. There’s no way that Kelly’s campaign isn’t going to be quite well financed.
Fox News got interested in the opportunity to pick at a new leftist, and dropped their first attempt a few days ago, a hilariously overwrought account of one joke Facebook post Kelly made about what Democrats should do in power, which included chilling totalitarian plans such as “hire the best pimp.. to Smack tha 💩 outta Ted Cruz”, “Blow Up Maralago", and "Disappear Mitch to some secret CIA prison." She also called Trump voters racist. We are shocked and appalled at these allegations that she is an active Facebook user. A moderately less substanceless charge in that article is that she attended a Louis Farrakhan speech a decade ago, but that’s still pretty weak sauce, because we think it’s safe to say that Kelly, who is openly lesbian, is not a fan of Farrakhan’s, given that he’s a vicious homophobe. As we said last week, Kelly’s a great candidate, but for this race to even happen, Democrats need to ban gerrymandering at the federal level, an effort that’s still in limbo.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was never in danger of losing renomination; even if the state were to abandon its arcane, anti-democratic “county line” ballot design system, Murphy’s popularity has soared due to his management of the pandemic, and he’s a safe bet for a second term. However, one of the people who was challenging him for the Democratic nomination, perennial candidate Lisa McCormick, has been felled by a petition fraud scandal so absurd we can’t not mention it.
The New Jersey Democratic Party challenged McCormick’s petitions after they noticed some...irregularities...with her petition signatories. Among them? Dead people. People who testified in court that they had never signed a petition for McCormick. People who misspelled their own names and addresses. People who no longer lived in New Jersey. Someone who we’re supposed to believe is named “First Name Middle Name Last Name.” (The state used this last one as evidence McCormick had used a mail-merge program rather than actually obtaining a single valid signature.) And did we mention that 85% of her alleged signatories have last names starting with A or B?
Yesterday, a hearing was held on the matter; McCormick was a straight-up no-show, but her campaign manager and partner Jim Devine at least coughed up an excuse for why he couldn’t make it to the Zoom hearing: he was locked out by his landlord, he says. (He did not account for how he was able to send an email notifying the court of the situation without being able to join a Zoom, both of which require nothing more than an Internet-capable device.) Today, Judge Jeffrey Rabin threw McCormick off the ballot, deciding that none of the petitions she submitted were valid. Another candidate, Roger Bacon, was also removed from the ballot for collecting an insufficient number of valid signatures (though he, at least, collected some valid signatures.) Murphy is now unchallenged for the Democratic nomination.
Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, whose candidacy is dogged by the fact that he is a white, male throwback in a state undergoing political realignment faster than almost anywhere else, got exactly the endorsement he needed to prove he’s the right candidate to lead a diverse, newly-blue Virginia into the future: Gov. Ralph “I don’t know if I was in blackface or the Klan hood” Northam.
Anyway, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy got the endorsements of Clean Virginia, Rep. Lauren Underwood, former NAACP head and 2018 Maryland gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous, and People for the American Way. She also announced a fundraising haul of $1.8 million in the first quarter of 2021. Clean Virginia probably deserves some explanation for everyone unfamiliar with Virginia politics. A hedge fund megamillionaire In Charlottesville named Michael Bills woke up one morning and decided to take on Dominion Energy, the monopolistic power utility that owns most politicians in the state. He’s now the state’s most prolific campaign donor. This endorsement is likely to come with serious cash, owing to Virginia's lack of campaign contribution limits.
Democratic Reps. David Cicilline and Jim Langevin are likely to find themselves in the same seat after redistricting. Today, they represent Rhode Island’s 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts; after the 2020 Census reapportionment, Rhode Island is likely to lose a congressional seat, forcing Cicilline and Langevin to compete for the state’s new at-large congressional district if they want to stay in the House. Cicilline, the more progressive of the two, is making clear that he’s not leaving without a fight; he announced a first-quarter fundraising haul of $650,000, which his campaign says is a record for a Rhode Island House campaign in a single quarter.
Technically, this is a Republican-held seat; however, Gov. Larry Hogan is term-limited, and it’s hard (if not impossible) to see anyone else holding this office for the GOP, particularly in light of the GOP’s Trump-era collapse in former Republican bastions like Frederick and Anne Arundel counties. And now we’re set for a primary: state Comptroller Peter Franchot, long viewed as the frontrunner, will face former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker for the Democratic nomination. Franchot has long been a stubborn moderate (a staunch ally of GOP Gov Larry Hogan, he refused to support the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2018), and Baker was the establishment choice in the 2018 gubernatorial primary won by progressive favorite Ben Jealous, so neither is a particularly exciting choice, but anyone’s better than Franchot. (On the bright side, the chatter surrounding Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., much more progressive than either Franchot or Baker, only continues to grow louder—aided by Olszewski himself, who took to Twitter to punt on questions about a statewide run until after Baltimore County passes its yearly operating budget, in a manner that leaves us with little doubt he’s running.)
Dan McKee ascended to the governorship less than a month ago upon the confirmation of Gina Raimondo as Joe Biden’s Secretary of Commerce, and he already faces a challenge from medical doctor Luis Daniel Muñoz, a member of the state’s COVID-19 Equity Council who got 1.7% of the vote as an independent candidate for governor in 2018. During that bid, he was willing to attack incumbent Democrat Gina Raimondo vaguely from the left, but was overall a “pox on both your houses” centrist. Muñoz is likely to be just one of many challengers McKee faces; Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, and state Treasurer Seth Magaziner are all rumored to be looking at challenging the new governor.
Incumbent AG Mark Herring dug up a couple names out of the political graveyard this week to bolster his reelection bid: former Congressmen Rick Bouncher and Jim Moran. Boucher represented Southwest VA in Congress for a long time, but he lost his seat over a decade ago, and the NRA-backed congressman is very much from a different era. Moran is a little more relevant, seeing as he was a mainstream liberal who retired from his Northern Virginia seat in 2014, but either way, it shows that Herring is digging deep for supporters. A recent endorsement of Jay Jones by Clean Virginia (see VA-Gov item for more) may have sent the incumbent in search of some positive headlines.
Kim Janey, who became the first woman and first Black person to lead the city of Boston just last month upon the confirmation of Marty Walsh as Joe Biden’s Secretary of Labor, has announced her entry into the crowded field of candidates seeking a full term in November’s election. (Also in the field are Councilors Michelle Wu, Andrea Campbell, and Annissa Essaibi George, as well as state Rep. Jon Santiago and Walsh administration official John Barros; state Sen. Nick Collins may also join the race.) As an incumbent, Janey could start with an advantage in September’s first-round election, from which the top two vote-getters will advance. However, one doesn’t have to look very far into the past to find an example of an unelected mayor getting soundly rejected by the voters; Baltimore’s Jack Young got a distant fifth place in the 2020 Democratic primary after taking over from disgraced Mayor Catherine Pugh.
Everyone thought Frank Jackson was retiring. Why wouldn’t they? He’s spent this term in office taking one big nap, he’s not fundraising or going to forums, and he hadn’t announced any plans to run again, for a fifth term, which he’d be 79 by the end of. And yet, Jackson apparently had a conversation with the head of the Black Contractors Group in the city, and said he’ll be on the ballot once more. Cleveland has mayoral runoffs, so Jackson won’t be able to coast over a divided field on name recognition alone. During the 2017 election, he had a weak showing in the first round, and managed to bounce back for a 19% victory in the runoff, but he was much more active and engaged in politicking then.
NYC Endorsement Tracker:
NYC Mayor: Rep. Yvette Clarke for Maya Wiley, Teamsters Joint Council 16 and Council of School Supervisors and Administrators for City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Assemb. Marcela Mitaynes for Dianne Morales
New York State Nurses’ Association for Adolfo Abreu (Council District 14), Amit Bagga (Council District 26), Juan Ardila (Council District 30), Mercedes Narcisse (Council District 46), Council Member Mark Levine (Manhattan Borough President), and incumbent Donovan Richards (Queens Borough President)
Queens organizer Navjot Pal Kaur is considering a run for Congress in NY-03, currently held by centrist Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi. This district is primarily located in the Long Island suburbs, but roughly one-sixth of the district’s voters reside in Queens; redistricting is almost certain to push this district further into Queens. Suozzi, a former Nassau County Executive and a longtime pillar of the New York Democratic Party’s reigning conservative faction, is considering a run for governor should Andrew Cuomo resign or retire; if he does run for reelection, the Long Island moderate could struggle in a district containing a larger chunk of Queens. (Suozzi survived a spirited primary challenge from progressive activist Melanie D’Arrigo in 2020, but got just 58% of the vote in Queens, compared to a much stronger 68% in both Nassau and Suffolk counties.)
Kaur, a DSA member and Sikh activist, cuts a very different profile from Suozzi, a white, moderate machine politician. Suozzi’s biography may have fit the Long Island of 1993 (the year he was first elected mayor of Glen Cove); however, that Long Island was much whiter than today’s Long Island, and Suozzi’s home of Nassau County had just voted for a Democrat for president for the first time since 1964. (Since Bill Clinton turned Nassau blue in 1992, it has voted Democratic in every presidential election since.)
He still hasn’t resigned. Despite ten separate accusations of sexual misconduct, multiple corruption scandals, and calls to resign from many of his own party’s top elected officials, Andrew Cuomo is still hanging on. But the hits keep coming!
The New York Times did an excellent deep dive into his sordid, thoroughly insane career, and oh boy, there’s a lot. His own father’s aides liked to refer to him as “the prince of darkness.” He bragged about his own sexual prowess to a captive audience of aides. He gave his hideous posters out as awkward gifts intended to shore up support. He used a transphobic slur we will not repeat. He interfered with state commissions tasked with utility reform and public corruption, twisting them to produce the outcomes he wanted. He called himself Sonny Corleone. To an aide who he viewed as insufficiently combative towards a female journalist, he asked, “You banging her?” When he was unhappy about attending an event celebrating the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, he grumbled, “These people and their fucking tree houses.” (Sukkot involves outdoor worship in temporary structures with roofs of plant material, often tree branches.) There’s much, much more; we urge you to read it, and to subsequently give the nearest wall your best thousand-yard stare as you contemplate the fact that this deranged goblin remains in office.
Coverage of Andrew Yang has focused on how he’s a weirdo and a dumbass. We’ve certainly been guilty of this ourselves. (In our defense, it’s hard not to focus on that.) But this weekend, he found a way to take his weird dumbass energy into the realm of policy, and it wasn’t pretty.
Street food is a cultural institution in New York City; if there’s a craving you have, chances are you can find someone somewhere in the five boroughs who is selling a heavenly version of whatever food you want out of a truck or a cart. Andrew Yang apparently wants to subject the city’s beloved churro ladies and halal carts to more police harassment, though he wants to expand licensing somewhat (how? To whom? Details are for suckers.) This is the preferred policy of the city’s more well-resourced brick-and-mortar establishments; street vendors may be smaller, but they take up market share that supermarkets and chain retailers would like to have for themselves. It is not a good policy, because it subjects a disproportionately immigrant, overwhelmingly working-class population to more policing. And it’s a perfect encapsulation of who Andrew Yang will govern for: the wealthy, the owners of property, the tech doofuses who want to sanitize the city just as they want to sanitize everything else they touch. (That is assuming he governs, which is probably too kind.) His true constituency, finance dorks and Reddit power users, isn’t enough to swing a mayoral election, but the traditional villains you love to hate—business interests, school privatization enthusiasts, open right-wingers—have latched on to his campaign, because they know a mark when they see one.
The Working Families Party’s endorsement is expected in the coming days. City Comptroller Scott Stringer and former Chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board Maya Wiley have long been viewed as the strongest contenders for the party’s endorsement. However, according to Politico’s Sally Goldenberg, former affordable housing executive Dianne Morales, until recently viewed as a hopelessly long-shot progressive candidate, was rated more favorably than Wiley and almost as favorably as Stringer in the party’s initial survey of its members. Stringer’s campaign has floundered in recent months, even as he was seen as a frontrunner in the years leading up to the official start of the mayoral campaign; losing WFP would be a disaster for his campaign, particularly if he were to lose it to Morales, who has lately been outmaneuvering him in getting endorsements from progressive and leftist politicians (though Stringer still has far more, owing to an early and aggressive push for endorsements.)
Brooklyn Borough President
We’ve discussed Council Member Robert Cornegy’s ethical problems in the past. He’s been accused of using official resources (namely, staff time) for his campaign, which is a severe violation of ethics standards and very much illegal if anyone ever gets around to enforcing that part of the law. But now he’s apparently found a way to be unethical within the bounds of the law: falsely claiming endorsements and hoping nobody notices. Per City & State NY, Cornegy claimed endorsements from a community board president and two Democratic District Leaders who had not endorsed him; the community board president, Brooklyn Community Board 10’s Joanne Seminara, has actually endorsed Cornegy rival Jo Anne Simon, a member of the state Assembly. The two Democratic District Leaders, Chris McCreight of the 64th Assembly District and Josué Pierre of the 42nd Assembly District, also told City & State they had not endorsed Cornegy (and Pierre, who is running for the Council seat left open by rival BP candidate Mathieu Eugene, made clear that he had not endorsed anyone for BP.)
The Cornegy campaign’s explanation? Uhhh, it was a mistake. Oops!
Council District 11 (3/23 special election results)
When the initial election day results came back, we assumed the race was pretty much finished. Eric Dinowitz, son of moderate Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, had 42%, and led progressives Mino Lora and Jessica Haller, who had 25% and 15%, respectively; the remaining votes went to conservative candidates. Last night, after mail ballots were counted and ranked choice allocation took place (though frustratingly, they called it for time and stopped one round from the end, putting it off for a day.) However, Dinowitz leads with 4,919 votes to Lora’s 2,403 votes and Haller’s 1,681, or 55% to 27% to 19%. In other words, about what you would have gotten if you’d taken the election day vote and assumed most votes for minor candidates would be taken up by Dinowitz. This is a win for him, but Haller’s voters will likely favor Lora more than him, meaning it wasn’t a blowout despite the advantages of a whiter electorate that allows Republicans in. He’s looking vulnerable to Lora in the June primary, and she’s been gung-ho about campaigning in the meantime.
Council District 15 (3/23 special election results)
Mail ballots have been counted, ranked choice voting has been allocated, and the new Council member from this district will be Oswald Feliz. Feliz, a member of Congressman Adriano Espillat’s orbit, defeated a wide field of candidates. Among them are second-place finisher Ischia Bravo, choice of the Bronx establishment; third-place finisher John Sanchez, the candidate from Walmart; and fourth-place finisher Elisa Crespo, the choice of the left. After seeing that tough result, Crespo has decided against running in the regularly scheduled primary in June.