Primary School 5/13
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As a bit of housekeeping: we will have our regular primary preview out on Tuesday, May 17.
Another round of pre-primary reports came in this week. These are for races to be held on May 24, and the reports cover 4/1 through 5/4. Most noteworthy, in our view, is that Henry Cuellar’s financial advantage has evaporated. Jane Hope Hamilton is going to need more than that to catch up with Jasmine Crockett, who was way out in front in the first round of this primary, and Blue Dog Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux isn’t going to be able to spend her way out of being a one-term wonder as moderate-but-not-gratuitously-terrible Rep. Lucy McBath has built up an imposing financial edge for the home stretch.
Oh, and about Cuellar’s spending—$35,000 of that was legal fees, and another $4,000 was paying his sister to phone bank.
Outside $ Tracker
$52K of mailers supporting Phil Arballo and attacking Adam Gray from the Voter Protection Project. The VPP looks a lot like a mercenary pass-through for Democratic donors, and they’ve done work in the past for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who have endorsed Arballo. Total VPP spending: $52K
$12K of digital ads for Adam Gray from the National Association of Realtor PAC. The ads are static images praising Gray’s work on infrastructure (in front of a natural gas pipe) and saying he’ll increase the housing supply. Total Realtors spending: $12K
$66K of billboards and $47K of mailers for Emily Beach from With Honor Fund. With Honor is a “cross-partisan” Super PAC that endorses Republicans and Democrats who sign their pledge to be bipartisan and civil. Total With Honor spending: $113K
$38K in mailers for Tony Cárdenas from America United. Total America United spending: $75K
$867K of TV, radio, and digital ads for Robert Garcia from Protect Our Future. The ad is a positive bio spot that, for the first time we can discern, actually mentions Protect Our Future’s stated aim: preventing pandemics. Total POF spending: $867K
$22K of mailers attacking Cristina Carcia from the Voter Protection Project. Total VPP spending: $22K
$51K in mailers for Lucy McBath from Everytown for Gun Safety. Total Everytown spending: $794K
$75K of ads for David Scott from Center Forward (Blue Dogs). Total Center Forward spending: $75K
$467K for a flurry of TV and digital ads attacking Erica Smith from Democratic Majority for Israel. The first TV ad is deceptive but effective, tying together the efforts from Republicans to boost her in the 2020 Senate primary with the sprite endorsement she made for a Republican in a state Senate race that year. The first digital ad touts Don Davis “get[ting] things done”. Total DMFI spending: $467K
$202K for TV ads and $2,500 of phone calls for Erica Smith and attacking Don Davis from WFP National PAC. The ad praises Smith as a “real Democrat” before attacking Davis as a “fake Democrat” for his voting record, which includes votes against abortion rights and veto overrides against Gov. Roy Cooper. Total WFP spending: $487K
$598K in TV ads for Valerie Foushee the United Democracy Project (AIPAC). The ad (at least one of them) focuses entirely on Foushee’s support of abortion rights, Its choice of gentle, uplifting music is jarring in contrast to the pictures of protests and talk of rights under attack. Total UDP spending: $2.07M
$122K of TV ads and $72K of radio ads for Valerie Foushee from Democratic Majority for Israel. The TV ad focuses on Foushee’s time in politics, and her votes for abortion and voting rights, raising the minimum wage, and “improving health care”. Total DMFI spending: $290K
$75K of mailers and $4,400 of canvassing lit for Nida Allam from the Working Families Party. The digital ad is a mostly positive spot listing her endorsements and support of Medicare for All, but does take a swipe at “right wing dark money”. Total WFP spending: $264K
$58K of mailers for Valerie Foushee from Protect Our Future PAC. Total POFP spending: $1.04M
$7,400 in mailers for Nida Allam from North Carolina Asian Americans Together Total NCAAT in Action spending: $11K
$6,500 for canvassing for Nida Allam from Care in Action. Total Care in Action spending: $6,500
$829K of ads, mostly attacking Summer Lee from United Democracy Project (AIPAC). Total UDP spending: $2.40M
$247K in ads and mailers and $310K in TV, radio and digital ads for Summer Lee from Justice Democrats PAC. The TV ad, which begins by asking “who is the real Democrat?” also attacks Irwin for his political contribution to Pat Toomey, and for accepting the support of AIPAC, referred to here as “a PAC that supports over 100 Republicans” Total JD spending: $693K
$32K of mailers for Summer Lee from the Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC. Total CPC spending: $186K
$3,400 of GOTV texts for Steve Irwin from Democratic Majority for Israel. Total DMFI spending: $403K
$2,600 of radio ads for Summer Lee from Pennsylvania United. Total PA United spending: $20K
$38K of mailer for Val Hoyle from Web3 Forward ($FTX). Total Web3 Forward spending: $542K
$34,000 of mailers for Jamie McLeod-Skinner from the Working Families Party. Total WFP spending: $297K
$3,700 of phone calls for Jamie McLeod-Skinner from Indivisible Action. Total Indivisible spending: $10K
$21K for GOTV and $501K of TV ads for Andrea Salinas from BOLD PAC (Congressional Hispanic Caucus). The ad is a standard positive spot about Salinas’s time in the state house. Total BOLD spending: $1.45M
$440K in attack ads against Jessica Cisneros, $19K in GOTV phone calls for Henry Cuellar and $57K in mail, mostly anti-Jessica Cisneros, from United Democracy Project (AIPAC). Total UDP spending: $1.27MK
$122K of canvassing for Jessica Cisneros from WFP National PAC. Total WFP spending: $556K
$101K in digital ads for Jessica Cisneros from Justice Democrats PAC. Total JD spending: $524K
$55K in mailers for Jessica Cisneros/against Henry Cuellar from Women Vote! (EMILY’s List). Total EMILY spending: $195K
$30K in mailers for Jessica Cisneros from Vote Nurses Values PAC (California Nurses Association). Total CNA spending: $51K
$26K in mailers for Henry Cuellar from Charter Schools Action Fund. Total CSAF spending: $26K
$8,800 in digital ads for Jessica Cisneros from The AFL-CIO Political Education Fund. Total AFL-CIO spending: $9,000
$8,600 of mailers for Jessica Cisneros from LUPE Votes. Total LUPE spending: $8,600.
$1,700 of texting for Jessica Cisneros from MoveOn.org Political Action. Total MoveOn spending: $1,700
$32K in mailers for Jasmine Crockett from Protect Our Future PAC. Total POF spending in runoff: $96K
$10K in digital ads for Jasmine Crockett from newly created mystery PAC Opportunity for Tomorrow. The ads are all contribution asks, focused on the general election, oddly enough. Total OFT spending: $10K
On Wednesday, a Republican Florida trial judge found that Ron DeSantis’s enacted congressional map violated the state constitution by eliminating the ability of Black voters in North Florida to elect a member of Congress. If this ruling stands, Rep. Al Lawson’s FL-05 will be preserved in some form (the trial judge opted for a Tallahassee-to-Jacksonville configuration similar to the existing district, but other proposed maps have contained FL-05 entirely within Jacksonville, which would spell disaster for Lawson, a longtime fixture in Tallahassee politics.) It’s unclear what this means for the rest of the map; while the entire thing is being challenged for violating the Florida constitution, plaintiffs only sought preliminary relief in the most egregious part of the map (FL-05).
Missouri Republicans finally passed a congressional map; it made pretty minor changes to Cori Bush’s MO-01, which we discuss in our MO-01 item below.
Following the state courts’ last-minute scrambling of the Congressional map, some questions about how this election season will go are beginning to be answered. Firstly, a federal court has ordered a bifurcated primary, placing the Congressional or Senate races on Aug 23. Second, the Assembly maps will be left as is, because there is not time to challenge them. Finally, a state court has ruled that any candidate who qualifies for Congress or Senate on the old maps can run for any district they qualify for on the new maps, and there will additionally be a period of petitioning for additional candidates who would like to run in new districts, which will start once the new maps are unveiled.
The major newspapers of the district jointly endorsed Assemb. Adam Gray this week. The three papers—the Fresno Bee, the Modesto Bee, and the Merced Sun-Star—are all owned by media conglomerate McClatchy.
The Palo Alto Daily Post endorsed San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa, while the Bay Area Reporter, a long-running major LGBT newspaper, endorsed Assemb. Kevin Mullin. This long-form piece from the Almanac, a southern San Mateo County publication, gives the first really comprehensive overview of the candidates from local media, and it helps shed some light on the ideological divides in this race. Canepa is putting himself forward as the progressive candidate. He supports Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, and says he’d like to join the Squad if he’s elected to Congress. But he’s also inconsistent, or perhaps just not great about thinking things through. He supports a no-fly zone over Ukraine, also known as rolling the dice on a nuclear war with Russia, has extremely suburban opinions about property taxes, and there’s also this amazing exchange with Jewish Insider in March:
Asked about his views on BDS, for instance, Canepa indicated that he was unaware of the movement. “You know, BDS, I support BDS,” he said at first. “BDS meaning, can you explain that to me again? I think I know what that is.”
He paused after JI had offered a summary. “I don’t think I’m in support of that,” he said. “Let me get back to you on that one.”
Later in the conversation, he offered a clarification. “I wanted to get back to BDS, which is really, really important,” Canepa told JI. “I do not support BDS. Make no mistake about it. That goes too far for me. It really does.”
If you love weird campaign finance scandals, you’re in luck. The Daily Beast reports that Tony Cárdenas has funneled $424,000 of campaign money over the last decade to his wife’s company for “communications consulting”. While not necessarily illegal, keeping your family on the payroll can get you in trouble if you pay them more than fair market rate, and can be a PR problem even if you don’t. As for what services his wife’s company has been providing the campaign for $4,400/mo, that isn’t specified, but we’re assuming it involves a lot of healing crystals. Norma Cárdenas lists herself as a “emotional wellness facilitator” qualified to provide services such as “primordial sound meditation”. Maybe we can attribute Tony Cárdenas’s win last cycle to having expertly perfected vibes.
Meanwhile, as far as money actually being spent to get Cárdenas elected, last week we referred to America United as a “mystery PAC”, merely because it had an ungoogleable name, no web presence to speak of, and was run by a mid-level political hack (Jorge Neri). But we were mistaken, it seems. America United had, in fact, spoken to the press once before. In a Newsweek article written last month, when the PAC was founded, there are a few key details. It has already raised $2 million from “high net worth individuals and companies”; it’s endorsing Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Ruben Gallego (AZ-03), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Yadira Caraveo (CO-08), and Ruben Ramirez (TX-15); and the group is planning on spending at least $200,000 for each of those candidates. Cárdenas has already benefited from $75,000 of this group’s spending, but there will be more coming.
There was one other detail that stuck out, that one of the only two other names attached to the PAC other than Neri was Chuck Rocha, who ran Latino outreach for Bernie 2020. It is weird enough that he’d be signed up for a PAC which seems to exclusively support moderate candidates through primaries, but being part of a pro-Cuellar PAC was bizarre for a man who was publicly supporting Jessica Cisneros. Rocha later clarified to The American Prospect that he wasn’t involved with the Cuellar IEs (though he is “extremely proud” to be producing mailers for Cárdenas) and he only did “some consulting with this PAC”. That’s not at all how Neri described the PAC to Newsweek, as a “small group” of “people who get it”. Guess there is a mystery to this PAC after all.
Former Chris Murphy staffer Muad Hrezi failed to get 15% at the party convention, meaning that to make the ballot he’ll need to petition onto it, an arduous task that involves an unusually high 4,000 signatures. Hrezi says he’s going to go that route.
Activist Maxwell Frost continues to collect big endorsements while his more moderate competition flounders in this Orlando district. This week, he notched the endorsements of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s BOLD PAC—which often spends heavily for its endorsed candidates—and Elizabeth Warren. Meanwhile, his leading opponent, state Sen. Randolph Bracy, finally got some attention from the press for once. Unfortunately, it was a mention in a Politico newsletter of an edit war over his Wikipedia page. The edit history on Bracy’s Wikipedia page shows IP addresses in downtown Orlando and even at the Florida State Capitol repeatedly removing references to a likely accidental vote Bracy cast in favor of allowing concealed carry on college campuses and adding inappropriate, blatant editorializing.
Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick kicked off her reelection campaign with a bang by trotting out a big endorsement: Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief. Sharief took third place with 17.7% in the special election that Cherfilus-McCormick won by five votes over Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, who is now seeking a rematch. In addition to this snub by his former colleague-turned-rival, Holness’s week involved a former consultant getting arrested for fraudulent COVID loans (not to be confused with his daughter, who was recently sentenced to twenty months in prison for fraudulent COVID loans.)
After months of teasing, Kai Kahele has finally made his entrance into the gubernatorial race official. Kahele’s late entrance means he’ll have an uphill battle, because Lt. Gov. Josh Green has already locked down most of organized labor and many local political power players. It also means yet another blue House seat is officially open.
Former state Rep. Litesa Wallace released an internal poll, giving this oft-overlooked race its second poll. The poll shows Wallace leading TV meteorologist Eric Sorensen 22% to 19%, with Rock Island County Board Member Angie Normoyle at 8%, Rockford Ald. Jonathan Logemann at 5%, activist Marsha Williams at 3%, and cannabis lobbyist Jacqueline McGowan at 2%. While this race was, for months, a large field of mostly unknowns, it’s now taking shape in the final weeks. Eric Sorensen is a more establishment choice, backed by the AFL-CIO, Cheri Bustos’s network, and a collection of local politicians, while Litesa Wallace is the progressive choice and supported by the SEIU. With early voting starting in just a few days, nearly 42% of those surveyed are still unsure, and candidates remain largely unknown to voters. Sorensen has 51% name ID, Wallace has 44%, and it declines precipitously from there, with 31% recognizing Logemann, 28% for Williams, 27% for Normoyle, and 23% for McGowan. This race could go absolutely any way.
In a bit of news we missed last week, Rockford Ald. Linda McNeely was disqualified from the primary ballot for failing to file enough valid signatures, which is likely good news for Wallace and Logemann, the two remaining Rockford candidates.
State House Speaker Adrienne Jones endorsed Wes Moore. Jones is an important power broker in Baltimore County, a key source of votes in Democratic primaries. Moore continues to weather bad, Baltimore-related headlines, making this a clutch endorsement from Jones.
Two major SEIU locals and Nancy Pelosi backed former Rep. Donna Edwards this week. AIPAC has endorsed Glenn Ivey in this race, and bundled $158K for him in the first quarter of 2022. The endorsement itself isn’t notable, but AIPAC has only bundled for a few candidates, and all of them have received millions of support from the group’s Super PAC, United Democracy Project, making this race a probable new frontier for progressives facing down right-wing money in the coming weeks. The Pelosi endorsement complicates that. AIPAC has always intervened in Democratic primaries on the side of national Democratic leaders (OH-11, TX-28, NC-01), or at least not against them (PA-12, NC-04). We’ll find out soon enough if AIPAC minds angering House leadership. J Street, a more liberal counterpart to AIPAC which often finds itself on the opposite side of Democratic primaries, endorsed Edwards 3 weeks ago.
A new Target-Insyght poll has former Detroit City Councilor Sharon McPhail leading at 20%, John Conyers III at 15%, self-funding state Rep. Shri Thanedar at 12%, nonprofit CEO Portia Roberson and former state Rep./current Detroit School Board Member Sherry Gay-Dagnogo at 9% apiece, state Sen. Adam Hollier at 6%, and Teach for America executive Michael Griffie and political consultant Sam Riddle at 2% apiece.
Ilhan Omar won the DFL party endorsement 62-37 over conservative former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels. While the DFL endorsement carries with it some weight among voters and access to party resources, candidates often beat it, which Samuels has said he’ll try to do. It’s at this point that we were going to compare the margin to 2020’s convention, when Omar beat Antone Melton-Meaux, but it doesn’t seem to have been published anywhere at the time? The fully virtual convention, owing to COVID, may be to blame for that. In the 2018 convention, she received 68% of the vote.
Following months of barely-comprehensible and honestly not that interesting fighting between wings of the Missouri GOP, they’ve finally passed a congressional map. The map, like previous versions, cuts out MO-01’s small incursions into southern St. Louis County and takes in a large chunk of northern St. Louis County, trading precincts of strength for Cori Bush for places she likely would have lost in the 2020 primary, something that was requested by alleged rapist and confirmed Bush challenger Steve Roberts.
Speaking of Roberts, he released his first ad this week. The spot is pure attack, going after Cori Bush for voting against the infrastructure bill, and claiming that she opposed it because of what was in it instead of what wasn’t. It ends with the message “Cori Bush: she claims to love you, but so did your ex”, a gutsy joke for Roberts—who is, once again, an accused rapist—to be making, and it’s a clear sign about how he’s going to be running his campaign. Buckle up: this race is going to get ugly.
As DMFI gets involved in more and more House primaries, they’re starting to get sloppy: former state Sen. Erica Smith got DMFI’s most recent ad against her pulled off the air for lying about her being a Republican. (DMFI is backing state Sen. Don Davis, a conservative Democrat with a spotty-at-best record on abortion rights.)
State Sen. Valerie Foushee’s unrestrained and gleeful embrace of millions in right-wing money ($3.4 million and counting) has undoubtedly been a net positive for her. The internal poll her side released last week showed her up double digits, a lead wholly reliant on voters who had been on the receiving end of those ads. But it's not without its costs. This week, Clay Aiken and Ashley Ward held a press conference to denounce the outside spending, and state Rep. Marcia Morey (HD-30, Durham), an early Foushee endorser, switched her support to Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, citing as inspiration the publication of How To Buy a Blue Seat, an article by new digital magazine The Assembly, detailing the big money effort to elect Foushee. According to the article's author, it's now being robo-texted to voters in the district by an unknown party. There's no evidence or indication that the Allam campaign is behind those texts, though it does fit in with her recent focus on highlighting that money.
In her most recent ad, Allam declares that “Super PACs are spending millions trying to silence me”. In that ad, Allam also highlights her endorsements from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (an AOC endorsement arrived just after the ad made it to air.) The combined Sanders and Warren vote share in this district was 45%, the highest for any Democratic-leaning district in the state. The Working Families Party’s latest ad hit similar notes, both with the endorsements, and a declaration that “she’s not relying on right wing dark money or dirty energy lobbyists.”
Rep. Tom Suozzi released a HarrisX internal showing him trailing Gov. Kathy Hochul 46% to 20%, with NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams at 12%. Why he would choose to release a poll showing himself losing horribly after lapping the field in ad spending is a mystery to anyone.
Former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury has endorsed progressive activist Doyle Canning ahead of Tuesday’s primary. Bradbury served as Secretary of State from 1999 to 2009, and before that was a state representative from rural coastal southwest Oregon (which is contained in this district, though most of the population lives elsewhere.)
The leak of the draft Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade has apparently put Democratic primary voters nationwide in an unforgiving mood. According to National Journal and the Cook Political Report, Kurt Schrader has lost support since the leak and now trails progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner in private polling. Meanwhile, the shameless bullshit he’s pushing about supporting efforts to lower prescription drug prices pissed off enough doctors to get an open letter rolling. 50 of them joined together to tell Schrader to stop airing ads saying he fought to lower prescription drug costs. If there’s anything that this and the “Cuellar opposes a ban on abortion” ads prove, it’s that centrists have discovered something Republicans already knew: voters will like you better if you just lie about what you support instead of admitting you’re a right-winger.
Elizabeth Warren endorsed state Rep. Andrea Salinas in what is increasingly looking like a two-person race between Salinas and think tank guy Carrick Flynn, whose campaign is funded by slurp juice for your apes. (It’s actually funded, albeit indirectly through more than $10 million in super PAC spending, by cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried. However, in honor of half of Bankman-Fried’s proverbial apes being gone thanks to the swift collapse of cryptocurrency in the past week, we’re going to shoehorn some jokes in.) In the best sign yet that Flynn’s side knows Salinas is his greatest threat, Protect Our Future has, after over $10 million in positive ads for Flynn, began running a negative ad against Salinas, calling her a “drug company lobbyist.”
Like many other races in this issue, an avalanche of outside money from right-wing groups has come to define this race with Tuesday’s primary looming. Supporters of state Rep. Summer Lee, including Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, denounced the onslaught of negative ads funded by centrist groups. Lee is getting some last-minute help from national progressives, too: AOC endorsed her on Tuesday, and Bernie Sanders came to Pittsburgh to hold a rally for Lee on Thursday. This inspired Mike Doyle to go to the press to complain about how much he hated serving in the House with Bernie, in what was theoretically an attempt to campaign for establishment choice Steve Irwin.
The death of Roe has also weighed heavily on the race for governor of Rhode Island. Helena Foulkes and Nellie Gorbea have begun attacking each other for their record on choice. Foulkes directly financially supported the 2014 reelection of Mitch McConnel, probably one of the top 10 men in America not on SCOTUS most responsible for Roe’s demise. Of course she’s said that the contribution happened before McConnell started putting bad justices on the Supreme Court, so who’s really to say if that was bad or not (it was). Gorbea’s past on the issue is also quite sketchy. She worked for a Republican governor and supported the reelection of anti-choice RI House speaker Nicholas Mattiello, as Foulkes’s spokesperson gleefully pointed out. Incumbent Dan McKee has come out in support of a bill that would allow state funding of abortions, but is receiving criticism for not amending his current budget with a similar provision.
Rhode Island’s Working Families Party chapter endorsed David Segal this week, another sign that the left is consolidating behind Segal, a former state representative and longtime progressive activist. Moderate frontrunner Seth Magaziner, the current state treasurer, doesn’t just have Segal to worry about, though: Sarah Morgenthau, an attorney and Commerce Department staffer, is already going up on the air, four months before Rhode Island’s mid-September primary. Morgenthau is the scion of a political family—her mother was an adviser to Jimmy Carter, her uncle was longtime Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau, her grandfather was FDR’s Treasury secretary—and she has a ton of connections within Democratic Party politics, but that all may be a detriment to her, because it only serves to highlight that her connections to Rhode Island rest mainly on her wealthy family’s summer home. Going on the air this early is sometimes the only choice for candidates like Morgenthau: if they can flood the zone with banal positive ads, later negative ads about their vulnerabilities might not get noticed by an ad-weary voting public.
Tannya Benavides, whose candidacy caused this race to go to a runoff, finally got behind her pro-choice compatriot Jessica Cisneros. It’s logical that the increased salience of abortion would be especially bad news for Henry Cuellar, the last anti-abortion Democrat in the House of Representatives, and now we have something concrete: both the Cook Political Report and National Journal report that Cuellar’s poll numbers have taken a turn for the worse since the Roe leak. Cook Political specifically says multiple sources tell them Cuellar now trails Cisneros in private polling (and that Kurt Schrader also trails Jamie McLeod-Skinner, as mentioned above.) Pro-Cuellar ads are beginning to take a desperately dishonest route: one spot from tech billionaire Reid Hoffman’s Mainstream Democrats PAC is brazenly lying about Cuellar’s record, claiming the congressman does not support banning abortion when he rather infamously does support banning many currently-legal abortions.
Longtime readers may remember that Henry Cuellar allegedly fired a staffer, Kristie Small, because she was pregnant. The matter is a sensitive topic for Cuellar and his team; we experienced it firsthand when Cuellar’s then-campaign manager frivolously threatened to sue one of us for tweeting about the alleged discrimination back in 2019. Now it may be coming back to bite him: Jezebel reviewed court documents from Kristie Small’s discrimination lawsuit and noticed that Cuellar himself had other staffers write letters critical of Small’s job performance both before and after she filed her lawsuit in federal court, suggesting the congressman may have been trying to cover his ass. (The lawsuit has since been settled in federal court.)
Also named in the Jezebel story and court documents? Colin Strother, the campaign manager who threatened to sue us. (He was an employee of Cuellar’s campaign, not his congressional office, and yet he was still involved in personnel matters in the congressional office—and that wasn’t even Strother’s only conflict of interest, since he worked for Cuellar’s campaign and ran a shadowy pro-Cuellar dark money outfit at the same time.) Guess that explains why our friend Colin was so touchy way back when, huh?
Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal endorsed state Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale this week. Ram Hinsdale was one of six endorsements listed by Jayapal in a statement to the Washington Post, but was the only one who was not also endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s PAC in recent days.
State Rep. Kam Buckner, who represents a district stretching along the city’s shore from the impoverished South Side to the rich Gold Coast, is running for mayor. Buckner, while only in his second term in the State House, is already chair of the Illinois House Black Caucus. He’s well positioned, has been relatively progressive in the legislature, and doesn't appear to possess Lori Lightfoot’s desire to personally fight with every resident of Chicago. Naturally, there has to be a catch. That catch is Buckner’s DUI convictions. The first time was in 2010, and the second was in 2019, after he was appointed to the House. The case was more severe than having a drink for the ride home—he was found passed out in his car, stinking of alcohol. Bucker says he’s changed since then, but recent history like that is a good way to ground a campaign before it ever takes off.
Councilman Joe Buscaino has dropped out of the race and endorsed real estate billionaire Rick Caruso. Buscaino’s whole deal was being a loud belligerent asshole fear mongering on crime and homelessness, so when Caruso proved to be a louder, more belligerent asshole, and one with more money, Buscaino became a man without a base. He will not be missed.
The Los Angeles Times has been making its endorsements this week, giving us an opportunity to talk about some important races in America's 2nd largest city. For Mayor they endorsed Karen Bass, but the preliminary round of this race is less interesting now that the impending Bass-Caruso runoff has become clear. Their choice for City Attorney was Hydee Feldstein Soto, which tracks for them—she'll be the choice of a lot of white liberals in this clown car primary. Emphasis on the clown. There's the guy running as a Republican (Richard Kim); the two former Republicans (Faisal Gill and Kevin James); the standard-issue tough-on-crime crowd (Feldstein Soto, Marina Torres, and Teddy Kapur); and Sherri Onica Valle Cole, who seems like she should be running as the no-chance lefty, but doesn't have that kind of platform and is more running as a yuppie-affected community do-gooder. The left's choice in this race has so far been Gill. Yes, one of the ex-Republicans. Sure, Gill claims to have left the party in 2008, and was elected to a committee position in the Vernont Democratic Party in 2017, but this wasn't the product of a misguided, largely apolitical youth—he ran for state House in Virginia as a Republican in 2007. Still, in a field like this, a real beggars-can't-be-choosers attitude has predominated among progressives in favor of the only candidate even willing to act like he might implement progressive policies.
Their choice for City Controller (what a normal place would call a comptroller) was, shockingly, Kenneth Mejia. Mejia is a former Green Party congressional candidate running a leftist campaign with an unorthodox premise: he’s trying to start doing the job before he’s actually elected. The city controller is mainly in charge of administrative and financial oversight of city government, so Mejia has been using data obtained through a barrage of public records requests to make easy-to-understand tools to help LA residents to, for example, understand the city budget or observe patterns in who and where the LAPD targets with traffic stops. This so impressed the LA Times that they chose to endorse him over the presumed frontrunner, City Councilor Paul Koretz.
New York politics is both a blessing and a—actually, it’s just a curse.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams is once again weighing in on a special election for an Assembly seat in his home borough of Brooklyn. But this time, instead of backing up the nominee chosen by the Democratic Party at a special nominating convention in the face of an energetic third-party challenge from the left, he’s opposing the nominee to aid a third-party challenge from the right. Why? Well, normally those special nominating conventions are a breeze for the machine pick, but sometimes weird shit happens and an insurgent candidate is able to snag the convention nod. That’s what community activist Monique Chandler-Waterman was able to do, so Adams staffer Hercules Reid is mounting a campaign on an independent ballot line—now with Adams’s endorsement.
Chandler-Waterman is a very heavy favorite regardless, as the nominee of both the Democrats and the WFP in a district where Republicans are practically a rounding error, but Adams’s involvement makes the race demand attention in a way it previously didn’t. (Particularly because he is technically going against his embattled allies in the Brooklyn Democratic machine—though they may have their hands full with a criminal investigation into apparent petition fraud committed by the machine in other left-vs.-center primary contests in the borough this year.)
Suffolk County, Massachusetts DA
Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins was elected after running an insurgent campaign promising sweeping reforms to lessen mass incarceration, so when Joe Biden appointed her as the US Attorney for Massachusetts (the top federal prosecutor), many took it as a welcome sign of the Biden administration’s judicial and prosecutorial appointments to come. But that left the question of who succeeded Rollins as DA—and, at least temporarily, the answer wasn’t good, because Republican Gov. Charlie Baker got to appoint an interim replacement. Baker was smart enough not to appoint a fellow Republican; instead, he appointed a Democrat, Kevin Hayden, who’s deliberately cagey about which of Rollins’s reforms he’d keep in place if elected to a full term. Progressives including Boston Mayor Michelle Wu rightly balked, rallying around Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, and the two camps immediately began taking swipes at one another after Wu endorsed Arroyo this week. It wasn’t just Hayden and Arroyo trading fire—Hayden’s campaign made a point of sneering at Wu’s endorsement by name, and in an interview Wu dismissed that criticism as a relic of Boston’s more conservative past.