Morning Digest: Trump gets his wish in Georgia. Will he get his next victim?

Morning Digest: Trump gets his wish in Georgia. Will he get his next victim?

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Daniel Donner, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.

Leading Off

GA-Gov: Donald Trump got his wish—and Brian Kemp earned a high-profile challenge—with former Sen. David Perdue’s Monday announcement that he’ll seek the GOP nod for governor next year.

The decision sets up a major clash between a man Trump already victimized and one he’d like to. Perdue, a wealthy businessman who made his fortune outsourcing jobs overseas, first entered politics in 2014 when he won a competitive open-seat race for Senate against Democrat Michelle Nunn, aided by that year’s favorable winds. But six years later, with Georgia diversifying rapidly and Trump pushing many once-reliable suburban voters away from the party, Perdue was forced into a runoff against Democrat Jon Ossoff after narrowly failing to secure a majority in November.

It was during that runoff that Trump may have dealt his worst damage to Perdue: In his endless (and fact-free) ranting that the presidential election had been rigged, Trump all but sent the message to his supporters that it wasn’t worth voting at all. We’ll never know for sure whether that was the difference-maker—the senator’s own highly questionable stock trades, as well as Mitch McConnell’s refusal to send Americans another COVID relief check, also loomed large—but with a final losing margin of just 55,000 votes, Perdue will always be left wondering.

Campaign Action

The same election that sent Perdue to his runoff, of course, is also what earned Kemp Trump’s undying enmity. Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, refused to participate in the Big Lie despite Trump’s interference, immediately putting them on Trump’s shitlist. Raffensperger soon earned a Trump-backed primary from Rep. Jody Hice in March, though Kemp sought a reprieve by signing a wide-ranging new voter suppression bill just days later.

It didn’t work: Trump berated the bill as “far too weak and soft” and charged that Kemp had “caved to the radical left-wing woke mob who threatened to call him racist if he got rid of weekend voting.” At a September rally in Georgia, Trump even disdainfully sniffed that electing Kemp’s Democratic opponent from 2018, Stacey Abrams, “might be better than having your existing governor.”

Trump may just get to find out. Abrams recently launched a second bid of her own, which explains why Perdue, who’d reportedly been pressed to run by Trump, focused so heavily on attacking her in his kickoff video. He also blamed Kemp for his own loss, whinging, “Instead of protecting our elections, he caved to Abrams and cost us two Senate seats, the Senate majority, and gave Joe Biden free rein.”

Kemp instantly fired back, naturally faulting Perdue for losing the election that, well, Perdue ran in. He charged that the ex-senator’s “only reason for running is to sooth [sic] his own bruised ego” and sneered, “It may be difficult” for Perdue to see “over the gates of his coastal estate.”

Democrats have every reason to root for a nasty, expensive battle for the GOP nomination that leaves the winner bloodied and bruised. Even better might be a primary runoff—a possibility, since former state Rep. Vernon Jones and several other minor candidates could stop Kemp or Perdue from securing a majority in May and thereby drag things out until July.

But no matter how much the eventual winner abases himself in a show of fealty to Trump, that may not be enough to render them unpalatable to a sufficient number of voters. After all, Perdue very nearly won in Georgia last year—and so did Trump.

Redistricting

VT Redistricting: Vermont’s Apportionment Board has advanced proposed legislative maps to state lawmakers, though because the panel is advisory in nature, legislators are not obligated to consider its plans.

Senate

MO-Sen: Republican pollster Remington Research, once again polling on behalf of local newsletter Missouri Scout, continues to find a very tight GOP primary for next year’s open Senate race. Former Gov. Eric Greitens leads with 27% while state Attorney General Eric Schmitt is at 24, Rep. Vicky Hartzler at 16, and Rep. Billy Long at 7, with other hopefuls in the low single digits and 19% undecided. When Remington last looked at the contest in October, things weren’t much different, with Greitens edging out Schmitt 27-25, Hartzler taking 19, and Long 8.

NH-Sen: Londonderry town manager Kevin Smith, who’d reportedly been considering a bid against Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, confirmed that he’s weighing the race and promised a decision “shortly after the new year.” Smith sought the GOP nod for governor in 2012 but lost the primary 68-30 to Ovide Lamontagne, who went on to lose to Hassan.

Governors

AL-Gov: Businessman Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, has filed paperwork for a bid for governor but still has yet to say he’s actually running. James, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in both 2002 and 2010, previewed a possible primary challenge to Gov. Kay Ivey in September by railing against the “beast with three heads” (critical race theory, transgender rights, and yoga in public schools—obvi). Lynda Blanchard, a wealthy former Ambassador to Slovenia, is also looking at the race.

NH-Gov: Democratic state Sen. Tom Sherman says he’s considering a bid against Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who announced last month that he’d seek a fourth term rather than run for Senate. Only one person has served four two-year terms in New Hampshire history: Democrat John Lynch, who won his final race in 2010.

OH-Gov: Republican Rep. Warren Davidson, who first floated the possibility of running against Gov. Mike DeWine in next year’s GOP primary back in March, has finally taken his name out of contention. Davidson, however, did not say whether he’d actually endorse DeWine or would back his intra-party challenger, former Rep. Jim Renacci.

PA-Gov: Here’s a real throwback name: Former Rep. Melissa Hart, who was the first woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress, says she’s joining the race for the Republican nomination for governor. It’s been a long layoff for Hart, though, who left office in 2007. Hart easily flipped the red-leaning 4th District in 2000 after Democratic Rep. Ron Klink decided to run for Senate (a race he lost to none other than Rick Santorum), but she got washed out in the 2006 wave by Democrat Jason Altmire, who beat her 52-48. She sought a comeback against Altmire two years later but this time got whooped 56-44.

Since then, Hart has worked as an attorney in the private sector. She’ll be the only notable woman in the busy Republican field, and should she win, she’d be the state’s first female governor.

House

CA-22: Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, a hardcore acolyte of Donald Trump and prominent villain for progressives, announced on Monday that he would resign at the end of the year to become CEO of Trump’s new social media company. It’s not yet clear whether there will be a special election to fill Nunes’ seat, or whether it will remain vacant until the November general election.

Nunes, who first won office in 2002, rose to become one of the House GOP’s most senior members, making his move a surprise given that he was in line to chair the powerful Ways and Means Committee should Republicans take back the chamber next year. However, draft congressional maps from California’s redistricting commission suggest that Nunes’ 22nd District—a heavily agricultural slice of the Central Valley around Fresno—could become considerably bluer, making the prospect of a Trump payday look more tempting … if the check doesn’t bounce.

NY-11: Former Democratic Rep. Max Rose, who represented New York’s 11th Congressional District for a single term, announced on Monday that he’d seek a rematch against Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, the woman who ousted him last year. Rose, an Army combat veteran, unseated Republican Rep. Dan Donovan during the 2018 blue wave, defeating him by a 53-47 margin in an upset despite this Staten Island-based district’s decidedly red lean (Donald Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton here 54-44 two years earlier).

But in 2020, the area’s traditional proclivities reasserted themselves: Malliotakis knocked out Rose by that same 53-47 spread, and Trump outdid Joe Biden 55-44. As those numbers show, however, Rose did manage to outperform the top of the ticket by several points, though given the rough-looking midterm environment, he’s almost certainly expecting Democrats in the legislature will make the seat bluer in redistricting.

Before he can face Malliotakis, though, Rose first has to get through a primary. There he faces another Army combat veteran, Brittany Ramos DeBarros, who cuts a much more progressive profile than the moderate Rose, known for regularly distancing himself from prominent Democratic figures.

VT-AL: Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, who first won elective office last year, announced on Monday that she’d seek Vermont’s at-large congressional district, which is open because Democratic Rep. Peter Welch is running for Senate. Gray is the first prominent Democrat to enter the race, and if she succeeds Welch, she’d also be the first woman to represent Vermont—which has the unfortunate distinction of being the only state never to elect a woman to Congress.

Gray, then a little-known assistant state attorney general, albeit one from a politically well-connected family, defeated a host of better-known candidates in last year’s primary for the open lieutenant governor’s post, then beat Republican Scott Milne 51-44 in the general election.

Obituaries

Bob Dole, the longtime Republican Senate leader and unsuccessful GOP nominee for president in 1996, has died at the age of 98. After receiving grievous wounds in Italy just before the end of World War II, Dole took three years to recover, and his right arm was left permanently paralyzed. He returned home to Kansas, however, and launched a political career that took him to the heights of power and lasted almost half a century.

Dole won a single term in the state House in 1950, then was elected Russell County attorney four times before winning what was then numbered Kansas’ rural 6th Congressional District in 1960. The state lost a seat following that year’s census, but Dole handily beat Democratic Rep. James Floyd Breeding 56-44 after their districts were merged. Dole earned a promotion to the Senate in 1968 after easily defeating former Gov. Bill Avery in that year’s primary, though he won re-election by just 2 points following the Watergate scandal in 1974. (He’d also survived a similarly narrow scrape during the LBJ landslide of 1964, though generally Dole won his campaigns by comfortable margins.)

After Gerald Ford pushed aside Vice President Nelson Rockefeller in a bid to placate conservatives and head off Ronald Reagan’s insurgent campaign, he tapped Dole as his running-mate at the 1976 Republican convention. While the move might have helped keep Reagan at bay, the Ford-Dole ticket lost a close race to Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter and Minnesota Sen. Walter Mondale, who beat them 297-240 in the Electoral College and 50-48 in the popular vote. (Ford later called his ouster of Rockefeller “the biggest political mistake of my life” and “one of the few cowardly things I did in my life.”)

Dole continued on in the Senate, briefly advancing to the post of majority leader in the mid-’80s before Democrats re-took the chamber in the 1986 midterms. He reclaimed the position following the 1994 GOP wave, but six months later he announced a bid for president against Bill Clinton. He easily won the nomination (despite an embarrassing early loss to far-right commentator Pat Buchanan in New Hampshire), but thanks in part to a strong economy, Clinton crushed Dole 379-159 in the electoral vote and won the popular vote 49-41, with independent Ross Perot taking 8%.

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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