● KS-Sen: GOP Rep. Roger Marshall said this week that he would use the August congressional recess to do some soul searching about whether or not to run for the Senate. We may not want to hold our breath for a quick decision after Congress reconvenes, though: Marshall said two months ago that he was putting “the very serious, final touches” on his decision.
One reason that Marshall seems to be taking his time is uncertainty about whether or not U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo runs. Marshall himself acknowledged this week that a Pompeo campaign would very much impact his decision.
● MT-Sen: On Thursday, Navy veteran John Mues announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination to take on GOP Sen. Steve Daines. Mues, who works in the energy sector, joins Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins in the primary.
● TN-Sen: On Thursday, former Republican Gov. Bill Haslam set off a cascade of further developments when he announced that he would not run for Tennessee’s open Senate seat in 2020 to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander. Haslam left office after eight years this past January with a high approval rating, and the billionaire former governor would have been one of the most formidable candidates for the Republican nomination had he chosen to run.
Haslam’s indecision over whether to run had helped freeze many other potential candidates in the field, and it’s unclear if he truly wasn’t interested in a legislative type of position or if he was concerned that his relatively moderate record could have been a vulnerability in a state where the GOP primary electorate increasingly favors fire-breathing ultraconservatives. Now that Haslam is out, several other potential candidates have revealed more about whether they’re interested or not.
Chief among those candidates to say he is considering was 8th District Rep. David Kustoff, who said he’s received encouragement to run and will continue to talk to people about how he can serve Tennessee. A spokesperson for Kustoff had previously said the congressman was interested back in December, but Kustoff’s latest statement is the most direct thing he’s said to date.
Meanwhile, fellow GOP Rep. Tim Burchett’s chief of staff isn’t ruling out a Senate bid, saying it’s “too early to decide.” Burchett was only elected to the 2nd District last year, but he previously was the mayor of populous Knox County for eight years and could already start off with some decent amount of name recognition if he were to run.
Surprisingly, while 6th District GOP Rep. Mark Green had been looking like a probable candidate for months and reportedly had told people privately that he was running, Green stated on Thursday that he does “not plan to seek election to the U.S. Senate in 2020,” saying he’ll focus on helping Trump and the House GOP instead. That isn’t an ironclad “no,” but Green has made no secret of his interest in this seat, so his latest declaration makes it seem unlikely that he’ll reverse course later on.
Additionally, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty was mentioned by The Tennessean as one of the “most widely circulated names considering a run,” but Hagerty refused to answer any questions directly about whether he is interested or not. Finally, the former chief of staff to former Rep. Diane Black, who lost the 2018 primary for governor, said Black isn’t considering a bid.
● WY-Sen: Former Rep. Cynthia Lummis announced Thursday that she would join the GOP primary to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Mike Enzi. Lummis is the first notable candidate to enter the race, but she almost certainly won’t be the last. Rep. Liz Cheney, who was elected to succeed Lummis in 2016, is reportedly considering running, while wealthy 2018 gubernatorial candidate Foster Friess and well-connected businessman Robert Grady have each expressed interest.
Lummis has a very long career in state politics going back to 1979, when she became the youngest woman ever to serve in the Wyoming House of Representatives. After stints in the state Senate and as state treasurer, Lummis was elected to the state’s only U.S. House seat in 2008. Lummis decided to retire in 2016, but her old congressional campaign still had $122,000 at the end of March that she can use for her Senate race.
Reeves outraised former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. $650,000 to $227,000, and he had a $5.8 million to $373,000 cash-on-hand lead. Reeves also outspent Waller $1.2 million to $392,000 for the month. State Rep. Robert Foster, who attracted national attention this week when he refused to allow a female reporter to join him on a campaign tour unless she brought a male colleague with her, raised just $23,000 last month, and he had $7,000 in the bank.
On the Democratic side, Attorney General Jim Hood raised $330,000 in June and had $1.4 million on-hand. Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith, who is Hood’s most prominent primary rival, brought in just $3,100 (and this includes $750 in self-funding), and he had $900 in the bank.
● NH-Gov: Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes said Thursday that he was forming an exploratory committee and that he’d make his final decision about whether or not to seek the Democratic nomination “at the end of the summer.” Feltes’ announcement came a day after GOP Gov. Chris Sununu, who has fought constantly with Feltes and other Democratic legislative leaders in recent months, vetoed another 10 bills passed by the Democratic-led legislature, which brings his total to 23 this year.
No notable Democrats have officially entered the race against GOP Gov. Chris Sununu, though Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky also recently formed an exploratory committee. Volinsky and his colleagues on the Executive Council also made the news this week when they voted 3-2 along party lines against confirming Sununu’s choice for chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
A few other Democrats are eyeing this contest, including 2018 nominee Molly Kelly, who lost to Sununu 53-46. The Concord Monitor also writes that “some national and state Democrats are hopeful” that Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig could run. Craig is up for re-election this November, and she doesn’t appear to have said anything publicly about her 2020 plans.
● IN-05: In a big get for Indiana Democrats, former state Rep. Christina Hale announced on Thursday that she’d run for the Hoosier State’s open 5th Congressional District, putting this traditionally Republican seat in play for 2020.
Hale served as the Democrats’ nominee for lieutenant governor in 2016, and while she lost that race while running on a ticket with former state House Speaker John Gregg, the Indianapolis Star says that Hale is nevertheless “a favorite among party insiders” and was recruited by the DCCC as far back as last year.
That would mean that DC Democrats had their eyes on this suburban Indianapolis district even before NRCC recruitment chair Susan Brooks announced her shock retirement last month, and Hale says she would have run even if Brooks hadn’t called it quits. But now that there’s an open seat, the odds of a flip should be even higher, particularly with a candidate of Hale’s stature.
What’s more, the 5th is one of those well-educated, fairly affluent areas that have moved against Donald Trump and the GOP: While Mitt Romney carried the district 58-41, Trump won it by a narrower 53-41, and last year, former Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly narrowly prevailed here 48.4-47.9 even though he lost 51-45 statewide.
Still, this is Republican turf, and the large number of potential GOP candidates—at least 10 are reported to be considering the race—shows what kind of bench the party has here. But Hale will likely clear the Democratic field, so while Republicans fight it out to pick a nominee, she should have the chance to stockpile resources and prepare for a highly competitive general election next year.
● KY-04: State Rep. Kim Moser expressed interest last week in challenging Rep. Thomas Massie in the GOP primary, and Massie’s allies at the anti-tax Club for Growth are trying to deter her with a new primary poll from WPA Intelligence. They give Massie, who has held this safely red northern Kentucky seat since 2012, a 64-10 lead over Moser.
● MA-01: Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse has been publicly coy about his interest in challenging longtime Rep. Richard Neal in the Democratic primary, but Politico reports that Morse has privately spoken to prominent local Democrats and donors about running. Journalist David Daley has also expressed interest in challenging Neal for the nomination in this reliably blue seat.
Neal, who chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has represented western Massachusetts since 1989, which Politico notes is the same year that Morse was born. Morse was elected to his current post in 2011 at the age of 22, a win that made him his city’s first gay mayor.
● MT-AL: Two new candidates joined the race to succeed GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte this week. On the Republican side, Superintendent of the Corvallis School District Tim Johnson kicked off his first bid for office. On the other side, rancher Matt Rains, a West Point graduate who flew Blackhawk helicopters in Iraq, is competing in the Democratic primary. This also appears to be Rains’ first run for office.
● NY-17: Attorney Mondaire Jones announced this week that he would challenge veteran Rep. Nita Lowey in the Democratic primary for this reliably blue upstate New York seat. Jones, who served in the Obama Justice Department as well as in the Westchester County Law Department, took issue with Lowey’s record as chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, especially for supporting $1.4 billion in funding for ICE. Jones also argued that Lowey has ignored problems for public school students in the East Ramapo school district, where he graduated.
Lowey was first elected in 1988 to represent this seat, which now includes part of Westchester County as well as all of Rockland County, and she hasn’t faced a serious primary foe in decades. Lowey, who chaired the DCCC during the 2002 cycle, ended March with close to $1 million on-hand. (Lowey has not unveiled her second quarter numbers yet.)
● PA-01: Two Democrats, Bucks County Prothonotary Judi Reiss and Pennsbury School Board member Debbie Wachspress, each confirmed this week that they would challenge GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in this swing seat.
Reiss was a Lower Makefield township supervisor when she ran for prothonotary, a post that administers civil court documents, in 2017. Bucks County Democrats hadn’t won any countywide races other than county commissioner in more than 30 years, but Team Blue ended up winning four of the five row offices that year, including prothonotary, in a historic sweep.
● PA-08: Former GOP Rep. Lou Barletta didn’t sound very excited about the idea of challenging Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright last month, but he seems a little more open to the idea now. Barletta told the Times Leader that he was still undecided, but that national GOP groups were encouraging him.