Morning Digest: Mississippi Republican backs former rival who also said he won't meet women alone

There were no attack ads during the first round of the GOP primary, but the second round has already gotten a whole lot nastier. Reeves recently went up with a commercial claiming that, like Hood, Waller wants to raise taxes and expand Obamacare in Mississippi. Waller went negative for the first time himself on Tuesday with a spot comparing Reeves to an aggressive child.

The ad shows a boy, who is made to look like a young Reeves, at a birthday party putting on blinders and swinging at a piñata. “Kid Reeves” narrowly misses terrified party goers and attacks the refreshments table, spraying screaming girls with birthday cake frosting and punch, as well as clubbing a stack of presents. As the action unfolds, the narrator takes Reeves to task for “swinging” at Waller, saying, “It’s getting reckless. Really, it’s out of control. Maybe it’s time for the adults to step in.”

Waller then appears and declares that there isn’t time for this, and the voters deserve better. The candidate goes on to say he offers “conservative solutions, not politics as usual.” At the very end, as the kids continue to run from the chaos, the boy playing Reeves finally hits the piñata that’s now lying on the ground along with other debris.


CO-Sen: Last week, former Gov. John Hickenlooper didn’t rule out dropping his Democratic presidential bid and challenging GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, and two new polls show him in a strong position to win. A primary survey from Garin-Hart-Yang on behalf of what the Denver Post characterizes as “a national Democratic group involved in Senate races” gives Hickenlooper the lead with 61% of the vote, while former state Sen. Mike Johnston and former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff take 10% and 8%, respectively.

The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling is also out with a general election poll on behalf of 314 Action Fund, which is trying to recruit Hickenlooper. (314 Action seeks to recruit scientists to compete in Democratic primaries, and Hickenlooper is a former geologist.) The survey finds Hickenlooper defeating Gardner 51-38; none of the other Democratic candidates were mentioned in the memo. The poll gives Hickenlooper a positive, though not exceptional, 45-38 favorable score, but finds Gardner down in the dumps with a 30-49 approval rating.

ID-Sen: On Monday, GOP Sen. Jim Risch announced that he would seek a third term. Risch is unlikely to face any serious primary or general election opposition in this dark red state.

KS-Sen: State Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s team told reporters on Tuesday that he was still interested in seeking the GOP nod for this open seat, but it doesn’t sound like he’s in any hurry to decide. In an email, Schmidt’s camp said he would “announce his intentions at or before the 2020 Kansas GOP Convention,” which is scheduled for Jan. 31- Feb. 2.

Meanwhile, everyone’s still focused on what another potential GOP candidate might do. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said a few weeks ago that a Senate bid was “off the table” but no one actually seems to believe he’s really ruled out running, and both declared and potential contenders are continuing to openly speculate what he’ll do.

The only notable candidate who said he didn’t plan to drop out if Pompeo ran was former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, though he did leave the option open. Kobach told the Wall Street Journal‘s Lindsay Wise that “I would have to assess the situation,” but he added, “My gut instinct would be to stay in.”

State Senate President Susan Wagle entered the race a few weeks ago, but she told Wise that she’d leave if Pompeo did run. Wagle said that, while she doubted Pompeo would enter the race, “If he was to get in, I’m out, my name’s off the ballot.” Treasurer Jake LaTurner also reiterated that he’d end his campaign and back Pompeo if the secretary of state ran.

Rep. Roger Marshall has not entered the race yet, and he wouldn’t say how a Pompeo campaign would impact him. Marshall, who told Wise that he’d decide this fall, said he couldn’t answer a hypothetical question about what he’d do if Pompeo also got in. However, Marshall admitted back in July that a Pompeo bid would dramatically alter the race, so he doesn’t sound inclined to fight him in a GOP primary.

One prominent Republican group is ready to fight Marshall, though. The anti-tax Club for Growth said that they’d spend to beat Marshall if he ran for the Senate, and there’s certainly no love lost between the two. Marshall won his House seat in 2016 by successfully ousting Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a Club ally, in the primary.


IN-Gov: This week, state Rep. Karlee Macer announced that she would not seek the Democratic nod to challenge GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb. Former state Health Commissioner Woody Myers so far has the primary to himself, though state Sen. Eddie Melton has formed an exploratory committee.

LA-Gov: Gumbo PAC, a super PAC funded by the DGA, is using its two opening ads to target each of the major Republican candidates competing against Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in the Oct. 12 all-party primary. Advertising Analytics tells Politico that the size-of-the-buy is $302,000.

Each of Gumbo PAC’s spots is entirely devoted to hitting one of the GOP contenders. Their ad against wealthy businessman Eddie Rispone begins with the spot comparing “real Louisiana crawfish” to imported ones from China, which the narrator says “look alike, but we can tell the difference.” The commercial then argues that while Rispone promises to look out for state workers, he’s repeatedly failed to pay his employees or their medical bills. The narrator continues, “And Rispone got caught trying to hire foreign workers instead of people here in Louisiana.”

Gumbo PAC’s commercial against Rep. Ralph Abraham begins with 2014 footage of the candidate from his successful first congressional campaign declaring, “If elected, I’ve told you that I would donate my salary to St. Jude’s and the Independence organization.” The narrator then tells the audience, “That’s right. Abraham promised to donate his salary to sick children and wounded veterans. But for years, Abraham secretly pocketed that salary even though he’s worth more than $12 million.”

The ad cites a January story from The Advocate‘s Tyler Bridges that reported that Abraham had indeed been collecting his $174,000 congressional salary despite that 2014 pledge. The congressman’s spokesperson, Cole Avery, told Bridges that Abraham had stuck with his promise through his first term, but he had to abandon it after learning that congressional rules capped how much he could earn from his medical practice. Avery said, “Because of the loss of income, it was not a pledge he could continue beyond the first term,” and, “There’s the belief that something should be one way, and then there’s the reality.”

Avery insisted that his boss had “kept his commitment” during his first term, but he refused to respond when Bridges asked him how much money Abraham had donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Independence Fund. However, Avery did admit that he didn’t believe that Abraham had ever announced that he would start collecting his taxpayer-funded paycheck. Bridges writes that, while Abraham didn’t extend his promise to donate his salary during his 2016 re-election campaign, his website continued to list it in his campaign platform.


AZ-01, AZ-02, AZ-09: Famed Red Sox pitcher-turned-disgraced video game businessman-turned-far-right Twitter conspiracy theorist Curt Schilling is no stranger to flirting with bids for office in Massachusetts, but he’s shaking things up a bit this time by saying he’s interested in running for Congress in Arizona.

Schilling wouldn’t say where he was thinking of competing, only saying he was “considering going back to Arizona and running for a congressional seat — one of the blue ones.” However, that ambiguity didn’t prevent Donald Trump from enthusiastically tweeting on Tuesday about Schilling’s would-be campaign.

However, Trump may not want to hold his breath that this will be the cycle Schilling makes good on his frequent threats to run. Schilling actually said back in October of 2016 that he would challenge Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren the following cycle by declaring, “I’ve made my decision. I’m going to run.” However, Schilling bizarrely continued, “But—but—I haven’t talked to Shonda, my wife,” and added, “And ultimately it’s going to come down to how her and I feel this would affect our marriage and our kids.” The following March, Schilling announced that he would not actually run.

This time, Schilling says he’ll talk to his wife before making his decision, but insists she’s “now becoming more and more pumped at the potential” of them relocating to Arizona so he could run. Schilling went to high school in Phoenix and pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks from 2000 to 2003, a period that included the team’s only World Series victory in 2001.

Schilling didn’t hint what Democratic-held seat he’d run for. However, Schilling recently endorsed a GOP candidate named Brandon Martin in the 2nd District, so a bid against Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is probably off. If Schilling did want to run for a competitive seat then his only remaining option would be for the 1st District, where Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran is defending a seat that Trump narrowly won. Of course, we probably shouldn’t expect deep political calculations from Schilling, who among many other things has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theorists.

CA-50: On Tuesday, GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter’s corruption trial was pushed back from September to January, which is about a month after California’s filing deadline passes. The Golden State does not allow candidates to remove their names from the ballot once filing has closed, so if Hunter runs again, he’ll be listed on the March top-two primary ballot no matter how his court case goes. Several Republicans, most notably former conservative radio host Carl DeMaio, are challenging Hunter, as is 2018 Democratic nominee Ammar Campa-Najjar.

FL-15: While 2018 Democratic nominee Kristen Carlson said earlier this year that she was considering seeking a rematch against freshman GOP Rep. Ross Spano, she took her name out of contention on Tuesday by endorsing state Rep. Adam Hattersley.

KS-01, KS-Sen: This week, former GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp preemptively ruled out a 2020 bid for either his old House seat or for the open Senate seat. Huelskamp lost the 1st District in a 2016 primary against Roger Marshall, who is considering running for the Senate.  

NC-09: EDF Action is spending $224,000 on a new TV spot ahead of the Sept. 10 special election. Their commercial first praises Democrat Dan McCready for running a clean energy company that created local jobs and says he’ll work across the aisle in Congress. The ad goes on to once again hit Republican Dan Bishop for voting against a bipartisan bill to “lower prescription drug costs.” McCready and VoteVets have also used this line of attack against Bishop in their own spots.

SD-AL: Former state Sen. Neal Tapio said this week that he was considering seeking a rematch against freshman Rep. Dusty Johnson in the GOP primary. Last year, Johnson won the nomination for this open seat by defeating Secretary of State Shantel Krebs 47-29, while Tapio took third with 24%.

Tapio self-funded $155,000 for that race, which made up almost his entire campaign budget but was only about half of the amount that he said he’d invest. However, Tapio may have been counting on something other than money to carry him to victory. In April, a recording of him leaked where Tapio mused, “And then all that has to happen is that there will be one more terrorist attack between now and then and I will be the, just by the Trump effect, I will be the candidate. That’s the way I look at it.”

UT-04: On Monday, GOP state Rep. Kim Coleman filed paperwork with the FEC for a potential bid against freshman Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams.

CA Redistricting: Are you a California citizen interested in helping to draw the next decade’s redistricting maps? California’s independent redistricting commission is still taking applications to serve as one of the five Democratic, five Republican, and four unaffiliated commissioners, and if you’re eligible, you can apply up until 5 PM PT on Aug. 19. The commissioners will also be selected to balance demographic and geographic representation, and you can see the proportion of applications so far by gender, region, ethnicity, and party affiliation. Women, people of color, and members of other underrepresented communities are especially encouraged to apply.

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