There are three special election runoffs today, two in Mississippi and one in South Carolina. MS-SD-10 is a D-held ~R+2 rural seat around Senatobia and Holly Springs, just beyond the edge of the Memphis exurbs. This area tends to be far more Dem-friendly downballot and contains one of the few remaining Dixiecrat concentrations. Businessman Neil Whaley (R) led the first round 36-31 over Holly Springs Councilwoman Sharon Gipson (D); however, as three other Democrats took the remainder of the vote, Gipson looks like a moderately strong favorite in the second round. MS-LD-54 is an ~R+22 seat covering eastern Vicksburg and rural areas to the north. Insurance agent Kevin Ford (R) led physician Randy Easterling (R) 37-33; there is no clear favorite in the runoff. The third is a primary runoff, for SC-LD-99, an R+12 seat connecting upscale Charleston suburbs along the northeast part of I-526 from Hanahan to northern Mt. Pleasant. Businesswoman Nancy Mace (R) took 49.5% in the first election, missing an outright win by just 35 votes. She is now the clear favorite over Mt. Pleasant councilman Mark Smith (R), who took second with 27%. The winner will face businesswoman Cindy Boatwright (D) in the general.
Now as we try to sort out who is the real Antipope of the CFPB, it is time for the day’s news…
AL-Sen: Republicans have a write-in candidate for this seat, but it’s not exactly a big name. Retired Marine Lee Busby (R), who served as vice-chief of staff to John Kelly when he was a general and has worked as a sculptor since leaving the service, is running as a write-in against ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D) and ex-State Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore (R). Busby could be a vehicle for Moore-skeptical Republicans, but with his lack of any political experience and zero name recognition it’s hard to see him getting more than a few points. It’s unclear who he would draw more from as I would guess there may be as many soft Rs that have already defected to Jones as have been sticking with Moore. Trump announced yesterday he would not campaign with Moore.
MN-Sen: Sen. Al Franken (D) is resisting calls to step down, and said he is returning to his Senate work in a painfully awkward press conference yesterday.
CT-Gov: Trumbull Mayor Tim Herbst (R) is at the center of a messy family lawsuit. Herbst’s mother Deborah is suing Tim’s sister Amanda and her husband, alleging the two hacked into Deborah’s phone to look for evidence to use in a lawsuit against Tim. Amanda’s then-boyfriend, now-husband, Jesse Jablon, alleges he was fired as Trumbull’s interim city manager because of his relationship with Amanda. Jablon also accuses Tim of later spreading rumors that Jablon was a drug dealer. Tim does not deny that the relationship was problematic for Jablon’s prospects, saying that Jablon’s relationship with Amanda could have opened Tim up to charges of nepotism. Herbst is one of around 8 credible Republicans competing in this epic clown-car primary.
MI-Gov: LG Brian Calley (R) is expected to launch his gubernatorial campaign today. Calley will likely join front-running AG Bill Schuette (R), State Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R), and physician Jim Hines (R) in the GOP primary. Democrats have a crowded primary field as well with ex-State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D) as the front-runner.
TX-Gov: With under two weeks before the filing deadline, Texas Democrats continue to cast about for a sacrificial lamb to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott (R). The latest little-known name to consider the race is Houston city councilman Dwight Boykins (D), who is officially exploring. Investor Andrew White (D), son of 80s-era ex-Gov. Mark (D), is the most serious candidate in the race so far, but another low “C” list Dem, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D), is also considering.
ID-1: The Club for Growth has endorsed ex-State Sen. and 2014 Gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher (R) in the primary for this open seat. Fulcher, an antiestablishment conservative, is facing 80s-era ex-LG David Leroy (R) and State Reps. Luke Malek (R) and Christy Perry (R) in the primary for the safely Republican seat covering the libertarian-leaning western half of the state and northern panhandle.
IL-4: ICYMI, last night Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D) announced he would not run for a fourteenth term; Cook County commissioner and 2015 Mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D) and Chicago councilman and abortive LG candidate Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (D) are already thought to be preparing bids to succeed him. Click through for our full Great Mentioner and analysis of this ultra-Safe-D Chicago seat.
MT-AL: Reporter Ben Jacobs has sent a Cease and Desist letter to Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) accusing Gianforte of publicly misrepresenting the events of Gianforte’s May assault of Jacobs.
NH-2: Josh McElveen (R), a prominent former political reporter at the state’s largest TV station, is the latest Republican into the race to take on Rep. Annie Kuster (D). McElveen will face State Rep. Steve Negron (R) and physician Stewart Levenson (R); he likely starts with the highest name recognition and probably starts as the slight front-runner in the primary. Any Republican will face an uphill race against Kuster, a strong incumbent in the light-blue seat.
NJ-2: Democrats are about to land a major recruiting coup for this open R-held South Jersey purple seat, as State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D), who has easily held down a red State Senate seat, is set to kick off his campaign tomorrow. Van Drew is a truly “A” list recruit for Dems here, and his entry makes this race among the toughest holds for the GOP in 2018. Newly-elected State Sen. Chris Brown (R) is probably the GOP’s best prospect here after his surprisingly strong legislative win last month, though there is not yet indication he’s considering a bid.
SC-6: Ex-State Rep. and 2014 LG nominee Bakari Sellers (D) has announced he will run for the seat of Rep. James Clyburn “at some point.” Sellers, who is considered a rising star, stopped short of saying he would not challenge Clyburn in a primary. Clyburn, the third-ranking Dem in the House, is 77 but has given no indication of wanting to leave Congress by any means other than a stretcher. Should the seat come open, Sellers would likely be a strong candidate but potentially face a crowded primary.
TX-2: Two new candidates have entered the race for this suburban Houston open seat. Daniel Crenshaw (R), a former Navy SEAL who lost an eye in Afghanistan, has joined the race and would seem to have the story to be a serious contender. Healthcare executive David Balat (R) was originally planning a primary challenge to Rep. John Culberson (R) in TX-7 next door, but has decided to shift to the open seat as well. The two join State Rep. Kevin Roberts (R) and businessman Rick Walker (R) in the race.
TX-9: Rep. Al Green (D), who represents southern Houston and some multiracial southwest suburbs, is getting some fresh attention over a 2008 case of harassment allegations. Green had sex with a former staffer, Lucinda Daniels, who later filed suit for sexual harassment after Green began confronting her about her drug use. The two issued a rather cryptic statement yesterday saying that they “remain friends” and that no money was paid in the case.
TX-29: State Rep. Armando Walle (D) has aborted his run for Congress days after beginning it. It is looking more like State Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D) is the prohibitive favorite to take this heavily Hispanic deep-blue Houston seat.
AL-AG: Ex-AG Troy King (R) is running to get his old job back. King lost a re-election primary in 2010 to now-outgoing Sen. Luther Strange (R). He joins appointed incumbent Steve Marshall (R), ex-US Attorney Alice Martin (R), and 2006 State Auditor candidate Chess Bedsole (R) in the primary.
CT-AG: AG George Jepsen (D) announced yesterday he would not seek a third term. The low-key Jepsen would have been a prohibitive favorite for re-election. State Rep. William Tong (D) and prosecutor and gubernatorial candidate Chris Mattei (D) have been mentioned as potential candidates for the open seat. Republicans may seriously contest this race as Connecticut looks likely to be more-fertile-than-average ground for Republicans next year due to toxic Gov. Dan Malloy (D).
PA-LG: Lancaster County commissioner Craig Lehman (D) is the third significant candidate to take on LG Mike Stack (D) in the shotgun-wedding primary to run with Gov. Tom Wolf (D). You may recall that Stack is in hot water for abusing staffers at his state residence. Lehman joins Braddock Mayor and 2016 Senate candidate John Fetterman (D) and Chester County commissioner Kathy Cozzone (D) in the race.
MN-SD-54, MN-LD-23B: State Sen. Dan Schoen (D) and State Rep. Tony Cornish (R) have both resigned after being accused of sexual harassment. Schoen’s southeast exurban Twin Cities seat will likely be hotly-contested, while Cornish’s rural south-central MN seat should stay Republican barring something unexpected.
CA-LD-39: Following them out the door is another pervnado member, State Rep. Raul Bocanegra (D) of the heavily Hispanic eastern San Fernando Valley. Bocanegra’s seat is safely Democratic but could draw a crowded field of Dems.
Atlanta-Mayor: Ahead of next week’s runoff, councilwoman Mary Norwood (I) has scored two significant endorsements. Businessman Peter Aman (D), the other white moderate in the first round, is backing Norwood, giving her two endorsements from defeated rivals who totaled 20% of the first-round vote. But the bigger deal is an endorsement from 2000s-era ex-Mayor Shirley Franklin (D), Norwood’s most prominent black endorser to date. Norwood is considered the underdog in the runoff after trailing 27-21 to councilwoman Keisha Lance-Bottoms (D), a black establishment liberal who has the support of outgoing incumbent Kasim Reed (D) and a majority of the state’s Dem establishment.
Philly-Mayor ’19: Outgoing City Comptroller Alan Butkovitz (D) is hinting at a run against Mayor Jim Kenney (D) in 2019. Butkovitz is something of a maverick whose mediocre relationship with the local machine cost him his re-election bid this year, so he would likely face an uphill fight against Kenney.
Cook, IL-CE: Ex-Cook CE Todd Stroger (D) is running to get his old job back. Stroger was booted in the 2010 primary by now-incumbent Toni Preckwinkle (D). Stroger, who took under 14% in his re-election primary after a term marred by multiple sandals, is not likely to be a particularly strong challenger to Preckwinkle, who is unpopular due to her advocacy for a soda tax, which was so loathed that public outrage forced its repeal. Gadflyish ex-Chicago councilman Bob Fioretti (D) is also challenging Preckwinkle.