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California Republican Party, for First Time, Will Have Mechanism to Endorse Candidates in Primaries
(from: Ballot Access News @ October 23, 2017, 04:03 PM)

On October 22, the California Republican Party state convention voted to set up a procedure for the state party to endorse candidates in statewide primary elections, starting in 2018. See this story.

Many of the supporters of a top-two system hold themselves as being opposed to “party bosses” and “party control of elections.” The irony is that the top-two system in California has now caused both major parties to endorse candidates before the primary. At one time in California it was illegal for political parties to endorse candidates in their own primaries, although that law was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1989 in Eu v San Francisco County Democratic Central Committee. Still, even after parties gained the free speech right to endorse candidates in their own primaries, they did not begin to do so until the top-two system came into existence.

Agribusiness kingpin and ex-Rep. Stephen Fincher joins Tennessee Senate GOP primary
(from: Swing State Project @ October 23, 2017, 12:19 PM)

Ex-Rep. Stephen Fincher, a Republican who represented a West Tennessee seat for three terms until his surprise retirement last year, announced over the weekend that he would run for this open Senate seat.

During his initial 2010 campaign to become the first Republican to represent the district since Reconstruction, Fincher reveled in his image as a gospel singer and farmer from the tiny rural community of Frog Jump, and national Republican leaders went absolutely gaga over him. Reports emerged during the primary that, despite his many attacks on the federal government, Fincher was just fine taking millions in farming subsidies from the federal government. However, Fincher decisively won the nasty three-way primary 48-24, and he beat a well-funded Democratic state legislator 59-39.

In the House, Fincher vocally called for cutting food stamp benefits even as he continued to receive farming subsidies, but he never had any trouble winning another two terms. Despite his six years in D.C., Fincher is echoing the same themes from his first House bid and describing himself as a "citizen legislator" who sings in his family's gospel group every weekend.

However, while local voters never cared much about Fincher's government payouts, one powerful GOP group does. The Koch Brothers political network declared that they'd oppose Fincher before he entered the race, with their anger stemming from him taking those millions in farm subsidies and for voting to reauthorize the Export Import Bank.

Fincher faces Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who represents part of Middle Tennessee, and Andy Ogles, who lead the state chapter of the Koch-affiliated Americans for Prosperity group. Blackburn had $3.2 million in the bank at the end of September, while Fincher had $2.3 million in his House account that he could instantly transfer to his Senate campaign. Fincher did not discuss whether he would self-fund or not. Fincher also took some shots at Blackburn for co-sponsoring a law that made it tougher for the DEA to freeze suspicious drug shipments. However, Fincher voted for the bill, which passed unanimously.

Mark Cuban Says If he Runs for President in 2020, it will Probably be as a Republican
(from: Ballot Access News @ October 23, 2017, 12:11 PM)

On October 22, Mark Cuban said that if he runs for president in 2020, it would probably be as a Republican, not as an independent. See this story.

Maine Legislature Reconvenes, with Ranked Choice Voting on the Agenda
(from: Ballot Access News @ October 23, 2017, 11:38 AM)

On October 23, the Maine legislature came into session. Although ranked choice voting is on the agenda, that is far from the only issue in the special session. See this story.

Trump Promises ?No Change to Your 401(k)? as Congress Considers a Contribution Cap
(from: NY Times The Caucus @ October 23, 2017, 10:38 AM)

It is not clear whether Republicans will put a cap on tax-deferred contributions in its final version of the tax bill, but caps as low as $2,400 a year are being considered.

Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 10/23
(from: Swing State Project @ October 23, 2017, 09:01 AM)

Welcome to the Daily Kos Elections Live Digest, your liveblog of all of today's campaign news.

Please note: This is a 2016 and 2020 Democratic presidential primary-free zone.

Sign up here to receive the Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest in your inbox each weekday.

Monday, Oct 23, 2017 ˇ 2:10:37 PM +00:00 ˇ Jeff Singer

Special Elections: It's another Tuesday special election in New Hampshire! Via Johnny Longtorso:

New Hampshire House, Strafford-13: This is an open Democratic seat in Dover. The Democrats have nominated Casey Conley, a reporter, while the Republicans have nominated Guy Eaton, who has made two unsuccessful runs for the House. Also on the ballot is Libertarian Brian Shields. This seat went 67-26 for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and 69-29 for Barack Obama in 2012.

Monday, Oct 23, 2017 ˇ 2:28:23 PM +00:00 ˇ Jeff Singer

CA-24: On Sunday, 2016 Republican nominee Justin Fareed announced that he would seek a rematch with freshman Democratic Rep. Salud Carbajal in this Santa Barbara-area seat. Fareed, lost to Carbajal 53-47 last year, even as this seat was shifting from 54-43 Obama to 57-36 Clinton. Fareed, who narrowly failed to make it to the general election in 2014, has been raising money for his third campaign for months, and he took in $213,000 during the third quarter of 2017. However, Carbajal has always been a strong fundraiser, and he raised $336,000 during that time, and Carbajal led Fareed $1.12 million to $259,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of September.

Last year, Fareed seared himself into our memory with a truly strange TV spot early in the campaign. Fareed, who recently turned 29, smugly proclaimed that he was the candidate who "cares more about the next generation than winning my next election" because "I am the next generation." The very next shot then showed Fareed riding a horse that came out of nowhere, with Fareed concluding, "We'll talk later." However, despite that weird and kinda creepy ad, Fareed and his allies devoted much more of their advertising to portraying Carbajal, who was a Santa Barbara county supervisor, as a corrupt insider. Team Red also capitalized on an incident where Carbajal called the city of Lompoc the "armpit" of Santa Barbara County.

Both sides ended up spending heavily, but Carbajal came out on top in the end. It'll be difficult for Republicans to beat Carbajal now that he's the incumbent in a seat this anti-Trump, especially if the political climate continues to be tough for the GOP. But Fareed is well-connected and after his last showing, Team Blue should keep an eye on him.

Monday, Oct 23, 2017 ˇ 2:51:01 PM +00:00 ˇ Jeff Singer

HI-01: It's been close to two months since Rep. Colleen Hanabusa announced that she was giving up his Honolulu seat to challenge Gov. David Ige in the Democratic primary, but so far, not a single Democrat has filed to succeed her in this very blue seat. Civil Beat's Chad Blair suggests that's due in large part to state Attorney General Doug Chin, who could run himself.

Publicly, Chin has said little about his interest in this race, but Blair argues that Chin is "sucking all the oxygen out of the room." In Hawaii, attorneys general are appointed by the governor rather than elected, but Chin has made a name for himself in recent months by repeatedly suing the Trump administration. Notably, Hawaii was the first state to sue to overturn Trump's Muslim travel ban.

However, other Democrats have made noises about running. State Sen. Brickwood Galuteria tells Blair that he's doing "due diligence" and thinking about a bid, and says he'll decide by the end of the year. Back in September, state Sen. and 2014 primary runner-up Donna Mercado Kim and state Rep. Kaniela Ing also expressed interest. Blair also writes that state Sen. Karl Rhoads, state Rep. Beth Fukumoto, and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell's names "are whispered here and there," but there's no sign if any of them are interested. Blair also says that state Sen. Will Espero, who won just 4 percent of the vote in the 2014 primary, may be tempted to drop his lieutenant governor campaign and seek this seat again, but we've heard nothing from Espero.

Clinton carried this seat 63-31, but there may be one Republican who could make things interesting. Charles Djou, who represented this seat for a few months in 2010, says he's not campaigning for anything right now. However, Djou noted that he launched his 2014 bid for this seat in April of that year, and he only kicked off his 2016 campaign for mayor of Honolulu in June: Djou lost both campaigns 52-48. In other words, it seems like Djou is keeping his options open and in no hurry to decide.

Monday, Oct 23, 2017 ˇ 3:01:14 PM +00:00 ˇ Jeff Singer

WI-03: Last year, Democratic Rep. Ron Kind's western Wisconsin seat violently swung from 55-44 Obama to 49-45 Trump, but Kind had no GOP opponent to worry about. Team Red is at least off to a better start this year now that Army veteran Steve Toft has jumped in, though it's unclear if Toft has the connections to wage a serious bid. Kind himself seems to be taking this campaign seriously, since he raised $309,000 over the last quarter and has $2.8 million cash-on-hand.

Monday, Oct 23, 2017 ˇ 3:26:51 PM +00:00 ˇ Jeff Singer

ND-Sen: Rep. Kevin Cramer, who represents the entire state in the House, seems content to keep Republicans guessing about his plans for a few months longer. Cramer said Friday that he's busy focusing on his duties in Congress and he "wouldn't want people to expect me to make an announcement for a Senate run before the early part of next year." Cramer also raised just $101,000 for his House campaign over the quarter and had $824,000 in the bank at the end of September, money that he could immediately transfer to a Senate run.

The only Republican who has announced he'll challenge Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp so far is wealthy state Sen. Tom Campbell, who has self-funded $425,000 so far. Campbell, who has already been airing ads, had only $171,000 on-hand, but it sounds like he can afford to restock his war-chest when he feels like it. A few other Republicans are also talking about running.

At the beginning of the cycle, Cramer looked like a top-tier opponent for Heitkamp, who represents a very conservative state. But Cramer has earned some negative attention for some offensive comments, and he's frustrated national Republicans for months with his indecision. All the way back in April, some national Republicans suggested to CNN that they'd prefer Campbell as their nominee, but Cramer seems to think he's still the pick of the litterCramer argues that now-GOP Sen. John Hoeven didn't enter the 2010 Senate race until early in that year, so he has precedent to wait.

Of course, what Cramer doesn't seem to remember is that Hoeven kicked off his bid soon after Democratic incumbent Byron Dorgan announced that he wouldn't run again and Team Blue basically gave up trying to hold his seat. Hoeven, who was governor at the time, also cleared the primary field instantly, while Campbell says he won't get out if Cramer runs. However, Campbell argues in September that he doubts Cramer will run.

Morning Digest: GOP struggles with fundraising in the race to hold a blue-leaning Florida House seat
(from: Swing State Project @ October 23, 2017, 08:02 AM)

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

Leading Off

? FL-27: When longtime GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced that she was retiring, it was clear the GOP was in for a tough fight to hold this Miami-area seat. Still, while Florida's 27th District shifted from 53-46 Obama all the way to 59-39 Clinton, Republicans still do well down-ballot here, so we expected Team Red to put up a stiff fight. But right now, it's the Democratic candidates who are hoarding cash, while the Republican candidates are acting like all hope is lost.

When Raquel Regalado, a former member of the Miami-Dade County school board and the daughter of termed-out Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, was considering running, she looked like she'd check all the boxes the GOP wanted. Regalado has hosted a well-known Spanish-language radio show, and the self-described moderate could have reminded voters of Ros-Lehtinen. But while Regalado announced she was running in late May, she took two months to even open a campaign fundraising account. Regalado then proceeded to raise just $15,000 for the third quarter, an absolutely jaw-droppingly low sum. We've seen highly-touted candidates underwhelm many times in the past, but usually not this badly, and it's not clear what's up.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro jumped in back in May, and unlike Regalado, he actually did start raising money. Barreiro took in $176,000 during his first two months in the race, an ok but not incredible haul, but he raised just $42,000 over the following three months. Barreiro had $187,000 left in the bank at the end of September. And as for Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, the former Doral city councilor who said she'd been abducted by aliens, she raised $5,000. Team Red still has a large bench in this area, and they may be able to find someone better to run. But right now, none of the Republicans are acting at all like they're ready for a tough race.

And how do the Democrats compare? We'll put it this way: Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez was by far the weakest fundraiser of the six noteworthy candidates who have announced, and she alone has almost as much money as those three Republicans combined. Gonzalez, who announced before Ros-Lehtinen decided to retire, brought in only $49,000 for the quarter, and she had $196,000 on-hand at the end of September. The strongest Democratic fundraiser was Matt Haggman, a former Miami Herald reporter who recently stepped down as Miami program director for the Knight Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes journalism. Haggman raised $510,000 during his first two months in the race, and he had $469,000 on-hand.

Several other Democrats will have access to money. Mary Barzee Flores, a former state judge, brought in $303,000 during her inaugural quarter, and she had $233,000 in the bank. State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez raised a similar $272,000 and had $213,000 on-hand. State Rep. David Richardson took in $264,000 from donors and self-funded another $250,000, and he had $441,000 on-hand. Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell only announced he was running after the fundraising deadline, but he'd been fundraising for months. Russell brought in $222,000 during the third quarter, and he had $247,000 on-hand.

Mitch McConnell Warns GOP Against Villainizing Him
(from: Washington Wire @ October 23, 2017, 06:59 AM)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed to acknowledge on Sunday that making candidates take sides on his performance could be detrimental to the cause of holding on to an already slim majority in the Senate.

Bernie Sanders Says He Will Run for Re-Election in 2018 as an Independent, Just As in His Previous Races
(from: Ballot Access News @ October 23, 2017, 12:41 AM)

On October 22, Bernie Sanders said he will run for re-election to the U.S. Senate as an independent. All his winning races has been as an independent candidate, so this is nothing new. See this story. Oddly enough, he made this announcement in New Hampshire, not Vermont.

California Republican State Convention Does Not Pass Resolution Concerning Top-Two System
(from: Ballot Access News @ October 22, 2017, 11:17 PM)

The California Republican Party held a state convention in Anaheim, October 20-22. The Resolutions Committee was asked to approve a resolution stating that the party opposes the top-two system, but that committee did not approve the resolution, so that resolution did not reach the floor.

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