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Swing State Project

Disgusting: Virginia Republican goes all-in on anti-LGBTQ smear campaign in key legislative race (October 18, 2017, 10:01 AM)

Virginia Republican Del. Bob Marshall?s berserk homophobia and transphobia aren?t exactly news. His extreme statements and policy stances during his many years in the Virginia House of Delegates reveal his fear and loathing of the LGBTQ community. 

But Marshall?s Democratic opponent in this year?s contest for House District 13 happens to be a transgender woman, and the GOP incumbent is not taking it well.

Goal Thermometer

Marshall, who refuses to refer to Daily Kos endorsee Danica Roem with female pronouns, is avoiding appearing at debates or candidate forums with her out of fear that he?ll get called mean names (?Bigot Bob? is apparently taking off online). Marshall has seems to have developed a fear of reporters, as well. He?s refusing to allow them to accompany him while he knocks on voters? doors, and he?ll only respond to questions via email, with carefully planned remarks.

And now a conservative outside group is trying to ride to Marshall?s rescue, so to speak, in the form of robocalls full of transphobic smears and lies. Voters in the district are receiving calls paid for by the American Principals Project, a ?social welfare organization? that advocates for ?the union of one man and one woman as the definition of marriage,? among other typical conservative insults. The robocalls make a series of (false) statements, then asks if they make the listener more or less likely to support Roem or Marshall. These statements include claims that Roem supports:

  • a law that would shut down hospitals if they refused to perform sex reassignment operations;
  • a law that would shut down adoption agencies that prioritize placing children with married mothers and fathers;
  • allowing boys into girls? shower facilities and locker rooms,
  • policies that allow boys to play on girls? sports teams and girls? sports leagues; and
  • requiring business owners to provide services for same-sex weddings or face possible jail time or fines.

All of this is transphobic garbage, obviously.

The executive director of APP sees this race as part of a larger cultural battle against, as he put it, ?a radical agenda to force the transgender identity on children in our schools.?

Marshall?s own crusade against the LGBTQ community is long and storied. A few of his greatest hits include:


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 10/18 (October 18, 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.

Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 · 3:45:30 PM +00:00 · David Nir

Special Elections: Johnny Longtorso recaps Tuesday night's happenings:

Massachusetts Senate, Bristol & Norfolk: Democrats held on to this one, with Paul Feeney defeating Republican Jacob Ventura by a 47-44 margin. Independent Joe Shortsleeve came up short with 9 percent.

The results represent an underperformance compared to the 2016 presidential results (but a slight overperformance vis-ŕ-vis the 2012 numbers), and it's very possible that the impossibly named Joe Shortsleeve was the cause. Shortsleeve is a prominent local reporter who had initially wanted to run as a Democrat but realized he'd never get the party's nomination because he'd been very vocal about having voted for Trump last year. It's therefore possible he pulled votes from Ventura, but Shortsleeve also said he'd voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary. Given that plus his stated party preference, Shortsleeve may well have hurt Feeney more.


Morning Digest: New polls find tight race for Virginia governor, but Democrats lead in fundraising (October 18, 2017, 08:01 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

? VA-Gov: On Tuesday, three pollsters released their latest results in Virginia's November gubernatorial race. First, Roanoke College has Democrat Ralph Northam leading Republican Ed Gillespie by 50-44, which is relatively similar to his 47-43 lead in their mid-September poll. Next, Christopher Newport University's release finds Northam up 48-44, which is a modest drop from his 49-42 edge in their early October survey. However, Monmouth gives Gillespie a 48-47 advantage, making them the very first pollster since the June primaries to find Gillespie leading at all. Monmouth's late September poll had Northam ahead 49-44, meaning they found the race swinging noticeably to the right.?

Campaign Action

?In the aggregate, these three polls should make Northam feel better about his chances than Gillespie. However, these numbers demonstrate that this race is still far from over with three weeks left to go. While Northam has almost always led by modest margins since the general election began, it wouldn't take anything more than a typical polling misfire for Gillespie to come out ahead.

Still, money is one thing that Northam won't be lacking for in the final three weeks. He crushed Gillespie in September fundraising, bringing in $7.2 million compared to just $4.4 million for the Republican. Furthermore, only $1 million of Northam's haul came from the DGA's PAC, while a full $2 million of Gillespie's total came from the RGA and its aligned PAC, meaning Northam's army of small donors may be more likely to give again. Northam started October with a hefty $5.7 million on-hand, while Gillespie began the month with only $2.5 million in the bank. Republicans have been heavily running ads in recent weeks, but they likely won't be able to dominate the airwaves for the remainder of the race without assistance from outside groups.


New polls find a tight race for Virginia governor, but Democrat Ralph Northam dominates fundraising (October 17, 2017, 01:57 PM)

On Tuesday, three pollsters have put out their latest results in Virginia's November gubernatorial race. First, Roanoke College says Democrat Ralph Northam beats Republican Ed Gillespie by 50-44, which is relatively similar to his 47-43 lead in their mid-September poll. Next, Christopher Newport University's release finds Northam up 48-44, which is a modest drop from his 49-42 edge in their early October survey. However, Monmouth gives Gillespie a 48-47 advantage, making them the very first pollster since the June primaries to find Gillespie leading at all. Monmouth's late September poll had Northam ahead 49-44, meaning they found the race swinging noticeably to the right.

In the aggregate, these three polls should make Northam feel better about his chances than Gillespie. However, these numbers demonstrate that this race is still far from over with three weeks left to go. While Northam has almost always led by modest marginssince the general election began, it wouldn't take anything more than a typical polling misfire for Gillespie to come out ahead.

Still, money is one thing that Northam won't be lacking for in the final three weeks. He crushed Gillespie in September fundraising, bringing in $7.2 million compared to just $4.4 million for the Republican. Furthermore, only $1 million of Northam's haul came from the DGA's PAC, while a full $2 million of Gillespie's total came from the RGA and its aligned PAC, meaning Northam?s army of small donors may be more likely to give again. Northam started October with a hefty $5.7 million on-hand, while Gillespie began the month with only $2.5 million in the bank. Republicans have been heavily running ads in recent weeks, but they likely won't be able to dominate the airwaves for the remainder of the race.


Republicans drop breathtakingly racist mail piece in Virginia House race, targeting Latina Democrat (October 17, 2017, 10:01 AM)

Virginia Republicans are going all-in on some seriously racist rhetoric this election season. Gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie?s racist, fearmongering ads smearing the Latino community have been getting all the (deservedly negative) media attention, but the state GOP is taking its cues from the top of the ticket and deploying racist campaign tactics further down the ballot, too.

The party paid for a mail piece that's dropped in Latina Democratic candidate (and Daily Kos endorsee) Hala Ayala?s district, and it?s not so much rife with racist dog whistles as it is full of racist bullhorns.

Republicans are equating felons and ?thugs, violent criminals, gang members, and child predators? with the person of color pictured next to the text on the mailer, which you can see at the top of this post. This breathtakingly white-supremacist piece of campaign literature further sets forth the systemically racist trope that those who have served their time don?t deserve to vote, sit on juries, or otherwise exercise their rights as citizens.

These horrifying mail pieces are only the latest in a growing pattern of blatantly racist Republican campaign communications in Virginia.

First, there was Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie?s fearmongering ad that was brimming with racist tropes and sought to target Democratic nominee Ralph Northam for allegedly supporting ?sanctuary cities.? The ad claimed that Gillespie would keep us ?safer? by ?get[ting] tough on illegal immigration? and used racially incendiary language often used to denigrate Latinos. (Also, Virginia has no sanctuary cities.)

Then there was the blatantly racist direct mail piece dropped by a Virginia Republican?s ?leadership PAC? (read: political committee that does the dirty business so GOP candidates can keep their hands clean) against Elizabeth Guzman, another Latina House candidate. The mailer uses the term ?illegal alien,? a dehumanizing phrase that?s so often used to cloak racism in a veneer of moral authority while perpetuating negative stereotypes. The mailers also were designed to evoke the racist claim that giving driver?s licenses to members of this community would lead to gun violence or voter fraud. (Take a gander for yourself right here.)

Give Republicans a real reason to be afraid: Donate $1 to Hala Ayala and each of our other endorsed Democratic candidates running for the Virginia House!


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 10/17 (October 17, 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.


Morning Digest: Tennessee's former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen says he's considering a Senate bid (October 17, 2017, 08:01 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

? TN-Sen: Well, well, well... after ruling out a Senate campaign to succeed retiring Republican Gov. Bob Corker in late September, former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen reopened the door on Monday when he told the Associated Press that he is considering it after several people implored him to do so. A wealthy former mayor of Nashville, Bredesen would easily be the top choice of many state and national Democrats after ending his tenure with broad popularity in this conservative state. Indeed, in his 2006 re-election bid, Bredesen won a 69-30 landslide and carried every one of Tennessee's 95 counties. That campaign marked the last statewide race Democrats have won in Tennessee.?

Campaign Action

?Of course, even if Bredesen does run again, it will be dramatically harder for him to win next year. Tennessee has become increasingly hostile to Democrats up and down the ballot since 2006, with Donald Trump carrying it by a brutal 61-35 spread. Voters are also typically far more willing to split their tickets in state races than in federal ones, and Bredesen would face attacks tying him to unpopular national Democratic leaders. Republican ex-Gov. Linda Lingle tried this same move in Hawaii's 2012 Senate race, but she lost by a huge margin in that deep-blue state, even though she had won her 2006 re-election race in a landslide.

The 73-year-old Bredesen would also be running his first campaign in 12 years, but he still brings a lot of advantages in a state where partisan realignment has devastated the Democratic bench in recent years. Bredesen would almost certainly start out with a powerful fundraising network and widespread name recognition, and he would immediately draw interest from national Democrats who are eager to put a third GOP-held seat into play in their longshot bid for a 51-seat Senate majority next year. Iraq War veteran James Mackler has been running for the Democratic nomination for months, and several notable Democrats have also expressed interest. However, Bredesen will likely weigh heavily on their decisions on whether or not to run.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, former Rep. Stephen Fincher has been conducting a statewide listening tour while he considers whether to join the primary. Fincher recently stated that he's "very optimistic" and expects to announce between Tuesday and Friday of this week whether or not he'll run.


Democratic former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen says he's considering a campaign for Senate in 2018 (October 16, 2017, 03:41 PM)

After ruling out a Senate campaign to succeed retiring Republican Gov. Bob Corker late in September, Tennessee?s former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen reopened the door on Monday when he told The Associated Press that he is considering it after several people implored him to do so. A wealthy former mayor of Nashville, Bredesen would easily be the top choice of many state and national Democrats after ending his tenure with broad popularity in this conservative state. Indeed, in his 2006 re-election bid, Bredesen won a 69-30 landslide and carried every one of Tennessee's 95 counties. That campaign marked the last statewide race Democrats have won in Tennessee.

Of course, even if Bredesen does run again, it will be dramatically harder for him to win next year. Tennessee has only become more hostile to Democrats up and down the ballot since 2006, with Donald Trump carrying it by a brutal 61-35 spread. Voters are also typically far more willing to split their tickets in state races than in federal ones, and Bredesen would face attacks tying him to unpopular national Democratic leaders. Republican ex-Gov. Linda Lingle tried this same move in Hawaii's 2012 Senate race, but she lost by a huge margin in that deep-blue state even though she had won her 2006 re-election race in a landslide.

The 73-year-old Bredesen would also be running his first campaign in 12 years, but he still brings a lot of advantages in a state where partisan realignment has devastated the Democratic bench in recent years. Bredesen would almost certainly start out with a powerful fundraising network and widespread name recognition, while he would immediately draw interest from national Democrats who are eager to put a third GOP-held seat into play in their longshot bid for a 51-seat Senate majority next year. Iraq War vet James Mackler has been running for the Democratic nomination for months, and several notable Democrats have also expressed interest. However, Bredesen will likely weigh heavily on their decisions on whether or not to run.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 10/16 (October 16, 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 16, 2017 · 2:52:10 PM +00:00 · David Nir

Special Elections: As ever, Johnny Longtorso's got the goods:

Massachusetts Senate, Bristol & Norfolk: This is an open Democratic seat stretching from Medfield to Seekonk. The Democratic nominee is Paul Feeney, a former Foxboro selectman. The Republican nominee is Jacob Ventura, a state legislative aide. Also on the ballot is independent Joe Shortsleeve, a reporter and media consultant who says he voted for both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump last year. This seat went 52-41 for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and 50-48 for Barack Obama in 2012.

Monday, Oct 16, 2017 · 3:42:55 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

MO-Sen: Republican state Rep. Paul Curtman had formed an exploratory committee to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill back in July, but he recently revealed that he was no longer considering a Senate campaign and would instead look at the state auditor's race for next year. Curtman's decision not to run is unsurprising in light of state Attorney General Josh Hawley's recent entry into the Republican primary for Senate; although Hawley starts off as an obvious GOP primary front-runner, he may yet still draw a notable rival.

Monday, Oct 16, 2017 · 4:12:16 PM +00:00 · Stephen Wolf

MT-Sen: On Saturday, recently retired Yellowstone County District Court Judge Russell Fagg announced he would indeed join the primary for the Republican nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester next year. Fagg stepped down from the bench this month, but had been raising money for his exploratory committee for several months, making it obvious that he was keen on running (ethics rules prevented him from formally declaring his candidacy while still on the bench).

Fagg has served as a local judge for over two decades and likely starts off with limited name recognition for a statewide race. However, he has already earned the endorsement of all three former Republican governors who are still alive: Marc Racicot, Judy Martz, and Stan Stephens. He also garnered the support of ex-Reps. Denny Rehberg and Rick Hill, meaning he has substantial ties to the state party establishment.

Fagg won't have an uncontested path to the nomination, though. State Auditor Matt Rosendale is likely his biggest threat due to existing name recognition and fundraising capacity, while state Sen. Albert Olszewski and businessman Troy Downing are also in the running.


Morning Digest: State Senate leader Kevin de León will run against California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (October 16, 2017, 08:01 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

? CA-Sen: California state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León announced on Sunday that he would challenge California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a fellow Democrat, in next year?s top-two primary.

De León, who also considered running for governor, did not mention Feinstein in his announcement, but argued that the Golden State "deserves a senator that will not just fully resist the Trump presidency, but also understands the issues that most Californians face every day: That?s fighting for Medicare for All. That?s fighting for our Dreamers. That?s fighting against climate change." That's a not-so-subtle jab at Feinstein, who has always had an uneasy relationship with state progressive activists, and made things worse in August when she called for "patience" for Trump, adding that, "The question is whether he can learn and change. If so, I believe he can be a good president." However, it remains to be seen how many California Democrats actually want to replace their longtime senator.?

Campaign Action

?De León, who represents part of the city of Los Angeles in the state Senate, is well-connected, and he could be able to raise the type of cash necessary to compete in this ultra-expensive state. But as we've written before, California's top-two primary system adds some hurdles to his already tough task. In the Golden State, all candidates run on one primary ballot, and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the general election. It's extremely unlikely that Feinstein, who has the support of some influential California Democrats like Sen. Kamala Harris and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, will take third place or worse. This means that anyone hoping to meet her in the general election will need to brush past all her other rivals. That's where things start to get complicated.

California is a very blue state, but if Republicans consolidate behind one candidate, that person could take enough support to lock a non-Feinstein Democrat out of the general election. Team Red is already wary about not having a candidate in the general election for governor, so they have extra incentive to try to get someone through the top-two Senate primary. If Republicans don't have any candidates in the general election for governor or Senate, it could keep conservatives from showing up in November in key House races that actually are winnable for Republicans.


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