Morning Digest: Top Maryland Democrats line up to run for attorney general, including a congressman

Brown himself told reporters the next day, “Some people may not remember, but 15 years ago when I came back from Iraq, I was actually running for attorney general, and then I joined Martin O’Malley as his lieutenant governor.” That interest very much hasn’t died in the decade-and-a-half since the O’Malley-Brown ticket won the gubernatorial race, as Kurtz reports that Brown began telling other Democrats weeks ago that he was thinking of campaigning for attorney general next year if Frosh departed.

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Kurtz speculates that Brown, who would be the state’s first Black attorney general, is the “potential contender who could come close to clearing the field,” though he’s far from the only Old Line State Democrat thinking about running. Another familiar name Kurtz says is interested is Queen Anne’s County District Court Judge Frank Kratovil, who was elected to the very red 1st Congressional District during the 2008 blue wave by narrowly beating Republican Andy Harris. The new congressman badly lost their rematch two years later, but O’Malley appointed Kratovil to his judgeship in 2011.

A Brown statewide candidacy, meanwhile, would open up his 4th Congressional District, which is dominated by Prince George’s County in the D.C. suburbs. Joe Biden won Brown’s constituency 79-19, and there’s little question it will remain heavily blue turf after the Democratic-controlled legislature completes redistricting.

Former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, who lost the 2016 primary for Congress to Brown, quickly filed FEC paperwork for a potential second campaign. Ivey raised the most money in that last open seat race, but the former lieutenant governor prevailed 42-34. It’s very likely that numerous other Democrats would eye this seat should Brown leave.


MA Redistricting: Massachusetts’ Democratic-run state House has passed a new map for its own chamber with 158 members voting in favor and just one against—a lopsided margin that tells us the new districts are an incumbent protection gerrymander designed to insulate members of both parties from challenges, whether in a primary or general election. The plan now goes to the Senate, which recently introduced its own map but has yet to take action on it.

MT Redistricting: Montana’s bipartisan redistricting commission whittled down the number of congressional maps it’s considering from nine to two on Thursday, with one proposed by Democrats and the other by Republicans. If no agreement can be reached on how to draw the state’s two districts, the impasse would be resolved by the commission’s tiebreaking member, attorney Maylinn Smith.

Smith said she’d prefer the two sides reach a compromise, and she also criticized both maps for different reasons. However, she also expressed a strong preference that one of the two districts favor neither party, which ultimately ought to incline her toward the Democrats’ plan, since it would establish a western district that’s more competitive than the one put forth by the GOP.

NC Redistricting: Republicans in North Carolina’s state House have put out a draft map for the chamber, following the recent release of proposals for Congress and the state Senate.

WV Redistricting: Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed West Virginia’s new congressional and legislative maps on Friday, two days after the Republican-run legislature passed maps for the state Senate and House. Lawmakers had approved a congressional plan a week earlier. While Republican dominance remains unquestioned in this extremely red state, the state House map underwent significant changes due to a 2018 law mandating that its 20 multi-member districts—which were home to 53 of the chamber’s 100 delegates—be replaced with constituencies that will elect just one member each.


NH-Sen, NH-Gov: After offering only the vaguest of timelines all year, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu finally said on Friday that he’ll “probably make a decision” on whether to challenge Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan “in the next few weeks.”

OH-Sen: Former state GOP chair Jane Timken is spending six figures on a new eight-week ad campaign attacking Anthony Fauci, who is one of the extremist right’s favorite targets.


NM-Gov: Republican Mark Ronchetti’s revolving door between the worlds of media and politics has spun once more: Local news channel KRQE announced on Thursday that Ronchetti had resigned as the station’s meteorologist as he weighs a bid for governor, just as he did prior to his unsuccessful 2020 Senate run before getting hired back earlier this year. The same evening, Ronchetti’s website was updated to feature a logo that included the word “governor” just below the would-be candidate’s name, only for the site to get taken down soon thereafter.

PA-Gov: State Sen. Doug Mastriano’s wife, Rebbie Mastriano, not only recently confirmed that he was still considering seeking the Republican nomination, she said the couple has “a monetary fleece out there.” She characterized this as a prayer “that only God” could answer, while the Philadelphia Inquirer succinctly wrote that the legislator was “waiting on a financial sign. From God.” In the recording obtained by the paper, Rebbie Mastriano added that they did this in 2019 when Doug Mastriano was eyeing a run for the state Senate, and that God gave him the thumbs up one day before the filing deadline.

The potential candidate has made a name for himself as an ardent election denier, and he infamously bused people to the Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the attack. Mastriano claimed he left the Capitol before the violence began, but videos released in May appear to show him and his wife passing through breached barricades. The U.S. Senate Judiciary issued a report earlier this month recommending that he be further investigated for his alleged role in the attack.

VA-Gov: As Virginia’s race for governor winds down, some heavy hitters in Democratic politics are coming out to support Terry McAuliffe. Joe Biden will campaign with McAuliffe on Tuesday in Arlington, a week before election day. The candidate already has a visit lined up from Barack Obama in Richmond pegged for Saturday.

Ahead of the two rallies, progressive pollster Data for Progress gives us yet another look at the state of the contest between McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin. The firm, polling the race for the first time, finds McAuliffe with a 50-45 edge over Youngkin.

Some prominent organizations are also giving McAuliffe some last-minute support on the airwaves. VoteVets is spending $180,000 on what the organization calls a “closing spot” that shows a formerly homeless Navy veteran speaking favorably of McAuliffe. Science-minded group 314 Action is also out with an ad that focuses on right-wing violence against school board members.

On the Republican side, Youngkin is out with a commercial that cites a conservative think tank’s questionable study of McAuliffe’s tax plan. The ad shows a tax collector going door to door to gather money from people for McAuliffe’s purported rates increases.


KY-03: Former newspaper publisher Aaron Yarmuth announced on Thursday that he would not seek the seat being left open by his father, Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth, who recently said he would retire from Congress.

On the Republican side, state Sen. Julie Raque Adams, reportedly a favorite of the state’s GOP establishment, has taken herself out of contention. Another Republican, Secretary of State Michael Adams, had said he’d only run if Julie Raque Adams (no apparent relation) did not. Given the district’s deep blue hue (it voted for Joe Biden 60-38 last year), it’s probable that a prominent GOP candidate will run only if legislative Republicans try to dismantle this seat via gerrymandering—something they might well do.

OH-15: Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo and Republican lobbyist Mike Carey turned in similar fundraising reports ahead of the Nov. 2 special election for Ohio’s vacant 15th Congressional District, covering the period from July 15 through Oct. 13. Russo raised $550,000, spent $566,000, and had $181,000 left over, while Carey brought in $546,000, spent $454,000, and had $177,000 in the bank for the stretch run. Carey is still the overwhelming favorite to win, though, given the strong conservative lean of the district, which voted for Donald Trump by a 56-42 margin last year.

PA-17: Businesswoman Tricia Staible, a Republican who runs what the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette characterizes as a “mainstay family-run industrial fan manufacturer,” has kicked off a bid to succeed Democratic Senate candidate Conor Lamb in what is currently a swingy seat in the Pittsburgh suburbs. The only other notable candidate so far is Navy veteran Chris Deluzio, a Democrat who raised $258,000 during his first five weeks in the race and ended September with $152,000 on-hand.

SD-AL: State Rep. Taffy Howard declared earlier this month that she would challenge Rep. Dusty Johnson, who represents the entire state, in next year’s Republican primary. While Howard didn’t initially mention the incumbent in her announcement, she later argued that Johnson hadn’t done enough to support what she called “election integrity” in the wake of Donald Trump’s defeat. Howard also trashed Johnson for previously voting to keep Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney as GOP conference chair after she voted to impeach Trump.

Johnson has been a fairly low-key but ardently loyal Trump supporter since he was first elected in 2018, while Howard has established herself as a conservative zealot. This year, she loudly complained after Republican Gov. Kristi Noem vetoed an anti-trans bill. Howard also picked a fight with the governor when she sponsored an unsuccessful bill that would have required Noem, who is a potential 2024 presidential candidate, to disclose the security costs of her out-of-state trips.

Johnson, who won renomination last year by turning back former state Rep. Liz Marty May 77-23, raised $220,000 during the third quarter of 2021 and ended last month with $1.7 million on-hand. Howard, meanwhile, filed FEC paperwork in early August and went on to raise $85,000 for the quarter; she finished September with $75,000 in the bank.  

TX-08: Ted Cruz has endorsed former Kevin Brady campaign manager Christian Collins in the Republican primary for Texas’ 8th Congressional District, which is open due to Brady’s retirement. Under the GOP’s newly passed congressional map, the Houston-area 8th will move decidedly to the left, but because it’s so blood-red, it will remain deeply conservative: The new version would have gone 63-36 for Donald Trump, as opposed to 71-28 under the old lines. Republicans gerrymandered the lines in order to make the neighboring 10th and 17th Districts considerably redder and insulate potentially vulnerable GOP incumbents from ongoing demographic changes.

VA-07: State Sen. Bryce Reeves announced Friday that he would join the Republican race to challenge Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger in the 7th District. This suburban Richmond seat is currently swingy turf, but no one knows what it will look like next year especially now that the state’s redistricting commission has all but confirmed that it would punt its work to the Virginia Supreme Court.

Reeves won his seat by unseating a Democratic incumbent by 226 votes right after the 2011 round of redistricting, a tight win that flipped control of the chamber to the GOP. He then sought a promotion in 2017 when he ran for lieutenant governor, but he lost a truly ugly primary to fellow state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel 43-40.

The GOP field currently includes Tina Ramirez, who lost last year’s nominating convention to take on Spanberger; communications consultant Taylor Keeney; and John Castorani, who took less than 2% of the vote in 2020’s primary for Alabama‘s 1st Congressional District. Ramirez raised $345,000 last quarter and ended September with $250,000 available. Castorani, meanwhile, actually edged out Keeney $164,000 to $161,000 in fundraising, though Keeney still had a $100,000 to $50,000 cash-on-hand lead. Spanberger, for her part, hauled in $755,000 and had $2.4 million in the bank.

Attorneys General

WI-AG: Former state Rep. Adam Jarchow, a Republican who unexpectedly lost a 2019 special election for the state Senate, announced Thursday that he would challenge Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul.

Jarchow will need to first get past Fond du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney, a fellow Republican he is not a fan of. The former state representative went after Toney for initially charging 10 people for violating Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ public health orders (he later dropped the charges), with Jarchow saying, “We just cannot allow, at least without a race, one of Tony Evers’ lockdown henchmen to be our nominee.”

Jarchow, who was banned from Twitter earlier this year for adopting Donald Trump’s photo and display name to protest Trump’s own ejection from the platform, has spent his career as a hardline conservative, though one willing to defy then-GOP Gov. Scott Walker. Most notably, he voted against Walker’s 2017-2019 budget as well as his infamous Foxconn tax incentive.

Jarchow, however, suffered a big black eye in early 2018 when he lost his special election for state Senate to Democrat Patty Schachtner 55-45 in a seat that Trump had carried 55-38 the previous cycle, and he ended up retiring later that year from the lower chamber. Jarchow currently co-hosts a show with none other than Schachtner, who lost re-election in 2020.


Buffalo, NY Mayor: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday became the most prominent Empire State politician to endorse Democratic nominee India Walton in the Nov. 2 general election, while fellow Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand backed her the following day. Every other statewide Democrat, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, has remained neutral in the race between Walton and Mayor Byron Brown, who is running a write-in campaign after losing the June primary to Walton.

Cincinnati, OH Mayor: Fundraising reports covering the period from June 5 to Oct. 13 show that Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval outraised his fellow Democrat, City Councilman David Mann, $370,000 to $145,000 (Mann loaned himself an additional $30,000), but that Mann enjoyed a $135,000 to $90,000 cash-on-hand advantage for the homestretch. Pureval outpaced Mann 39-29 in the May nonpartisan primary and earned an endorsement last month from Sen. Sherrod Brown, the lone Democrat to hold a non-judicial statewide office.

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