A primary primer
Lori Swanson, according to an investigation by Rachel Cohen that we published tonight, has been using her government staff to man her gubernatorial campaign. Her spokesperson denied she does so, but a review of her campaign spending -- both in her previous run for attorney general and current one for governor reveals a whopping staff expenditure of $0.
Swanson is leading in the polls, and if she had managed to squeak through the primary next week and this news emerged later, she’d have likely been sunk in the general election. So Democrats may have dodged a bullet. Swanson had been floated as a replacement for Al Franken in the Senate, and people had already been talking about her as presidential timber if she became Minnesota governor. But this story is devastating.
Primary season is almost over, with a big day tomorrow, another in a week, and then the a final round in early September -- and then it’s on to the general election.
Tomorrow’s most significant races are in Kansas, Michigan and Ohio, which has a special election in a heavily GOP district around Columbus. Republicans have thrown the kitchen sink at it: Trump went there for a rally, Mike Pence visited, the RNC has opened two field offices and dropped half a million on getting out the vote. Paul Ryan’s super PAC has spent $3.5 million -- all for a House seat that will serve 19 legislative days between now and November. 19!
And I still think the Democrat -- who Trump calls Danny Boy, which suggests he’s losing his touch on nicknames -- will eke out a win.
In Kansas, there’s a three-way proxy battle between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, EMILY’s List, and a moderate, well-financed candidate. Brent Welder, who has the backing of AOC and Bernie Sanders, is polling ahead of Sharice Davids, the EL candidate. Welder is hoping to prove that unapologetic progressivism can win even in Kansas. In a district next door in Wichita, James Thompson is running on the same message, and is likely to beat his more conservative primary opponent. (Here’s an interview I did with Thompson for The Young Turks.)
In Michigan, the state has a chance to nominate progressive Dr. Abdul El-Sayed against moderate Gretchen Whitmer. Again, the former has the backing of AOC and Sanders and the latter is endorsed by Emily’s List. Whitmer is favored, but El-Sayed is surging. Much will depend on how many votes are siphoned off by a fraudulent candidate, Shri Thanedar, who contemplated running as a Republican before deciding he was a “Bernie-style progressive.” A new report just exposed that he’s been paying some of the top Detroit radio hosts to promote him on air.
Also in Detroit, voters will choose a replacement for iconic Congressman John Conyers. The most progressive candidate in the race, Rashida Tlaib, would also be the first Muslim woman in Congress if she wins.
Remember Jahana Hayes? She’s the candidate who grew up in the projects in Connecticut, secured the votes to win the party’s endorsement at a convention, but then vote-switching and deal-making flipped the vote back to her opponent, a longtime politician in the state. Since then she’s run a strong campaign and has a good shot at winning the primary anyway on August 14th. Laura Moser, a Democratic candidate from Texas, has endorsed her and urged her supporters to get behind Hayes.
Apologies for the newsletter silence recently: I was on vacation in Capon Springs, West Virginia. If you’re looking for an affordable getaway in the mountains, about two hours outside of D.C., I can’t recommend it highly enough. (And this is not an ad, I just really like the place.) Their website is here, but if you’re serious about going, let me know and I’ll give you the pitch on it. I love the place.