Here we are again! Another major competitive House special election that never should have been on the table. This should have been another ho-hum, dull, unremarked-upon election that quietly slots in the next in a line of Republicans into a longtime GOP-held seat.
But not now. Not this year. We have what looks to be a tight election on our hands in what was assumed to be a safe blood-red district but a few short years ago. And it’s all part of a trend: Democrats are showing up en masse.
We’ve had enough special elections to confidently say that overall, Democrats are doing as well as or better than Clinton this year. (See the data here.) You can see this plotted in the figure above. Districts with blue arrows show where the Democrat in the special election outperformed Hillary Clinton’s margin. Those with red arrows show the opposite.
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, and David Beard.
●CO-Gov: On Sunday, Democratic Rep. Jared Polis announced he would run for governor in 2018 to succeed term-limited Democratic incumbent John Hickenlooper, setting up a major primary battle that has already drawn heated interest from Colorado Democrats. If he prevails next year, Polis would become the first openly gay man in America to win a gubernatorial election.
●MT-AL: On Thursday night, wealthy Republican businessman Greg Gianforte defeated Democratic folk musician Rob Quist in the special election to fill Montana’s lone House seat, which became vacant when former GOP Rep. Ryan Zinke left to become Donald Trump’s interior secretary earlier this year. In a stunning turn of events, Gianforte was charged with criminal assault the night before the election after violently attacking a reporter, but he nevertheless wound up winning. When we put the Digest to bed, Gianforte was up 51-44, with 6 percent going to Libertarian Mark Wicks.
That, however, was 13 points closer than Trump’s 20-point victory last fall, and it was in fact the tightest House race in Montana in 17 years, when Republicans won by 5 points in the 2000 elections. What’s more, outside Republican groups, including the NRCC and the Congressional Leadership Fund, spent heavily—almost $6
You don’t have to know much about Montana’s GOP congressional candidate Greg Gianforte to realize he’s a direct political descendent of Donald Trump: an entitled millionaire who’s accountable to no one and considers himself above the law.
Look no further than the altercation last night in which Gianforte wrapped his hands around the neck of a reporter who dared ask him a question he’d been dodging for months: Does he support the House healthcare repeal bill, especially after the Congressional Budget Office determined it would deprive 23 million Americans of health insurance while pricing many more with pre-existing conditions out of the market altogether?
That question was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Reporters don’t have the right to ask and, no, voters don’t have the right to know because: He’s Greg Gianforte, millionaire!
Late on the eve of the special election for Montana’s House seat, progressive groups moved quickly to ensure that the state’s voters know that Republican nominee Greg Gianforte body-slammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs rather than answer Jacobs’ questions about the Republican healthcare plan. When Jacobs asked Gianforte how the Congressional Budget Office score on Trumpcare would affect Gianforte’s views on the bill, Gianforte, in the words of a Fox News team that witnessed the event, “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him” and “then began punching the man.” Montana voters who missed the news Wednesday night are likely to see digital ads about it on Thursday as the special election is in progress.
Dem super PAC @prioritiesUSA already running Facebook ads in MT promoting local news stories about alleged body slam, group tells me.— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) May 25, 2017
●MT-AL: On Wednesday evening, the day before Montana hosts a long-awaited special election for its lone seat in the House, Republican Greg Gianforte assaulted reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian after Jacobs attempted to ask Gianforte a question about the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment of the GOP’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Jacobs tweeted that Gianforte “body slammed me and broke my glasses,” an account backed up by a team of reporters from Fox News who witnessed the encounter, which took place at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters:
During that conversation, another man—who we now know is Ben Jacobs of The Guardian—walked into the room with a voice recorder, put it up to Gianforte’s face and began asking if him if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. Gianforte told him he would
The Guardian has now posted audio of Montana Republican Greg Gianforte assaulting one of its reporters, Ben Jacobs, after Jacobs tried asking a question about the Congressional Budget Office’s assessment of the GOP’s Obamacare repeal legislation at a Gianforte “meet-and-greet”:
Republican Greg Gianforte’s closing motivational speech to voters ahead of Thursday’s special House election in Montana is the same thing GOP strategists are whispering in private: “This race is closer than it should be.”
We should not be talking about this race at all, because Greg Gianforte should have put it away long ago. So even if Republicans are playing the expectations game—laying the groundwork to claim any Gianforte win bigger than a point as great news for Republicans—this race is already closer than it should be.
Sure, Montana occasionally elects statewide Democrats like Gov. Steve Bullock and Sen. Jon Tester, but it’s also a state that gave Donald Trump a 20-point margin. And it pits a polished multimillionaire against a musician who has not, to put it mildly, spent his life preparing to run for office. But this is the age of Trump, and here we
●ME-Ballot: On Tuesday, Maine’s state Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a 2016 ballot initiative that switched Maine’s elections to instant-runoff voting for state and congressional races violates the state constitution. This ruling was a non-binding advisory opinion, meaning the court did not yet formally strike down the law that voters had approved 52-48 last year, but it casts serious doubt on the prospect of the legislature actually implementing instant runoff (sometimes called ranked-choice voting) as scheduled ahead for the 2018 elections.
Had this provision gone into effect, Maine would have become the first state in the country to adopt instant-runoff voting for Senate, House, gubernatorial, and state legislative races. That system lets voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no one initially attains a majority of first preferences, the last place candidate gets eliminated, and votes for that candidate shift
Rob Quist has made public lands a major focus of his campaign for Montana’s House seat, citing his own love of the land he grew up camping and hiking and kayaking on as well as the economic importance of public land to the state’s tourism and recreation industries. Public lands are also an issue that has special resonance against Quist’s Republican opponent, Greg Gianforte, who lost last year’s gubernatorial race in part because of his history fighting the public part of public lands:
Gianforte’s property abutted the East Gallatin River outside Bozeman and included an easement long used by locals for fishing. (The easement was granted through an agreement with the property’s previous owner.) Gianforte argued that the easement was ruining his property and sued the state of Montana to have to have the area closed off. He eventually reached a compromise with the state, but the dispute fed
Rob Quist’s final ads of the campaign for Montana’s lone House seat go all in on health care—and with good reason. His Republican opponent, Greg Gianforte, has embraced the wildly unpopular Republican plan, saying he was “thankful” it had passed the House. That’s not likely to play well even in a state that gave Donald Trump a 23-point margin, especially when you consider what Gianforte has to gain personally:
Based on Gianforte’s average yearly investment and wage income from 2005 to 2014, his annual tax bill would go down $785,413 if the AHCA passed, according to an analysis released Friday by the Center for American Progress Action Fund andTax March, an organization backed by labor unions and progressive groups.
Quist’s final ads are 30- and 60-second versions of the same basic message about the devastating effect the Republican plan would have on people with pre-existing conditions.
●MT-AL: We’re in the final stretch run of the special election for Montana’s lone congressional seat, and the TV ads are flying fast and furious. We’ll start with Democrat Rob Quist, who has new spots on the same topic, one that’s a minute long and the other 30 seconds. Quist narrates both, mentioning his own pre-existing medical condition (a “botched gall-bladder surgery”) and those of others who are shown attending a picnic with him. He then castigates Republican Greg Gianforte for saying he was “thankful” for the GOP’s healthcare repeal, which would allow insurers to once again discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, and adds that he thinks the wealthy Gianforte is grateful “because he gets another big tax break at our expense.”
Quist was cited for marijuana possession in 1971 and—gasp!—even admitted to smoking it in the 1990s. He is campaigning on decriminalization.
Gianforte contributed to the state House campaign of Taylor Rose, who the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have flagged as a white nationalist who tried to keep his real views under the radar during his campaign.
Those analyses highlighted Rose’s affiliation with groups that promote a return to “traditional European values” and a revival of “western civilization” that the watchdogs consider feeder organizations offering sanitized versions of white nationalist and racist philosophies. Rose has
Trump carried Chaffetz’s 3rd District, which includes Provo and much of the southeast corner of Utah, with 47 percent of the vote, while conservative independent Evan McMullin edged Clinton 24-23 for second place. This seat has been reliably red for decades, and it’s unlikely Democrats will
The Republican running for Montana’s lone congressional seat has—believe it or not—an ISIS problem, like so many millionaires must. How can they know where all their millions are going? In this case, to a company that has done business with the world’s uber-terror group.
Greg Gianforte, the millionaire GOP contender for Montana’s open seat in the House, reported owning $47,066 worth of shares in LaFargeHolcim as recently as December in an individual retirement account at TWP, a brokerage firm and private wealth manager. He and his wife, Susan Gianforte, are listed as trustees on the account.
LaFargeHolcim operated a factory in the north Syrian town of Kobane for three years after civil war broke out and most foreign companies fled. The company evacuated foreign employees in 2012, but kept the business going with local workers until ISIS fighters seized the factory two years later. Payments made to local armed groups
●MT-AL: Democrat Rob Quist is definitely kicking Republican Greg Gianforte’s butt when it comes to fundraising. New reports were due at the FEC over the weekend detailing both candidates’ fundraising between April 1 and May 5, during which time Quist raised $2.3 million, spent $2.4 million, and had $669,000 left ahead of the May 25 special election for Montana’s lone congressional seat. Gianforte, meanwhile, brought in just $624,000, shelled out $1.5 million, and had $826,000 in his bank account.
All told, since the start of the campaign in early March, Quist has raised $3.3 million—a stunning sum for such a short time and in such a cheap state—while Gianforte has taken in $2.3 million. The only reason he’s been able to keep pace was by lending his campaign an additional $1 million during the most recent
●AZ-02: Another PPP poll pitting a generic Democratic challenger against a Republican House incumbent from the new progressive group Save My Care once again—as you’d expect—finds dismal news for Republicans. This time, the target Save My Care has in its sights is Rep. Martha McSally, who became the poster child for the GOP’s reckless charge to repeal Obamacare when she reportedly exhorted her colleagues just before the vote with the Leeroy Jenkins-style battle cry, “Let’s get this fucking thing done!”
McSally could wind up done next year, too, since she currently trails an unnamed “Democratic opponent” 50-43. Now, don’t get too excited: The other day, after Save My Care released a similar poll in Nevada, we explained why generic tests like these must be viewed with great caution. However, there’s another result from this survey that should actually worry McSally even
●WV-Sen: Republicans finally landed their first high-profile challenger to moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin when Rep. Evan Jenkins kicked off his bid on Monday. Located in the heart of coal country, Jenkins became the first Republican to win the area comprising southern West Virginia’s contemporary 3rd District in roughly 84 years when he decisively ousted a longtime Democratic incumbent in 2014. Jenkins had previously served as a Democratic state senator for over a decade until switching parties in 2013 to run for House. However, in a state still dominated by conservative registered Democrats who typically vote Republican, that party switch might not be nearly as big of a problem for him in a possible Republican primary as it would be elsewhere.
The House GOP vote to strip millions of people of their health care was politically toxic and the Republican running for Montana’s at-large seat knows it, which is exactly why his campaign lied to Montanans about his real feelings. A spokesman for Republican Greg Gianforte claimed late last week that the candidate didn’t have enough information about the healthcare bill to weigh in on whether he would have voted for it. But that wasn’t exactly what Gianforte told Washington lobbyists privately the same day, writes the New York Times.
During a private conference call with Republican-leaning lobbyists in Washington, Mr. Gianforte offered a more supportive view of the health bill. Making the case for the “national significance” of the Montana election on May 25, Mr. Gianforte said: “The votes in the House are going to determine whether we get tax reform done, sounds like we just passed a health care thing, which I’m thankful