Morning Digest: His campaign's in Montana. His wife, home, and family yacht are in sunny California
Information about Morning Digest: His campaign's in Montana. His wife, home, and family yacht are in sunny California
The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● MT-02: While Montana’s plans for its soon-to-be-resurrected 2nd District remain up in the air, we’re quite certain that even the most extreme gerrymander won’t incorporate the Southern California city of Santa Barbara … but Ryan Zinke isn’t so sure. Miranda Green, writing at Politico, says that it appears Zinke spends far more time in Santa Barbara, where his wife, Lola, is originally from and owns both real estate and a 41-foot yacht, than in Montana.
It’s not only Lola Zinke’s Instagram account, which, says Green, showcases many more photos of the couple in California than in Montana. Green also visited the Montana town of Whitefish, where Zinke’s campaign says he lives. However, when a Politico photographer showed up at the address listed on Zinke’s campaign filings, she was met by Zinke’s son’s girlfriend, who said that she lived on the property but Zinke himself did not. Zinke’s campaign disputed the girlfriend’s claims but has refused to answer questions about how much time the candidate has actually spent in Montana.
Of course, whether any of this will matter as the former congressman attempts his comeback is another matter. Zinke’s potential opponents, both Republicans and Democrats, have jabbed at him over his residency, and similar attacks helped Democratic Sen. Jon Tester defeat Republican Matt Rosendale—whom he dubbed “Maryland Matt”—in the 2018 Senate race. But Rosendale came back to win the very seat Zinke once held last year, so charges like this may no longer be quite so potent.
● CO-Sen: Businessman Joe O’Dea, a first-time office-seeker and construction company owner, has entered the GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet next year. As Colorado Politics notes, O’Dea has frequently donated to candidates, including a $500 contribution in 2010 to … Michael Bennet, when he was seeking election to a full six-year term. (The year before, Gov. Bill Ritter had appointed him to fill the seat left vacant when Ken Salazar was tapped by Barack Obama to serve as his interior secretary.) Already seeking the Republican nomination are Air Force veteran Eli Bremer and state Rep. Ron Hanks.
● VA-Gov: Christopher Newport University’s newest poll brings the school in line with the vast majority of other pollsters who’ve found a small lead for Democrat Terry McAuliffe, giving him a 49-45 edge on Republican Glenn Youngkin. In August, CNU had McAuliffe ahead 50-41, which was tied for the largest advantage anyone had ever given the former governor. CNU’s numbers for Virginia’s other statewide races have also come down to earth, with Democrat Hala Ayala up 48-44 in the race for lieutenant governor and state Attorney General Mark Herring defeating his Republican opponent 49-43.
McAuliffe, meanwhile, has released a new ad hitting Youngkin on schools—a topic that Youngkin has lately tried to exploit against McAuliffe. The spot charges that Youngkin “would bring Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos’ education policies to Virginia,” saying his “plan shifts money from public schools to private schools instead.”
● OR-06: Following a recent report saying state Democratic state Rep. Andrea Salinas had told supporters she’d be running for Oregon’s brand-new 6th Congressional District, Salinas herself now says she is “seriously exploring” a bid and promises she’ll “make a final decision soon.”
Also running for the Democratic nomination are former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith and former Portland School Board member Derry Jackson, though both announced before the state’s new map became law last month—Multnomah isn’t in the 6th and just the tiniest sliver of Portland is. One Republican, Dundee (pop. 3,200) Mayor David Russ, is in as well. The 6th would have voted 55-42 for Joe Biden last year, according to new calculations from Daily Kos Elections.
● TX-23: Republican Raul Reyes announced Thursday that he would run for the state Senate next year rather than seek a rematch against freshman Rep. Tony Gonzales, who beat him by 45 votes in last year’s primary
● Atlanta, GA Mayor: Two attorneys for former Mayor Kasim Reed said on Friday that the U.S. Department of Justice is no longer looking into their client as part of a long-running local corruption investigation or any other matter. The pair, who serve as personal attorneys for Reed rather than for his mayoral campaign, said that in an August conference call, prosecutors “informed us that their inquiry regarding Kasim Reed was complete and that the inquiry regarding Mr. Reed is closed.” They added, “There is no federal investigation of Kasim Reed.”
Reed is running in the Nov. 2 nonpartisan primary to regain the post he held from 2010 through 2018. His opponents have focused on the federal probe that has resulted in the convictions of three former Reed administration officials and the indictment of others. City Council President Felicia Moore, whom several polls show is the candidate most likely to advance to a runoff with Reed, argued in a recent debate, “The leadership should take responsibility for the actions of their administration.”
In June, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reported that Reed was apparently under federal investigation for spending campaign funds on personal purchases. Reed himself had nevertheless insisted that his campaign was not under federal investigation, and his campaign attorney said Thursday, “The inquiry into Kasim Reed’s … mayoral campaign account spending has ended with the Government taking no action.”
Reed had in fact long maintained he was not under federal investigation for any reason. While it’s not clear why Reed’s lawyers waited two months to back up their client’s assertions, Georgia State law professor Caren Morrison told the AJC that it was unlikely that Reed’s attorneys aren’t being truthful, noting, “It would be a bridge-burning kind of thing to do—a severe blow to their reputations.”
Morrison also said, “It’s highly unusual for a U.S. Attorney’s Office to take a position like that: ‘We are done and we’re not looking at this anymore,'” because, she explained, “It’s in the nature of the prosecutorial job that you usually leave avenues open, because you never know what kind of additional information you might get. Anything could happen.” So why issue an all-clear like this? Said Morrison, “It’s pretty clear if Mr. Reed wasn’t running for mayor, this wouldn’t happen.”
● Hialeah, FL Mayor: Donald Trump on Thursday waded into next month’s open seat race to lead conservative Hialeah by endorsing Steve Bovo, a former Miami-Dade County commissioner who lost last year’s general election for county mayor. Trump joins several other Florida Republican bigwigs in Bovo’s corner including Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.
Bovo, like so many other Republican politicians, has been more than happy to entertain Trump’s lies about the 2020 election, telling the Miami Herald he believed there was “widespread fraud” that is “very difficult to prove.” When the paper asked him if Joe Biden legitimately won, he responded, “Joe Biden went through an election process and he is right now the president of the United States.”
Bovo’s main opponent in the Nov. 2 nonpartisan primary to succeed termed-out Mayor Carlos Hernández is a fellow conservative, Isis Garcia-Martinez. The Herald’s Aaron Leibowitz recently profiled this race and wrote that, while the two share positions on most issues, they’ve very much disagreed on DeSantis’ lax handling of the pandemic. Garcia-Martinez argued, “I’ve always been a Republican, but I totally disagree with this governor,” adding, “We don’t want to just mandate something, but the reality is, you don’t want to lose families to this virus.” Bovo, meanwhile, has emphasized his own opposition to mask mandates in schools.
Three others are also running including Julio Martinez, who served as mayor in the early 1990s but lost the post in a 1993 landslide and came nowhere close to winning it back 20 years later. (Before that in 1986, then-county GOP chair Jeb Bush presided over one meeting where Martinez and a Spanish-language columnist left and proceeded to get into a physical altercation in the hall; “I tripped,” said the then-city councilman.) If no one takes a majority of the vote, a runoff would take place Nov. 16.