The solution Edwards implemented was the all-party primary, which required all the candidates, regardless of party, to face off on one ballot; if no one took a majority of the vote, the top-two contenders, regardless of party, would advance to a general election runoff. While Edwards pitched this plan as a way for Democrats to hang onto power, it ended up boosting Treen in the 1979 race to succeed Edwards—though one prominent Louisiana writer wondered if this was what the governor had hoped for all along.
Edwards came back and beat Treen, who was the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction, in 1983, but he found himself out of a job after losing to Democratic Rep. Buddy Roemer in 1987. But Edwards, while unpopular after his tumultuous third term, wasn’t done yet, and he mounted a 1991 comeback bid that went far differently than anyone expected.
It was Republican state Rep. David Duke, rather than the party-switching Roemer, who was Edwards’ general election opponent in an infamous race summed up by the (reluctantly) pro-Edwards bumper stickers “Vote for the crook, it’s important,” and “Vote for the Lizard, not the Wizard.” The Edwards-Duke “race from hell,” though, may have only been made possible thanks to the all-party primary that Edwards set up 16 years before and that remains in effect today, despite GOP attempts to kill it this year. Check out our obituary for a whole lot more on Edwards, as well as more from Louisiana’s electoral past and present.
● AK-Sen: The state Republican Party over the weekend endorsed former state cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka’s intra-party bid against Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Murkowski has not yet confirmed if she’ll be seeking re-election in 2022, where Alaska will make use of its new top-four electoral system for the first time.
● AR-Sen: Jake Bequette, a former football player at the University of Arkansas and with the New England Patriots who later became an Army Ranger, announced Monday that he’d challenge Sen. John Boozman in the Republican primary.
Bequette entered the contest with a well-produced video where he declared, “I’m no squish career politician. I’m a former All-SEC Razorback, a defensive end who sacked Tim Tebow, a Patriot who played with Tom Brady and won a Super Bowl, and an Army veteran who left the NFL and volunteered for the 101st Airborne in Iraq.” Bequette, though, did not mention why voters should fire Boozman, a low-key two-term senator who earned Trump’s endorsement back in March.
Bequette had a successful stint as a defensive end in college through the 2011 season, and he was a third-round draft pick for the Patriots in 2012. His career in the NFL, though, saw him play just eight games total over two seasons. Bequette was put on the practice squad in 2014 and didn’t play in the 2015 Super Bowl, but he still got a ring after his team won the game; Bequette was released later that year and went on to serve with the Army in Iraq.
● AZ-Sen: Blake Masters, who serves as chief operating officer of Thiel Capital, announced Monday that he would join the Republican primary to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. Masters is a 34-year-old first-time contender who argued that “[b]eing a conventional politician and being in office forever is sort of overrated,” but he does have one very prominent figure in his corner.
Peter Thiel, the conservative megadonor and wannabe vampire, dumped $10 million into a super PAC to support his top aide earlier this year. (Thiel also invested this same amount into another group to aid another one of his allies, J.D. Vance, who launched a Senate bid in Ohio earlier this month.) Thiel has also been in the news recently following ProPublica’s report detailing how he transformed his Roth IRA account “into a gargantuan tax-exempt piggy bank,” though Masters’ team says the candidate had no role in Thiel’s planning.
Masters, who launched his campaign questioning the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory and supporting the ongoing and utterly bogus “audit” of Maricopa County’s 2020 vote, joins what’s become a crowded primary to take on Kelly. The contest includes businessman Jim Lamon; retired Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire; and Mark Brnovich, the state attorney general that Donald Trump derided as “lackluster” for accepting the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state.
● MO-Sen: We hadn’t heard much about former Gov. Jay Nixon’s possible interest in running for the Senate since he declined to rule the idea out in March, but unnamed sources close to him say, in the words of the Missouri Independent‘s Jason Hancock, that the Democrat is “considering the possibility very seriously.” Hancock adds that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has mentioned Nixon as a potential candidate in calls to donors, while he hasn’t name-dropped any other names for this race.
Meanwhile on the GOP side, the conservative Washington Examiner writes that Rep. Billy Long is “poised” to run. There’s no word, though, when the congressman might make his final decision: Long himself said about a month ago that he was “getting really close on it,” though he’d previously insisted in April that he’d make up his mind “not before too long.”
● CA-Gov: Board of Equalization Member Ted Gaines, a longtime Republican politician who serves on the four-member elected body that administers tax collection across the state, has announced that he’ll compete in the September recall campaign against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. The filing deadline is Friday, so other would-be contenders have only a little time left to make up their minds.
Gaines, who previously represented the state’s conservative northeast corner in both chambers of the legislature, has run statewide once before, but he lost that 2014 general election for state insurance commissioner by a wide 58-42 margin. Gaines went on to win his 2018 campaign for District 1 on the Board of Equalization, which spans most of the inland eastern part of the state, 51-49 as Republican John Cox was edging out Newsom there 50.3-49.7.
● IA-Gov: Democrat Deidre DeJear, who was the 2018 nominee for secretary of state, announced Monday that she is forming an exploratory committee for a possible bid for the Hawkeye State’s governorship. DeJear won her 2018 primary by narrowly defeating Jim Mowrer, who had waged two well-funded bids for Congress, but she lost the general to GOP incumbent Paul Pate 53-45.
If DeJear decides to enter the race, she would join state Rep. Ras Smith as the second prominent candidate to get in the contest. Either DeJear or Smith would be the first Black person elected statewide in Iowa.
● KY-Gov: On Monday, state Auditor Mike Harmon became the first notable Republican to announce a campaign against Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat who will be up for re-election in 2023. Harmon first won statewide office in 2015 when he unseated Democratic Auditor Adam Edelen in a 52-48 upset, and he held the post 56-41 in 2019. Harmon launched his new campaign by going after Beshear’s public health measures, arguing that if he had been governor, he’d have “never, never issued a mask mandate.”
P.S. While anyone following U.S. politics today has spent most, if not all, of their lives in the era of the permanent campaign, even we have some limits here at Daily Kos Elections. Our practice is to only talk about a race when it’s no more than two years off, so we won’t be saying much about the 2023 gubernatorial races until after Election Day this fall.
However, we do make an exception when a notable contender like Harmon announces a campaign ahead of this time frame. In Missouri, for instance, we took note when Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe announced in March of this year that he’d seek the GOP nod in 2024 to succeed term-limited incumbent Mike Parson. These sorts of very early campaign kickoffs are quite rare, though, so for now, we’ll be focused on news for 2021 and 2022.
● RI-Gov: WPRI’s Ted Nesi wrote Saturday that there’s “growing buzz” that former Secretary of State Matt Brown could launch another bid for governor, though the Democrat did not respond to any of Nesi’s inquiries during the previous week-and-a-half. Brown, who left office following his aborted 2006 run for the Senate, re-emerged on the political stage in 2018 when he launched a primary campaign against then-Gov. Gina Raimondo.
Brown raised little money, but he hoped that he’d be able to take advantage of Raimondo’s long and turbulent relationship with progressives. His longshot campaign was enough to draw the attention of the DGA and EMILY’s List, which financed a pro-Raimondo super PAC in the primary, but the governor held him off 57-34. Raimondo went on to win her second term that fall before resigning earlier this year to become U.S. secretary of commerce, a move that elevated Lt. Gov. Dan McKee to the state’s top job.
● FL-13: Attorney and 2020 House candidate Amanda Makki has been considering joining the GOP primary for this open seat and now says she’s likely to enter the race later this month. Makki finished second in the 2020 Republican primary for this Pinellas County-based district, losing to Anna Paulina Luna 36-28.
● GA-06: Former Republican state Rep. Meagan Hanson kicked off a bid for this suburban Atlanta seat on Monday, joining Army veteran Harold Earls in the GOP primary to take on Democratic incumbent Lucy McBath. This district, which backed Joe Biden 55-44, has been at the forefront of metro Atlanta’s shift to the left, a phenomenon that Hanson experienced firsthand.
Hanson was elected to her state House seat 51-49 in 2016 as Hillary Clinton was carrying it 54-40. The blue shift would be too much for her to survive in 2018, though, as she lost to Democrat Matthew Wilson 52-48 while Stacey Abrams was carrying the district 58-41.
Hanson and Earls could soon have company in the race, as former state ethics commission chair Jake Evans, who just resigned from his post recently, has filed paperwork with the FEC for a potential bid. Despite the current partisan lean of this district, Republicans can use redistricting to make this or the neighboring 7th District better for themselves.
● OH-11: Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown has released a survey from Normington Petts to argue that she’s closing the gap with former state Sen. Nina Turner ahead of the Aug. 3 Democratic primary.
The poll finds Turner ahead 43-36, with the remaining candidates taking 7% of the vote. That’s still a deficit for Brown, but the memo says that it’s a big shift from April, when an unreleased survey found Turner winning by a massive 42-10 margin. The only other poll we’ve seen was a late May Turner internal from Tulchin Research that showed her dominating 50-15.
Turner has enjoyed a huge financial edge throughout the contest, though Brown’s side is still spending enough to get their message out. Politico reports that Turner has outspent Brown $1.2 million to $617,000 on TV, while Turner’s detractors at Democratic Majority for Israel have deployed $475,000.
● Special Elections: There are five special elections on tap for Tuesday in Alabama, Georgia, and Wisconsin:
AL-SD-14: This is a Republican district in central Alabama that became vacant when former Sen. Cam Ward became director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles. Attorney Virginia Applebaum is the Democratic candidate taking on former GOP state Rep. April Weaver. This district is located in a strongly Republican belt of central Alabama and Ward won his last re-election bid in 2018 by a 73-27 spread.
AL-HD-73: This is a Republican district in Shelby County, a suburban county south of Birmingham, that became vacant following former Rep. Matt Fridy’s election to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals last year. Fridy won 69-31 here in 2018.
Businesswoman Sheridan Black is the Democratic candidate running against Army veteran Kenneth Paschal, a Republican. Paschal won a competitive GOP primary, one in which he initially trailed Leigh Hulsey 31-27 in a five-candidate field only to later best her 51-49 in a runoff; if Paschal wins, he’d be the first Black Republican in the Alabama State House since Reconstruction.
GA-HD-34: This is a runoff election in the northern Atlanta suburbs taking place between Democrat Priscilla Smith and Republican Devan Seabaugh. In the first round of voting, Seabaugh led Smith 47-25; altogether, the Republican candidates combined to lead the Democrats 59-40.
Despite the Republican advantage in the initial voting in this race, this district has shifted dramatically towards Democrats in the last few elections: Donald Trump won it 55-40 in 2016, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp took it by a smaller 54-44 spread in the 2018 governor’s race, and last year Trump carried it just 51-47.
While this has mostly been a quiet runoff election, well-known state organizations on both sides have dipped their toes into the race. 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams’s voting rights group Fair Fight has released an anti-Seabaugh ad, while former Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s Greater Georgia organization sent volunteers to this race.
GA-HD-156: This is an all-Republican runoff election in the Vidalia area between Leesa Hagan and Wally Sapp. Hagan narrowly led Sapp in the first round 43-42 in a strongly Republican seat that backed Trump 75-25 last year.
WI-AD-37: This Republican district in south central Wisconsin became vacant after former state Rep. John Jagler was elected to the state Senate in April in another special election. Former Columbus City Council member Pete Adams is the Democrat running against U.S. Army Reserve member William Penterman, while sales professional Stephen Ratzlaff is running as an independent.
This district has slipped away from Democrats in recent years, moving from 53-46 for Mitt Romney in 2012 to 54-40 Trump in 2016.
● Los Angeles, CA Mayor: President Joe Biden announced Friday that he was nominating Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to become ambassador to India. Multiple media outlets reported just before Memorial Day that Biden planned to choose Garcetti, who is termed-out of his current job in 2022, for this post, but it remains to be seen who will take over as the leader of America’s second-largest city.
If the mayor is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, much of what would happen next would be up to the Los Angeles City Council. The 15-member body’s leader, Council President Nury Martinez, would automatically become acting mayor upon Garcetti’s resignation, which would make her the first woman to lead the city. She may not be there long, however, as the Council can vote to select her or a different person to serve as interim mayor. Indeed, Martinez has expressed interest in running in her own right next year, so several of her colleagues may be reluctant to select her or another potential candidate as interim mayor.
The City Council also has the option to hold a special election for the remainder of Garcetti’s term, though two members have already said they don’t want this to happen because of the expenses involved. No matter what, though, the regularly-scheduled nonpartisan primary will go forward in June of next year in this heavily Democratic city. The only notable declared contenders so far are City Councilman Joe Buscaino and City Attorney Mike Feuer, but others are considering.
P.S. If Garcetti does resign, he would be the first L.A. mayor to leave office early since 1916, when the city was a far smaller place. That year, Charles Sebastian quit after a newspaper published his love letters to his longtime mistress, which included the revelation that Sebastian demeaned his wife as “the Old Haybag.” The scandal that ended his career came just after he’d won election following an assassination attempt; Sebastian was initially charged with faking an attempt on his life, but the charges were dismissed.
● Radio: Daily Kos elections editor Jeff Singer appeared on Kudzu Vine on Sunday to discuss the 2022 Senate landscape, including the most vulnerable seats for each party, whether or not Republicans should want former football star Hershel Walker to run in Georgia, and the surprising connection between one high-profile contest and an episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” Click here to listen to a recording.
● Where Are They Now?: Former Rep. Anthony Brindisi, a Democrat who lost an extremely close re-election campaign for New York’s 22nd Congressional District last year, announced Monday that he would run for a 14-year term on the New York State Supreme Court this November.
Despite its name, the body is not the Empire State’s highest court (that honor goes to the Court of Appeals) and instead functions as a trial court. The 5th Judicial District in the Syracuse area is made up of Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego counties, which together voted for Donald Trump 49.2-48.7 in 2020.