Cook Political Report: “There’s already buzz that Albany Democrats, if given the chance, could opt for a ‘safer play’ than the map they pursued in 2022, targeting five or six GOP incumbents who are already at varying degrees of risk in 2024. That could mean a 20D-6R or 21D-5R map — not quite as ambitious as the 22D-4R gerrymander that backfired in court, but enough to offset North Carolina and keep Democrats in close contention to make Jeffries speaker.”
“Part of Democrats’ calculus is legal: a subtler, less brazen gerrymander could give Court of Appeals judges more rationale to uphold it. For example, no more crazy S-shaped tentacles allowing liberal Park Slope to be folded in with Trump-loving Staten Island.”
ILLINOIS 12TH DISTRICT. Darren Bailey, the far-right former state senator who was the GOP’s nominee for governor of Illinois last year, did not rule out waging a primary bid against Rep. Mike Bost when KSDK asked him about it, a development that comes a month after Politico first reported that he was considering the idea. Bailey instead texted the station that he and his wife were praying about their next steps, adding, “As of right now there are no plans, but we will keep you up to date.”
MARYLAND 6TH DISTRICT. Inside Elections’ Jacob Rubashkin reports that U.S. Commerce Department official April McClain-Delaney not only is considering a bid for the Democratic nod, she’s also been speaking to campaign vendors. McClain-Delaney is the wife of former Rep. John Delaney, who won a previous version of this seat in 2012 and gave it up six years later to run for president.
MINNESOTA 2ND DISTRICT. Attorney Tayler Rahm over the weekend announced he’d campaign as a Republican against Democratic incumbent Angie Craig. Biden carried this constituency, which is based in the southern Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs, 53-45, while Craig won her third term 51-46 last year.
NEW YORK 17TH DISTRICT. Former Bedford Town Supervisor MaryAnn Carr has filed FEC paperwork for a potential bid for the Democratic nod to take on GOP Rep. Mike Lawler. Carr’s colleagues on the Town Board in early 2021 chose her to fill the vacant post as leader this community of 17,000, but she lost the primary for a full term later that year to Councilwoman Ellen Calves 67-33.
RHODE ISLAND 1ST DISTRICT. Bella Machado Noka, who is a Narragansett Aboriginal Nation tribal elder, announced Thursday that she was joining the packed Democratic special election primary. Noka would be the first Native American to represent New England in Congress.
TEXAS 32ND DISTRICT. Justin Moore, a civil rights attorney who previously served as a local prosecutor, has joined the Democratic primary to succeed Senate candidate Colin Allred.
UTAH 2ND DISTRICT and U.S. SENATOR. Republican Rep. Chris Stewart, multiple unnamed sources tell the Salt Lake Tribune, plans to resign from the House as soon as this week due to unknown “ongoing health issues with his wife.” The departure of Stewart, who has been an ardent conservative hardliner during his decade in Congress, would set off a special election to succeed him in a constituency that Donald Trump carried 57-40. His exit from Congress also almost certainly means that he won’t be challenging Sen. Mitt Romney despite not ruling out the idea last month.
CALIFORNIA 47TH DISTRICT and 45TH DISTRICT. Board of Equalization member Mike Schaefer, a Democrat who has survived many scandals, tells the Orange County Register that he’ll run for the open 47th District to replace Democratic Senate candidate Katie Porter. Schaefer previously filed FEC paperwork to campaign for GOP Rep. Michelle Steel’s 45th District, but he tells the paper that he only did this because he didn’t know that Porter’s constituency no longer has this number under the new congressional map. “I’m trying to figure out how to unregister myself,” for the 45th, he says, adding, “I’m trying to get past that hurdle first.”
Schaefer, whose San Diego home isn’t in either of these Orange County constituencies, is 86, which would make him by far the oldest House freshman in American history; that record is currently held by Kentucky Republican William Lewis, who won his seat at age 79 in a 1948 special election and didn’t run for a full term later that year. Schaefer says he also doesn’t intend to seek reelection, though plenty of Democrats would prefer it if he doesn’t even get to serve that long. As the San Francisco Chronicle put it in a jaw-dropping paragraph during his reelection campaign last year:
He was accused — and eventually acquitted — in a 1970 Yellow Cab bribery scandal in San Diego, when he served on the City Council. He was convicted of misdemeanor spousal abuse and jailed in 1993, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, and was ordered by a jury in 1986 to pay $1.83 million to former tenants in Los Angeles who sued because they said their apartments, rented from Schaefer, were overrun with rats, cockroaches, sewage and street gangs, according to the Los Angeles Times. And in 2013, a Nevada court ordered him to stay at least 100 feet away from actor and comedian Brad Garrett, who played a cop and brother in “Everybody Loves Raymond,” after he allegedly stalked the actor following a dispute over a complimentary ticket to a Las Vegas show.
Schaefer’s team responded by insisting people should focus on his performance in office instead of his “colorful past,” and voters supported him 59-41 over a fellow Democrat.
Schaefer joins a contest that includes two fellow Democrats, state Sen. Dave Min and party activist Joanna Weiss, as well as 2022 GOP nominee Scott Baugh. Min, who has Porter’s endorsement, looked like the party’s frontrunner until he was arrested for drunk driving early this month, and one prominent California Democrat has made it clear he wants an alternative. Pete Aguilar, who is the third-ranking member of the Democratic leadership, told the state party convention over the weekend, “The filing deadline is in December.”
CALIFORNIA 12TH DISTRICT. Jennifer Tran, a professor at California State University East Bay who also serves as president of the Oakland Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce, is the latest Democrat to announce a campaign to succeed Senate candidate Barbara Lee in this dark-blue Oakland constituency.
Tran joins a race that includes BART board member Lateefah Simon and businessman Tim Sanchez. Simon has endorsements from EMILY’s List and some prominent state and local Democrats, and the San Francisco Chronicle recently noted that the locally influential Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda County is also behind her.
ARIZONA 3RD DISTRICT. Phoenix City Councilmember Laura Pastor has filed FEC paperwork for a campaign to succeed her fellow Democrat, Senate contender Ruben Gallego, and ABC 15 says her announcement will take place Wednesday. Pastor is the daughter of Gallego’s immediate predecessor, the late Rep. Ed Pastor.
OHIO 9TH DISTRICT. “JR Majewski, a pro-Trump Republican accused of misrepresenting his military record, is ending his comeback bid,” Politico reports.
“It marks a dramatic end for the Republican candidate who lost a competitive Ohio congressional seat in 2022 after his campaign became plagued by reports that he had lied about serving in Afghanistan, despite no military records that reflect such a deployment.”
MARYLAND U.S. SENATOR. AdImpact tells Politico that Rep. David Trone has already reserved close to $2 million as he continues his TV ad campaign almost a year ahead of the Democratic primary. The congressman’s newest commercial features him talking about his nephew’s death after a long struggle with substance addiction.
TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL. The Texas State Senate on Monday passed a resolution declaring that its trial for Attorney General Ken Paxton, whom the state House impeached over corruption allegations two days before, must begin by Aug. 28. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who like Paxton and every other statewide official is a Republican, is tasked with choosing the starting date and presiding over the tribunal. It would take two-thirds of the 31-member chamber, where the GOP holds a 19-12 majority, to convict Paxton and thus bar him from ever holding state office again.
Paxton will remain suspended until a verdict is reached, and Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster, who joined his boss in trying to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 win, automatically assumed the office. Gov. Greg Abbott has not yet said if he’d select someone to take over from Webster, a key Paxton ally who used his first day on the job to praise the scandal-ridden attorney general in an email to staffers.
If the Senate removed Paxton, though, election law professor Quinn Yeargain writes in Guaranteed Republics that Abbott would be tasked with picking a replacement, and that this person would require the support of two-thirds of the Senate in order to be confirmed. Yeargain adds that a November 2024 special election would take place for the final two years of Paxton’s term should he be convicted.
This could be a consequential pick should Abbott get to make it, as political observers point out that whoever holds the powerful post of attorney general could be the frontrunner in 2026 to succeed the governor in the event that he doesn’t seek a fourth term. (Abbott himself used this office as a springboard to the governorship in 2014.)
Yeargain, however, notes that, because Republicans are two seats shy of the two-thirds supermajority needed to unilaterally confirm a new attorney general, Democrats could try to pressure Abbott to pick someone who wouldn’t run next year. If the Senate failed to oust Paxton, though, he’d be free to run for reelection or higher office three years down the line.
It also remains to be seen if two GOP senators, Angela Paxton and Bryan Hughes, will act as jurors, though the Houston Chronicle says that two-thirds of the total body would need to vote for conviction whether or not there are any recusals. Angela Paxton is Ken Paxton’s wife, and she’s remained his close ally even though he allegedly convinced a wealthy ally named Nate Paul to hire the woman that the attorney general was having an affair with. The House’s articles of impeachment, meanwhile, accuse Paxton of utilizing Hughes as a “straw requestor” for a legal opinion used to aid Paul.
Patrick indicated that neither senator would be required to step aside, saying, “I will be presiding over that case and the senators—all 31 senators—will have a vote.” Kenneth Williams, who is a professor of criminal procedure, told the Associated Press that there wasn’t any way to prevent Angela Paxton from taking part in the proceedings, saying, “It’s up to her ethical standards and compass, basically.”
Until a week ago, it didn’t look like Ken Paxton was in any immediate danger of losing the office he was reelected to twice while under felony indictment. The attorney general was charged with securities fraud all the way back in 2015, but that trial still has yet to be scheduled. In November of 2020, the AP reported that the FBI was probing him in an unrelated matter for allegedly using his office to help Paul in exchange for favors. Four of Paxton’s former top aides also filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming that he’d retaliated against them for helping this investigation; their suit also alleges that Webster took part in this retaliation.
Paxton and his former personnel reached a tentative settlement in February that was contingent on the Texas legislature approving $3.3 million in state funds to the quartet, but it soon became apparent that House Speaker Dade Phelan and other fellow Republicans weren’t keen to pay this. And while things seemed to stall, the House General Investigating Committee actually quietly began its own report into Paxton’s alleged misbehavior.
Paxton made news Tuesday when he called for Phelan to resign for presiding over his chamber “in a state of apparent debilitating intoxication,” but all that was overshadowed the next day when the committee unexpectedly released its report reiterating many of the allegations related to Paul. The committee, which recommended impeachment the next day, went on to say, “We cannot over-emphasize the fact that, but for Paxton’s own request for a taxpayer-funded settlement . . . Paxton would not be facing impeachment.”
On Saturday, the GOP-dominated House was presented with 20 counts of impeachment. Most of the charges accused Paxton of illegally using his powers to help Paul, though some said he’d tried to interfere in the securities fraud case. Donald Trump, who endorsed the attorney general in last year’s primary, tried to pressure Republicans with a TruthSocial message threatening to “fight” anyone who voted for impeachment, while one Republican member of the General Investigating Committee claimed that Paxton himself had contacted representatives “threatening them with political consequences in their next election.”
Ultimately, though, impeachment passed 121-23, with 60 Republicans joining 61 Democrats in the affirmative. All 23 noes came from Republicans, with one member from each party voting present: The lone Democrat to do this was Harold Dutton, who infuriated his party earlier this month by backing an anti-trans bill.
Paxton characteristically responded by writing, “Phelan’s coalition of Democrats and liberal Republicans is now in lockstep with the Biden Administration, the abortion industry, anti-gun zealots, and woke corporations to sabotage my work as Attorney General.” He also predicted he’d be acquitted by the Senate where, as Yeargain writes, Angela Paxton would likely become the first person in American history to have the chance to vote on an impeached spouse’s conviction.