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Why Kathy Hochul’s hand-picked lieutenant governor could get upset on Tuesday


This unpopular system—which Alaska just ditched this year—led, for instance, to a particularly miserable pairing in neighboring Pennsylvania a few years ago that ultimately saw Gov. Tom Wolf pull Lt. Gov. Mike Stack’s security detail. (Stack finished a pitiful fourth place in the primary when he sought re-election in 2018 while Wolf cruised.)

Should Archila prevail over Delgado and find herself as Hochul’s number-two next year, a similarly frosty relationship could develop. Archila made a name for herself when she famously confronted then-Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake during Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination hearings, blocking an elevator door as she told Flake, who refused to meet her eyes, of her own sexual assault and demanded he oppose Donald Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court.

She hasn’t hesitated to challenge the more moderate Delgado, either: At a recent debate, in response to a non-committal answer from Delgado about whether Hochul should sign a recently passed bill that would place a moratorium on using fossil fuel plants for cryptocurrency mining, Archila retorted, “This is a perfect example of a governor being an obstacle to process and the lieutenant governor saying nothing.”

And she’s similarly promised to hold Hochul to account. “I will not be a lieutenant governor who’s quietly in the background, smiling and cutting ribbons,” she said in a recent interview, adding she would “stand up to the governor when he or she is veering away.” Hochul herself understands what it’s like to have a poor relationship with the top dog, in a very different way: She receded into near-invisibility for two terms under the autocratic Andrew Cuomo, who reportedly sought to boot her from his ticket last year before he was engulfed in a massive string of sexual misconduct scandals that led to his resignation.

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Hochul also knows all too well that her fortunes and Delgado’s may not be linked on primary day. In 2018, Cuomo handily dispatched a left-wing challenge from actor and activist Cynthia Nixon by a huge 66-34 margin, but on that same day, Hochul only turned back a similar effort from Jumaane Williams, then a little-known New York City councilman, by a much narrower 53-47 spread.

Williams, now the city’s public advocate, is challenging Hochul once again, and he’s allied with Archila as the two most vocal candidates on the left. Polls show Hochul beating Williams in a landslide, but there hasn’t been a single public survey of the primary for the second spot.

Delgado of course has Hochul’s blessing and the backing of many labor unions, plus a $2 million war chest he was able to transfer from his congressional campaign account that’s given him a wide financial edge over Archila and a third candidate, former New York City Councilwoman Diana Reyna, the unofficial running mate of Rep. Tom Suozzi.

But the Colombia-born Archila, who, like the Afro-Latino Delgado, would be the first Hispanic person elected statewide in New York, has been campaigning for longer and enjoys the support of a wide range of progressive organizations. There’s also the matter of how exactly Delgado came to be on the ticket: After Hochul’s previous lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, resigned following his arrest on bribery charges, Hochul pressured the legislature into changing state law to allow her to replace Benjamin on the primary ballot with Delgado.

Archila has been sharply critical of Hochul’s maneuvering to alter the rules for her benefit midstream. “The governor interfered in an election that was already underway,” she put it recently, “instead of allowing a fair election between two Latinas that had been running already.” If voters also find this sort of self-serving power politics distasteful, Delgado could find himself a victim of the very effort that was designed to further his ambitions.

The Downballot

● Redistricting has finally come to an end, so it’s time for us to catch up on what all the slow-poke states did with their new congressional maps on this week’s episode of The Downballot. We’re talking with Daily Kos Elections contributing editor David Jarman, who walks us through the whipsaw changes in New York, which saw a Democratic gerrymander replaced with a court-drawn map; Ron DeSantis’ extreme efforts to rig Florida’s districts in violation of the state constitution; and an Ohio map that offers Democrats an interesting pickup opportunity in the Cincinnati area.

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Co-hosts David Nir and David Beard also recap another disastrous night for Donald Trump in Georgia, where three of his favored candidates all lost in runoffs—including one he may have accidentally endorsed; a bizarre drop-out in Alaska that’s transformed its first-ever top-four race into a top-three affair instead; and a historic race in Colombia that saw the country elect its first-ever left-wing president.

Please subscribe to The Downballot on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. You’ll find a transcript of this week’s episode right here by noon Eastern Time.

Senate

NH-Sen: The first ad this year from Emily’s List Action, the nonprofit arm of EMILY’s List, is a $600,000 buy praising Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan for standing up for abortion rights in the face of a hostile Supreme Court. The narrator begins, “The Supreme Court’s set to overturn Roe v. Wade—giving politicians the power to control a woman’s most personal decisions about her life, her health, and her family,” before showing a clip of Hassan declaring, “We are not going to let them do that.”

OK-Sen-B: Read Frontier reports that former White House staffer Alex Gray has dropped out of next week’s Republican primary and backed Luke Holland, who is outgoing Sen. Jim Inhofe’s former chief of staff. A recent survey from the GOP firm Amber Integrated found Gray taking less than 1%, though Holland was hardly in good shape with only 4% of respondents in his corner.

WI-Sen, WI-Gov: Marquette Law School finds Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers both locked in tight general elections against almost every one of their potential opponents. First up are Johnson’s numbers against four would-be Democratic foes:

  • 44-46 vs. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes
  • 43-45 vs. state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski
  • 43-44 vs. Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson
  • 45-42 vs. Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry

The pollster also surveys the August Democratic primary and shows Barnes edging out Lasry 25-21, with Godlewski and Nelson at 9% and 7%, respectively, as a 36% plurality remains undecided. Back in April, Marquette gave Barnes a similar 19-16 advantage over Lasry, with Godlewski at 7%. (The school did not poll the general elections during the spring.)

We’ll now turn to the gubernatorial numbers, where Marquette also tested Evers against a quartet of Republican rivals:

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  • 47-43 vs. former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch
  • 48-41 vs. 2004 Senate nominee Tim Michels
  • 48-40 vs. 2018 Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson
  • 51-34 vs. state Rep. Timothy Ramthun

The school also finds a tight primary, with Michels passing Kleefisch 27-26; Nicholson lags in third with 10% and Ramthun grabs 3%, while 32% did not choose a candidate. Michels posted that exact same 27-26 edge last month in a Public Policy Polling survey for Milwaukee Works, which was the first indication that Kleefisch had lost her frontrunner status. Donald Trump went on to endorse Michels, who has been spending heavily on commercials, early this month.

Governors

GA-Gov: Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s latest commercial argues that Democrat Stacey Abrams supports defunding the police, a line of attack Georgia viewers can expect to hear many more times before November.

The ad features a clip of Abrams pausing for several seconds after a reporter asks her, “So yes to some defunding,” before the Democrat responds, “We have to reallocate resources, so yes.” However, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that Kemp’s message leaves out the rest of Abrams’ answer, in which she continued, “If there is a moment where resources are so tight that we have to choose between whether we murder Black people or serve Black people, then absolutely: Our choice must be service. But I actually think it’s creating a false choice and a false narrative.” Abrams’ campaign says she opposes defunding the police.

IL-Gov: Venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan has dropped an internal from Remington Research Group showing him deadlocked 27-27 with state Sen. Darren Bailey ahead of Tuesday’s GOP primary, with Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin at just 13%. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker and his allies have spent massive amounts trying to ensure that the far-right Bailey is his GOP opponent rather than Irvin, but they’ve largely ignored Sullivan. Most other recent polls have also shown Bailey ahead of Irvin as Sullivan lags in third.

MA-Gov: YouGov’s new survey for UMass Lowell finds both Democratic candidates, Attorney General Maura Healey and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, posting huge leads in general election matchups against the two Republican contenders. Healey outpaces former state Rep. Geoff Diehl and businessman Chris Doughty 61-30 and 58-30, respectively, while Chang-Díaz beats them 54-29 and 50-30.

MD-Gov: Author Wes Moore has earned an endorsement from Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who represents the heavily Democratic 7th District around Baltimore, in the crowded July 19 Democratic primary for governor.

NY-Gov: SurveyUSA, working on behalf of WHEC-TV and WNYT-TV, shows Gov. Kathy Hochul swamping Rep. Tom Suozzi 54-18 ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic primary, with New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams at 11%. Things are far closer on the Republican side as Rep. Lee Zeldin edges out former Trump White House staffer Andrew Giuliani 25-23, with wealthy businessman Harry Wilson and 2014 nominee Rob Astorino behind with 13% and 8%, respectively. All four men, though, badly trail Hochul in hypothetical general elections, with Zeldin’s 52-28 deficit representing the smallest margin of defeat.

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House

AK-AL: A spokesperson for Republican Tara Sweeney says her campaign will not challenge a decision by the Alaska Division of Elections ruling that Sweeney, the fifth-place candidate in the recent top-four special primary for the state’s vacant House seat, cannot take the spot of independent Al Gross, who finished third but unexpectedly dropped out of the Aug. 16 general election on Monday. The Alaska Beacon suggests that “a third party could” file a lawsuit, but it’s not clear how such an entity would demonstrate legal standing to bring such a claim.

FL-13: Former Department of Defense official Eric Lynn, who is the only Democrat in the race, has dropped a poll from Global Strategy Group showing him trailing 2020 GOP nominee Anna Paulina Luna 45-36, though the memo argues he’ll obtain a lead “once Eric Lynn can introduce himself and present Anna Paulina Luna’s extremist positions.” The survey also has the Democrat trailing two of Luna’s August Republican primary foes, Kevin Hayslett and 2020 contender Amanda Makki, by margins of 39-36 and 41-36, respectively.

FL-15: Alan Cohn, who was the 2020 Democratic nominee for the old version of the 15th District, has earned an August primary endorsement from 14th District Rep. Kathy Castor; just over one-third of the new 15th’s denizens are currently Castor’s constituents.

IL-15: Victory Geek, a firm we’ve only occasionally encountered in the past, finds Rodney Davis edging out fellow Rep. Mary Miller 38-35 in Tuesday’s GOP primary in a survey for The Illinoize, a blog run by former GOP strategist Patrick Pfingsten. (Pfingsten worked for Davis’ successful 2012 campaign.) The only other recent poll we’ve seen was a Cygnal internal for Miller that gave her a 45-40 lead.

MN-01: Democrat Jeff Ettinger has publicized an internal from Expedition Strategies that shows him trailing Republican Brad Finstad only 48-47 in the Aug. 9 special election. This is the first poll we’ve seen of the contest for this 54-44 Trump constituency in southern Minnesota.

MS-03: Rep. Michael Guest has earned an endorsement from Thomas Griffin, whose 5% of the vote prevented either the incumbent or Navy veteran Michael Cassidy from winning a majority on June 7, ahead of Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff. Griffin said that an unhinged supporter of Cassidy, who edged out Guest 47.5-46.9 in the first round, motivated him to back the congressman by allegedly threatening his business.

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NY-19 (special): Freedom Council USA, a right-wing group that supports Republican Marc Molinaro, had publicized a survey from Triton Polling & Research that shows him defeating Democrat Pat Ryan 52-38, which makes this the first poll we’ve seen of the in the August special for this 50-48 Biden constituency.

OK-02: Fund for a Working Congress, a conservative super PAC that has gotten involved in a few other GOP primaries this cycle, is dropping $125,000 on advertising portraying former state Sen. Josh Brecheen as “[w]eak on crime” and anti-Trump. The group’s spending comes about a week after the Club for Growth affiliate School Freedom Fund launched a $260,000 buy supporting Brecheen ahead of a Tuesday primary that hadn’t previously attracted much outside spending.

TX-28: A recount has confirmed Rep. Henry Cuellar as the winner of the Democratic primary runoff in Texas’ 28th District, with his final margin over progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros increasing from 281 votes to 289. Cuellar, the last anti-choice Democrat in the House, will now face former Ted Cruz aide Cassy Garcia as he defends a south Texas district that became slightly bluer in redistricting, shifting from a 51-47 margin for Joe Biden to a 53-46 Biden edge. However, this heavily Latino region has moved sharply to the right in recent years: Hillary Clinton carried the prior version of the 28th 58-38 in 2016, and Republicans recently flipped the nearby 34th District in a special election.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who was the Democratic nominee in the tight 2018 race for governor of Florida, was indicted Wednesday along with an advisor named Sharon Lettman-Hicks for allegedly “soliciting and obtaining funds from various entities and individuals through false and fraudulent promises and representations that the funds would be used for a legitimate purpose.”

Federal prosecutors also argue that the pair “used third parties to divert a portion of those funds to a company owned by Lettman-Hicks, who then fraudulently provided the funds, disguised as payroll payments, to Gillum for his personal use.” Each has pleaded not guilty.

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