The Political Report – 2/7/21

A New York judge cleared the way Friday for former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) to officially be declared the winner of the 22nd District seat in New York that she lost in 2018 to Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Roll Call reports.

The Atlantic: “In 2016, North Carolina Democrats went into Election Day thinking they could sweep the competitive races for president, Senate, and governor. Only Roy Cooper won. In 2020, the dynamic was the same: three marquee races, and only Cooper pulled it off. … Figuring out why Cooper keeps winning could have potentially huge implications for determining whether he’s a fluke or a model for Democrats across the South and in other red states.

“Cooper’s races never became national Democratic causes. He has set no major fundraising records. He’s not an otherworldly political talent. And yet his success is already a source of chatter among some political obsessives gaming out the 2024 presidential ticket. Cooper, they told me, could offer a compelling balance to Vice President Kamala Harris as the white male Democratic governor of an important swing state.”

MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR — Disgraced former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) hints to Newsmax that he may run against Sen. Roy Blunt (R) in next year’s primary.

Greitens says Blunt is “criticizing President Trump, criticizing his administration and embracing Joe Biden” and therefore doesn’t represent Missouri Republicans.

ALABAMA U.S. SENATOR — “Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the Senate’s fourth most senior member, has indicated to confidantes that he does not intend to run for reelection next year — prompting some Republicans to urge the powerful, establishment politician to reconsider, even as potential replacements prepare to run for his seat,” the AP reports.

“A titan of Alabama politics, the 86-year-old politician has spent 42 years in Washington, serving first in the House and the Senate. His stepping down would leave a power void for the region. It would also set off a free-for-all primary in a national party deeply divided between traditional Republicans like Shelby and those who model themselves on former President Donald Trump.”

A new The Hill/HarrisX poll finds 64% of registered Republicans say they would be likely to join a new political party started by Donald Trump.

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR / GOVERNOR — Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) has officially filed the paperwork for a possible run for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2022, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

WHYY reports that former U.S. Attorney William McSwain, whose tenure came to an end last month, has been speaking to local GOP leaders “in preparation for a possible campaign” for higher office. There’s no word yet if McSwain has a preference between running for governor or for U.S. Senate.  

On Tuesday, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler did not rule out a bid to succeed his fellow Republican, retiring Sen. Pat Toomey. “I don’t take any options off the table, but I’m very happy in the House.”

Several other Republicans are also thinking about running for this open seat, but some of them look a whole lot more likely to prevail in a primary than others. One of those in the less likely column is business and political consultant Craig Snyder, who told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday that he was considering getting in.

Snyder founded a PAC in 2016 to support Hillary Clinton, and he’s remained ardently anti-Trump since then. He did serve as chief of staff to a Republican senator in the 1990s, which could be an asset … if that senator weren’t the late Arlen Specter, a moderate who joined the Democratic Party in 2009.

A much more Trumpy Republican, 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos, also told the paper this week that he expected to decide on his own Senate plans in mid-March. Bartos, a real estate developer whom the Inquirer describes as “a longtime fund-raiser with ties to Pennsylvania’s Republican establishment,” originally ran for the state’s other Senate seat in 2017, but he ultimately switched races.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR — The Associated Press reports that Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce is considering seeking the Democratic nomination for Senate. Boyce, who would be Ohio’s first Black senator, was appointed to fill a vacancy as state treasurer in 2008, but he lost his bid for a full term 55-41 against Josh Mandel during the GOP wave two years later. Mandel, who was Team Red’s nominee for Senate in 2012, is also considering another try next year.

The AP that another Democrat, Rep. Joyce Beatty, is considering a bid too. Beatty didn’t rule out a bid last week right after GOP Sen. Rob Portman announced his departure. One Democrat who won’t be running, though, is former Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, who tweeted Wednesday that he’d decided to sit this contest out.  

On Thursday, former Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton publicly acknowledged that she was considering a bid for the Democratic nomination for this open seat race. Acton added that she would step down from her nonprofit post to take the time to “carefully explore” a campaign.

On the GOP side, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez said this week that it was “very, very, very unlikely” he’d enter the campaign, but he added, “I never close the door on anything.” Gonzalez fell back on his background in college football and the NFL to explain:

“When coaches are having a good season, the media will ask about rumors they’re taking a job with the Miami Dolphins. They’ll say ‘absolutely not,’ and then three weeks later they take the Miami Dolphins job. That looks silly, so I’m not going to play those games. You never say no. That’s my answer.”

Gonzalez infuriated his party last month when he voted to impeach Donald Trump, so we may very well see him taking that Miami Dolphins job before we see him in the Senate.

The latest Lincoln Project video highlights Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) role in inciting the violence that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January.

TRUMP VENGEANCE TOUR — Former president Donald Trump is planning to embark on a nationwide speaking tour specifically designed to hurt Republicans who have backed his impeachment, Insider reports.

Trump wants to target the 10 House Republicans who voted for his impeachment last month, as well as any Republican senators who speak out against him at next week’s trial.

SASSE SHOWS HOW TO RIP OFF THE BANDAID. “Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) released a pointed five-minute video directed at leading members of the Nebraska Republican Party, on the heels of reports that the party planned to censure him for his criticism and condemnation of former president Donald Trump,” the Washington Post reports.

“Sasse is one of a handful of Republican senators who has spoken out against Trump and who has tied Trump’s rhetoric and actions to the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. He is also one of the few GOP senators who supported moving forward with Trump’s impeachment trial.”

Agreed. The First Impeachment inoculated Biden against any manufactured Russian Disinformation or Trump October Surprise.

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR — “Big Republican donors — including some prominent backers of former President Donald Trump — are zeroing in on a new target as they dig out from the wreckage of the 2020 election: California Gov. Gavin Newsom,” Politico reports.

“Major GOP benefactors are funneling cash into the effort to recall the first-term Democratic governor, who’s come under fire for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his oversight of the state’s battered economy.”

While tech billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya announced last week that he’d run to replace Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom if a recall special election takes place this year, Palihapitiya walked all that back on Wednesday, saying, “Let’s be really honest. I’m not ready to do any of that.”

While Palihapitiya didn’t explicitly declare that he’d stay out of the campaign, he said that he’d need to learn “what are the conflict of interest laws and what do you have to do if all of this were to come to pass, because I cannot make a credible decision unless I do that.” Palihapitiya also said that he wouldn’t run if it meant abandoning a battery project he’s working on, adding, “It’s just that simple. So I have to figure that out.” Palihapitiya has not made it clear what party he’d run with, and we may now never know.

Meanwhile, former Republican Rep. Doug Ose said that he was considering competing in a recall election. Ose, who represented a seat in the Sacramento area from 1999 to 2005, was last on the ballot in 2014 when he lost the most expensive House race in the country to Democratic incumbent Ami Bera just 50.4-49.6. Ose briefly ran for governor in 2018 but abruptly dropped out after he failed to bring in much money.

It may be a while, however, before anyone knows if there will be a recall election this year or if Newsom will next face the voters when he’s up for another four-year term in 2022. Politico reported Thursday that county election authorities have verified that recall organizers have turned in 600,000 valid signatures so far, which means they need to turn in about 900,000 more by the March 17 deadline.

Newsom, though, may still have an option available to stop the recall even if his detractors hit this target. Recall expert Joshua Spivak notes that, should the secretary of state determine in late April or early May that there are enough valid petitions to force a vote, there would be a 30-day window for voters to withdraw their names. In 2017, Newport Beach Councilman Scott Peotter managed to submit enough signature withdrawal requests to end the effort to oust him from office, and the governor could try something similar.

Hawkfish, the Democratic data firm backed by Michael Bloomberg, is shutting down, Politico reports.

“Hawkfish was the main vehicle for Bloomberg’s failed presidential bid, which never took off despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent. After he dropped out, Bloomberg invested another $20 million into the company, as it pitched its work to Joe Biden’s campaign. But the Biden campaign declined to use Hawkfish, in part because of fierce pushback from progressives and campaign advisers who did not want to outsource the work.”

“Still, Hawkfish played an active role in the general election… In the final months of the campaign, the firm focused a large share of its effort on Florida after Bloomberg pledged to spend $100 million to turn the state blue. Those efforts were unsuccessful too. Biden ended up losing Florida by 3 points.”

MIRACLE MANCHIN Harry Enten: “He’s somehow still in Congress when other Democrats who come from districts and states with similar electoral leans either retired or were beaten. Moreover, Manchin votes about as often with the party as you’d expect given the state he is from.”

“Manchin was reelected in 2018 by 3 points. He did so in a year in which no other West Virginia Democrat running for Congress came within 10 points of winning, and the Democrats running for the House in West Virginia lost by a combined 18 points to the Republicans.”

“If anything, Manchin’s case has become even stronger over the last two years. Without him, there would be no Democratic majority. The elections since then prove how monumental his victory was. Manchin’s an invaluable member of the Democratic coalition, whether progressives like it or not.”

“Over the course of 24 hours this week, House Republicans voted to defend a freshman conspiracy theorist with a history of violent rhetoric and a mainstream party leader who backed Donald Trump’s impeachment,” the AP reports.

“The seemingly conflicting moves signal that Republican leaders, particularly in the House, are betting they can return to political power by cobbling together a coalition featuring both pro-Trump extremists and those who abhor them. The votes also suggest that Washington Republicans are unable, or unwilling, to purge far-right radicals from their party, despite some GOP leaders’ best wishes.”

FLORIDA DEMOCRATS — “Florida Democrats are a mess and have spent the past year stumbling from one crisis to another. That doesn’t mean they lack potential candidates who want to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis next year,” Politico reports.

“A string of electoral losses, an internal schism over the leadership of the state party and a series of self-inflicted public relations debacles, such as applying for pandemic relief funds, have demoralized local operatives, staff and rainmakers. But ousting the Republican governor is one of the few unifying forces for Democrats — a mantra that has fueled an ever-expanding field of those angling to take on DeSantis in 2022.”

COLORADO 3RD CD — CO-03: On Thursday, state Sen. Kerry Donovan became the most notable Democrat to announce a bid against Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, a QAnon defender who is one of the most notorious freshmen in the 117th Congress. Donovan, who promoted her background as a rancher in her launch video, alluded to Boebert’s extremism by saying, “The last thing we need are people in Congress who talk tough and stoke division and fear.”

A few other Democrats have expressed interest in running, so Donovan may face a competitive nomination fight before she can take on Boebert. One of them, state Rep. Dylan Roberts, told the Colorado Sun that he was “still considering” even though he’d need to face Donovan, whom he is friends with.

The biggest obstacle, though, is that the 3rd Congressional District is very tough turf for Democrats in its current form. While Joe Biden’s 55-42 statewide win was Team Blue’s best showing at the top of the ticket in Colorado since LBJ’s 1964 landslide win, this western Colorado seat still favored Donald Trump 52-46. Boebert herself prevailed by a similar 51-45 margin last year despite pro-Democratic ads portraying her as too partisan and going after her QAnon sympathies and many run-ins with the law.

However, no one knows what the Centennial State congressional map will look like next year. Redistricting will be handled by an independent commission for the first time, and the likelihood that the state may gain an additional House seat only makes things more unpredictable.

“Republicans in the Montana House Thursday endorsed a bill to end Election Day voter registration, saying it will take pressure off local election officials that day and still allow people to register and vote up to the previous day,” KPAX reports.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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