The Political Report – 3/13/21

A new Pew Research poll finds that 68% of Democrats think their party should be accepting of Democratic elected officials who openly criticize President Joe Biden.

In contrast, 56% of Republicans said their party should not be accepting of GOP elected officials who openly criticize former President Donald Trump.

First Read: “We’re reminded of how Ronald Reagan popularized the so-called ‘11th commandment,’ urging the GOP that ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.’”

“That seems to have been superseded by a new commandment for Republicans: ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of Trump.’”

FLORIDA 11TH CD — State Rep. Anthony Sabatini said on Monday that he would run for the House, though his fellow Republican, Rep. Dan Webster, angrily pre-empted that announcement with his own statement half an hour before Sabatini could issue his. In his own press release, Webster accused Sabatini of double-dealing, saying, “Last week, Rep. Sabatini called me to say he was running for Congress, but that he did not intend to run against me. Today, he has chosen to file his paperwork for Congressional District 11 instead of another district.” To erase any doubts about his own intentions, Webster also confirmed that he’d be seeking a seventh term next year.

Sabatini did launch his campaign from his hometown in Howey-in-the-Hills, which is located in this conservative north-central Florida district, but he didn’t mention Webster in his kickoff video. Instead, Sabatini railed against “the spineless and corrupt Republican establishment” that he claimed had betrayed Donald Trump.

Despite Webster’s fury, however, it’s far from guaranteed that he and Sabatini will wind up facing one another in next year’s primary. Florida is likely to gain two congressional seats for 2022, and Sabatini and his Republican colleagues in the legislature will be in charge of drawing up the new map.

Sabatini’s coworkers may not be keen to help him, though. The state representative lashed out in December when Speaker Chris Sprowls assigned him to four committees rather than the five that most members receive, further denying him any chairmanships or vice chairmanships. Sabatini said, “It was meant to send an extraordinarily clear message: that a legislative member’s delivery of the conservative message should be attenuated; that dissent is not to be tolerated; and that sticking to your conservative conscience is problematic.”

Indeed, Sabatini, who was elected in 2018 even after photos surfaced showing the now-32-year-old politician in blackface during his time in high school, has spent the last few years as one of the far-right’s national favorites. Among other things, Sabatini has sued to repeal mask mandates; has said that Joe Biden should be in jail; and tweeted that Kyle Rittenhouse, who is awaiting trial for murder, should be in Congress.

TEXAS 6TH CD — Republican Party activist Susan Wright earned an endorsement Monday from Rep. Kay Granger, a powerful member who represents a neighboring seat, ahead of the May 1 all-party primary in Texas’ 6th District. Granger is the fourth member of Congress to back Wright, who is running to succeed her late husband, Rep. Ron Wright. Wright also earned the support of Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, whose city makes up about 10% of the 6th District.

Republican state Rep. Jake Ellzey earned an endorsement from his old ally, former Gov. Rick Perry. Perry backed Ellzey during each of his previous campaigns, including his 2018 run for this seat.

NEW YORK CITY MAYOR — On Friday, attorney Maya Wiley unveiled an endorsement from longtime Rep. Nydia Velázquez ahead of June’s instant-runoff Democratic primary. Velázquez is the first member of Congress to support Wiley.

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has the backing of Reps. Adriano Espaillat, Jerry Nadler, and Jamaal Bowman, while 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang has an endorsement from Rep. Ritchie Torres.

Meanwhile, former White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan said Monday that he’d raised enough money from small donors to qualify for the city’s matching funds program. The city Campaign Finance Board still needs to verify that Donovan has raised at least $250,000 from city residents who contributed between $10 and $250 before he can receive any public financing.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams on Monday publicized an endorsement from former Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel, a longtime power player in Harlem who served in Congress from 1971 until his retirement in 2017. Adams also earned an endorsement this week from 32BJ SEIU, which is one of the four major unions active in city politics. 32BJ SEIU, which represents building workers and airport employees, joins the Hotel Trades Council in Adams’ corner.

Meanwhile, Loree Sutton, the city’s former commissioner of veterans’ affairs, announced Wednesday that she was dropping out of the primary.

TEXAS GOVERNOR — Former state Sen. Don Huffines is considering challenging Gov. Greg Abbott in next year’s Republican primary. Huffines has spent the past year attacking the pandemic restrictions from the man he’s labeled “King Abbott,” and he was hardly appeased by Abbott’s decision last week to end Texas’ mask mandate and business capacity limits. “It’ll be great to have our freedoms back next week,” Huffines tweeted before adding, “Unfortunately, we still live in a dictatorship where @GregAbbott_TX can yank those the next time it’s politically convenient to him.”

The wealthy Huffines, though, has flirted with running for higher office a few times in the past but never gone for it. In 2015, Huffines didn’t rule out a primary bid against Rep. Pete Sessions in the 32nd Congressional District in the Dallas suburbs. Huffines decided instead to remain in the legislature, but his constituents weren’t so willing to keep him around: Huffines ran for re-election in 2018 in a seat that had swung from 57-42 Romney to 50-45 Clinton, and he lost 54-46. (His identical twin brother, Phillip Huffines, was defeated in a primary that same year for another state Senate seat.)

Sessions also lost re-election after the 32nd District made a similar lurch to the left, but Huffines still mulled a 2020 bid against the new incumbent, Democrat Colin Allred. Huffines sat this contest out, though, while Sessions successfully returned to Congress by winning the far more conservative 17th District.

Another vocal Abbott critic, 2020 state Senate candidate Shelley Luther, is also a possible primary contender, but there’s no word if she’s interested.

When actor Matthew McConaughey was asked if he was interested in a run for governor on a recent podcast, he responded, “It’s a true consideration.” McConaughey, who has described himself as “aggressively centrist,” did not reveal if he was interested in running under either party’s banner.

LOUISIANA 2ND CD — Local Louisiana pollsters Edgewater Research and My People Vote have released a survey of the March 20 all-party primary in the 2nd Congressional District, which was done on behalf of Xavier University in New Orleans. The poll finds state Sen. Troy Carter leading with 35%, while fellow state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson beats a third Democrat, activist Gary Chambers, 24-11 for the second place spot in the all-but-assured April runoff.

Campaign finance reports are in for the time from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28 for the March 20 all-party primary to succeed former Rep. Cedric Richmond, and Democratic state Sen. Troy Carter had a modest financial advantage over his colleague and main intra-party foe, Karen Carter Peterson.

Carter, who is backed by Richmond, outraised Peterson about $500,000 to $450,000 while outspending her $585,000 to $515,000; Carter also enjoyed a $290,000 to $210,000 cash-on-hand edge at the end of February. A third Democratic candidate, activist Gary Chambers, hauled in $305,000, spent $265,000, and had $115,000 left. In the very likely event that no one wins a majority of the vote later this month, a runoff would take place April 24 between the top two contenders.

The New Orleans weekly The Gambit recently took a look at the divisions between the main Democratic candidates in this safely blue seat. Peterson, Chambers, and businesswoman Desiree Ontiveros, who has brought in little money so far, have been campaigning as ardent progressives, while Carter “offers general but nuanced support — depending on the issue.”

Notably, while the other contenders have called for a Green New Deal, Carter called it “a good blueprint” that won’t be in place for a long time. Peterson has also run commercials pledging to “make Medicare for all a reality,” though she and Carter used similar language when talking about healthcare in interviews with the Gambit: Peterson acknowledged that she was “okay with it being phased in,” while Carter said, “I’m for a public option and healthcare for all.”

While both Carter and Peterson are veteran New Orleans elected officials (Chambers hails from Baton Rouge at the other side of the district), they represent conflicting factions in local Democratic politics. Peterson is a leader in the Black Organization for Leadership Development (BOLD), a longtime power player in the Crescent City that has clashed with Richmond and his allies. Each side scored some big wins and losses in the 2019 legislative elections, and “many see this contest as the latest bout between BOLD and Richmond.”

LOUISIANA 5TH CD — University of Louisiana Monroe official Julia Letlow has always looked like the heavy favorite to succeed her late husband, Republican Luke Letlow, in this very red seat, and new campaign finance reports only underscore her advantage in the March 20 all-party primary. Letlow brought in $680,000 during the first two months of 2021, while Democrat Candy Christophe was a distant second with $70,000. There are a total of 12 candidates on the ballot, though, so it’s still very possible that Letlow won’t be able to win the majority she’d need to avert an April runoff.

Donald Trump has endorsed University of Louisiana Monroe official Julia Letlow in the March 20 all-party primary to succeed her late husband, Republican Luke Letlow.

MARYLAND U.S. SENATOR / MARYLAND 5TH CD — Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd announced Monday that he was ending his Democratic primary campaign against House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and would instead try to deny renomination to Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

OHIO 12TH CD — 2020 Democratic nominee Alaina Shearer said Monday that she would run for Congress again. Last year, Shearer lost to Republican Rep. Troy Balderson 55-42 as Donald Trump was carrying this suburban Columbus seat 52-46.

MICHIGAN GOVERNOR — Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel unsurprisingly said Wednesday that she would not run for governor.

OHIO 11TH CD — On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge to serve as U.S. secretary of housing and urban development, which will make her the first Black woman to lead the department since its inaugural holder, Patricia Roberts Harris, stepped down in 1981. Fudge resigned from the House later that day right after voting for the coronavirus relief bill, and her departure will set off a special election for her safely blue seat.

Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, a majority Black constituency that stretches from East Cleveland south to Akronbacked Joe Biden 80-19, and there’s no question that the Democratic nominee will prevail. Even though the special could not be scheduled before Fudge departed, a number of candidates have been running here for months. The two contenders who have generated the most attention so far are former state Sen. Nina Turner, who was a high profile backer of both of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns, and Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, who also leads the county’s Democratic Party.

The field also includes former state Rep. John Barnes, former Cleveland City Councilman Jeff Johnson, and former state Sen. Shirley Smith. Others may also enter the race, but one prospective candidate, pastor Jawanza Colvin, announced this week that he would not run.

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR — Rich guy Glenn Youngkin is continuing to test out the idea that TV ads can be an effective way to appeal to the relatively small number of convention delegates who will be choosing the Republican nominee in May, and his newest spot takes a not-very subtle shot at one of his intra-party rivals.

The spot shows five men on a basketball court repeatedly missing the hoop as the narrator decries how career politicians “talked a big game on vaccine rollout and school reopenings” only to deliver “nothing but air.” Youngkin then appears and argues that he’s the one “true outsider” in the race before describing his opponents as “a combined 160 years of political baggage.” The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel says of this line, “In reality, Youngkin’s Republican opponents don’t have that much experience in elected office, and are more diverse than the ‘Cocoon’ extras pictured here.”

Indeed, while the Democratic field does include five current or former elected officials, only two are in the hunt for the GOP nomination: Del. Kirk Cox, who is a former state House speaker, and far-right state Sen. Amanda Chase. None of the five bad basketball players depicted in Youngkin’s ad are women, so there’s no question which of his opponents he’s focused on here: Weigel even notes that one of the actors is a “ringer” for Cox.

Cox, meanwhile, recently earned an endorsement from Rep. Morgan Griffith, who is one of the state’s four GOP members of Congress.

NEBRASKA GOVERNOR / NEBRASKA 2ND CD — Rep. Don Bacon, who is one of just nine House Republicans to represent a Biden district, confirmed to the Omaha World-Herald over the weekend that he was considering running to succeed termed-out GOP Gov. Pete Ricketts. Bacon, who previously served in the Air Force as a brigadier general, said he would “be very cautious” as he mulls whether to run statewide, but he did not give a timeline for when he’d decide.

Republicans have held Nebraska’s governorship since the 1998 elections, and that streak is likely to continue no matter who wins next year’s primary. The bigger consequence of a Bacon gubernatorial campaign, though, would likely be in the battle for the House. The Omaha-based 2nd District swung from 48-46 Trump to 52-46 Biden last year, but Bacon ran far ahead of the ticket and won his third term 51-46.

It also remains to be seen if Republican mapmakers will get the chance to gerrymander Nebraska’s congressional map to ensure that they can easily hold the 2nd District with or without Bacon. That’s because Nebraska’s unicameral legislature, which is formally nonpartisan but run by the GOP, offers lawmakers an uncommonly strong filibuster. Republicans weren’t able to win the two-thirds majority it would need to overcome a Democratic filibuster aimed at stopping new maps (a job that would then likely fall to the courts), but the GOP retains the ability to end the filibuster rule with a simple majority.

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

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