The Political Report – 3/31/21

Gallup: “With well over 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, the public’s satisfaction with the rollout has surged 24 percentage points to 68% in the last month.”

A new Pew Research poll finds 31% of U.S. adults now report that they go online “almost constantly.”

Jonathan Chait looks at a new paper from political scientist Jacob Grumbach which finds that “the states that backslid on democratization over the past 16 years were shared a single characteristic: Republicans gained full control of their state government.”

“In other words, states that are rolling back democratic protections are not responding to demographic change nor to any change internal to their state. They are following the agenda of the national Republican Party. That agenda is spreading throughout the states, which are imposing voter restrictions almost everywhere their party has the power to do so. Restricting the franchise has become perhaps the party’s core policy objective.”

PENCE 2024 Associated Press: “The former vice president is steadily reentering public life as he eyes a potential run for the White House in 2024. He’s joining conservative organizations, writing op-eds, delivering speeches and launching an advocacy group that will focus on promoting the Trump administration’s accomplishments.”

“But Trump’s neglect in mentioning Pence during a podcast interview earlier this month signals the former vice president’s unique challenge. For someone who built a reputation as one of Trump’s most steadfast supporters, Pence is now viewed with suspicion among many Republicans for observing his constitutional duty in January to facilitate a peaceful transfer of power to the Biden administration, a decision that still has Trump fuming.”

ALASKA U.S. SENATOR — Kelly Tshibaka (R), who has led the Alaska Department of Administration since early 2019, announced plans to seek the Alaska U.S. Senate seat that has been held since 2002 by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), the Anchorage Daily News reports.

“The landscape for the 2022 elections in Alaska will be different. A voter initiative passed in November scrapped party primaries for a system in which the top four vote-getters advance to the general election. It also instituted a ranked-choice voting system for general elections.”

Tshibaka made it very clear in her kickoff video that she’d be portraying Murkowski, who was appointed to the Senate in 2002, as a political insider who is “so out of touch that she even voted to remove Donald Trump from office even after he was already gone.” Tshibaka also falsely claimed that Murkowski, who said she cast a write-in vote in the 2020 presidential race, actually “supported Joe Biden for president.”

This appears to be the first time Tshibaka has run for office, though she has some prominence from her two years in Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s cabinet leading the huge Department of Administration. The Associated Press writes that during her tenure, Tshibaka came into conflict with “unions and lawmakers over procurement issues or a proposal to close some Division of Motor Vehicle offices.”

Murkowski has not yet said if she’ll seek re-election, but Trump has made it clear he’d try to help defeat her if she does.

Politico: “Kelly Tshibaka has tapped National Public Affairs, a consulting firm made up of Trump’s top 2020 campaign advisers, to help oversee her effort. Former Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, deputy campaign manager Justin Clark and battleground states director Nick Trainer, who relaunched the firm after the presidential election, will serve as Tshibaka’s senior advisers.”

“The candidate has also signed on Tim Murtaugh, who was communications director on Trump’s reelection effort, to serve as a senior communications adviser. Mary Ann Pruitt, an Alaska-based political consultant who was a senior figure on Murkowski’s successful 2016 reelection campaign, has abandoned the senator and is working for Tshibaka.”

FLORIDA U.S. SENATOR — Former Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson used the weekend to file paperwork with the FEC to raise money for a potential campaign against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and also close down the committee he established in January for Florida’s not-yet-existent 28th Congressional District. Grayson, though, told Florida Politics he had not yet decided if he’d be running for the Senate.

MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR — Republican state Sen. Dave Schatz told the Columbia Missourian on Friday that he was thinking about entering the race for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat. Schatz, who holds an influential post in the chamber as president pro tem, said he likely would decide after the legislative session ends in May.

NORTH CAROLINA U.S. SENATOR — Lara Trump, the wife of Donald Trump’s son Eric, said on Monday that she hadn’t yet decided whether she’d run for the Senate in her home state of North Carolina but would “hopefully sometime soon.”

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Thom Tillis disclosed Monday that he’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer and would undergo surgery next week. Tillis said that the cancer was detected early before he had any symptoms and that he “expect[s] to make a full recovery.”

OHIO U.S. SENATOR — A spokesperson for Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup said Monday that his boss would not run for the Senate, but one of Wenstrup’s colleagues is loudly reaffirming his interest in this open seat.

While fellow GOP Rep. Mike Turner had said he was considering in January, right after incumbent Rob Portman surprised the political world with his retirement announcement, he’d largely gone quiet since then. Turner, though, rolled out a 3-minute video on Monday that promoted him as a Trump ally who had won several tough elections. Turner later told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he didn’t have a timeline for when he would decide if he’ll seek a promotion.

If Turner runs, he’d join a primary that currently includes former state party Chair Jane Timken and ex-state Treasurer Josh Mandel. The Republican ad tracking firm Medium Buying reports that Timken has already spent just over $400,000 on TV and radio ads, while Mandel is using $27,000 for his opening TV spot.

Geoffrey Skelley: “Ultimately, though, the upshot of having so many incumbents running is that it could reduce the chances of seats changing party hands. And this may be especially true in 2022 because neither side has a lot of overly friendly turf to win back. Only seven seats are in states where the governing party lost the state in the 2020 presidential election. In fact, this is one area on the 2022 map where Democrats have an advantage, as they have only one seat to defend in a state that Biden lost in 2020: Kansas.”

“Beyond Kansas, though, the map gets easier for Democrats.”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR — The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that unnamed people close to Montgomery County Commission Chair Val Arkoosh expect her to announce a bid for the Democratic nod “in the coming weeks.”

UTAH U.S. SENATOR — In an op-ed for the Deseret News looking at possible intra-party challengers to Republican Sen. Mike Lee, Frank Pignanelli and LaVarr Webb relay that former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake is “receiving pressure to run.” They also note that Flake “is spending a great deal of time in Utah,” though there’s no word if he’s interested in taking on his former colleague.

The GOP primary field currently consists of former state Rep. Becky Edwards, who, like Flakebacked Joe Biden last year, and Brendan Wright, who works for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an area planning manager. Attorney Erin Rider also said she was considering earlier this month.

Pignanelli and Webb additionally name-drop former Gov. Gary Herbert and Dan Hemmert, who is the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, as possibilities, though there’s also no indication that either man is thinking about running against Lee. They do convey, though, that Hemmert, a former state senator who ran an aborted 2019 campaign for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, has been mentioned by “numerous insiders.”

Lee, for his part, has yet to announce if he’ll be seeking re-election. Lee has sponsored unsuccessful legislation to limit senators to two terms, though that’s hardly stopped him from raising money this year for a potential bid for a third term.

ARKANSAS GOVERNOR — Businesswoman Supha Xayprasith-Mays announced Friday that she would seek the Democratic nomination to succeed termed-out Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Xayprasith-Mays, who immigrated to the United States at the age of 6 from Laos, would be the first woman or person of color to serve as governor of Arkansas.

Xayprasith-Mays would have a very uphill battle ahead of her in the general election in a state that has veered hard towards the Republicans over the last several years, though she does have some notable connections in state Democratic politics. Xayprasith-Mays is married to Richard Mays, whose 1979 appointment to the state Supreme Court by then-Gov. Bill Clinton made him the state’s second Black justice.

Xayprasith-Mays also entered the race with an endorsement from former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker, who took over from Clinton after the 1992 presidential election but resigned in 1996 after being convicted of fraud.

MARYLAND GOVERNOR — Nonprofit executive Jon Baron recently formed an exploratory committee for a potential bid for the Democratic nomination, and he tells Maryland Matters that he expects to decide whether to run in a couple of months.

MINNESOTA GOVERNOR — Republican state Sen. Carla Nelson told Minnesota Public Radio over the weekend that she was considering taking on Democratic Gov. Tim Walz.

Nelson campaigned in 2018 to succeed Walz in the 1st Congressional District, but she lost the GOP primary 60-32 to the eventual winner, Jim Hagedorn. Nelson then sought re-election in 2020 and prevailed 51-49 even as Joe Biden was carrying her Rochester-based 26th Senate District 54-44, a result that saved the GOP’s majority in the chamber.

NEW YORK GOVERNOR — Upstate New York resident Sherry Vill accused Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday of kissing her without her consent when he visited her home on an inspection tour following a flood in 2017, making her the tenth woman to charge the governor with making an unwanted advance. Vill says that Cuomo kissed her on both cheeks when he was first introduced, then before leaving told her, “You are beautiful” and kissed her again, making her feel “manhandled.” Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to the allegations.

“Florida Republicans are considering a bill that would effectively make it a crime to give voters food or drink, including water, within 150 feet of polling places,” NBC News reports.

“State law currently prohibits campaigning within 100 feet of polling locations, but an elections bill introduced last week, H.B. 7041, expands that zone to 150 feet and includes a prohibition on giving ‘any item’ to voters or ‘interacting or attempting to interact’ with voters within that zone.”

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR — Candidate filing closed last week for both parties, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a list of contenders for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.

Republicans will be choosing their statewide candidates at a May 8 party convention, which will employ instant-runoff voting, while Democrats will take part in a traditional state-run primary election on June 8. Virginia backed Joe Biden by a solid 54-44 margin last year, but Republicans are hoping that enough voters will be looking for change after eight years of Democratic governors.  

Seven Republicans are competing to succeed Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam in the only state where governors are unable to seek a second consecutive term. Two wealthy businessmen, Glenn Youngkin and Pete Snyder, have already been pouring their resources into a contest that will be decided by a relatively small number of convention delegates: The Republican ad-tracking firm Medium Buying reported Monday that Youngkin had spent about $1.2 million on TV and radio so far, while Snyder had deployed a similar $1.1 million.

The contest also includes two sitting elected officials, Del. Kirk Cox and state Sen. Amanda Chase, who have very different backgrounds. Cox served as speaker of the House until Democrats took control of the chamber following the 2019 elections, which gives him plenty of establishment credentials. The same cannot be said for Chase, a self-described “Trump in heels” who has long had an awful relationship with her party’s leaders.

While GOP conventions usually favor extremists, Chase is so deeply on the outs with fellow Republicans that her ability to muster the necessary support among delegates is extremely weak. Chase herself very much recognizes the system puts her at a disadvantage, and she recently told the Times-Dispatch, “If it’s a fair process, heck, I’ll support the nominee. If it’s not fair, I’ll run as an independent.” She added, “I’ve already collected my signatures to do that.” Chase announced back in December that she’d run as an independent, but she backed down a week later.

The other three GOP contenders are former Roanoke City Sheriff Octavia Johnson, businessman Peter Doran, and former Defense Department official Sergio de la Peña. This trio, along with Chase, very much look like longshots, though conventions can be very unpredictable.

Five Democrats, meanwhile, are running in the primary. The contender with the most name-recognition is Northam’s predecessor, Terry McAuliffe, and he also enjoyed a huge financial edge at the end of 2020. The other candidates are Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who remains in office two years after two women accused him of sexual assault; former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy; state Sen. Jennifer McClellan; and Del. Lee Carter, a self-described socialist. Fairfax, Foy, and McClellan would be the state’s second-ever Black governor, while Foy and McClellan would also be the first woman to hold this office.

Polling has been very limited, but so far, McAuliffe appears to be benefiting from a crowded field of foes. Politico noted earlier this month that, while many organizations want an alternative to the former governor, they have yet to consolidate behind anyone.

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

0 comments on “The Political Report – 3/31/21

Leave a Reply