Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday that state election officials do not have to quickly take people off the voter rolls when they suspect they may have moved.”
“The 5-2 ruling means the Wisconsin Elections Commission will not force tens of thousands of people off the rolls near a major election, such as the 2022 contest for governor and U.S. Senate.”
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) signed into law a bill that he says will make it easier to vote in his state, WHOP reports. “The bipartisan measure gives voters three days of early, in-person voting before Election Day. It allows counties to establish vote centers, and maintains an online portal to request an absentee ballot.”
However, “a Texas House committee on Thursday advanced an elections bill that would make it a state jail felony for local election officials to distribute an application to vote by mail to a voter who didn’t request one,” the Texas Tribune reports.
“House Bill 6 is part of a broader Republican effort this year to enact wide-ranging changes to elections in Texas that would ratchet up the state’s already restrictive election rules in the name of ‘election integrity’ despite little to no evidence of widespread fraud.”
Ron Brownstein: “With their opposition to President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, Republicans are doubling down on a core bet they’ve made for his presidency: that the GOP can maintain support among its key constituencies while fighting programs that would provide those voters with tangible economic assistance.”
“Last month, every House and Senate Republican opposed Biden’s massive $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, even though it delivered significant benefits to working-class white voters, the GOP’s foundational voting bloc, including increased health-care subsidies and expanded tax credits for families with children. That pattern is repeating with the infrastructure plan, even though it directs billions of dollars to rural communities, which are indispensable to Republican political fortunes.”
FLORIDA U.S. SENATOR — “Former President Donald Trump on Friday endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) reelection bid in Florida, throwing his support behind the incumbent senator in his adopted home state,” The Hill reports.
REPUBLICAN FUNDRAISING — Fox News: “The National Republican Congressional Committee on Thursday reported that it brought in $33.7 million in fundraising in the January-March first quarter of this year.”
“The committee highlighted that it had $29.7 million cash on hand as of the end of last month, which it says is a 57 percent increase over the amount of money the NRCC had in the bank at the same point in the last election cycle. The committee also noted that it has no debt and that its average grassroots donation was $32.70.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee fundraising page includes a pre-checked box that makes it a monthly recurring donation. Unchecking the box makes supporters a “DEFECTOR” who has “sided with the Dems.” This is what the Trump campaign internally called a “money bomb” to effectively trick their donors.
Politico: “The screaming, all-caps texts and emails are returning. The red ‘Make America Great Again’ hats are back in stock.”
“Former President Donald Trump is reigniting his small-dollar fundraising operation for the first time since leaving the White House, part of his political ramp-up to stake out an outsize role in the 2022 midterm elections and expand his financial network ahead of a potential 2024 comeback bid.”
“Rep. Matt Getz (R-FL) started fundraising off a still unfolding sex scandal that could put him in prison,” Florida Politics reports. “Gaetz penned a fundraising appeal blasted to supporters Friday morning. It asked for checks to be sent to the campaign account Friends of Matt Gaetz. In it, Gaetz compares himself to members of former President Donald Trump’s administration who became embroiled in an investigation of Russian election meddling.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill restoring the right to vote for state residents convicted of felonies automatically upon their release from incarceration, the Seattle Times reports.
NBC News notes more than 20,000 people stand to regain their voting rights when the law takes effect next year.
ALASKA U.S. SENATOR — The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC run by allies of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, endorsed Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) for re-election on Friday, Axios reports. While this was not unexpected, it won’t stop Donald Trump’s allies from trying to defeat Murkowski.
ALABAMA U.S. SENATOR — “Former President Donald Trump is endorsing Rep. Mo Brooks in the Alabama Senate race, a nod that could dramatically reshape next year’s GOP primary for the state’s open seat,” Politico reports.
“In a state where Trump received more than 60 percent of the vote, his endorsement was widely sought after. Brooks and his rival, businesswoman Lynda Blanchard, had aggressively lobbied for the former president’s backing.”
Republican Secretary of State John Merrill, who’d been considering a run for Alabama’s open Senate seat, admitted on Wednesday that he’d had an extramarital affair and said he would not seek any public office in 2022. According to AL.com, Merrill at first denied the relationship but then confessed when played a recording of a sexually explicit phone call with his former lover, Cesaire McPherson, that she provided to the site.
Merrill was very close to launching a bid to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby and had even rebranded his now-defunct website to describe himself as a Senate candidate. In addition to his withdrawal from the campaign trail, the Republican Secretaries of State Committee, which is the GOP’s campaign arm devoted to electing secretaries of state across the country, also announced on Thursday that it was replacing Merrill as chair with Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett.
Eric Levitz: “Trump’s gains with Hispanic voters were apparent in preelection polling (even if the magnitude of those gains was not). In October, the New York Times entertained the theory that Hispanic men were driving this trend, as Trump appealed to their ‘machismo culture.’ And on one level, the election results are consistent with that hypothesis: In absolute terms, Trump performed better with Latinos than Latinas.”
“But Equis’s polling suggests that between 2016 and 2020, Trump gained far more ground with Hispanic women.”
Of course, this is also more evidence that making it harder for infrequent voters to vote can hurt Republicans.
NEVADA U.S. SENATOR — Former Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) confirmed that he will not challenge Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) in 2022, the Nevada Independent reports. Said Sandoval: “I have no interest in running and I will not be a candidate.”
FIRST QUARTER FUNDRAISING — “Sen. Mark Kelly’s re-election campaign hauled in nearly $4.4 million during the first quarter of 2021, bolstering his war chest in a top-tier race that could help decide control of the U.S. Senate in 2022,” the Arizona Republic reports.
- OH-Sen: Steve Stivers (R): $1.4 million raised, $2.4 million cash-on-hand (has not announced campaign)
- GA-14: Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-inc): $3.2 million raised
- NH-Sen: Maggie Hassan (D-inc): $3 million raised, $4.3 million cash-on-hand
- CA-17: Ro Khanna (D-inc): $1.5 million raised
- CA-22: Phil Arballo (D): $272,000 raised (in two months)
- NJ-07: Tom Malinowski (D-inc): $920,000 raised, $807,000 cash-on-hand
- SC-01: Nancy Mace (R-inc): $518,000 raised, $409,000 cash-on-hand
WISCONSIN DEMS — Daniel Bice: “In all, Democrats have won 10 of the last 11 contested statewide races over the past 4½ years, including Supreme Court and state schools superintendent contests.”
“The Democrats’ only loss in that stretch was to Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn in 2019, a race no one expected him to win.”
NEW YORK CITY MAYOR — The Atlantic: “His proposals are radical. He’s obsessed with robots. He’s never even worked in government. And next year he might be running New York. … Given the horrors of the past year, many [New York City] voters have lost what patience they had for incremental progress and technocratic small ball. Yang is going big. He has a deep campaign war chest and better name recognition than any other candidate in the crowded race.”
“While it remains competitive — Eric Adams, Brooklyn’s borough president, and Maya Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, have significant support — as of mid-March, Yang led the field by a 13-point margin.”
Politico: “Everybody’s ganging up on Andrew Yang. The New York City mayor’s race has grown more vicious in recent weeks — and the favorite target is Yang, who has come under attack for everything from his basic income and tax plans to his employment history and his second home upstate.”
New York Times: “Since signing the bill into law on March 25, Mr. Kemp has done roughly 50 interviews, 14 with Fox News, promoting the new restrictions with messaging that aligns with Mr. Trump’s baseless claims that the election was rigged against him.”
“A political reversal of fortune would represent an unlikely turnaround for Mr. Kemp, making him the most prominent Republican to find a way to overcome Mr. Trump’s campaign of retribution, and perhaps providing an early test of the former president’s ability to impose his will on the party’s electoral future.”
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) is not expected to run for re-election.
PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR / 17TH CD –– Army veteran Sean Parnell looks very likely to join the GOP primary for Pennsylvania’s open Senate seat, a race he’s reportedly been considering for a while. The chair of the Republican Party in populous Allegheny County (home of Pittsburgh) says that Parnell told him this week that “he was 99% sure this is what he was going to do,” and a Parnell spokesperson said their boss is “currently speaking with people throughout the state on how he can best stand up for the people of Pennsylvania.”
If he does join the Senate fray, that would take Parnell out of the running for a rematch with Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb in the 17th District, another option he was reported to be looking at. Last year, Lamb beat Parnell 51-49.
Kevin Baumlin, a political newcomer who serves as chief of emergency and urgent care services at the Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Hospital, announced Wednesday that he would seek the Democratic nomination for this open seat.
CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR — “Caitlyn Jenner and her political advisers are gathering at her Malibu home next week to discuss her potential candidacy in the upcoming California gubernatorial recall election,” Politico reports. “Word of Jenner’s potential candidacy has divided top California Republicans — with some dismissing it as a celebrity-driven stunt and others arguing that she would be a strong candidate who could appeal to voters of both parties.” Jenner, who is a prominent transgender advocate, talked about campaigning for the Senate in July of 2017, but she didn’t end up entering that contest.
Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Brad Parscale is advising Caitlyn Jenner on a potential run for governor of California, a person with knowledge of the matter confirmed to The Daily Beast. Specifically, he is conferring with the reality star on who should fill what roles in her campaign organization as she builds out a team.
NEW YORK GOVERNOR / 1ST CD — Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, who’d been considering a gubernatorial bid for some time, kicked off a campaign for New York’s top job on Thursday. But while Zeldin unleashed heaps of vitriol at Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his launch, it’s far from clear that he’ll get the chance to face the scandal-plagued incumbent, who has lost support from much of his party following allegations of repeated sexual misconduct. Should Cuomo be replaced with an untainted nominee, it’s all but impossible to see how the extremely Trumpy Zeldin could win, so we wouldn’t be surprised if he wound up running for re-election if Cuomo bails on a fourth term.
But Zeldin may fear he won’t have a viable district to run in, which might be motivating his latest move, even if it looks quixotic—he wouldn’t be the first Republican to fail upwards into a comfortable Fox News gig. New York is one of the few states where Democrats will control redistricting this cycle, and state lawmakers could craft a new map that makes Zeldin’s 1st District, which trended to the left last year, much bluer.
Geoffrey Skelley: “Yet the mounting opposition to Iowa and New Hampshire voting first might not be enough to actually depose them. Ultimately, state parties and/or governments decide the timing of their caucuses or primaries. And while the national party can encourage these decision-makers to schedule their contests on certain dates, it cannot unilaterally impose its will on the primary calendar.”
“Moreover, because Republicans seem intent on keeping the two states in prime position for the 2024 campaign, it might be even more difficult for Democrats to make any changes.”
VIRGINIA GOVERNOR — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that he is backing Terry McAuliffe in the race to succeed him, handing his predecessor one of the contest’s most coveted endorsements,” the AP reports. It’s not only a big get for McAuliffe, who faces several opponents in the June 8 Democratic primary, it caps a remarkable comeback for Northam. Just two years ago, virtually the entire Virginia Democratic Party called on Northam to resign after he admitted to wearing blackface in college. Northam, however, resisted those calls and eventually worked his way back into his party’s good graces, so much so that all but one Democratic hopeful, socialist Del. Lee Carter, sought his endorsement this year.
McAuliffe also released his first TV ad the same day, a 60-second spot that shows just how far the conversation has shifted in progressive politics. The issue McAuliffe chooses to highlight is his 2016 executive order restoring voting rights to over 200,000 Virginians who had served out felony sentences. The ad features a Black businessman named Eric Branch who describes the difficulties he faced “to get back into society” after completing a prison sentence for breaking and entering decades ago.
McAuliffe picks up the narration in the middle, explaining that in Virginia, “if you were a felon, you could never vote for the rest of your life.” He continues, “This was remnants of Jim Crow, this was racism, and it needed to end.” Branch returns to conclude the spot, saying, “What Terry McAuliffe did for me, he made me feel whole again.”