The Political Report – 4/16/21

A new Gallup poll finds an 86-point gap in approval rating between Democratic and Republican voters, 96% to 10%.

A new PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll finds 54% of U.S. adults approved of President Biden’s handling of the economy.

This marks “the first time his approval numbers have been on par with those enjoyed by Donald Trump in an area where the former president consistently received high marks from the public and on which he staked his political career.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) “footing might be firmer among fellow Republicans, but he still has plenty of work to do to shore up the grassroots GOP base,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“That’s the takeaway from a round of GOP meetings in recent days that saw Kemp get a standing ovation at a Cobb County GOP breakfast, but also receive overwhelming votes by GOP activists in Murray and Whitfield counties to censure the first-term Republican.”

“Amazon, BlackRock, Google, Warren Buffett and hundreds of other companies and executives signed on to a new statement released on Wednesday opposing ‘any discriminatory legislation’ that would make it harder for people to vote,” the New York Times reports.

“It was the biggest show of solidarity so far by the business community as companies around the country try to navigate the partisan uproar over Republican efforts to enact new election rules in almost every state.”

Geoffrey Skelley: “On the one hand, more Americans identifying as independent probably doesn’t seem like a bad thing. Independents are often portrayed as more open-minded and less dogmatic in their political views. And in a nation whose founders feared factional politics, the value of political independence is also an attractive one to many Americans.”

“The problem is that few independents are actually independent. Roughly 3 in 4 independents still lean toward one of the two major political parties, and studies show that these voters aren’t all that different from the voters in the party they lean toward. Independents who lean toward a party also tend to back that party at almost the same rate as openly partisan voters.”

NEW YORK CITY MAYOR — Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams picked up an endorsement Tuesday from the city firefighters’ union, the Uniformed Firefighters Officers Association, for the June Democratic primary.

Attorney Maya Wiley earned an endorsement Friday from Rep. Yvette Clarke, who represents part of Brooklyn, ahead of the June instant-runoff Democratic primary.

The Working Families Party has backed City Comptroller Scott Stringer in the June instant runoff Democratic primary, and it’s also designated non-profit head Dianne Morales and attorney Maya Wiley as its second and third choices. The WFP has long been a force in New York progressive politics, but several unions have withdrawn support in recent years.

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR — Term-limited Gov. Ralph Northam, who just endorsed former Gov. Terry McAuliffe last week, now stars in his predecessor’s newest TV ad. Northam praises McAuliffe for having “the experience and vision to lead Virginia into a stronger and more equitable future.”

Yesterday we gave you the topline of the new Public Policy Polling poll in the Virginia Democratic Primary: Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe well in front with 42% of the vote. PPP also shows state Sen. Jennifer McClellan and former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy tied for second with 8% each; Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Del. Lee Carter had 7% and 4%, respectively.

This poll indicates that, while a majority of primary voters aren’t sold on a McAuliffe comeback, none of his four opponents has established themselves as his main rival in this crowded race. Fundraising reports covering the first three months of 2021 are due Thursday, and they’ll give us a better idea which contenders will have the resources to get their message out over the next two months, though Virginia’s lack of contribution limits mean the funding race could always get shaken up later by a surprise major donor.

MARYLAND GOVERNOR — Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski, who was reported to be weighing a bid for governor, publicly confirmed for the first time on Sunday that he’s “considering” entering the Democratic primary. John Olszewski didn’t offer a timetable for making a decision, but he noted that he’d be introducing a budget on Thursday and said he would “take the time necessary to ensure its passage.” In recent years, county budgets have passed sometime in May.

State Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz on Wednesday became the first notable Republican to announce a bid for governor, a move that came hours after Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, who likely would have been the primary frontrunner, said he would not enter the race.

A few other Republicans are considering running to succeed termed-out incumbent Larry Hogan in this very blue state, and we should know the plans of one of them very soon. Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, who has also talked about challenging Rep. Andy Harris or seeking another post in 2022, has a “major announcement” set for Thursday. Former RNC chair Michael Steele, who backed Joe Biden in 2020, also reiterated his interest in the governorship Wednesday, though he said he didn’t have a timeline to decide.

Schulz, who would be the first woman elected to this office, was last on the ballot in 2014 when she was elected to her second term in the state House representing part of Frederick County in the northern part of the state. Hogan also won the governorship that year in an upset, and he chose Schulz as labor secretary. In 2019, Schulz took a new administration job when she became commerce secretary.

Rutherford, for his part, explained his decision not to run by telling Maryland Matters, “I didn’t want it bad enough to put my family through that.” Rutherford did leave himself a tiny bit of room to change his mind, though, saying, “You should never say never. I’ve said ‘never’ to a lot of things before that I’ve turned around and done the opposite.” Still, Rutherford acknowledged, “As of this moment, I don’t think that that’s going to be the case in six months, no.”

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR — Republican Rep. Rodney Davis, who previously hadn’t ruled out a run for governor, now says that his preference is to seek re-election but, depending on the upcoming round of redistricting, he could opt for a gubernatorial bid instead. Illinois is one of the few states where Democrats will have unfettered control of the mapmaking process this decade, and they could make Davis’ 13th Congressional District considerably bluer.

IOWA U.S. SENATOR / GOVERNOR — For the first time since early this year, Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne has spoken about her plans for 2022, saying she’d be “interested in doing a job for Iowa that improves people’s lives.” That, Axne, said, could mean running for Senate or governor, or seeking re-election to the House. The Storm Lake Times, which reported Axne’s remarks, incorrectly concluded that the congresswoman had listed those offices in order of preference; her communications team, however, clarified she’d done no such thing, saying that “all three options are on the table.” In an interview in January, Axne declined to rule out bids for either statewide office.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR — The Republican field for Ohio’s open Senate seat swelled to four on Tuesday when Mike Gibbons, an investment banker who lost the 2018 primary, announced that he would launch a second bid.

Gibbons joins former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, ex-state party chair Jane Timken, and fellow businessman Bernie Moreno in what could be a crowded race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman. Several other Republicans are also talking about running including venture capitalist J.D. Vance and Reps. Bill Johnson, Steve Stivers, and Mike Turner, so this contest will likely become even larger.

Gibbons hoped to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in the 2018 contest for the Buckeye State’s other Senate seat, but he spent much of the primary looking like the clear underdog against Mandel. The race took a shocking turn early that year, though, when Mandel, citing his then-wife’s health, suddenly dropped out.

Gibbons briefly had the contest to himself, but if he was hoping he’d emerge as the party’s default nominee, he soon got a rude awakening. Rep. Jim Renacci switched from the governor’s race to the Senate contest, and he quickly emerged as Republican’s new frontrunner even before he received Donald Trump’s endorsement. Gibbons ended up self-funding $2.8 million, which represented more than 80% of his campaign’s total haul, but Renacci beat him by a wide 47-32 margin; Renacci ultimately lost to Brown that fall.

Despite former Speaker John Boehner’s scorching criticisms of Donald Trump in his new book, Boehner told Time that he voted for Trump in last year’s presidential election.

Said Boehner: “I voted for Donald Trump. I thought that his policies, by and large, mirrored the policies that I believed in. I thought the choices for the Supreme Court were top notch. At the end of the day, who gets nominated to the federal courts is really the most important thing a President does.”

Boehner’s coddling of the Tea Party laid the groundwork for Trump, so this should be no surprise.

TEXAS 8TH CD — Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) told the Texas Tribune that this will be his last term serving in the U.S. House. This seat, which includes the suburbs and exurbs north of Houston, backed Donald Trump 71-28 in 2020, and there’s little question that it will remain safely red turf after the GOP-dominated legislature completes redistricting.

Brady acknowledged that he was leaving in part due to internal party term limits that would have cost him his committee post in the next Congress. Brady spent much of his time in Congress as a fairly low-profile figure who was close to the party’s leadership. In late 2014, he lost an internal party battle with Paul Ryan for the right to chair the Ways and Means Committee; the Washington Post would say later that Brady had “been criticized by lobbyists for his lack-luster fundraising performance and relatively weak private-sector connections.”

Ryan ended up becoming speaker a year later, however, and this time, he supported Brady’s successful bid to replace him as chairman. Brady would later use his powerful perch to help push through Trump’s 2017 tax bill.

FLORIDA 1ST CD — “A veteran air force pilot is laying the groundwork to challenge the scandal-hit congressman Matt Gaetz in the Republican primary for Florida’s first congressional district,” The Guardian reports.

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR — “Wisconsin Treasurer Sarah Godlewski launched her campaign for Senate on Wednesday, jumping into what’s expected to be a contentious Democratic primary as Republicans eagerly await word on whether Sen. Ron Johnson will seek a third term,”  CNN  reports. Godlewski joins a primary that includes Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson and Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry and could attract still more contenders.

Godlewski, who co-founded what the Wisconsin State Journal  characterizes as a “small business incubator that invests in renewable energy projects, start-ups and women-owned businesses,” ran for office for the first time in 2018 when she campaigned for treasurer.

Tampa Bay Times: “If the Florida governor gets his way, mail-in ballot signatures would have to match the most recent signature on file with the state. His own signature history shows how autographs evolve.”

Desantis’ own primary ballot was rejected for not having a matching signature when he was a congressman in 2016, NBCLX reports.

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

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