The Political Report – 4/21/21

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is seriously considering running for president in 2024, Axios reports. “While Christie isn’t saying anything publicly about his thinking — besides telling radio host Hugh Hewitt he’s not ruling it out — people close to him have an early sense of the rationale and outlines of a potential candidacy.”

“Christie, whose 2016 bid for the nomination was short-lived, has told friends that he’d be the only person in the 2024 field with executive experience who has run a presidential race before. That’s a clear shot at one potential rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s enjoying a surge of popularity from Republican voters.”

Nikki Haley met with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez yesterday, Politico reports. “The sitdown was arranged with the explicit goal of allowing Haley to gauge the 43-year-old Republican as a potential running mate in 2024.”

“Suarez, a rising star in Florida politics, is Cuban American and an influential voice with the largest bloc of conservative Hispanic voters in the battleground state. Along with voters with roots in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Colombia, Cuban Americans shifted hard right during the Trump era as Democrats struggled with the embrace of ‘socialism’ by the left wing of their party.”

“Another source told us that while a joint ticket wasn’t explicitly discussed, it hung over the entire conversation.”

The Atlantic: “Ron Johnson has brought Republicans and Democrats together: They all seem to agree that they want the senator from Wisconsin to run for a third term next year.”

MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR — “Mark McCloskey — the gun-toting St. Louis attorney who drew headlines last year for brandishing an assault rifle at Black Lives Matter protesters — says he’s looking at running for Missouri’s open Senate seat,” Politico reports. Said McCloskey: “I can confirm that it’s a consideration, yes.” Is there a record for most indicted candidates in a primary?

Meanwhile, Republican Rep. Jason Smith responded to Sen. Roy Blunt’s retirement a month ago by saying he’d be considering in “the coming days” whether to run to succeed him, but like so many politicians before him, Smith has disregarded that timeline. When CNN asked the congressman Monday when he’d be making up his mind, Smith responded, “Not for a while.”

MO-Sen: Republican Rep. Billy Long said Friday that he would decide “not before too long” whether to seek Missouri’s open Senate seat.

MARYLAND GOVERNOR — Former U.S. Secretary of Education John King announced Tuesday that he would seek the Democratic nomination for this open seat. King, who would be the state’s first Black governor, joins a primary that currently consists of state Comptroller Peter Franchot and former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain, though plenty of others are considering getting in.

King, who is running for office for the first time, became the Obama administration’s second and final secretary of education in 2016 after a previous stint as New York’s education commissioner. King went on to lead The Education Trust, a nonprofit focused on closing education gaps among students of color.

FLORIDA GOVERNOR — Joe Biden nominated former Rep. Gwen Graham to a post at the Department of Education on Friday, a development that, should she be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, presumably takes her out of contention for next year’s race for governor. Graham narrowly lost the 2018 Democratic primary, and she’d expressed interest in another try as recently as last November.

NEW YORK CITY MAYOR — A trio of Democratic candidates were approved for matching funds on Thursday ahead of the June instant-runoff primary: former city Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, nonprofit executive Dianne Morales, and 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and former mayoral counsel Maya Wiley had each previously raised enough small donations from city residents to unlock matching funds.

Another contender, former White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan, had expected to receive public financing as well, but the Campaign Finance Board said it was “deferring its decision” as it seeks “further information” about a super PAC that has received at least $2 million from the candidate’s father. Politico explains, “That’s all perfectly legal, of course, provided the PAC doesn’t coordinate with the candidate or his team. But in this case, the filial connection between the two may have raised the collective eyebrow of the city’s Campaign Finance Board.”

The only other notable Democratic candidate for mayor who has not received any public financing is former Citigroup executive Raymond McGuire, who is not taking part in the program.

The United Federation of Teachers, which was the last major union in city politics to make an endorsement in the June Democratic primary, backed City Comptroller Scott Stringer on Monday. Attorney Maya Wiley previously earned the endorsement of the health care union 1199 SEIU, while Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams has the Hotel Trades Council, 32BJ, and DC37 (which represent hotel workers, building and airport employees, and municipal workers, respectively) in his corner.

Meanwhile, Rep. Gregory Meeks, a longtime congressman from Queens, has thrown his support behind former financial executive Raymond McGuire.

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR — Former Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican who badly lost the 2018 general election for Senate, recently formed a fundraising committee ahead of a potential bid for governor. The Associated Press writes Barletta said Monday he would decide “in the coming weeks” if he’d run to succeed termed-out Democratic incumbent Tom Wolf.

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR — Terry McAuliffe’s newest ad ahead of the June Democratic primary features a man praising the former governor for restoring the right to vote to his father and hundreds of thousands of other people with felony convictions who had served their sentences.

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR / GOVERNOR –– While Grand Canyon State politicos have long expected Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich to run for governor in 2022, the conservative Washington Examiner reports that he’s now leaning towards challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly instead. Brnovich himself has yet to say anything publicly about this contest.

Brnovich’s reported interest in the Senate race comes months after Gov. Doug Ducey, whom the attorney general has clashed with in the past, announced that he would not run. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has tried to get Ducey to reconsider, but Drucker relays that the governor “continues to wave off the encouragement from fellow Republicans.”

The Examiner reports that Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters is also considering seeking the Republican nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, though there’s no quote from Masters. Former Ambassador to Mexico Chris Landau is also mentioned as a possibility. There is no word on Landau’s interest in this contest.

Pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood told Newsweek that he “sometimes works up to 20 hours a day as part of his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.” LOL.

OHIO 15TH CD — Rep. Steve Stivers’ Monday resignation announcement took the Buckeye State political world by surprise, but the field to succeed him has already started to take shape. Trump carried Ohio’s 15th District, which includes the southern Columbus area and the college town of Athens, by a 56-42 margin.

On the GOP side, state Rep. Brian Stewart and state Sen. Bob Peterson each announced Monday that they were running in the upcoming special election. Stewart, who like Stivers is an Iraq War veteran, is a first-term state representative, while Peterson was first elected to the legislature during the 2010 GOP wave.

Both men may have company in the primary before long. State Rep. Jeff LaRe said Monday he was “extremely interested and very serious,” while Mehek Cooke, who served as an attorney for the administration of now-former Gov. John Kasich, also said she was thinking about it. The Columbus Dispatch’s Laura Bischoff reports that state Sen. Stephanie Kunze and Tim Schaffer are also considering.

For the Democrats, state Sen. Tina Maharath; state Reps. Allison Russo and Adam Miller; Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano; and Upper Arlington City Councilmember John Kulewicz each have said that they were thinking about getting in; Stinziano added that he’d decide as soon as he could. Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein also has not ruled out a bid. additionally mentions former state Sen. Lou Gentile and ex-Rep. Zack Space as possibilities.

It will be some time before the dates for the special can be set, though. Stivers announced Monday that his resignation would be effective May 16, and GOP Gov. Mike DeWine’s office says the contest to succeed him can’t be scheduled until the seat is officially vacant.

Congressman Stiver’s decision to leave elected office was especially unexpected because he’d raised a hefty $1.4 million for a possible U.S. Senate bid during the first three months of 2021 and had reiterated his interest in the upper chamber just last week. Stivers, though, confirmed to Politico Monday that he would not be campaigning to succeed retiring Sen. Rob Portman.

TEXAS 6TH CD — The seven Democrats who filed a campaign finance report reported bringing in a total of $915,000, while the six Republicans hauled in a combined $1.6 million.

The top fundraiser on either side was GOP state Rep. Jake Ellzey, who took in $504,000 from donors. Next was former Department of Health and Human Services official Brian Harrison, a fellow Republican who raised $356,000 from donors and self-funded an additional $285,000.

Harrison, who deployed $258,000 during this time, was also the top spender of the race; two Democrats, 2018 nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez and education advocate Shawn Lassiter, each outpaced the rest of the field by spending just over $200,000. The candidate who had the most money left on April 11 was Ellzey, who led Harrison $400,000 to $383,000 in cash-on-hand.

GOP activist Susan Wright, who is the wife of the late Rep. Ron Wright, has taken one of the top two spots in the few polls we’ve seen, but she doesn’t have access to as much money as many of her rivals. Wright raised $286,000 and spent $158,000, and she had $128,000 for the final weeks.

The Republican firm Meeting Street Research has released a survey of the May 1 all-party primary for the conservative blog Free Beacon that shows a very tight battle for the two spots in the all-but assured runoff.

2018 Democratic nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez and Republican activist Susan Wright, the wife of the late Rep. Ron Wright, lead with 16% and 15%, respectively. Just behind are two other Republicans, state Rep. Jake Ellzey and former Department of Health and Human Services official Brian Harrison with 14% and 12%, respectively, while none of the 19(!) other candidates take more than 5%. This is the first poll we’ve seen here in nearly a month.

Meanwhile, one of Ellzey’s old adversaries is also taking action to try to prevent him from reaching the second round of voting. The Club for Growth, which supported Ron Wright in his successful 2018 primary battle against Ellzey, is spending at least $100,000 on a TV spot trying to paint the state representative as a Never Trumper by association. The narrator declares that conservative writer Bill Kristol “backed Republicans who tried to impeach President Trump. He also backed Jake Ellzey for Congress.”

The ad goes on to say that Kristol donated to Ellzey and spoke well of him, though only the small on-screen text makes it clear that this happened during the 2018 race. The narrator goes on to say that Ellzey “trashed Texas conservatives and bashed Ted Cruz,” though he doesn’t reveal what Ellzey actually said; the tiny lettering also notes that this happened in 2012.

NEW YORK GOVERNOR — Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces a new criminal investigation by state Attorney General Tish James into allegations that he used state resources to help write and publicize his book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” last year. The matter was referred by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to James, who by law can only investigate criminal matters when asked to do so by other state or local officials.

Cuomo, who reportedly earned a $4 million advance from Crown Publishing Group, did not dispute that state employees had worked on his book, including editing drafts and printing manuscripts, but claims they did so voluntarily. A Cuomo spokesperson attacked the investigation itself, saying, “Both the comptroller and the attorney general have spoken to people about running for governor, and it is unethical to wield criminal referral authority to further political self-interest‎.” Cuomo, James, and DiNapoli are all Democrats.

Meanwhile, several actual and potential GOP candidates for governor recently addressed a meeting of county-level party leaders from across the state, including Rep. Lee Zeldin, the most prominent declared Republican to enter the race so far. Also on the list of speakers, though, was a name we hadn’t seen mentioned before, former state housing commissioner Joe Holland, who served under Gov. George Pataki. Holland briefly ran for governor in 2018 before dropping out, then sought the Republican nomination for attorney general but declined to run in the primary after losing to attorney Keith Wofford at the GOP convention.

Wall Street Journal: “He and his advisers huddled to discuss how other Democratic leaders had responded to scandals in recent years… Mr. Franken, of Minnesota, resigned in early 2018 but later expressed regret over the decision.”

“Mr. Cuomo and his team also examined the case of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat who declined to resign in 2019 after yearbook pictures allegedly showed him in blackface.”

“The discussions set the stage for the weeks ahead: no matter what other lawmakers said or what else came at them, the governor wouldn’t resign. He would shore up support where it existed and show the public that he was still working.”

OHIO U.S. SENATOR — Josh Mandel announced he’d raised $1.3 million for the quarter when he actually brought in just $33,000 for his campaign. Indeed Mandel, a Republican who ostensibly spent eight years as treasurer of Ohio, actually lost money during this time, though thanks to leftover cash from his aborted 2018 Senate bid, he still had $4.2 million on-hand.

So, where did that $1.3 million number come from? reports that Mandel raised that much through a joint fundraising committee that consisted of his campaign, his PAC, and the Delaware County Republican Party. However, Mandel can’t take in all that money for his campaign. His spokesperson says that they’ll only get about $700,000, or a little more than half.

Another Republican, former state party chair Jane Timken, took in $1.1 million from donors and loaned her campaign an additional $1 million. Timken, like many wealthy contenders, did not distinguish between the money she’d raised and the amount she self-funded when she announced her $2.1 million haul earlier this month, but unlike Mandel, she at least can spend all that cash.

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

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