The Political Report – 4/24/21

A new Harvard Institute of Politics poll of 18- to 29-year-old Americans finds President Biden with the highest favorability among this group of any first-term president over the 21 years this poll has been conducted.  Fifty-six percent of young Americans are hopeful about the country’s future, including 72% of Black people and 69% of Hispanic people.

A new ABC News poll shows that 63% of Americans do not feel that Black people and minorities receive equal treatment as white people in the criminal justice system.  In addition, 60% believe the country should hold police more accountable for the mistreatment of Black people.

“Political engagement by young Americans has surged to a historically high level, and that’s not good news for the Republican Party,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“A dozen years ago, after President Obama’s election, 24% of Americans younger than 30 reported themselves to be politically active, according to the poll, conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics. At the time, the Obama campaign was widely credited with having energized young Americans.”

“Today, that engaged number stands at 36%, maintaining an extraordinarily high level seen during last year’s election. Young Black Americans report the most political engagement — 41%, the survey found.”

“Andrew Yang, the former presidential candidate and leading contender for mayor of New York City, met with a prominent LGBT Democratic political organization to seek its endorsement,” the New York Times reports.

“It did not go particularly well.”

“In an interview with the Stonewall Democratic Club, Yang cited gay members of his staff as apparent evidence of his openness to the club’s concerns, and expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of visiting Cubbyhole, a storied New York lesbian bar… but failed to pay heed to more substantive issues like homelessness and housing.”

I’m sure some of his best friends are gay too.

Caitlyn Jenner (R) has filed her initial paperwork to run for governor of California and will officially announce her bid later today, Axios reports.  “Jenner, a longtime Republican, is seeking to replace Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a recall election, hoping her celebrity status and name recognition can yield an upset in the nation’s most populous state.”

Mark Barabak: “By the time he left office, Schwarzenegger’s disapproval level reached 70%, which is where it stood for Democrat Gray Davis just before he was kicked out of office.”

“Given that, it’s questionable whether Californians will go the celebrity-governor route again.”

“Perhaps most important, Newsom is no Gray Davis, who scratched out reelection with just 47%. Newsom, by contrast, was elected with 62% of the vote.”

First Read on the prospect of Newsom facing a Recall: “You might think it’s in part because of his hypocritical night out at the swanky French Laundry restaurant while he was telling Californians to stay inside. You might also think it’s in part because of frustration over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the related public-health restrictions and the vaccination rollout.”

“And you’d be right.”

“But if you look at the actual recall petition that appears poised to have secured enough signatures, there’s no mention of the virus at all. Instead, that petition — dated on Feb. 20, 2020 — criticizes Newsom with a laundry list of grievances, none having anything to do with the pandemic.”

MICHIGAN GOVERNOR — RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told party officials that she’s considered stepping down from her post to challenge Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in 2022, Politico reports.

It doesn’t sound like McDaniel is likely to change her mind about her 2022 plans, though. An RNC official responded by saying that the chairwoman “has no desire to do anything else other than lead the Republican Party to victory in 2022 by taking back the House and Senate,” and two sources tell Isenstadt they thought that McDaniel was “speaking more out of frustration on Wednesday.”  

GEORGIA U.S. SENATOR — “Former President Donald Trump’s backing of football great Herschel Walker to run for the Georgia Senate seat has been enough to effectively freeze the GOP field in place — even though some Republicans privately worry the political neophyte might fizzle against Sen. Raphael Warnock in a high-stakes general election,” CNN reports. A number of possible Republican candidates are waiting to see whether former University of Georgia football star Herschel Walker, a current Texas resident whom Donald Trump has publicly urged to run for the Senate, challenges Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock before they decide on their own plans.

That’s not welcome news for many Republicans, though, who fear what will happen if Walker freezes the field for months only to ultimately sit the race out. Said one unnamed GOP operative, “People are starting to get really nervous that Warnock is building this gigantic war chest, and we don’t even have a substantive candidate.”

Another party operative also conveyed “anxiety” about what would happen if Walker does run. While he’s still remembered well from his time at UGA in the early 1980s, CNN notes that his skeptics fear that he might not be able to “handle the enormous challenges” involved in taking on Warnock.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t sound especially happy about the idea of a Walker campaign, either. When asked about the former UGA player, McConnell responded, “Well, I’ve met him.” He continued, “I have no idea who we’re going to come up with down there. … I think it’s wide open.”

Two potential Republican candidates, however, say they very much want Walker to campaign for this seat. Rep. Buddy Carter, who publicly expressed interest earlier this week, told Roll Call that he had encouraged Walker to run and would not make up his mind until Walker decides. Carter also told CNN that if “Hershel doesn’t run, then I can run,” so it very much sounds like he’d defer to him.

Former Ambassador to Luxembourg Randy Evans, who has reportedly been considering getting in, still has not publicly expressed interest in taking on Warnock, but like Carter, he also praised Walker to the stars. Evans extolled him as “a candidate that Trump Republicans, non-Trump Republicans, independents, traditional Democrats, and even many partisan Democrats can agree with.” Evans added, “It is why so many Georgia voters of all persuasions have taken to quoting the famous Larry Munson who was often heard to shout, ‘Run, Herschel, run.'”

Walker himself, though, doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to reach a decision. He told CNN, “Right now, (I’m) just going through the process and thinking about it. Not really talking a lot about it.”

Still, not every Peach State Republican is waiting on Walker. Businessman Kelvin King and banking executive Latham Saddler each entered the primary earlier this month, and CNN adds that former Rep. Doug Collins is “nearing a decision” whether to launch a second Senate campaign.

CALIFORNIA U.S. SENATOR — Appointed Sen. Alex Padilla this week publicized endorsements from every statewide elected official in the state, including fellow Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Padilla also recently announced that he had the backing of 40 of California’s 42 Democratic House members.

The only two who aren’t currently supporting the incumbent are Rep. Ro Khanna, who has not ruled out an intra-party challenge, and Rep. Maxine Waters, whom Politico says “could endorse Padilla shortly.”

LOUISIANA 2ND CD — State Sen. Troy Carter is running an ad ahead of today’s Democratic runoff to defend his progressive record from outside attacks. Carter begins by alluding to messaging from EMILY’s List, which supports fellow state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, that he summarizes as “commercials with fake musicians claiming I’m against women’s health rights and police reform.”

Carter denounces these charges as “lies” that have been disproved by fact-checkers and declares he’s “advocated for mandatory police training, and was co-author of the unanimous juries bill that ended one of the last vestiges of the Jim Crow era.” That’s a reference to an old state law that required just 10 of 12 jurors to vote for conviction in felony trials; voters finally repealed this in 2018, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that unanimous guilty verdicts were needed for serious crimes.

Carter goes on to note that he’s been endorsed by a number of women in local elected office, whom he declares “would not be supporting me if any of these ads were true.” He concludes, “You have a choice to make, and I’m prayerful you’ll choose honesty and hard work over lies.”

WASHINGTON 4TH CD — 2020 gubernatorial nominee Loren Culp filed FEC paperwork Wednesday for a potential intra-party challenge to Rep. Dan Newhouse, who was one of 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump, though he has not yet said he’s in. Instead, Culp responded to a Seattle Times inquiry about his plans by saying he had “no public announcement at this time.”

NEBRASKA GOVERNOR — Wealthy agribusinessman Charles Herbster announced this week that he will seek the Republican nomination for this open seat.

Herbster joins University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen in the primary to succeed termed-out Gov. Pete Ricketts; the Lincoln Journal Star writes that the outgoing governor “has said he expects to endorse a GOP candidate, and most speculation would appear to point toward Pillen.” Several other Republicans could also run including the state’s last governor, Dave Heineman, who is on the board of directors for Herbster’s company.

Herbster previously launched a campaign for governor in 2013, but he announced six weeks later that he was dropping out because of his wife’s health. He ended up donating an eye-popping $860,000 to a fellow candidate, state Sen. Beau McCoy, who finished third in the following year’s primary against Ricketts.

Herbster, however, has stronger connections in national GOP politics. He chaired Donald Trump’s agriculture and rural advisory committee and donated over $1 million to allied groups last year; he was also at the infamous Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the attack on the U.S. Capitol, though Herbster says he left before violence broke out. David Siders recently wrote in Politico that these ties could serve the new candidate well, as plenty of Republicans expect that Trump will ultimately endorse his longtime backer.

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR — EMILY’s List announced Thursday that it was endorsing former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy in the June 8 primary, a move that came one day before the start of early voting. The five-person field also includes another pro-choice woman, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan; either Carroll Foy or McClellan would be the first Black woman elected governor of any state.

EMILY is taking sides at a time when former Gov. Terry McAuliffe continues to hold a huge polling lead over the rest of the field. On Thursday, Christopher Newport University released a survey showing McAuliffe beating Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax 47-8, with McClellan and Carroll Foy at 6% and 5%, respectively; Del. Lee Carter was in last place with just 1%. The results were very similar to numbers released the previous week by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling that had McAuliffe at 42% with Carroll Foy and McClellan tied for second at 8% each.

The well-known and well-funded McAuliffe, who ended March with an $8.5 million war chest, will be extraordinarily difficult to defeat unless one of his four rivals emerges as his main opponent, and EMILY’s endorsement could help Carroll Foy do that. The former delegate also had a large $2.3 million to $442,000 cash-on-hand lead over McClellan, which puts Carroll Foy in a better position to increase her name recognition and get her message out over the next several weeks.

“Republican Party leaders have rejected a plea to let Orthodox Jews and others with religious obligations on Saturdays vote absentee in the GOP’s May 8 nominating convention, where the party will choose its candidates for governor and two other statewide offices,” the Washington Post reports.

FLORIDA U.S. SENATOR — Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) said she’s “seriously considering” a statewide bid against Sen. Marco Rubio (R) or Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), “boosting Democratic hopes in a battleground state that’s growing increasingly red,” Politico reports.

Said Demings: “I’ve received so many calls and texts and emails, and have been stopped when I’m out and about by people who are asking me that very same question. Matter of fact, they think I should run for statewide office and maybe challenge the governor, or challenge Sen. Rubio next year. I’m seriously considering a statewide run. And we’ll see what happens.”

A judge ordered the Arizona Senate to “pause” its recount of Maricopa County’s general election ballots due to the lack of proper security to protect ballots, voting machines and voter information, the Arizona Republic reports.  Election procedures require that only red pens are used to ensure ballots are not tampered with, but the Arizona Republic spotted “auditors” using blue pens which can be read by ballot processing machines.

OHIO 16TH CDPolitico: “In a normal political world and in a normal political time, a second-generation Cuban-American former NFL player from the Rust Belt with an MBA from Stanford would be considered practically by definition a rising GOP star. But Rep. Anthony Gonzalez’s impeachment decision made him a traitor in the eyes of the man who is manifestly the unofficial leader of the party.”

“But it’s not that simple, according to more than three dozen interviews with strategists, analysts and current and former elected officials from both parties who know the region well. As battlefields go, Ohio as a whole is more red than purple, and so is the 16th District — but it’s replete as well with warning signs for Trump that his quest for retaliation might succeed only in further tearing the party apart.”

TEXAS 6TH CD — Former pro-wrestler Dan Rodimer (R) is drawing Team Trump’s ire with ads designed to falsely imply the ex-president’s backing in a Texas special election, Axios reports.  “Trump did endorse Rodimer when he ran for a House seat in Nevada last year. But he has not backed a candidate in the Texas’s special election.”

MAINE GOVERNOR — While former Gov. Paul LePage appeared to unequivocally announce last November that he was challenging his successor, Democratic incumbent Janet Mills, the Bangor Daily News writes that many of his fellow Republicans still aren’t certain if he’ll run. It’s not hard to see where the confusion comes from: Last year, LePage’s political strategist, Brent Littlefield, said he had no “impending or planned announcement,” and Littlefield added Monday that the former governor, “has no announcement to make.”

Still, everyone in Maine politics seems to agree that the GOP nomination is LePage’s if he wants it. No other notable Republicans have expressed interest, and this week, his allies in the state party leadership waived a rule that would have prevented the Maine GOP from helping candidates before the primary is over.

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

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