The Political Report – 5/21/21

A new Yahoo! News/YouGov poll finds Biden leading Trump 48% to 36% in a hypothetical 2024 race, with 16% saying they’re unsure.

Stuart Rothenberg: “At least nine Democratic-held seats in competitive states will be up in 2024 — Arizona (Kyrsten Sinema), Michigan (Debbie Stabenow), Minnesota (Amy Klobuchar), Montana (Jon Tester), Nevada (Jacky Rosen), Ohio (Sherrod Brown), Pennsylvania (Bob Casey), West Virginia (Joe Manchin III) and Wisconsin (Tammy Baldwin).”

“Democrats may eventually hold some, most or all of these seats, of course. Tester, Brown, Casey and Manchin, for example, have shown the ability to attract working-class white voters and to win in a difficult environment.”

“But those Democrats who won competitive contests during the 2018 midterms did so with a controversial Republican in the White House. Can they hold their seats during a recession or with an unpopular Democratic president seeking (or not seeking) reelection?”

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “The reapportionment of House seats and pending redistricting has prevented us from releasing U.S. House ratings so far this cycle.”

“While Republicans stand to gain from this process, they would be favored to win the House even if the district lines were not changing.”

“Rating the House races based on the current lines shows many more Democratic seats in the Toss-up column than Republican ones. These hypothetical ratings are guided by developments in the 2022 campaign so far as well as the normal tendency for the president’s party to lose ground in the House in midterms.”

Rich Lowry: Why Republicans still have the upper hand for 2022.

ARIZONA GOVERNOR / U.S. SENATOR — Arizona Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson joined the GOP primary for governor on Monday, just hours after another prominent Republican, state Treasurer Kimberly Yee, became the first to do so.

Robson, a wealthy real estate developer and major Republican donor, hails from a prominent political family: Her father, Carl Kunasek, served as state Senate president in the 1980s and later on the Arizona Corporation Commission, while Andrew Kunasek, her brother, was a longtime member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. The AZ Mirror reports that Robson “is widely expected to self-fund her campaign,” though in an interview last year, she suggested she would not do so exclusively.

Robson hasn’t run for office before, though in 2017, term-limited Republican Gov. Doug Ducey tapped her to fill a vacant spot on the board of regents (an unelected body), then re-appointed her to a full eight-year term in 2020. Her name came up as a potential successor to John McCain, both before and after Republican Jon Kyl’s brief return to the Senate (Ducey of course wound up choosing Martha McSally), and earlier this year she was mentioned as a possible challenger to Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.

NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR / 1ST CD — Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas, acknowledging that Republicans are eager to target him in redistricting, wouldn’t rule out a statewide campaign in a recent interview with Politico but said he’s “really committed to continue to serve here another term,” referring to his post in Congress. In New Hampshire, the only positions elected on a statewide basis are governor and senator, and it’s inconceivable that Pappas would challenge Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in next year’s primary. That leaves only a gubernatorial bid on the table, which could be an appealing option if popular Republican Gov. Chris Sununu winds up running for Senate instead.

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR — In the Democratic primary, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan is out with her first TV ad. The National Journal reports that the spot is backed by a six-figure buy and is airing in the Richmond area, where McClellan’s district is located. The commercial serves as an introductory ad for McClellan, who narrates the ad and highlights the lack of diversity among past Old Dominion governors.

As a montage of all-male former Virginia chief executives plays, including Thomas Jefferson and the infamous segregationist Harry Byrd, McClellan declares that “the perspectives of Virginia governors, while different in some ways, have had more in common than not.” The spot focuses in particular on Douglas Wilder, the only non-white person to hold this office, and Terry McAuliffe, who is the current frontrunner to hold it once again.

McClellan continues by arguing, “This moment demands something different. To rebuild with no one left behind.” She concludes, “The time for a new perspective is now.”

VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL — Democratic incumbent Mark Herring’s opening commercial ahead of the June 8 primary begins with state Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas, who is both the first woman and African American to hold that title, praising him for having “gone to court to fight for the Affordable Care Act and access to women’s health care.”

More supporters, including Rep. Don Beyer and state House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (no relation), go on to highlight the attorney general’s progressive record, including his work ending rape kit backlogs. Herring himself then appears at the end to declare, “I take on fights that need to be fought. To right wrongs.”

Herring faces a competitive intra-party challenge next month from Del. Jay Jones, who would be the first African American to win this office. Jones has the backing of Gov. Ralph Northam and Reps. Elaine Luria and Bobby Scott, and the Republican firm Medium Buying reports that he’s outspent Herring so far on TV and radio about $560,000 to $285,000. Herring’s side still holds a financial lead, though, as the incumbent’s allies at the Democratic Attorneys General Association have deployed an additional $400,000.

NEW JERSEY 3RD CD — Wealthy yacht manufacturer Robert Healy tells the New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein that he’s “exploring” a bid against Democratic Rep. Andy Kim in the 7th District, with Wildstein adding that Healy “is expected to self-fund a major portion of his campaign.” Though not a registered Republican, Healy has donated to GOP candidates in the past. Wildstein also notes that he is “[h]eavily-tattooed with long hair and nipple piercings.”

More conventionally, Toms River Councilman Matthew Lotano, a real estate developer, is also thinking about a bid for the Republican nod. There’s no word, however, on any of his body modifications.

TEXAS 30TH CD — Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson indicated two years ago that her 2020 campaign would be her last, but since easily winning re-election in November, neither she nor her staff have confirmed that she will in fact retire after this term. The Dallas Morning News’ Gromer Jeffers reports that “campaign aides have not responded to inquires” about the congresswoman’s plans, which has left local Democrats in limbo.

One hopeful, former Joe Biden campaign staffer Jane Hamilton, has already formed an exploratory committee, though she’s said she’ll only run if the 85-year-old Johnson does not. However, says Jeffers, “an enormous field” could develop in an open race for Texas’ 30th District, a safely blue seat covering downtown Dallas and points south.

Among the possibilities are state Sen. Royce West and state Rep. Carl Sherman, who, like Hamilton, both say they’d consider a bid if Johnson retires. Other names mentioned include state Reps. Yvonne Davis and Toni Rose; former Judge Elizabeth Frizell; and a trio of candidates who all challenged Johnson in last year’s primary: businesswoman Shenita Cleveland, former state Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway, and businessman Hasani Burton.

FiveThirtyEight: “We’re still more than a year away from the 2022 midterms, but we’re already monitoring which incumbents in the House of Representatives plan to seek reelection next November. That’s because a disproportionate number of retirements from one party can signal doubts about its electoral chances, as it did in 2018, when about three times as many Republicans as Democrats retired ahead of that year’s ‘blue wave’ election. And with President Biden now in office, Republicans should be at least somewhat favored to take back the House, so we’re watching especially whether House Democrats start abandoning ship.”

“It’s early yet, but so far there aren’t signs of a mass Democratic exit. As the table below shows, six Republicans have announced their retirements or intentions to run for another office, compared with five Democrats.”

NEW YORK CITY MAYOR — Attorney Maya Wiley earned an endorsement over the weekend from Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklyn congressman who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, ahead of the June 22 instant runoff primary.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, meanwhile, is the beneficiary of a $1.2 million cable TV buy from Strong Leadership NYC, a PAC founded by charter school lobbyist Jenny Sedlis. The audience hears Adams recount how he joined the NYPD after being assaulted by police officers as a teen before he declares, “We can have justice and public safety at the same time.”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR — Republican Reps. Guy Reschenthaler and Mike Kelly have published a joint op-ed endorsing Army veteran Sean Parnell in his bid for the Senate, making them the first members of Congress from Pennsylvania to take sides in next year’s GOP primary.

ILINOIS GOVERNOR — Republican state Sen. Jason Barickman says he’s considering a bid against Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker next year and says a decision will come “later this summer” after the conclusion of the current legislative session. Barickman also suggested that the outcome of redistricting, which Democrats will control in Illinois, could affect his thinking.

Republican senators publicly and privately tell CNN that the proposed Jan. 6 commission could undercut their party’s midterm election message.

Said Sen. John Thune (R-SD): “I want our midterm message to be on the kinds of things that the American people are dealing… not re-litigating the 2020 elections.”

It’s not often that a politician says out loud that he cares more about his next election than our democracy.

ATLANTA MAYOR — Two more members of the Atlanta City Council, Andre Dickens and Antonio Brown, have announced that they’re running in the November nonpartisan primary to succeed retiring incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Dickens is the co-founder of City Living Home Furnishings, which the Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes as “a multi-million dollar retail business with two locations.” Dickens sold the business two years before he was elected to the City Council in 2013 by unseating an incumbent.

Brown, for his part, has been a prominent progressive critic of Bottoms since he was elected in a 2019 special election, an accomplishment that made him the body’s first Black LGBTQ member. Brown, though, has been under federal indictment since July on fraud charges, allegations he denies.

Two other contenders, City Council President Felicia Moore and attorney Sharon Gay, have been running since before Bottoms announced her departure earlier this month, and a big name is publicly expressing interest for the first time. Former Mayor Kasim Reed recently told Channel 2’s Dave Huddleston that he is thinking about running for his old job again, though political insiders have been chattering about a potential comeback for a while.

Reed had no trouble winning re-election the last time he was on the ballot in 2013, but a corruption investigation that resulted in indictments for six members of his staff generated plenty of bad headlines during the end of his tenure. (Term limits prohibited Reed from seeking a third consecutive term in 2017, but he’s free to run again now that he’s not the incumbent.) Huddleston asked Reed whether he was under investigation, to which the former mayor replied, “The Justice Department under [former Attorney General] Bill Barr has looked into every aspect of my life for more than three years and took no action.”

Finally, former Rep. Kwanza Hall confirmed his interest on Thursday and said he would “make my decision soon.” Hall, who was a city councilman at the time, took seventh place in the last mayoral contest, but he went on to win a 2020 all-Democratic runoff for the final month of the late Rep. John Lewis’ term in the 116th Congress.

FLORIDA U.S. SENATOR — Following a report in Politico this week saying that Democratic Rep. Val Demings would challenge Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, and Demings herself tweeting that she’s “seriously considering” the race, a Demings consultant says the congresswoman “is planning a Senate bid” and promised “a more formal announcement” next month. While launching a campaign by dribs and drabs is our least favorite way to see it done (why sap your momentum like that?), and while we’d much prefer to hear directly from the candidate herself, we’re moving Demings into the “running” column unless we hear otherwise—which would be a huge walk-back.

“Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) decision to run for U.S. Senate next year may scare off some candidates, but Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) is not one of them,” Florida Politics reports.  “Sources familiar with Murphy’s decision-making say the Central Florida Democrat believes she has the same upsides as Demings — and more.”

FLORIDA 10TH CD — The current version of this Orlando-area seat backed Joe Biden 62-37, and while Republicans will control the redistricting process, it’s likely they’ll keep this constituency reliably blue in order to go after other districts.

A few local Democratic politicians began showing interest in a House bid over the last few weeks. State Sen. Randolph Bracy had talked about running for governor earlier this year, but an unnamed source told the Orlando Sentinel in late April that he’d likely enter an open seat race here. Orlando City Commissioner Bakari Burns also said earlier this month that he’d also think about mounting a bid to replace Demings.

Aramis Ayala, the former state’s attorney for the Orlando-based Ninth Circuit, had been mulling a Senate bid herself, but she said Wednesday she was now thinking about a House run. A source told The Hill that “all options were on the table at this point” for Ayala, but it sounds unlikely she’d oppose Demings, whom she praised as “an unapologetic champion for women, and all women of color, who step up on behalf of their community.”

Florida Politics also name-drops state Rep. Geraldine Thompson, who lost the 2016 primary to Demings; 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Chris King; and the congresswoman’s husband, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, as possible Democratic contenders here.

IDAHO GOVENROR –Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, a far-right extremist who’s feuded bitterly with Gov. Brad Little over his response to the coronavirus pandemic, announced on Wednesday that she’d challenge the incumbent in next year’s GOP primary.

McGeachin, who previously served in the state House for a decade, has spent the last year-plus blasting Little for his efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus, particularly a shutdown of non-essential businesses. She’s headlined multiple rallies attacking restrictions, including one earlier this year where attendees, including kids, burned masks and another last summer organized by the conspiracist John Birch Society, devoting her speech to slamming Little.

She also appeared in a video that suggested the pandemic “may or may not be occurring” and once posted a photo taken at the state Capitol with members of the so-called Three Percenters, a faction in the extremist anti-government “militia” movement. Last May, as her pro-COVID crusade crescendoed, Little said he had not spoken to McGeachin in weeks; it’s not clear whether that’s since changed.

One reason for this corroded state of affairs is Idaho’s method for assembling gubernatorial tickets: governors and lieutenant governors are elected separately, as is the practice in many states. Sometimes, this approach leads to candidates of opposite parties getting elected; others, as here, it yields members of the same party who are nonetheless implacably opposed. Little is extremely conservative and by no means did he fight the pandemic vigorously—he never imposed a mask mandate, for instance—but he’s simply not McGeachin’s level of crazy, so once again, here we are.

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

2 comments on “The Political Report – 5/21/21

  1. Rusty Dils

    Today, a judge in Georgia authorizes all the original paper ballots from the 2020 election in Fulton County Georgia to be scanned and audited.

    • You desperate, pathetic asshole. Go fuck yourself with a chainsaw.

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