The Political Report – 6/16/21

“Former President Donald Trump will head to Ohio and Florida over the next three weeks to hold the kinds of mass rallies with rank-and-file supporters that fueled his White House campaigns,” USA Today reports.

“A growing number of GOP Senate contenders are spurning former President Donald Trump’s wishes with campaigns that defy his criticism or ignore his support of a rival, as the Republican Party debates his role in its future,” CNN reports.

Chris Cillizza: “While Trump hasn’t set out any sort of guidelines for which candidates he will endorse and why, we have some strong clues. Trump likes people (and politicians) who like him. The more you praise Trump (and adhere to his increasingly-wild conspiracy theories), the more favorably inclined he is toward you.”

“Which, you will notice, has nothing to do whether a candidate has the best chance of winning a seat in next November’s general election. Trump is about Trump — and his endorsements seem very likely to echo that self-focus. McConnell, like him or hate him, has long been focused on the Party, and securing as many seats as possible for the GOP.”

Arizona Republic: “People are knocking on the doors of Yavapai County residents and asking how they voted in the last election, while falsely claiming to represent the county recorder’s office.”

“The mysterious door-to-door survey, which has alarmed local officials, comes after the U.S. Department of Justice warned the Arizona Senate against plans to canvass voters’ homes as part of an unprecedented review of November’s election.”

Tim Miller: “Sometime soon the results of the Arizona audit will be brought forth. It seems quite likely, given the participants, that the auditor ninjas will claim that Donald Trump won Arizona. Or probably won Arizona—who can say! Or would have won Arizona, if not for those meddling kids.”

“And if this happens, the former president and his MAGA media echo chamber will once again stoke the flames of insurrection. Q-adherents will convince themselves that one of the seven seals has been revealed. Millions (tens of millions) of Republicans throughout the country will believe it. And some of them will demand action.”

“So when the Arizona audit bell tolls, what exactly is McConnell and McCarthy’s plan?”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) on Monday apologized for comparing COVID-19 vaccine and mask rules to the Holocaust, declaring that “there is no comparison” between the safety measures and the genocide of six million Jews during World War II, The Hill reports.

FLORIDA 13TH CD — Anna Paulina Luna (R), a candidate in the Republican primary for Florida’s 13th congressional district, “has obtained a stalking injunction against one of her soon-to-be opponents, saying he and two other potential candidates conspired to kill her,” the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Said Luna: “I received information yesterday regarding a plan to murder me made by William Braddock in an effort to prevent me from winning the election for FL-13.”

Braddock responded: “This woman is off her rocker and she does not need to be representing anyone.”

State Rep. Michele Rayner, who’d been considering a bid for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, kicked off her campaign on Monday, making her the third notable Democrat to run. Last year, Rayner, a civil rights attorney, became the first Black LGBTQ woman to win election to the Florida legislature. She joins state Rep. Ben Diamond and former Department of Defense official Eric Lynn in seeking the seat left open by Rep. Charlie Crist’s bid for governor, though at least one other prominent Democrat, St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, is still weighing a bid.

SOUTH CAROLINA 6TH CD — While local politicos have speculated for years about who could run to succeed longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn whenever he retires, the incumbent made it clear Thursday that he’s not going anywhere this cycle. When the Post and Courier asked the House majority whip if he’d be running again, Clyburn replied, “Not just yes, but hell yes.”

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR — Political science professor Danielle Allen announced Monday that she’d join the Democratic primary to take on Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican who is keeping everyone guessing whether or not he’ll seek a third term next year. That’s a decision that will have huge implications for Allen and other Democrats looking to score a victory in what is otherwise a very blue state.

Back in 2019, just months after Baker scored a landslide re-election win, the Boston Globe reported that he was putting together a team for a possible 2022 campaign. While at the time this seemed like a strong indication that Baker would attempt to become the first Bay State governor in modern history to serve three consecutive terms, observers aren’t so sure now. Baker pulled in weak fundraising totals during the final months of 2020 even as his running mate, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, continued to stockpile money, which generated plenty of chatter that the governor could support a Polito campaign to replace him rather than run himself.

The Boston Herald pointed out that Baker had raised a mere $3,400 during all of May, which he said was “his second-worst fundraising performance in the last two years,” compared to $48,000 for Polito during this time. Baker’s cash-on-hand also fell below $500,000, which is less than a quarter of what his lieutenant governor has at her disposal. Still, while Battenfeld wrote that all of this could mean that Baker is on his way out, he added “it could just mean he’s focused on the pandemic and not his re-election chances.”

All of this uncertainty hasn’t stopped the Democratic field from slowly taking shape. Former state Sen. Ben Downing announced a campaign back in February, and he was joined Monday by Allen. Allen began raising money late last year for an exploratory committee, and she had a $283,000 to $111,000 cash-on-hand lead in early June.

Allen has never run for office before, but the 2001 MacArthur “genius grant” recipient has a long career in academia. Last year, she convened a conference at Harvard to develop a “roadmap” to reopen the economy in the midst of the pandemic, and Joe Biden incorporated parts of it into his own COVID plan. Allen would also be the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts (Republican Jane Swift ascended to this office in 2001 but never sought election in her own right), as well as the first Black woman elected to lead any state.

Two current office-holders have also generated plenty of speculation about their plans. State Attorney General Maura Healey has avoided saying much about 2022, but observers have taken note of her recent high-profile appearances across the state and vocal criticism of Baker. Healey, who has more than $3 million in the bank, would almost certainly start the primary as the frontrunner if she ran for governor, and she would also be the first lesbian elected governor anywhere in the country.

The attorney general has her critics on the left, though. The Boston Globe’s Emma Platoff wrote earlier this month that some of the vocal progressive activists who backed Sen. Ed Markey’s successful re-nomination campaign last year “see Healey as a willing participant in a criminal justice system that some believe should be pared back or eliminated entirely.”

Members of this group have also been encouraging state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz, who expressed interest back in late March, to run instead. The state senator doesn’t appear to have said anything publicly about this race over the following two months, though Politico reported Monday that she’s recently been contacting party members. Chang-Díaz, who is of Chinese and Costa Rican descent, would also make history if she were elected governor.

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR — Republican state Sen. Dan Laughlin announced Friday that he had formed an exploratory committee ahead of a possible run for this open seat. Laughlin, who previously predicted he’d have a “clear path to the middle” if he got in, also compared himself to two former moderate Republican governors, Bill Scranton and Dick Thornburgh.

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR — Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer so far has struggled to attract attention at a time when recall campaign coverage is being dominated by former reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner and a 1,000-pound brown bear, but a new group called Fund for a Better California is hoping it can give the onetime GOP rising star a boost.

The Republican firm Medium Buying reports that the organization, which is largely funded by real estate agent Gerald Marcil, is spending $1.8 million on a TV buy arguing that Faulconer “has a record of turning around bad situations.” And if almost all current recall polls are on target, he certainly has quite a bad situation to turn around.

Another Republican candidate, 2018 nominee John Cox, is arguing that Team Red’s prospects are far better than they look, however. Cox has released an early June poll from Moore Information that finds a 49-46 plurality of likely voters saying they would vote to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, though we’re not sure how likely voters can be determined when no one even knows what month the election will take place in. The recall fails 50-44 when registered voters are asked instead, which is still considerably closer than what most other firms have found.

Cox has the lead in various potential scenarios to replace Newsom, though a large number of respondents are undecided.

COLORADO GOVERNOR — Colorado Politics writes that University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl “is almost certainly running for higher office next year, probably governor, and could announce as soon as next month.” She hasn’t said anything publicly about her plans yet, though she used a recent GOP meeting to trash Democratic Gov. Jared Polis as “the king of Karens,” explaining, “The Karens aren’t just afraid to live, they’re afraid to let you live too.”

Ganahl was elected to one of two at-large seats on the Board of Regents in 2016, making her the last Republican to win statewide office in Colorado.

MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR A survey of next year’s GOP Senate primary from Republican pollster Remington Research, conducted on behalf of the local tipsheet Missouri Scout, finds former Gov. Eric Greitens leading the way with 34%, while state Attorney General Eric Schmitt is at 25, Rep. Vicky Hartzler takes 14, and gun-waving attorney Mark McCloskey brings up the rear with 7% of the vote. The poll finds that 20% of voters are undecided. A March poll from Remington, when only Greitens and Schmitt were in the race, found the ex-governor with a tiny 40-39 edge, so the larger field has ostensibly helped him widen his advantage.

And the field could grow larger still: Rep. Billy Long, who’s been considering a bid for some time, said the other day that he’s “getting really close on it.” Mind, though, that back in April, Long said he’d have a decision “not before too long.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE U.S. SENATOR / GOVERNOR –Republican Gov. Chris Sununu keeps pushing back his timeline for deciding whether to run for the Senate: “I won’t make a decision for a really long time,” Sununu said in an interview late last week. “I’m really going to enjoy having a summer and fall … of just being a governor.” On Valentine’s Day, Sununu said he’d reach a conclusion “maybe six, seven months from now,” which would have placed his timetable somewhere in August or September. Now, it seems, he’s content to wait for cooler weather—and keep the entire GOP waiting on him.

FLORIDA GOVERNOR A survey of next year’s Democratic primary for governor from the Listener Group, a Republican pollster, finds Rep. Charlie Crist leading state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried 41-31, with 29% undecided. The firm tells us that the poll was not conducted for a client. A poll last month from St. Pete Polls had Crist ahead 55-22.

VIRGINIA GOVERNOR / LT. GOVERNOR / ATTORNEY GENERAL A crowdfunded poll for the elections website CNalysis, conducted by Republican pollster JMC Analytics, finds the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s open gubernatorial race this fall, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, leading Republican Glenn Youngkin 46-42. Remarkably, this is the first independent poll of the race and just the second overall following a recent Youngkin internal that had McAuliffe up 48-46. Four years ago, by contrast, there had been 15 general election polls conducted before the June primary.

JMC’s survey also included data for Virginia’s two other statewide races on the ballot this year. Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring, the lone incumbent seeking re-election, holds a 45-38 advantage on Republican Del. Jason Miyares, while Democratic Del. Hala Ayala has a 42-36 lead on former Republican Del. Winsome Sears in the race for lieutenant governor.

RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR — Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has been considering a bid for governor for a long time, and he says he’s going to keep considering for a good while longer: As to when he’ll make an announcement about seeking the Democratic nomination, Elorza recently said, “I don’t know—maybe three, four, five months from now.” The mayor first publicly mooted a gubernatorial run in late 2019, saying at the time that if “I see a path by this time next year, then I’ll probably jump in.”

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

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