The Political Report – 7/22/21

A new Morning Consult/Politico survey finds the share of Democratic voters who said they were “very” or “extremely” enthusiastic about the midterms has fallen 5 percentage points since April, to 48%.

Key finding: 33% of Republican voters said they’re “extremely enthusiastic” about the midterms, compared with 24% of Democrats, and Trump voters – who were virtually tied with Biden voters on the question in April – are now 8 points more likely than the current president’s supporters (31% to 23%) to share the sentiment.

A new Gallup Poll finds just 42% of Americans believe race relations are currently “very” or “somewhat” good. In 2013, 70% of Americans surveyed said that.

A new Morning Consult-Politico poll finds President Joe Biden with a 52% to 45% favorable rating — roughly comparable to other public polls. However, Vice President Kamala Harris has an upside down 45% to 47% favorable rating.

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR — Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes announced Tuesday that he would seek the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat held by Republican incumbent Ron Johnson ahead of what will be one of the top 2022 contests in the nation. Barnes, who would be the Badger State’s first Black senator, will also need to get through what’s shaping up to be an expensive primary to take on Johnson, who insists he’s undecided about running for reelection.

Barnes at 34 is almost half Johnson’s age, but the Democrat has been active in politics for nearly as long as the two-term senator. Barnes arrived in the state assembly after the 2012 elections by decisively unseating an incumbent in a Milwaukee district, but his attempt to reach the state Senate the same way four years later ended badly. Barnes, though, bounced back quickly by winning the 2018 primary for lieutenant governor 68-32, which set him up to be the first Black person elected statewide in decades. Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are nominated separately in Wisconsin but run together in the general election, and the ticket of Tony Evers and Barnes went on to narrowly prevail that November.

Barnes joins a crowded primary where one candidate currently enjoys a big fundraising advantage over the rest of the field. Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry outpaced state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski $990,000 to $470,000 during the second quarter of 2021 (Godlewski loaned her campaign an additional $45,000, while Lasry did not do any self-funding this time), and he ended June with a $1 million to $245,000 cash-on-hand lead.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, meanwhile, raised $240,000 and had $405,000 to spend while state Sen. Chris Larson hauled in $50,000 during his first month in the race and had $20,000 in the bank. Nonprofit head Steven Olikara, who set up a campaign account in late May but has not yet entered the race, also took in $60,000 and had $55,000 on-hand.

The biggest question surrounding this race right now, though, is what Johnson will do. The far-right incumbent has been incredibly vocal when it comes to spreading lies about COVID-19 vaccines, global warming, and the Jan. 6 terrorist riot, but he’s keeping everyone guessing about whether or not he’ll be on the ballot next year; Johnson once again said over the weekend that he didn’t even have a timeline to decide.

The senator, though, ramped up his fundraising efforts recently: Johnson hauled in $1.2 million during the second quarter, a big increase from the $520,000 he took in during the previous three months, and he ended last month with $1.7 million on-hand.

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR — The Keystone State is arguably the GOP’s most vulnerable Senate seat next year, so it came as a surprise that the Republican who raised the most money from donors during the second quarter was someone who looks like a pretty minor figure in GOP politics. Nonetheless, author Kathy Barnette, whom we hadn’t previously mentioned, outpaced Army veteran Sean Parnell $590,000 to $525,000, though Parnell ended June with a $595,000 to $475,000 cash-on-hand lead.

Both Parnell and Barnette unsuccessfully ran for the House last year, but only Parnell attracted much attention. Parnell raised a serious amount for his campaign against Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb in the suburban Pittsburgh-area 17th District and ended up holding the incumbent to a surprisingly close 51-49 win. Barnette, by contrast, took on Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean in the safely blue 4th District, which is based in Montgomery County at the other side of the commonwealth, and predictably lost 60-40.

Barnette, like her idol Donald Trump, refused to accept her defeat, and she declared on election night, “All plans of the enemy will be thwarted.” She later attended the Trump rally that took place just before the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, though her team says she didn’t take part in the riots. Barnette launched her new Senate campaign in April, saying, “We’re told Black lives matter, except of course my Black life, because I’m a Black conservative.”

The GOP contender with by far the most money at the end of last month, though, wasn’t either Parnell or Barnette. That honor instead goes to 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos, who took in $560,000 from donors but self-funded an additional $445,000 and had $1.9 million in the bank. Two other Republicans we’d previously mentioned, attorney Sean Gale and businessman Everett Stern, reinforced their Some Dude statuses by each having less than $10,000 on-hand. Another GOP contender, former Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands, announced her bid earlier this month after the new quarter began.

On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman outraised Montgomery County Commission Chair Val Arkoosh $2.5 million to $1 million during her opening quarter, and he enjoyed a huge $3.1 million to $630,000 cash-on-hand lead. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta was further behind with $500,000 raised and $280,000 in the bank, while Pennsylvania Hospital Chief of Emergency Services Kevin Baumlin brought in $380,000 and had $125,000 to spend. State Sen. Sharif Street, who is still in exploratory mode, took in just $245,000 and had $190,000 on-hand.

Finally there’s Lamb, whom many Democrats are convinced will run for the Senate but has not yet revealed his 2022 plans. Lamb hauled in $980,000 for his House campaign and had $1.8 million in the bank that he can use to campaign for either chamber.

“Pennsylvania’s top election official has decertified the voting machines of Fulton County, which disclosed that it had agreed to requests by local Republican lawmakers and allowed a software firm to inspect the machines as part of an ‘audit’ after the 2020 election,” the AP reports.

“The action by Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid almost certainly means that Fulton County will have to buy or lease new voting machines.”

ARIZONA 1ST CD — Navy SEAL veteran Eli Crane announced Tuesday that he’d seek the Republican nomination to face Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran in what is currently a competitive seat in northern Arizona.

Crane, whose idea for making bottle openers out of .50-caliber shells was well-received on a 2014 episode of the “Shark Tank,” joins state Rep. Walt Blackman in the primary, but Crane’s fellow military veteran won’t start out with much of a financial edge. Blackman raised just over $105,000 during the second quarter of 2021, and he ended June with $80,000 in the bank. O’Halleran, for his part, took in $365,000 and had $615,000 on-hand.

FLORIDA 13TH CD — Former lobbyist Amanda Makki confirmed Tuesday that she would once again campaign for the Republican nomination for this St. Petersburg-based seat, which Democratic incumbent Charlie Crist is giving up to run for governor again. Makki will face a primary rematch against Anna Paulina Luna, who defeated her 36-28 last year before losing to Crist, and their second bout has already gotten incredibly ugly.

Last month, Luna obtained a restraining order against another opponent named William Braddock, claiming that Braddock and two other potential rivals, Matt Tito and Makki, were conspiring to murder her to prevent her from winning next year’s election. Politico obtained a recording a short time later of Braddock threatening to kill Luna, and he exited the race soon after. Both Makki and Tito, though, have angrily denied any involvement, and no publicly available evidence has linked either of them to Braddock.

GEORGIA 6TH CD — Former State Ethics Commission Chair Jake Evans earned a GOP primary endorsement this week from Newt Gingrich, who represented much of this turf when he was speaker of the House.

SOUTH CAROLINA 7TH CD — Republican Rep. Tom Rice faces a cavalcade of primary opponents thanks to his January vote to impeach Donald Trump, but surprisingly, the only one who brought in a large amount of money during the second quarter was a contender we hadn’t previously mentioned. Graham Allen, an Army veteran and conservative media figure, hauled in $410,000 and self-funded another $92,000, and he ended June with $465,000 in the bank. Rice himself had a smaller $325,000 haul, though he had $1.6 million on-hand to defend himself.

The incumbent also had a considerably better quarter than two of his other noteworthy foes. Horry County School Board chair Ken Richardson raised a mere $25,000 but, thanks to some self-funding he did earlier in the year, had nearly $100,000 in the bank. Former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride, though, took in just over $3,000 during his first few weeks as a candidate.

TEXAS 6TH CD — Former Rep. Joe Barton, who left Congress in 2019 after 34 years in office following a sex scandal, threw his support behind state Rep. Jake Ellzey on Monday ahead of July 27’s all GOP-runoff. Barton said that both Ellzey and party activist Susan Wright, who is the widow of the late Rep. Ron Wright, would make good members of Congress, but that Ellzey was the best option “on the merits.”

Barton’s decision is a bit surprising because of his long relationship with Ron Wright, who served as his chief of staff and district director during his long tenure. Local politicos speculated for years that Wright would be Barton’s heir apparent whenever he decided to call it a career: That retirement announcement came during the 2018 cycle after Barton apologized when a “graphic nude photo” of him circulated online and the public learned even more unsavory aspects of his personal life.

Wright ended up competing in the GOP primary runoff against none other than Ellzey, a campaign he ultimately won. Barton, for his part, said that while he planned to support his former employee, he was “not sure if anybody would want my endorsement, so I might come out against somebody if that helps them.” The incumbent, though, ended up backing his protege the old-fashioned way by holding events for Wright in both Washington and in the district.

Ellzey very much looks like the underdog against party activist Susan Wright ahead of the all-GOP July 27 general election, but he at least enjoys a huge fundraising edge over his Trump-endorsed opponent.

Ellzey outraised Wright $1.2 million to $450,000 from April 12 to July 7 and outspent her $1.1 million to $335,000, and the state representative went into the final weeks with a $485,000 to $165,000 cash-on-hand lead. Wright, though, has benefited from $835,000 in outside spending for the second round of voting, with the vast majority coming from the radical anti-tax Club for Growth, while Elect Principled Veterans Fund has accounted for most of the $155,000 deployed for Ellzey.

PENNSYLVANIA 6TH CD — While businessman Steve Fanelli only announced his campaign for the Republican nomination on Wednesday, he self-funded $645,000 in June for his bid against Democratic Rep. Chrissy Houlahan. The current version of this suburban Philadelphia seat, which is based in Chester County, backed Joe Biden by a wide 57-42 margin.

OHIO 11TH CD — The National Journal reports that Democratic Action PAC, a group that was formed last year to aid former state Sen. Nina Turner, is spending at least $200,000 on a commercial defending Turner and attacking Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown ahead of the Aug. 3 Democratic primary.

The narrator, without repeating the attacks against Turner, declares that she’s being smeared by “Brown and her special interest groups.” The ad continues by saying Turner’s foes “are straight up attacking a Black woman who has only ever help working people,” (Brown is also Black) and reminds the audience that the ex-state senator has the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s endorsement. The narrator concludes, “Shontel Brown: Girrrlll, you need to stop. And we need to vote for Nina Turner.”

The Huffington Post also reports that another pro-Turner group, the Working Families Party, is spending $150,000 on get-out-the-vote efforts.

Turner herself is up with her first negative commercial weeks ahead of the Aug. 3 Democratic primary. The narrator declares that Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown “voted to give more than $32 million in taxpayer contracts to a company connected to her boyfriend and family,” and he also says that Brown voted in favor of granting herself a $7,000 pay raise.

Turner is also airing a positive piece where she says, “It’s time to make the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share and reduce income inequality.”

TEXAS 24TH CD — Texas state Rep. Michelle Beckley, who is in Washington, D.C. with most of her fellow Democratic members in order to stop the GOP legislature from passing a new voter suppression bill, announced Tuesday that she’d challenge Republican Rep. Beth Van Duyne next year.

Beckley won her seat in 2018 by narrowly unseating a GOP incumbent in a rapidly changing district that began the decade as safely red turf, and she held it last year after another close contest. Republicans, though, still kept their majority in the lower chamber despite a serious Democratic attempt to take control, and they’ve attempted to use their power to pass new voting restriction legislation.

Democratic members managed to thwart the state GOP’s plan in June by leaving the session and denying the state House the two-thirds quorum it needed to conduct business. Republicans soon announced they’d hold a special legislative session, which Beckley and most other Democratic members decided to boycott. This time, though, they fled the state in order to avoid being arrested and forcibly returned to the state capitol by Texas law enforcement.

Beckley filmed her congressional announcement video from her hotel room in D.C., where the caucus has been meeting with their national counterparts and raising further awareness of their plight. The state representative went after Van Duyne for objecting to Joe Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania, saying, “Beth Van Duyne can walk away from her duty to defend democracy, but not me.” She concluded by referencing the most famous Texas Democrat in modern times, declaring, “LBJ said, ‘we do not choose to be the guardians of the gate, but there is no one else but us. Join me.”

The current version of Van Duyne’s 24th Congressional District, which is located in the northern Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs, swung from 51-44 Trump to 52-46 Biden, but GOP mapmakers will have the chance to pass a new gerrymander to protect her for 2022. The only other notable Democratic candidate so far is Marine veteran Derrik Gay, who launched his campaign earlier this month.

FLORIDA 20TH CD –– We have our first fundraising reports from all the notable candidates running in the November Democratic primary to succeed the late Rep. Alcee Hastings, and one self-funder enjoys a huge cash lead over the rest of the field in this safely blue South Florida seat. We hadn’t before mentioned Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, who lost the 2018 and 2020 primaries to Hastings by margins of 74-26 and 69-31, respectively, but she surprised us by loaning her new campaign $2.3 million.

Cherfilus-McCormick, who is the CEO of a home health care company, had self-funded a considerably smaller $50,000 during her latter campaign, and there was little indication before now that she was willing and able to pour this much into her open seat bid. The candidate also raised just under $100,000 from donors this year, which was still far more than she brought in during her last two runs, and she ended June with $2.1 million on-hand.

The candidate who brought in the most money without self-funding was Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, who took in $305,000 and had $270,000 in the bank. Next up with $225,000 raised was state Rep. Bobby DuBose, who had $205,000 available to spend.

Further back was state Sen. Perry Thurston, who raised $180,000 and loaned himself another $100,000, which allowed him to end June with $250,000 on-hand. State Rep. Omari Hardy, meanwhile, took in $95,000 and had $70,000 in the bank.

Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief, who launched a bid against Hastings before he died in April, raised only $55,000 from donors but loaned herself another $130,000, which left her with $155,000 on-hand. Finally, former Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor, who announced in Junebrought in about $25,000 and had $20,000 to spend.

The filing deadline is Aug. 10, so it’s possible that the field will still expand. The winner of the November primary should have no trouble in the January general election.

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

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