“Gavin Newsom waited with his family Tuesday night as polls closed across California for the state’s second-ever gubernatorial recall election, with early returns showing the Democratic governor beating the recall by double digits,” the Sacramento Bee reports.
“Just minutes after polls closed, the recall was trailing, with 30.6% voting yes, and 69.4% voting no.”
New York Times: “The first-term Democratic governor will remain in office because, in a deeply liberal state, he effectively nationalized the recall effort as a Republican plot, making a flame-throwing radio host the Trump-like face of the opposition to polarize the electorate along red and blue lines.”
“Mr. Newsom found success not because of what makes California different but because of how it’s like everywhere else: He dominated in California’s heavily populated Democratic cities, the key to victory in a state where his party outnumbers Republicans by five million voters.”
On the final day of the campaign, the FiveThirtyEight’s polling average shows 57.4% of California voters opposed to recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), while 41.5% support removing him.
Playbook: “If Newsom prevails, he will have breathed new life into his own political career while also offering Democrats a potential strategy as they head into the midterm headwinds: tapping into vaccinated voters’ frustrations with the ongoing pandemic.”
Before the results of the California recall election are even tabulated, Larry Elder (R) appeared to be already conceding defeat by blaming his loss on false claims of voter fraud, the Sacramento Bee reports.
First Read: “If you’re telling your voters not to trust the election results, the logical conclusion is that elections aren’t worth having… And there are no signs of it stopping anytime soon.”
“This is not hyperbole: The eyes of the nation are on California. Because the decision you’re about to make isn’t just going to have a huge impact on California, it’s going to reverberate around the nation. And quite frankly, it’s not a joke, around the world.” — President Biden, quoted by the Los Angeles Times, campaigning against the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).
“Seven years ago, New Yorkers voted decisively to empower a new bipartisan commission to do what self-interested politicians could not: draw new congressional district lines that were not gerrymandered to favor a particular party,” the New York Times reports.
“But as the panel prepares to unveil its proposed maps for the first time on Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers in New York and Washington are already laying the groundwork to cast them aside — plotting to use their supermajorities in Albany to draw new district boundaries for the next decade that might eliminate as many as five Republican-held seats.”
“Under the most aggressive scenarios, Democrats could emerge from 2022’s midterm elections with control of as many as 23 of New York’s 26 House seats in an all-out effort to prop up their chances of retaining control of Congress.”
An adviser to Donald Trump told Politico that if he runs again for president in 2024, Melania Trump will “be right there.”
Said the aide: “She’s not going to have her own rallies. But did she ever?”
“The question of how Melania Trump perceives another round of presidential politics has been a small but steady source of intrigue for those close to the family and longtime Trump watchers, ever more so as Trump has given multiple winks at a 2024 run.”
Jonathan Bernstein: “President Joe Biden’s approval rating took a bit of a tumble in August and early September, although it appears that it’s stabilized and possibly recovered a bit. The slump began before the collapse of the Afghan government, but after that he dropped from 50% approval down to a low point of 45%, according to the polling average estimate at FiveThirtyEight.”
“Since then, he’s moved back up to 46.1% approval. Overall, the numbers show about a 7-percentage-point drop (and a single point recovery), with about a 5-percentage-point dip that appeared to be associated with the news from Afghanistan.”
A new Quinnipiac poll finds Americans’ views have dimmed on the way President Joe Biden is handling his job as president, with 42% approving and 50% disapproving.
This is the first time Biden’s job approval has dropped into negative territory since taking office.
MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR — Republican pollster Remington Research’s newest survey of Missouri’s GOP primary for next year’s open-seat Senate contest finds, for the first time, state Attorney General Eric Schmitt taking a narrow 28-27 lead on former Gov. Eric Greitens. Remington’s June poll had Greitens up 34-25, while their numbers from March had him ahead 40-39. (All of Remington’s polls have been conducted for the local tipsheet Missouri Scout.)
Over the course of the race, what’s changed most is the composition of the field: In March, the only notable candidates were Schmitt and Greitens, but since then, many others have joined. Remington tested three of the most prominent new additions in its latest poll, finding Rep. Vicky Hartzler at 17, Rep. Billy Long at 8, and attorney Mark McCloskey (the guy who brandished a rifle at Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis last year) with just 5%.
NORTH CAROLINA U.S. SENATOR –– Brunswick County Commissioner Marty Cooke, who never looked like much of a factor in the GOP primary during his brief time on the campaign trail, has dropped out and endorsed Rep. Ted Budd for North Carolina’s open Senate race.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) has drawn four Republican primary challengers so far, the Daily Beast reports.
“But in today’s Republican Party, there might not be much space for challengers running against a MAGA hero’s divisive politics and national focus. That’s because Cawthorn might be performing the most important kind of constituent service there is: owning the libs.”
ARIZONA GOVERNOR — Two former Republican governors, Jan Brewer and Fyfe Simington, have blessed Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson’s bid for the job they once held. Taylor Robson faces a crowded primary for the GOP nod to succeed Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who is term-limited.
NEBRASKA GOVERNOR — Second-term state Sen. Carol Blood announced a bid on Monday for governor, a post no Nebraska Democrat has won in almost three decades. Blood does, however, represent a seat in the state’s officially nonpartisan legislature that’s about as red as the state overall, defeating a Republican incumbent by a 52-48 margin in 2016 even as Donald Trump was beating Hillary Clinton 56-37 in the same district. She then hung on to win re-election 50.4 to 49.6 last year (we haven’t yet calculated the 2020 presidential numbers by legislative district).
The last Democrat to serve as governor was Ben Nelson, at the time an insurance executive, who won the party’s nomination in 1990 by just 42 votes over former congressional staffer Bill Hoppner. Nelson then unseated Republican Gov. Kay Orr in another extremely narrow race, winning 49.9 to 49.2, in part by accusing her of reneging on a pledge not to increase taxes. Remarkably, Nelson secured a second term by a giant 73-26 margin in 1994, despite the year’s GOP wave. He also holds the distinction of being the last Democrat to win any statewide race in Nebraska when he easily won re-election to the Senate in 2006.
NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR — Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has released his first TV ad of his general election campaign, a positive spot in which he rattles off a long list of priorities, like ensuring strong public schools and protecting women’s reproductive rights. Murphy’s been on the air before, though, because he ran ads prior to the June primary even though he was unopposed in order to take advantage of spending caps imposed on candidates who accept public financing. (New Jersey imposes separate caps for the primary and the general, but the former doesn’t roll over if it goes unused.)
PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR — Former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, an appointee of Donald Trump, announced his entry into the busy GOP primary for Pennsylvania governor on Monday. McSwain regularly garnered attention during his time in office thanks to his frequent attacks on Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner for his reformist policies, but it was a clash with a very different prosecutor earlier this year that reportedly has some Republicans fearful about McSwain’s chances in a general election: former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr.
In June, McSwain sent a letter to Trump seeking his endorsement, saying that he’d been prepared to investigate “allegations of voter fraud” following the November elections but had been thwarted because Barr had “instructed me not to make any public statements or put out any press releases regarding possible election irregularities.” That prompted a blunt response from Barr, who called the accusation “false” and retorted, “He wanted to not do the business of the department, which is to investigate cases, but instead go out and flap his gums about what he didn’t like about the election overall.”
“Some prominent GOP donors and operatives,” wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tamari in July, saw the letter and the response it engendered as “a daft mistake that reinforced questions about [McSwain’s] political acumen.” The complainers, however, sounded like relative pragmatists who were frustrated that McSwain had undermined his prosecutorial law-and-order credentials—the sort that might play well with more moderate suburbanites—by going all-in on Trump’s most delusional fantasies. (Instead, they talked up ex-Rep. Jim Gerlach as an alternative, but he hasn’t said anything since.)
If anything, as one Republican politico noted to Tamari, McSwain’s public spat with Barr might help him with primary voters, since Barr has since grown reviled in conservative circles for refusing to back up Trump’s lies about widespread election fraud. And as for Trump himself, while he hasn’t yet taken sides in the primary, he quite evidently appreciated McSwain’s letter, since he’s the one who released it to the public.
Separately, another Republican, former healthcare executive Daniel Hilferty sounds like he’s taking a pass on the race, saying, “I do not have plans to run for office.” Hilferty ran for lieutenant governor as a Democrat in 1994 and finished seventh in the primary with just 3% of the vote. He also hosted the first fundraiser of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and ultimately donated more than $85,000 to help elect him, so his brief interest in GOP politics never made much sense.
RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR — State Treasurer Seth Magaziner announced that he’ll kick off his long-awaited campaign for governor on Tuesday, joining a Democratic primary that already includes Gov. Dan McKee and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. (In mid-May, Magaziner said he’d make a decision “shortly,” a good reminder that politicians use phrases like “shortly,” “soon,” and “in the coming weeks” differently from you and me.)
Magaziner, the son of Bill Clinton healthcare policy adviser Ira Magaziner, was first elected treasurer in an open-seat race in 2014 at the age of 31, then easily won a second term four years later. The Providence Journal’s Katherine Gregg describes him as a “protégé” of former Gov. Gina Raimondo, who preceded him as treasurer. Magaziner had raised copious sums even before saying he’d join the race, building up a $1.5 million war chest as of mid-year that put him far ahead of the pack.
ILLINOIS 13TH CD — Former Biden administration official Nikki Budzinski has earned the endorsement of an influential Illinois congresswomen in her bid to unseat Republican Rep. Rodney Davis: retiring Rep. Cheri Bustos, who was the chair of the DCCC last cycle. Budzinski also recently won the backing of veteran Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who has represented a district in the Chicago area for more than two decades. She faces financial planner David Palmer in the Democratic primary.
CALIFORNIA 4TH CD — Physician and Navy veteran Kermit Jones recently kicked off a campaign to unseat Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, who’s survived two well-funded Democratic challengers in a row thanks to a district that remains stubbornly conservative. In 2018, McClintock held off national security strategist Jessica Morse 54-46, then defeated businesswoman Brynne Kennedy (who has said she won’t run again) 56-44 last year.
Both Morse and Kennedy outraised McClintock, but there’s been little indication that California’s sprawling 4th District, which stretches from the northern Sacramento suburbs to take in a huge swath of the Sierra Nevada mountains, is growing any more fertile for Democrats. In 2016, the district backed Donald Trump 54-40 over Hillary Clinton, while four years later, it once again gave Trump 54% of the vote, with Joe Biden taking 44. (That small improvement for Biden can be attributed to the much smaller third-party vote overall in 2020, a phenomenon seen in many districts around the country.)
Jones has an impressive resume that includes service in Iraq as a flight surgeon, a year as a White House fellow during the Obama administration, and even a year practicing as a regulatory attorney (he also has a law degree). He also earned an endorsement from the influential group VoteVets when he launched his bid. However, given the district’s fundamentally conservative nature, it’s hard to see a path to victory for any Democrat here. Redistricting might change the calculus, but the existing 4th could remain as-is by shedding just 1% of its population, so it’s very possible that map-makers will leave it largely intact.