A new Wason Center poll in Virginia finds Terry McAuliffe (D) leading Glenn Youngkin (R) in the race for governor, 49% to 45% among likely voters. Key finding: Republican likely voters are more enthusiastic about voting in this election than Democratic likely voters (61% to 55% very enthusiastic).
Glenn Youngkin’s (R) “murky answers” on Donald Trump’s false election claims “underscore his dilemma,” the AP reports. “False claims and misinformation about the results are so widely believed by Republican voters that disputing the lies can be politically risky. For months, while running for his party’s nomination, Youngkin declined to say whether Biden was legitimately elected.”
“Now, in a general election, vying for votes in a tight race in left-leaning Virginia, Youngkin has tried to resist being branded as an election denier or letting Democrats tie him to Trump’s false claims.”
Youngkin’s latest ad features footage of the candidates’ final debate, twice repeating a clip of Democrat Terry McAuliffe saying, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” It also selectively edits another McAuliffe line in which he said, “I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decisions,” cutting everything after “schools.” The remarks have lit up conservative media, which has accused McAuliffe of attacking parents.
Virginia lieutenant governor nominee Winsome Sears (R) refused to tell CNN whether she was vaccinated. Said Sears: “My life is very public. It’s just the way it is. But I want to hold certain things close.” She added: “What are we going to ask for now, HIV status? What else are we going to ask for?”
“Republican Jack Ciattarelli bet that New Jersey voters would view Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s policies on masks, vaccines and other Covid-19 restrictions as a prime example of government overreach and rule by fiat,” Politico reports.
“But with the Delta variant lingering, it’s Murphy who’s gone on a Covid-19 offensive, attacking Ciattarelli’s laissez faire positions on face coverings in schools and vaccine freedom as out-of-step with Garden State voters.”
“As New Jersey’s gubernatorial race enters its final month, Murphy is relying on a similar playbook to the one that helped California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom fend off a recall challenge last month. The governor, the only state executive up for reelection this year, is taking direct shots at opponents of economic lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions. Democrat Terry McAuliffe is doing much the same as he tries to reclaim the governorship in Virginia.”
Recently filed campaign finance reports show that Republican Jack Ciattarelli has actually outspent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy for the next month’s general election, $8.9 million to $5.7 million despite getting outraised $13.3 million to $10 million. However, because both candidates have accepted public funds that limit their total spending $15.6 million, it simply means Murphy has more cash left for the stretch run: $7.3 million to just $1.2 million for Ciattarelli.
What’s more, outside groups, including those funded by the DGA and teachers’ unions, have helped Murphy more than make up the gap: Collectively, they’ve spent $12.6 million on the governor’s behalf, while the RGA and a small-time pro-Ciattarelli super PAC have put in less than $500,000. Four years ago, the RGA spent $2.4 million against Murphy, in a race he ultimately won 56-42.
Ezra Klein: “Here’s the truly frightening thought for frustrated Democrats: This might be the high-water mark of power they’ll have for the next decade.”
“Democrats are on the precipice of an era without any hope of a governing majority. The coming year, while they still control the House, the Senate and the White House, is their last, best chance to alter course. To pass a package of democracy reforms that makes voting fairer and easier. To offer statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. To overhaul how the party talks and acts and thinks to win back the working-class voters — white and nonwhite — who have left them behind the electoral eight ball. If they fail, they will not get another chance. Not anytime soon.”
Politico: “In the eyes of David Shor, one of the Democratic Party’s most coveted and most controversial data gurus, that’s exactly what’s happening. In some respects, Shor understands the power that young, hyper-educated staffers wield in the world of Democratic politics because he once wielded it himself — and to great effect. In 2012, at the age of 20, Shor joined Barack Obama’s re-election campaign to develop and oversee its election forecasting system, a complex statistical modeling system that helped campaign staff decide how and when to spend money to optimize support in specific areas.”
“In 2020, during the height of that summer’s racial justice protests, Shor was fired from the progressive data firm Civis Analytics for tweeting out an academic study suggesting that riots have historically hurt Democrats in major election years. The firing, however, has not done much to diminish Shor’s influence within the party, and he reportedly still has the ear of both Obama and senior members of the Biden administration.”
IOWA CAUCUS — “President Biden is not a big fan. Former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez is openly opposed. And elsewhere in the Democratic inner sanctum, disdain for Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucus has been rising for years,” the Washington Post reports.
“Now the day of reckoning for Iowa Democrats is fast approaching, as the national party starts to create a new calendar for the 2024 presidential nomination that could remove Iowa from its privileged position for the first time since 1972, when candidates started flocking to the state for an early jump on the race to the White House.”
“The caucuses’ reputation has been damaged by high barriers to participation, a dearth of racial diversity, the rightward drift in the state’s electorate and a leftward drift in the Democratic participants. The state party’s inability to count the results in 2020 only deepened dismay in the party.”
TEXAS REDISTRICTING — “The Texas Senate approved a map Friday that would largely protect incumbents in Congress while reducing the number of districts in which Black and Hispanic residents make up the majority of eligible voters — stymieing the growth of the state’s Democratic Party representation in Washington, D.C., the Texas Tribune reports.
“The congressional map is focused more on protecting incumbents than on growing the power of the dominant Republican Party in the state by flipping districts from blue to red.”
Top aides to then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) sought a job in the Biden administration for then-Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) “so they could remove her from the gubernatorial ticket ahead of his planned bid for a fourth term in 2022,” the Washington Post reports.
“Cuomo’s office told Hochul early this year that they wanted… someone with a deeper political pull with minority communities.”
New York Times: “On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Trump heads to Iowa for a rally at the state fairgrounds, a perennial stop on the presidential campaign circuit. Joining him will be several of the state’s top Republicans, including Gov. Kim Reynolds, Senator Charles E. Grassley and the chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, Jeff Kaufmann — a testament to the former president’s enduring dominance.”
“Mr. Trump’s unwillingness to cede the spotlight has cast doubt on the political futures of an entire group of Republican politicians who have suggested that they might someday want to run for president. And while they — like the rest of the country — can’t be sure what the notoriously fickle former president might do, some of them are trying to stake their claims as leaders in the party.”
“For the most part, Joe Biden and the Democrats would welcome Trump doing a tour across America to make the election a referendum about Trump. Most Republicans would privately hope Trump would stay away.” — Republican strategist Mike DuHaime, quoted by McClatchy.
VIRGINIA REDISTRICTING — “The Virginia Redistricting Commission’s first-ever attempt to draw fair political maps collapsed in spectacular fashion Friday, when frustrated Democrats walked out of a meeting after Republicans rebuffed their suggestions for reaching a compromise,” the Virginia Mercury reports.
PENNSYLVANIA — “The Democratic National Committee is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit brought by Pennsylvania Republicans aimed at curbing the use of mail voting,” NBC News reports. “Fourteen Pennsylvania Republican legislators filed a lawsuit against the commonwealth on Aug. 31, arguing that a 2019 law that expanded access to mail voting to all eligible voters was unconstitutional.”
ARKANSAS REDISTRICTING — Both chambers of Arkansas’ Republican-run legislature have passed the GOP’s new congressional map, which splits the state’s largest county three ways to dilute the strength of Black voters and Democrats, sending it to Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson for his approval. The gerrymandered map would shore up Republican Rep. French Hill in the 2nd District, which saw competitive elections the last two cycles. Hutchinson says he’ll decide whether to sign it into law next week, though a veto would be shocking.
Under present district lines, the largest county, Pulaski, is located entirely within the 2nd Congressional District, which was the site of hotly contested back-to-back elections in 2018 and 2020. Trump still won it 53-44 last year, and Republican Rep. French Hill survived both races, but his colleagues in the legislature are obviously looking to deter any future Democratic challengers by making his district several points redder. The rest of the state is extremely conservative, so in the likely event this map or one close to it becomes law, this gerrymander will allow Republicans to lock in their 4-0 congressional delegation for the coming decade.
NEW JERSEY REDISTRICTING — New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner has tapped Philip Carchman, a retired state appellate judge, as the tiebreaking member of the state’s Apportionment Commission, which will handle legislative redistricting. Carchman was not on the list of tiebreakers proposed by the two parties in August, which contained no overlapping names, allowing Rabner, who was appointed to his post by Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, to make his own choice.
Carchman also has his roots in Democratic politics, though he was first named to the bench in 1986 by Republican Gov. Tom Kean. According to the New Jersey Globe, Carchman made some donations to Democratic candidates in the early 1980s, but the last occasion was the year before his appointment. In 2004, he took a leave of absence to serve as the administrative director of the state’s court system before returning to the courtroom in 2008 and retiring in 2012. Carchman will now be in the position of choosing between legislative maps proposed by Democrats and Republicans on the commission, which must complete its work by March 1.
In August, following a slightly different process, the state Supreme Court named former Justice John Wallace, who’d been put forth by Democrats, as the tiebreaker for New Jersey’s separate congressional redistricting panel.
- NC-Sen: Cheri Beasley (D): $1.5 million raised, $1.7 million cash-on-hand
- PA-Sen: Carla Sands (R): $500,000 raised, additional $3 million self-funded, $3 million cash-on-hand
- SC-Gov: Joe Cunningham (D): $360,000 raised
- FL-13: Ben Diamond (D): $300,000 raised, $500,000 cash-on-hand; Audrey Henson (R): $205,000 raised (in 20 days)
- IA-01: Ashley Hinson (R-inc): $1 million raised
- KS-03: Sharice Davids (D-inc): $825,000 raised
- MD-01: Heather Mizeur (D): $335,000 raised
- MT-02: Monica Tranel (D): $244K raised
- NE-02: Tony Vargas (D): $400,000 raised
- SC-01: Nancy Mace (R-inc): $950,000 raised
- IA-Sen: Abby Finkenauer (D): $1 million raised (in two months)
- NC-Sen: Jeff Jackson (D): $900,000 raised
- OH-Sen: Tim Ryan (D): $2.5 million raised, $3.6 million cash-on-hand
- WI-Sen: Alex Lasry (D): $1 million raised (campaign did not say if any self-funded)
- CA-01: Max Steiner (D): $192,000 raised
- GA-07: Rich McCormick (R): $600,000 raised
- NH-01: Tim Baxter (R): $188,000 raised, additional $104,000 self-funded, $240,000 cash-on-hand
- NY-19: Marc Molinaro (R): $350,000 raised (in 10 days)
- TX-15: Vicente Gonzalez (D-inc): $700,000 raised, $2 million cash-on-hand
OKLAHOMA GOVERNOR — In a big surprise, two-term Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister told the Tulsa World Wednesday that she was leaving the Republican Party and seeking the Democratic nomination to take on GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt.
Hofmeister, whose party switch gives the Democrats their first statewide elected official in this dark red state since early 2011, said of Stitt, “Through extremism, partisanship, ineffective leadership, he is hurting our education system, our health care, our infrastructure.” The former lifelong Republican continued, “And unfortunately, Gov. Stitt has hijacked the Republican Party in Oklahoma.”
Hofmeister also was a vocal critic of the governor’s handling of the pandemic well before she launched her campaign. Last year, Stitt’s appointees to the Oklahoma State Board of Education ignored Hofmeister’s objections by voting to only make its coronavirus school response plan voluntary. Also in 2020, the superintendent spoke out against a successful bill that banned school districts from requiring students to be masked.
She didn’t hold back on Wednesday when taking Stitt to task over the coronavirus, arguing, “When you understand now how critical it was to have had a leader who contemplated expert advice and opinion and set an example to help protect Oklahomans, we could have avoided thousands of people dying.” When the paper asked what she’d have done differently if she were governor, Hofmeister responded, “I wouldn’t have churned through four state epidemiologists in the middle of a pandemic.”
Hofmeister won her current post by waging a successful primary campaign against incumbent Janet Barresi, who had inflamed the party base by supporting Common Core, the national academic standards that were the subject of numerous conservative conspiracy theories during the Obama era.
Hofmeister, by contrast, was a first time candidate who had previously been appointed by then-GOP Gov. Mary Fallin to the state board of education, where she often ended up opposing Barresi’s proposals. Hofmeister ended up outright winning the three-way primary with 58% of the vote (Barresi took third), and she prevailed 56-44 in the general election.
Hofmeister’s only opponent in next year’s Democratic primary so far is Connie Johnson, a former state senator who lost the 2018 nomination contest 61-39 after waging an underfunded campaign against ex-state Attorney General Drew Edmondson. Edmondson’s subsequent defeat against Stitt, though, underscores just how difficult it will be for anyone to beat the governor.
Democrats three years ago spent plenty of energy tying Stitt to the termed-out Fallin, who sported horrible approval ratings thanks in large part to the massive budget cuts she oversaw, policies that forced many school districts to switch to four-day weeks. However, while Stitt ran well behind Donald Trump’s 65-29 performance from two years before, he still defeated Edmondson by a convincing 54-42 margin.
The governor’s allies have also been arguing that he’s in solid shape for re-election. A late June survey from the GOP firm Amber Integrated for the conservative Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs showed Stitt with a 59-32 approval rating.
Ron Brownstein reports on a new study that argues that “to solidify their position in Congress and the Electoral College, Democrats must increase their investment and focus on Sun Belt states that have become more politically competitive over recent years as they have grown more urbanized and racially diverse.”
From the report: “The majority of new, likely Democratic voters live in the South and Southwest, places the Democratic establishment have long ignored or are just waking up to now.”
“The study, focusing on 11 battleground states, is as much a warning as an exhortation. It contends that although the key to contesting Sun Belt states such as North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Arizona is to sustain engagement among the largely nonwhite infrequent voters who turned out in huge numbers in 2018 and 2020, it also warns that Republicans could consolidate Donald Trump’s gains last year among some minority voters, particularly Latino men.”
“New York City investigators concluded that Mayor Bill de Blasio misused his NYPD security detail for personal and political purposes and that the NYPD official who runs the detail actively obstructed the subsequent investigation,” NBC New York reports.