The Political Report – 10/17/21

McClatchy: “Vaccinated Republican voters have expressed rising levels of anger about unvaccinated Americans, faulting them in part for the country’s then-rising number of infections and deaths from Covid-19.”

“That has led Democrats to examine whether they have a chance to make inroads with voters frustrated with continued vaccine skepticism — particularly the affluent, suburban voters already drifting away from the GOP — as Republicans largely view the vaccine as a matter of personal freedom.”

Politico: “While they are often held up as the good-governance solutions to increase bipartisanship and reduce the power of parties and self-interested legislators in redistricting, commissions in states including Colorado, Michigan and Virginia have been fraught with partisan wrangling this year, yielding delays and dysfunction — and, sometimes, maps that will end up in court.”

ARKANSAS REDISTRICTING — In a surprise, Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on Wednesday that he’d allow Arkansas’ new congressional map to become law without his signature, saying, “The removal of minority areas in Pulaski County into two different congressional districts does raise concerns.” Hutchinson declined to veto the plan, however, “out of deference” to his fellow Republicans in the legislature who passed it, though it only takes a simple majority to override vetoes in Arkansas, so lawmakers could have easily bypassed the governor.

Perhaps most unusually, Hutchinson all but invited lawsuits targeting the new map, saying his move “will enable those who wish to challenge the redistricting plan in court to do so.” Democrats have attacked the new gerrymandered lines because they crack Pulaski County between three different districts, with the Black community in Little Rock and neighboring suburbs divided between the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Districts

As a result, the 2nd District, which hosted competitive elections the last two cycles, would grow redder, shifting from a 53-44 win for Donald Trump to a 55-42 Trump victory, according to Dave’s Redistricting App. An analysis from the nonpartisan site PlanScore also shows an extremely heavy tilt toward Republicans for the map overall.

It’s not clear yet whether any litigants will take Hutchinson up on his suggestion, though the map won’t actually take effect for a few more weeks. The legislature is set to adjourn on Friday, and under state law, any unsigned bills would become law 20 days later, which would make the map’s likely effective date Nov. 4.

TEXAS REDISTRICTING — Texas’s Republican-run House passed a new map for the chamber on a largely party-line vote Tuesday, with four Democrats voting in favor of the GOP’s gerrymanders and two Republicans against. Earlier, lawmakers adopted several amendments that likewise were approved on a partisan basis. The map now goes to the state Senate.

A committee in Texas’ Republican-run House passed the GOP’s new congressional map on Wednesday, advancing the plan to the full floor. The map has already passed the Senate, so once the House approves it, it will go to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature.

COLORADO REDISTRICTING — Late on Tuesday, Colorado’s legislative redistricting commission gave approval to a new map for the state Senate after signing off on a state House map earlier in the day. Both plans will now be reviewed by the state Supreme Court, which has until Nov. 15 to either give its endorsement or instruct the commission to make further revisions. Separately on Tuesday, the justices heard oral arguments from those opposed to the state’s proposed congressional map, though several sounded skeptical about second-guessing it. At least one suggested that critics had not shown an “abuse of discretion” on the part of commissioners, the standard necessary for the court to order changes.

WEST VIRGINIA REDISTRICTING — Lawmakers in West Virginia’s state Senate passed a new congressional map on Thursday, following the same action by their counterparts in the state House the previous day, prompting two  different Republicans to immediately announce they’d be running for re-election against one another … in the wrong district.

With the state shrinking from three seats to two due to population loss, the new map, as expected, slices a jagged line across West Virginia’s midsection to create one northern district and one southern. That northern district is now home to two GOP congressmen: Alex Mooney, who lives in Charles Town at the state’s easternmost tip, and David McKinley, who hails from Wheeling in the northern panhandle.

Mooney had long been adamant that he’d seek re-election no matter the outcome of redistricting, but in his enthusiasm following the map’s enactment, it seems he got rather mixed up. Under the old lines, West Virginia’s districts were numbered from north to south, but for whatever reason, lawmakers switched that up and labeled the southern district the 1st and the northern one the 2nd. Mooney, however, issued a poorly edited statement saying, “I am excited to be running for re-election in the new First District of West Virginia.”

What makes the bungle even funnier is that Mooney’s geographic ties to the Mountain State have always been hazy: Prior to running for Congress in 2014, he served as a state senator in Maryland for more than a decade and even ran the state GOP there for a while after losing his seat—and before all that, he ran for the state House in New Hampshire when he was in college. Fortunately, he has Daily Kos Elections looking out: After we flagged the screw-up on Twitter, a Mooney spokesperson clarified that his boss would indeed be running in the new 2nd District. (We don’t know if it’s the same guy, but we’d like to point out that Mooney’s chief of staff is a state senator … from Maryland.)

And while McKinley had been considerably less committal about his 2022 plans, he, too, announced he’d be running for re-election—and somehow made the exact same flub Mooney had. Yes, it appears McKinley’s team failed to notice either the map’s new scheme or Mooney’s stumble (clearly, they don’t follow us on Twitter), as his campaign put out a statement hours later reading, “Our work is not done. That’s why I will be running for re-election in the new First District.” That was followed by a predictable clarification from a McKinley aide soon after.

Mutual numerical blundering aside, Mooney has been preparing for this day far more aggressively than McKinley, racking up a campaign war chest that stood at $2.6 million at the end of September. McKinley hasn’t yet filed a third-quarter fundraising report (they’re due Friday at midnight ET), but he had just $503,000 on hand as of mid-year.

But McKinley, unlike his colleague-turned-opponent, has a long history in Mountain State politics to fall back on. McKinley began a 14-year stint in the state House after first winning office in 1980, and he, too, served as state party chair—except in West Virginia, not someplace else. He later ran for governor in 1996 but took third in the GOP primary against eventual winner Cecil Underwood, who’d previously held the governorship all the way back in the 1950s.

McKinley’s time out of office was long, though not nearly as long as Underwood’s. McKinley eventually resurrected his career when he was narrowly elected to Congress in 2010—coincidentally, the same year that Mooney somehow lost re-election to the Maryland Senate despite that year’s colossal GOP wave.

McKinley also has another important advantage over Mooney, who incidentally is under investigation for allegedly spending campaign funds on personal expenses: He already represents two-thirds of the population of the new 2nd District while Mooney represents the remainder. That means he’s going to be familiar to more voters in the GOP primary, where all the action will take place: According to our new calculations, the 2nd would have gone 68-31 for Donald Trump.

The 1st is also unsurprisingly deep red and would have voted for Trump by a similar 70-29 margin. There, sophomore GOP Rep. Carol Miller has also said she’s definitely running for re-election and should face little opposition. The new map now goes to Republican Gov. Jim Justice for his signature, but it would be very surprising were he not to sign it into law, particularly since it only takes a simple majority to override a veto in West Virginia.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R), the likely GOP challenger to Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) next year, released a video of him playing with nunchucks.

WISCONSIN 3RD CD — Businesswoman Rebecca Cooke joined the race for Wisconsin’s open 3rd Congressional District on Wednesday, making her the second notable candidate to seek the Democratic nod following state Sen. Brad Pfaff’s entry earlier this month. Interestingly, both Cooke and Pfaff grew up on Wisconsin dairy farms, though Cooke says her family sold their cattle in the early 2000s; she now runs a clothing and home goods boutique in Eau Claire. A number of other Democrats have been mentioned as potential contenders but none have openly expressed interest. The GOP’s 2020 nominee, Navy veteran Derrick Van Orden, has Donald Trump’s endorsement and the field to himself.

KENTUCKY 3RD CD — Aaron Yarmuth, the son of retiring Rep. John Yarmuth, said on Tuesday that he’s considering a bid for his father’s seat in Congress. Until earlier this year, Yarmuth served as editor of LEO Weekly, the alternative newspaper his father founded in 1990, though he sold the paper in June. The elder Yarmuth said he has no plans to endorse in the race to succeed him unless his son enters.

One potential high-profile candidate, meanwhile, has ruled out a run: Former state Rep. Charles Booker, who is running against Republican Sen. Rand Paul, insisted on Tuesday that he would continue with his campaign.

ILLINOIS 17TH CD — Rockford Alderman Jonathan Logemann, who’d reportedly been considering a bid for Illinois’ open 17th Congressional District, became the first Democrat to enter the race when he kicked off a campaign on Wednesday. Logemann, a teacher who served in Afghanistan as a member of the Illinois Army National Guard, is in his second term on the city council. Several other Democrats are still weighing the race, while attorney Esther Joy King, the GOP’s 2020 nominee, is likely to once again win the Republican nod.

CALIFORNIA 37TH CD — Culver City Vice Mayor Daniel Lee, who recently filed paperwork with the FEC, has now launched a campaign for California’s open 37th Congressional District in downtown Los Angeles. Lee first won his seat on the Culver City Council in 2018, making him the body’s first-ever Black member. However, he fared poorly in a special election for the state Senate earlier this year, losing to fellow Democrat Sydney Kamlager 69-13.

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR — Arizona Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson announced Wednesday that he was joining what was already a crowded Republican primary to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. The new contender, unlike most Republican candidates, didn’t mention Donald Trump much in his kickoff, though he said he’d be “honored to have his support.” Olson earlier this month left his post as chief finance officer for Turning Point USA, a well-funded far-right group that’s infamous for spreading lies about the pandemic and targeting college professors for harassment and intimidation.

Olson previously served in the state House, but he left the legislature to wage a 2016 campaign for the open and safely red 5th Congressional District in the Mesa area. Olson, though, spent little and was overshadowed by state Senate President Andy Biggs and former GoDaddy attorney Christine Jones: Biggs went on to edge out Jones by an extremely tight 29.49-29.47 margin, while Olson took fourth with 20%.

Olson quickly rebounded the next year, though, when Gov. Doug Ducey appointed him to the Arizona Corporation Commission, the powerful statewide body that regulates utilities. Olson has used his post to weaken clean energy rules, though he hasn’t been able to do away with them altogether.

Olson was on the ballot in 2018 to keep his new job in an election where the top-two statewide vote-getters won seats. Democrat Sandra Kennedy took first with 26% while Olson edged out fellow Republican Rodney Glassman, who was the Democratic nominee against Sen. John McCain back in 2010, 25.2-25.1.

The Nevada Independent reports that 9 of 16 Republican state Assembly members have either announced or are mulling not returning running for re-election.

TEXAS 15TH CD — An unnamed person close to Mauro Garza, a Republican who is waging his second campaign against Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro in the safely blue 20th District, tells the Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek that Garza is “seriously” considering switching to the new 15th District, which would be a 51-48 Trump seat under the proposed GOP gerrymander.

Garza previously campaigned in the 2018 primary for what is now the 21st District and took just 1% of the vote, and he went on to lose to Castro last year in the 20th District by a predictable 65-33 spread. Svitek, though, writes that Garza ended September with a notable $365,000 on-hand.

The only notable Republican currently running for the 15th District is 2020 nominee Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez, who has House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s support for her second bid. Democratic incumbent Vicente Gonzalez, for his part, said earlier this month that he was thinking of switching to the 34th District, which supported Joe Biden 57-42 under the GOP’s map.

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) “raised more than $9.5 million during the latest fundraising quarter, an enormous sum that highlights the extensive fundraising infrastructure the Democrat has built for a re-election bid that will help decide control of the Senate,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Warnock now has $17.2 million in the bank.

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

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