“Relitigating 2020 is a recipe for disaster in 2022. Let’s talk about the future. The election is past. It’s been certified. The states made decisions on the integrity of each of their elections and made improvements where need be. It’s about the future. It’s not about the last election. And those kind of comments are not constructive.”— Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), quoted by Politico.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) told Axios he’s not sure former President Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination if he ran in 2024 — a rare voice of criticism from within the party. Said Cassidy: “Trump is the first president in the Republican side at least to lose the House, the Senate and the presidency in four years. Elections are about winning.”
“Republicans believe they have a good shot at taking Congress next year. But there’s a catch,” the New York Times reports.
“The G.O.P.’s ambitions of ending unified Democratic control in Washington in 2022 are colliding with a considerable force that has the ability to sway tens of millions of votes: former President Donald J. Trump’s increasingly vocal demands that members of his party remain in a permanent state of obedience, endorsing his false claims of a stolen election or risking his wrath.”
“In a series of public appearances and statements over the last week, Mr. Trump has signaled not only that he plans to work against Republicans he deems disloyal, but also that his meritless claims that widespread voter fraud cost him the White House in 2020 will be his litmus test, going so far as to threaten that his voters will sit out future elections.”
“This should be a 100 percent, straight-up referendum on Biden. Instead, you have Trump the narcissist trying to inject himself into what should be a glide path for Republicans to an incredibly successful election, by making it all about him.” — Former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL), quoted by the New York Times, on the 2022 midterm elections.
The Atlantic: “To rid the country of partisan gerrymandering, Democrats for years joined with election reformers to take the responsibility for redistricting away from politicians and hand it to independent, nonpartisan commissions. The effort did not begin as an entirely altruistic project; both parties gerrymandered where they could, but Democrats had more to gain by scrapping the practice. They won the argument in a number of places: Voters in states including California, Colorado, Arizona, Michigan, and Virginia have approved redistricting commissions over the past 15 years, protecting more than one in five congressional seats from the threat of extreme gerrymandering.”
“Republicans, to a large degree, declined to go along. They refused to cede control of the redistricting process in the biggest red states (such as Texas) and fought commissions that could have cost them seats (Arizona) all the way to the Supreme Court. In Congress this year, they blocked legislation that would have created nonpartisan commissions across the country. The GOP’s reward for its defense of gerrymandering is a national map tilted further in its favor than it would have been if the Democratic push for independent commissions had flopped on its face.”
ILLINOIS REDISTRICTING. “Illinois Democrats unveiled a draft congressional map Friday that would bury the GOP: The proposed lines could give them control of 14 of the state’s 17 House seats,” Politico reports.
“But privately, some national Democrats felt even that didn’t go far enough. So late Friday night, they floated an alternative map that was even more aggressive — one that could leave Republicans with just two seats.”
The current map, which reflects one of the only Democratic gerrymanders from the previous decade, sends 13 Democrats and five Republicans to Congress. However, due to population loss, Illinois is losing a seat. The new proposal would target Republican Rodney Davis by making the 13th District bluer, and it would likely pair Republican Adam Kinzinger (currently in the 16th District) in the 3rd with Democrat Marie Newman, though Kinzinger could conceivably run in the new 15th, probably against fellow Republican Mary Miller.
ILLINOIS GOVERNOR. “Since announcing his reelection bid in July, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker has spent nearly $7 million in advertising, a sign of what confronts the four announced prospective Republican challengers seeking to take on the billionaire incumbent in next year’s election,” the Chicago Tribune reports.
LOS ANGELES MAYOR. “Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) announced Friday his endorsement of Rep. Karen Bass (D) in the mayor’s race, arguing that Bass’ nearly half-century of public service makes her the most qualified candidate to lead the city,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
“Even before he lost his reelection bid, former President Donald Trump has been obsessed with challenging and changing election laws. Should he find himself back in the White House, his allies are hoping to turn that obsession into legislative action,” Politico reports.
“Trump is expected to mount another bid for president in 2024. And as talk of such a campaign has grown more concrete, so too has speculation over what type of agenda he’d actually pursue.”
VIRGINIA GOVERNOR. A new survey for Fox News, relying on Democratic pollster Beacon Research and Republican pollster Shaw & Company, finds Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Glenn Youngkin 51-46; late last month, the same firms had McAuliffe up 48-44.
Meanwhile, McAuliffe’s latest ad once again goes after Youngkin on reproductive rights, featuring a clip from a debate where Youngkin said he’d oppose amending Virginia’s constitution to guarantee the right to an abortion. Youngkin also has a new spot in which, absurdly, he claims, “Now the FBI is trying to silence parents.” That’s his gonzo take on a recent DOJ directive asking federal and local law enforcement officials to work together to stem a recent surge in “harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members, teachers and workers.”
“Vice President Kamala Harris will campaign for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on Thursday,” CNN reports. “Harris will headline an evening rally on Thursday in Prince William County, the most diverse county in the commonwealth, according to the 2020 census. Democrats in Virginia are hopeful that the vice president will be able to engage key Democratic voters ahead of the November 2 election.”
Hartford Courant: “For the past 15 years, former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman has never spoken publicly about the secret help that he received from Republicans Karl Rove and Elizabeth Dole to help him defeat Democrat Ned Lamont in the contentious 2006 Senate race.”
“But in a new book and an interview, Lieberman says that Rove, the chief political strategist for then-President George W. Bush, told him that he would do anything possible to help Lieberman against Lamont, an anti-war Democrat at a time when the Iraq War was highly controversial.”
The book also has a story about a secret ambassadorship offer from President Bush in 2004.
ARKANSAS U.S. SENATOR. Politico reports that conservative megadonor Richard Uihlein has contributed $1 million to Arkansas Patriots Fund, a PAC set up to aid retired NFL player Jake Bequette’s Republican primary battle against Sen. John Boozman. Bequette, who had a successful stint as a defensive end at the University of Arkansas and a disappointing career with the New England Patriots before becoming an Army Ranger, generated some attention when he announced his campaign in July, but he still faces a very tough campaign against the incumbent.
Boozman, who was elected in 2010 after nearly a decade in the House, has been a fairly low-key figure during his career, but he also doesn’t appear to have done anything to upset the base; even Bequette’s well-produced launch video didn’t lay out a reason for why voters should fire Boozman. The senator also has Donald Trump’s backing, which makes it tougher for anyone to run to his right.
Uihlein’s donation does give Bequette’s allies plenty of resources to make their case against Boozman, but the challenger himself begins with a huge financial disadvantage. Boozman outraised his opponent $1.1 million to $500,000 during Bequette’s opening fundraising quarter (Bequette self-funded an additional $35,000), and the senator ended September with a $2.8 million to $355,000 cash-on-hand lead.
Uihlein, for his part, is no stranger to picking fights with the GOP establishment, as he proved in 2018 when he financed Illinois state Rep. Jeanne Ives’ nearly successful intra-party campaign against Gov. Bruce Rauner. Earlier this year, Uihlein also contributed $2.5 million to a group supporting Missouri’s disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens in the Show Me State’s Senate race.
However, while some Republicans fear that Greitens could endanger them in a general election, there’s little reason to think that Bequette could give Democrats an opening in Arkansas, a former Democratic bastion that supported Trump 62-35 last year.
COLORADO U.S. SENATOR. Self-funding businessman Joe O’Dea has launched what Axios says is a $100,000 opening TV ad well ahead of next year’s Republican primary to take on Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. O’Dea argues that Bennet, whom he donated $500 to in 2010, “votes with Joe Biden 100% of the time.” O’Dea goes on to lay out his conservative credentials and pledges he’ll defeat Bennet.
OREGON GOVERNOR. Conservative Democratic state Sen. Betsy Johnson announced Thursday that she was finally making good on her long-running threat to run for governor as an independent.
Johnson, who will need to give up her Senate seat to run, kicked off her campaign to succeed termed-out Democratic Gov. Kate Brown by positioning herself as an alternative to “another left-wing liberal promising more of the same or a right-wing Trump apologist.” Still, Johnson leaned on her old Democratic credentials in an apparent pitch to her ex-party’s voters, saying, “For twenty years, I’ve been an independent-minded, pro-choice, pro-jobs Democrat proudly serving the people of Northwest Oregon. This is who I am.”
Johnson, whom Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Dirk VanderHart describes as a “wealthy timber heiress,” has represented the state’s northwestern corner in the legislature since the 2000 elections, and she’s never had trouble getting re-elected. Johnson didn’t even face Republican opposition in either 2014 or 2018 even though her constituency swung from 52-44 Obama to 47-45 Trump in 2016 (2020 numbers are not yet available).
However, Johnson was anything but a loyal Democrat even before she abandoned the party to run statewide. VanderHart writes that she “votes with Republicans more than any other Democrat” and has stood against Democratic environmental protection and gun safety legislation. The senator has also also appeared at rallies hosted by Timber Unity, a pro-logging group whose spokesperson attended the Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the attack on Congress.
Johnson additionally broke ranks in 2016 when she supported Republican Dennis Richardson’s successful campaign for secretary of state, a move that eventually got her ejected from the state party’s executive committee. However, Johnson has long had a powerful ally in Senate President Peter Courtney, who picked her in 2018 to co-chair the influential Joint Ways and Means Committee.
It remains to be seen what impact Johnson’s presence will have on Team Blue’s efforts to hold an office they’ve controlled since the 1986 elections, especially since both party’s fields have yet to fully take shape. Johnson, though, does begin with a credible $504,000 in her legislative campaign account that she can use for her gubernatorial bid.
On the Republican side, Willamette Week writes that unnamed party “power brokers” are trying to convince House Minority Leader Christine Drazan to run. Drazan didn’t rule out the idea when directly asked last month, though we previously hadn’t heard anything before or since to indicate she was seriously thinking about it.
ARIZONA FIRST CD. Ron Watkins, the alleged founder of QAnon, announced on Thursday that he’s running for Congress in Arizona’s 1st District, which is currently represented by Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran, even though Watkins reportedly lives in Japan. However, journalist Mike Rothschild, who literally wrote the book on QAnon, said he’s “very skeptical that this is a serious campaign and not a fundraising scam.”
WISCONSIN THIRD CD. Retiring Rep. Ron Kind announced Thursday that he was endorsing state Sen. Brad Pfaff, who is one of his former senior staffers, for the Democratic nomination to succeed him in what is currently a competitive seat. Pfaff previously earned the backing of former Sen. Herb Kohl, who retired in 2013 after four terms. Pfaff faces businesswoman Rebecca Cooke in the primary.
KENTUCKY THIRD CD. Democratic state Rep. Josie Raymond tells McClatchy’s Dave Catanese that she’s considering running to succeed retiring Rep. John Yarmuth in the 3rd Congressional District, a safely blue Louisville seat that the Republican legislature has the opportunity to radically gerrymander.
Fellow state Rep. McKenzie Cantrell also tells the Louisville Courier Journal’s Morgan Watkins that she’s interested in seeking the Democratic nod, though she added that she wants to see how this constituency and her state House district change after redistricting. Physician Muhammad Babar also says he’s thinking about running for Team Blue, while Catanese reports that former state party chair Jennifer Moore, who is close to ex-Gov. Steve Beshear, is also considering.
The Democratic field already includes state Rep. Attica Scott, who launched a primary bid against Yarmuth in July before he made his departure known, and state Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, who launched his campaign less than 10 minutes after the congressman made his announcement on Tuesday. Yarmuth’s son, former alternative weekly editor Aaron Yarmuth, also previously expressed interest. However, while the congressman previously said he’d back the younger Yarmuth if he ran, he added that it’s “probably not the best time in his life” for his son to seek this seat.
A spokesperson for termed-out Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, meanwhile, says he “has no intention of running for the seat,” while Watkins writes that businessman Gill Holland and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Matthew Barzun are also noes.
On the GOP side, both Catanese and state Rep. Jason Nemes name-drop state Sen. Julie Raque Adams as a possibility, though she did not respond to Watkins’ inquiries. Catanese writes that Adams is an ally of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and is “considered the favored candidate of the Republican establishment,” and one prominent Republican already has made it clear he’ll defer to her. Secretary of State Michael Adams says he’d support Julie Raque Adams (the two do not appear to be related) and would only consider if she sat the contest out.