A new Wason Center poll shows Terry McAuliffe (D) holds a 49% to 48% lead over Glenn Youngkin (R) in Virginia’s contest for governor.
“Both Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin are imploring Virginians to cast ballots early in their hotly contested gubernatorial contest, which has drawn national attention,” Bloomberg reports.
“Signs point to Democrats holding a lead in early votes cast.”
A new Monmouth poll in New Jersey finds Gov. Phil Murphy (D) leading challenger Jack Ciattarelli (R), 50% to 39%.
A range of probabilistic electorate models show Murphy with a lead between 8 and 14 points depending on the scenario.
A new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds 35% of voters — including three in five Republicans — say the 2020 election should definitely or probably be overturned.
BOSTON MAYOR. Data for Progress finds Michelle Wu leading fellow City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George 57-32 ahead of the Nov. 2 general election. That’s not quite as wide of a margin as the 32-point Wu lead that MassInc and Suffolk University each found recently, but it’s still a huge deficit for Essaibi George to overcome with less than two weeks to go.
The PAC Real Progress Boston, which is funded in part by the city’s police unions and New Balance chairman James Davis, is doing what it can to move the needle in Essaibi George’s favor with a new ad campaign, though there is no word on the size of the buy. The TV spot stars former police commissioner William Gross, who praises Essaibi George as the type of person who isn’t “afraid to roll up their sleeves” and someone who is “from Boston and more importantly she is for Boston.”
That last line is reminiscent of the media firestorm Essaibi George set off last month when, after being asked whether the Chicago-raised Wu’s Midwestern roots should matter in the election, responded, “It’s relevant to me, and I think it’s relevant to a lot of voters whether or not they’re born and raised in the city.” Since then, much of the coverage of this race has focused on Essaibi George’s thick Boston accent: The candidate herself said this week, “This is the silliest thing ever, I am so proud to be a Boston girl,” adding, “I am so proud to have this accent, I am so proud to have the experiences I had growing up in this city … It came with an accent it came with who I am, it is part of this experience, for sure.”
BUFFALO MAYOR. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday became the most prominent Empire State politician to endorse Democratic nominee India Walton in the Nov. 2 general election, while fellow Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand backed her the following day. Every other statewide Democrat, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, has remained neutral in the race between Walton and Mayor Byron Brown, who is running a write-in campaign after losing the June primary to Walton.
CINCINNATI MAYOR. Fundraising reports covering the period from June 5 to Oct. 13 show that Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval outraised his fellow Democrat, City Councilman David Mann, $370,000 to $145,000 (Mann loaned himself an additional $30,000), but that Mann enjoyed a $135,000 to $90,000 cash-on-hand advantage for the homestretch. Pureval outpaced Mann 39-29 in the May nonpartisan primary and earned an endorsement last month from Sen. Sherrod Brown, the lone Democrat to hold a non-judicial statewide office.
PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT. One of the most important statewide elections next week isn’t taking place in Virginia or New Jersey: Rather, it’s the race for the state Supreme Court in Pennsylvania, where Democrats are hoping to flip a Republican-held seat and expand their majority on the bench. The high-stakes contest has seen heavy spending, with new reports showing $3 million has poured in on the GOP side and $2 million for Democrats.
Most of the money supporting Republican Kevin Brobson, a judge on the state’s Commonwealth Court, has come from pro-charter schools billionaire Jeff Yass, one of the top funders of the Club for Growth, an extremist anti-tax group that’s been a major supporter of Big Lie proponents like Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz. Yass, who later claimed he’d been “deceive[d]” by Hawley’s attempts to overthrow the election, has given $1.7 million to Brobson’s cause so far.
By contrast, the biggest backers of Democrat Maria McLaughlin, who sits on Pennsylvania’s Superior Court, have been labor unions and trial lawyers, whose PACs have put in about $900,000 each. Each candidate has also received considerable support from their respective state parties, with $300,000 from Democrats for McLaughlin and $500,000 from the GOP for Brobson. (Both the Superior Court and the Commonwealth Court are appellate bodies; the former hears traditional criminal and civil appeals, while the latter handles cases brought against the state.)
The biggest news in recent days concerns a negative ad Brobson is running that the state Bar Association has demanded he take down. The spot charges that McLaughlin “chose to void the guilty plea of a drunk driver who admitted to killing a pregnant woman and her unborn child,” but as the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Andrew Seidman explains, McLaughlin “hadn’t declared the defendant not guilty or thrown out the case.” Rather, she joined another appellate judge in saying the driver had received ineffective assistance of counsel and should be tried again. (The defendant pleaded guilty a second time and is currently in prison.)
While an attack like this might seem unremarkable in today’s politics, as Seidman notes, candidates for judicial office are obligated to observe much higher standards for accuracy and completeness. That includes, per a a letter from the bar to Brobson, an admonition that campaigns “refrain from making statements that might be subject to misinterpretation or distortion” and “should not omit or obscure information necessary to prevent misinterpretation.” In other words, anyone running for a judgeship is required to provide the context that candidates for all other offices always omit in their ads.
That’s because judges must not only adhere to strict codes of ethics, they’re also obligated to follow the law when issuing rulings, whether they agree with the outcome or not. As one law professor said to Seidman, “Judges are sometimes obligated to vote for something neither they nor their constituents want.” It’s also a good reminder of why electing judges is such a terrible idea—so terrible that only two other countries do so (Japan and Switzerland, neither of which does it to the extent that many states such as Pennsylvania do). Brobson has rejected the bar’s demands, though there’s no word as to whether the association might rescind the “highly recommended” rating it issued to him earlier this year.
For now, though, our system of judicial elections is what we’ve got—and in Pennsylvania, Democrats have done an exceptional job in recent years in putting it to their advantage. As recently as 2015, Republicans enjoyed a majority on the state Supreme Court, to which candidates are elected on a partisan basis. But mindful of the court’s power, especially over redistricting, Democrats and their allies made a major, successful push to flip two open GOP seats that year to take a 5-2 advantage.
Since Republicans are playing defense (Justice Thomas Saylor will meet the mandatory retirement age of 75 this year), they can’t alter the court’s composition even if they win next week. The soonest they could take back the court is 2025, when the Democrats who won in 2015 will face retention elections, but a GOP loss in November would make that task even harder and potentially push a possible Republican majority to 2027 or beyond.
ALASKA AT LARGE CD. “Alaska businessman Nick Begich III, a Republican from a family of Democratic officeholders, is challenging Rep. Don Young (R-AK), who succeeded Begich’s grandfather in 1973,” Bloomberg reports.
Don Young has represented the entire state in the House since 1973. Alaska will be using its new top-four primary system for the first time in 2022 in place of its old traditional partisan primary: All the candidates will run on one primary ballot and the top four vote-getters regardless of party will advance to the general election, where voters will be able to rank their picks using ranked-choice voting.
Begich served as a co-chair of Young’s re-election bid just one year ago (his campaign manager also ran the congressman’s last bid), but he explained this week, “What I’m hearing from Alaskans all over the state is that they’re ready for some new leadership.” The challenger also took a shot at the 88-year-old incumbent, who announced in April that he was running for a 26th term, by saying, “The congressman, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. But he’s older than Joe Biden, and he’s missed a lot of votes recently.”
Begich is the grandson and namesake of the late Rep. Nick Begich, the Democrat that Young himself challenged in 1972. The plane carrying the elder Begich, House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, and two others disappeared in Alaska weeks ahead of Election Day and was never recovered despite a massive search effort. Begich ended up winning 56-44 but was legally declared dead the next month, and Young went on to narrowly win the 1973 special election to succeed him.
The Begich family has included other Last Frontier Democratic luminaries, including two of Nick Begich III’s uncles, former Sen. Mark Begich and current state Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich. The new House candidate, though, says that he and his mother are Republicans while his father, Nick Begich II, is a Libertarian.
P.S. This isn’t the first time that Young has faced an intra-party challenge from a descendent of one of his Democratic rivals. In 1980, Young easily turned back a general election challenge from Pat Parnell, who would go on to win one term in the state House. Twenty-eight years later, Young learned that he would face his old foe’s son, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell (not to be confused with the 2022 Pennsylvania Senate candidate), in the GOP primary. The congressman responded, “Sean, congratulations. I beat your dad and I’m going to beat you,” and he went on to pull off a tight 304-vote victory.
“There was talk of schmoozing with murderous gang members, and accusations of hiding money to evade paying child support. Pagliacci, the tortured clown of the 19th-century opera, was name-checked. So was Miley Cyrus,” the New York Times reports.
“All of this came up Tuesday night in an explosive second and final New York City mayoral debate between Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee, and Curtis Sliwa, the Republican.”
RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR. State House Minority Leader Blake Filippi told WPRI’s Ted Nesi that he planned to decide by the end of the year whether he’d seek the Republican nomination for governor. Filippi said that he could make up his mind in mid-to-late November before adding, “But who knows?”
NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR. Mark Ronchetti, who was the 2020 Republican nominee for Senate, said Friday he “hope[s] to have a final decision by next week” about whether to challenge Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. That statement came the day after Ronchetti’s website was updated to feature a logo that included the word “governor” just below the would-be candidate’s name, only for the site to get taken down soon thereafter; hours later, the local news channel KRQE announced he’d resigned as the station’s meteorologist.
PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. Army veteran Sean Parnell has publicized an OnMessage survey that gives him a 27-7 Republican primary lead over 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos, with a 57% majority undecided. The release came one day after CNN reported that some Republicans feared that the Trump-backed Parnell would be a weak nominee because of an ongoing divorce and custody battle between the candidate and his estranged wife, Laurie Parnell.
Bartos himself made this argument last month when he publicized that Laurie Parnell filed two temporary protection-from-abuse orders against Sean Parnell in 2017 and 2018, both of which were later expunged. OnMessage, though, is arguing that Bartos’ attacks have badly backfired, saying that “over 50% of primary voters are less likely to vote for Jeff because he has engaged in them.”
OHIO U.S. SENATOR. Politico reports that former state Treasurer Josh Mandel’s allies at the Club for Growth and USA Freedom Fund have each dropped $470,000 on ad campaigns against one of his Republican primary foes, venture capitalist J.D. Vance. The spots make use of 2016 footage of Vance saying, “I’m a Never Trump guy,” as well as a screenshot of Vance tweeting about his party’s nominee, “My god what an idiot.” Vance, like his new enemies at the Club, has since reinvented himself as a Trump true believer.
MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR. The Republican firm Remington Research Group’s new GOP primary poll for the Missouri Scout newsletter finds disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens edging out state Attorney General Eric Schmitt 27-25 as Rep. Vicky Hartzler takes third with 19%. Last month, Remington had Schmitt enjoying a tiny 28-27 lead over Greitens, while Hartzler was similarly situated at 17%. Greitens himself released a Fabrizio Lee survey less than two weeks ago that had him beating the attorney general 36-17.
WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL. Former state Rep. Adam Jarchow, a Republican who unexpectedly lost a 2019 special election for the state Senate, announced Thursday that he would challenge Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul.
Jarchow will need to first get past Fond du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney, a fellow Republican he is not a fan of. The former state representative went after Toney for initially charging 10 people for violating Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ public health orders (he later dropped the charges), with Jarchow saying, “We just cannot allow, at least without a race, one of Tony Evers’ lockdown henchmen to be our nominee.”
Jarchow, who was banned from Twitter earlier this year for adopting Donald Trump’s photo and display name to protest Trump’s own ejection from the platform, has spent his career as a hardline conservative, though one willing to defy then-GOP Gov. Scott Walker. Most notably, he voted against Walker’s 2017-2019 budget as well as his infamous Foxconn tax incentive.
Jarchow, however, suffered a big black eye in early 2018 when he lost his special election for state Senate to Democrat Patty Schachtner 55-45 in a seat that Trump had carried 55-38 the previous cycle, and he ended up retiring later that year from the lower chamber. Jarchow currently co-hosts a show with none other than Schachtner, who lost re-election in 2020.
GEORGIA U.S. SENATOR. “Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker has won the endorsement of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, cementing his support from the Republican Party establishment in a race that could determine which party controls the chamber,” Politico reports.
“The endorsement could help Walker lock down the GOP primary, where he faces several lesser-known opponents.”