Delaware

The Political Report – 10/29/21

Suffolk University’s first—and presumably last—poll out of Virginia has Democrat Terry McAuliffe edging out Republican Glenn Youngkin 46-45, while Democrat Hala Ayala leads Republican Winsome Sears 46-44 in the race for lieutenant governor and Democrat Mark Herring is ahead of Republican Jason Miyares 48-45 in his bid for a second term as state attorney general.

Virginia Commonwealth University also has one more poll, with T-Mac up 41-38, Ayala ahead 36-35, and Herring on top 39-35. However, as it’s done all year, VCU keeps offering respondents the option to pick “neither of these” candidates, which has lead to an artificially large number of seemingly undecided voters.

A new Fox News poll in Virginia shows Glenn Youngkin (R) leading Terry McAuliffe (D) in the race for governor among likely voters, 53% to 46%. Among the larger poll of registered voters, Youngkin leads 48% to 47%.

New fundraising reports also show that McAuliffe and Youngkin raised similar sums during the first three weeks of October, $12.9 million for the former and $11.9 million for the latter. However, Youngkin supplemented his haul with another $3.5 million in self-funding. McAuliffe, though, had husbanded his resources, allowing him to out-spend his rival $18.8 million to $11 million during this time period, but Youngkin had a $7.9 million to $1.9 million cash edge for the final stretch.

“Recent polls have the high-stakes Virginia governor’s race as a neck-and-neck contest between Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin — and that means it could take days to determine the winner,” Politico reports.

Washington Post: An army of poll watchers — many driven by the GOP’s “election integrity” push — turns out across Virginia.

New York Post: “Biden mentioned Trump by name 24 times during a brisk, 17-minute speech in a park near the Pentagon in northern Virginia, attempting to use his predecessor’s legacy to bash Republican Glenn Youngkin, who is tied with McAuliffe in polls in a state Biden won by 10 points just a year ago.”

First Read: “For McAuliffe, that edge has been the state’s incredibly long early-voting period, which began back on Sept. 17. In a state where Biden voters outnumber Trump voters by 450,000 Virginians, having nearly two months to know which voters have already cast ballots — and which ones haven’t — is a big asset for Democrats and the McAuliffe campaign.”

“For Youngkin, his big potential advantage is left-leaning third-party candidate Princess Blanding, who sits at 1 percent in that Wason Center poll. The potential 30,000 or so votes she gets could end up deciding who wins and loses in this close race.”

“The last time Virginia and New Jersey elected governors in 2017, then-President Donald Trump was nowhere to be found. With his approval rating below 40 percent, neither GOP nominee wanted him anywhere near their campaigns,” Politico reports.

“Fast forward four years and Joe Biden’s poll numbers aren’t much better. Yet Democrats have welcomed Biden on the campaign trail. Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe and New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy both appeared on stage with him this week.”

“Donald Trump plans to hold a tele-rally for Republican Glenn Youngkin on Monday night, a day before the Virginia gubernatorial election,” Bloomberg reports.

“The former president on Wednesday teased the possibility that he would campaign in Virginia before the election, but will do the tele-rally, typically a call with supporters to generate support for the candidate.”

Monmouth University’s newest poll finds Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy leading Republican Jack Ciattarelli 50-39 ahead of next week’s election, little changed from the 51-38 advantage Murphy enjoyed in Monmouth’s last poll of the race in mid-September.

“Former Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) is seriously considering mounting a Republican primary challenge against Gov. Brian Kemp (R), which would set up a divisive showdown between two of Georgia’s biggest political figures in the 2022 election,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“In recent weeks, Perdue has called donors and other allies to float the idea… Several of them said he’s ‘conflicted’ about a run, while others say he’s leaning toward a challenge.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE U.S. SENATOR. A new Saint Anselm Poll in New Hampshire finds Gov. Chris Sununu (R) leading Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) in a possible U.S. Senate race, 46% to 41%. That is an improvement for Hasson on a previous poll by this outfit that her down by 8. Sununu has yet to announce his plans, but he is the only candidate polling ahead of Hassan.

William Galston: “The erosion of support for Mr. Biden has been especially steep among independents, for reasons that cut to the heart of his presidency. During his campaign, he sent two basic messages, one to his party, the other to his country. He promised to bring Democrats together around an agenda carefully negotiated before the 2020 election began, as the leader of a party in which all Democrats from the center to the left would have a voice. At the same time, he would bring Americans back together by treating Republicans with respect and by doing his best to craft policies that appealed to both parties.”

“In practice, these two promises have proved incompatible… Faced with a choice between party unity and national unity, Mr. Biden has chosen the former more consistently than independents had expected, and their disappointment is showing up in the polls.”

TEXAS THIRD CD. Former Collin County Judge Keith Self announced that he would challenge Rep. Van Taylor in the Republican primary for Texas’ 3rd Congressional District, a suburban Dallas-Fort Worth seat the GOP legislature’s new gerrymander has made safely red for the foreseeable future. Taylor has been an ardent conservative during his two terms in the House, but Self kicked off his campaign by attacking him for voting to accept Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory in the hours after the attack on the Capitol and for supporting the creation of the Jan. 6 commission.

Taylor back in March justified that move by saying, “The Democrats are focused on one side of Pennsylvania Avenue, but there’s a lot of fault and a lot of answers we need about what [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and her team knew, when they knew it and why the Capitol was not secure.” That argument didn’t convince his fellow Texas Republican members, though, as only 23rd District Rep. Tony Gonzales voted with him.

Self, for his part, was elected in 2006 as Collin County judge, an executive post that’s the rough equivalent of a county executive, four years after he lost the 26th Congressional District nomination contest that was eventually won by Michael Burgess. He made news early in his tenure for picking fights with other members of the local government, writing on his blog in 2008, “​​We are sliding toward socialism … Many in government today agree with the statement, ‘From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.'”

Self faced a serious primary fight in 2010 from Plano School Board member John Muns, who tried to portray himself as the true conservative in the race. The judge, who had his own ardent right-wing support, again made headlines during that campaign when he pushed back on a Muns attack by quoting the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels saying, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” The incumbent defended his actions by insisting that, while he wasn’t linking Muns to the Nazis, “I said he was using the method. There’s a huge difference. This is one of those things where the PC police immediately go crazy.”

Self prevailed 58-42 ahead of an easy general election win; Muns himself eventually bounced back and was elected mayor of Plano this year. Self faced no primary or general election opposition four years later, and he considered another House bid after longtime Rep. Sam Johnson announced his retirement from the 3rd District in early 2017. However, he ultimately decided not to campaign for Congress or for re-election the following year, and Taylor went on to be elected to succeed Johnson without any trouble.

Taylor and Self each have a large geographic base of support in the new 3rd District. About three-quarters of the seat’s residents are already Taylor’s constituents, while close to 90% of the district is located in Collin County. (The balance is in Hunt County.) However, while the former judge begins the campaign without any money, Taylor had $1.1 million on-hand at the end of September. The congressman also self-funded $3 million during his 2018 campaign, so he may be capable of throwing down more if he feels the need.

FLORIDA THIRTEENTH CD. St. Pete Polls’ new Republican survey for Florida Politics shows 2020 nominee Anna Paulina Luna, who has Donald Trump’s endorsement, taking 37% of the vote in the current 13th Congressional District; Amanda Makki, who is running again after losing to Luna last year, is a distant second with 6%.

FLORIDA TWENTIETH CD. Campaign finance reports are in covering the period from July 1 to Oct. 13, and we have collected all the numbers for each of the notable Democrats competing in next week’s primary to succeed the late Rep. Alcee Hastings in this safely blue seat.

  • Businesswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick: $18,000 raised, additional $1.4 million self-funded, $1.4 million spent, $57,000 cash-on-hand.
  • State Rep. Bobby DuBose: $192,000 raised, $276,000 spent, $119,000 cash-on-hand
  • State Rep. Omari Hardy: $77,000 raised, $87,000 spent, $58,000 cash-on-hand
  • Broward County Commissioner ​​Dale Holness: $276,000 raised, $329,000 spent, -$53,000 cash-on-hand
  • Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief: $72,000 raised, additional $526,000 self-funded, $547,000 spent, $206,000 cash-on-hand.
  • Former Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor: $32,000 raised, additional $23,000 self-funded, $64,000 spent, $12,000 cash-on-hand
  • State Sen. Perry Thurston: $105,000 raised, additional $70,000 self-funded, $414,000 spent, $13,000 cash-on-hand

The top spender by far is Cherfilus-McCormick, who badly lost the 2018 and 2020 primaries to Hastings. However, while her FEC reports show her self-funding a total of $3.7 million of her own money on her new campaign, she hasn’t spent nearly that much. Primary School notes that Cherfilus-McCormick took back $2 million of a previous loan early in the quarter, and she later made a new loan of $1.4 million over the subsequent months.  

It takes just a simple plurality of the vote to win the Democratic nomination, and no one has released any polling in months to indicate if there’s any frontrunner. Major outside groups also haven’t spent much in what’s been a pretty low-key race.  

A recently-formed group called Florida Democratic Action PAC is spending $102,000 on TV ads in support of state Rep. Omari Hardy ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic primary, a very crowded race that has attracted very little outside spending. The spots, which are airing on MSNBC, tout Hardy as “a teacher who grew up here.”

ILLINOIS THIRD CD. Two Democrats have expressed interest in running for the proposed 3rd District, which would have a Latino plurality under the map that legislative Democrats released over the weekend (see our IL Redistricting item above). Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas told Politico he was thinking about campaigning for this constituency, but said he wouldn’t decide until a final map is passed. State Sen. Omar Aquino, who chairs the Senate Redistricting Committee, likewise said, “It’s a serious conversation I’d need to have with my family.”

MARYLAND FOURTH CD AND ATTORNEY GENERAL. Maryland Rep. Anthony Brown announced Monday that he would run statewide to succeed his fellow Democrat, retiring state Attorney General Brian Frosh, rather than seek a fourth term in Congress. Brown’s decision opens up his 4th Congressional District, which is dominated by Prince George’s County in the D.C. suburbs.

Joe Biden won Brown’s constituency 79-19, and there’s little question it will remain heavily blue turf after the Democratic-controlled legislature completes redistricting. Democrats should also have no trouble holding the A.G.’s post in a state that backed Joe Biden 65-32, especially because Republicans haven’t won it since 1918.

There could be a crowded primary to succeed Brown, and a few are already taking action. Del. Jazz Lewis on Monday filed with the FEC for a potential bid, a move that came days after former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, who lost the 2016 primary for Congress to Brown, did the same thing.

Maryland Matters mentions former Rep. Donna Edwards and Prince George’s County Council Chair Calvin Hawkins as potential candidates, while the Washington Post name-drops Prince George’s County Council member Derrick Leon Davis and state Sen. Melony Griffith.

Ivey was elected in 2002 to serve as the top prosecutor in Prince George’s County, a suburban D.C. community that makes up the vast majority of the current version of the 4th District, and he retired in 2010. He was far from done with politics, though, as he waged an aborted 2012 Democratic primary bid against Rep. Donna Edwards.

Edwards left the 4th District behind four years later to unsuccessfully run for the Senate, and Ivey outraised the rest of the field in the contest to succeed her. Brown, however, still retained plenty of name recognition and connections from his losing 2014 run for governor, and he beat Ivey 42-34.

The Washington Post writes that in recent years, the former state’s attorney chaired “the committee examining the Prince George’s police department’s internal policies.” Ivey also retains some notable political ties: His wife, Jolene Ivey, is a member of the County Council, while their son, Julian Ivey, serves in the state House of Delegates.

Lewis, meanwhile, is a former senior advisor to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who represents a neighboring Maryland seat. Lewis was appointed in 2017 to a seat in the state House, and he currently chairs the chamber’s House Democratic Caucus.

PENNSYLVANIA EIGHTEENTH CD. Pittsburgh City Councilor Corey O’Connor last week didn’t quite rule out the idea of seeking the Democratic nomination for this open seat, though he sounded unlikely to go for it.

MISSISSIPPI FOURTH CD. State Sen. Brice Wiggins announced Monday that he would wage a Republican primary campaign against Rep. Steven Palazzo, who is facing an ethics investigation into charges that he illegally used campaign funds for personal purposes. Wiggins focused on those allegations in his kickoff, saying, “We should all be angry that our own member of Congress is under investigation for misappropriating funds as well as using his position to provide unethical and immoral favors to family and friends.”

Palazzo already had three notable GOP primary foes, two of whom are self-funding, in this safely red seat that includes all of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. A runoff would take place should no one earn a majority of the vote, so a crowded field may not work out well for the incumbent.

Palazzo himself raised $65,000 during the third quarter and ended September with $305,000 on-hand. Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell took in a slightly larger $68,000 during this time, and he had $152,000 in the bank. Banker Clay Wagner, meanwhile, raised $62,000 from donors and self-funded an additional $150,000, which left him with $212,000 in the bank.

The best-financed candidate, finally, is someone we hadn’t previously mentioned. Carl Boyanton campaigned in the 2020 primary and, despite loaning himself $191,000 during that campaign, took fourth with just 9% of the vote. Boyanton’s back for another try and has already thrown down $500,000 for this effort, and he ended the quarter with a $536,000 war chest.

TEXAS FIFTEENTH, TWENTIETH and THIRTY-FOURTH CDs. Mauro Garza, who was the 2020 Republican nominee against Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro in the safely blue 20th District, announced Monday that he was switching his efforts from the 20th to the new 15th District. Garza raised $120,000 during the last quarter and self-funded another $180,000, and he ended September with $365,000 on-hand.

Garza has a tough primary to focus on before he can worry about what Democrat she will face in the new 15th. Monica De La Cruz-Hernandez, who lost an unexpectedly tight 2020 race to Democratic incumbent Vincente Gonzalez, is running again with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s support; De La Cruz-Hernandez raised $539,000 during the most recent quarter and had $422,000 in the bank.

Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who currently represents the 15th, announced on Tuesday that he’d seek re-election in the new 34th District, likely smoothing his path to a fourth term while making it more difficult for his party to retain his old seat. That’s because Republican state lawmakers deliberately made the 15th several points redder in their new congressional map: While the old version voted for Joe Biden 50-49, under the new lines, it would have gone for Donald Trump 51-48, a difference in margin of almost 5 points when accounting for rounding.

The 34th is now solidly blue, at 57-42 Biden—the key reason why Gonzalez prefers it. The swap is only possible, though, because the current representative in the neighboring 34th District, Democrat Filemon Vela, unexpectedly announced in March that he would retire from Congress. Vela gave his blessing to Gonzalez’s decision on Tuesday, saying in a statement, “There’s no one I trust more to stand up for the Rio Grande Valley and our values in Congress than Vicente.”

But while Gonzalez might have the outgoing congressman’s support, most of the constituents he’s seeking to represent will be new to him. Only 25% of those living in the new 34th hail from the old 15th; had Gonzalez remained in his old district, 69% of residents would have remained familiar to him, and his incumbency would have given Democrats an advantage that now they’ll have to do without.

As a result, Gonzalez may face a contested primary in his new district. Civil rights attorney Rochelle Garza has been running in the 34th since July, though in a new statement, she said, “I am considering my next steps” in light of Gonzalez’ move. Through the end of September, she’d raised $196,000 and had $144,000 in the bank, while Gonzalez had amassed a considerable $2.1 million war chest. Other ambitious Democrats in the area might also be drawn to the race, though Texas laws would require a runoff if no candidate wins a majority in next year’s primary.

Gonzalez is already running a TV ad in which he appears alongside retiring Rep. Filemon Vela, who represents the old 34th District and anoints Gonzalez as his preferred successor.

TEXAS THIRTY-SEVENTH CD. Democratic state Rep. Gina Hinojosa said last Tuesday right after the new GOP gerrymander passed that she was making “no major decisions for the next 2 weeks” about a bid for Congress. Hinojosa previously didn’t rule out running for the new and safely blue 37th District in the Austin area, but that was before longtime Rep. Lloyd Doggett announced that he would campaign here.

TEXAS THIRTIETH CD. Attorney Abel Mulugheta, a former chief of staff to state Rep. Rafael Anchía, announced on Tuesday that he’s planning to run for Texas’ safely blue 30th Congressional District, and it’s not clear whether he’s waiting to see if veteran Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson retires after 15 terms. The 85-year-old Johnson, who is the second-oldest member of the House, said two years ago that her 2020 campaign would be her last, but she and her staff have rebuffed all efforts to confirm her plans since her win in November. Texas’ filing deadline is in mid-December.

OREGON FIFTH CD. Attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who’s been considering a primary challenge against Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader, indicated she’s ready to kick off a bid with a tweet late on Monday evening that read, “Hey, @RepSchrader, I’m here for #CD5. Are you? Let’s do this.” She file FEC paperwork for a potential Democratic primary bid against Rep. Kurt Schrader. Meanwhile on the Republican side, former state Rep. Cheri Helt “​​has also said she is looking at the race,” though there’s no quote from her.

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

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