The Political Report – 11/11/21

A new Monmouth poll finds 65% of Americans support the bipartisan infrastructure plan which just passed Congress and 62% support the social spending legislation currently being considered.

However, Biden currently holds a job performance rating of 42% approve and 50% disapprove. This marks another decline in his approval number since he hit 54% in April.

NEW HAMPSHIRE U.S. SENATOR / GOVERNOR. With Sununu not running for the Senate, Republicans need to find a new candidate to take on Hassan. However, while the senator will avoid going up against Sununu, who won re-election 65-33 even as Joe Biden was taking New Hampshire 53-45, she’ll still be a top GOP target in a state that can swing wildly from cycle to cycle. There are plenty of Granite State politicians who may now take a look, including some politicians who may have campaigned for governor if he’d decided to take on Hassan.

The only notable Republican currently running for Senate is retired Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, who got into the race a year ago at a time when Sununu all but froze the party’s field, but he’s unlikely to scare anyone off: Bolduc lost the 2020 primary for the Granite State’s other Senate seat 50-42, and he ended September with a mere $58,000 in the bank.

One person who seems uninterested, though, is Scott Brown, the former Massachusetts senator who moved north to unsuccessfully run for the Senate here in 2014. Brown said he was focused on helping his wife, ​​Gail Huff Brown, win the 1st Congressional District, and said of another Senate run, “I don’t think so unless something traumatic happens.” (We have no idea what Brown considers “traumatic” for this race.)

Several potential Senate names surfaced following the Sununu/Ayotte news, though some looked far more formidable than others. In the latter column is 2020 nominee Corky Messner, who defeated Bolduc before losing to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen 57-41; Messner said Tuesday that he wasn’t ruling out another campaign for the upper chamber

Former Rep. Frank Guinta also hasn’t said no and “is calling around to donors & supporters to gauge interest,” though we’re guessing the interest will not be overwhelming. Guinta unseated Democratic Rep. Carol Shea Porter in the swingy 1st District in 2010, lost their 2012 rematch, and defeated her again in 2014, but things started going wrong for him soon afterwards.

Guinta earned embarrassing headlines when he paid an FEC fine for an illegal 2010 six-figure donation from his parents, and he resisted calls from Ayotte and other prominent Republicans to retire or even resign. The congressman won renomination just 46-45 and lost his fourth and final contest with Shea Porter 44-43 as Donald Trump was narrowly carrying his seat.

A stronger candidate might be Matt Mowers, who is currently campaigning for the 1st District again after losing a tight 2020 race there to Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas. Politico reports that national and local Republicans have been talking to Mowers about possibly switching races, though it remains to be seen if he’s interested. (Huff Brown quickly said she was staying in the House contest.) Multiple media outlets also mentioned state Senate President Chuck Morse and Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education Frank Edelblut as possibilities.

Sununu, for his part, will likely be the clear favorite to win a fourth term as governor. A recent Saint Anselm College poll gave him a 56-42 job approval, which, while considerably smaller than his 64-34 score back in August, still puts him well above water. No notable Democrats have launched a campaign for governor yet, though it’s unlikely Democrats will give him a free pass especially if more polls show his numbers in decline.

Said one GOP operative to Politico: “The takeaway was this was handled so poorly. He publicly flirted with it. He hyped it up as this big announcement to the national press, and then bailed in a way that hurts the party’s momentum after a big week in Virginia last week.”

“This week was a terrific week… but if you think this week is going to carry us for a year, you’ve got another thing coming.”  — New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R), quoted by the New York Times, on the GOP’s political fortunes for the midterm elections.

“A star Republican congressional candidate in Texas was accused last month by her estranged husband in court documents of ‘cruel and aggressive conduct’ toward his 14-year-old daughter, including verbal abuse and pinching the child to stop her from crying,” the Washington Post reports.

“Monica De La Cruz, a candidate for the 15th Congressional District in Texas, was picked this week by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as a ‘young gun,’ a designation given by the party to candidates who ‘have met a series of rigorous goals and surpassed program benchmarks to establish a clear path to victory.’”

IDAHO GOVERNOR. Former President Trump announced his endorsement of Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) in the state’s gubernatorial race against current Gov. Brad Little (R), The Hill reports.

Both politicians have exchanged personal shots in the past months regarding the state government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Little refraining to order bans on mask and vaccine mandates.

TEXAS GOVERNOR. Democrat ​​Beto O’Rourke’s PAC posted online Tuesday, “We’ve got something big to announce, and we want you to be a part of it.” The former congressman has spent months thinking about challenging Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, and no other notable Democrat has gotten in during this time.

Matthew McConaughey, who continues to hint at running for Texas Governor, told the New York Times that “he believes that politics can be art — and he happens to be an artist.”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. “Senate candidate Sean Parnell’s contentious custody case ended Tuesday after three days of grueling testimony and sharp questions that seem certain to follow one of Pennsylvania’s top Republican contenders for the rest of his campaign,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“The trial ended without an immediate ruling and with two conflicting narratives about alleged abuse — both delivered under oath.”

“It’s now up to Senior Judge James Arner to evaluate the competing claims and decide on custody of Parnell’s three children, aged 8 to 12, in a decision that might, in part, be viewed as a signal of how he views the accusations of violence and abuse leveled against Parnell by his estranged wife, Laurie Snell.”

Parnell, the Trump-endorsed Pennsylvania Senate candidate whose wife has accused him of strangling her, expressed some decidedly unhinged opinions about women during a Fox Nation interview last year. Parnell scoffed at the idea that women could be happy and successful without men. That “nonsense” has “done nothing but raise one generation of woman tyrants after the next,” he complained.

He bemoaned the end of the time when women had to rely on men, arguing that women used to be attracted to men because men could protect them from dinosaurs (which, uh, went extinct millions of years before humans existed).

Parnell also complained about seeing women on Instagram posting selfies with “narcissistic” duck faces.

The year-old interview was surfaced by an oppo research group Tuesday, the same day as a court hearing in a long-running custody dispute between Parnell and his estranged wife, who has accused him of abusing her and their children. Parnell has denied the accusations.

A recent Gallup poll found that 62% of Americans agreed that “the parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed.”  However, a new Pew Research study shows pretty clearly why that idea is unlikely to gain traction.

After surveying voters on their political views and ideological leanings, Pew came up with nine groups:

  • Four of them lean towards the Democrats: Progressive Left, Establishment Liberals, Democratic Mainstays, and Outsider Left.
  • Four lean towards the Republicans: Faith and Flag Conservatives, Committed Conservatives, Populist Right, and Ambivalent Right.
  • Just one — the Stressed Sideliners — leans neither way.

It’s worth reading the whole study, but here’s the key graphic:

The three least partisan groups — the Outsider Left, the Ambivalent Right and the Stressed Sideliners — make up 37% of the electorate — a seemingly solid base for a third party. The problem is they have very little in common politically.

In fact, the only thing this group has in common is little interest in politics: “They had the lowest rates of voting in the 2020 presidential election and are less likely than other groups to follow government and public affairs most of the time.”

That makes it nearly impossible for a centrist third party candidate to mobilize voters. Heck, they might not even notice.

TEXAS FIRST CD/ ATTORNEY GENERAL. Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) is soliciting donations for an “exploratory” bid for Texas attorney general, the Texas Tribune reports.  From the site: “We need a Texas Attorney General whose top attorneys working for him have not found it necessary to send a letter to the FBI urging an investigation into corruption of their boss.”

Gohmert’s new site went up, though it could have benefited from some extra proofing: It declared that the congressman “needs 100,000 citizens to send $100 each (or any other amount to get to $1,000,000) by November 19,” which actually adds up to $10 million. He may struggle to reach either number, as his congressional campaign ended September with a mere $83,000 on-hand.

No matter what he raises, though, Gohmert would be in for a very uphill primary if he did decide to challenge Paxton. Donald Trump endorsed the attorney general earlier this year despite (or maybe perhaps because of) the myriad of scandals surrounding him, and a recent YouGov poll gave Paxton a 54-18 lead over his main primary foe, Land Commissioner George P. Bush.

If Gohmert did decide to take his chances statewide, there’s no question that Republicans would have no trouble holding on to his dark red 1st District in East Texas. However, few House Democrats would be sad to part ways with Gohmert, who said of the Jan. 6 attack, “It’s absolutely dishonest to say ‘insurrection’ when not a single person has been charged with insurrection.”

MORE PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. “The celebrity physician Dr. Mehmet Oz is preparing to jump into the Pennsylvania Senate race on the Republican side, a move that would shake up contested primary and general election contests,” the Free Beacon reports.

“The 61-year-old Oz has begun hiring a staff and reaching out to potential allies.”

Oz’s spokesperson didn’t deny it, saying, “Since last year, Dr. Oz has lived and voted in Pennsylvania where he attended school and has deep family ties. Dr. Oz has received encouragement to run for the U.S. Senate, but is currently focused on our show and has no announcement at this time.”

Johnson writes that Oz is registered to vote in neighboring New Jersey. She adds, “Oz has a non-permanent voter registration in Pennsylvania connected to a Montgomery County address that appears to belong to his mother-in-law.”

NORTH CAROLINA U.S. SENATOR. The far-right Club for Growth, which has already spent millions promoting Republican Rep. Ted Budd in next year’s Senate primary, has put out a new poll from WPA Intelligence suggesting their candidate is surging. The numbers find former Gov. Pat McCrory leading Budd 36-33, compared to a much larger 45-21 margin in June. Former Rep. Mark Walker is at 13% in both polls. The Club’s ads have focused on publicizing Donald Trump’s endorsement of Budd.

Former Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), a Republican candidate for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2022, has taken numerous calls urging him to shift gears and try instead to return to the U.S. House, the Carolina Journal reports.

ARKANSAS GOVERNOR. “Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R) dropped her bid for governor, clearing former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ (R) path to the Republican nomination for the post,” the AP reports.

OREGON GOVERNOR. Oregon Public Broadcasting: “After nearly a month of keeping his fundraising activity private — an option allowed under state law — the former New York Times columnist and Democratic candidate for governor revealed a massive flood of contributions Monday. Kristof has raised more than $1 million in less than a month, a torrid fundraising pace that is more than twice what his main Democratic rivals have raised to date.”

OREGON FIFTH and SIXTH CD. Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader announced over the weekend that he’d seek re-election in Oregon’s 5th District, which contains his home town of Canby, rather than in the new 6th, where more of his current constituents have wound up. Though the 6th is slightly bluer (it would have voted for Joe Biden 55-42, while the new 5th would have gone 53-44), it’s already attracted the attention of some heavyweight progressive Democrats, making it less appetizing for the Blue Dog Schrader. However, the congressman still faces a primary challenge from attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who kicked off a bid recently.

Democratic state Rep. Andrea Salinas on Tuesday kicked off her long-anticipated campaign for the new 6th District, a seat that includes the state capital of Salem and other parts of the mid-Willamette Valley. Salinas, who co-chaired the state’s congressional and legislative redistricting committees, is the daughter of an immigrant from Mexico, and she would be the first Latina to represent Oregon in Congress.

On the GOP side, fellow state Rep. Ron Noble told Oregon Public Broadcasting last month that he was getting ready to run, though he hasn’t announced yet.

COLORADO THIRD CD. Democratic state Sen. Kerry Donovan became one of the highest-profile victims of redistricting this year when she announced on Friday that she was dropping her bid against Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

Under the old lines, Donovan’s family ranch in the town of Edwards was contained within the 3rd District, but in the new map adopted in September by the state’s redistricting commission and recently greenlighted by the state Supreme Court, her home was moved into the 2nd, which is represented by Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse.

Of course, members of Congress don’t have to live in the districts they serve, but redistricting posed even greater problems for Donovan: The old 3rd voted for Donald Trump by a difficult but still surmountable 52-46 margin, while the new 3rd would have given Trump a wider 53-45 win. In addition, while approximately three-quarters of Donovan’s state Senate district was located in the previous iteration of the 3rd, only about half would be now, meaning fewer voters would be familiar with her.

Donovan didn’t specifically cite any of these issues in explaining her departure, but she did castigate the commission’s maps, saying they “failed to recognize the complexity of rural Colorado and instead divided communities, protected incumbents and ignored Coloradans’ voice.”

Prior to leaving the race, Donovan had raised huge sums thanks to Boebert’s notoriety, showing up at the top of the list every quarter this year and clocking in a total of $1.9 million as of the end of September. After the commission settled on a final map, though, she suspended her fundraising operation, which still has $614,000 in the bank, at the start of this month. That money could be saved for a future campaign, returned to donors, or given to charity.

Several other Democrats remain in the race, including activist Sol Sandoval, veterinarian Debbie Burnett, and state Rep. Donald Valdez, though none have yet capitalized on the burning desire among progressives to oust Boebert in the way Donovan had.

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

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