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The Political Report – 11/19/21

A new Marquette Law School Poll finds 60% of Republicans wanting former President Donald Trump to run for president in 2024, although a majority of all adults in the survey say they do not want him to run.

Among all respondents, 28% would like to see Trump make another run for the presidency, while 71% do not want him to run again.

Also interesting: Just 32% have a favorable opinion of Trump, while 65% have an unfavorable opinion.

A new Quinnipiac poll finds that Americans say they would want to see the Republican Party win control of the House of Representatives, 46% to 38%, while 16% did not offer an opinion.

Meanwhile, Americans would also want to see Republicans win control of the U.S. Senate, 46% to 40%, while 15% did not offer an opinion.

Also interesting: If a candidate strongly embraces former President Trump, 42% say they would be less likely to vote for that candidate, 29% say they would be more likely to vote for that candidate, and 27% say it would have no impact. 

A new Quinnipiac poll finds President Biden’s job approval rating is down to just 36% — new low — with 53% disapproving. Biden’s approval is now upside down on his handling of the pandemic, the economy, climate change and foreign affairs.

A new Gallup poll finds Americans’ support for stricter gun control has fallen five percentage points to 52%, the lowest reading since 2014.  Meanwhile, 35% of U.S. adults think laws covering the sale of firearms should be kept as they are now and 11% favor less strict laws.

A new Gallup poll finds that 38% of Americans say they follow news about national politics very closely, and 40% follow it somewhat closely.  Another 16% follow it not too closely and 6% not at all.

MICHIGAN THIRD CD. Conservative commentator John Gibbs has announced that he’ll challenge incumbent Peter Meijer, who is one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump earlier this year, and Trump himself endorsed Gibbs for the Republican nomination soon thereafter. Gibbs joins a nomination contest that includes Army National Guard veteran Tom Norton, who ran in the primary last year, and so-called “MAGA bride” Audra Johnson.

Gibbs, who spent three years working in the Trump-era U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was in the national spotlight for a short time in 2020 when his nomination to head the Office of Personnel Management failed because of his conspiratorial ravings. Among other things, Gibbs repeatedly amplified the batshit conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chair, John Podesta, had partaken in some sort of satanic ritual, based on personal emails stolen by Russian hackers. Gibbs “has a history of conspiratorial and inflammatory tweets and defended a notorious anti-Semitic troll banned by Twitter,” CNN reports.

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Gibbs.

MICHIGAN EIGHTH CD. Republican state Sen. Tom Barrett said Monday that he’d challenge Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin in a state where redistricting is still in progress, and he immediately gave us a preview of the sort of campaign he’ll be running.

Barrett, who also revealed he was leaving the Army after 21 years, said, “​​I’ve spent my entire career fighting for freedom in the Army and as a state legislator, yet Joe Biden wants to discard me because I oppose his coercive, forced vaccination mandate.” The state senator, who came down with COVID-19 last year, has worn a “naturally immunized” wrist band and refused to say if he’s vaccinated.

Barrett could have some company in the primary before long, as 2020 nominee Paul Junge says he “fully” plans to run again. Slotkin fended off Junge 51-47 even as Donald Trump was carrying her seat 50-49.

MISSOURI FOURTH CD. Republican state Sen. Rick Brattin kicked off his bid for this safely red open seat on Monday by doing his part to spread the Big Lie, saying, “(COVID19 election changes) led to the exploitation of it and the capability of the fraudulent voting,” and, “I do believe that Trump did win the election.” Brattin is a former state representative who won a promotion last year by beating one of his colleagues in a close GOP primary.

Several other Republicans are running to succeed Senate candidate Vicky Hartzler in this west-central Missouri seat, and the Missouri Scout reports that former state Sen. Kurt Schaefer is considering joining the field. Schaefer campaigned statewide for attorney general, but he lost the primary by a rough 64-36 margin to Josh Hawley, who successfully ran for the U.S. Senate two years later.

One person who did take his own name out of contention on Sunday, though, is former state Rep. Caleb Jones.

NEBRASKA FIRST CD. Democratic state Rep. Patty Pansing Brooks said Monday that she would challenge Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who was indicted last month for lying to federal investigators. Pansing Brooks, though, said she didn’t plan to focus on her opponent’s legal predicament, and she instead took him to task for voting against the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill.

The new 1st District, according to Dave’s Redistricting App, backed Donald Trump 54-43, while the current seat supported him by a 56-41 spread.

OHIO FIRST CD. Businessman Gavi Begtrup, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Cincinnati earlier this year, has decided to run for the state House rather than take on Republican Rep. Steve Chabot.

CALIFORNIA TWENTY-FIRST CD. Former Rep. TJ Cox on Wednesday endorsed Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas’ campaign against Republican Rep. David Valadao, a move that takes Cox out of contention for 2022.  

KENTUCKY FIFTH CD. While Republican Rep. Hal Rogers has been on the retirement watchlist for several cycles, the 83-year-old incumbent announced this week that he was running for a 22nd term in his ultra-red eastern Kentucky constituency.  

TEXAS SEVENTEENTH CD. Willie Blackmon, who retired back in 2004 as a municipal judge in Harris County, said Thursday that he’d challenge Rep. Pete Sessions in the Republican primary for this 61-37 Trump district. We’re not sure why he’s running here, though, because the new version of this seat not only doesn’t include any of Harris County, it’s also shed College Station, where Blackmon was part of Texas A&M’s 1970 Southwest Conference Championship Track and Field Team. (Brazos County, which is home to College Station, is now entirely located in GOP Rep. Michael McCaul’s 10th.)

Blackmon doesn’t appear to have said why he thinks that Sessions should be fired, though we’re guessing it’s not because he’s mad about how the incumbent got to this constituency in the first place. The congressman spent 22 years representing the Dallas area until losing the 32nd District to Democrat Colin Allred in 2018, but he quickly turned around and campaigned for the 17th District about 80 miles (and two or three congressional districts) away.

Retiring Rep. Bill Flores was pissed at his old colleague for parachuting back to his childhood home of Waco, where he hadn’t lived in decades, but primary voters were more forgiving. Sessions beat a Flores-backed opponent 54-46 in the GOP runoff, and he had no trouble in the fall as Donald Trump was carrying the 17th by a 55-44 margin. Only a little more than half of this new seat, though, includes Sessions’ existing district (and no, none of the current 32nd District made its way in here), so he’ll have to introduce himself to plenty of new voters once again.

TEXAS THIRTIETH CD. Longtime Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson has an “important special announcement” set for Saturday, and the Democrat’s media advisory notably included a logo bearing the word “Re-Elect!” 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 she claimed her 15th term.

IOWA THIRD CD. Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne announced last week that she would defend the new 3rd Congressional District next year rather than challenge Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Axne’s current seat, which is also numbered the 3rd District, makes up about 85% of the new constituency, so the congresswoman will be campaigning in turf she knows well. The new version of this Des Moines area seat went for Trump 49.3-48.9, which makes it very similar to his 49.1-49.0 showing in the existing 3rd. Axne has been preparing for another competitive fight since she won in 2020, and she ended September with $1.6 million in the bank.

Several Republicans were campaigning against Axne before the new maps were drawn. Her most high-profile foe appears to be state Sen. Zach Nunn, who had $215,000 on-hand, while businesswoman Nicole Hasso had $135,000 to spend. A third Republican candidate, former state Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa, had a mere $45,000 in the bank, and she learned last month that the new map moved her to Republican Rep. Randy Feenstra’s 4th District. Hanusa recently told the Des Moines Register, “I will look at the situation and consider everything. For right now, the campaign’s still on.”

VIRGINIA SEVENTH CD. Republican Del. John McGuire filed paperwork last week for a potential second run for Congress, a move that came days after he won re-election to the lower chamber. McGuire campaigned against Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger last year but lost the GOP’s nominating convention 56-44 to fellow Del. Nick Freitas, who went on to fall to Spanberger 51-49. McGuire later attended the infamous Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded that day’s attack on the Capitol.

State Sen. Amanda Chase, the self-described “Trump in heels” who gave her fellow Republicans plenty of headaches even before her unsuccessful campaign for governor this year, announced Wednesday that she would take on Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger. Chase had said last week that she would wait until the redistricting process, which is being handled by the Virginia Supreme Court, was finished, but she changed her mind and decided to kick off a campaign now.

Chase joins a nomination battle that includes Bryce Reeves, a fellow state senator who joined with a majority of their colleagues in voting to censure her in January for spreading lies about the 2020 election and calling the Jan. 6 rioters “patriots.” The contest also features communications consultant Taylor Keeney and ​​Tina Ramirez, in addition to McGuire mentioned above. However, these candidates don’t know yet if local Republicans will select their nominee using a traditional primary, a convention, or through a party-run firehouse primary.

It also remains to be seen how redistricting will impact this suburban Richmond seat. Joe Biden won the current 7th District by a 50-49 margin, while, according to Bloomberg’s Greg Giroux, Republican Glenn Youngkin took it 55-44 in this month’s race for governor.

Chase herself has spent years picking fights with just about everyone. In 2019, she swore at and berated a police officer at the state capitol who told her that she couldn’t park her car in a secure area, and Chase’s refusal to apologize led Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl Leonard to withdraw his endorsement of her re-election campaign. Chase responded to Leonard’s snub by backing his independent opponent’s unsuccessful campaign and falsely accusing the incumbent of making Chesterfield a “sanctuary city.” The Chesterfield County GOP in turn voted to eject her from the party.

Chase was still re-elected to her reliably red seat, but the Senate GOP found itself in the minority. After her Republican colleagues kept Tommy Norment on as their leader, though, Chase announced that she’d leave the party caucus in protest, a move that left her with just one minor committee assignment.

She drew far more attention when she campaigned for governor, including for her December 2020 Facebook post calling for Trump to “declare martial law” to stay in office. The state senator also said that month that she was bolting the party and running as an independent after the Virginia GOP opted to hold a convention instead of a primary, a move she framed as “the only way to bypass the political consultants and the Republican establishment elite who slow play the rules or even cheat.”

Chase backed down just a week later and went back to campaigning as a Republican, but she outright said months later she’d go back to running as an independent if Pete Snyder, a wealthy businessman she accused of trying to claim the nomination through underhanded means, prevailed at the convention.

Chase spent the final days of her campaign in the news when one of her aides brandished an AR-15 at another driver. Chase, who was in the vehicle participating in a virtual candidate event at the time, told the audience at the time, “Speaking of a Second Amendment moment, we just had to—oh, my goodness—we are exercising our Second Amendment rights right now [in] our car, where we had somebody road rage, trying to get in front of—get on us.” The state senator heavily promoted the story afterwards.

All of this wasn’t enough, however, for her to win over party delegates. Youngkin led Snyder 33-26 in the instant runoff contest while Chase took third with 21%, and she didn’t rise much further than that before she was eliminated from contention after the fifth round of tabulations. Chase soon disappointed Democrats by supporting Youngkin instead of abandoning the party again, and she characteristically spent the final days of the general election making evidence-free allegations that Democrats were “cheating.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE SECOND CD. Republican state Sen. Harold French told WMUR Wednesday that he “intend[s] to announce” a campaign against Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster in early December even though the proposed GOP gerrymander would move his hometown to the more competitive 1st District.

NORTH CAROLINA FOURTH CD. Democratic state Sen. Ben Clark has filed FEC paperwork for a potential bid for the new 4th District, though he said this week that he’s still making up his mind about running for a Fayetteville-area seat that supported Donald Trump 53-46. Clark promised a decision before candidate filing opens on Dec. 6; the deadline for candidates to make up their minds is Dec. 17.

Democrat Pat Timmons-Goodson, who was the 2020 nominee in the current 8th District, said Monday she’d decided against running in this new open seat.

FLORIDA FIRST CD. Air Force veteran Bryan Jones announced Thursday that he was launching a primary challenge against Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican who reportedly remains under federal investigation for sex trafficking of a minor and other alleged offenses. While Gaetz has not yet been charged, the New York Times wrote last month that the Justice Department added two top prosecutors to its probe during the summer.

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

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