The Political Report – 12/2/21

GEORGIA GOVERNOR. Former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams announced a long-expected second bid for governor on Wednesday, likely setting up a rematch with the man who narrowly bested her three years ago, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

Abrams, who’d sought to become the first Black woman governor in U.S. history, electrified progressives nationwide during her campaign and became a household name in Democratic politics. But the race was marred by GOP voter suppression efforts, with a key role played by Kemp, who, as secretary of state at the time, was able to preside over his own election.

Following Kemp’s 50.2 to 48.8 win—the closest gubernatorial race in Georgia in over half a century—Abrams said she acknowledged her opponent’s victory but declined to offer a traditional concession, saying, “Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede.”

Since then, Democrats have built on Abrams’ efforts to turn the state blue at the presidential level for the first time since 1992 with Joe Biden’s razor-thin win last year, then took the Senate in a huge upset by winning two runoffs in January. Abrams, whose organizing has often been credited with accelerating Georgia’s transformation, will be counting on continued demographic shifts to help counter what is shaping up to be an adverse midterm environment for Democrats.

But while Abrams is all but guaranteed to win the Democratic nomination, Kemp might not even make it out of the GOP primary. Thanks to his refusal to wholeheartedly embrace the Big Lie, he could face a primary challenge from former Sen. David Perdue, who lost one of those fateful runoffs but is reportedly being urged by Trump to run against Kemp.

Jonathan Chait notes a new poll that shows the Republican party “is an extremist outlier in comparison with major conservative parties in other democracies.”

“Supporters of the British Conservative party were split almost evenly between fearing cultural change and fearing right-wing extremism. Supporters of the Christian Democratic parties in Germany deemed the far right a much larger threat. But Trump voters, on the other hand, took a dramatically more conservative stance, deeming the cultural left a bigger threat than the far right by overwhelming margins.”

“Indeed, if you want a comparison to the Republican perspective, you can only find it in a far-right party like Germany’s AfD, an extremist faction that has combined attacks on immigration with unsettling revisionism around the condemnation of the Third Reich that has been a foundation of Germany’s postwar political consensus.”

“The Ohio Senate race is turning into one of the most brutal contests of next year’s midterm elections — and former President Donald Trump is worried it could hurt him if he waged a 2024 comeback bid,” Politico reports.

“Trump last month called Club for Growth President David McIntosh to complain about a TV advertising campaign the conservative organization was running targeting Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance, and asked McIntosh to take the ads down. The commercials attacked Vance by using footage of him from 2016, when he described himself as a ‘Never Trump guy’ and called Trump an ‘idiot,’ ‘noxious’ and ‘offensive.’ The message was designed to hurt Vance in a Republican primary centered on fealty toward the former president. Vance, like others in the race, has cast himself as a staunch Trump ally.”

“But according to three people briefed on the call, Trump told McIntosh the commercials could have the effect of driving down his popularity in Ohio, which he won by 8 percentage points in the 2020 election.”

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR. After hemming and hawing all year, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Wednesday that he would not seek a third term, ensuring that Massachusetts’ race for governor will be at the top of Democratic target lists. Baker’s lieutenant governor, Karyn Polito, also said she would not run for re-election or for the top job.

Baker was CEO of a healthcare group when he first ran for governor in 2010, but he’d worked in state government under previous Republican administrations and held local office in his hometown of Swampscott. He lost that gubernatorial bid to Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick 48-42, but four years later, after Patrick had decided to retire, Baker rode the 2014 GOP wave to a 48-47 win over Democrat Martha Coakley.

In office, Baker became very popular as a relative moderate, in the tradition of previous Republican governors who’d regularly won office despite the Bay State’s strong Democratic lean. He cultivated that reputation with public criticism of Donald Trump and romped to a 67-33 landslide in 2018. But those anti-Trump stances naturally angered many Republicans: Trump had endorsed former state Rep. Geoff Diehl’s primary challenge to Baker, and even the state GOP dumped on the incumbent following his announcement on Wednesday.

Whether or not Baker would have faced a real threat from Diehl, he would have been a very tough opponent for Democrats in November. Unsurprisingly, with his departure, there’s new interest in the race from some quarters. Most notably, Joe Biden’s labor secretary, Marty Walsh, is now reportedly considering a bid, even though he only stepped down as mayor of Boston in March to join the president’s cabinet. State Attorney General Maura Healey, meanwhile, hadn’t previously ruled out the contest but said nothing about her intentions in a statement thanking Baker for his service.

However, Boston’s new mayor, Michelle Wu, immediately said she wouldn’t runas did former Sen. Mo Cowan, who was briefly appointed to the Senate after John Kerry became secretary of state. A few Democrats had already been running before Baker called it quits, including former state Sen. Ben Downing, political scientist Danielle Allen, and state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz.

After Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that he wasn’t running for another term, the state’s Republican Party issued a response that essentially told the governor not to let the door hit him on the way out: The party said it was “clear” that Baker was “shaken” by Trump’s endorsement of his rival.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. Self-funding businessman Bernie Moreno, one of many Republicans running for Ohio’s open Senate seat, is reportedly launching a new $4 million TV ad buy. In the spot, Moreno invokes the long lines at gas stations provoked by the 1979 oil crisis and blames Joe Biden for “crippling inflation.”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR.Republican Rep. Guy Reschenthaler gave his endorsement to TV doctor Mehmet Oz on Wednesday, the first indication of support for Oz’s new bid for Senate from Pennsylvania’s political establishment.

WISCONSIN GOVERNOR. Republican state Rep. John Macco, whose brief foray into exploring a bid for governor was rather a mess, has in the end decided not to run and instead has endorsed former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

ILLINOIS SIXTH CD. Two Chicago-area House Democrats, Bill Foster and Brad Schneider, have endorsed Rep. Sean Casten’s bid for re-election in Illinois’ revamped 6th Congressional District. Casten faces a primary with fellow Rep. Marie Newman as a result of redistricting.

NORTH CAROLINA SECOND CD. Democratic state Sen. Don Davis, who recently filed paperwork with the FEC, has now kicked off a campaign for North Carolina’s reconfigured 2nd District, which is open because Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield is retiring after Republicans targeted him in redistricting. Already in the primary are former state Sen. Erica Smith and state Rep. James Gailliard. Meanwhile, Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson has also formed a campaign committee with the FEC ahead of a possible bid for the GOP nomination, but he hasn’t commented publicly yet. The new district would have voted just 51-48 for Joe Biden and 52-46 for Hillary Clinton.

NORTH CAROLINA FOURTH CD. Democratic state Rep. Charles Graham, who’d been running against Republican Rep. Dan Bishop in the old 9th District, has announced that he’ll instead run for the new 4th District, an open seat based around Fayetteville. Graham, a member of the Lumbee tribe and the only American Indian in the North Carolina legislature, saw his home base of Robeson County shifted from the 9th (now numbered the 8th) to the 3rd thanks to a GOP effort to split up the state’s Native population. The 3rd, however, is very red—it would have gone 58-41 for Donald Trump—while the neighboring 4th would have voted for Trump by a narrower 53-46 margin.

OREGON FOURTH CD. Rep. Peter DeFazio became the latest veteran Democrat in the House to announce his retirement on Wednesday, bringing to a close a four-decade political career that made him one of the most senior members of Congress and the longest-serving representative in state history.

After working as an aide for Rep. Jim Weaver, DeFazio entered elective office himself when he won a seat on the Lane County Commission in 1983. In 1986, Weaver retired and DeFazio narrowly prevailed in the primary to succeed him, beating Democratic state Sen. Bill Bradbury 34-33. He went on to win the general election 54-46 against Republican Bruce Long for southwest Oregon’s 4th Congressional District—turf that’s generally leaned blue but, at the presidential level, only narrowly so.

Despite the potentially precarious nature of his seat, DeFazio almost always ran far ahead of the top of the ticket during each of his re-election campaigns: In 2016, for instance, when Hillary Clinton carried the district by just 554 votes—making it the closest in the nation—DeFazio won by almost 63,000 votes, a 55-40 margin. He rang up his electoral successes by cultivating a reputation as both a progressive and a populist who, as chair of the Transportation Committee, fought for infrastructure investment while also opposing almost every big trade deal, including those supported by fellow Democrats.

But in 2020, DeFazio faced the most difficult election of his long tenure when Republican Alek Skarlatos, an Army National Guard veteran who became famous for subduing a gun-wielding terrorist on a train in Europe in 2015, ran an energetic campaign and raised considerable sums. DeFazio survived, but only after outside Democratic groups spent more than $2 million on his behalf late in the race, and his 52-46 win was the tightest of his career.

Skarlatos announced he’d seek a rematch this spring, portending another arduous campaign for the incumbent, though DeFazio got a boost from redistricting when Democrats in the legislature redrew the 4th to make it decidedly bluer: Under the new lines, it would have backed Joe Biden by a 55-42 spread, compared to 51-47 under the old map.

Following DeFazio’s announcement, state Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle immediately put out a statement saying she’d run to succeed him. A variety of other Democrats might also give consideration to the race, including state Senate President Pro Tem James Manning, state Sen. Sara Gelser, state Rep. Dan Rayfield, former Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson, and former state Sen. Chris Edwards, but given Hoyle’s prominence as a statewide official, she would likely start out as the frontrunner for the nomination.

WASHINGTON THIRD CD. State Rep. Vicki Kraft, an ardent proponent of the Big Lie, reportedly told a gathering of fellow Republicans on Tuesday that she plans to run for Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, though she hasn’t responded to requests for comment. The 3rd is currently held by Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who’s already drawn several intra-party challengers thanks to her vote to impeach Donald Trump, including Army veteran Joe Kent, who has Trump’s endorsement.

“A Republican election official who caused controversy by initially refusing to certify 2020 Detroit-area results in favor of President Joe Biden has died after being admitted to a hospital with Covid-19,” the AP reports. Good.

A resident of The Villages who is a registered Republican has been arrested on a warrant charging her with casting more than one election ballot, Villages News reports. It’s funny how everytime voter fraud is actually found, it is Republicans committing it.

“Katie Curran O’Malley is running for Maryland attorney general, setting the stage for an unprecedented battle between the former first lady and her husband’s lieutenant governor,” the Washington Post reports.

MARYLAND ATTORNEY GENERAL. Former White House chief of staff John Kelly told The Atlantic that Donald Trump “won’t run” again for the presidency in 2024.  Said Kelly: “He’ll continue talking about it; he may even declare, but he will not run. And the reason is he simply cannot be seen as a loser.”

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR and the FIFTEENTH and TWEFTH CDs. Republican Rep. Rodney Davis announced Tuesday that he would seek re-election in the new and safely red 15th District rather than challenge Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, but he could still be in for a tough June primary against a fellow incumbent. Freshman Rep. Mary Miller, who is one of the far-right’s more prominent members of Congress, has yet to reveal her own plans, and as we’ll discuss, she could decide to wage war on Davis in a vast downstate Illinois constituency that’s largely new to both of them.

Davis, though, is hoping to deter his colleague with a long list of endorsements. The congressman kicked off his new campaign with support from fellow Reps. Mike Bost and Darin LaHood as well as Miller’s predecessor, former Rep. John Shimkus. Davis also has 31 of the district’s 35 county chairs, as well as 14 state legislators, in his corner.

Miller, for her part, lives in the new 12th District, where Bost is already running, but her home is only about a mile outside of the new 15th. The new 12th includes a plurality of Miller’s current 15th District, but while it’s possible she could campaign here against Bost, there are a few reasons to think that Davis would make a better foil for her.

Perhaps most importantly, while Bost and Miller both have presented themselves as ardent Trumpists throughout their careers, Davis has had to appeal to moderates in order to win five terms in his current 13th District. Perhaps most notably, Davis voted to recognize Joe Biden’s victories in Arizona and Pennsylvania in the hours after the Jan. 6 attack.

Miller, by contrast, used the previous day to utter her quickly-infamous line, “Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.” The next day, she and Bost joined a majority of their caucus in voting to object to the results in those swing states.

Months later, Davis was one just 35 House Republicans who voted to create a Jan. 6 commission—unsurprisingly, the two aforementioned members were fervently against the idea. Davis has since tried to use his position on the Jan. 6 panel to blame Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the violence, but that may not be enough to win over voters and party figures who happily embrace the Big Lie.

Geography could also make the 15th District an appealing target for Miller. While more of her constituents wound up in the 12th District to the south, Bost still represents 53% of the new seat compared to 47% for Miller. However, Miller represents a 31% plurality of the new 15th compared to 28% for Davis.

Still, either Davis or Bost would likely begin any primary campaign with a clear financial edge over Miller. Davis ended September with $1.1 million on-hand, while Bost had $645,000 in the bank. Miller, by contrast, had only $430,000 to spend.

TEXAS FIRST CD. Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran has a “special campaign announcement” planned for Thursday that notably includes a stop in Longview, a city that is outside of his county. Moran has been considering a bid to succeed his fellow Republican, Rep. Louie Gohmert, in this safely red East Texas seat.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear just how interested state Rep. Matt Schaefer is in joining the primary. Schaefer tweeted on Nov. 21 that he was seeking re-election to his current post, an announcement that came just one day before Gohmert revealed that he’d be running for state attorney general. The conservative Washington Times, however, wrote on Thursday that Schaefer was reconsidering. The filing deadline is Dec. 13, so we’ll have our answers soon.

OHIO THIRTEENTH CD. Attorney Shay Hawkins said Tuesday that he was interested in seeking the Republican nomination for this newly drawn open seat, which Joe Biden carried 50-49, and added, “I will make my plans known in the coming days.”

If Hawkins ran, as one unnamed source told the The Plain Dealer’s Andrew Tobias that they expected him to do, he would go up against Trump-backed former White House aide Max Miller in the primary. Tobias adds that Hawkins impressed party leaders last year when he narrowly lost his general election for a state House seat.

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

1 comment on “The Political Report – 12/2/21

  1. As noted in Europe Trump would have immediately been labeled a Fascist, they’ve seen that sick game before and know one when they see one. I should mention that Trump has no idea what the definition of Fascism is, it comes to him naturally due to his Me! Me! Me! nature and contempt for the rule of law.

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