The Political Report – 12/9/21

A new Monmouth poll finds 29% of Americans see inflation and everyday bills as the biggest concern facing their family right now.  This far outpaces Covid — which was named by 18% or respondents — or any other single issue as the top kitchen table worry in the country.

A new Generation Lab/Axios poll finds that nearly a quarter of college students wouldn’t be friends with someone who voted for the other presidential candidate — with Democrats far more likely to dismiss people than Republicans.

Also interesting: 5% of Republicans said they wouldn’t be friends with someone from the opposite party, compared to 37% of Democrats.

GEORGIA GOVERNOR. A new Insider Advantage/Fox 5 poll in Georgia finds Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and David Perdue (R) deadlocked in the Republican guberantorial primary, 34% to 34%, and trailed by Vernon Jones (R) at 10% and Kandiss Taylor (R) at 4%.

Before respondents were told Donald Trump had already endorsed Perdue, Kemp actually led 41% to 22%.

Said pollster Matt Towery: “This shows the amazing impact that a Trump endorsement can have on a Republican primary and certainly in Georgia. In my many years of polling I have never seen any other individual endorsement move as many points in a single survey.” 

TEXAS GOVERNOR. A new Quinnipiac poll in Texas finds Gov. Greg Abbott (R) leading Beto O’Rourke (D) in the race for governor, 52% to 37%.   Key finding: A majority of voters, 54%, say O’Rourke is too liberal, 3% say he is too conservative, and 35% say he is about right. 

SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL RECALL. “An effort to recall Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant led in Tuesday night’s vote count with about 53% supporting her removal from office, as voters in her district took part in a historic election to decide whether the outspoken socialist politician should be ousted or retained,” the Seattle Times reports.

“Additional votes will be counted in the coming days.”

FiveThirtyEight: “First, Trump is endorsing more candidates earlier. So far in the 2022 midterm cycle (as of Dec. 7), he has endorsed 31 candidates in Republican primaries to fill roles in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and state governorships. That’s more than double the number of candidates Trump had endorsed by the end of December 2019…”

“A big reason why Trump-endorsed primary candidates have had such stellar records is that most of them were already heavily favored to win their elections… So far in the 2022 elections, however, Trump has endorsed 15 non-incumbents in contested Republican primaries for these offices — almost half of his total endorsements.”

“What’s more, Trump has actively tried to unseat seven incumbent members of his own party.”

First Read: “As Trump tries to shape 2022 fields, here’s where he’s meddled the most.”

A new Wall Street Journal poll of Hispanic voters find 44% would back President Biden in the next presidential election while 43% would support Donald Trump.

Asked which party they would back if the election were today, 37% of Hispanic voters said they would support the Republican congressional candidate and 37% said they would favor the Democrat, with 22% undecided.

A new Bendixen & Amandi poll of Hispanic voters finds just 2% of those polled refer to themselves as Latinx, while 68% call themselves “Hispanic” and 21% favored “Latino” or “Latina” to describe their ethnic background.”

NEW YORK GOVERNOR.  A new Siena College poll finds Gov. Kathy Hochul leading the way in next year’s Democratic primary with 36% of the vote, followed by state Attorney General Tish James with 18, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams at 10, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (who hasn’t actually announced a bid yet) and Rep. Tom Suozzi both at 6, and 24% undecided. An October Siena poll that didn’t include Suozzi had Hochul up on James by a similar 39-20 margin.

NORTH CAROLINA U.S. SENATOR. The Club for Growth, which has been spending heavily to help Rep. Ted Budd win the GOP nomination for North Carolina’s open Senate race, is running yet another ad attacking former Gov. Pat McCrory as an apostate. The spot lambastes McCrory for calling Mitt Romney “a man of incredible courage” (teeny text in the corner of the screen notes the remarks are from 2012, when Romney was the GOP’s presidential nominee) and for refusing to embrace the Big Lie.

Meanwhile, the state AFL-CIO has endorsed former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley’s campaign for the Democratic nod.

CALIFORNIA TWENTY-SECOND CD. With Republican Rep. Devin Nunes’ surprise announcement that he plans to resign at the end of the year, we’re likely to see candidates simultaneously run in both a special election to fill the impending vacancy he leaves behind and the general election for a full-two year term in November. But complicating matters, would-be successors could find themselves running for two very different districts.

California’s current 22nd District is a traditionally red slice of the Central Valley hugging the cities of Fresno and Tulare that voted 52-46 for Donald Trump. But under the latest draft congressional map put forth by the state’s independent redistricting commission, the 22nd would get chopped into five different districts, with the bulk divvied up between two of them.

One of those two seats, labeled “FRESNOTULARE” (the draft maps don’t use numbers), would have voted for Joe Biden by a 53-45 margin, making it inhospitable for almost any Republican, but most especially a high-profile Trump sycophant like Nunes. The other, called “FRESNO-KERN,” might appear much more attractive to Nunes, since it would have backed Trump 58-40. The problem with this district, though, is that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy would be all but certain to run here—which may explain why Nunes rather improbably decided he’d rather run Trump’s new social media company than chair the Ways and Means Committee, which he’d have been in line to do if Republicans take back the House next year.

Of course, this proposal could change substantially before the commission adopts a final plan, so Nunes might have just made a huge mistake. (Actually, we know he did: Everyone who’s worked for Donald Trump has wound up either miserable or indicted.) But if this map or something like it becomes law, candidates would have to woo one electorate that backed Trump by 6 points and another that supported Biden by almost 9—both at the same time.

And when might that be exactly? According to the Los Angeles Times, a special election “will likely be held in April,” which means that a probable runoff—required if no one wins a majority—would take place on the same day as the state’s regular June primary. The Times also rattles off a long list of Republicans who could potentially run, including state Sens. Shannon Grove and Andreas Borgeas; Assemblymen Devon Mathis and Jim Patterson; Fresno County Supervisors Nathan Magsig and Steve Brandau; and Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld.

A few Democrats were already running against Nunes before he bailed, including Marine veteran Eric Garcia and financial advisor Phil Arballo, who lost to Nunes 54-46 last year. State Sen. Melissa Hurtado also signaled her interest, though she added, “Let’s see what redistricting lines look like first?!” Her point is well-taken.

VERMONT AT LARGE CD. Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, who first won elective office last year, announced on Monday that she’d seek Vermont’s at-large congressional district, which is open because Democratic Rep. Peter Welch is running for Senate. Gray is the first prominent Democrat to enter the race, and if she succeeds Welch, she’d also be the first woman to represent Vermont—which has the unfortunate distinction of being the only state never to elect a woman to Congress.

Gray, then a little-known assistant state attorney general, albeit one from a politically well-connected family, defeated a host of better-known candidates in last year’s primary for the open lieutenant governor’s post, then beat Republican Scott Milne 51-44 in the general election.

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR. Former Rep. Melissa Hart, who was the first woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress, says she’s joining the race for the Republican nomination for governor. It’s been a long layoff for Hart, though, who left office in 2007. Hart easily flipped the red-leaning 4th District in 2000 after Democratic Rep. Ron Klink decided to run for Senate (a race he lost to none other than Rick Santorum), but she got washed out in the 2006 wave by Democrat Jason Altmire, who beat her 52-48. She sought a comeback against Altmire two years later but this time got whooped 56-44.

Since then, Hart has worked as an attorney in the private sector. She’ll be the only notable woman in the busy Republican field, and should she win, she’d be the state’s first female governor.

Republican state Sen. Dan Laughlin, who said he’d run for governor in September, has had a change of heart and said he would instead endorse businessman Dave White. White also kicked off a reported $500,000 ad buy with a minute-long spot featuring him delivering a shouty speech filled mostly with platitudes.

Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue (R) told Axios that he wouldn’t have signed the certification of the state’s 2020 election results if he had been governor at the time.

Said Perdue: “Not with the information that was available at the time and not with the information that has come out now. They had plenty of time to investigate this. And I wouldn’t have signed it until those things had been investigated and that’s all we were asking for.”

ALABAMA GOVERNOR. Businessman Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, has filed paperwork for a bid for governor but still has yet to say he’s actually running. James, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination in both 2002 and 2010, previewed a possible primary challenge to Gov. Kay Ivey in September by railing against the “beast with three heads” (critical race theory, transgender rights, and yoga in public schools—obvi).

Republican megadonor Lynda Blanchard dropped her floundering bid for Senate and entered Alabama’s race for governor on Tuesday. The twin moves set up a three-way primary as Gov. Kay Ivey seeks a second full term next year, though under state law, a runoff is required if no one secures a majority.

Blanchard, a wealthy former ambassador to Slovenia under Donald Trump, had spent more than $5 million of her own money pursuing the state’s open Senate seat since February, but recent polls nevertheless showed her mired in the low single digits. She also failed to secure Trump’s support, which instead went to Rep. Mo Brooks, one of the frontrunners.

But Trump was apparently more encouraging of a campaign against Ivey, whom he reportedly blames for the cancellation of a July rally he intended to hold in Mobile. Blanchard traveled to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago lair in October, and the Wall Street Journal reported last month that Trump suggested he might offer his endorsement if Blanchard switched races—though that endorsement has not yet been forthcoming.

It’s not really clear what Blanchard’s professed beef with Ivey is: In her kickoff, she referenced “the go-along, get-along so-called conservatives who have run things in Montgomery way too long.” She also rebranded herself as “Lindy Blanchard” on campaign signs and her Twitter account, though not her website (yet?), which is still

As for James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, he outlined a litany of decisions he’s displeased with, including an increase to the state’s gas tax, a law authorizing the use of medical marijuana, and a failed push to legalize casinos. He also hates mask and vaccine mandates (he even says he’s not vaccinated against COVID) and wants to ban same-sex marriage.

But it was a press conference in September that garnered him even more attention than his strange launch this week (which seemed to consist of a handful media interviews), when he railed against the “beast with three heads,” which he said were critical race theory, transgender rights, and yoga in public schools. Yes, yoga: In May, Ivey signed a bill that removed a nearly three-decade ban on yoga in schools. For most people, it’s a form of exercise. For James, it’s “a cancer, metastasizing over time infecting the minds of children.”

Ivey’s not wasting any time: Her campaign already went up with its first TV ads during Saturday’s SEC championship game won by Alabama over Georgia. In the spot, Ivey hits the usual themes, boasting of banning critical race theory in schools and siding with Trump “to ensure no election here can ever be stolen.”

But is Ivey actually vulnerable? The only poll of the race, taken in August, found her leading James 42-4, with 34% undecided. Blanchard wasn’t included in that questionnaire, though state Auditor Jim Zeigler, who’s talked about a bid, took 9%. Those aren’t great numbers for an incumbent, but they’re not catastrophic either, and in any event, it’s only one poll. We’ll have to wait for new numbers to get a better sense, especially if and when Trump does finally weigh in.

NEW YORK ELEVENTH CD. Former Democratic Rep. Max Rose, who represented New York’s 11th Congressional District for a single term, announced on Monday that he’d seek a rematch against Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, the woman who ousted him last year. Rose, an Army combat veteran, unseated Republican Rep. Dan Donovan during the 2018 blue wave, defeating him by a 53-47 margin in an upset despite this Staten Island-based district’s decidedly red lean (Donald Trump had beaten Hillary Clinton here 54-44 two years earlier).

But in 2020, the area’s traditional proclivities reasserted themselves: Malliotakis knocked out Rose by that same 53-47 spread, and Trump outdid Joe Biden 55-44. As those numbers show, however, Rose did manage to outperform the top of the ticket by several points, though given the rough-looking midterm environment, he’s almost certainly expecting Democrats in the legislature will make the seat bluer in redistricting.

Before he can face Malliotakis, though, Rose first has to get through a primary. There he faces another Army combat veteran, Brittany Ramos DeBarros, who cuts a much more progressive profile than the moderate Rose, known for regularly distancing himself from prominent Democratic figures.

A proposed Utah ballot measure would end universal mail-in voting in favor of all paper ballots and an end all early voting and most absentee voting, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Roll Call: “More than 20 sitting lawmakers who have said they’re leaving after the 117th Congress — or in Nunes’ case, in the middle of it — will hit the exits with nearly $53 million in combined leftover political cash, including in their campaign accounts and separate leadership PACs.”

“Some departing members give refunds. Most often, they donate the money to political committees and charities, or they hang on to the funds to dole out after they’ve left office. Some may keep their political money around in case they make another run for office in the future.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE U.S. SENATOR. Republican businessman Bill Binnie, who’d reportedly been looking at a bid against Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, has now confirmed his interest and says he’ll “make a decision in the next week or two,” with “an announcement soon after the new year.” Binnie previously ran for Senate in 2010 after Republican Judd Gregg retired and self-funded almost $7 million, but he finished third in the GOP primary with just 14% of the vote. (The eventual winner, Kelly Ayotte, went on to lose to Hassan in 2016.)

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

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