Delaware

The Political Report – 1/5/22

A new AP-NORC poll finds only about 4 in 10 Republicans recall the attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump as very violent or extremely violent.  About 3 in 10 Republicans say the attack was not violent, and about another 3 in 10 say it was somewhat violent.

FiveThirtyEight: “Despite the fact that the GOP is quite unpopular and that much of its current agenda — such as overturning the Affordable Care Act or advancing restrictive immigration policies — does not appeal to a majority of voters, the party is in an enviable position heading into the 2022 midterm elections and beyond. What is to make of this glaring disconnect?”

“The biggest reason why the GOP may not be pushing more popular policies is that recent history suggests it’s unnecessary. Former President Trump’s startling 2016 election victory showed that an unpopular candidate with little interest in public policy can still win. For conservative activists disappointed in the outcomes of Romney’s and the late Sen. John McCain’s campaigns, the lesson of 2016 was that political candidates with personal baggage or extreme political views are no longer a liability.”

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi has seen a big exodus from her office the past year as expectations grow that she will leave Congress after this term,” Politico reports.

“Pelosi’s staff churn has been relatively stable over the years, tracking closely with the average among congressional offices. But according to LegiStorm, turnover in the speaker’s office skyrocketed in 2021, a trend that tracked with anticipation that this will be her final term. Per LegiStorm’s data, her office ranked 42nd out of 439 House offices for turnover, and her turnover index rate was .69, almost double the average .38 turnover for offices overall last year.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “It’s an election year — and Americans will be voting sooner than many people may realize. The first primary election is in Texas on March 1, fewer than two months away.”

“While there will be a handful of important Democratic primaries, the big news is coming on the Republican side for several reasons. For one thing, with Republicans expected to have a good year, their nominees simply matter more, since they’re more likely to be elected and share the power of the majority. For another, one of the things that can stop Republican majorities is the possibility of extremely poor candidates winning nominations in competitive seats. Control of the party is at stake, and that’s currently a lot more of a contentious question on the Republican side.”

“Former Sen. David Perdue (R) has loaded his campaign for governor with experienced operatives, including several strategists who were once allied with GOP incumbent Brian Kemp (R),” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“At a time when Democrats and Republicans can agree on little, they find themselves in rare consensus in Wisconsin: Seemingly everyone there wants Sen. Ron Johnson (R) to run for a third term,” The Hill reports.

NEW HAMPSHIRE SECRETARY OF STATE. Incumbent Bill Gardner, who was first named New Hampshire’s chief elections officer in 1976 and is the longest-serving secretary of state in America, announced Monday that he was resigning this week and transferring his powers to Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan, a former Republican state legislator; Scanlan will serve the remaining year of Gardner’s term.

While Gardner is a nominal Democrat who spent decades successfully cultivating a nonpartisan image, he infuriated Democrats in 2017 and 2018 when he served on Donald Trump’s bogus voter fraud commission and backed multiple voter-suppression laws at home targeting college students. Democrats made a serious effort to oust him in late 2018 after they retook control of the state House, the body that is in charge of picking the secretary of state, but Gardner narrowly won another term with the support of Republicans and a minority of Democrats in a second round of balloting.

VIRGINIA 7TH CD. Democratic Rep. Abigail ​​Spanberger is seeking re-election in a revamped 7th District, which has transformed from a 50-49 Biden constituency into one he would have taken by a stronger 52-46 score. While ​​Spanberger is running in a seat with the same number as the one she currently holds, though, she only represents 25% of the new 7th’s denizens. Notably, this redrawn seat includes more than half of Prince William County, while ​​Spanberger loses most of her old base in the Richmond suburbs.

However, while there’s been plenty of speculation that the congresswoman could face an intra-party primary challenger from Northern Virginia, no serious names have stepped forward yet. Indeed, while Hala Ayala, who was the 2021 nominee for lieutenant governor, reportedly considered running after the court-appointed special masters released the first draft of their map last month, she said no just before the new year.

On the Republican side, state Sen. Bryce Reeves has declared that he’ll continue his campaign for this seat, and while Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega and Air Force veteran Gary Adkins have each announced their own bids. Public affairs consultant Taylor Keeney and state Sen. Amanda Chase, however, dropped out of the GOP nomination race in the days after the new map was released.

NEW JERSEY 8TH CD. Democratic Rep. Albio Sires announced the week before Christmas that he would not seek a ninth term in what remains a safely blue North Jersey seat, and it took absolutely no time for a frontrunner to emerge. Robert Menendez Jr., a commissioner on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the son and namesake of New Jersey’s senior senator, still doesn’t appear to have announced he’s in, but he’s already earned endorsements from Sires; Gov. Phil Murphy; Sen. Cory Booker; Jersey City Mayor Steve Fullop; and the Democratic parties of Hudson and Union counties.

It will be extremely tough for anyone to beat Menendez in a primary in a state where local establishment support very much matters, but he may not quite have a clear field. Incoming state Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz didn’t rule out running right after Sires made his departure known, though she doesn’t appear to have said anything since then. Belleville Mayor Michael Melham, who was elected as an independent, also expressed interest in getting in, though he said he was undecided if he’d campaign as a Democrat, Republican, or independent.

NEW JERSEY 7TH and 5TH CD. Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski said just before Christmas that he was undecided about seeking a third term in a revamped 7th District that cut Joe Biden’s margin from 54-44 to 51-47.

The new map was conversely a very favorable development for 2020 Republican nominee Tom Kean Jr., who launched his rematch campaign in July months after losing to Malinowski just 51-49, but the national GOP favorite got some unwelcome news Monday when Assemblyman Erik Peterson announced his own primary bid. Peterson made news last month when state troopers prevented him from entering the Assembly chamber after he tried to defy pandemic rules requiring members be vaccinated or show a negative test, but he’ll still have a tough time beating an opponent with plenty of money, name recognition, and local party support.

Finally, Fredon Mayor John Flora says he’s running here now that redistricting has moved his 3,200-person township from the 5th District, where he launched a bid last month, to the 7th.

MICHIGAN 10TH CD and MICHIGAN GOVERNOR. There’s no incumbent running for the new 10th District, a suburban Detroit seat that would have backed Joe Biden by a narrow 49-48 spread, but several notable Republicans are currently eyeing it. The only announced contender so far is Eric Esshaki, who ran for the existing 11th District in 2020 and held Democratic Rep. Haley Stevens to a 50-48 victory; Esshaki kicked off a second campaign for Congress in October before redistricting was done, and he made it clear last week that he’d seek this new constituency.

Politico, though, reports that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is trying to recruit another person who lost a tight 2020 race, Senate nominee John James. James advisor Curt Anderson says that his client is indeed thinking about making this race, though Anderson added that James was also mulling a campaign for governor. Anderson didn’t give a timeline for a decision, though Politico says it could come this month.

Another prospective House contender is former 8th District Rep. Mike Bishop, who expressed interest in running for Congress again in November before redistricting was done. The Detroit News also says that businesswoman Lena Epstein and Oakland County GOP Chairman Rocky Raczkowski, both of whom unsuccessfully sought the current 11th District in 2018, are also considering: Epstein defeated Raczkowski 31-25 in that primary only to lose to Stevens 52-45 in the fall.

MICHIGAN 4TH CD. Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga announced that he’d seek the new 4th District, a southwest Michigan seat that would have supported Donald Trump 52-45, hours after the final congressional map was approved last week, while fellow GOP Rep. Fred Upton has not yet committed to anything. Still, Upton sounds likely to campaign here in the August primary, saying, “Now more than ever, we need to seek bipartisan consensus putting policy over politics. That is the winning formula that has led to our previous electoral victories and will again should we decide to run in 2022.”

Upton’s current 6th District makes up 64% of the new 4th District while only 25% of the new seat’s residents live in Huizenga’s existing 2nd District, but there’s reason to think Huizenga would have the advantage in an incumbent vs. incumbent primary. Upton had an uneasy relationship with hardcore conservative voters years before he voted to impeach Donald Trump, while Huizenga has been far more loyal to Trump. Huizenga, though, did recognize Joe Biden’s 2020 victory, which may make him unacceptable to the party base.  

To complicate things further, Trump himself endorsed state Rep. Steve Carra’s primary campaign against Upton back in September in the current 6th District. It’s not clear what Carra’s doing, though, as his Twitter account still lists him as a candidate for the 6th almost a week after the new maps came out. To add to the confusion, Carra’s 59th state House District is now entirely located in the new 5th District, a 59-38 Trump seat where 7th District Rep. Tim Walberg is running.

MILWAUKEE MAYOR. Mayor Tom Barrett resigned on Dec. 22 to become ambassador to Luxembourg, and the special election dates were quickly set for the special election for the final two years of his term. The filing deadline will be Jan. 11, and all the candidates will face off in a Feb. 15 nonpartisan primary. The top-two contenders will then advance to an April 5 general election. 

Several candidates were running before Barrett made his departure official, and the field has gotten larger in the last few weeks. The new contenders include state Sen. Lena Taylor, who lost the 2020 race to Barrett by a 63-37 margin; and City Attorney Tearman Spencer, who, among other things, has been accused of sexually harassing subordinates. State Sen. Chris Larson, meanwhile, is also considering launching a campaign. Finally, state Rep. Daniel Riemer launched a brief campaign in late December that he ended days later.

ILLINOIS 15TH and 12TH CD. Freshman Rep. Mary Miller declared on Jan. 1 that she would seek the new and safely red 15th District in downstate Illinois, and Donald Trump is supporting her in the June Republican primary battle against fellow Rep. Rodney Davis. Trump made his move even though, per CNN, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had tried to deter him from opposing Davis. Trump also probably wasn’t put off by Miller using her first week in office to declare, “Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.”

Miller spent the previous two months keeping the political world guessing whether she’d run in the new 15th District, which shares the same number as her current constituency, or for the 12th against GOP Rep. Mike Bost. However, even though considerably more of Miller’s constituents wound up in the 12th to the north, Davis always appeared to be a better foil for her. Perhaps most notably, Davis was one just 35 House Republicans who voted to create a Jan. 6 commission, a group that unsurprisingly did not include Miller or Bost.  

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

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