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The Political Report – 2/3/22

Gallup: “Americans’ satisfaction with a variety of aspects of U.S. society and the state of policy in key issue areas remains subdued in 2022 after falling in 2021. In fact, in only one area — acceptance of gays and lesbians — are more Americans satisfied now than were in 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Over the past year, there have been further meaningful declines in 10 areas, most notably in satisfaction with energy policy, the nation’s military strength, the state of the economy, and abortion policy.”

Harry Enten: “What this data indicates is that, nearly two years into the pandemic in the United States, there has not been any real recovery in how Americans believe things are going.”

Donald Trump stars in a new 30-second ad for Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue (R) in which the former president excoriates Gov. Brian Kemp (R) for not intervening to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia, the Washington Post reports.

Said Trump: “The Democrats walked all over Brian Kemp. He was afraid of Stacey ‘The Hoax’ Abrams. Brian Kemp let us down. We can’t let it happen again.”

INDIANA 9TH CD. State Rep. J. Michael Davisson declared Tuesday that he was joining the May Republican primary for this very red open seat. Davisson, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, was appointed to the legislature last fall to succeed his late father, and this appears to be his first run for office. Indiana’s filing deadline is on Feb. 4, so the field will take final shape before long.

State Sen. Erin Houchin has announced that she will resign from the legislature, effective Feb. 4, in order to focus on her bid to win the Republican nomination for this safely red open seat.

RHODE ISLAND 2ND CD. Communications firm head Joy Fox, who worked as a staffer for retiring Rep. Jim Langevin before serving as former Gov. Gina Raimondo’s communications director, announced Monday that she was joining the Democratic primary for this open seat.

Former state Sen. James Sheehan said Tuesday that he’d stay out of the Democratic primary for this open seat.

“Former President Trump has been a prolific fundraiser for himself. But in a sign of his diminishing influence within the Republican Party, Trump isn’t seeing his endorsements translate into campaign cash for his most high-profile allies on the campaign trail. It’s becoming clear Donald Trump’s popularity isn’t easily transferable to candidates who aren’t named Trump,” National Journal reports.

“That was the most consequential finding from the fourth-quarter congressional fundraising reports filed Monday, covering the final three months of the 2021 calendar year. In the contested Senate primaries pitting a Trump-endorsed candidate against more-establishment contenders, not a single one of Trump’s picks hit the million-dollar mark this quarter. And several of his highly touted congressional candidates performed dismally among donors in the quarter, with most getting outraised badly against more-mainstream alternatives.”

OREGON 4TH CD. Sen. Jeff Merkley has endorsed Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle in the May Democratic primary for Oregon’s open 4th District. Previously, Hoyle received the blessing of the district’s outgoing congressman, Rep. Peter DeFazio.

OREGON 5TH CD. Jimmy Crumpacker, a businessman who unsuccessfully competed in the 2020 Republican primary for the old 2nd District, has launched a bid against Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader. Crumpacker last cycle self-funded about $310,000, which represented about 30% of his total campaign budget, but he ended up taking fourth place with 18%.

TENNESSEE 5TH CD. Businessman Baxter Lee has filed FEC paperwork to seek the Republican nod in this open and newly gerrymandered district.

GEORGIA 6TH CD, 10TH CD, and GOVERNOR. Former state Rep. Vernon Jones’ campaign for governor appears to be going nowhere, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution relays speculation that the Democrat-turned-Republican could drop out and instead run for Congress in one of two open districts, the 6th or 10th. Jones himself last week tweeted a picture of him with Donald Trump and added, “More to come.”

ILLINOIS 17TH CD. While 314 Action has not yet issued an endorsement in the June Democratic primary for this open seat, it unveiled a Public Policy Polling survey on Monday showing former meteorologist Eric Sorensen leading ex-state Rep. Litesa Wallace 13-11, with no one else taking more than 3%. The group’s release also praised Sorensen as “a trusted community leader in IL-17 as the district’s meteorologist at WREX Rockford and WQAD Quad Cities.”

COLORADO 7TH CD. State Sen. Brittany Pettersen, who earned the backing of retiring Rep. Ed Perlmutter last week, now has endorsements from Colorado’s other three Democratic U.S. House members: Reps. Diana DeGette, Joe Neguse, and Jason Crow.

“When Ron Watkins (R) announced he was running for Congress in Arizona in the middle of  October, he was full of hope and bravado,” Vice News reports.

Said Watkins: “I am going to raise at least a million dollars, and I’m going to win so that the people have a real voice in Washington, D.C.”

“Three months later, however, Watkins’ campaign appears dead in the water after his first campaign finance report reveals the former administrator of 8kun, the fringe message board where QAnon flourished, has raised just over $30,000 in donations.”

CALIFORNIA 5TH CD and 22ND CD SPECIAL ELECTION In a surprise, Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig declared Monday that he was dropping out of the April special election for the old 22nd District and would instead challenge Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, a fellow Republican, in the June top-two primary for the new 5th District. Donald Trump would have carried this seat, which includes the Upper Central Valley and Sierra foothills, 55-43.

Magsig focused on the devastating 2020 Creek Fire in a statement announcing his switch, saying, “Out of the ashes, I’ve fought harder than ever against the legal tricks utilized by well-funded, far-flung environmental groups to turn every available law and regulation into stumbling blocks to responsibly manage our forests and, in turn, making wildfires deadlier.” The supervisor didn’t mention the incumbent by name, though he argued that the area needed “someone in Washington that fully embraces the word ‘Representative’ – not just a strong voice, but a leader who listens to the needs of their neighbors.”

McClintock, whose team has finally confirmed weeks-old reports saying he’ll seek re-election in the 5th, currently represents just over 40% of the new district. The congressman doesn’t live in his would-be constituency, though don’t expect that to bother him: In 2008, then-state Sen. McClintock won a previous incarnation of the 4th District even though his legislative seat was located more than 400 miles to the south in Ventura County. In fact, he’s never even resided in the version of the 4th he’s represented for over a decade. Magsig’s Fresno County, by contrast, makes up 16% of the new 5th District, though fewer than 5,000 people in the district he currently represents on the Board of Supervisors live in the 5th.

MICHIGAN 10TH CD and GOVERNOR. Army veteran John James, the GOP’s two-time nominee for the Senate, announced Monday that he would seek the open 10th Congressional District in the Detroit suburbs rather than run for governor. James joins an August primary that includes attorney Eric Esshaki, who lost a close 2020 battle for the old 11th District.

James, who would be the first Black Republican to represent Michigan in Congress, won Donald Trump’s endorsement in his successful 2018 primary to take on Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, but the awful political climate for the GOP put him at a massive disadvantage going into Election Day. James ended up holding Stabenow to a 52-46 win, though, and everyone took him seriously when he decided to take on Democratic Sen. Gary Peters the next cycle. Peters ultimately won their very expensive matchup just 50-48 as Joe Biden was carrying the Wolverine State 51-48.

While James ran just ahead of the top of the ticket statewide, he narrowly lost within the confines of the new 10th by a 49.3-48.6 margin even as Trump would have carried the district 50-49; in 2018, Stabenow prevailed 53-46 within the new boundaries. Target Insyght also released a poll just before James launched his new campaign that showed one Democrat, Macomb County Judge Carl Marlinga, leading him 48-43 in a hypothetical general election. Marlinga, who so far has not publicly expressed interest in running, enjoys a much larger 52-31 edge over Esshaki.

WEST VIRGINIA 2ND CD. Candidate filing closed Saturday for West Virginia’s May 10 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders available here.

We only have one major race to watch this year in the Mountain State, but it’s a big one, since West Virginia is losing one of its three congressional districts. As a result, two Republican congressmen, David McKinley and Alex Mooney, are slugging it out in the primary for the new 2nd District in the northern part of the state, with three little-known candidates also on the ballot.

Each incumbent’s early advertising has previewed the strategy they’ll be using to win. Last week, Mooney went up with a spot that excoriates his opponent for “voting for the Jan. 6 anti-Trump witch hunt to attack our president and our values” and later the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill. The ad then goes on to highlight the fact that Donald Trump has endorsed Mooney.

McKinley, for his part, started airing ads in early January highlighting that Mooney is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly spending campaign funds on personal expenses. That commercial also alluded to his out-of-state origins by dubbing him “Maryland Senator Alex Mooney.”

Each congressman has also released one poll giving his own side the lead. A mid-December McKinley internal from Meeting Street Insights had him up 40-34, while an early January Public Opinion Strategies poll for Mooney gave him a 45-32 edge. McKinley currently represents 66% of the new 2nd District, while the remaining third are Mooney’s constituents.  

McKinley outraised Mooney $600,000 to $200,000​ during the final quarter of 2021 and self-funded another $500,000, but Mooney’s big head start allowed him to end the year with a $2.4 million to $1.6 million cash-on-hand lead.

MICHIGAN 3RD CD. Attorney Hillary Scholten announced Tuesday that she would seek a rematch against Republican Rep. Peter Meijer in Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District, a Grand Rapids-based constituency that the state’s new map transformed from a 51-47 Trump seat to one Joe Biden would have carried 53-45. Meijer ran just ahead of the top of the ticket in his first bid for Congress in 2020 and beat Scholten 53-47 in a very expensive open seat race in this historically Republican area, but he has more immediate problems ahead of him before he can fully focus on another bout.

The incumbent was one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump, which is why Trump is backing conservative commentator John Gibbs’ bid to deny Meijer renomination in the August primary. Gibbs, though, didn’t do a particularly good job winning over furious MAGA donors during his opening quarter: Meijer outraised him $455,000 to $50,000, with Gibbs self-funding an additional $55,000. As a result, the congressman ended 2021 with a massive $1.2 million to $85,000 cash-on-hand lead. (A few other candidates are also competing in the GOP primary, but none of them had more than $3,000 to spend.)

Despite his huge financial advantage, however, Meijer will still need to watch his back in August. He currently represents just half of the revamped 3rd District, meaning there are many new voters he’ll have to introduce himself to. Trump and his allies can also make plenty of trouble for Meijer over the next six months even if Gibbs’ fundraising woes continue.

Scholten, for her part, is the Dem’s first notable candidate in a region that, in more than a century, has only once sent a Democrat to the House.

GEORGIA 7TH CD. Rep. Lucy McBath’s allies at Protect our Future, a new super PAC funded in part by cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, have released a Data for Progress survey of the May Democratic primary that shows her with a 40-31 edge over fellow incumbent Carolyn Bourdeaux, with state Rep. Donna McLeod a distant third at 6%. The only other poll we’ve seen here was a mid-December McBath internal from 20/20 Insight that gave her a far larger 40-19 advantage over Bourdeaux.

This may end up being the most expensive incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary of the cycle, especially if it goes to a runoff. McBath outraised Bourdeaux $735,000 to $430,000 during the fourth quarter, but both had sizable campaign accounts at the end of 2021: $2.5 million for McBath and $2 million for Bourdeaux. McLeod did not have a fundraising report available on the FEC site as of Tuesday evening.

MICHIGAN 4TH CD. State Rep. Steve Carra has decided to test how “Complete and Total” Donald Trump’s endorsement really is by announcing a campaign for Michigan’s new 4th District, a move that sets him up for a very different primary than the one he originally got into. Carra picked up Trump’s support back in September when he was waging an intra-party campaign in the old 6th District against Rep. Fred Upton, who’d voted for impeachment months before. Upton still hasn’t confirmed if he’ll run in the new 4th, but fellow GOP Rep. Bill Huizenga very much has. Carra unsurprisingly focused on Upton in his relaunch, though he argued, “It doesn’t matter whether there’s one or two status quo Republicans in the race.”

The state representative, for his part, says he grew up in the southwest Michigan district, which would have backed Trump 51-47, though his legislative district is entirely located in the new 5th District. (Republican Rep. Tim Walberg is campaigning there, and he’s unlikely to face any serious intra-party opposition.) Carra himself has spent his first year in the GOP-dominated state House pushing bills that have gone nowhere, including a resolution demanding that the U.S. House “adopt a resolution disavowing the January 2021 impeachment of President Donald J. Trump or expel [California] U.S. Representative Maxine Waters for continuing to incite violence.”

Upton, meanwhile, seems content to keep everyone guessing about whether he’ll actually be on the ballot this year. The congressman initially said he’d decide whether to run once more in January, but the month ended without any resolution. Upton told a local radio station on Jan. 25 that he was looking to see if the new map survives a court challenge, but he also said to expect a decision “in the coming days.”

If Upton does run, he’d begin with a modest edge over his fellow incumbent in the cash race. Upton took in $720,000 during the final quarter of 2021 compared to $395,000 for Huizenga and ended the year with a $1.5 million to $1.1 million cash-on-hand lead. Carra, meanwhile, raised $130,000 and had $205,000 available.

MICHIGAN 11TH CD. Rep. Haley Stevens has released an internal poll from Impact Research that gives her a 42-35 lead over fellow incumbent Andy Levin in their August Democratic primary, the first numbers we’ve seen of the race. Stevens raised $625,000 in the fourth quarter compared to $335,000 for Levin (who self-funded another $30,000), and she went into the new year with nearly $2 million on-hand compared to $1.1 million for her opponent.

MISSISSIPPI 4TH CD. State Sen. Chris McDaniel told the conservative site Y’All Politics on Monday that he still hasn’t ruled out a primary challenge to Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo, who is facing an ethics investigation into charges that he illegally used campaign funds for personal purposes. The two-time U.S. Senate candidate argued, “My polling numbers are stronger than they’ve ever been, so I’m keeping all of my options open at this time.”

Several other notable Republicans, including state Sen. Brice Wiggins, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell, and banker Clay Wagner, are already taking on Palazzo in the June 7 contest, where it takes a majority of the vote to avert a runoff that would be held three weeks later. The candidate filing deadline is March 1.

SOUTH CAROLINA 7TH CD. Donald Trump on Tuesday threw his backing behind state Rep. Russell Fry’s intra-party challenge to Rep. Tom Rice, who voted for impeachment after the Jan. 6 attack, in the crowded June Republican primary. The congressman responded, “I’m glad he’s chosen someone. All the pleading to Mar-a-Lago was getting a little embarrassing.” Rice continued, “I’m all about Trump’s policy. But absolute pledge of loyalty, to a man that is willing to sack the Capitol to keep his hold on power is more than I can stomach.”

Army veteran Graham Allen said Friday that he was ending his campaign to deny renomination to Rep. Tom Rice, who was one of the 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump, saying, “Other conservative candidates have emerged, including at least one with deep ties to the region who is strong enough to beat Tom Rice.” The congressman, meanwhile, has launched a spot ahead of the June primary in which he tells the audience, “Through storms and floods and now pandemic, I stood shoulder to shoulder with you, and I’ve delivered help.”

TEXAS 35TH CD. Former San Antonio City Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran has picked up the support of Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, who is retiring this year after more than two decades in charge of this populous county, ahead of the March 1 Democratic primary. (“County judges” in Texas are not judicial officials but rather are equivalent to county executives in other states.)

TEXAS 26TH CD. There’s little indication that 10-term Rep. Michael Burgess, who is perhaps one of the most obscure members of Congress, is in any danger in his March 1 Republican primary for this safely red seat in Fort Worth’s northern exurbs, but the Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek notes that he does face an opponent with the ability to self-fund. Businesswoman Raven Harrison loaned herself $210,000, which represented every penny she brought in during the fourth quarter, and she ended 2021 with $127,000 on-hand. Burgess, meanwhile, took in just $150,000, and he finished the quarter with $290,000 available.

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

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