The Political Report – 2/4/22

Dan Pfeiffer: “By seeking out distance from Biden, Democrats will get all of the downsides and none of the upsides of the President. Hypothetically, let’s say that some of the candidates following this terrible advice manage to appear on stage with Joe Biden for the whole campaign. What do these political ‘gurus’ think will happen? Will the Republicans give up trying to tie them to Biden? Are these consultants aware that photoshop exists and that even if their candidate never appears in a photo with Biden the GOP can still put them together in a campaign ad?”

“While the President’s numbers are down with Democrats, he still has the approval of approximately 80 percent of Democrats in most polls. His approval rating among Republicans is in the single digits. Among Independents, it’s typically in the 30s. Democrats are unlikely to outperform Biden among Republicans. To win, they need to do better among Independents, but criticizing and weakening a President who eight in ten of our most reliable voters support is a terrible way to achieve our goal.”

Vanity Fair: “Donors were trying to distance themselves from the GOP around this time last year, and for good reason: Donald Trump had fomented a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and his allies in the House and Senate still voted to overturn the 2020 election results. Revelations about Trump’s efforts to subvert democracy — and the complicity of Republican lawmakers — have only multiplied in the 12 months since, thanks to the work of the congressional committee investigating January 6 and to Trump’s own cavalier admissions.”

“But if the GOP had ever truly become a pariah to the donor class, that no longer appears to be the case: Both Trump and his party are raising money hand over fist, with Republicans outpacing Democrats in fundraising ahead of this fall’s crucial midterms where Republicans could not only regain control of Congress, but set the stage for the former president to launch another White House bid.”

“Political action committees for Comcast and Goldman Sachs have resumed giving money to one or more of the 147 Republican lawmakers who voted to object to the certification of President Biden’s election after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot by supporters of former GOP President Donald Trump,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Stacey Abrams (D) raised more than $9.2 million since entering the race for Georgia governor in December, setting a blistering fundraising pace that eclipsed Gov. Brian Kemp (R), the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has rebuilt his campaign war chest after last year’s recall election and is now sitting on nearly $25 million and is facing no real competition, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) “hauled in a massive $6.9 million in the final quarter, leaving him with more than $21.5 million on hand,” Politico reports.  “That’s just an insane war chest for someone facing only modest challengers for a reelection bid — but who is building a national network amid possible presidential aspirations.”

“Former President George W. Bush gave money to the reelection campaigns of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in the final months of 2021, a show of support for two of former President Trump’s top Republican targets of the 2022 midterm elections,” The Hill reports.

House Republicans “are outraising Democrats in several key races and turning a favorable political environment into a cash windfall with just nine months until Election Day,” Politico reports.

“A telling statistic: At least 53 Republicans raised over $500,000 last quarter, compared to 38 Democratic candidates. That’s an unfamiliar gap for House Democrats, who have long enjoyed a financial edge.”

Popular Information: What we learned from the first FEC deadline of 2022.

Cook Political Report: “The biggest redistricting weapon of 2022 has always been the Empire State, and Democrats are poised to finally use it. On Sunday, New York Democrats unveiled a gerrymander that could expand their lead in the delegation from 19D-8R to 22D-4R — the largest single-state shift in the country.”

“Gov. Kathy Hochul has already said she supports using the redistricting process to give her party more seats.”

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) is Not Pleased with New York’s new congressional district map that was drawn and passed by the state’s Democrat-controlled legislature on Wednesday. Under those new lines, Malliotakis’ district would merge with a deeply liberal area of Brooklyn – and needless to say, that’s going to be a problem for her.

Malliotakis accused Democrats of trying to “tilt the scale” during a Fox Business interview. “We know one thing from the Democrats this year: It is that if they can’t win by the rules, they’ll change the rules,” the Republican complained.

It’s too bad that there wasn’t any legislation that Malliotakis could’ve voted for that would’ve prevented this from happening.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), whose eligibility to run for reelection is being formally challenged, has now begun his legal fight against that effort, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

“Aside from a blanket one-sentence denial, Cawthorn does not address the allegations against him — namely, that he supported and possibly even helped plan the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress by supporters of President Donald Trump attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election.”

“Rather, his lawsuit says the N.C. State Board of Elections has no authority to keep him off the ballot in the first place, and so the challenge against him should be dropped and the state law allowing for such challenges should be ruled unconstitutional.”

ALABAMA U.S. SENATOR. Republican Rep. Mo Brooks has spent months dealing with chatter that his top ally, Donald Trump, thinks he’s running a bad campaign, and now even the congressman’s supporters at the anti-tax Club for Growth have released a poll showing his support plunging ahead of the May primary for Alabama’s open Senate seat. WPA Intelligence’s survey gives Brooks only a small 35-30 lead on Army veteran Mike Durant, who has already spent heavily on TV ads; former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Boyd Britt is at 25%. This is the first poll we’ve seen all year, as well as the first survey to ever show Durant in second place—crucial, because the primary is likely to require a runoff.

While WPA’s memo argues that Brooks has “room to grow” because only 42% of respondents are aware that he’s Trump’s preferred candidate, it skips over the fact that these numbers show a precipitous decline for the congressman over the last few months. In October, before Durant entered the race, WPA gave Brooks a dominant 55-12 advantage over Britt, who has the all-out support of retiring Sen. Richard Shelby. That older survey also showed that only 23% of respondents knew about the Trump endorsement, which indicates that Brooks is losing traction even as more primary voters are hearing his message.

So, what’s going wrong for Brooks? In December, CNN highlighted his fundraising struggles, with one unnamed GOP operative saying, “Mo is famous for his frugality. He didn’t really hire campaign staff and didn’t want to spend money.” Things have only gotten worse since then, as Brooks revealed Monday that he’d hauled in just $386,000 during the fourth quarter, considerably less than the already-underwhelming $669,000 he’d raised during the previous three months, though he still had close to $2 million to spend. Britt and her backers have also made it clear they’ll attack the six-term congressman as a D.C. insider, and even one of Brooks’ allies thinks the charge is legit, remarking, “I think it’s pretty obvious that Mo’s Achilles heel is that he’s seen as a career politician, and they really have to think long and hard about fixing that.”

And even though Brooks ought to be MAGA in good standing—after all, he helped foment the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol—he still managed to get booed at an August Trump rally when he told the audience that when it comes to the 2020 election, they should “put that behind you.” Backstage during that same event, reported CNN, Trump had a brief but friendly conversation with Britt, whom he’d previously derided as “not in any way qualified” for the Senate.

The congressman’s unwelcome reception at the rally, as well as Trump’s supposedly “chance encounter” with Britt, is what “first sowed frustration” with Brooks inside Trumpworld, per CNN. Brooks responded in December by “reassessing his campaign strategy” and replacing several members of his campaign team, but the Club’s new poll indicates that he still has a lot of work to do if he wants to resume his old frontrunner status.

CONNECTICUT U.S. SENATOR and GOVERNOR. Former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides announced Sunday that she would seek the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal rather than go ahead with her long-anticipated campaign against Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont.

Klarides will be in for a very challenging race in a deep blue state that hasn’t been represented by a Republican senator since Lowell Weicker left office after losing to Joe Lieberman in 1988. The one upside is that Klarides will at least sidestep a tough GOP primary against businessman Bob Stefanowski, who may now be able to avoid a serious intra-party battle as he seeks a rematch against Lamont.

MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR. A new poll from Republican firm Remington Research, taken for the local political tip sheet Missouri Scout, finds disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens leading Attorney General Eric Schmitt 28-23 in the August GOP primary, with Rep. Vicky Hartzler close behind with 19%. Another congressman, Billy Long, is further back with just 8%, while attorney Mark McCloskey takes just 5%. Remington similarly had Greitens outpacing Schmitt 27-24 back in early December, with 16% going to Hartzler.

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has publicized a new poll from Data for Progress that shows him outpacing Rep. Conor Lamb 46-16 in the May Democratic primary, with state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta at 12%. Our last look at this contest came in the form of a mid-December GQR survey for Kenyatta that had him trailing Fetterman 44-20, though the poll argued the state representative would pick up more support after voters learned more about each candidate.

TV personality Mehmet Oz’s newest TV spot against hedge fund manager David McCormick goes all-in on the anti-Chinese messaging we’ve seen from so many other Republican candidates over these last many years. The ad kicks off with stereotypical gong sounds as the narrator declares, “First, China sent us COVID. Then, David McCormick’s hedge fund gave Chinese companies billions.” Oz and McCormick are competing in a May GOP primary that AdImpact reports has already attracted a combined $15.3 million in TV spending and reservations.

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR. Policy For Progress, which is affiliated with the pro-charter schools group Democrats for Education Reform, has released a survey of the September Democratic primary from MassInc, and it shows Attorney General Maura Healey outpacing state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz 48-12. This is the first poll we’ve seen of this contest.

Former U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling told Politico this week that he won’t seek the Republican nod for this open seat.

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. The Republican firm OH Predictive Insights takes a look at the August GOP primary to face Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, and it shows Attorney General Mark Brnovich leading retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire 25-11. OH’s last poll, conducted in November, had Brnovich up by a similar 27-12 spread. The new survey also includes a scenario where Gov. Doug Ducey runs, which finds him beating Brnovich by a 35-13 margin.

NEVADA U.S. SENATOR. The nonpartisan Nevada Independent has released numbers from OH Predictive Insights, a Republican firm that often works on behalf of media outlets in its home state of Arizona, that give Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto a 44-35 lead over former Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt. The only other survey we’ve seen from a reliable firm was a September poll from the Democratic pollster The Mellman Group, which was also working for the Independent, and it gave Cortez Masto a smaller 46-41 edge.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. Mike Gibbons, a wealthy businessman who lost the 2018 Republican primary for Ohio’s other Senate seat, has released a Cygnal poll showing him with the edge ahead of the May contest where a 44% plurality remain undecided. Gibbons leads former state Treasurer Josh Mandel 16-13, with venture capitalist J.D. Vance and former state party chair Jane Timken at 10% and 8%, respectively; businessman Bernie Moreno takes 6%, while state Sen. Matt Dolan brings up the rear with 3%.

Gibbons dropped these new numbers shortly after Moreno, Timken, and Mandel’s allies at the Club for Growth each publicized their own polls showing their side either ahead or within striking distance. What each survey agrees on, though, is that a significant number of respondents are undecided months ahead of the primary.

Gibbons is also out with a new commercial starring Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who tells the audience, “I’ve stood strong against the mandates of Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, but I need help. That’s why I’m endorsing Mike Gibbons for Senate.”

NEBRASKA GOVERNOR. University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen on Tuesday earned an endorsement from the influential Nebraska Farm Bureau ahead of the May Republican primary.

Pillen and state Sen. Brett Lindstrom have each released new spots ahead of May’s primary. Lindstrom’s ad touts his time as a walk-on for the University of Nebraska football team in the early 2000s, while Pillen’s commercial throws as much red meat to the conservative base as he can cram into 30 seconds. “You know what really ticks me off? Those crazy liberals in Washington who want to cancel everyone and everything,” he says, adding, “If you love America, they hate you.”

TEXAS GOVERNOR. YouGov’s new survey for the University of Houston shows Republican Gov. Greg Abbott leading former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke 48-43. If anything like that obtains in November, that would amount to the closest race for governor in Texas since 1990, when Ann Richards’ 49-47 victory gave Democrats their last recent gubernatorial victory. But it may not be what’s in store: The last public numbers we saw came from an early December Quinnipiac poll that put Abbott ahead 52-37.

YouGov has Abbott defeating former state party chair Allen West 58-11 in the Republican primary.

FLORIDA U.S. SENATOR and GOVERNOR. Suffolk University is out with its first poll of Florida’s Senate and gubernatorial races, and it finds both Republicans starting out with the lead. Sen. Marco Rubio defeats Democratic Rep. Val Demings 49-41, which is similar to the 51-44 advantage St. Pete Polls found in late November.

In the contest for governor, incumbent Ron DeSantis outpaces Rep. Charlie Crist and state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried 49-43 and 51-40, respectively. St. Pete Polls’ last survey had DeSantis beating the pair 51-45 and 51-42; neither poll tested the third notable Democrat in the race, state Sen. Annette Taddeo.  

NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR. Five Republicans are competing to take on Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who faces no intra-party opposition in a state that Joe Biden carried 54-44. Perhaps the best-known contender is 2020 Senate nominee Mark Ronchetti, a longtime TV meteorologist who lost to Democrat Ben Ray Lujan 52-46 in a race that was closer than expected.

Also in the running are retired Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Greg Zanetti, an investment advisor who has regularly appeared on local radio to offer financial advice; Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Brock; state Rep. Rebecca Dow; and anti-abortion activist Ethel Maharg. The most recent fundraising reports are from early October, before Ronchetti was running, and the next ones aren’t due until mid-April.

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

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