Dan Pfeiffer: “It’s easy to gloss over what the Republicans do in a Trumpian fog of outrage. But we need to be crystal clear about the meaning of this resolution. One of America’s two political parties passed an official resolution declaring a violent insurrection that led to deaths, assaults on police officers, and calls for the murder of politicians to be ‘legitimate discourse.’”
“The RNC is legitimizing political violence. Pure and simple.”
Doug Sosnik tells Playbook that there would need to be a series of developments in order for the Democrats to defy history:
- The virus needs to be contained with the country returning to a new normal.
- Inflation needs to start going down by summer.
- The economy and the stock market need to maintain steady growth, particularly as interest rates begin to rise.
- The supply chain needs to return to normal.
- There is not a global crisis.
- Biden’s job approval rating needs to be in the high 40s by summer.
- Republicans need to nominate unelectable general-election candidates and run lousy campaigns.
- Trump and Republicans need to keep talking about the 2020 election.
OHIO U.S. SENATOR. GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio, who has been polling for a super PAC that supports Ohio U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance (R), said that Vance “needs a course correction ASAP,” Politico reports.
A 98-page PowerPoint presentation shows that Vance has seen a “precipitous decline” in Ohio’s GOP Senate primary since last fall, when a pair of outside groups backing a rival began a multimillion-dollar TV advertising blitz using five-year-old footage of Vance attacking former President Donald Trump.
From the presentation: “Driving his negatives is the perception that he is anti-Trump. This has only grown since November.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) endorsed the re-election campaign of his Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Axios reports. Said Manchin: “It’s hypocritical to basically work with a person day in and day out and when they’re in cycle, you’re supposed to be against them because they have an R or D by their name.”
He added: “If these are good people I’ve worked with, and we’ve accomplished a lot, why in the world would I not want to work with them and continue to work with them?”
Murkowski later added: “If he’s running, I’ll endorse him.”
NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL. Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his aides are intensifying an effort to revive his public standing, including discussing how to make his first public appearance since resigning in August, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Mr. Cuomo and his remaining aides have been calling former allies and political operatives to complain about New York Attorney General Letitia James, who oversaw an investigation that concluded Mr. Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women, including current and former state employees. The former Democratic governor has denied touching anybody inappropriately and said the investigation was politically motivated.”
“Some political operatives who have spoken with Mr. Cuomo or his aides said they think he is considering a run for attorney general this year against Ms. James.”
NBC News: “Eyeing a possible White House bid, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) declined on Monday to weigh in on one of the most divisive issues in the GOP: Could then-Vice President Mike Pence have ‘overturned’ the 2020 presidential election?”
Washington Post: “Once seen as almost unique among Democrats for his ability to campaign even in conservative areas where most party leaders are unwelcome, Biden — like past presidents — has become a more polarizing figure since taking office. He draws personal and often vulgar taunts from protesters almost everywhere he travels. Many supporters are frustrated that he has not accomplished more. All of it comes against the backdrop of cultural, social and ideological divisions that have deepened in recent years.”
“These factors have spurred some Democrats to keep Biden at arm’s length for now. Midterm elections are influenced strongly by how voters feel about the sitting president, and many Democrats are trying to inoculate themselves by forging their own brands and even criticizing some of Biden’s actions.”
GEORGIA GOVERNOR. “Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue (R) rolled out a campaign video on Monday hitting Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams over a photo showing her maskless in front of a group of masked school children,” The Hill reports. Said Perdue: “This is the Georgia Stacey Abrams wants.” He adds: “This is the reality Brian Kemp has allowed. Unmask our kids.”
Stacey Abrams (D) tweeted a photo of her appearance at a school honoring Black History Month — but she was not wearing a mask like the schoolchildren, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
But the now-deleted post “triggered a Republican backlash that could factor into the November race for governor.”
PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. “Pennsylvania’s sprawling Republican primaries for governor and U.S. Senate are staying wide open,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Politico: “The members of the GOP state committee, which closed its meeting in Lancaster on Saturday to the press, voted down a motion to endorse candidates in any statewide race by voice vote.”
Montgomery County Commission Chair Val Arkoosh announced Friday that she was dropping out of the May Democratic primary. Arkoosh, who was the only woman running a serious campaign, had the backing of EMILY’s List, but she didn’t attract much support in any released poll and ended 2021 with significantly less money than two of her intra-party foes. She acknowledged Friday to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “It’s become increasingly clear over the last month or two that I’m unlikely to be the Democratic nominee.”
Arkoosh’s departure leaves three notable Democrats in the contest to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who has enjoyed a huge edge in every survey we’ve seen, has also continued to lead the money race in the fourth quarter by outpacing Rep. Conor Lamb $2.7 million to $1.3 million and ending with a $5.3 million to $3 million cash-on-hand lead. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta was far back with $335,000 raised and only $285,000 available.
The Republicans, meanwhile, already had a massively expensive and ugly contest even before Friday, when the Inquirer reported that Honor Pennsylvania, a super PAC funded by mega-donor Ken Griffin to support hedge fund manager David McCormick, had reserved $12 million for a six-week ad buy against TV personality Mehmet Oz.
The two sides have been using anti-Chinese messaging to attack one another: Oz recently ran a commercial that employed stereotypical gong sounds to argue McCormick is “China’s friend, not ours,” while McCormick’s team says of his main opponent, “Mehmet Oz—citizen of Turkey, creature of Hollywood—has spent the last 20 years making his fortune from syndicating his show in China, enriching itself through censorship and CCP propaganda … How can he claim to be America First when he has dual loyalties?”
McCormick, as well as attorney John Giordano, entered the primary after the start of the new quarter, but we have fundraising reports for the other GOP candidates:
- TV personality Mehmet Oz: $670,000 raised, additional $5.2 million self-funded, $1 million cash-on-hand
- 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos: $435,000 raised, additional $10,000 self-funded, $2.5 million cash-on-hand
- Author Kathy Barnette: $415,000 raised, $565,000 cash-on-hand
- former Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands: $160,000 raised, additional $500,000 self-funded, $1.5 million cash-on-hand
Barnette, Bartos, and Sands each entered the race several months ago, but they’ve largely been left out of the increasingly pricey feud between McCormick and Oz.
MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR. Team PAC, a super PAC funded by mega-donor Richard Uihlein to aid disgraced Gov. Eric Greitens, is the latest group to try and use anti-China messaging to win a Republican primary. The TV spot accuses Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is a former state legislator, of having “sponsored a bill to spend $480 million of your tax dollars to create a cargo hub here for airlines owned by China’s Communist Party. To flood Missouri dollars with cheap Chinese imports.”
Schmitt’s allies at Save Missouri Values quickly hit back with an ad of their own that uses footage of then-Gov. Greitens appearing on a Chinese TV program. After the interviewer says, “Your visit to China is like an old, beautiful story renewed,” Greitens responds, “It really is. It’s amazing to see the transformation that’s taken place here.” There is no word on the size of the buy for either commercial.
GEORGIA GOVERNOR. Gov. Brian Kemp’s allies at Georgians First Leadership Committee are running a new commercial that once again attempts to portray former Sen. David Perdue, who is Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate in the May Republican primary, as downright unTrumpy. The spot opens with footage of Trump declaring, “I’m gonna bring jobs back from China” before the narrator declares that Perdue “sent American jobs to China. Over and over again. By the thousands.” It goes on to use an infamous clip of Perdue from his successful 2014 campaign, saying of his past practice fo outsourcing jobs, “Defend it? I’m proud of it.”
There is no word on how much this pro-Kemp group is spending, but a new law gives the PAC access to as much money as the governor’s supporters care to fork over. That’s because, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously noted, Georgians First Leadership Committee was created last year after Kemp signed into law a bill that lets the governor and certain other statewide candidates “create funds that don’t have to adhere to contribution caps.” Importantly, these committees will also be able to accept donations during the legislative session, when the governor and lawmakers are otherwise forbidden from fundraising.
This legislation won’t be any help for Perdue, though, unless and until he wrests the GOP nomination from Kemp. And while Stacey Abrams is the overwhelming favorite to be the Democratic standard-bearer again, she also won’t be able to create this kind of committee until her primary is officially over.
OHIO GOVERNOR. The Democratic Governors Association has released numbers from Public Policy Polling that show Gov. Mike DeWine only leading former Rep. Jim Renecci 38-33 in the May Republican primary, which is actually better for the incumbent than his 46-38 deficit in a recent Renacci poll. Neither of those surveys included Joe Blystone, a little-known farmer who has been running for months. Former state Rep. Ron Hood also made a late entry into the race on Feb. 1, which was after both polls were conducted.
PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR. Campaign finance reports were due Monday covering all of 2021, and they give us our first real look into which of the many Republican candidates for governor have the resources to run a serious race in this very expensive state:
- State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman: $3 million raised, $2.7 million cash-on-hand
- 2018 Senate nominee Lou Barletta: $1.1 million raised, $245,000 cash-on-hand
- U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain: $900,000 raised, additional $100,000 self-funded, $815,000 cash-on-hand
- GOP strategist Charlie Gerow: $420,000 raised, $250,000 cash-on-hand
- former Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry President Guy Ciarrocchi: $305,000 raised, $240,000 cash-on-hand
- State Sen. Scott Martin: $300,000 raised, $270,000 cash-on-hand
- Businessman Dave White: $350,000 raised, additional $3 million self-funded, $2.5 million cash-on-hand
- Surgeon Nche Zama: $200,000 raised, $145,000 cash-on-hand
- Attorney Jason Richey: $160,000 raised, additional $1.45 million self-funded, $1.5 million cash-on-hand
- Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale: $40,000 raised
This is the first time we’ve mentioned Richey, who attracted little attention when he kicked off his bid in May.
The list does not include two other declared Republican candidates: former Rep. Melissa Hart, whose numbers were not available days after the deadline, and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who announced last month.
The Philadelphia Inquirer writes of the latter, “After he set up an exploratory committee in the fall, he said he’d reached a fund-raising goal to enter the race. The Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, said Mastriano’s Senate campaign typically files disclosures electronically, but the agency had no report available for his gubernatorial campaign.” The story added, “If Mastriano filed the report on paper and mailed it to Harrisburg, that could account for the delay. Mastriano didn’t respond to emails seeking comment.”
While McSwain has significantly less money to spend than Corman and two self-funders, Richey and White, he does have one huge ally in his corner. Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, which is funded by conservative billionaire Jeff Yass, had $20 million on-hand at the end of the year, and it said in January that “all of that money is at our disposal” to help McSwain.
Whoever emerges from the busy May primary will be in for an expensive general election fight against Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who faces no serious intra-party opposition in his bid to succeed his fellow Democrat, termed-out Gov. Tom Wolf. Shapiro hauled in $13.4 million in 2021, which his team says is a state record for a non-election year, and he had a similar $13.5 million to spend.
COLORADO 3RD CD. State Senate President Leroy Garcia didn’t show any obvious interest in challenging Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert after Colorado’s new maps made the 3rd District even more conservative, but the Democrat fully took himself out of contention on Thursday when he announced he was resigning from the legislature in order to take a post in the Department of the Navy.
GEORGIA 6TH CD. Rich McCormick, who was the 2020 Republican nominee for the old 7th District, has dropped a Public Opinion Strategies internal arguing he’s the frontrunner in the May primary for the new and safely red 6th District. McCormick takes first with 25%, while none of his four opponents secure more than 3% of the vote each.
NEBRASKA 1ST CD. Indicted Rep. Jeff Fortenberry recently went up with a commercial arguing that his May Republican primary opponent, state Sen. Mike Flood, was unacceptably weak on immigration, and Flood is now airing a response spot. Madison County Sheriff Todd Volk tells the audience, “Jeff Fortenberry is facing felony criminal charges, so he’s lashing out at law enforcement and lying about Mike Flood.” After praising Flood for having “opposed in-state tuition for illegal immigrants,” the sheriff commends him for opposing the repeal of the death penalty, which is a topic Fortenberry’s opening ad didn’t touch on.
RHODE ISLAND 2ND CD. Michael Neary, who worked as a staffer for then-Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s 2016 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, has joined the September Democratic primary.
WASHINGTON DC MAYOR. Mayor Muriel Bowser went into the new year with a huge fundraising lead over her two rivals in the June Democratic primary, a contest that is tantamount to election in the District of Columbia.
Bowser led Robert White, who holds an at-large post on the Council of the District of Columbia, $2.4 million to $555,000 in cash-on-hand; White, who like Bowser is utilizing the local public financing system, said that he would have a total of $910,000 to spend once matching funds are included, however. Another Council member, Trayon White (who is not related to Robert White), had less than $3,000 available.