Delaware

The Political Report – 2/9/22

“The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, allowed a congressional map drawn by Alabama Republicans to remain in place Monday, freezing a lower court ruling that said the map likely violates the Voting Rights Act,” CNN reports.

“The lower court had ordered a new map to be drawn, which could have led to Democrats gaining another seat in the House in the fall.”

Washington Post: “The unanimous lower court panel noted that over the past decade, the number of White Alabamians had declined while the state’s Black population grew, and now accounts for 27 percent of the state’s overall population. That means the state’s map should contain two districts with either Black majorities or ‘in which Black voters otherwise have an opportunity’ to elect representatives they favor.”

“The Ohio Supreme Court once again has struck down new state legislative maps approved last month as unconstitutionally slanted toward Republicans under Ohio’s new anti-gerrymandering rules,” the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Columbus Dispatch: “The court gave the commission until Feb. 17 to approve a new map that reflects the 54% Republican, 46% Democrat voting preferences split over the past decade.”

“The Kansas Senate was stuck Monday afternoon as a Republican effort to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto of the congressional redistricting map stalled amid division in their caucus and absenteeism,” the Topeka Capital-Journal reports.

“Republican senators have thus far failed to outright override Kelly’s veto, coming up three votes short of the needed two-thirds majority with two lawmakers not in attendance.”

“Peter Thiel, one of the longest-serving board members of Meta, the parent of Facebook, plans to step down,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Thiel wants to focus on influencing November’s midterm elections… Mr. Thiel sees the midterms as crucial to changing the direction of the country and he is backing candidates who support the agenda of former president Donald Trump.”

NEW YORK 1ST and 2ND CDs. With the adoption of New York’s new congressional map, a number of candidates have announced changes of plans in terms of which district they’ll run in. One of the most notable is former Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon, who’d been seeking a rematch against Republican Rep. Andrew Garbarino in the old 2nd District after losing to him 53-46 in 2020 when the seat came open following GOP Rep. Peter King’s retirement.

Democrats in the legislature, however, gerrymandered Long Island to make the new 2nd considerably redder while simultaneously turning the neighboring 1st District much bluer: The former would have voted for Donald Trump 56-42 while the latter would have gone for Joe Biden 55-44, according to Dave’s Redistricting App. That naturally makes the 1st much more appealing for Gordon, who said on Thursday that she’ll run there, adding that her home also got moved into the district.

However, Gordon will face a contested fight for the Democratic nomination, as two other candidates had already been running in the 1st, which is open because Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin is making a bid for governor. Bridget Fleming and Kara Hahn, both members of the Suffolk County Legislature, entered the race last spring and have stockpiled similar sums: $644,000 for Fleming and $575,000 for Hahn. Gordon, who launched her second effort in October, had just $134,000 in the bank, but she was a dominant fundraiser last cycle, taking in $4.4 million.

NEW YORK 3RD CD. State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi announced Monday that she would compete in the June Democratic primary for the 3rd Congressional District, an open Long Island-based seat that just picked up a slice of her base in the Bronx and Westchester County in its latest incarnation. Data from Dave’s Redistricting App shows that the revamped 3rd, which is open because Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi is waging a long-shot bid for governor, would have supported Joe Biden 56-42, which makes it a hair bluer than his 55-44 showing in the old version.  Biaggi is the granddaughter of the late Rep. Mario Biaggi, who was elected to a Bronx-based seat in 1968 and resigned in 1988 after becoming ensnared in a tangle of several different corruption cases. The younger Biaggi, who worked as an attorney for then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a staffer on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, first sought elected office in 2018 when she launched a primary campaign against state Sen. Jeff Klein, the well-financed leader of the renegade faction of Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference.

Biaggi defeated Klein 54-46 as five of his seven IDC allies were also going down, an outcome that helped Democrats months later secure their first stable majority in the chamber since World War II. Biaggi quickly established herself as a progressive star who was talked about as a possible candidate for higher office: In early 2021 she didn’t rule out running against Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and she reportedly considered challenging her old boss, Cuomo, just before he resigned in disgrace.

While Biaggi enters the race with experience winning a tough primary, the new 3rd Congressional District’s shape still poses a potentially big obstacle for her. Only about 6% of the seat’s denizens are currently her constituents, so the state senator starts out without much of a geographic base. Still, a total of 18% of the seat lives in Westchester County with another 5% in the Bronx, and Biaggi may be able to appeal to these voters especially if she’s the only serious contender from the northern part of the district.

However, the bulk of the 3rd is still based in or near Long Island: 36% of its residents live in Nassau County compared to another 29% in Suffolk County to the east, with the remaining 11% in Queens. Several Long Island-based politicians are already seeking the Democratic nod including Deputy Suffolk County Executive Jon Kaiman, who lost to Suozzi in 2016 when the 3rd was last open; Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan; DNC member Robert Zimmerman; and Melanie D’Arrigo, a progressive activist who lost to Suozzi in the 2020 primary. Lafazan outraised D’Arrigo $455,000 to $80,000 during the fourth quarter and held a $405,000 to $115,000 cash-on-hand lead, while Kaiman and Zimmerman entered in the new year.

Whoever wins the Democratic nod will be favored in November, though Republicans are hoping that their good showing in last year’s local elections in Nassau and Suffolk counties mean they’ll have an opening. The only notable GOP contender is 2020 nominee George Santos, who lost to Suozzi 56-43; Santos raised $250,000 for the quarter and had $320,000 on-hand.

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NEW YORK 22ND and 23RD CDs. Democrat Josh Riley, an attorney who’d been challenging Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney in the old 22nd District, says he’ll continue his campaign in the new, Tenney-less version of the seat. Tenney herself previously announced she’d seek re-election in the open 23rd, a much redder seat than the new version of the 22nd, which in fact is really the successor to the old 24th.

The revamped 22nd, which recently came open after GOP Rep. John Katko announced his retirement, was already a Democratic target even before redistricting made it bluer (the latest iteration would have gone 58-40 for Joe Biden). As such, there are already several candidates vying for the nomination, the most notable among them Navy veteran Francis Conole, who raised $202,000 in the fourth quarter of last year and had $413,000 cash-on-hand. Riley, who launched his campaign in mid-November, brought in $410,000 and had the same amount banked.

As for Tenney, yet another would-be Republican opponent, Steuben County GOP chair Joe Sempolinski, has said he won’t run against her in the new 23rd. However, state Sen. George Borrello wouldn’t rule out a bid in recent comments, though he appears to be holding out the extremely slender hope that Republicans will successfully challenge the new map in court.

NEW YORK 24TH CD. Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs, who represents the old 27th District, says he will seek re-election in the new 24th, which shares much of its DNA with his current seat and is likewise deep red. However, he may not have a clear shot at the nomination: Attorney Todd Aldinger, who has repeatedly sued to overturn COVID mitigation measures, says he’ll run here as well.

CALIFORNIA 15TH CD. AFSCME Local 829 has endorsed David Canepa, a Democrat who serves on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, in the June top-two primary for this safely blue seat.

IOWA 2ND CD. State Sen. Liz Mathis has released the first survey we’ve seen of the race for this northeastern Iowa seat, and her internal from Public Policy Polling shows her trailing Republican incumbent Ashley Hinson only 43-42.

INDIANA 1ST CD. Freshman Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan faces several Republicans in the redrawn 1st District, a northwestern Indiana constituency that would have backed Joe Biden 53-45, though only former LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo looks like a serious opponent at this point. Mrvan finished December with $330,000 on-hand, while Milo launched her campaign in the following month.

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INDIANA 9TH CD. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth surprised just about everyone last month when he announced he would not seek a fourth term in the 9th District, a southeastern Indiana constituency that would have backed Donald Trump 63-35, and nine fellow Republicans are campaigning to succeed him. Only four of these contenders look serious, though Hollingsworth himself initially looked like just Some Dude in 2015 before the recent Tennessee transplant used his fortune to get his name out.

Perhaps the most familiar name is former Rep. Mike Sodrel, who is trying to return to the House after a 16-year absence. Sodrel ran five consecutive campaigns for a previous version of this southeastern Indiana seat—four of which were against Democrat Baron Hill—starting from 2002, but his one and only win came in 2004. After losing to Hill in 2006 and 2008, Sodrel’s last campaign came to an unceremonious end in 2010 when he took third in a tight three-way primary against Todd Young, who went on to unseat Hill in the fall. While the one-term congressman has been out of the game for some time, his personal wealth gives him the resources to reintroduce himself to voters.

Another notable name is state Sen. Erin Houchin, who ran in 2016 when Young left to campaign for the Senate seat but she lost the primary to Hollingsworth 34-25. Houchin’s second bid has the support of Rep. Larry Bucshon of the neighboring 8th District, as well as 2nd District Rep. Jackie Walorski. Rounding out the field are state Rep. J. Michael Davisson and Army veteran Stu Barnes-Israel.

KENTUCKY 3RD CD. Retiring Rep. John Yarmuth on Monday endorsed state Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey in the May Democratic primary to succeed him in what remains a reliably blue seat. McGarvey faces state Rep. Attica Scott, who launched her campaign in July well before the incumbent announced his departure; McGarvey, by contrast, kicked off his own bid in October less than 10 minutes after Yarmuth said he wouldn’t be seeking re-election.

Despite Scott’s head start, though, McGarvey went into the new year with a massive financial lead. The minority leader outraised her $795,000 to $80,000 during the fourth quarter, and he concluded the period with a $700,000 to $20,000 cash-on-hand lead.

While Democrats initially feared that Republicans would try to gerrymander this Louisville seat, they ended up making only very minor alterations to the 3rd: like the old district, the new one would have voted for Joe Biden by a 60-38 margin.

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MICHIGAN 11TH CD. The local pollster Target Insyght finds Reps. Andy Levin and Haley Stevens deadlocked 41-41 in their August Democratic primary showdown. Last week, Stevens released an Impact Research internal giving her a 42-35 advantage in this incumbent vs. incumbent race.  

NORTH CAROLINA 11TH CD. Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning declared Friday morning she was “planning on running,” and she correctly predicted that the state Supreme Court would strike down a GOP gerrymander. Had that map stood, Manning would have most likely gone up against Republican incumbent Virginia Foxx for a 57-42 Trump seat.

NEW YORK 16TH CD. Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said last week he was “looking at” challenging Rep. Jamaal Bowman in the June Democratic primary, though the “hardcore moderate in the middle” seemed more interested in backing the bid that Westchester Public Works Commissioner Tom Meier is reportedly planning in what remains a safely blue seat. Spano was far more direct about what he thought of the congressman, who was arrested last month at a pro-voting rights protest: The mayor declared that “they should have arrested him for his vote on the infrastructure bill,” with the local NAACP quickly responding, “To call for the arrest of a congressman, the first Black one to represent us in the 16th Congressional District, was intentional and we are outraged.”

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NEW YORK 22ND CD. Former Assemblyman Sam Roberts announced Monday that he was joining the Democratic primary for the new 22nd District, an open Syracuse area seat that would have supported Joe Biden 58-40. (About 70% of the new 22nd’s residents live in the old 24th, where Republican Rep. John Katko is retiring.) Roberts made history in 2010 when he became the first Black person elected to represent Central New York in the legislature, and he resigned in 2015 to lead the state’s Office of Temporary Assistance and Disability.

TENNESSEE 5TH and 7TH CDs. Former State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Monday that she would compete in the August Republican primary for the newly-gerrymandered 5th District, an announcement that came less than two weeks after Donald Trump pre-endorsed her.

Several MAGA talking heads have already expressed their disappointment that Trump didn’t instead back music video producer Robby Starbuck, who was running even before the new map transformed this from a 60-37 Biden district to a 54-43 Trump constituency, but it remains to be seen if primary voters will care. Other Republicans could also get in including attorney Kurt Winstead, a retired brigadier general in the Tennessee National Guard who filed FEC paperwork on Monday.  

On the Democratic side, community activist Odessa Kelly’s team acknowledged that she could switch to the 7th District and take on Republican Rep. Mark Green. Trump would have prevailed 56-41 here, which makes it on paper even less friendly turf than the 5th.

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TEXAS 28TH CD. For the first time, attorney Jessica Cisneros is running a TV ad focused on the recent FBI raid on conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar’s home and campaign headquarters ahead of their March 1 Democratic primary rematch. The spot begins with several news reports about Cuellar’s troubles before the narrator promotes Cisneros as “a better choice.”

TEXAS 37TH CD. Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s new spot promotes him as a “true blue progressive.”

TEXAS 35TH CD. State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez’s first TV spot ahead of next month’s Democratic primary parodies the old Dos Equis “most interesting man in the world” ad campaign with a narrator proclaiming near the end, “He is … the most interesting candidate for Congress.” Before that, the commercial commends Rodriguez for being one of the rare state legislators to cast a vote against a pro-Iraq War resolution, defending an Austin Planned Parenthood clinic from Republicans, and helping “Democrats escape on a plane to protest voter suppression” while remembering “a case of beer.”

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

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