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The Political Report – 2/12/22

 A new CNN poll finds just 41% of voters approve of the way President Biden is handling his job while 58% disapprove.

This is striking: “When those who disapproved of Biden’s overall performance were asked to name a single thing he’d done that they did approved of, 56% had nothing positive to say.”

The same CNN poll finds that 56% of respondents said they have little or no confidence that American elections reflect the will of the people, up from 52% who felt that way in September and 40% in January 2021.

The party breakdown of the skeptical: 74% of Republicans, 59% of independents, and 32% of Democrats.

A new Pew Research survey finds Americans are increasingly critical of the response to Covid-19 from elected officeholders and public health officials.

“Amid debates over how to address the surge in cases driven by the omicron variant, confusion is now the most common reaction to shifts in public health guidance: 60% of U.S. adults say they’ve felt confused as a result of changes to public health officials’ recommendations on how to slow the spread of the coronavirus, up 7 percentage points since last summer.”

“Evaluations of elected leaders at all levels of government have also moved lower. A majority (60%) now describes the job Joe Biden is doing responding to the coronavirus as only fair or poor.”

The day after Donald Trump endorsed her Republican primary challenger, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) released a bizarre video standing in front of Trump Tower in New York City.

That led challenger Katie Arrington (R) to respond: “Nancy — did you get lost on your way to the Fox News Studio? Or are you in NYC to fundraise with the progressives? What does NYC have to do with the Lowcountry?”

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR. State Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman’s campaign describes his opening spot for the May Republican primary as a piece starring “Corman, his daughter, Bella, and a 1990s hair-band rocker,” and let’s just say it probably played better on paper than it does on TV.

IOWA GOVERNOR. Democratic state Rep. Chris Hall tells Bleeding Heartland that he’s decided against a run for governor.

HAWAII GOVERNOR. Rep. Kai Kahele says he’ll spend “the next month and a half” considering whether he should enter the August Democratic primary.

NEBRASKA GOVERNOR. Agribusinessman Charles Herbster has an almost-painfully generic ad for the May Republican primary that informs the audience that the contender, whom the narrator claims is “not a politician,” is also “the only candidate endorsed by President Trump.”

RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR. Businesswoman Ashley Kalus, who is reportedly considering a bid for governor as a Republican, has filed paperwork to create a campaign committee with Rhode Island’s Board of Elections. She still has not yet publicly discussed her plans, however.

ALABAMA GOVERNOR. Kay Ivey faces an expensive Republican primary battle against former Ambassador to Slovenia Lindy Blanchard and businessman Tim James, who took a tight third in the 2010 nomination battle for this post. Six other Republicans, including nonprofit director Lew Burdette, are also in, but none of them have emerged as serious intra-party threats to the governor yet. The eventual nominee should have no trouble in the general election.

AdImpact reported Friday that the self-funding Blanchard, who dropped out of the Senate race to run here, is spending $4.1 million on advertisements compared to $2.6 million for Ivey. James, who is the son of two-time former Gov. Fob James, is far behind right now with $705,000.

James, though, did debut a new TV ad this week that tries to stoke as much conservative fury as he can. “Our leaders tell us that our country is racist to the core, that looting and burning down cities is normal and there are 50 genders,” says the candidate, who does not mention Ivey in that ad.

In another commercial, he does. He declares that Gov. Kay Ivey could have used an “executive order” to prevent school children from having to wear masks, but “she refused.” The National Journal notes, though, that the state’s mask mandate expired in April of last year, while similar municipal requirements in Birmingham and Montgomery ended the following month.

The May Republican primary, unsurprisingly, is turning into a referendum on who hates national Democrats more, and Gov. Kay Ivey is going with a less-is-more strategy in her new ad. Ivey, who is seated behind her desk, tells the audience, “Growing up, my mom and dad told us, ‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.’ Well, here is what I have to say about Joe Biden.” What follows are eight seconds of silence from the governor as she taps her fingers and aimlessly looks around (at least she doesn’t drink from any coffee cups) before, after some brief commentary from a narrator about how conservative Ivey is, she concludes, “Poor Joe … Bless his heart.”

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR. State Sen. Brian Dahle announced a bid against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday, giving Republicans their first even marginally notable candidate in the race. Dahle, who’s refused to say whether he’s received a COVID vaccination, is an extreme long-shot, but as the AP notes, it’s also a free shot for him, since he’s not on the November ballot and will be term-limited in 2024.

MINNESOTA GOVERNOR. Radio host Cory Hepola, who stepped down as weekend TV anchor in 2018 for Minneapolis’ NBC affiliate, tells Minnesota Public Radio’s Brian Bakst he’ll spend four to six weeks thinking about a run for governor. Hepola didn’t specify which party he’d run with, though Bakst says it sounds like he was eyeing a third-party candidacy.

SOUTH DAKOTA GOVERNOR. Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, which is probably the closest he’ll ever come to acknowledging that she won’t be challenging Sen. John Thune for renomination. Noem faces primary opposition of her own in June from state Rep. Steve Haugaard, but he’s raised little money so far.

NEW YORK GOVERNOR. The Working Families Party on Tuesday endorsed New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams’ campaign against Gov. Kathy Hochul in the June Democratic primary; the WFP has long been a force in New York progressive politics, but several unions have withdrawn support in recent years.

OREGON GOVERNOR. In a true blast-from-the-past, Bill Sizemore, the longtime anti-tax crusader who lost the 1998 governor’s race in a landslide, announced Monday that he would seek the Republican nomination for this open seat race. Several other Republicans are already competing in the May primary to succeed termed-out Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, and the field could still grow in the month to go before the filing deadline. The Oregon Capital Chronicle reports that state Sen. Dallas Heard, who serves as state party chair “tried and failed to get other state party officials to support him as a candidate for governor during a party meeting over the weekend.”

Sizemore, who has spent decades promoting anti-tax ballot measures, scored perhaps his biggest success in 1996 with Measure 47, which Willamette Week says restricts “property tax increases to 3% a year.” He tried for an even bigger win two years later when he challenged Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, but while reports of what the Associated Press characterized as his “trail of debt” didn’t stop him from decisively prevailing in the primary, he fell 64-30 in the general.

Sizemore ran again in 2010 but he received just 7% of the vote in the primary months after he was indicted for tax evasion. He reached a plea agreement the next year where he pleaded guilty to not filing state tax returns for three years and went to jail for 30 days, but he showed no contrition when he launched his new campaign this week. “It was all politics from beginning to end,” he argued, adding, “It was Democrats militarizing the Department of Justice and using it to persecute their political enemies.” Sizemore says he decided to run again after another candidate, Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam, acknowledged last week that he and his wife “explored mutual relationships with other couples.”

GEORGIA GOVERNOR. The Republican Governors Association for the first time ever is airing TV ads to support an incumbent in a primary by launching a $500,000 campaign to aid Gov. Brian Kemp. The intervention comes days after a federal judge issued an order barring Kemp’s allied PAC from getting involved in his May primary battle with former Sen. David Perdue; there is no word yet if the governor will appeal.

We’ll start with the RGA ad, which doesn’t mention the Trump-endorsed Perdue but instead portrays Kemp as a “proven conservative leader” who is standing up to the Biden administration. “Kemp cut taxes, creating one of America’s fastest growing economies and good-paying jobs,” the narrator says, adding, “And Gov. Kemp sent the National Guard to the border to help stop the illegal drugs flooding our communities.” Kemp ended January with a massive $12.7 million to $1 million cash-on-hand lead over Perdue, and while the RGA’s ad campaign gives him another boost, his side had an even bigger financial advantage before Monday’s court order.

That’s because Kemp signed a state law last year that allows the governor and certain other statewide candidates to create so-called “leadership committees” that can receive unlimited contributions. Regular statewide campaign committees, by contrast, can only receive $7,600 each for the primary and general elections from individual donors, plus $4,500 for any runoffs.

Importantly, these new committees can accept donations during the legislative session, when the governor and state lawmakers are otherwise forbidden from fundraising, and they’re also allowed to coordinate directly with the campaigns they’re supporting. Kemp’s allies at Georgians First Leadership Committee made full use of these new rules to raise $2.3 million through Jan. 31 and air anti-Perdue ads. By contrast, Perdue and the all-but-certain Democratic nominee, Stacey Abrams, won’t be able to create their own leadership committee unless and until they win their primaries.

Perdue’s team argued in court that the legislation gives Kemp an unfair edge, and the judge agreed in part. The court’s decision prohibits Georgians First from spending in the primary, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s James Salzer notes that the group isn’t required to “give back the money it previously spent or has committed to spend on things such as advertising to win the Republican race.” The leadership committee is also still allowed to keep raising money though the legislative session, which isn’t set to end until early April.

Perdue, for his part, is airing a spot of his own that spends a full 15 seconds zooming in on a recent picture of an unmasked Abrams seated smiling in front of a classroom full of masked children, an action she later apologized for. Perdue’s narrator, though, spends more time attacking Kemp for having “folded” and letting “radical Democrats set their own rules, all over Georgia.” The second half pledges that Perdue will “stop the mandate madness on day one” and obligatorily reminds the audience that he’s Trump’s man.

MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL. Minnesota Attorney General candidate Lynne Torgerson (R) bragged that “at least two people on my staff were participants in Jan. 6” while calling the rioters “heroes.” She added: “It seemed that the election of Joe Biden was somewhat of a coup and that the person who won was President Trump.”

“The midterm election is about one thing and one thing only, a referendum on Joe Biden’s abysmal performance. Nothing else matters.”   — GOP operative Corry Bliss, quoted by the New York Times.

GEORGIA U.S. SENATOR. The Associated Press obtained a heavily-redacted police report involving Hershel Walker (R), who is running for U.S. Senate in Georgia:

“One warm fall evening in 2001, police in Irving, Texas, received an alarming call from Herschel Walker’s therapist. The football legend and current Republican Senate candidate in Georgia was ‘volatile,’ the therapist said, armed with a gun and scaring his estranged wife at the suburban Dallas home they no longer shared.”

“Officers took cover outside, noting later that Walker had ‘talked about having a shoot-out with police.’ Then they ordered the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner and onetime Dallas Cowboy to step out of the home.”

While former Sen. Kelly Loeffler expressed interest last year in trying to reclaim her old seat, the Republican’s team now says, in the words of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, that she’s “not a candidate for any office.”

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. Wealthy businessman Jim Lamon’s new spot for the August Republican primary, which NBC says is set to air during the Super Bowl, features him confronting “the D.C. gang” in an Old West-inspired setting. Lamon, dressed in a sheriff’s costume, shoots the weapons out of the hands of his three masked enemies with Trump-sounding nicknames who are meant to resemble Democratic incumbent Mark Kelly, President Joe Biden, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Yes, Lamon is depicting firing a gun at Kelly, whose wife, then-Rep. Gabby Giffords, was gravely wounded in a 2011 assassination attempt that killed six members of the public.) The campaign says the commercial is one of the spots running in an “upper six-figure campaign.”Lamon, thanks to a generous amount of self-funding, ended the last quarter with a wide cash-on-hand lead over his many rivals, though judging by this spot, very little of his war chest went towards paying an acting coach—or an ethics adviser. The quarterly numbers are below:

  • Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters: $1.4 million raised, $1.8 million cash-on-hand
  • Attorney General Mark Brnovich: $805,000 raised, $770,000 cash-on-hand
  • retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire: $245,000 raised, additional $25,000 self-funded, $225,000 cash-on-hand
  • Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson: $225,000 raised, $190,000 cash-on-hand
  • Businessman Jim Lamon: $200,000 raised, additional $3 million self-funded, $5.9 million cash-on-hand

Kelly, though, ended 2021 with more than twice as much money on hand as all his rivals combined: The senator took in $8.8 million for the quarter and had $18.6 million available to spend.

TEXAS GOVERNOR. Beto O’Rourke (D) backed away from his past assertions that assault weapons should be taken from gun owners, The Hill reports.

Said O’Rourke: “I’m not interested in taking anything from anyone.”

He added: “What I want to make sure that we do is defend the Second Amendment. I want to make sure that we protect our fellow Texans far better than we’re doing right now. And that we listen to law enforcement, which Greg Abbott refused to do.”

Unfortunately for O’Rourke, his comment is on video: “Hell yes, we are coming to take your AR-15, your AK-47.“

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

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