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The Political Report – 2/16/22

A new CBS News/YouGov poll finds just 35% of voters want Donald Trump to run again for president, while 65% don’t want him to run.  Among just Republicans, 69% want him to run while 31% don’t want him to run.

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds that 28% of Democrats said their party has lacked resolve or was preoccupied with internal feuds in passing President Biden’s agenda, while 47% blamed Republicans for thwarting Democrats’ plans, and 25% said the party had mostly accomplished its goals.

“A Republican county clerk in Colorado who was stripped of her responsibility of overseeing county elections is joining a growing movement of people throughout the country who spread false claims about fraud in the 2020 presidential election and want to oversee the next one,” the New York Times reports.

“Tina Peters, the Mesa County clerk, who is facing accusations that she breached the security of voting machines, announced on Monday that she would run to be the top elections official in Colorado.”

NEW YORK 4TH CD. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) said that she would not seek reelection, becoming the 30th House Democrat to announce a planned exit from the chamber ahead of what could be bruising midterms elections for their party in November, the Washington Post reports.

Playbook: “Adding to the shock about her retirement is the fact that her seat was not considered especially vulnerable. She won her last race by 13 points, and New York’s new map has barely changed the district, which Biden carried by 12 points.”

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ALABAMA U.S. SENATOR. Katie Boyd Britt and her allies at FarmPAC have each released a poll of the May Republican primary that shows the former Business Council of Alabama head advancing to a likely June runoff. Britt’s internal from Deep Root Analytics finds her in the lead with 29%, while Trump-backed Rep. Mo Brooks leads Army veteran Mike Durant 28-23 for second. FarmPAC, which is the campaign arm of the Alabama Farmers Federation, is also out with a Cherry Communications poll that puts Brooks in first with 34%, while Britt edges out Durant 29-24.

MISSOURI U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s campaign to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt earned an endorsement over the weekend from Missouri’s other Republican senator, Josh Hawley. And in case there was any question about what kind of campaign she’d run in order to win the August primary, Hartzler just went up with a spot that’s only the latest instance of her pushing anti-trans ideas.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is now selling his January 6 fist-pump image on a mug.

ARKANSAS U.S. SENATOR. Sen. John Boozman has launched what Inside Elections’ Jacob Rubashkin says is a $240,000 three-week ad campaign—an opening buy that comes two weeks earlier than he’d originally planned—ahead of the May Republican primary. The spot touts the incumbent as an effective Trump-endorsed conservative who is “a work horse, not a show pony.” The commercial doesn’t mention former football player Jake Bequette, Boozman’s intra-party rival who has the support of a super PAC funded by conservative megadonor Richard Uihlein, though the “show pony” line may be a dig at the challenger.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. State Sen. Matt Dolan’s new ad for the May Republican primary, which the National Journal’s Matt Holt says is part of a $2 million TV and digital buy, has him pledging to “fight for more Border Patrol and to finish the wall.”

New York Times: “As he runs for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, the 44-year-old politician has become one of the nation’s most strident crusaders for Trumpism, melding conspiracy theories and white grievance politics to amass a following that has made him a leading contender for the G.O.P. nomination in this Republican-leaning state.”

“His political evolution — from a son of suburban Cleveland to warrior for the Make America Great Again movement — isn’t unique. Across the country, rising stars of the pre-Trump era have shed the traditional Republicanism of their past to follow Mr. Trump’s far-right brand of politics, cementing the former president’s influence over the next generation of the party’s leaders.”

“In the final days of an unprecedented school board recall election in San Francisco, supporters and opponents of the effort blanketed the city with flyers, knocked on doors and rallied to make their final case to voters,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

“The battle over the possible ouster of board President Gabriela López and members Alison Collins and Faauuga Moliga has been ugly, expensive and divisive — splitting parents, teachers and elected officials — and the vote could to a large degree determine the fate of the school district.”

CNN: “The seeds of the backlash that led to the recall effort were planted early in the coronavirus pandemic, when the board considered changing the names of as many as 44 public schools in a city that was still grappling with how to safely reopen them.”

OKLAHOMA U.S. SENATOR. Republican Sen. James Lankford’s first commercial for the June primary consists of him talking about what a committed anti-Biden conservative he is. The incumbent faces two notable intra-party foes, pastor Jackson Lahmeyer and state Sen. Nathan Dahm, but neither of them had more than $85,000 on hand at the end of 2021; Lankford, for his part, had $2.8 million stockpiled.

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. Former hedge fund manager David McCormick used the Super Bowl to air a spot that prominently featured a “Let’s go, Brandon” chant, though the Republican’s ad seems to have been mostly aimed at generating chatter. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tamari says McCormick paid $70,000 to run it just once in the Pittsburgh media market, which is home to just over 20% of the state’s residents, though the extremely wealthy candidate could certainly afford to blast it much further if he wants to.

A tree-trimming company partly owned by Dr. Mehmet Oz (R), who is running for Senate in Pennsylvania, was fined $95 million by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency over a scheme to knowingly employ undocumented workers, the New York Post reports.

WISCONSIN GOVERNOR. State Rep. Timothy Ramthun, who has spent the last year doing all he can to spread the Big Lie, announced Saturday that he was joining the August Republican primary to face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Ramthun immediately made it clear he’d use his new campaign to continue circulating his conspiracy theories, saying, “I need to exhaust all options to address the November 2020 election.” He enters an intra-party race that already includes former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and 2018 Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson.

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR. State Sen. Scott Martin, citing continuing health issues from a leg injury, dropped out of the packed Republican primary on Friday.

TEXAS GOVERNOR and ATTORNEY GENERAL. The University of Texas has released a survey of the March 1 Republican primary from YouGov that finds Gov. Greg Abbott beating former state party chair Allen West 60-15, which is similar to what other polls have shown. The school also polled the general election but, as it has in the past, it did not identify any candidate’s party affiliation in the general election portion of the poll, making the results not worth discussing.

Over in the GOP primary for attorney general, scandal-ridden incumbent Ken Paxton takes 47%, which is just below the majority he’d need to avert a May runoff. Land Commissioner George P. Bush leads former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman 21-16 for second, while Rep. Louie Gohmert is just behind with 15%. Two polls from a few weeks ago also showed Paxton in first, but he was further from winning outright: YouGov, working for the University of Houston, put his support at 39%, while UT Tyler had him taking 33%.

MICHIGAN GOVERNOR. Wealthy businessman Perry Johnson has begun what the Detroit News says is an opening $1.5 million ad buy for the August Republican primary, and his very first spot premiered during the Super Bowl.

The ad is more than a little reminiscent of Rick Snyder’s “one tough nerd” Super Bowl commercial from his successful 2010 bid (probably not coincidentally, consultant John Yob worked on both campaigns): The narrator declares, “When your car door closes just right, thank Perry Johnson. When you even have a job in the American auto industry, thank Perry Johnson.” The candidate himself later asks, “Can you really think of a profession more desperately in need of quality than government?”

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR. Billionaire Ken Griffin has donated $20 million to Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s campaign to win the June Republican primary, a move that finally confirms two months of news stories reporting that the mayor was the megadonor’s chosen candidate. Griffin, who is the state’s wealthiest man, has made it clear for months that he’ll spend massive amounts to defeat Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, so this will likely be the first of many contributions he’ll make to Irvin.

Pritzker has already poured $125.5 million of his own money into his reelection campaign, after spending $171 million of his own money in the 2018 campaign.

HAWAII GOVERNOR. Two new polls show Lt. Gov. Josh Green far ahead of the rest of the field in what is currently a three-way Democratic primary. Mason-Dixon’s survey for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser shows him beating former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell 58-11, while numbers from Public Policy Polling for Green’s allies at 314 Action have him defeating businesswoman Vicky Cayetano 52-10. PPP also asked about a hypothetical race in which Rep. Kai Kahele is also a candidate but found Green defeating him 46-14.

ALABAMA GOVERNOR. The very first poll we’ve seen of the May Republican primary comes to us from Cherry Communications on behalf of Gov. Kay Ivey’s supporters at FarmPAC, and it shows her outpacing businessman Jim James 55-11. Former U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia Lindy Blanchard is just behind James with 10%, though the race for second place would only matter if Ivey failed to capture the majority of the vote she needs in order to avoid a runoff.

LOS ANGELES MAYOR. Billionaire developer Rick Caruso said on Friday that he was joining this year’s open seat race to succeed termed-out Mayor Eric Garcetti as leader of America’s second-most populous city, an announcement that came one day before candidate filing closed. If the Senate confirms Garcetti as Joe Biden’s ambassador to India, the Los Angeles City Council would be able to choose someone to serve as mayor for the final months of his term, though it would be a huge surprise if it picked one of the candidates already running.

Caruso, who has developed some of Southern California’s most prominent malls, has never run for office before, though he previously served as chair of the USC Board of Trustees and on the Los Angeles Police Commission. He also recently changed his voter registration from unaffiliated to Democratic, a move that came almost a decade after he left the GOP. He now describes himself as a “pro-centrist, pro-jobs, pro-public safety Democrat.”

Caruso joins a field that includes four elected officials, all of whom identify as Democrats, in the June 7 nonpartisan primary; in the very likely event that no one takes a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters would advance to the November general election. The frontrunner at this point is arguably Rep. Karen Bass, who ended 2021 with the most money banked and has deep connections in both state and national politics, though no one has released any polls since she entered the race in September. Bass would be the first woman elected to lead Los Angeles, as well as its second African American mayor following the legendary Tom Bradley.

Another familiar name is City Councilman Kevin de León, a longtime labor ally and former state Senate leader who challenged Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein from the left in 2018 and lost 54-46 statewide. (Feinstein carried the city 59-41.) De León, whose parents emigrated from Guatemala, is also the only serious Latino candidate in a city where just under half the population is Hispanic.

City Attorney Mike Feuer is also in, but while he’s the only citywide elected official in the contest, he had considerably less money than any of his rivals heading into the new year. Part of his problem may be the ongoing scandal based around allegations that his office concealed evidence in a long-running criminal investigation involving over-billing by the Department of Power and Water. The candidate, says the Los Angeles Times, has not been accused of wrongdoing by federal investigators and the story hasn’t been mentioned much on the campaign trail, but it’s continued to generate unwanted headlines: Just last month, one of Feuer’s former top subordinates agreed to plead guilty for abetting extortion.

Finally there’s City Councilman Joe Buscaino who, while also a Democrat, has tacked to the right of most of his opponents. Buscaino has made banning homeless encampments in public areas a centerpiece of his campaign and quickly sought to tie Caruso to Los Angeles County’s progressive district attorney, George Gascón. Caruso in 2020 had co-hosted a fundraiser for Gascón’s successful campaign to unseat incumbent Jackie Lacey, and though he went on to donate $45,000 to a pro-Lacey group, Buscaino argued voters “should be deeply concerned about Mr. Caruso’s commitment to public safety.”

The field also includes 22 other candidates including businessman Ramit Varma, a conservative who has self-funded $1.5 million so far, and real estate broker Mel Wilson, a former board member on the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (better known as Metro) who hasn’t brought in much money.

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

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