The Political Report – 2/20/22

From a new Quinnipiac poll:

  • 34% like Joe Biden as a person and also like most of his policies;
  • 21% like Joe Biden as a person but don’t like most of his policies;
  • 4% don’t like Joe Biden as a person but do like most of his policies;
  • 37% don’t like Joe Biden as a person and also don’t like most of his policies.

Said pollster Tim Malloy: “Biden still clearly connects with voters on a personal level. It’s his policies that don’t click.”

American Bridge, a Democratic opposition group, is going on the offensive with a campaign against pro-Trump Republicans’ push to take over state and local government offices that oversee elections. American Bridge is launching a $10 million superPAC to take down GOP candidates in those races who promote Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. The group is called Bridge to Democracy.

The campaign, which has already hired 22 researchers, won’t just focus on big races like secretary of state, the New York Times reports. It’s also targeting more under-the-radar election administration roles like county boards of supervisors or boards of canvassers.

The campaign is targeting elections in 12 states: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

OREGON GOVERNOR. Former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s campaign for the Democratic nomination came to an end on Thursday when the Oregon Supreme Court unanimously upheld Democratic Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s determination that he had not resided in the state long enough to run.

The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, who had more money than either of his intra-party rivals, soon announced that he would not go to federal court and acknowledged he wouldn’t be on the May primary ballot. Oregon law requires that candidates for governor be state residents for at least three years prior to election, a standard that Fagan’s office told Kristof last month that he didn’t meet. In a letter to Kristof, aides to Fagan cited a variety of factors in explaining the decision, foremost among them the fact that he’d been registered to vote in New York for two decades and cast a ballot there as recently as the Nov. 2020 elections. The letter called this a “particularly powerful” indicator of residency “because voting is the center of engaged citizenship.”

Kristof responded by filing a legal challenge and claiming, without evidence, that the “failing political establishment in Oregon has chosen to protect itself,” but the Beaver State’s highest court on Thursday upheld Fagan’s move. The justices acknowledged that he “has longstanding ties to Oregon, that he owns substantial property and operates a farm here, and that the secretary did not question his current Oregon residency.” However, they also wrote Kristof “remained registered to vote in New York and retained a New York driver’s license until late 2020, actions that are at odds with an intent to change his domicile to Oregon a year or more earlier.” The justices did not consider Kristof’s argument that the state’s residency requirements are too strict.

Kristof was one of three notable Democrats running in the May primary to succeed termed-out Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, and while his fundraising slowed after Fagan ordered him off the ballot last month, his $1.6 million war chest was still larger than either of his now-former rivals. Unusually, though, we don’t need to wait for a defined fundraising period to end before we can get finance numbers for state-level campaigns in Oregon: Candidates have 30 days to disclose donations during most of the campaign, and newly provided information is quickly accessible on the secretary of state’s site.

State House Speaker Tina Kotek, who would be the first lesbian to serve as governor of any state (fellow Democrat Maura Healey would also achieve that distinction if she prevailed in this year’s race to lead Massachusetts), has reported raising $312,000 in 2022 through Thursday, and she had $930,000 on hand. State Treasurer Tobias Read, who is campaigning as more of a moderate, has taken in $155,000 this year and had $616,000 to spend.

Republicans have a larger field as they look to score their first win since Vic Atiyeh was re-elected all the way back in 1982, and the GOP’s primary got even larger this week when former state Rep. Bob Tiernan entered the race by self-funding $500,000 and receiving another $500,000 in donations from a California-based real estate company called RI-Grants Pass LLC, which left him with $1 million on hand. (There are no contribution limits in Oregon.) Tiernan, who served two terms in the 1990s and was state party chair from 2009 to 2011, said of the company, “It’s from a client that I solved their very difficult problem, and they are extremely grateful and they realize that I know how to fix things in Oregon.”

Here is the fundraising of the other notable GOP candidates for the first portion of 2022:

  • former state House Minority Leader Christine Drazan: $692,000 raised, $1 million cash-on-hand
  • Sandy Mayor ​​Stan Pulliam: $220,000 raised, $333,000 cash-on-hand
  • Businesswoman Jessica Gomez: $153,000 raised, $128,000 cash-on-hand
  • 2016 nominee Bud Pierce: $114,000 raised, $159,000 cash-on-hand
  • Consultant Bridget Barton: $92,000 raised, $400,000 cash-on-hand
  • Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten: $58,000 raised, $83,000 cash-on-hand 

Bill Sizemore, who was the 1998 nominee, entered the race last week, but he has yet to record any fundraising. Sizemore says he was motivated to get in after Pulliam earlier this month acknowledged that he and his wife “explored mutual relationships with other couples.”

There’s a little less than a month to go before the March 8 filing deadline, and Tiernan’s kickoff is a reminder that a well-connected candidate still has time to make a late entrance. One Republican who probably won’t get in, though, is the state party chair, state Sen. Dallas Heard, who said, “I’m not currently considering it.”

The best-funded person in the entire field remains former state Sen. Betsy Johnson, a longtime conservative Democrat who is campaigning as an independent. Johnson has hauled in $1.1 million so far this year and has $3.8 million on hand. The former state senator has benefited from some large donations so far including $250,000 from Nike co-founder Phil Knight, the state’s richest man.

“Kevin McCarthy is throwing off tradition and supporting a primary challenger to one of his own members. But it’s not exactly a surprise — the incumbent is Rep. Liz Cheney,” Politico reports.

“The GOP leader’s decision to wade into the primary battle and support the Trump-endorsed Harriet Hageman marks a departure from the status quo of top party leaders protecting their incumbents. It also caps off a dramatic implosion of their relationship that strained after the Jan. 6 attack.”

TEXAS 8TH CD. Three outside groups are spending a total of $170,000 in support of retired Navy SEAL Morgan Luttrell ahead of the March 1 Republican primary for this open seat, with $100,000 of that coming from American Patriots PAC. Luttrell’s about to get more outside support too, as the GOP firm Medium Buying says that the Congressional Leadership Fund, which is allied with the party’s House leadership, will start airing TV ads here Friday. Luttrell’s main intra-party challenger is political operative Christian Collins, who is backed by Sen. Ted Cruz and his allies in the nihilistic House Freedom Caucus.

WEST VIRGINIA 2ND CD. Gov. Jim Justice has endorsed Rep. David McKinley his May Republican primary showdown against Trump-backed Rep. Alex Mooney.

TEXAS 15TH CD. Donald Trump has thrown his backing behind insurance agent Monica De La Cruz, who already looked like the clear favorite in next month’s Republican primary. Trump’s endorsement didn’t mention her estranged husband’s allegations that De La Cruz physically and verbally abused her 14-year-old stepdaughter, accusations the candidate has denied.

NEW YORK 4TH CD. Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe on Thursday filed FEC paperwork for a potential bid to succeed her fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Kathleen Rice. Jewish Insider also mentions former Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy as possible candidates for Team Blue, while it name-drops Assemblyman Edward Ra and Nassau County Legislator Laura Schaefer for the Republicans.

MISSOURI 7TH CD. The Missouri Scout reports that pastor Alex Bryant is considering entering the Republican primary for this safely red open seat in the southwest corner of Missouri, and it adds that the wealthy Coryell family would be in his corner.

NEW JERSEY 11TH CD. Republican Assemblywoman Aura Dunn said Thursday that she’d decided not to take on Democratic incumbent Mikie Sherrill.

NEW YORK 12TH CD. State Sen. Brad Hoylman was asked Thursday about speculation that he could challenge Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the Democratic primary and responded, “Where is this coming from?” Hoylman’s name was recently included in an unreleased poll of the district, and his response is unlikely to quiet chatter about his interest.

MISSOURI 9TH CD. Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett, who leads a community of 38,000 people, tells the Detroit News that he’s thinking of challenging freshman Rep. Lisa McClain in the August Republican primary for this safely red seat, though Barnett doesn’t seem to have much of an idea of what motivates his party’s base these days. The supervisor, in the paper’s words, “would stress political civility over the partisan rancor that has dominated Washington in recent years, saying the focus should be on working together to get things done.”

FLORIDA 27TH CD. While Miami Beach Commissioner David Richardson didn’t quite rule out a bid for the U.S. House over the summer, the Democrat said this week that he’d instead run for a seat in the state Senate.

FLORIDA 26TH and 27TH CDs. Former Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell said Thursday that she would not run for Congress in 2022.

CALIFORNIA 9TH CD. California-based data analyst Rob Pyers tweeted Wednesday that retired astronaut Jose Hernandez, who was the Democratic nominee in a very competitive 2012 race for the old 10th District, had filed paperwork in San Joaquin County for a potential bid for the new 9th, a message Hernandez himself retweeted. If Hernandez ran he’d face Democratic Rep. Josh Harder, who flipped the old 10th in 2018, in the June top-two primary for a Stockton-based seat that would have backed Joe Biden 55-43.

ILLINOIS 1ST CD. The newest candidate in the June Democratic primary for this open seat is Charise Williams, who previously served as chief of staff for the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Williams, who also is a former official at the Chicago Federation of Labor, ran in 2018 for a seat on the Cook County Board of Commissioners but lost the primary 33-22.

ILLINOIS 3RD CD. State Rep. Delia Ramirez has earned an endorsement in the June Democratic primary from 4th District Rep. Chuy Garcia, who currently represents 43% of the new and open 3rd.  

ILLINOIS 6TH CD. Republican Gary Grasso, the mayor of the small community of Burr Ridge (pop. 11,000), announced in late December that he would run here, and he recently picked up endorsements from state House Minority Leader Jim Durkin and DuPage County Board Chair Dan Cronin. Most of the focus on this race has been on the June Democratic primary showdown between Reps. Marie Newman and Sean Casten.

NEW YORK 11TH CD. Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday evening that he would stay out of the Democratic primary to take on Republican incumbent Nicole Malliotakis, whom he defeated in his 2017 re-election campaign.

MARYLAND 4TH CD. Former Rep. Donna Edwards has earned the backing of her longtime allies at EMILY’s List in the June Democratic primary.

MARYLAND 1ST CD. EMILY’s List has endorsed former Del. Heather Mizeur in the June Democratic primary to face Republican Rep. Andy Harris.

VIRGINIA 7TH CD. Stafford County Board of Supervisor Chair Crystal Vanuch has joined the June Republican primary to take on Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger in this redrawn seat.

RHODE ISLAND 2ND CD. State Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee says she expects to decide in the first week of March whether she’ll enter the Democratic primary for this open seat.

NEW JERSEY 7TH CD. Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski is out with a GQR internal that shows him deadlocked 46-46 in his likely general election rematch against Republican Tom Kean Jr. The memo argued that the race remains close “even though the district is rated lean Republican and arguably we are at a low point in the national Democratic brand.”

MINNESOTA 4TH CD. Rep. Betty McCollum’s first TV spot for the August Democratic primary touts her work in Congress and progressive record; there is no word on the size of the buy. The commercial comes at a time when the 11-term congresswoman faces her first-ever serious primary foe since she first won this safely blue district in the form of Amane Badhasso, a member of Saint Paul’s Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity. Badhasso outraised McCollum $306,000 to $218,000 during her opening quarter, though the incumbent ended 2021 with a $553,000 to $250,000 cash-on-hand lead.

Redistricting, though, will not be much of a factor here. The court-drawn map released Tuesday (see our MN Redistricting item above) moves about 13,000 of McCollum’s constituents to other seats without adding any new areas, so the incumbent already represents the entire new 4th District.

NORTH CAROLINA CDs. When State House Speaker Tim Moore was asked Tuesday if he would take a new look at running for the U.S. House now that the state Supreme Court has ordered new congressional maps, he didn’t rule out the idea. “I’m not even considering that right now,” said the Republican. “I’m just focused on getting these maps approved.” Almost everyone had expected Moore to run in the 13th District under the map that has since been struck down, but he decided not to after Rep. Madison Cawthorn surprised everyone by announcing he’d run for that constituency rather than the neighboring 14th.

The Club for Growth said Wednesday that it would support Republican Bo Hines, who is a former football player at North Carolina State University, in whatever congressional district he ends up running in. Hines had announced a bid for the 7th District, which would have included areas between Greensboro and Raleigh, before the state Supreme Court struck down the GOP-drawn gerrymander, and he now says he’s waiting for a new map before deciding where to campaign.  

NEW YORK 16TH CD. Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi filed FEC paperwork last week for a potential Democratic primary bid against freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman, and the Yonkers Times says that he is “expected to formally announce by Feb. 18.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has endorsed freshman Bowman, who faces a potentially competitive June Democratic primary.

NEW YORK 1ST CD. EMILY’s List has endorsed Jackie Gordon, who was the 2020 Democratic nominee in the old 2nd District, for the new 1st District in the northeastern part of Long Island. Gordon faces two Suffolk County legislators, Bridget Fleming and Kara Hahn, in the June primary for an open seat that would have backed Joe Biden 55-44.

TEXAS 28TH CD. Conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar is going up with his first negative campaign ad of the cycle against attorney Jessica Cisneros two weeks ahead of their Democratic primary rematch. Cuellar, just like in 2020, uses the type of language you’d normally expect to find in a Republican commercial, with a narrator arguing that Cisneros’ agenda would result in “open borders that would make us less safe.” The spot concludes with the sound of a siren as the narrator describes the challenger as “a risk we can’t afford.”

On the other side, J Street, which describes itself as a “pro-Israel, pro-peace group” is spending $100,000 on digital ads running in English and Spanish in support of Cisneros.

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

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