Delaware

The Political Report – 2/27/22

A new Gallup poll finds 52% of Americans see the conflict between Russia and Ukraine as a critical threat to U.S. vital interests.

“A large and bipartisan majority of Americans supports economic sanctions on Russia for its military invasion of Ukraine, as public antipathy toward Russia climbs to Cold War levels,” according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

“But while the invasion has produced a bipartisan and sharply negative consensus about Russia, it has not eliminated partisan divisions about President Biden. Overall, the president receives negative marks for handling the situation, with 33% approving and 47% disapproving, while another 20% have no opinion.”

“About half of the public doubts Biden’s ability to handle a crisis and says U.S. leadership in the world has ‘gotten weaker’ during his presidency, levels similar to former president Trump’s ratings while he was in office.”

A new NPR/PBS/Marist poll finds 38% of Americans think President Biden’s top priority should be inflation, followed by the pandemic at 11%, voting laws at 11%, foreign policy at 10% and violent crime at 10%.

President Biden’s job approval rating is now 39%, the lowest of his presidency.

Brutal takeaway: Majorities of Americans think Biden’s first year in office has been a failure (56%), he is not fulfilling campaign promises (54%), and he is doing more to divide the nation (52%) than to unite it.

Jonathan Bernstein: “It’s too soon yet to know whether President Joe Biden will get any short-term, ‘rally around the flag‘ boost in his approval rating from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

“But after a very tough six months, it looks like his low numbers have stabilized for now, and perhaps even recovered a little. My speculation is that it’s all about the end of the omicron wave of Covid-19.”

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has much of the world transfixed and on edge. President Biden announced a new Supreme Court appointment who is unlikely to get any significant Republican support,” the New York Times reports.

“But at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual gathering of the right wing of American politics, the news convulsing the world seemed oddly distant. Instead, the focus was on cultural grievances, former President Donald J. Trump and the widespread sense of victimization that have replaced traditional conservative issues.”

Washington Post: “The Conservative Political Action Conference, an activist jamboree that has long been a hive of anti-political correctness, helped launch and sustain Donald Trump’s political career. But another Republican took the CPAC stage this week to deliver indignation and defiance that left little doubt he sees himself as an heir to the former president’s role as the right’s commander in America’s deepening cultural wars.”

“Addressing thousands at CPAC’s Orlando confab, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis blasted what he called the country’s ‘biomedical security state’ for encouraging vaccine and face mask mandates. He slammed corporations and universities for being ‘infected’ with a ‘woke virus’ that is trying to ‘tear at the fabric of society.’ And the governor called on Americans to put on the ‘full armor of God’ to combat liberals.”

PENNSYLVANIA 2ND CD. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that state Sen. Sharif Street has decided not to challenge Rep. Brendan Boyle in the May Democratic primary now that the new congressional districts have been released. In December, Street proposed a GOP-friendly map that would have created a new open seat based in Philadelphia custom-made for himself by undermining Boyle’s base, but the boundaries the state Supreme Court ended up approving made only small changes to the safely blue 2nd District.

The edge? Republicans are Nazis. They tell us that every day.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) spoke at a white nationalist conference in Florida on Friday evening, the HuffPost reports.

RHODE ISLAND 2ND CD. Sarah Morgenthau, who recently stepped down as an official at the U.S. Department of Commerce, announced Thursday that she was joining the September Democratic primary for the open 2nd District, which makes her the sixth notable candidate to declare. Team Blue’s field could grow larger still: Former state Rep. David Segal, who lost the 2010 primary for the 1st, said the previous day that he was forming an exploratory committee and wants “to make my intentions known over the coming weeks.”

Morgenthau, a prominent fundraiser for Joe Biden’s campaign, comes from a legendary political family: Her grandfather, Henry Morgenthau Jr., was FDR’s secretary of the treasury, while her uncle, Robert Morgenthau, served decades as Manhattan’s district attorney. Her late mother, Ruth Morgenthau, was also the Democratic nominee for a previous version of the 2nd District in 1988, but she badly lost to Republican incumbent Claudine Schneider. (The younger Morgenthau is also related through her father to the late historian Barbara Tuchman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Guns of August.”)

Morgenthau herself has spent most of her career outside the state and only registered to vote in Rhode Island early this month, though she stressed her personal and family ties to the Ocean State. She was appointed in 2017 by then-Gov. Gina Raimondo, who now leads the Commerce Department, to the governor’s Homeland Security Advisory Board, and Morgenthau says she’s spent time in the state “very regularly” over “the last couple of years.” The new candidate, though, declined to reveal if she’d do any self-funding.

Segal, for his part, was active in Providence progressive politics in 2002 when he was elected to the City Council as a member of the Green Party, and he briefly served as the chamber’s minority leader. After joining the Democrats and winning a seat in the state House, Segal ran for the 1st District in 2010, which was the last time Rhode Island had an open-seat race for Congress. He campaigned to the left of his many primary foes and ended up in third place with 20%; the winner, with 37%, was Providence Mayor David Cicilline, who still holds the district today. Segal hasn’t sought elected office in the ensuing decade, though he did found the national liberal organization Demand Progress.

TENNESSEE 5TH CD. Former state House Speaker Beth Harwell announced Thursday that she would join the August Republican primary for the open 5th District, which her old colleagues in the legislature transformed from a 60-37 Biden district to a 54-43 Trump constituency by carving the city of Nashville to pieces. Harwell joins a field that includes former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, who is Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate, and music video producer Robby Starbuck, and more could still get in ahead of the early April filing deadline.

Harwell was elected to the legislature in 1988 to a Nashville seat, and she made history in 2011 by becoming the first, and to date only, woman to lead the lower chamber. She left in 2018 to run for governor but, despite her powerful post, she took fourth place in every single poll released that year. And sure enough, Harwell ended up placing fourth with 15%, which was well below the 37% that now-Gov. Bill Lee earned.

TEXAS 3RD CD. Rep. Van Taylor is continuing to benefit from outside spending ahead of Tuesday’s Republican primary. Elect Principled Veterans Fund, which is affiliated with the super PAC With Honor, has dropped $207,000 for TV and digital advertising to boost the congressman (a Marine vet), which brings its total spending here to $317,000. Crypto Innovation, which doesn’t try to hide what industry it’s affiliated with, is also spending $110,000 for Taylor. The Congressional Leadership Fund has further deployed a total of $193,000 for him, which makes Taylor the first incumbent it’s ever directly aided in a GOP primary.

Taylor next week faces a field that includes former Collin County Judge Keith Self, who has attacked the congressman for voting to accept Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory in the hours after the attack on the Capitol and for supporting the creation of the Jan. 6 commission. We’ve seen no polls, though, to indicate whether Self, who hasn’t spent much money to push his message, can keep Taylor from taking the majority of the vote he needs to avoid a May runoff.

TEXAS 28TH CD. While the Democratic primary rematch between conservative Rep. Henry Cuellar and civil rights attorney Jessica Cisneros in this Laredo-based seat is the main event here next week, Republicans also have a competitive nomination contest in a district that would have favored Joe Biden 53-46. This week a group called Protect and Serve PAC launched a $200,000 buy in support of former San Antonio police officer Willie Vasquez Ng, who lost the 2020 primary for Bexar County sheriff, that touts his law enforcement background. This appears to be the first notable outside spending on the GOP side.

Six other Republicans are also in, including businessman Ed Cabrera and former Ted Cruz staffer Cassy Garcia, who has her old boss’ support. During the pre-primary period, which covered Jan. 1 to Feb. 9, Cabrera outspent Ng $59,000 to $51,000 and had a $118,000 to $98,000 cash-on-hand lead for the final weeks. (Cabrera has self-funded almost his entire campaign, while Ng is also responsible for a portion of his budget.) Garcia deployed just $9,000 during this time, though she had $101,000 available for the homestretch.

TEXAS 35TH CD. Public Policy Polling has conducted a Democratic primary survey on behalf of a trio of groups supporting Austin City Council member Greg Casar that shows him far ahead of the rest of the field with 42% of the vote, which is still a bit below the majority he’d need to win outright. State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, meanwhile, leads former San Antonio City Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran 13-9 for the second spot in the potential May runoff. The last poll we saw was a January Lake Research internal for Casar that had him beating Rodriguez 48-20. The Justice Democrats, which was one of the organizations that sponsored the new survey, is also spending $128,000 to help Casar.

VIRGINIA 7TH CD. Republican Del. John McGuire has announced that he’s ending his campaign for Congress and will instead seek a state Senate seat next year.

MICHIGAN 3RD CD. Tom Norton (R), a pro-Donald Trump congressional candidate mounting a Republican primary challenge to Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI), is refusing to file a federally-mandated personal financial disclosure, Insider  reports.  Said Norton: “That’s none of the federal government’s business.”

NEW YORK 11TH CD. VoteVets has endorsed former Rep. Max Rose in the June Democratic primary.

OHIO 13TH CD. EMILY’s List has endorsed state Rep. Emilia Sykes, who is the former leader of the chamber’s Democratic minority.

CALIFORNIA 37TH CD. EMILY’s List has endorsed Democratic state Sen. Sydney Kamlager in the June top-two primary to succeed Rep. Karen Bass, who also backed Kamlager last month.

NORTH CAROLINA 6TH CD. Freshman Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning has confirmed she’ll seek re-election in the new 6th, a Greensboro-based seat that Biden would have carried 56-43.

MICHIGAN 4TH CD. Longtime incumbent Fred Upton is spending $213,000 on his opening TV ad campaign well ahead of the August Republican primary, but his team says he still hasn’t committed to running again. The congressman, though, doesn’t sound like he plans to go anywhere voluntarily, telling viewers, “If you want a rubber stamp as your congressman, I’m the wrong guy. But if you want someone committed to solving problems, putting policy over politics, then I’m asking for your support.”

Upton, who voted for impeachment, already faced a Trump-backed challenge from state Rep. Steve Carra in the old 6th District before the new maps were finished, and both Carra and Rep. Bill Huizenga have since announced that they’ll campaign for the new 4th. Trump hasn’t said if his support for Carra applies to this transformed race, however; Huizenga recently acknowledged to Politico that this is a confusing situation and that “I’m aware that there are people within the organization that are looking at it and are trying to figure that one out.”

CALIFORNIA 42ND CD. In her deep look at the June top-two primary for this open seat, the Los Angeles Times’ Seema Mehta notes that Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia earned an endorsement last month from retiring Rep. Alan Lowenthal, a fellow Democrat who represents 38% of the new 42nd District. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, who is also not seeking re-election, represents a 48% plurality of the redrawn seat, but she has not yet taken sides in the intra-party contest between the mayor and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (the two candidates do not appear to be related). This constituency, which includes Long Beach and cities to its north, would have backed Joe Biden 72-26, so it’s very possible two Democrats will advance to the November general election.

Both Robert Garcia and Cristina Garcia entered the race in late December, but only the former started fundraising in 2021; Robert Garcia brought in $323,000, and he had $312,000 on hand at the end of the year. The Long Beach mayor, whom Mehta writes “has been accused of being too beholden to powerful donors,” is a former Republican who served as a state youth coordinator for George W. Bush in 2000 and founded the Long Beach Young Republicans five years later. Garcia, who registered as an independent in 2007 and a Democrat in 2010, argues he’s long ago left behind his GOP past and now has a progressive record: Both Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sen. Alex Padilla agree, as they quickly endorsed his campaign shortly after he announced.

Cristina Garcia isn’t so convinced her opponent is a liberal, saying, “Everyone needs to run as a progressive these days. But is that what our record has shown?” The assemblywoman, Mehta notes, has her own potential liabilities, however. While she was one of the women leaders featured on the cover of Time for its 2017 Person of the Year issue for her advocacy for sexual harassment victims, she was soon investigated herself after a staffer accused her of making unwanted advances. Mehta writes, “Two Assembly investigations found that, although she had violated the Assembly’s sexual harassment policy and was ‘overly familiar’ with a staff member while intoxicated, her behavior was not sexual.” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon responded in 2018 by stripping Garcia of her committee assignments, though he’s now backing her campaign for Congress.

Around that same time four years ago, news also broke about a pair of offensive comments Garcia made earlier in her tenure. Several sources recounted to Politico that in 2014, after a group of Asian American activists successfully lobbied to defeat legislation to end the state’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions, Garcia told the Assembly Democratic caucus, “This makes me feel like I want to punch the next Asian person I see in the face.” After the remarks became public, the assemblywoman said her words were taken out of context and that she was talking about how the matter created “unhealthy” divisions among people of color.

Also in 2018, she acknowledged that she’d called then-Speaker John Pérez, who is gay, a “homo” in 2013, saying, “I did make that remark in a moment of anger … However, in no way was my use of that term meant to belittle Mr. Perez for his sexuality.” Perez, notes Mehta, is supporting Robert Garcia.

ALASKA AT LARGE CD. Anchorage Assembly member Chris Constant last week became the first notable Democrat to enter the August top-four primary against Republican Rep. Don Young, whose nearly five decades in office makes him the longest-sitting member of the House. Constant, who serves on the local equivalent of the city council, joins a race that already includes businessman Nick Begich III, who is the rare Republican member of one of the Last Frontier’s most prominent Democratic families. Young outraised Begich $200,000 to $132,000 during the fourth quarter, though the challenger self-funded another $172,000 and ended 2021 with a $631,000 to $227,000 cash-on-hand lead.

MINNESOTA 1ST CD. Democratic Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday officially scheduled the special election to succeed Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn, who died on Friday. The candidate filing deadline is set for March 15, the special primary will be May 24, and the general election for the final months of Hagedorn’s term will be Aug. 9, the same day as the statewide primary. Minnesota’s regular filing deadline is May 31, so anyone competing to replace Hagedorn could still run for something this year if they lose the special primary.

The special will be conducted using the old 1st District boundaries that were in use for the last decade, though the new court-drawn map didn’t change much here. The existing constituency favored Donald Trump 54-44, while the new 1st would have supported him 53-44.

State Republican Party chair David Hahn has announced that there will not be an endorsement convention ahead of the special May primary to succeed the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn, saying, “As part of reorganizing our party units due to redistricting following the U.S. Census, last week I dissolved all of our legislative and congressional district party units to prepare for reapportionment. These party units currently have no authority to conduct business and will need to be reconstituted in order to do so.”

Hahn, though, added that a convention will take place in April for the new two-year term in the redrawn 1st District. This constituency didn’t change much following redistricting, so presumably all the major candidates running for the full term will also compete in the special.

NEVADA 1ST CD. Conservative activist David Brog announced Wednesday that he was entering the June Republican primary to take on Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, whose seat in the eastern Las Vegas area became far more competitive following redistricting, and he tells Politico he raised $100,000 during his first three days in the race.

Brog, who previously ran a group funded by the late megadonor Sheldon Adelson, joins Army veteran Mark Robertson and former Trump campaign staffer Carolina Serrano in seeking the GOP nomination, but neither had attracted much attention yet: Serrano outraised Robertson $59,000 to $54,000 during the fourth quarter, while Robertson ended 2021 with a $172,000 to $57,000 cash-on-hand lead.

The Democratic-run legislature last year made the 3rd and 4th Districts bluer at the expense of the 1st District, consequently dropping Biden’s margin of victory in Titus’ constituency from 61-36 to 53-45. (The congresswoman was not happy, saying in December, “I totally got fucked by the Legislature on my district.”) Titus also faces an intra-party challenge from the left in the form of activist Amy Vilela, who took third place with 9% in the 2018 primary for the 4th District, but she enjoys a wide financial edge: The incumbent outraised Vilela $271,000 to $94,000 and had a $838,000 to $36,000 cash-on-hand lead.

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

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