The Political Report – 3/11/22

Despite Donald Trump’s praise of Russian president Vladimir Putin as a “genius” and “very saavy,” the vast majority of Americans are siding with Ukraine right now.

A new Citizen Data poll suggests there’s a “clear opportunity for Americans to find consensus, transcend political polarization, and unite as a country” against a common adversary. Here are some key findings from the survey:

  • Americans overwhelmingly view the Russia-Ukraine conflict as a broader fight for global democracy, rather than solely a regional dispute. Almost eight out of ten (78%) see it partly, if not entirely, as a fight for global democracy.
  • Support for Ukraine transcends political divides. Statements made by President Biden, President Zelensky, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Mitt Romney were strongly supported by respondents on both sides of the aisle.
  • Meanwhile, statements from political figures such as former President Trump, radio talk show host Charlie Kirk, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson seeking to excuse or explain Putin’s behavior were overwhelmingly rejected based on a blind test where statements were anonymized. 
  • Americans are united in advocating for more severe action toward Russia moving forward. Almost three quarters (74%) of Americans believe the U.S. has not acted severely enough in response to the Russian invasion.

Former President Donald Trump is fundraising for a new “Trump Force One” airplane after a private jet he was traveling in was forced to make an emergency landing this weekend, Insider reports.

Nate Cohn: “In a departure from a decades-long pattern in American politics, this year’s national congressional map is poised to be balanced between the two parties, with a nearly equal number of districts that are expected to lean Democratic and Republican for the first time in more than 50 years.”

“Despite the persistence of partisan gerrymandering, between 216 and 219 congressional districts, out of the 435 nationwide, appear likely to tilt toward the Democrats… An identical 216 to 219 districts appear likely to tilt toward Republicans, if the maps enacted so far withstand legal challenges. To reach a majority, a party needs to secure 218 districts.”

Donald Trump Jr. explains his father’s repeated praise of dictators like Russian president Vladimir Putin as playing these foreign leaders “like a fiddle.”  Said Trump: “He knew exactly how to play these guys.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) vetoed the congressional redistricting map passed by the Republican-majority Legislature, saying it should have included a district that would allow a second Black candidate a chance to serve in the state’s congressional delegation, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

A new Brennan Center survey of local election officials finds that 1 in 5 local election administrators say they are likely to leave their jobs before the 2024 presidential election.

Michigan state House candidate Robert “RJ” Regan is pretty annoyed at how everyone’s making such a big deal over his ghoulish comparison of accepting the 2020 election results to telling his daughters to “just lie back and enjoy it” if they get raped.

Regan made the comparison again on Wednesday during an interview with conservative radio host ​​Randy Bishop and said his point was that he was tired of the GOP establishment telling the party’s grassroot supporters that they “just have to sit there and take it.”

Regan complained that the backlash was “a bunch of BS,” striking a noticeably more resentful tone than yesterday, when he tried to explain his comment to Michigan Bridge. The Republican candidate argued that the real issues are that the libs “want to teach” kids “how to be woke and how to put on a condom.”

Regan accused the Michigan GOP leaders who criticized him of being ​”establishment cronies” who’ve been ignoring the sexual assault allegations against ex-House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R) by his sister-in-law.

The Michigan Republican Party leaders haven’t withdrawn their support for Regan (who’s also a QAnoner who posts anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on Facebook), by the way. They scolded him earlier this week for making “offensive” comments.

Donald Trump was asked on a UFC podcast how he saw the war of Ukraine unfolding and he answered by mocking environmentalists and the use of windmills.

“More than 27,000 mail ballots in Texas were flagged for rejection in the first test of new voting restrictions enacted across the U.S., jeopardizing votes cast by Democrats and Republicans alike and in counties big and small,” the AP reports.

“It puts the rate of rejected mail ballots in Texas on track to significantly surpass previous elections.“

Oregon Republican Party chair Dallas Heard has resigned, citing “evil” inside the party he leads, the Oregonian reports.

Said Heard: “My physical and spiritual health can no longer survive exposure to the toxicity that can be found in this community. We truly have an equal if not greater evil than the Democrats walking among us.”

He added: “The endless slander, gossip, conspiracies, sabotage, lies, hatred, pointless criticism, blocking of ideas, and mutiny brought against my administration has done what I once never thought possible, They have broken my spirit. I can face the Democrats with courage and conviction, but I can’t fight my own people too.”

Florida’s Republican-controlled House approved a Senate-passed measure on Wednesday that would create Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) proposed special police office dedicated to combating non-existent voter fraud. The measure would give DeSantis about $2.5 million in taxpayer funds to launch an “Office of Election Crimes and Security” of 25 employees under the Department of State.

Washington Post: “The agency will be the first of its kind in the nation. Its staff of 25 will be part of the Department of State, which answers to DeSantis. Both chambers approved its creation by wide margins after debate that had Democrats invoking the name of the late civil rights leader John Lewis and a Republican representative making reference to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. The governor has indicated he will sign the measure into law.”

MINNESOTA 5TH CD. Former Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels (D) is launching a bid to defeat Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), giving the Democrat a prominent challenge from within her own party, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

CALIFORNIA 13TH CD. Agribusinessman John Duarte has announced that he’ll compete as a Republican in the June top-two primary for this open seat in the mid-Central Valley, which Joe Biden would have carried 54-43.

CALIFORNIA 41ST CD. Former federal prosecutor Will Rollins’ campaign against Republican incumbent Ken Calvert has earned an endorsement from Democratic Rep. Mark Takano, who is seeking re-election in the neighboring new 39th District. (Only about 2% of Takano’s existing 41st District is located in the new seat with that number.)

FLORIDA 22ND CD. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis says he hopes to decide by the end of the month if he’ll seek this open seat. Another local Democrat, Broward County Commissioner Mark Bogen, has decided not to run, however.

Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz on Friday became the first notable candidate to enter the August primary to succeed his fellow Democrat, retiring Rep. Ted Deutch. Several other Democrats are eyeing this seat, but Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said earlier that day that he would stay out. On the Republican side, former state Rep. George Moraitis was also a no.

Moskowitz notably delivered an emotional address to his colleagues in the state House after the 2018 massacre that occurred at his alma mater, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which the South Florida Sun-Sentinel credits with helping pass a gun safety bill. He left the legislature after the 2018 elections to join Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration as director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and the governor later appointed him to his current post to succeed Barbara Sharief, a fellow Democrat who resigned to unsuccessfully seek the 20th District last year.

While Moskowitz’s ties to the hardline Republican could emerge as an issue in the primary, the paper notes that he is also the son of the late Mike Moskowitz, an influential South Florida Democratic leader and fundraiser who was “widely admired in political circles.”

Moskowitz has publicized endorsements from 50 current or former elected officials including state Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, who initially considered seeking the Democratic nomination herself, and former Rep. Robert Wexler, who represented a previous version of this constituency from 1997 to 2010.

MARYLAND 1ST CD. Former Del. Heather Mizeur now has the support of all seven members of Maryland’s Democratic House delegation in the June primary to take on Republican incumbent Andy Harris.

NORTH CAROLINA 11TH CD. State Sen. Chuck Edwards’ opening spot for the May Republican primary focuses on his business background, conservative record, and “mountain values,” which is a not-so-subtle swipe at Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s failed attempt to district hop. In case that was too subtle, Edwards concludes that “this is my home, and it’s worth the fight.”

NEW YORK 24TH CD. Attorney Todd Aldinger has ended his Republican primary campaign against Rep. Chris Jacobs in this safely red seat in the Buffalo suburbs. A few other Republicans are still challenging the incumbent, but there’s no indication that any of them are capable of putting up a serious fight.

OHIO 13TH CD. Gov. Mike DeWine has appointed former state Rep. Christina Hagan to the Ohio Elections Commission, a move that almost certainly means that the two-time GOP congressional candidate won’t run again this year in the event that the state Supreme Court again orders new U.S. House boundaries.

PENNSYLVANIA 17TH CD. Allegheny County Council member Sam DeMarco, who also chairs the county Republican Party, has joined the race for Pennsylvania’s open 17th Congressional District. Under a local “resign to run” law, DeMarco will have to quit his current post by March 23.

GEORGIA 7TH CD. Protect Our Future, a super PAC backed by cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, is out with the first spot in its planned $2 million ad campaign for the May Democratic primary in support of Rep. Lucy McBath. As the congresswoman is shown visiting her son’s grave, the narrator tells the audience, “Lucy McBath’s overcome the toughest challenges. From losing her son Jordan to senseless gun violence, to surviving breast cancer twice.” The rest of the commercial touts her as a congresswoman who fights to protect healthcare and programs like Social Security.

TEXAS 28TH CD. Cassy Garcia, who is a former staffer to Sen. Ted Cruz, earned endorsements from five of the six Republicans who failed to advance past last week’s primary, a group that amassed a combined 45% of the vote. Garcia will face 2020 nominee Sandra Whitten, whom she outpaced 23-18, in the May runoff.

ARIZONA 6TH CD. State Sen. Kelly Townsend ended her Republican primary campaign on Friday for a swingy seat in southern Arizona that was located about 50 miles away from her Mesa home. Townsend said that, while she’d been encouraged to run by people “close to” Donald Trump, “in spite of repeated assurances, the promised formal endorsement has still not materialized.”

Townsend’s departure leaves Juan Ciscomani, a former senior advisor to Gov. Doug Ducey, as the only notable Republican running for an open seat that Biden would have carried by a slim 49.3-49.2. Ciscomani, whose endorsement from the Congressional Leadership Fund very much did materialize, ended 2021 with $746,000 to spend. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Kirsten Engel held a $549,000 to $404,000 cash-on-hand edge over state Rep. Daniel Hernández.

UTAH U.S. SENATOR. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said that he’s likely to stay neutral in Utah’s U.S. Senate race, declining to endorse either Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) or Evan McMullin (I), Politico reports. Said Romney: “I don’t get involved in primaries and I don’t endorse. I just stay out of them, particularly between two friends.”

ARIZONA 1ST CD. Environmental consultant Ginger Sykes Torres, who announced a bid against Republican incumbent David Schweikert back in January, earned an endorsement on Wednesday from 3rd District Rep. Raúl Grijalva for the August Democratic primary. Torres joins a field that already includes Jevin Hodge, who lost a close 2020 campaign for the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, and former Phoenix Suns employee Adam Metzendorf, in the nomination fight for a suburban Phoenix seat that would have favored Joe Biden by a narrow 50-49. Hodge ended 2021 with $243,000 on hand, while Metzendorf had $71,000 to spend.

Before he can focus on the general election, though, Schweikert faces a very well-funded primary foe of his own. Insurance executive Elijah Norton dumped close to $2 million of his own money into his campaign last year, and he concluded December with a $2.09 million to $326,000 cash-on-hand lead.

Norton has been attacking the ethics of the incumbent, who in 2020 agreed to pay a $50,000 fine, accept a formal reprimand, and admit to 11 different violations of congressional rules and campaign finance laws in a deal with the bipartisan House Ethics Committee to conclude its two-year-long investigation. Schweikert, though, has made it clear he’ll go after Norton’s turbulent departure that year from his company ahead of what the Arizona Republic characterized as “a class-action lawsuit filed against the company and others claiming it had made numerous calls to phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.”

OREGON 6TH CD. Two Oregon Republicans from yesteryear launched campaigns for the brand-new 6th Congressional District, a seat in the mid-Willamette Valley that Joe Biden would have carried 55-42, just ahead of Tuesday night’s candidate filing deadline: former Rep. Jim Bunn, who was elected to his only term in a previous version of the 5th District during the 1994 red wave, and Mike Erickson, who was the 2006 and 2008 nominee for the next incarnation of the 5th. Bunn and Erickson join five fellow Republicans in the May 17 primary, while nine Democrats are also running here.

Bunn, who joined the state Senate in 1987, won a promotion to the U.S. House by winning a close open seat race as a “family values” candidate, but this victory proved to be the highlight of his political career. The new congressman married one of his aides just months after divorcing his wife of 17 years, and he soon promoted his new spouse to chief of staff and gave her a larger salary than any other Oregon congressional aide.

All of this made Bunn an appealing foil for Clackamas County Commissioner Darlene Hooley, a Democrat who also took the incumbent to task for his ardent opposition to abortion and gun safety. Hooley unseated the Republican 51-46; years later, he acknowledged that his brothers and even his soon-to-be-wife had cautioned him that the marriage could badly harm him politically, but that “I wasn’t a bright enough person to listen and understand.”

Bunn soon returned home and took a job as a prison guard at the Yamhill County Jail, which is one of the more unusual post-congressional career paths we’ve seen (though one dude served as a Capitol Hill elevator operator in the late 1930s), but he wasn’t quite done trying to get back into office. In 2008 he ran for a state House seat, but he took third place in the primary with only 21%. Bunn last year applied to fill a vacant seat back in the state Senate, but party leaders chose someone else.

Erickson also has had a long career in Beaver State politics, though he’s had even less success than Bunn. He lost general elections for the state House in 1988 and 1992, and his victorious opponent that second time was none other than now-Gov. Kate Brown. Erickson went on to challenge Hooley in 2006 but lost 54-43, and he tried again two years later when she retired from her swing seat.

First, though, he had to get through an ugly primary against 2002 gubernatorial nominee Kevin Mannix, who sent out mailers late in the race accusing Erickson of impregnating a girlfriend in 2000 and paying for her subsequent abortion. Erickson called these “unsubstantiated and untrue allegations,” though he admitted he’d given the woman $300 and taken her to a doctor. Erickson narrowly won the primary but lost the general election 54-38 to Democrat Kurt Schrader. (And because this seems to be the year of Republican comeback campaigns in Oregon, Mannix is currently running for the state House.)

Given those histories it’s likely that plenty of Republicans hope someone will beat Bunn and Erickson in the primary, but it remains to be seen if any of the other five primary candidates, all of whom began running last year, will emerge as the frontrunner. The contender who ended 2021 with the most money by far is Army veteran Nate Sandvig, though his $101,000 war chest wasn’t very impressive. Well behind with $31,000 on-hand was state Rep. Ron Noble, who is a relative moderate. Also in the race are former Keizer city councilor Amy Ryan Courser, who challenged Schrader in 2020 in the 5th and lost 52-45; Dundee Mayor David Russ; and Air Force veteran Angela Plowhead.

Things are also far from defined on the Democratic side. The field includes state Reps. Teresa Alonso León and Andrea Salinas, who would each be the first Latina to represent the state in Congress; Alonso Leon would also be Oregon’s first indigenous member. Salinas, for her part, has an endorsement from 1st District Rep. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, who currently represents just over 40% of this new seat.

Also in the running are Cody Reynolds, a self-funder who has unsuccessfully run for office several times as an independent or third-party candidate (he was also once convicted of smuggling weed); economic development adviser Carrick Flynn; Oregon Medical Board member Kathleen Harder; former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, who would Oregon’s first Black representative; cryptocurrency developer Matt West; and two others who have attracted little attention so far.

Most of these contenders were also running last year. Reynolds finished 2021 with $1.96 million on-hand that came entirely from himself. West, who has also self-funded a large portion of his campaign, had $476,000 compared to $159,000 for Salinas, while Harder and Smith had $123,000 and $86,000, respectively. Alonso Leon and Flynn entered the race in the new year, and Flynn has already benefited from $1.4 million in outside spending from Protect Our Future, a super PAC backed by cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried.

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

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