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The Political Report – 3/18/22

A new Quinnipiac poll finds Americans approve of NATO’s decision not to enforce a no-fly zone, 54% to 32%.

Also interesting: 75% say the U.S. should do whatever it can to help Ukraine, without risking a direct war between the U.S. and Russia, while 17% say the U.S. should do whatever it can to help Ukraine, even if it means risking a direct war between the U.S. and Russia.

From a Pew Research survey:

  • 85% of Americans (including 88% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans) want to keep strict economic sanctions on Russia.
  • 77% of all adults (including 81% of Democrats and 75% of Republicans) support keeping large numbers of U.S. forces in NATO countries near Ukraine.
  • 69% of Americans (including 80% of Democrats and 57% of Republicans) favor admitting thousands of Ukrainian refugees into the U.S.

Monmouth: “About 8 in 10 Americans (81%) support economic sanctions imposed by the United States in response to the invasion of Ukraine, including a ban on Russian gas and oil imports (78%). At least three-quarters of Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike support these actions.”

Josh Kraushaar: “Former President Trump is staring at a real chance that his endorsed candidates go zero-for-three in competitive Senate primaries in May, an outcome that would underscore his already mixed record in primaries and raise serious questions about the depth of his political clout within the Republican Party.”

“Trump’s undisciplined political strategy, seeking to punish any candidate he deems disloyal, faces a wall of resistance in the South, one of the most pro-Trump regions of the country during his presidency.”

“From North Carolina to Alabama, Senate candidates are failing to capitalize on the Trump seal of approval.”

Former President Donald Trump told the Washington Examiner that he is effectively ruling out tapping former Vice President Mike Pence as his running mate should he mount a third White House bid in 2024. Said Trump: “I don’t think the people would accept it.”

He added: “Mike and I had a great relationship except for the very important factor that took place at the end… I haven’t spoken to him in a long time.”

NEW YORK GOVERNOR. CNBC’s Brian Schwartz reports that the disgraced former governor, Andrew Cuomo, who has spent over $2 million on ads trying to rehabilitate his image, is considering launching a late Democratic primary bid against his successor, Kathy Hochul; the April 7 filing deadline draws mercifully closer.

“His aides have been conducting their own internal voter polling on a potential matchup… After a recent public poll from Emerson College showed Cuomo was a few points behind Hochul, the former governor received calls from allies encouraging him to run against Hochul.”

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR. Attorney General Josh Shapiro has no intra-party opposition at all in his quest to succeed his fellow Democrat, termed-out Gov. Tom Wolf, while no fewer than 10 Republicans have filed.

A recent poll for Fox found the GOP primary very wide open with former Rep. Lou Barletta, who badly lost the 2018 Senate race to Democratic incumbent Bob Casey, posting a tiny 19-18 edge over state Sen. Doug Mastriano, an ardent election denier who was filmed on Jan. 6 apparently passing breached barricades at the Capitol. Not far behind with 14% was self-funding businessman Dave White, who lost re-election to the Delaware County Council in 2017, while former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain and state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman took 11% and 6%, respectively.

Also in the mix are Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale; longtime party strategist Charlie Gerow; attorney Jason Richey; physician Nche Zama; and former Rep. Melissa Hart, who lost re-election in western Pennsylvania all the way back in 2006.

P.S. A Shapiro victory in November would mark the first time that either party has won a third consecutive term in the governor’s office in a very long time. In 1954, when Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House, Democrat George Leader won an open seat race ending 16 years of Republican rule that spanned five governorships. For the next several decades each party controlled the post for two terms only to lose it to the other side for eight years; this streak finally came to an end in 2014 when Wolf decisively denied a second term to the horrifically unpopular Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

According to the University of Minnesota, Shapiro would also be the first Keystone State Democrat to score a third consecutive gubernatorial win for the party since 1847, when James Polk was president and the state’s terms lasted for just three years: Eric Ostermeier wrote that Team Blue’s particular “Three-Peat” drought has lasted in Pennsylvania “more than 100 years longer than [in] any other state.”

MAINE GOVERNOR. Filing closes this week for Maine’s June 14 primaries, and the state has a list of contenders here. Instant-runoff voting will be used in the primaries for all offices, but it will only be employed for the general election in federal races.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills faces former Gov. Paul LePage, an extremist Republican who once proclaimed himself “Donald Trump before Donald Trump,” in what will be a closely watched general election, and neither of them has any intra-party opposition whatsoever. However, the deadline for independents to file isn’t until June 1, so it remains to be seen if they’ll have the ballot to themselves. We have not seen any polls here all year.

ALABAMA GOVERNOR. Gov. Kay Ivey has released not one but two different polls showing her with a huge lead over businessman Tim James ahead of the May Republican primary. The Tarrance Group puts her advantage at 61-13, while 1892 Polling gives her an almost identical 60-13 edge.

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry’s campaign says he’s launched a new 7-figure ad campaign ahead of the August Democratic primary, and his spot is the first we’ve seen that makes use of NRSC chair Rick Scott’s instantly infamous 11-point plan to “rescue America.” The narrator says of Republican incumbent Ron Johnson, “Now, he’s supporting the Republican plan that phases out Social Security and Medicare, and increases taxes on middle class families.” The second half of the spot declares that Lasry wants the very opposite of that.

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR. Candidate filing closed Monday for Illinois’ June 28 primary, and the state has a list of contenders available here. Not everyone who filed may make the ballot, though, because it’s very common for candidates in the Prairie State to challenge their opponents’ petitions to try to get them disqualified. Indeed, Barack Obama himself won his state Senate seat in 1996 by getting all his Democratic primary foes—including incumbent Alice Palmer—thrown off the ballot for a lack of sufficient signatures.

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker is seeking a second term in this very blue state, but Republicans are hoping they’ll still have an opening in the fall. A total of eight GOP contenders are running, and the best-funded will almost certainly be Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin. Irvin, who would be the state’s first Black governor, has the support of billionaire Ken Griffin, and the state’s wealthiest man has already given him $20 million. (Illinois has notoriously lax campaign finance regulations.) The mayor, though, has participated in several Democratic primaries in the past and has sometimes voiced moderate views, which could be a big liability in the primary.

State Sen. Darren Bailey, meanwhile, has received $1 million from a different conservative megadonor, Richard Uihlein, and he also has the backing of far-right Rep. Mary Miller. Another well-connected contender is venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, who launched his bid over the summer with $11 million in donations mostly from four California tech titans. Businessman Gary Rabine and former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, who badly lost the 2014 general election for attorney general, are also in, but they haven’t attracted much outside support yet.

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. The latest weird development in the seven-way Republican primary to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey came Tuesday night shortly when Politics PA’s Steve Ulrich wrote that TV personality Mehmet Oz said he’d “forego certain security clearances that are provided to all U.S. Senators to keep his dual citizenship with Turkey.” Oz’s campaign manager responded by denying that the candidate ever said this, but the next day, the candidate declared that he’d renounce his Turkish citizenship if elected, saying, “My dual citizenship has become a distraction in this campaign.”Ulrich explains that there’s no rule against dual nationals serving in Congress (famously, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2014 after more than a year in office), and senators don’t actually have security clearances: Roll Call wrote last year that “members of Congress are by tradition deemed inherently trustworthy by dint of the offices they hold,” though they can be punished by their chamber if they divulge classified information.

But Oz, writes Ulrich, “explained that he keeps his Turkish citizenship to care for his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. When queried what he would do if this would disqualify him from security clearances, Oz agreed that he would forego them in this situation.” The only direct quote from the candidate is him explaining, “I can love my country and love my mom.” The following day, Oz said he’d give up his Turkish citizenship if he won, and he used the occasion to blast David McCormick, the former head of the hedge fund giant Bridgewater and his main primary rival. “The bigoted attacks my opponent Dave McCormick has made against me as the child of immigrants are reminiscent of slurs made in the past about Catholics and Jews,” said Oz.

All of this comes as Oz and McCormick continue to spend massive amounts promoting themselves and attacking one another. The field also includes Jeff Bartos, who was Team Red’s nominee for lieutenant governor; Bartos and his allies have been running their own commercials attacking Oz and McCormick (who until recently lived in Connecticut and New Jersey, respectively) as outsiders.

The field also includes author Kathy Barnette, an election denier who badly lost to Democratic Rep. Madeleine Dean last cycle in the 4th District; former Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands; attorney George Bochetto; and attorney Sean Gale, whose brother, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, is also running for governor.  A recent poll for Fox News had McCormick leading Oz 24-15, with Bartos and Barnette at 9% each.

Five Democrats are also competing for what is arguably the party’s best pickup opportunity in the chamber. The three main contenders are Lt. John Fetterman, who has enjoyed a huge edge in every survey we’ve seen; Rep. Conor Lamb, who won a closely watched 2018 special election for a red seat in western Pennsylvania; and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who would be the first Black gay senator in the nation. Fetterman and Lamb have been airing TV ads while Kenyatta, who struggled with fundraising last year, has yet to join them.

OKLAHOMA U.S. SENATOR B. Republican Rep. Kevin Hern has confirmed that he’ll seek a third term in his safely red 1st District rather than enter the special election for the Senate. Hern originally had looked like a very likely candidate to succeed outgoing Sen. Jim Inhofe, and an unnamed source even told Read Oklahoma that they “expected” him to announce a bid around March 1. However, the congressman later acknowledged that he was reluctant to give up his coveted spot on the House Ways and Means Committee to run.

Former Rep. Kendra Horn, who represented Oklahoma’s 5th District for one term, announced on Tuesday that she’ll run in the November special election to replace departing GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe. Horn’s entry gives Democrats an unusually credible candidate for a Senate race in Oklahoma, but it’s still … Oklahoma. Democrats haven’t prevailed in a race for statewide office since 2006, and they haven’t won a Senate contest since David Boren’s last re-election campaign in 1990 (which saw him romp in a remarkable 83-17 landslide).

Horn won the most astonishing upset of the 2018 midterms when she unseated Republican Rep. Steve Russell in a 51-49 squeaker for an Oklahoma City-based district that Donald Trump had carried by a wide 53-40 spread two years earlier. Russell had run a disastrous campaign—after his loss, he compared the people who’d voted him out to “a dog lapping up antifreeze”—but long-term suburban trends and outgoing Gov. Mary Fallin’s horrible numbers in the area were also working against him.

Unfortunately for Horn, though, those trends weren’t enough to keep her in Congress: Even though Trump’s margin shrank to 51-46, she lost her bid for a second term to Republican Stephanie Bice 52-48. And to win statewide, especially in a difficult midterm environment, would require an even more herculean feat than the one Horn managed four years ago, seeing as Trump carried Oklahoma 65-32 in 2020, making it his fourth-best state in the nation.

That makes Inhofe’s seat a particularly attractive prize to Republicans, though one potential contender is reportedly staying out. Politico says that Rep. Kevin Hern, who had been considering a bid, won’t run, though Hern himself has not yet confirmed the news.

NORTH CAROLINA U.S. SENATOR. Former Gov. Pat McCrory last week went up with a commercial portraying Rep. Ted Budd, his main rival in the May Republican primary, as a Putin apologist, and the congressman’s allies at the Club for Growth are now airing a response spot.

The spot features the clip from McCrory’s ad of Budd describing the Russian despot as “a very intelligent actor,” before the narrator jumps in and says the former governor “cut the tape.” The audience is then treated to Budd continuing, “[a]lthough I’d say he’s been quite erratic in his approach,” before they hear him express his support for Ukraine and say that “Putin is evil … he’s an international thug.” The narrator concludes, “Dirty tricks, lying liberal: Pat McCrory should be ashamed.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE GOVERNOR. State Sen. Tom Sherman announced a bid against Republican Gov. Chris Sununu this week, making him the first notable Democrat to join the race. After serving two terms in the state House, Sherman, a physician, challenged Republican state Sen. Dan Innis in 2016 but lost 52-46. Two years later, he tried again, this time prevailing 53-47; he went on to win re-election in 2020. Sununu is seeking to become just the second person to win a fourth two-year term as governor in state history, following Democrat John Lynch, who left office in 2013.

ALABAMA U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Mo Brooks has spent the last several months having to deal with stories about how Donald Trump thinks he’s running a poor campaign, but even he may not have been prepared for Trump to publicly muse about yanking his precious endorsement ahead of the May primary. But the GOP master has indeed told David Drucker of the conservative Washington Examiner, “Mo Brooks is disappointing … I’m determining right now, has Mo Brooks—has he changed?”

Trump’s biggest beef with Brooks seems to be over his comments at an August rally where the congressman was booed after telling the audience, “There are some people who are despondent about the voter fraud and election theft in 2020. Folks, put that behind you. Look forward. Look forward.”

Brooks himself had helped foment the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, but Trump doesn’t seem to care much anymore. “I’m disappointed that he gave an inarticulate answer, and I’ll have to find out what he means,” Trump told Drucker, adding, “If it meant what he sounded like, I would have no problem changing [my endorsement] because when you endorse somebody, you endorse somebody based on principle. If he changed that principle, I would have no problem doing that.” Of course, this being Trump, it’s very possible he’s just looking for an excuse to abandon Brooks before he can embarrass him by losing the primary.

GEORGIA U.S. SENATOR. Gary Black (R), who is running against football legend Herschel Walker (R) in Georgia, is out with a brutal new ad highlighting allegations of violence in Walker’s past, including incidents when he allegedly put a razor to his ex-wife’s throat, choked her and held a gun to her head.

Playbook: “It’s likely just a taste of what’s to come in the general election. And Black’s campaign has no plans to step back, pointing to research suggesting the more voters learn about Walker’s past, the more they turn on him.”

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) expressed support for the theory of evolution days after Herschel Walker (R), his likely Senate challenger, cast doubt on it, the HuffPost reports. Said Warnock: “I’ll tell you I believe in science and my faith has no quarrel with science.”

GEORGIA GOVERNOR. “During his two Senate campaigns, Republican David Perdue had little trouble raking in millions in campaign cash. But as he tries to unseat Georgia’s incumbent governor, fellow Republican Brian Kemp, Perdue is struggling to attract donors,” the AP reports.

“Perdue’s top 30 individual contributors pumped in nearly $450,000 to his Senate campaigns in 2014 and 2020, according to campaign finance disclosures. But that same group and their immediate family members have steered just $26,200 to his current run for governor. Kemp, meanwhile, has raised $81,450 from these previous Perdue backers.”

“Perdue’s difficulty winning back previous donors suggests a broader challenge for him ahead of Georgia’s May 24 primary, which is being closely watched for signals about the direction of the national Republican Party.”

While Stacey Abrams faces no competition in the May Democratic primary, the once and future nominee is launching its opening $1 million TV and digital ad buy. The first spot features Abrams saying, “When I didn’t win the governor’s race, not getting the job didn’t exempt me from the work. And so I didn’t quit.” She continues by talking about how her organization last year “paid off the medical debt of 68,000 Georgians,” and how she aided small businesses. “I was raised that when you don’t get what you want, you don’t give up,” Abrams says, “You try again. You try because it’s how things get better, it’s how the world moves forward.”

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. “The leading Republican candidate in the Ohio Senate primary employed offensive stereotypes about Asian people in a 2013 podcast, citing a widely discredited book, The Bell Curve, that has drawn allegations of racism and sloppy research,” the New York Times reports.

“The Senate candidate, Mike Gibbons, a financier who has poured millions of dollars of his own money into his campaign, made the comments during a discussion of how to do business in China. The remarks, published here for the first time, come as Republican candidates grapple with how to address a topic that has inflamed their voters, many of whom blame Beijing for a coronavirus pandemic that Donald Trump has referred to as the “Chinese virus.””

Former state GOP chair Jane Timken’s latest commercial for the May primary has her proclaiming that “border security is national security” and dubbing herself “the real Trump conservative.” The spot ends with old footage of Trump, who is still making Timken and her many opponents grovel for his endorsement, calling her “unbelievable.”      

OHIO GOVERNOR. Former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley is spending $280,000 on his opening spot for the May Democratic primary. The candidate is shown inspecting an abandoned factory as he declares that “Ohio deserves a comeback. I know it won’t be easy, but I’ve faced long odds before.” Cranley continues, “When we started the Ohio Innocence Project, they said it was impossible. It has freed 34 innocent people. When I became mayor of Cincinnati, they said the city would never grow again. We defied the odds.”

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

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